Disclaimer: It's Rowling's playground, I just enjoy it. I own none of the characters, locations, and other such things that make up Harry Potter's universe.
A/N: As always my thanks goes out to those of you who take the time out of your day to read this, and to those of you who kindly take the time out of your day to review.
This is a major revision of my first story, The Sorting Hat's Stand, which will be taken down when I reach the point in the revision of the last written chapter. Though most of the changes so far will be rather liberal application of the big rules of writing: "Show, don't Tell" (though it is generally harder before I take a bat to canon and force a divergence), combined with some general corrections of my abuse of my native tongue. Also, trying to pare down the author's notes. This will probably be the largest for a good long while.
The basis of this story is DrgnMstr's Sorting Abuse Challenge, with my notes on how I am handling the conditions in italics:
What if the Founders had their own ideas on how to protect students? What if the Sorting Hat was the "spokesperson" for Hogwarts herself? What if all students were scanned by the hat for any problems as they came in and were sorted? This might wake some people up, or cause problems for plans people may or may not have made. Conditions:
1.) At Harry's sorting, the Sorting hat notices the abuse Harry had gone through at home. Abuse can be canon (neglect and emotional at the very least) or fanon (varying degrees of physical and/or even sexual). It immediately calls a halt to the sorting, calling for Madam Pomfrey and the head of the DMLE and will not sort anyone else until they arrive.
(I most definitely do this.)
2.) There is no way to get around contacting these people (I leave it up to you to figure out how).
3.) Only when Harry is in the hands of Law Enforcement and the Healers will sorting continue.
(I take it a bit farther, but the spirit of the rule is held.)
4.) Dumbledore can be blind good guy or Dark Lord or anything in between.
(Still not sure how badly Dumbles is going to be in the end, but most probably somewhere in between, he just doesn't care about what happens to Harry in the end. It is all for the Greater Good after all.)
5.) Harry must get free of the Dursleys for this, they cannot escape punishment.
6.) Ships can be any, but 3-some with Hermione and another person or Multi preferable (helping to show him love). Ships can be very slow to begin with.
(As this is a suggestion, it is getting ignored, possibly for now. The ship being spotlighted at the Tri-Wizard arc may or may not be final.)
7.) Harry should get other help from Hogwarts/Sorting Hat throughout his schooling.
(This most definitely happens.)
8.) Horcruxes okay, but NO HARRY HORCRCUX. Mother's protection will not allow it.
(There may still be 'Cruxes, but to sum up my thoughts on this Tom's attempt for immortality: "Not just one path to victory, but all possible paths.")
9.) Please, no Deathly Hollows.
(Hollows as a prominent subplot is going to be a whole different story.)
10.) No evil!Harry, Grey!Harry or Light!Harry preferable, so long as good sided.
(Harry is definitely one of the good guys... to the good guys, the bad guys are eventually going to be grease spots. So probably a nice shade of gray. It is one of my favorite colors.)
And so, we begin again...
Chapter 1: A Sorting to Remember
Being the Events in Parallel of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book I
Harry Potter was sitting in the last compartment in the last car of the Hogwarts Express still trying to piece together just how in the bloody hell his life had gotten so turned on its head. From the very large, but extremely nice, man telling him he was a wizard on his birthday in a shack on rock during a storm at sea, before which his walrus of an uncle had led the family on a frantic run from a horde of letters, to where he was now sitting a month and a day later, he had to admit that maybe his life was finally turning around.
He had been in the care of the Dursleys for just under a decade and had been subject to just about every form of abuse one could commit against a child, save sexual. And at that thought he shivered and felt more than a little nauseous, though he only had a few vague ideas of what it entailed.
As he was trying to shake that thought from his head by thinking of other things, the youngest male redhead from the family that had helped him get onto the platform came into the compartment, sparking just the distraction he needed. As Harry herded a few stray thoughts toward each other and laced them together with a few strands of paranoia, and as the redhead muttered something about everywhere else being filled up, Harry came to the conclusion that it was a little too convenient for a woman with three sons already in Hogwarts to forget the platform number, so threaded the possibility that the ginger was lying (it was kind of hard to believe that every other compartment was packed when a glance out the window showed other students still milling in the hall) into his stream of thought, and he then added in the fact that the woman wasn't surprised when he used his timid orphan mask to ask her how to get onto Platform 9¾.
If this kept up he might well become distrustful of redheads in general. But Harry was never one to turn away company due to his fat slob of a cousin's bullying, and so kept his gob shut about how transparent Ron was being, when the twins came back in, and quickly left again, only stopping long enough to check in on their youngest brother ("Hey, Ron" were the first words out of their mouths) and they then introduced themselves as Fred and George, but with no way to tell which was which.
Ron gains a glint in his eyes, and asked, "Are you really Harry Potter?"
Harry resisted the urge to glare and simply lifted up his fringe. When he lowered his hand and remained quiet, the redheaded idiot opened his mouth. Resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose to stave off the headache he knew was coming he cut Ron off.
