Sorry this took so long! I've had a lot on my plate.
I hope I chose a good house for Artemis to be sorted into. It was so hard to choose.
Also, warning for gratuitous cameos beyond this point.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to nor affiliation with Young Justice or the Harry Potter series.
Artemis fidgeted with the hem of her skirt, biting the inside of her cheek as she watched the excited-looking red-haired boy – Bloomberg, she thought the name was; she hadn't been listening – leaped off of the stool and sprinted over to the Ravenclaw table. She clenched her fists. She still had quite a while to wait, because transfer students were Sorted last, but that didn't stop the apprehension coursing through her.
The Great Hall was, for lack of a better word, enormous. It was able to house the entirety of Hogwarts' student population, so she supposed that enormous was a good thing for it to be, but the vastness of its vaulted ceiling that reflected the sky outside (starry, somewhat cloudy, waning crescent moon) and its gold-lit walls still rendered her a bit dazed. She glanced over her shoulder to the four long tables, eyes catching the candles that floated over them. She vaguely wondered how the wax managed to avoid dripping down onto everyone's heads.
She spotted a hand pop up from the Ravenclaw table and wave, and she quickly followed the arm down to find that it belonged to Dick Grayson, who was beaming encouragingly at her. Seated across from him was a girl with silky, jet-black hair that cascaded past her shoulders; she seemed to share Dick's enthusiasm, for she gave Artemis a small wave as well, her clear blue eyes bright even in the crowd. Artemis blinked unresponsively at the two of them before scanning the remainder of the tables.
She spotted Wally in no time, his bright shock of red hair bursting out among the various blonds and brunets. He was zealously consuming a chicken leg without coming up for air, which was likely the explanation for the nauseated grimace on Roy's face beside him. Conner's attention was fixed firmly on the students being Sorted, and he noticed Artemis watching them, nodding solemnly at her. She flushed, turning away.
"Timothy Drake!" The woman that had met them in the Entrance Hall after Professor Logan had dropped them off was, if Artemis recalled correctly, one Professor Lance, a petite but somehow still imposing woman with blonde hair and blue eyes and a voice that silenced even the chattiest of first-years. She was holding out a scroll of parchment in front of her and reading each name from it with clarity and enunciation, giving encouraging nods to any students who looked nervous. She had given the lot of them a welcome speech earlier that Artemis couldn't be bothered to remember.
Timothy Drake, a raven-haired boy who was nimble and serious-looking, sat on the wooden stool that had been placed at the front of the Great Hall, gripping the edges nervously. Professor Lance placed the Sorting Hat, a brown and ratty thing, on his head, where it shifted pensively. After a moment, it declared, "Ravenclaw!", and Timothy Drake jogged over to join the Bloomberg boy.
It continued like that for quite a while. Artemis had a difficult time paying attention to most of it save for the sounds; she was too busy staring at a scuffed space on the floor, still tugging at her skirt.
Artemis flinched. Slytherin. The utterance of it, the idea of it, was all but sacred in her family, a coveted testament to their extensive history and ambitious natures. Artemis hated the sound of it, the hissing it made against the back of her teeth. She stared at Rose Wilson as she strode to the Slytherin table and wondered if she should envy the pride she held or condemn it.
"And now we'll be moving on to transfer students," Professor Lance announced, closing the scroll she held and promptly opening another from under her arm. "Artemis Crock!"
Artemis's heart promptly shut down, but not so much that her limbs didn't carry her through the crowd and up to the stool, where she sat stiffly down, her hands set reticently in her lap. She caught a glimpse of Wally's red hair at the Gryffindor table moving as he lifted his head up to look at her before Professor Lance placed the Sorting Hat over her eyes and everything went suddenly dark.
Ah… a Crock, I see. How interesting. You're a bit more diverse than your family, I must say. Much more interesting. You've got a bit of everything, my dear – not a lick of Hufflepuff in you, though; I can tell you that much…
"Didn't think there would be," Artemis muttered before she could stop herself.
Chatty one, aren't you? Needn't use your tongue to speak to me, girl. I can hear everything rustling about in your head; it's what I was made for. Now… let's see here. Got quite a bit of Gryffindor – impetuous, resilient, proud… loyal when you want to be, but you're a picky one about that! Oh, my dear, I see a dazzling amount of Ravenclaw in you, too… clever one, you are, quick to think and learn; you've got a wit about you, too, and a hunger for knowledge, for understanding… great deal of cynicism to boot. Seems to all add up quite nicely – but you would do so well in Slytherin—
No, Artemis thought with all of her being. No, no, anywhere but there. Anywhere. I can't belong there; I can't. Not after everything I've done to…
Oh, and you've done quite a bit, haven't you? Stubborn little slip of a thing, you are. Not inclined to follow in your family's footsteps, how typically Gryffindorian… you seek the opposite of where you come from, do you not? The antithesis of your own blood. And what better direction to go than Gryffindor? But you're not like they are, not quite. Whether you're inclined to Slytherin or not, you've got the cunning for it; the ambition… my dear, I can sense that you would burn all those who stood in the way of what you want.
