For the Sorting Hat Challenge by Stiricide at HPFC. My prompt: Parvati Patil.

I've never written Parvati, Padma, or Lavender. This was interesting. I quite like Padma the best, in this story anyway. This was better in my head, but I still like the way it turned out, though the Sorting Hat is a bit odd, here.

Disclaimer: I don't own.

"Conflicted"

Parvati hopped eagerly into the boat, thinking it was just perfect when the gigantic man told them no more than four to a boat. After all, they had a perfect foursome already: Parvati, her sister Padma, a girl named Lavender Brown (and Parvati hoped her parents weren't completely sadistic and at least maybe her middle name wasn't a color as well, but she was too shy yet to ask), and another girl named Susan Bones. Lavender was chatty, and Susan was quiet and nice, and Parvati knew already that with friends like these, Hogwarts was going to be wonderful.

The four chattered merrily all the way up to the castle, until the stern woman who introduced herself as Professor McGonagall told them to settle down.

She explained about the houses, and Parvati felt a lead weight drop into her stomach. Somehow, in all the excitement, she'd forgotten that tiny detail. What if they were split up?

Parvati shook that thought off. It wasn't worth worrying over.

She gaped in suitable awe at the Great Hall and eyed the Sorting Hat with great disdain, a small amount of which lingered even after it began to sing.

The Sorting was alphabetical, so Susan was the first of them, after only "Abbott, Hannah!"

"Good luck, Susan!" Lavender called as Susan walked up to the stool.

After a moment, the hat called out "HUFFLEPUFF!"

Lavender, Parvati, and Padma cheered as loudly as any of the Hufflepuffs as Susan sat down next to Hannah Abbott, smiling softly.

After a couple of Ravenclaws, it was Lavender's turned. Parvati wished her luck, though quietly, quite unlike Lavender's boisterous shout, before she walked up the steps.

"GRYFFINDOR!"

The lead in Parvati's stomach gained weight. They were going to be separated. What if, she thought, panicky, what if none of us are together? Four houses, four of us, it's only logical!

Parvati started to worry herself into a frenzy, and it was only Padma's calm hand on her shoulder that stopped her.

" 'Vati?" she asked quietly.

"Sorry, Pads. It's just… What if none of us are in the same house?"

"Then we'll make new friends, and meet up in our free hours. Just because we aren't in the same house, doesn't mean we'll never see each other."

Parvati nodded. An older girl sitting next to them snorted. Padma looked at her questioningly.

"Sorry," the girl said, not sounding very sorry at all. "I couldn't help but overhear, and while that may all sound good in theory, it doesn't happen that way in practice." There was bitterness in her voice, and she couldn't help the brief glance at another girl, another table. "Your housemates are your friends. Everyone else, they don't matter, unless it's to be your enemies." Padma gave the girl a dark look that clearly read, "You're not helping."

The girl huffed and turned away.

"Think brave thoughts, Pads," Parvati murmured miserably. Padma, who always had her nose buried in a book, was bound to be a Ravenclaw. That left Parvati in Slytherin.

"Oh, please, 'Vati!"

"What?"

"The Sorting Hat is a very powerful magical object! You don't think it'd see right through what's on the surface? You really think it could be hoodwinked by a pair of eleven-year-olds who don't know a single spell between them? Honestly, Parvati. You'll go where it puts you, and that's that. It won't change the fact that you're my sister, no matter what."

Parvati smiled, but it was strained, fake, and Padma could tell.

"Honestly, 'Vati," she sighed. "You worry too much."

"Patil, Padma!"

Padma smiled at Parvati and they wished each other good luck in unison. Parvati smiled, as she always did when they spoke together – which was frequently – and it wasn't faked this time.

Her good mood, however, didn't last long.

"RAVENCLAW!"

"Patil, Parvati!"

Parvati walked heavily up to the stool, her feet like cement blocks. Despite Padma's coherent argument, Parvati attempted to think brave, clever thoughts, though, honestly, she wasn't sure where she wanted to go, at this point. Padma was her sister, regardless, and Lavender might not be her friend if she was a Ravenclaw, but she would miss Padma fiercely. Then there was Susan, but Parvati didn't think she had the makings of a Hufflepuff.

The moment the hat touched her head, Parvati asked, "You're not going to put me in Slytherin, are you?"

The hat had the audacity to laugh.

"You don't have a Slytherin bone in your body, child!"

Parvati sighed in satisfaction and immediately forgave the hat for laughing.

"Ahh, there's really only one place for you, isn't there? Better be GRYFFINDOR!"

Parvati was caught between relief and horror.

She hopped off the stool and walked to her allotted table amidst loud cheers.

"I'm sorry," she whispered to her sister as she passed the Ravenclaw table. Padma caught her wrist, stopping her in her tracks. Parvati turned.

"Don't, Vati. Don't ever apologize for being who you are."

Parvati's eyes shone as she nodded once, sharply, before sitting beside Lavender, who had slid over to make room. She caught Padma's eye and smiled, before turning to introduce herself to her fellow Gryffindors.