Having finally diverted the ginger git from his obsession with the night that seemed to mark when Harry's life decided to go down the loo, Harry pointedly ignored the woman with the cart when she came past. He'd gone days without food, and if it kept the redhead from impinging on his thoughts with anything more than chattering about chess, food, and whatever the hell Quidditch was, all the better. Though there was also a general bias against Slytherins and anything that could even be possibly "Dark". So he was possibly both a bigot and an idiot.
As he idly leafed though what he remembered of his books, Harry thought back to how he may never have gotten very good marks at school, but he remembered doing so for a very good reason. If he did anything other than cooking, cleaning, and gardening (of which Dudley did none) better than his hog of a cousin he would be beaten and then locked in his cupboard. He found that it took more intelligence to barely pass with deliberately bad marks than it did with perfect ones. Who would've thought?
So, Harry had always read ahead, his school stuff more often than not accompanying him into his cupboard, and he also spent as much possible time in libraries, which actually served a very good secondary purpose, given the fact that Duddykins avoided them like the plague. So when he had gotten his school books for Hogwarts, and now having a room with lights rather than on with whatever light filtered in through the cracks, he had read them all, multiple times.
So when a round-faced boy came in asking if either of them had seen a toad, Harry knew of something that might help, even if neither he nor the boy could actually use it.
In a flat tone, Harry asked, "You might want to ask one of the upper years if they could just use a summoning spell on your toad, you know?"
The boy stood there gobsmacked for a moment, before hitting bringing the palm of his hand to forcefully meet his forehead, and he then stalked off muttering to himself, "So that's how Gran is always finding Trevor..."
Harry then tuned Ron out as he started whinging about his own pet rat. He also resisted the urge to ask the redheaded one whether or not he wanted to spend most of his time in the company of spiders.
Though a few moments thereafter, Harry was jarred out of his thoughts as the compartment door opened, and a rather bushy haired girl entered. Given that his musings had long since stopped being interrupted by the Ron's incessant prattling about his three favorite topics, but now Ron seemed like he was about to cast some sort of spell on his rat, Harry idly wondered when he had gotten his wand out because now he need to start paying attention, if only to know when to duck for cover, so Harry silently gave his thanks for the interruption.
She asked, "Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one."
Harry sighed and then deadpanned, "Toad? Belongs to a boy with a round face, possibly goes by the name of Trevor?"
"Sent him off to look for someone in a higher year to beg a summoning spell."
She stood there with her mouth open for a minute as if it wasn't the most obvious solution in the world, and then got side tracked by the fact that Ron appeared about to do some magic, which she apparently absolutely had to see.
And the redheaded possible moron opened his mouth and removed all doubt.
"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat, rat yellow."
Harry stared and tried not to gape at the idiot. And then he started silently praying to whatever being would listen that he would not end up in the same classes as Ron. He may not be too partial to his life given how bad things had gone in the past ten years, but he still didn't want to die in an explosion caused by an idiot.
That would just be an ignominious end. So all ties to the git would have to be severed and all bridges burned at Harry's earliest convenience. The gormless buffoon was now classified as a danger to himself and, more importantly, others. Harry shuddered at the thought of having potions, a class which all the course books recommended caution for, with Ron.
Harry was just winding up his thoughts as the girl finished some sort of spiel he had only half listed too as she practically gushed about the books and she finished with introducing herself as Hermione Granger, with which he could do nothing else but introduce himself, and she then started citing books and chattering on about the texts she had read about him in, he entire bearing being in such a way as to lead Harry to a couple of conclusions about her.
Firstly, she absolutely adored books. Adored them in a way in which it seemed she believed they could do no wrong. Adored them more than could really be healthy for her. Truth be told he wanted friends, and she seemed nice enough, and definitely met his brand new minimum intelligence standards, but if her company was ever going to be tolerable to him, she would have to be introduced to a series of concepts that he had found very useful.
Secondly, and as a possible correlation to her obsession with books and general manner of beating a person over the head with facts, it would probably run a high end probability that she had few, if any, friends. Thirdly, and as an extension of both of the aforementioned, she would probably hold any and all authority figures as being paragons of some sort. The first and last of this could be fixed by introducing the concept of bias into her life, which would help curb her over reliance on books and topple authority figures form their high pedestal.
If one listened to Harry's thoughts, one might wonder why an eleven year would think things out in such away. To which Harry would point out that shite he had been put through would most likely make anyone grow up far faster than they should have to.
After the girl left, Harry went back to his random musings, until they were again derailed... But this time it was not a welcome event because the rather insufferable (and very pale) boy that he had met at the Madam Malkin's entered the compartment. Harry made the note to find some charms to seal his compartment for the next trip, because this was starting to get annoying.
And the little bigot apparently could not be sent to school without protection, because he had brought some sizable muscle with him, in the form of a pair of rather large boys that he offhandedly introduced as Crabbe and Goyle. Ron rather poorly covered a cough when the pale boy, who had a face not all that dissimilar from a ferret, introduced himself as Draco Malfoy.
Harry ignored Bigot White as he sniped back at Bigot Red and racked his brain for a means to get rid of Ferret Face. He only vaguely listened as Malfoy went on a bit about the right sort and the wrong sort in the wizarding world. Harry, though he had no bloody clue what the little ponce was going on about, came to the conclusion that not only was Draco arrogant, but he was also a bully, and sadly for Draco's hope of whatever ends he was trying to achieve, Dudley and Vernon had engendered a passionate, unholy hated bullies.
