A/N: Yay, finally a new chapter. I've been missing this story and finally had some free time to focus. Sorry it took so long I will try to be quicker with the next one. As always reviews are appreciated. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Castle. Yes parts of this chapter you will probably recognize because they are taken directly from the book. Those lines belong to the ever fabulous J.K. Rowling.

Chapter 7

The kids, after being ushered in to a small room, gathered around Professor McGonagall.

"The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses," said the witch.

Rick was hanging on her every word. The Hogwarts houses were supposed to be a big deal but he didn't know much about them. He wondered which he would be in. What would happen if he and Kate ended up in different houses? She was the only person he knew… but surely he would be able to make friends on his own, after all, he had been able to befriend the ice queen and thaw out her heart. 'Speak of the devil' he thought as he caught Kate glancing back at him but pretended not to notice.

The tall witch before them continued to speak. "The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.

"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points."

'Well, then I'm screwed.' Rick thought to himself.

"At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.

"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting." Her view swept over the group of scared looking students before her.

Rick didn't know what he could possibly do to 'smarten himself up' while he was waiting here. He happened to think he was a pretty smart kid already but then again, he has never gone to a wizarding school before.

"I shall return when we are ready for you," said the older witch. "Please wait quietly."

Rick grinned at Kate who was returning the same look to him.

"What house do you think you're going to be in?" Kate asked Rick.

Rick sheepishly looked down, shuffling his feet. "I don't know much about the houses." Finally he looked up his friend, deciding to go with the self pitying response, "I'll probably be in the worst house." Rick wasn't confident in what his answer meant but he was hoping Kate wouldn't agree with him in any case. Then he felt her hand on his shoulder.

"I'm sure you're going to be in a great house. Any house that gets you is going to be getting the best guy I know…" Rick's heart nearly skipped a beat at her words. Was Kate being sweet? "…and the most annoying. They won't know what to do with you." Ah, there was the Kate he knew. He had a feeling her compliments came at a price.

Just then Rick heard a few gasps from the other students around him and looked around, noticing the pearly white figures floating above him. Ghosts! No way, Ghostbusters, eat your heart out. This is awesome, thought Rick.Twenty or so of them glided passed them, paying them almost no attention. Two of the ghosts appeared to be arguing but stopped when they noticed the kids below them. One was dressed as a monk and the other looked like he belonged in Elizabethan England. Well, Rick thought, right country, wrong century.

His humorous train of thought was short lived as he felt a sharp pressure on his foot. "AH," he gasped at the slight pain Kate was inflicting with her heel. He was relieved to see she looked just as surprised at her action as he was. At least she hadn't done that on purpose.

"New students!" the monk ghost exclaimed. He looked around at all the students. "About to be sorted, I suppose?"

Rick's mouth dropped open, it was one thing to see a ghost for the first time, but to have one address you, at least indirectly, was something entirely different.

"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff! My old house you know." The monk, Rick would later learn he was known as the Fat Friar, continued, smiling at the first years.

Then the stern witch from earlier returned as she said she would was standing right behind Rick. He turned ever so slowly to look at her. "Move along now," she said sharply. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start. Now, form a line, and follow me."

With that they all followed her into Great Hall. Rick's eyes immediately went to the ceiling which appeared to look exactly like the night sky. Ok, that's cool. He also noticed the candles floating precariously over the tables and thought 'those have to be enchanted because one, they were floating…duh and two, they didn't seem to be burning down at all. There was no wax falling down on the people below. That's rather ingenious really. Finally Rick turned his attention back to eye level and realized he was standing at the front of the hall with his back facing all the other students, who were sitting at four long tables across the Great Hall. Gulp. He finally noticed a large, tattered wizard hat sitting on a three legged stool in front of the first years, between them and the head table, at which sat all the staff. What was all this about? He didn't have to wait long for an answer because just then the hat began to sing.

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,

But don't judge on what you see,

I'll eat myself If you can find

A smarter hat than me.

You can keep your bowlers black,

Your top hats sleek and tall,

For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat

And I can cap them all.

There's nothing hidden in your head

The Sorting Hat can't see,

So try me on and I will tell you

Where you ought to be.

You might belong in Gryffindor,

Where dwell the brave at heart,

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry

Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffs are true

And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

If you've a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin

You'll make your real friends,

Those cunning folk use any means

To achieve their ends.

So put me on! Don't be afraid!

And don't get in a flap!

You're in safe hands (though I have none)

For I'm a Thinking Cap!"

