St. Mungo's to the Rescue
by Healer Pomfrey
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I am not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes.
Harry eyed the last parchment in confusion. It was entitled 'Health Certificate – To be issued by St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries'.
"All first years have to visit St. Mungo's before coming to Hogwarts," Hagrid explained patiently.
Harry cast the large wizard a horrified look. "Um... Do I have to go to the hospital?" he asked as calmly as possible, although he was completely shocked by the news. 'What if they notice the scars on my back?' he thought, terrified.
"You must go for the check-up," Hagrid replied, gently patting Harry's back. "Don't worry, lil' one, all first years have to do that, and you'll do just fine."
In the meantime, they had arrived at the station, and Hagrid handed Harry his ticket, before he hurriedly excused himself, reminding Harry that he was on an errand for Professor Dumbledore.
The rest of the day past in a blur for Harry, who just couldn't shake off the thought of what was going to happen at the hospital. When he was back in his room at the Dursleys', he once again read the parchment.
'All first years are required to undergo a health check within one week prior to coming to Hogwarts. It is necessary that you bring a confirmation of all vaccinations against Muggle or magical maladies received in the past to St. Mungo's. If necessary, you will receive further necessary vaccinations at the hospital.'
'Oh no,' Harry thought, suddenly feeling miserable. 'I can't show them any confirmation, since I've never been to a doctor except for the school nurse, but she didn't give me vaccinations, whatever that is. She only checked if I had a fever and looked into my throat.' In shock, Harry continued to read.
'Students, who do not have a magical parent or guardian, are invited to hold this parchment along with the above mentioned confirmations in their hands together with at least one guardian, who also has to tightly hold on to the parchment, on August 25 at 9:00 a.m. Clearly state "Check-up" at the above mentioned time, and this parchment will turn into a Portkey, a magical transportation object, which will take you and your guardian straight to the hospital, where the healer in charge will be waiting for you.'
'I wonder if Aunt Petunia will agree to accompany me,' Harry thought, deciding to ask her first thing in the morning.
However, as could be expected, Petunia vehemently refused. "I will not use any freakish travel methods, nor will I go to a hospital of these... people," she shrieked, causing Harry to sigh inwardly. 'What if they don't allow me to go to Hogwarts if they notice the writing on my back?' he thought, horrified. During the following three weeks, he pondered the matter, realising that his only way to get to Hogwarts was to go to the hospital at the fixed date, even if he was afraid of it.
The 25th of August began just like any normal day. Harry woke up to his aunt hammering at his door, instructing him to make breakfast. Having only slept for four hours due to the excitement, Harry was very tired and at the same time on the verge of panicking as he reached for the parchment thirty minutes before the fixed time. He uttered the activation code over and over, wanting to get over with the matter as soon as possible. However, only at exactly nine o'clock, he felt a strange pull behind his navel, and his room began to turn around in a fast movement until it completely vanished. Before he knew what happened, he found himself on the floor of a small room with white walls, a large window that covered a whole wall and a dozen comfortable looking blue chairs. Harry scrambled up from the floor and took a seat, noticing that a girl and a boy, both accompanied by what seemed to be their mothers, had arrived at the same time.
"Hello, I am Hermione. Are you going to go to Hogwarts, too?" the girl with bushy brown hair and chocolate brown eyes spoke up with apparent excitement.
"Yes, I am Justin," the other boy replied, causing the girl to look at Harry in expectation.
"I am Harry," Harry said shyly.
"Hi Harry, Justin," the girl continued to speak. "Harry, where are your parents?"
While Harry still wondered if he should tell that his parents were dead, the door opened and a young woman in white robes entered the room. "Good morning," she said in a friendly voice. "I am Megan, a Mediwitch apprentice. Please tell me your names and hand over your documents."
Hermione Granger and Justin Finch-Fletchley introduced themselves and handed the Mediwitch the requested documents. Terrified when the woman finally turned to him, Harry stated, "Harry Potter." Ignoring the loud gasp coming from Hermione upon hearing his name, he continued in a barely audible voice, "I don't have any documents. I have never been to a doctor."
"Where is your guardian?" the Mediwitch asked kindly.
"My aunt is a Muggle, and she didn't want to come. My parents are dead," Harry whispered, terrified as he felt everyone look at him.
"It's all right, Harry," Hermione spoke up in a soft voice as she stood from her seat and sat next to him, soothingly laying her hand on his arm. "You're not alone. We'll just stay together."