Harry ended up deciding that he would delay this rather ferret-y character for as long as possible. He would then avoid him, and if the ponce could not take a hint, he would then have to be destroyed, with extreme prejudice. He kept his face even as he tried not to laugh at that rather horrid, if entirely unintended, joke.
So, in the interest of buying as much time as possible, Harry carefully said, "I really will have to think about this Malfoy. This is all so new to me. I think I'll need a couple of days to settle into Hogwarts, maybe a fortnight at most, before I can get back to you..."
With a rather smug look on his ferret-y face, Draco replied, "Good thinking, Potter. I hope you make the right decision." And with that he turned and left.
This of course sent Ron off the deep end, who on the thought about representative animals, made Harry think of a weasel, though when he started to think on it, was a really strange thing, as Ron was the only was the only member of six members of the Weasley family that he had seen that made him think of that particular rodent. This train of thought helped Harry block out the ginger's ranting about dark wizards, purebloods, and how Harry would turn evil if he associated with wrong sort faster than you could say pumpkin juice.
Harry sighed and wondered when the damn ride would be over.
In the crush of bodies as the students piled off the train, Harry put as much distance as he could between Ron and himself. Git should probably be thankful Harry was not a violent person, because he was just plain aggravating. But then again, if he had been a violent person, the Dursleys would have died in their sleep years ago in a house fire. He had eventually come to the conclusion that Ron and Draco were two sides of the same, bigoted coin. And he would only communicate that to them by proxy, when he was sure they would hear it together, and he could get a good seat for the resulting fight.
And Harry would do his damnedest to stay the hell away from bad pence that they were.
Seeing Hagrid, who was calling out for all the first years, Harry greeted the gentle giant and though of how bias seemed to permeate the Wizarding World. Hagrid was a gentle person, but he had some rather clear cut opinions, and he was quite forthcoming with them. Ron seemed to share more than a few of them, and Harry filed those little facts together.
The few people who he had met and talked to from the Wizarding World seemed to see things in such a clear black and white manner that he was starting to wonder if magic somehow managed to polarize the way people seemed to think. His thoughts thus distracted Harry barely noticed that he had followed Hagrid and the other first years down a path to a bunch of boats. Blinking a few times, he climbed into a boat with Granger and the toad-boy, who if Harry recalled correctly was Neville something or other, but Harry was only really paying half of his attention to the sights as he strung various thoughts together as the boats took off.
After they had landed and gotten off the boats, Hagrid knocked on a huge oak door, and handed the lot of them over to a rather stern looking woman, who Hagrid called Professor McGonagall who then led them into the castle, with all but one of the first years being in awe of their surroundings, with Harry being far to distracted by this own thoughts.
Professor McGonagall then led them into a small chamber off the Great Hall, and Harry listened with only one ear as she explained what was going to happen soon. Before the start-of-term feast, they would be sorted into one of the four houses, and that their house would be like their family for the next seven years. Harry rather fervently prayed that it wouldn't be like his surviving family.
As the students started debating (and panicking) about just how they would be sorted, a group of what could only be described as ghosts floated though one of the walls of the room. Harry paid them little attention as the whole thing seemed rather scripted.
When McGonagall returned and finally led them into the Great Hall for the Sorting, with the room bring awe to all of the first years (a ceiling perfectly reflecting the sky outside is quite attention grabbing), McGonagall brought out a stool and placed a battered looking hat on it. And everyone of the returning students were starting at it. A sodding hat. These people were crazy... of course just when he though sanity had been taken to it's limits, the piece of headwear just had to start singing. He resisted the urge to go up to a wall and start banging his head against it.
(Canon has not diverged enough
For this song to have changed
So if you must know the words
That the hat puts forth
Just go read the song from the book...
or Google it!)
Harry just stood there, looking rather gobsmacked at the hat, up until McGonagall called the name of the first new student, one Abbot, Hannah. He watched wondering just how the hell someone or a group of someones managed to make a rather ratty looking hat (though given that they were in a castle the hat probably looked like it did because it was just old) intelligent enough to do something like this, and he was only barely paying attention as the people whose names he recognized, like Hermione Granger and the now fully known Neville Longbottom who both were sorted into Gryffindor and Malfoy who was sent into Slytherin.
As his own name was called, he sat down on the stool, and the hat came down over his eyes, he heard a voice saying, 'Ah, hello Mr. Potter... Let's just take a quick peek into your thoughts and memories, so we can get you sorted.'
He felt a slight rustling on his head, and quite disturbingly in it as well, and then silence for a rather long, a silence that gained a great deal of fury that seemed to stem from the hat.
The voice then said, in a manner that brooked no misunderstand as to how truly upset it was, 'What in the bloody hell happened to your childhood!'
Rather confused as to why the voice, probably belonging to the piece of rather worn headwear gracing his noggin, would be upset about his "childhood", Harry was at a loss for words when he said/thought, 'Huh?'
With a rather bizarre combination of a sigh and a chuckle, the hat said, 'One of my duties as the Sorting Hat of Hogwarts is to ensure that incoming students are safe from their families. So do you understand why I am more than a little upset about what your so-called relatives have done to you?'