As soon as the hat finished its song the entire hall erupted with cheers. The hat tipped itself to each of the tables and then ceased all movement. 'That is remarkable' thought Rick. He leaned in hoping to hear more but the hat had finished its song. Rick glanced over at Kate for a moment wondering what was going on. Kate looked somewhat nauseated.

"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," said Professor McGongall as she unfurled the large scroll of student names in her hands. "Abbott, Hannah." Rick watched the little auburn-haired girl with pig tails approach the hat apprehensively. The deputy headmistress placed the hat on Hannah's head while the rest of the room watched and waited with baited breath to see which house would be the first to gain a new student.

"HUFFLEPUFF!"

The table just to their left cheered with excitement. The young girl hopped off the stool and ambled towards the rambunctious table.

'If that's how that house welcomes new comers I hope end up there.' Rick didn't have time to dwell on that thought. He heard Kate's name and his head shot up. He watched Kate walk up to stool with a nervous look on her pale face. The two of them made eye contact for just a moment before Kate sat down and the hat was placed on her head, slipping just over her eyes. Rick wondered what could possibly be happening. What kind of magic gives a hat the authority to tell students which house they belong in. The hat then moved slightly, twitching, almost anxiously. Then, finally…"RAVENCLAW!"

The Ravenclaw table was now cheering the loudest. Rick could plainly see the brilliant smile on Kate's face as she made her way over to her new house mates. The few closest to her patted her on the back in congratulations as she sat down.

Rick's thoughts were recoiling themselves from his earlier desire to be a Hufflepuff just a few moments ago as he now knew that Kate had been made a Ravenclaw. A part of him wanted to stick with his friend. She was also the only person he really knew at this school but then again it wasn't really up to him it seemed. Maybe it would be a good thing if they were in separate houses. He finally decided that he would be happy if he ended up in Ravenclaw but wouldn't be too disappointed if the hat placed him in one of the other houses. If the hat was right, they all had their merits.

Rick was no longer paying attention while the other students ahead of him were being sorted, until he heard his own name called out.

"Castle, Richard." Rick looked over at Kate who gave a thumb up and smile. He sat down on the stool and waited for the hat to determine his fate. The hat didn't quite fall over his eyes the way it had with Kate but his head was also slightly bigger then hers, and according to Kate that was in more ways than one.

Rick brushed the thought away when he heard a raspy whisper in his ear. "Richard Castle. Interesting. Very interesting. You're smart, resourceful, and have a knack for small details. You're mind is quite meticulously organized for a boy of your age. But that's to be off put by your short attention span. However, there is something far more important here. I can see the great love you have for your family, your mother in particular. You also possess a strong sense of loyalty to your friends. You have a good and passionate heart and agile mind that is ever expanding with curiosity for the world around you. Let me see…HUFFLEPUFF!"

Rick knew that he was going to be separated from Kate but she looked happy to be where she was over at the Ravenclaw table. He got off the stool and, after receiving a few pats on the back from his new housemates, took a seat at the Hufflepuff table next to a boy with sandy brown hair who appeared to be about fourteen.

The next name called was, "Esposito, Javier." The boy calmly marched up to the stool, but with shaking hands placed the hat on his own head. It was only after a moment that the hat shouted, "HUFFLEPUFF!"

Rick cheered along as Javier joined their table. They were soon joined their by "Finch-Fletchley, Justin". "Finnigan, Seamus" was sorted into Gryffindor, as was "Granger, Hermione," who looked about ready to sprint off to the Gryffindor table when the hat finally made a decision. Rick was wondering what on earth had taken the hat so long to decide on with the girl with bushy brown hair.

Next up was a plump boy named Neville Longbottom, who, after being sorted into Gryffindor, practically ran off to the table but turned around and came back after realizing he still wore the hat on his head.

The next one to be sorted was "Ryan, Kevin," at whom Javier was shooting daggers with his eyes. Rick got a bad feeling, but decided to brush it off and not let it bother him for the time being. Their encounter with Kevin on the train hadn't exactly been pleasant but it wasn't worth it to worry about him right now. Ryan was sorted into Gryffindor.

Rick continued to watch as the dark skinned girl from the boats was called up next. Her name turned out to be Lanie Parish and she quickly joined Kate at the Ravenclaw table.

"Potter, Harry". Rick was most definitely listening now. Remembering the whispers he had heard on the train and the encounter they had all witnessed between Harry and that Malfoy kid just before the ceremony. Rick had watched as Malfoy had been sorted into Slytherin and had hoped for a split second that Kevin would end up in Slytherin with him.