Casting the girl an appreciative look, the Mediwitch eagerly scribbled something on a card, before she pulled a blue, glassy stick out of her robe pocket, handing it to Hermione. "Please take your temperature," she instructed the girl and, as soon as Hermione placed it under her tongue, began to feel her pulse.
Harry slightly relaxed as he observed the glassy stick's colour change from blue to green. When the device beeped and a green number emerged from the back end, the Mediwitch released Hermione's wrist and took the thermometer back, before she proceeded to check on Justin.
While he absentmindedly listened to Hermione, who asked the Mediwitch several questions about the magical thermometer, Harry slowly began to panic again. 'I hope everything will be all right,' he thought feverishly. 'I hate being different from everyone else.'
Unfortunately, only a few minutes later, he learned that apparently everything had to be a little different with him, when the thermometer in his mouth changed its colour from green to yellow.
Releasing his wrist, the Mediwitch frowned. "Mr. Potter, are you feeling all right?" she asked kindly. "Your temperature is slightly elevated."
"I'm fine," Harry responded in exasperation, inwardly groaning when the Mediwtich lit the tip of her wand and proceeded to look into his throat, ears and eyes. 'The Dursleys were right,' he thought. 'I am a freak and different from everyone else.'
"Very well, please wait here. I'll be back together with Healer O'Brien shortly," the Mediwitch finally said and left the room, taking the cards and documents with her.
"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione asked kindly, apparently noticing that he was afraid of what was going to happen. "I know you. I've read about you in 'Hogwarts: A History'. You're very famous in the magical world."
Harry unsurely shook his head, looking up with a mixture of anxiousness and relief when the door was opened again and the Mediwitch apprentice returned with an older healer in tow, who looked very friendly.
"I am Head Healer O'Brien," the man introduced himself, before he said, "Ms. Granger, please follow me."
"I'm sorry sir, but could we take Harry with us?" Hermione asked quickly. "So that he doesn't have to go through this alone?"
"If you and Mr. Potter don't mind being examined in the same room, I don't have a problem with it," the healer replied, glancing from Hermione to Harry.
Harry gratefully followed Hermione and her mother into the examination room, where he was motioned to sit on a chair next to Hermione's mother, while Hermione was instructed to lie down on a crispy white bed in the middle of the small room. The healer pulled his wand and waved it over Hermione in a complicated sequence, while the Mediwitch explained in a hushed voice that he was casting a thorough diagnostic spell. As soon as the healer finished, a parchment emerged from the tip of his wand, which the healer and the Mediwitch studied together, before the healer nodded, seemingly contented with the results.
"I can give you a clean bill of health, Ms. Granger," the healer said, smiling. "You merely need a few vaccinations against the magical children's diseases. I will give you two shots, one is a combined vaccine against the wizard's measles, the wizard's chicken pox, and the wizard's mumps, and the other is a vaccine against the squid's pox, a very rare but dangerous magical disease, against we use to vaccinate all Hogwarts students due to the fact that a giant squid is living on the Hogwarts grounds."
"All right," Hermione said and looked anxiously at her mother, who nodded her agreement.
Harry quickly looked away when the Mediwitch handed the healer two syringes, absentmindedly listening when the healer explained that both vaccinations could cause a light fever and malaise within the next forty-eight hours.
'Please let everything be as okay as with Hermione,' Harry thought as he anxiously took Hermione's spot on the bed a few minutes later, groaning inwardly upon noticing that the healer frowned as he studied his card. He pointed his wand at Harry's head, causing yellow numbers to appear out of the tip of his wand. Muttering something to the Mediwitch, the healer finally began to cast the diagnostic spell. Harry noticed a tingly sensation that went up and down his body several times. 'Did that take so much time when he cast the spell on Hermione?' Harry wondered, once again getting an uneasy feeling, which only intensified when the healer conjured a white screen around the bed after shortly glancing at the parchment with the results.
"Mr. Potter, we're not going to hurt you," the healer said reassuringly. "Please take your clothes off for a moment."
'Oh no,' Harry thought, terrified, as he hesitantly complied, trying to not let the healers get a glimpse at his back. However, the healer motioned him to turn around, letting out a long sigh as he took in the writing 'Freak' that his uncle had added to his skin years ago.
"This will feel a bit cold, but it'll help with your back. A few of the cuts are infected and we need to heal them. They are the reason for the fever you're running," the healer informed him in a soft voice. Seeing that Harry cast a horrified look in the direction, where Hermione and her mother were waiting, he said, "Don't worry, child. I have cast a silencing charm around us. No one will hear what we're talking about."