'Yes... but what can you do about it?'
'More than you think, I just need to dig around a lot more to see the full extent to just how horrible they were... However to handle this part of what I need to do, we are going to have to go deeper into your head.'
'Because, how we are talking now, takes place at the speed of a normal conversation,but by going deeper, whatever will happen, will happen at the speed of thought, and you and I will be able to get more accomplished before we need to get the relevant authorities involved.'
'By the way you say authorities, my Aunt and Uncle are not going to like what will come to pass.' A rather feral grin split Harry's face at this. 'Sure.'
The entire Hall watched with bated breath as Harry Potter, the Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, had the longest sorting so far this Opening Feast.
The castle's Potions Master, Severus Snape, sneered at a Potter once more having to make a scene. While the majority of the faculty were around, in one way or another, when the boy's parents were students could not help but wonder how much like either of his parents he would be. The majority of the students, spread about all four houses, were hoping that their house would be the one to get him.
The Headmaster kept his perfectly calm, grandfatherly face, however he was giving a small mental frown. There was a fact tickling the back of his head. There was something about the Hat he was forgetting. Something important. Something that would interrupt one of his carefully laid plans... But he had so many plans that were so interwoven that he couldn't tell what it was.
The world felt like it was being shifted an inch or so to the left. And then Harry was sitting on a bench, in a vast colorless field, with gray mists rolling around. Across from him, sitting on a stool at what about eye level, was the hat.
Eyes sweeping back and forth, Harry rather blandly stated, "So this is the inside of my head... It's rather boring."
A dry chuckle came from the hat, and it replied, "Well it is to be expected. This is not a part of your mind that is supposed to be populated by anything until you fill it. As opposed to your subconscious, where, in the majority of humanity, dwell rampant bunnies."
"Yes... you look into the number of heads I have, and you start to build strange opinions like that. Trust me. But I digress, what we are here to do is go over all the memories of your abusive relatives. While we are doing that, I am going to give you grounding in a field of magic called Occlumency, which deals with the ordering of thoughts, and the protection of the mind from outside influences. The first step to learn it requires a witch or wizard to sort through their memories. The founders did not wish any student who had to go though the steps required to give evidence against those who abused them to have to go through their memories an additional time in order to learn this particular discipline."
"Well that is a rather delightful combination of thoughtfulness and foresight."
"It is also good planning. Now here is how it is going to go..."
"Wait... if we're going to be working here for a while, I need to be able to call you something... I mean, calling you hat..." A grimace twisted Harry's face.
The hat gave a hearty chuckle, and said, "Of course, call me Alistair. Now, before I was interrupted..."
"Now starting at the beginning, you need to construct somewhere to store your memories after we have gone through them. You should start off just arranging them chronologically for now, and get into fancier things if you decide to proceed with Occlumency.
"Now for the first dozen or so times, I will be helping you with the meditation to reach into this place, and so when you finally get to the point of clearing your thoughts on your own it should be easier than any other way of having it taught, save by being taught Occlumency by some who is both a master of it and Legilimency, which is the art of going into another person's mind."
As the Alistair lectured Harry settled on making this place into a combination library/study with an assortment of shelves, cabinets, and chests to store the memories in. Though it was likely for this first run though, only the shelves would be used.
When that was finished, they started working their way through Harry's life, starting with this red letter day, strange as it was, backwards. And so the final memory they dealt with, the first of Harry's recollections, was the memory of Halloween 1981.
As they finished reviewing that memory, Harry gave it a shape, which was a rather stark looking black book. Harry shuddered as he felt a strange echo that seemed to led somewhere that was not... him.
"Alistair this book seems to lead somewhere out of me," Harry spoke in a rather small voice.
"Well, that is new and different, and probably not at all good. Never even heard of anything like it. Make someplace secure to store it in."
So Harry built a separate room, with thick walls, plated on the inside walls, ceiling, and floor with steel, and placed an chest inside with four inch thick walls comprised mostly of iron. The door more closely resembled one from a bank vault than anything else. And even then, they decided to drop a pair of bars in front of it.
Harry collapsed into a chair, stared rather pointedly at Alistair, and asked, "Are we done yet?"
Alistair sighed, and said, "Yes, Harry, we are done. When we go back out, just stay quiet, and follow my lead."
At the twenty-five minute point, people started to worry. None of the staff could remember a sorting lasting this long. Dumbledore was still trying to figure out just what the hell he couldn't remember. McGonagall was starting to get worried about the child of some of her favorite students. The student body were getting hungry. Snape was starting to get angry. Flitwick had just remembered a piece of lore about the hat, and had turned as white as a ghost.
Just then the Hat opened its mouth and yelled, "Headmaster, Conference, Meeting Room 7!"
Dumbledore, showing an unwavering calm while his eyes twinkled, got out of his seat and walked over to Harry and the Hat, and unrufflingly stated, "Now, Dobbin, none of this. We have to continue the sorting."
Harry felt a spike of anger from the Hat and asked, 'He has never talked to you, has he?'
Alistair just seethed in silence for a minute before replying, loud enough for the entire hall, "The Sorting is hereby delayed until later tonight."
The twinkle disappeared from Dumbledore's eyes, and he started, "Dobbin..."
