DISCLAIMER: If you recognize it, it belongs to JKR
Written for watching stiricide's sorting hat challenge on HPFC
Filly knew there was going to be trouble when the three teenagers burst into his compartment. Well, not his per say, the one he was sharing with two other first years, all three of them preferring to read than socialise.
"Little firsties" the middle one exclaimed with a grin, nudging his companions.
"Fresh meat," another replied, drawing his wand and flicking his brown curls out of his eyes.
A quick glance at their robes-red and gold lining- told Filly their house. Gryffindors. Bored Gryffindors who probably knew a lot more magic than he did, and who had certainly had more practice actually casting spells.
One of the others in the compartment, a dour-faced Scottish girl with a severe coating of freckles and plaits tied with tartan ribbons glared over A thousand and one magical herbs. "Sod off and go bother someone who cares."
The trio grinned at each other, before turning towards Filly and the other first year, a terrified looking boy with a mop of black hair that fell over his eyes. He had introduced himself as Dominic Braithwaite, muggleborn, and had retreated behind his own book, something called Wind in the Willows, which Filly had never heard of, so he assumed it was of muggle origin.
"Now," the lead boy started, gesturing in the Scottish girl's direction (she had introduced herself, but through the accent Filly wasn't quite sure. Something starting with M) "That is no way to speak to your elders and betters."
A pair of raised eyebrows appeared over the magical herbs text, followed by a steely glare far too old for an eleven-year-old's face.
"Halton McLaggen if you so much as point your wand in my direction, or at anyone in this compartment who thinks you're a moron then so help me I'll write to my mother who will floo your mother, who will definitely send a howler."
Brown curls took a half-step back, before straightening his robes and glancing at his friends, obviously hoping that they hadn't seen him back down to a first year.
"What, going to cry to mummy little girl?" He smirked, but there was a note of uncertainty in his voice. The girl smiled victory.
"You don't know who I am do you? Does your mummy never talk of her quidditch captain and duelling partner?"
The red flush which had decorated brown-curl's cheeks drained like he had been hit with a fainting jinx.
"Ross," he muttered, his wand dropping an inch.
"McGonagall actually, but don't worry, I won't hold it against you."
She gave the trio a brief smile, and returned to her book.
The other two seemed keen to continue the conversation, but a muttered word from brown-curls McLaggen quietened them. They restrained themselves to nasty looks as they backed out. Filly felt himself releasing a breath he hadn't realised he was holding. Beside him, Braithwaite was doing the same. He offered a shaky smile to the Scottish girl, who seemed to be restraining a smirk at her victory.
"Gryffindor?" he asked casually.
She gave a wry grimace, and held her book like a shield. "After seeing that lot? No thank you."
"Amen to that," he replied as casually as possible. After all he had heard about Gryffindor, after all the daydreams of being the bold duelling champion and school hero, it seemed it wasn't the best place after all.
It was full dark and hailing by the time they reached Hogsmeade station, though Filly could still make out the outlines of some of the closer houses. A cheery Hufflepuff prefect had come by twenty minutes before to remind them to change into their robes (the boys had waited outside while the Scottish girl, Minerva had changed; one raised eyebrow and they didn't bother questioning the request), and the trio joined the flow of children making their way towards the glowing lantern, kept hovering by a slightly hunch-backed man with a sour expression, umbrella raised against the weather.
"Come on then, you lot. Follow me first years, and be quick about it."
The stream of first years followed in the wake of his awkward gait, silent except for the occasional curse as a sudden gust of wind blew the sheeting rain under their cloaks.
At the shore, the groundskeeper waved them towards a line of small boats.
Merlin, don't let me fall in, Filly muttered as he clambered into the nearest one. He stared across the lake, where small pricks of light suggested the castle outline through the sheets of obscuring sleet. Two other boys followed him in, tall enough to only have to step over the edge. Looking back, Filly saw the boy from his compartment, shaking his head violently, eyes wide with fear as the surly groundskeeper tried to urge him forwards. Snippets of their argument could be heard on the wind,
"-damned boy, just-"
"-chance in hell-"
"-keeping us standing in the rain-"
Eventually, he scooped up the trembling boy, dumped him over the side of Filly's boat and waved his wand viciously.
The boats leaped forward into the choppy lake, rolling from side-to-side as green-faced first years gripped the edges.
Braithwaite lay in the bottom of Filly's boat, curled tightly in a ball. He whimpered every time the boat rocked, and twitched away from the splashes of water over the side. The broad-shouldered golden-haired boy who had followed Filly on board bent down to check if he was hurt. He grimaced in the direction of the groundskeeper, whose boat quickly and steadily made the crossing, supported by his magic. "My brother says the old man's a'right," he informed them through a rolling Scottish burr, "just hates the wet. Turns his temper sour, he said."
Filly found that hard to believe given the surly hunchback's treatment of Braithwaite. He was forced to reassess when the old man leaped out at the other side, and set about magically steadying their boats as they crossed the last part of the water into the sheltered cove.
A flick of his wand as they hopped out dried the worst of the damp from their thick school cloaks, and he helped Braithwaite stand and clamber out with surprising gentleness.