"Thank you, sir," Harry said gratefully, shivering slightly as the healer smeared the cold healing salve on his back. He sighed in relief when the older wizard told him to get dressed again, only to look at the man in shock when he continued to speak.
"May I assume that it was your relatives who did this to you? Since when have they abused you?"
"I'm not abused," Harry stammered, averting his eyes to the floor. "I'm all right."
The healer sighed, extending two fingers to raise Harry's chin, so that the boy looked up to him. "Harry, this happens from time to time, especially with Muggle parents, who hate their children because of being magical."
"My relatives hate me because of that," Harry admitted in a small voice, noticing that his back felt better than it had ever felt since he could remember.
"As the Head healer of this hospital, I am obliged to report your relatives to the Ministry of Magic that will forward this information to the Muggle authorities. The Dursleys will probably not be allowed to remain your guardians. Do you have any other relatives?"
"No." Harry shook his head, feeling more terrified by the minute. His uncle's voice 'Out of the goodness of our hearts we have taken you in. Otherwise you'd have ended up in an orphanage' sounded in his ears.
"I see," the healer said thoughtfully, turning to the Mediwitch. "Megan, call Madam Pomfrey at Hogwarts and tell her that she is needed here urgently." With a flick of his wand, he banished the screen around the bed and cancelled the silencing charm, before he said, "Mrs. Granger, I suggest that you and Hermione leave, since I won't be able to release Harry very soon."
"No, we won't leave Harry alone here. Harry, what's wrong?" Hermione asked immediately, stepping over to him.
"I don't mind Hermione and her mother to be here," Harry heard himself respond, somehow feeling reassured by the girl's presence.
"We will not be able to let you go," O'Brien said slowly. "First of all, we need your guardian's signature for the vaccinations, secondly, we cannot vaccinate you as long as your temperature is not completely back to normal, which I suppose it will be by the morning. Thirdly, since you have not received the vaccinations against the Muggle children's diseases that serve as base for our vaccinations against the magical counterparts, you'll need to have several shots instead, which cannot be given at once." The healer sighed. "Considering the circumstances of your upbringing, we must either keep you here or ask our Mediwitch at Hogwarts to take you with her."
"Excuse me sir, is there a problem with Harry's relatives? Would it be possible that we took Harry with us?" Mrs. Granger queried, looking at the boy in concern. "We would of course bring him here in time for his appointments."
Healer O'Brien let out a long sigh. "Thank you for your kind offer, Mrs. Granger. I'd appreciate if it was so easy," he said regretfully. "If you took Harry with you, the Dursleys, as unfit guardians as they are, might accuse you of child abduction. We will report them because of child abuse; however, knowing how fast the authorities work, this will take a few days, and it would take even longer if you tried the same on the Muggle side. Therefore, the only way not to send him back to his abusive home is to keep Harry here for medical reasons."
Before anyone could respond, the door opened and Megan returned together with an older Mediwitch. Healer O'Brien introduced her as Madam Pomfrey from Hogwarts and quickly filled his colleague in about Harry's problem.
Harry felt extremely grateful that Hermione and her mother talked to him in hushed voices, trying to distract him and reassure him that everything would be all right. He happily agreed when Hermione offered, "Let's be friends at Hogwarts. I never had a real friend before, but I like you."
A small smile played on Harry's lips as he whispered back, "I never had a friend either and I'd love to be friends with you too."
"I will take Harry with me," Madam Pomfrey said as soon as the healer had finished his explanation and she had studied Harry's card. "The problem is Albus. He placed Harry with his Muggle relatives and would not listen to Minerva, who tried to convince him to let one of us take the boy in."
"Poppy, you can tell him that I am only willing to release him into your care. If the Headmaster has any problems with that, bring Harry back to me and I will personally take the responsibility for him," the healer said sternly.
Harry looked from the Mediwitch to the healer in amazement. 'Why is he standing up for me?' he wondered. 'He should know by now that I'm a freak.' Healer O'Brien handed Pomfrey several parchments as well as the healing salve, which he had used on Harry earlier, offering for her to get the necessary vaccinations from the St. Mungo's internal apothecary.
"Harry, are you feeling well enough to walk for a few minutes to the apothecary, before I take you to Hogwarts?" Pomfrey asked kindly, causing Harry to cast her a surprised look.
"Of course. I feel fine," he said in a quiet voice. "I'm sorry for being such a bother."