But he was interrupted by a very loud, extremely irate, and most definitely female voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once, "ALBUS PERCIVAL WULFRIC BRIAN DUMBLEDORE! CONFERENCE! MEETING. ROOM. SEVEN!"
All of staff, headmaster included, paled at the thought of the Dumbledore being yelled at by what seemed to be the castle herself in the middle of the Great Hall. The two left house tables shifted towards the left wall, the right moved toward the other, and a fifth table with enough settings for the rest of the unsorted first years appeared in the middle. Dumbledore just stared, trying to think of what was happening. Too bad for him that he was not about to be given a chance to weasel out of this.
As the entire hall just sat there with their collective mouths hanging open, Harry asked Alistair, 'So who was it that yelled at Dumbles?'
Chortling at Harry's particular truncating of the Headmaster's name, the Hat responded, 'That Harry was Hogwarts herself.'
'The castle is...' He ran a dozen or so words through his mind trying to figure out the best way to phrase what he wanted to say, and finally settled on, 'Aware?'
'That is a good term, though anyone save the bigots of the magical world, ALIVE, would be much better, no matter that she is not flesh and blood.'
'Hrm. So how often does... the Lady Hogwarts speak?'
The hat sat silently on his head for a few seconds.
'What'd I say?'
'I'll tell you later, let's get to the meeting room. Now here's how to get there...'
As Harry stood up and started walking out of the Hall, food began appearing at all of the tables, and as he reached the doors to the entrance hall, Alistair yelled one more time, "Deputy Headmistress, your presence will be required also."
Silence ruled the great hall as The-Boy-Who-Lived and The Sorting Hat left. Some stared at the doors, others at the new table, still more fixed their gazes upon the Headmaster, who was standing near the stool, his mouth gaping like a fish out of water. This scene held for a full two minutes before quiet conversation broke out in a sea of whispers.
Albus firmly decided that he was no longer having a good night. Dobbin, as he liked to call the hat, had not only ignored his promptings of a swift and immediate sorting of Harry into either Hufflepuff or Gryffindor, he had called for a conference of all things. And finally bits of facts and segments lore, reports ignored for the Greater Good, and horrific suspicions quashed, started joining together. And if it was what he thought it was, things were going to start going wrong for his plan to finally end the Dark Lord Voldemort.
Albus spoke, loud enough to only carry to the head table, "Severus, come with me. Minerva, I know the hat said your presence would be required but..."
McGonagall interrupted him, "Albus, you've already received a public dressing-down from the castle once tonight, which need I mention has not spoken in living memory, do you wish to go through another?"
He just shook his head at this, and left hall with Snape and McGonagall in his wake. His thoughts churned on how to wrench events back into his control, and how to keep Harry under his thumb. If one boy's happiness, life, and, yes, even soul had to be sacrificed for the Greater Good of the Wizarding World, it would be done. And no one would stop Albus Dumbledore from seeing it through.
As Harry and Alistair stepped into the conference room, the adolescent took stock of what was in it. Unadorned stone walls, a lit fireplace with a flowerpot on the mantle, and a longish table that had seating for fourteen, with some sort of stone basin sitting in the middle.
Alistair twitched on Harry's head and spoke out loud, "Harry would you please place me on top of the bowl on the table."
A little confused at this request, he did as Alistair asked, but curiously asked, "Why though, Al?"
Alistair chuckled at the abbreviation of his name and said, "Because Harry, this bowl is a Pensieve, a magical device that allows others to view and experience the memories of another person without requiring the use of Mind Arts. Though for memory clarity and fidelity, it really helps for the memory to come from an Occlumens."
As the two spoke, the chair at the head of the table shifted and reformed into a plinth, high enough that anything set on it would be at eye level to most adults sitting at the table.
Alistair, now finished putting a collection of Harry's memories of his time in the Dursley household in the pensieve, had Harry move him to the plinth, and take the seat next to him. A few minutes later they were joined by the three staff members.
Dumbledore, eyes twinkling once more, and his voice set in his most grandfatherly tone, began, "Dobbin, I must say..."
But that was as far as he got, before Harry interrupted, "The Hat's name is Alistair, which you would know if you ever thought to ask him, Headmaster."
And that set off the pale and furious Snape, who snidely spit out, "Now you listen here, you insolent whelp..."
But, now it was Alistair's turn to interrupt, "I don't know why you are here Snape, you were not asked to this conference. Leave. Now."
Snape whirled on the Headmaster, furiously spoke in a dangerous whisper that carried though the otherwise silent room, "Are you going to let a tattered relic and a child get away..."
For the second time that night, Lady Hogwarts herself spoke, and Snape was again prevented from finishing his rant. She was not as loud, nor as angry this time, but her voice still came from everywhere at once and was very stern sounding. "Remove thyself Severus, before I must do it for you. And if I must remove thee, it will be a lot further than this room, and you will not return."
And that particular threat sent the Potions Master scampering with his tail between his legs.
McGonagall watched all this impassively, wondering what in the blazes was going on.
Alistair muttered something vaguely sounding like 'finally', began the conference, "Before we move on, I'd like you to bring in the head from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and have him or her bring along a Healer specializing in adolescents from St. Mungo's."