Right now every head in the hall was turned to face the front. Everyone watched as Harry Potter took his place on the stool, looking a tad bit scared by everyone staring. Rick's eyes were wide with wonder. He knew by now that Harry was kind of a big deal though he had yet to learn his full story. After a few moments the hat yelled out "GRYFFINDOR" and Rick released a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding in. He then joined in with the rest of the school in cheering over the hat's decision.

The hat made a few more placements for the remaining first years including a red head by the name of Weasley, who was placed in Gryffindor.

When everyone was settled a tall, silver-haired man wearing half-moon spectacles stood and addressed the entirety of the student body. Rick knew this had to Albus Dumbledore. Kate had mentioned him earlier that week.

"Welcome. Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts!" Dumbledore smiled at everyone before him. "Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"

Well, he certainly has a way with words. Rick thought. He immediately decided that he liked this guy. Dumbledore was OK in his book.

"Thank you!" Dumbledore finished his little speech and sat down to a roaring applause. Rick turned away and focused on his plate for a moment. Just then, food appeared in multitudes before him. What would he go for first? The table was laden with Pork Chicken, and beef, plus every vegetable he had ever heard of plus a few that he couldn't name.

Rick was scooping mashed potatoes onto his plate when he saw a hand extended to his right. He met the dark eyes of Javier Esposito. The kid was smiling at his in a friendly sort of way so Rick extended his own hand and shook Javier's firmly.

"Hi, I'm Esposito…just Esposito. Anyone calls me Javi, they're dead. Got that? And you are?"

"Rick Castle. Call me whatever you like." Esposito smirked at this and seemed satisfied with Rick's response.

"Nice to meet you Castle."

"You too. So is that another American accent I hear?"

"Yeah, I'm from New York City."

"Hey, me too."

"No kiddin'. What part of the city are you from?"

"Well my mom and I were living in Manhattan before I left to come here. What about you?"

"My family's from the Bronx. They're muggles apparently. Had no idea I was a wizard 'til my letter came."

"Me either. My mom isn't a witch. As it turns out my dad was a wizard but I didn't really ever know him. He left us when I was very young."

"Sorry to hear that man. That's rough."

"Thanks."

Rick spent the rest of the meal chatting with Esposito and stuffing his face with as much of the delicious food as he could get. The two of them bonded over their mutual love for their hometown and muggle upbringing. Rick hadn't realized how famished he was until he starting eating. He suddenly regretted stuffing himself with dinner when the desserts started appearing on the table.

Once dessert was finished everyone's plates vanished and tables magically cleared themselves.

Headmaster Dumbledore spoke again at this time. "Ahem—just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.

"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well." This right away got Rick's head spinning as to what was so dangerous about the forest that it was forbidden. Not that he was all that anxious to enter the forest anyway. He was pretty much a city boy to the bone.

"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.

"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch."

Dumbledore's tone took on a very somber tone suddenly. "And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death." Nearly everyone in the hall looked concerned with this news. Clearly something like this was unusual for the school.

After his message set in the headmaster's twinkle returned to his eyes. "And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" With a flick of his wand a large scroll appeared above his head and unrolled. "Everyone pick their favorite tune, and off we go!"

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,

Teach us something please,

Whether we be old and bald

Or young with scabby knees,

Our heads could do with filling

With some interesting stuff,

For now they're bare and full of air,

Dead flies and bits of fluff

So teach us things worth knowing

Bring back what we've forgot

Just do your best

We'll do the rest

And learn until our brains all rot."

Everyone finished the song at different times, the last ones being a set of red-headed Gryffindor twins who were smiling like idiots the entire time. When it was quiet once again Dumbledore clapped loudly and it appeared that he even had tears in his eyes. "Ah music, a magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot."

Suddenly it seemed like every single person in the hall was moving at once. Rick stood wondering where it was he was suppose to go. He looked at Esposito. "Do you know what's going on?"

However Esposito didn't have a chance to answer because they heard an older student yelling towards them. "Hufflepuff's this way, first year's, follow me; this way to the Hufflepuff common room." The older girl had blonde hair and a matter of fact air about her. Rick moved to follow her and found himself staring at the back of the black-haired Harry Potter's head. He looked around to see if Kate had left yet. Finding her just across the way from him, he smiled at her and she returned the smile, looking tired. He couldn't see her for very long because he was soon being pushed through the crowd to follow the rest of his house.

The blonde girl they had been following lead them out of the great hall and toward a hallway off to the left of the great hall. They made their way down sever steps to a lower level of the same corridor. There was less light down her but there were torches lit and Rick found himself gazing around at the stone walls and ceiling around him, trying to remember which direction they had come from.