"You're not a bother, sweetie," Pomfrey said gently, exchanging a glance with Healer O'Brien. She gently laid her arm around Harry's shoulders. "Well then, let's go home."
Harry turned to the healer. "Thank you very much, Healer O'Brien."
"You're welcome, Harry. You'll be in good hands with Poppy. She is one of my oldest friends, and I have full confidence in her. However, if anyone gives you trouble, for example your Headmaster, feel free to come here to me at any time."
Harry shot the healer a grateful smile, before he thanked the Grangers for accompanying him.
"I'm looking forward to see you next week," Hermione said, smiling.
"Me too," Harry replied, returning the smile at his first friend.
He slowly followed the Mediwitch through the hospital, which was much larger than he had imagined. Finally, they reached the apothecary, and a few minutes later, Pomfrey led him to one of the large fireplaces in the entrance hall. "Have you ever used the Floo network?" she asked in a soft voice. Seeing Harry's questioning look, she gently pulled him into her arms and motioned for him to step into the fireplace together with her. An instant later, they arrived in her office at Hogwarts.
Harry looked around in confusion, following Poppy's explanation about the Floo network with interest. "Anyway, we're in the hospital wing of Hogwarts, and this is my office. For the time being, you may stay in the guest room of my quarters." She led Harry through a connecting door into her private quarters, opening a nearby door.
Harry looked into the room. It was equipped with a huge and comfortable looking bed, a wardrobe, a small bookshelf as well as a desk and a chair. Everything was kept in pastel colours except for the carpet, which was dark blue with a few small, twinkling yellow stars on it. One wall was completely covered by a huge window, through which he could see a huge park and a lake. "Wow, this is wonderful," Harry breathed in amazement. "Thank you so much for allowing me to stay here."
"You're welcome, sweetie," Pomfrey replied, smiling. "I'm glad to have you here. I knew your parents, especially your mother, well when they were at Hogwarts. Your mother even brought you to me a few times when you were a baby."
Harry couldn't help feeling embarrassed at the thought, although he was very grateful towards the kind witch. 'This is the first time someone tells me about my parents in a nice way,' he thought happily.
Pomfrey glanced at her wrist watch. "Now I suggest that we have tea in my living room. I will call the four Heads of the Houses and introduce you, before we will go and speak with the Headmaster." She motioned for Harry to make himself comfortable on the sofa and called, "Misty."
Harry watched in disbelief and interest how a small figure popped up out of nothing, bowed, and asked, "Yes Mistress Poppy?"
"Misty, this is Harry," Pomfrey introduced him and explained about the problem with his scars that were infected, the shots he was missing and the abuse he had suffered by his relatives. "I hope that the Headmaster will agree that Harry may stay here with me. If anything happens, I need you to take him back to Head Healer O'Brien."
"Mistress Poppy, I understand. I will take care of Master Harry if Professor Dumbledore wants to take him back to his relatives," Misty confirmed immediately.
"Thank you, Misty," Pomfrey said warmly. "Could you please ask the four Heads to come here and bring lunch for all of us?"
Misty confirmed that she had understood and popped away instantly, causing Harry to look at the now empty spot in awe. "That was my personal house-elf," Pomfrey explained, smiling at his amazed expression. "She also is the healer of the elves, and if you ever need help and I'm not available for some reason, you may call her at any time. You can fully rely on her."
"Thank you, Ma'am," Harry replied, gratefully. He looked up in surprise when he could see through the open connecting door that the fireplace in Pomfrey's office came to life and an older witch stepped out.
Successively, three more professors came out of the fireplace, and a few minutes later, everyone gathered around the table in Pomfrey's living room, where Pomfrey repeated the explanation that she had already given Misty earlier until all of a sudden lunch popped up on the table. 'Wow, magic is cool,' Harry thought, glad that everyone's attention became diverted from himself, even if only for a few minutes.
"Show me O'Brien's notes," the tall professor, who seemed to look at him in disdain, suddenly demanded. Harry observed how the man, who gave him an uneasy feeling, studied the card with apparent interest. His expression turned blank as he put the card back.
'He seems to dislike me greatly,' he thought. 'I wonder why.' He hesitantly averted his eyes to the floor when he felt the man's eyes linger on him.
"Do you believe that Albus' attitude changed at all during the last twenty years?" the man sneered, raising an eyebrow at his colleagues.
"Why would that be, Severus?" the older witch, of whom Harry knew that she was Professor McGonagall, queried in apparent surprise.