I wouldn't, Artemis insisted. You can't always get what you want. I know that. I understand that. And I won't go after what I can't have; I—I would never hurt—
Chivalrous! My darling, you're trying too hard, and it isn't even where you belong, really.
I have to belong there! Artemis all but shouted through her temples. I have to belong somewhere!
Oh, you do. And I think it had better be…
Artemis abruptly reached onto her head and tore off the Sorting Hat, throwing it furiously to the ground.
A collective gasp pulsed through the hall, tapering into silence at the back of the room. Artemis kept her eyes trained on the Sorting Hat and stepped forward, placing her foot on its brim, which caused it to glower up at her through its torn holes for eyes.
"Think hard," she whispered to it. "Think really hard."
"Excuse me, Miss Crock!" Professor Lance grabbed Artemis's forearm with a steely tightness that took her by surprise, wrenching her away from the fallen Hat. "What in Merlin's name do you think you're doing?"
"Just reminding it how to do its job," Artemis muttered, blowing her hair out of her eyes. Professor Lance fussed over the Hat for a moment, glowering venomously over her shoulder. Artemis, in spite of herself, couldn't help but balk a little.
"That is hardly your place to—"
Professor Lance's tirade was cut off, somehow, by the faint sound of someone – clapping. Artemis glanced cautiously around, trying to find the source, and quickly wheeled on the staff's table, where a wizened man with twinkling blue eyes was slowly applauding, smiling almost proudly down at her.
"Headmaster Nelson?" Professor Lance all but demanded, dusting off the Hat. Artemis went rigid. The Headmaster? Surely she was about to be expelled—
"Well done!" Nelson exclaimed gleefully. Artemis's eyes widened. "This Sorting business gets more and more dull every year, but you managed to wake me up!"
"I, uh…" Artemis spluttered, but Professor Lance was already herding her back to the stool.
"Don't encourage her, Headmaster," she admonished Nelson, who shrugged, still smirking. She bent down to speak into Artemis's ear, her tone threatening. "Miss Crock, if you try anything like that again, I'll have you expelled. For now, you're pardoned. Now allow the Sorting Hat to do its job properly."
With that, she shoved the Hat back onto Artemis, and the Hall went quiet once more.
That was certainly exciting. You're a little asp, aren't you? All right, all right. I'll bring this to an end. You did give me time to think. Let me ask you this, then. Answer honestly; I'll know if you don't. You are strolling along a path. Ahead of you lies the forest. To your left is the ocean. To your right is a castle, civilization. Which do you choose?
What came behind me? Artemis asked, her throat dry. The Hat was silent for a great deal of time.
Yes. What came behind you, indeed?
She never thought a Hat could sound so pleased.
She held her breath as the brief second of silence expanded out, and at last, the Sorting Hat spoke.
"Ravenclaw!" it roared.
The Ravenclaw table thundered with applause, and Artemis thought she heard Dick cat-calling. The Hat was swiftly whisked off of her head and she was bedazzled once again by the bright lights of the Hall, by the enthusiasm of the Ravenclaw table as its inhabitants stood and clapped warmly.
Admittedly a bit stunned, Artemis didn't move from the stool, staring out at the scene with surprised eyes until Professor Lance lifted her up by the arm and shooed her down the few steps from the stone rostrum and toward the Ravenclaw table. Dick was bouncing out of his seat and waving his arms in the air to get her attention.
Artemis managed to get a hold of herself long enough to stride forward to where Dick was seated; he moved enthusiastically aside to accommodate her, and she squeezed herself into the space. People were cheering for her and the tall, bulky dark-skinned boy beside her – he bellowed something about his name being Mal Duncan – clapped her eagerly on the back, knocking the wind out of her.
Dick was cackling. "Ease up, Miss Crock! Have you been petrified recently?"
"Shut up," Artemis heard herself say, and her ability to focus immediately followed. She narrowed her eyes askance at the beaming Dick before elbowing him. "What're you so thrilled about?"
"What do you think?" Dick shoved her back, causing her to topple against Mal Duncan, who smirked. "Your glowing personality is the latest asset to my house. I have every right to be thrilled."
Artemis frowned skeptically. "Oh."
Dick grinned stupidly at her for another few minutes before seeming to regain some semblance of sentience.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" he declared breezily, and Artemis was sure that he hadn't almost forgotten whatever he was about to do in the slightest. He slung his arm around her, and before she could protest, continued, "Artemis Crock, meet Zatanna Zatara."
Artemis's eyes widened and she stiffened, sitting straight up to follow the arm he had extended with a flourish. It pointed to the raven-haired girl she had noticed earlier, seated directly across from them – she was fair-skinned and had an almost wicked-looking smirk of mirth on her pretty face. Her eyes were almost as blue as Dick's.