"Come on you lot. Keep up. This is the quickest path to the common room."

Rick exchanged a look with Esposito, who raised his eyebrows almost sarcastically.

They finally came to a dead end in the corridor. To their right was a large portrait of fruit and on their left was a large stack of wooden barrels. Each one of the barrels was large enough for anyone of them to fit inside.

Alright, first years," the blonde girl spoke again. "This is the entrance to the Hufflepuff common room and dormitories." She walked over the barrels and tapped on the one sitting in the very middle of the stack, second from the bottom. The tapping was in a pattern of five beats. As soon as she was finished the barrel swung open to reveal a tunnel large enough for a grown man to crawl through.

"As you can see, if you do this properly the entrance will open for you. Do this incorrectly and one of the other barrels will spout vinegar all over you. This is of course to prevent intruders to the common room. It's sort of like having a password. Get it wrong and not only will you not be granted access but you will also get very wet and wreak of vinegar. The tapping is in the rhythm of Helga Hufflepuff. Five syllables, five taps. It's important that you not share this secret with students from other houses. Understood?"

They nodded their heads yes and one by one entered the tunnel. The Hufflepuff common room was a large but cozy looking room decorated with soft earth tones and banners of yellow and black. There were portraits on the walls of people Rick had never seen before. Most of them looked like they were from another century. On the far wall right above the large fire place was a moderately sized portrait of a woman whom they later learned to be Helga Hufflepuff herself. She had the portrait placed there so that she always had a way of watching over her pupils even after she was gone. It was believed that Hufflepuff had had a great maternal instinct but had no children of her own. Her students had been like her children and she loved them as such.

"Welcome. This is you common room. This is where you will spend much of your time when not in classes and after curfew. The boys dormitories are to the left through that barrel hole in the wall, girls the same on the right." The prefect finished explaining this and Rick then noticed the large barrel tops low on the wall. Much the same as the ones they had entered the common room through. "Just place your hand on the barrel and it should open for you. However, if boys and girls try to enter each others' dormitories they will refuse to open. Just don't try it, ok? I don't want to have to give you detention."

"Why would we want to get into each other's dorms anyway?" Esposito whispered to Rick as they started toward the appropriate dormitory entrance.

"Beats me," Rick answered back with a shrug.

When they reached their dorm they noticed that there were five large four poster beds arranged around the room. The bed clothes were colored gold with intricate black patterns woven into the fabric. There was also black velvet drapes hanging around each bed with gold trim around the edges.

"Woah, check this place out. We really get to live here?" said Rick, whose eyes were wandering all around the room.

The other boys were choosing their beds. A brown-haired boy name Justin had chosen a spot on far wall to Rick's left. A blond boy named Ernie had chosen the bed right next to Justin's left side.

"Which one do you want?" Rick asked Esposito.

"I guess I'll take this one," he said pointing to one right in front of them; walking around the grate in the middle of the room that probably held the room's main source of heat.

"Ok, then." Rick moseyed over to the large bed to Esposito's left. "I guess this one's mine." He glanced down at the floor noticing that his trunk had already been there waiting for him. The last bed was left empty because there were only four of them.

Rick felt physically drained form such a long day. This place was a lot to take in. Though he was grateful to have his new mates to count as friends, especially his New York hailing brother Esposito, he still found himself feeling lonely. He missed his mother, his bedroom back home; he even missed the sounds of the city that would lull him to sleep every night. It was so quite here. Also, despite the fact that she was here in the castle, he missed Kate. He had grown used to sharing a room with her over the last week while they stayed at the Leaky Cauldron.

Snap out of it Castle, you don't miss her that much. You just met her a week ago. You cannot have grown that attached to her already. She's a girl for crying out loud. Rick tried to convince himself of this as he put on his pajamas and crawled into his new bed as the other boys did much of the same thing. He debated whether or not to pull the curtains around him. Finally, he decided against it, noticing that there was a window a few feet from his bed. Perhaps the sun would wake him up in the morning. He didn't want to oversleep.

"Good night guys," Rick said as he settled down under the covers.

"Good night." came three different voices.

That night Rick dreamt about flying. There was large expanse of green land below him, and the sun shining down on his back. Not only was he flying but he riding what appeared to be a giant eagle with a horse's back legs and tail.

Yay! Done with this chapter. Took forever but it's done. Woohoo! Looking forward to what's to come. What's Rick's first day of classes going to be like? Stayed tuned to find out.

Thank you for reading.