"I came from an abusive home, and he sent me back to my father every summer in spite of knowing about the matter."
"Your Head of House should have done something about the matter," the tiny professor, who was sitting opposite of Harry, threw in.
Pomfrey let out a long sigh. "Oh Filius, we tried to convince Albus. Minerva helped as well; however, Albus insisted that Severus had to go home every summer. Unfortunately, Minerva and I were both younger and less self-confident than we're now. I am sorry, Severus. With Harry, I will not allow Albus to get through with it. Thankfully, we have the Head Healer of St. Mungo's behind us and, knowing Healer O'Brien, Albus is going to face a trial at the Ministry because of supporting child abuse if he tries to send Harry back."
Feeling very embarrassed, Harry slowly tuned the adults' conversation out, looking up in surprise when a very old man with an enormously long beard joined them and Pomfrey introduced him as Professor Dumbledore. 'I wished I could turn into a mouse,' he thought when the teachers once again spoke about his problems.
After what seemed to be an infinite discussion, the Headmaster said, "Very well then, I agree that Poppy becomes Harry's guardian. He'll still be safer here than he would be at St. Mungo's. Minerva and Severus, I want the two of you to be listed as his second and third guardian just to be on the safe side." Ignoring the glare he received from the Potions Master, the Headmaster continued, "I'll pay the Dursleys a visit to retrieve Harry's luggage and make them sign the guardianship parchments."
The teachers left the room, and Pomfrey turned to Harry. "Thank Merlin; that went well, sweetie. Now you can remain at Hogwarts and won't have to return to the Dursleys ever again."
"Thank you so much, Madam Pomfrey," Harry said gratefully.
"Now seeing that I am your guardian now, you don't have to call me that. Just call me Poppy like my friends and my colleagues do," Poppy said in a soft voice.
"All right, thank you, Poppy," Harry replied, smiling, flinching back in surprise when he felt a cool hand on his forehead.
"You're still feverish, and I think you should take a nap," Poppy said thoughtfully. "Lie down on your bed and let me apply the healing salve to your back once again."
Harry unsurely complied and hesitantly lay on the wonderfully soft bed, slowly relaxing when he felt the soothing, cool cream on his skin. He did not even notice that his new guardian waved her wand over him to cast her own diagnostic spells, let alone that she spelled a light fever reducer laced with a few drops of sleeping draft straight into his stomach that made him drift off to sleep in a blink.
During the next few days, Poppy came every morning to check on him and give him one of the shots, which he had missed during his childhood, before they headed to the Great Hall to have breakfast together with the other teachers. Afterwards, Poppy usually busied herself with the preparations for the new school year, and Harry felt very happy when she allowed him to help, although she always pointed out that he did not have to help but was supposed to enjoy his holidays. When Poppy thought that he should take a break and rest, Harry proceeded to read his new school books, finding everything extremely interesting.
Sometimes, Poppy or Minerva took him out onto the grounds and even to Hogsmeade for an afternoon, and Harry enjoyed himself greatly. Professor Snape even allowed him to help in the potions lab, which Harry absolutely loved. 'I must tell Hermione about this,' he thought when he happily returned to the hospital wing after an afternoon of brewing fruit drops together with the tall teacher, who was not as grumpy as he seemed. When he told Madam Pomfrey about Hermione, she suggested that he could write a letter to her and tell her about Hogwarts, and Harry happily complied. From that time onwards, Hermione and Harry exchanged letters on a daily basis, glad that Hedwig was so fast to deliver them.
"Tomorrow, Hermione is going to come to Hogwarts," Poppy said in an attempt to distract him from the squid's pox shot she was just administering. "Are you looking forward to the school year?"
"Very much. I just hope Hermione and I am going to be in the same House," Harry replied, smiling.
In the evening, however, Harry did not feel well. His head hurt badly, and he felt strangely warm. Being used to hiding from the Dursleys when he felt unwell, he did not complain; however, Poppy noticed soon what was wrong and pointed her wand at his head to check his temperature. "You have a slight fever, Harry, probably from the after-effects of the squid's pox shot I gave you this morning," she said thoughtfully, before she cast him a sharp look and asked, "Does anything hurt?"
"My head hurts a bit," Harry replied in a small voice.
Poppy stepped into her office, adding a few sips each of fever reducer, headache potion and sleeping draft into a small goblet full with warm milk. "Drink up and go to bed, sweetie," she said as she returned to the living room. "We'll see how you feel in the morning. If you don't feel better, you might not be able to ride the Hogwarts Express."