Artemis couldn't help the glower that came onto her face. The Zataras were a family of Purebloods much like hers, and she had taught herself to hold disdain for any family like hers. Most Purebloods tended to be pompous and exclusive, and she had heard many stories about the posh Zataras and their privileged lifestyles. They were considered among the most advanced at magic in the wizarding world, and truth be told, Artemis had always held a bit of envy for their precocious daughter, a girl with everything she could want in life – a loving father, good looks, bountiful magical talent, plenty of friends – and who likely hadn't even heard of the kind of malicious world Artemis had grown up in.
"Hi," Artemis grunted.
Zatanna's smile faltered and she frowned very slightly, still keeping up the pleasant expression as best she could.
"Nice to meet you," Zatanna said hesitantly. "I think."
She extended her hand across the table to shake Artemis's. After a moment's hesitation, Artemis accepted, reciprocating the motion halfheartedly before quickly withdrawing.
"Uh, sorry, have we met?" Zatanna asked abruptly.
"No." She folded her arms and leaned against the table, glancing aside at Dick, who still looked inexplicably satisfied by the whole affair. "Why?"
"Well, we must've, otherwise you wouldn't really have a reason for looking like you're ready to curse my hair off," Zatanna retorted, mirroring Artemis's movements. "Come on, give me a hint. What did I do?"
"Nothing," Artemis told her gruffly. She sighed, letting her tight shoulders loosen slightly. "I just don't really do well around royalty."
Zatanna stared at her blankly for a moment, and a palpable tension started to rise at their little section of the table, but suddenly, Zatanna exploded into loud laughter, her nose crinkling.
Artemis raised her eyebrow and looked to Dick for explanation, but he seemed just as amused as Zatanna, his cheeks high with a leer.
"You're both getting along swimmingly, I see," he giggled, and Dick Grayson was naturally the sort of person to use swimmingly in everyday conversation, Artemis thought dryly.
"What's so funny?" Artemis demanded of the other girl, who wheezed back into composure and wiped at her eye with one dainty hand.
"I'm sorry—I'm sorry," Zatanna spluttered, barely choking back another guffaw. "It's just – wow, royalty. I guess I hadn't thought of it that way."
"Tch. Sure," Artemis muttered quietly, but apparently Zatanna heard her even over the din.
"Look, I'm not here to pass any judgments; I'm here to make friends and wave a few wands," Zatanna told her frankly, folding her hands under her chin and resting it on them, smirking still. "I heard your name. Crock. I'm presuming one of the Crocks."
"As much as you're one of the Zataras, yes," Artemis snapped back, resisting the urge to add a disdainful "princess" to the end of the sentence. "Although my lineage isn't exactly something to brag about. Not like yours."
"I'm not a bragger, and you're clearly not a coddler, so I guess we're even, right?" she said simply, tilting her head and raising her eyebrows.
Artemis frowned hesitantly.
"Uh, yeah, I guess," she mumbled back. Zatanna brightened, straightening up.
"Okay. So let's try this again. I'm Zatanna Zatara, fourth year. And you are?" She produced her hand again, lowering her head expectantly.
Artemis rolled her eyes and shook her hand with slightly more vigor, huffing.
"Artemis. Crock, not like that's any big mystery. Fifth year, I… I think." She shifted her gaze questioningly to Dick, who nodded sagely. "Yeah. I'm a transfer, so…"
"From?" Zatanna inquired.
Artemis looked away.
"Muggle high school in Gotham City," she supplied vaguely.
Dick chose that moment to pipe up.
"But – your family's Pureblood. You're not a Squib. Why go to a Muggle school?" he asked, sounding genuinely confused.
"Because I wanted to?" Artemis sighed. "It's not really important. I'm here now, also because I want to be."
She largely expected Zatanna and Dick to grill her further, and Mal Duncan had apparently been listening the entire time because even he was frowning bemusedly down at her, but Zatanna surprised her.
"Well, welcome," the girl said frankly, beaming. "I'm sure you'll be a marvelous addition to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
On impulse, Artemis glanced over her shoulder at the Gryffindor table. Wally was staring at her, but he redirected his attention with incredible quickness – so incredible that Artemis almost thought he hadn't been looking at her at all – to Roy and Conner, grinning enthusiastically and plucking another chicken leg from the platter in front of Conner. The Slytherins beyond them were loud, raucous, and enlivened; Rose Wilson already seemed to be fitting in well, talking animatedly with a raven-haired, muscular girl that Artemis didn't know.
She turned her head back so that her eyes wandered to the Hufflepuffs – Megan, laughing charmingly into one hand, was beside a stoic-looking boy with dark skin, uncanny blonde hair, and almost white eyes, who was smiling coolly at her. Across from Megan was the excited blonde first-year – Cassandra Sandsmark – who was gesticulating feverishly, looking indescribably joyful to be there, as though she could have wished for nothing more in life.
Artemis picked up a fork.
"I'm glad somebody is," she muttered, but she finished with a smirk, and Zatanna rightly took it as a sign of friendliness, and she and Dick were blathering in unison about a hundred different things, and Artemis never ate so much – or felt so guiltless for it – in her life.
Classes began tomorrow.
That was certainly going to be an experience.