Chapter 1: Out of Sorts

"Harry? Harry!" Harry turned his head to find Ron Weasley looking at him irritably. "I've been talking to you for five minutes! Haven't you heard a thing I've said?" Harry glanced over absently, but honestly, he hadn't heard a thing. He'd been staring in awe at the Great Hall. He'd never seen any building as big as this or any ceiling quite like... "HARRY!"

"Sorry. I wasn't listening."

"Of course not. You'd think you'd want to listen to what I have to say. You've no idea what's about to happen, do you?" Ron grabbed Harry roughly and ushered him toward the end of the hall where the other first years were headed.

"N-no. I figured we'd eat first. There's so many tables..." Harry couldn't help but notice the students sitting at the long tables were already aware of his presence. As he walked by, they stared and whispered. Some pointed or gasped when they saw his scar. Perhaps he was as famous as Hagrid had said.

"You've got to be Sorted. You see there are four tables? One for each House. I hope we get in the same one! Just hope you don't get in Slytherin or Hufflepuff. I can't decide which is worse." Ron scowled. "Slytherins are evil gits, and Hufflepuffs are about as dangerous with a wand as Scabbers..."

"Hurry up, you two! You'll get into trouble." That bossy girl with the frizzy hair from earlier hurried past them. She looked like she was going to try and be the first in line. Of course.

Harry was worried. What if he ended up in Slytherin? Was he doomed to live a life among those who would plot against him? Or Hufflepuff where he'd be forever mocked for being weak? Surely Ron was wrong. Each House had to have its up-side. Harry felt a little better, but he still hoped he could stay with Ron. "Ron, what House has your family been in?"

Ron looked very proud. He puffed out his chest and grinned. "Gryffindor. The best house there is. Only the bravest make it in there."

Harry laughed, "Well, I'm guessing you'll be in Hufflepuff, then?"

Ron smacked Harry in the arm and laughed back at him. "Shut up, Harry. If I'm one, you're one, and I bet-" Ron's sentence was cut short when a lady began speaking up front.

"Students! Quiet down! The Sorting will begin shortly, but first The Sorting Hat has a message for you. After it is finished, when you hear your name called, proceed to the front of the room, sit on the stool, and put on the Hat. No tomfoolery! Once you have been sorted, please have a seat at your House table."

"That's Professor McGonagall," The bossy girl leaned back to whisper to everyone. "She's the head of Gryffindor." She looked quite proud. Harry wondered how a Muggle-born girl seemed to know so much more than he did.

Harry listened closely to the Sorting Hat as it told the type of people that should be sorted into each House. He quite hoped to be put in Gryffindor with Ron. He hoped he was brave, but if he couldn't have Gryffindor, he thought Ravenclaw would be second best. Harry could be clever. He always made good marks in school...

"Abbott, Hannah!" It had begun, and Harry was struck with fear. He glanced over at Ron, who looked similarly terrified. What if it was Slytherin? Oh no, please not that... Harry began to sweat as he watched the small, nervous children walk up to the Hat, one by one.

"Granger, Hermione!" The frizzy-haired girl from before flounced excitedly up to the Hat. She smiled when the hat shouted, "Gryffindor!" Harry would have to remember her name, even if she was a bit annoying. She seemed to know everything. That would be useful, since he knew nothing. Hermione Granger.

"Malfoy, Draco!" This time it was the stuck up little git from the train. Harry had overheard him bragging about his entire family being in Slytherin earlier. And he certainly seemed like the kind of person Ron described a Slytherin being. However, the Sorting Hat seemed to be taking much longer time than it had on the previous students. A minute or so had already elapsed, and Draco was beginning to look angry.

"What's going on?" Harry asked Ron, figuring he would know something about it. Maybe some students were more ambiguous than others.

"I've no bloody idea. Honestly, everyone knows Malfoy's gonna be a Slytherin. He's as slimy as they co-"

"Gryffindor!" the Hat bellowed finally. Ron's mouth fell open in shock, along with most of the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables.

"WHAT?" Draco jumped up and ripped the Sorting Hat off his head. "This has to be some kind of mistake! My whole family was in Slytherin! My father will be most displeased! I'll not be having this! This is prepost-" Draco was red in the face before McGonagall cut him off.
"Pipe down, Draco, and take your seat at the Gryffindor table." Her lips made a hard flat line as she stared at the small, round-faced blonde boy. "Now." Draco was still fuming. He slammed the Sorting Hat back on the stool and huffed his way to the very end seat on the Gryffindor table. The entire Great Hall was filled with chatter and laughter, both out of shock and from laughing at the spectacle Draco had made of himself.

Harry leaned over to Ron. "Hopefully mine goes a bit smoother than that..." Ron snickered, and Harry began laughing with him. Professor McGonagall was trying to regain peace in the hall, so they tried to stifle their laughter, but they completely missed the next few sortings from being doubled over.

Harry had just regained his composure when he heard, "Potter, Harry!" and suddenly he was completely solemn. The whole hall was quiet. There was no more laughter, only quiet whispers about what house Harry would call his own. Harry walked forward slowly and the crowd parted to let him through. Maybe it was just for him, but Harry thought that McGonagall looked a bit less frightening up close. Her scowl looked more like a smile. There seemed to even be a little bit of encouragement there. The sea of eyes, all trained on Harry, intimidated him and made him sweat more than he already was as he took his seat. He placed the Sorting Hat on his head and nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a voice.

Well, Harry, we meet at last. Harry was too terrified to even think a response, but his eyes were as wide as he could make them. I should think you would excel in any of the houses. You're clever, loyal, cunning, and brave. However, I should think that Slytherin-

Harry's horror turned to panic. He closed his eyes as tightly as he could. Not Slytherin. Please, not Slytherin. Anything but Slytherin.

The Sorting Hat sounded surprised. It's not often that students come to me with requests, Harry. It is even less often that their requests are granted. But since you're so sure, I think it should be... Harry's heart was beating so hard that he was sure everyone in the Great Hall could hear it echoing off the walls. "GRYFFINDOR!" Harry's relief was palpable. He let out the breath he'd been holding and allowed a huge grin to spread across his face. The Gryffindor table was erupting. They were all on their feet and welcoming him to the Gryffindor table with open arms. The only thing left to worry about was...

"Weasley, Ron!" Ron practically ran to the Sorting Hat, and as soon as it touched his head, it shouted, "Gryffindor!" Ron sprinted over to Harry and sat down next to him. Looking around, Harry realized it was the first time he'd ever felt part of a family.