Unfortunately, when Harry woke up in the morning, he felt even worse. Not only his head but his throat was sore, and he felt hot and cold at the same time. Poppy entered his room only an instant after he slightly cracked his achy eyes open, noticing that the room seemed to be tilting. Like from far away, he heard her voice, but he felt too miserable to register what she said. "I don't feel good," he whispered, knowing that she would not be angry at him for being sick like Petunia but would make him feel better.
Poppy sat the goblet she was carrying onto the night table and sat on the edge of his bed, already having checked on the boy while he was asleep. She calmingly laid a hand on his shoulder. "You're still sick from the after-effects of the squid's pox. I'll give you something for the pain and the fever, and then we'll hope that you'll feel better tonight." She gently helped Harry to sit up and pressed the goblet against his lips, nodding contentedly when Harry obediently sipped the potion.
"Thank you Poppy. That's much better," Harry said gratefully. "Do you think I'll be able to attend the Welcoming Feast tonight?"
"We'll see," Poppy said firmly. "Do you feel well enough to come to the living room for breakfast? Afterwards, I want you to go back to bed."
Harry spent the morning in bed, feeling utterly miserable. However, after another dose of potions, he felt better by the hour and was allowed to rest on the sofa in Poppy's office during the afternoon. Harry looked up from his Potions book, when he felt Poppy once again wave her wand over him.
"You're not completely well yet, but if you feel up to attending the Welcoming Feast, you may do so," Poppy said thoughtfully. "However, I want you back here straight after the Feast." Noticing that Harry did not protest but looked devastated, she corrected herself, "No sweetie, the first years have to go to bed right after dinner anyway. I will send Misty to check on you and give you more potions if you need them. No one will be able to see or hear her. However, I want you to come to me for a check-up before breakfast tomorrow morning or earlier in case you feel worse."
"Thank you Poppy," Harry said gratefully, smiling at his guardian.
"Harry, like I told you a few days ago, your room will always be your room now. You may come and stay here whenever you want, even if it's during the school year," Poppy said in a soft voice. "In fact, I wanted you to sort out your belongings and leave everything here that you won't need in your dormitory during the next weeks, but since you were in no condition to do so, you'll just have to take everything with you, and if you need more space in the dormitory, you can bring things back here. Misty will move your belongings after the Sorting."
Harry gratefully thanked his guardian and excitedly followed her out into the still empty corridors to head down to the Great Hall, where they waited together with the other teachers for the students to arrive.
'I wonder where the Hat is going to sort me,' Harry mused. 'I'd like to be together with Hermione. She already is a really good friend. The House I don't really mind. The four Heads are all very nice.'
He was pulled out of his thoughts when Professor McGonagall addressed him. "Harry, are you feeling well enough to meet the other first years outside, or do you want to wait for them here?"
"I can't wait to meet the others," Harry replied and happily followed the Gryffindor Head out of the Great Hall.
"Harry!" Hermione greeted him as soon as she spotted him standing behind Professor McGonagall, causing Harry to leave his spot and position himself next to the girl.
"Hi Hermione," Harry whispered happily.
"Where have you been?" Hermione asked, looking reproachfully at Harry. "I was so looking forward to the train ride together, but I couldn't find you. You said you would come, didn't you?"
"I'm sorry, Hermione, but I was sick this morning, and Madam Pomfrey didn't let me go."
"Are you all right now?" Hermione queried, giving Harry a sharp look.
"Of course," Harry responded, smiling at the girl as they slowly walked into the Great Hall for the Sorting ceremony. With interest, he followed the Sorting of the other first years, becoming more excited by the minute. Hermione was sorted into Ravenclaw, and a boy, whom she had introduced to Harry on the way into the Hall, Neville, became a Hufflepuff. Finally, Professor McGonagall called Harry's name and he stepped forward, seeing from the corner of his eyes that Poppy and the Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw Heads were looking at him encouragingly.
'Hmmm, this is difficult. You'd do well everywhere. Where am I going to sort you?' a small voice penetrated Harry's mind shortly after Professor McGonagall had placed the Sorting Hat on his head.
'I just hope I'll get in the same House as Hermione,' Harry thought frantically.
'Ah, already found a friend?' the voice queried.
'She is the first friend I ever had,' Harry replied urgently, 'and I'd love to study together with her.'
'Oh well, if that's so,' the Hat said, before it shouted into the Hall "Ravenclaw."