Albus's left eye twitched ever so slightly, "I'm sure we don't have to bother Madam Bones with this, I know a few Aurors who could deal with this, and I am sure whatever we need a healer for Madam Pomfrey can handle it..."
"No, Albus. We are starting this at the top, and we are going to use an Healer, not a Mediwitch. Deputy Headmistress, if you would be so kind, the fireplace is connected to the Floo Network, and there is already Powder." Harry looked questioningly at Alistair, who continued, "Well Harry, Wizards have a way of communicating and traveling via fireplaces called the Floo Network," Harry wordlessly grumbled at the name, "Well no one has ever accused us at giving things brilliant names, but continuing, the Floo Network is activated and used at fireplaces by something called Floo Powder, and yes, but there is no need to comment about the extremely simple yet descriptive name."
They lapsed into silence until rejoined a few minutes later by Professor McGonagall, a witch with gray streaked red hair and a monocle, and a black haired witch who had a red cross in a white circle on the arm of her green robes.
Alistair cleared his non-existent throat, "First, I would like to thank you, Madam Bones, and you Healer..."
The woman spoke up, "Andromeda Tonks."
"For coming so quickly. Now, to begin with I would like everyone, save Harry and myself, to view the memories I placed into the pensieve on the table. There are only half a dozen relatively short ones in it, and it shouldn't take too long."
As the four adults seemed to stare off into space after having placed a finger in the bowl, Harry asked, "Why did you seem so surprised that I called the castle 'Lady Hogwarts'?"
But it was not Alistair who answered, "Because, dear Harry, I have not been referred to as such by any save Alistair, since the last of the founders passed from this world."
"I somehow get the feeling that you are not normally this talkative m'lady."
"No, but you shall find out why eventually, Harry."
With that, Harry settled down into silence, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Ten minutes later, the four stumbled back, horror painted across all their faces, Healer Tonks appearing as white as a bed sheet, McGonagall and Madam Bones shaking with barely suppressed rage, and a note of confusion in the Headmaster's eyes, stemming from one thought, 'How could anyone treat their own blood like that?'
Alistair brought everyone's attention back to the meeting, "Horrible, I know. And that is why we are all here. Those memories are the worst of the worst, but there are still a great many I can bring to light. Before this meeting adjourns, I am going to fill that pensieve with memories so that you, Madam Bones, can begin to prosecute Mr. Potter's so-called relatives."
Both Madam Bones and Healer Tonks managed to splutter out some that vaguely sounded like 'Harry Potter'. Neither had known who the child they were watching be abused was, since the only times he was referred to he was called either boy or freak. Both looked at the hero of the Wizarding World, and wondered anew how anyone could do that to a child.
Director Amelia Bones had always been curious as to what had happened to Harry. She had often worked together with his father, James. She had been a Senior Auror while he had been a Hit Wizard during the war against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. She had been fond of both James and Lily, never mind the fact that three of them had survived multiple encounters with the Dark Lord.
Andromeda Tonks was wondering what moron had placed Lily's son with Petunia Dursley. She did not know Lily as well as her traitor of a cousin or psycho of a sister had, but she did know that Petunia absolutely despised her sister, and that placing her son with that 'family' could only lead to pain.
Minerva McGonagall had spun on the Headmaster and started tearing him a new arsehole, slipping from her usual refined accent to a Scottish brogue interspersed heavily with Gaelic curses. From what those listening could barely piece together, he had been responsible for Harry's placement with those three.
Finally Alistair needed to move things along and somehow whistled shrilly before saying, "If I could have everyone's attention please..." Minerva continued casting aspersions on Dumbledore's ancestry, wondering whether or not one his great grandfathers had mated with a concussed troll. "Deputy Headmistress, you will have plenty of time later to make your displeasure known to the Headmaster." She finally quieted, though a wicked gleam came to her eyes and a rather evil smirk crossed her face before she schooled herself back to her usual, neutral, sternness.
"Thank you. As much as I would like to see Albus included in whatever criminal proceedings are going to follow, all of us present, save Harry, know that the chances of anything actually sticking to the slimy old bastard fare the same chances as a snowball surviving a fortnight in Hades. The Castle and I shall handle Albus's abuse of power, and we assure you it will NOT be a slap on the wrist. And I will dole out those punishments before the end of this meeting. However I would like to discuss with Madam Bones how things should proceed from here concerning the custody of Mr. Potter, while Healer Tonks gives him a cursory examination."
Madam Bones picked up Alistair and retreated to one corner of the room, McGonagall reached out quickly and grabbed Dumbledore by the ear, twisted it, and dragged him to the other corner on same side of the room, and Healer Tonks lead Harry to the other side of the room and started casting diagnostic charms. After about fifteen minutes she was muttering to herself in a rather confused tone of voice. As the three groups reconvened, Albus was looking chastised, McGonagall still looked angry, Madam Bones had a rather feral smile gracing her face, Healer Tonks looked confused, Harry hungry, and Alistair... well he was still a hat.
"So before we move on to what we will be doing about what has been shown," Alistair began, "Healer Tonks, would you please appraise us to how Harry is doing, physically?"
"Yes, apart from what appears to be a minor case of malnutrition..."