Filly stood in the corner surveying his new classmates as he enjoyed his freshly dried and warmed robes. They had been met at the entrance to the castle by the Deputy Headmaster, Professor Dippett, who had cast an amused eye over the dripping, shivering first years, before directing them inside. He had casually described the four houses as he charmed, graciously greeted the ghosts who glided through, and had bade them wait. The Scottish girl from his compartment was nervously fiddling with her tartan ribbons, Braithwaite was chatting animatedly to the golden-haired boy who had introduced himself as Halton MacMillan., and a group of girls were making adjustments to one another's robes and hair in the opposite corner. Filly started feeling butterflies turning in his stomach. He hadn't decided which house he wanted yet, nor was he certain of how they were sorted. His parents had refused to answer his subtle questions, and each was convinced that he would end up in their old house. His father, Falonius Flitwick was a third generation Ravenclaw with a passion for obscure texts on ancient history, wizarding or muggle. Filly had always loved winter nights in front of the fire, hearing his father spin tales of heroic battles and bold champions. On the other hand, the tales he heard from his mother about Gryffindor tower and the fun she and her friends had there was tempting too.
Professor Dippett returned and gestured for them to form two lines as they marched into the Great Hall. Looking around, Filly noticed he was by far the smallest of the group. Another crop of butterflies danced in his stomach as they passed the silent faces watching with interest. At the front of the hall, an old and battered wizard's hat rested upon an ornately carved chair. Without warning, the largest rip opened wider and a gnarly voice began to sing:
Long ago in days of yore
When I was new and gleaming
Four powers of magic great
Came together with their dreaming
Said Ravenclaw, we need a school
To teach magical learning
Said Slytherin it must be a secret place
To save us all from burning
Said Gryffindor we'll defend ourselves
Behind our mighty walls
Said Hufflepuff we'll make a home
Of warmth within these halls
Their fortress built, their people safe
They did begin to teach
But those students of most value
Differed to them each
For Slytherin a hearty dose
Of ambition and wizarding pride
Gryffindor took the bold and strong
And chivalrous in his stride
Hufflepuff sought the workers
With justice in their hearts
While Ravenclaw took intelligence
And love of learning in equal parts
As time wore on, divisions grew
The founders friendship wearied
But how to sort the young and new
When they were gone, they queried
Gryffindor gave my body
The others gave my mind
And here I sit centuries on
To pick and choose the kind
That will be best for every house
So try me on and see
I'll help you find where you belong
Your house I will decree
As the seated students applauded, Filly considered the hat's words. Bold and strong and chivalrous. Hardly words used to describe a 3'9" boy with glasses. Still, his father had always said that courage came from the heart, not height, though his father was 5'2" and possibly biased. Intelligence and love of learning in equal parts, well Filly did love to learn new things, but surely there was more to life than study and books?
Professor Dippet started calling out names, summoning them alphabetically to be seated and sorted. Each student was given a hearty cheer by their new housemates as they were placed; Filly hoped his size wouldn't put them off him. Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, how was he to decide?
Startled from his thoughts, Filly stumbled out of the line and clambered onto the chair. He heard a few giggles as the battered hat settled over his shoulders, completely covering his entire head and part of his chest.
Well now, what do we have here? A thirst for learning combined with a rare chivalrous streak, all topped with a burning desire to succeed. Interesting.
Filly couldn't remember any of the others talking aloud, so he thought hard at the hat.
"So where does that mean I belong?"
I'm not quite sure young man. Let me see, you definitely don't suit Hufflepuff; far too competitive. And I'm fairly certain Slytherin would be a mistake. Yes, you want to succeed, but there are limits to what you will do to reach your goals. So, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw…
"I was debating the same thing."
Yes, I can see that. And it would seem you did not come up with an answer yet, hmmm?
No, and your family history is split that way too. Yes, very interesting indeed.
"What happens now, then?"
What happens now is that I have to think long and hard. Don't worry, there's a difficult one every few years. It's nothing new.
"Given my stature, the last thing I need is something else for them to tease me about."
And does that bother you, being teased? Yes it does, but at the same time you would relish the opportunity to prove them wrong. Such courage is suited well to Gryffindor.
Except your passion for learning is hard to ignore. Normally I would not hesitate to say Ravenclaw.
This would be much easier if you had a preference, young Mister Flitwick.
"Honestly, I would be happy in either."
And therein lies the problem. You would do well in either, the question is where would you do best? Is it better to have a bold Ravenclaw or learned Gryffindor? Either way it will not be a perfect fit. Your desire to become a duelling champion, and right the wrongs of the world is a very Gryffindorish daydream, and yet you think of it as that-a dream-nothing more. Your thirst for knowledge is great, but driven by the need to use it for greater purposes. Once again, righting the wrongs, yet you still enjoy learning for learning's sake. A conundrum indeed.
"Perhaps if you work through the pros and cons logically-"
Logically, you say. Think it through carefully and be certain?
"Well, yes. That is what my father would say, anyway."
Yes your Ravenclaw father. And what, pray, would your mother say?
"I….I don't know. She doesn't like riddles and puzzles very much. She would probably flip a knut."
But you would work through it logically. Yes, I see. Well Mister Flitwick, I think I have the answer. You may have to restrain your chivalrous impulses, but you will make a fine, bold, logical-
Filly wrestled the hat off and bit back a yelp as he stood on numbed feet. The Ravenclaw table was cheering for him, no less than for anyone else. He crossed the hall with a smile, passing Braithwaite at the Hufflepuff table. With a smile, Filly sat back to watch the rest of the sorting from his new home.