"Wait... minor? They practically starved Mr. Potter."
"The only way I can explain it is that his magic possibly compensated for the fact, which in itself is only more confusing. I can say he has a number of bruises and contusions, two hairline fractures, and a few other maladies, including a few slight misalignments in set bones. All of which can be fixed quite easily, I caught a few things that I would like to get some more in depth diagnostics, but what I am really worried about is his mind..."
"Yes I know. As near as I can put it... those... people," no one in the room could mistake the scorn in the Hat's voice in reference to the Dursleys, "beat the childhood out of Harry. In my own opinion, and with the consultation of Hogwarts, we agree that mentally Harry is somewhere in the range of a decade older than he is physically. The other times I have had to take action like this, I usually had to make liberal use of calming charms that were built into my magic for just such occasions. In fact I usually spend the meeting from atop the abused's head. I can say that Lady Hogwarts and I shall be working with Harry to see that he at least gets some fun out of his education, but apart from that... I'd shrug if I could. But now, if that is everything..."
No one made any move to add anything, so the Hat continued.
"I, ALISTAIR, THE SORTING HAT OF HOGWARTS, AND VOICE OF THE FOUNDERS FOUR, HEREBY DO DECLARE THE FOLLOWING:
"Headmaster ALBUS PERCIVAL WULFRIC BRIAN DUMBLEDORE shall hereby be subject to the following:
"Firstly, he shall swear an oath on his magic and his life to have as little interference in the life of Harry James Potter as is necessary and as is required by the stations that he holds, until Mr. Potter specifically asks otherwise, if ever;
"Secondly, that he shall be confined to his quarters and office for the first term of this school year, unless otherwise required by any office he holds;
"Thirdly, his guardianship of Mr. Potter, both Magical and Financial, are to be given up, and he shall never seek to regain either, nor shall he ever seek Legal or Physical guardianship, outside of what is required as Headmaster, and even then the bulk of in loco parentis rights shall instead fall to his head of house, whichever house that shall be;
"Fourthly, he is to unseal the wills of James and Lily Potter at the next session of the Wizengamot;
"In the event that any of these are not met, or in the case that he should break any of these restrictions, Headmaster ALBUS PERCIVAL WULFRIC BRIAN DUMBLEDORE, shall be transported to the castle by the means that are available to her to recall the Head from anywhere upon this Earth. His magic is to be stripped in its entirety, he will then be removed with disgrace from his position as Headmaster, and he shall be banished from the Castle and Grounds of Hogwarts for all of time.
"In furtherance of the current Headmaster's inability to gain worthy teachers for a number of subjects taught at the school, the following will happen:
"Head of House Slytherin, Potions Master, Professor SEVERUS SNIDGET SNAPE, shall be stripped of his Head of House status, placed upon probation, and shall swear oaths to the following effects;
"He shall treat all students, regardless of any bias or bigotry, equally;
"He shall also actually teach in his class, not simply put directions, which are often deliberately erroneous, on the board and direct the students to make the potion.
"Should he not accede to these guidelines, he shall be immediately sacked.
"If his teaching does not improve by the end of this school year, he is to be sacked forthwith.
"Professor CUTHBERT GALILEO BINNS, is hereby sacked.
"Professor SYBILL PATRICIA TRELAWNEY, is hereby sacked, and the subject of divination shall no longer be taught at Hogwarts, for the simple reason that one is either a seer or one is not. In the event that a student is capable of Seeing, the parents of the student will be provided with resources to seek tutition for their child.
"The following is hereby sealed into silence by the magic of Hogwarts until it can come to pass.
"Professor QUIRINIUS QUIEVER QUIRRELL, is to be exorcised of the malignant spirit of TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE, who is otherwise known as the DARK LORD VOLDEMORT, and the aforementioned spirit shall be ejected from the castle and grounds. It is unlikely QUIRINIUS QUIEVER QUIRRELL will survive the exorcism.
"All new staffing is to be undertaken by the Deputy Headmistress for a period of one decade or until the Headmaster retires. All staffing changes must be approved by the portraits of the four founders, to which I will direct the Deputy and swear the Deputy to secrecy to the location of the portraits.
"As to the disposition of one Harry James Potter, all forms of guardianship shall pass to myself and the Castle of Hogwarts until such at time as suitable replacements can be found. In addition, he shall be made a Ward of Hogwarts, which I shall explain to him upon a later date.
"SO I HAVE SPOKE. SO IT WILL BE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF HOGWARTS. SO MOTE IT BE!"
As the Hat had been going on with its declarations, Dumbledore felt like he was being dealt hammerblow after hammerblow. He could almost see so many carefully and elegantly laid plans being turned to ash, and he could do nothing about it. By the end of Dob... Alistair's decrees Albus was actually feeling quite ill. And when he spoke the words of ritual pronouncement, he could do nothing as what was left of the color in his face left, as so many carefully laid plans blew away into the wind.
After a few moments of silence, Madam Bones was the first to speak, "Well I may not agree with Albus not being prosecuted for his actions, I am aware of the difficulty in bringing any criminal charges against someone of his station, political power, and history. So I must be content with what Alistair has made the Headmaster subject to. Though goodness knows I want to see him in Azkaban. Well the least I can do is stuff Harry's relatives there." She got up and headed toward the fireplace.
Healer Tonks stood, and spoke next, "I will forward my recommendations to Madam Pomfrey in the morning. Mr. Potter should head to the Hospital Wing before breakfast tomorrow. He should also get a full physical as soon as possible, Alistair would you please convey that to whomever you turn custody of him over to?"
Alistair assented, and then she too left. The Hat then twitched at Harry to put him back on his head. Alistair then spoke up, "Let's finish up with the sorting."
Dumbledore then apparently made one last bid for control, "Of course, we need to finish up the..."
"Don't you remember that you are grounded, Albus? Just go to your room. Oh, and by the way, Nicolas and Perenelle have been informed that you are using their property as bait. I believe that they will be making their way to the castle in a day or two. Deputy Headmistress if you will lead the way please. Oh, and Albus, the door to the third floor corridor on the left side is sealed save for either Nicolas or Perenelle. Good night, Headmaster."
On the way back into the Great Hall, Harry and Alistair started talking about the original purpose that this entire thing started with.
'So where are we going to put you Harry? You most definitely have the intelligence and some of the wisdom needed for Ravenclaw... however I believe if I were to stuff you in an ivory tower with a majority of know-it-all bookworms who trust print more than a wolf staring them in the eyes, either you or the rest of the house would be driven insane in under 72 hours...'
'Or less. I have the feeling that trying to explain bias to anyone in the Wizarding World could drive me to murder.'
'Yes, I gave up a few centuries ago on trying to do the same to anyone older than twenty. You have both the cunning and ambition for Sly...'
'There will be murder in the castle if I have to room with, or even close to, Malfoy. I think I would set him on fire in his sleep. Next.'
'Hufflepuff house is home to those who value loyalty and hard work. Though you have never met any to whom you would give your loyalty...'
'Save you, and you have it.'
'Yes... but something I can tell is that for those you are loyal to...'
'I'll storm the gates of Hell itself for them.'
'And of course given the torture those people put you through; you know the value of hard work.'
'It's a definite possibility, but what about the last house.'
'You most certainly have the courage to belong to the house of lions. You lived through what others would let destroy themselves. And I think that if you spend any time in the House of Gryffindor your own sense of honor will come to the surface.'
'So basically I have my pick... with my own preferences leaning toward either the badgers or lions...'
At this point, they made their way back into hall and Harry sat down on the stool. Everyone had finished eating, and McGonagall stood at the front of the hall and spoke rather sternly, "Now that we have dealt with that, we will continue the Sorting."
'I'll pick the house of the brave.'
'We'll speak later, Harry, I still have some things I need to explain to you.'
The Weasley Twins started yelling, "We got Potter!" And the rest of House broke into rather confused sounding applause. Going over to the table and grabbing a seat next one of the twins, he pulled some food to him and started eating knowing he only had until shortly after the end of the Sorting to do it, and so he barely payed attention to it..
He wasn't really interested in who went where up until the Weasel got put under the hat. After a two minute long sorting, the hat yelled out (as Harry silently chanted 'Not Gryffindor') "SLYTHERIN!" To which the Twins were absolutely speechless. The sorting ended after one or two more students, and McGonagall made a few short announcements before dismissing everyone to their respective houses, before moving over toward Harry, telling him a house-elf (whatever the hell that is) will bring Alistair to him in the morning so the Hat can talk to him.
Following the rest of his year and house mates, who were following Percy the Prefect, was possibly talking, but nobody was paying attention at this point, and they made their way to Gryffindor Tower. The entrance was a portrait of a rather large lady dressed in pink (whom Harry would later learn is rather rudely referred to as the Fat Lady) and the password was Caput Draconis. The group was then marched up into the Common Room, which was decorated in red and gold, and then Percy said, "Boys dorm is on the left. Girls is on the right."
As they made their way to their beds, the first year Gryffindor males introduced themselves. Obviously there was Neville. There was also Dean Thomas, and the very Irish (and proud of it) Seamus Finnigan.
Neville, the only one who had talked to Harry before the Sorting, stuttered out the question, "S-so wh-why'd the Hat stop the sorting?"
Harry, smiling sadly, said, "There's no need to be afraid to ask me a question Neville, but as to that... ask me in a couple months or so when I know you better. If there isn't anything else, sleep tight, Neville."
"Good night, Harry."
This is what used to be chapters one through four of The Sorting Hat's Stand.
As of 10 PM, June 24, 2012 these were the statistics of those chapters of the story. (Word and Character Counts are by Open Office Writer and do not include chapter titles, book headings, or author's notes, though each section break however is four characters: [br].)
Word Count: 1,529 Character Count: 8,327 Hits: 233,621 Reviews: 67
Word Count: 1,194 Character Count: 6,637 Hits: 77,598 Reviews: 41
Word Count: 2,746 Character Count: 15,359 Hits: 74,439 Reviews: 71
Word Count: 888 Character Count: 4,924 Hits: 66,812 Reviews: 34
Word Count: 6,357 Character Count: 35,247 Hits: 452,470 Reviews: 213
New Total Word Count: 8,361 New Total Character Count: 49,628