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Chapter 11: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Remus continued to wave out the window, even though his parents had left his line of vision about a minute previously. The slip-stream from the train attacked his hair and face, making his eyes water. Unable to stand it any longer, he closed the window and looked up and down the narrow corridor in front of him. The train was in playful chaos; students were running around, messing, shouting and playing. Enchanted paper birds and multi-coloured sparks flew around in the air above his head. Three boys around Remus’s age were throwing a Quaffle back and forth between them along the corridor. He didn’t know if he should go over and introduce himself, as he and Dad had practiced back home. These boys clearly liked Quidditch and Remus liked Quidditch too, that sounded like a good pretext for a friendship to him.
All of a sudden, the Quaffle flew through the out-stretched hands of one of the boys and landed at Remus’s feet. “A little help?” the boy said. Remus picked up the Quaffle and smiled. He threw it back. “Cheers, mate,” the boy replied, and continued with his game.
Remus felt elated at being referred to as ‘mate’, but then felt himself shrink a few inches as the boys continued to play their game, completely ignoring him. Why didn’t they ask him to join in? Should he go over and say hello? Should he ask if he could play too? He took a step towards the boys and opened his mouth about to say ‘hi’ and ask if he could play, when his voice seemed to get caught in his throat. He couldn’t utter a single word. Then, suddenly, the boys were running away down the corridor, shouting and laughing. He had missed his chance.
Feeling crestfallen, he slipped inside the compartment where his dad had put his trunk. Gawain hooted loudly at the sight of him and began biting the bars of his cage. Remus walked over and let him out. The owl flew all around the compartment, glad of the room to stretch his wings; then he landed on Remus’s shoulder and nibbled his ear affectionately. Remus stroked his feathers.
“We’re going to Hogwarts, Gawain,” he whispered, he didn’t want anyone to know that he talked to his owl, “you and me, we’re finally going.”
He sat in silence for the next while, petting Gawain absentmindedly. Boys and girls ran up and down the corridor outside. He heard them shouting and laughing. Occasionally, he saw them pass his compartment. A strange sense of loneliness pressed down upon him. He was on a train full of people, none of whom knew he was a werewolf, and still he was alone. It wasn’t fair. What was wrong with him?
Just for something to do, Remus changed into his school robes. He pinned Plumpton’s badge to the front. He never took the badge off. It had to stay with him because it was a reminder, a reminder that there were people out there that liked him, just for being him. A few minutes later, he started reading one of his books, just to pass the time. Gawain flew around the compartment, hooting occasionally, but Remus ignored him. Then the owl started biting the corners of the book’s pages: a cry for attention if Remus ever saw one.
“What do you want?” he asked, again trying to keep his voice quiet. He was afraid that if people knew he talked to his owl, they would think he was weird. Gawain didn’t respond obviously, he just kept biting the pages. “You want me to read it to you, is that it?” Remus asked. Gawain stopped tearing the pages of the book. Remus took that to mean yes. “I can’t,” he said quietly. “If people see me reading a book to you, they most definitely won’t want to be friends with me.” Gawain clearly didn’t understand what Remus was saying. He just started ripping the pages of the book again, so Remus put it away and stared out the window instead.
Around lunchtime, a friendly-looking lady pushed a trolley full of sweets up the corridor. There were chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts Beans, Fizzing Whizbies, cauldron cakes, liquorish wands and loads of other sweets Remus had never even seen before. The lady rapped on the glass of the compartment door gently, before opening it. “Would you like anything from the trolley, dear?” she asked kindly.
“No, thank you,” he replied politely. “My mum made me sandwiches.”
“No problem, dear,” she said brightly. “You’re probably better off, this stuff will rot your teeth,” she added as she closed the door and continued pushing the trolley up the train.
Remus didn’t know why but that very brief conversation made him feel happy. That lady was very nice and she also proved that he was not invisible, that he did actually exist, which was a fact he had been doubting for the past hour and a half. Maybe it was the sight of all the sweets on the trolley, but Remus instantly found that he was hungry. He took out his sandwiches and began to eat. They were his favourite: ham and cheese. Occasionally, he threw a piece to Gawain, who dived to catch it in his beak. The owl was getting good at catching things. Remus thought that if owls played Quidditch, Gawain would definitely be a Seeker.
He spent the next hour or so staring out the window. Mostly there were just fields, cows, sheep and lush, green grass. For a while Remus imagined King Arthur riding his horse alongside the train, jumping over the hedges, ditches and small stone walls. Sometimes, he waved at Remus, other times he didn’t. Then, he imagined Gudgeon or Plumpton riding on their brooms beside the train too; occasionally doing dives or loop-de-loops. He always knew that Arthur and the two Quidditch players weren’t really there, that they were just inside his head, but that didn’t matter. It was still nice to pretend that they were there, because it made Remus feel like he wasn’t alone.
Then the compartment door opened. There was a boy and a girl standing there. “Can we sit down?” the girl asked. She had long red hair and brilliant green eyes. Remus had never seen eyes like that before.
“Sure,” he said enthusiastically, gesturing to the empty seat opposite him.
“I’m Lily,” the girl said as she sat down.
“Remus,” he replied, smiling. Excitement was bubbling around inside him. Maybe this boy and this girl would be his friends. They had ventured this far down the train, and clearly thought he looked friendly enough if they had chosen to sit in this compartment with him.
“This is Severus,” the girl continued, pointing to the boy. He was thin and pale with long black hair and dark eyes. He just didn’t look friendly. He didn’t even say anything, he just flicked his head in Remus’s direction.
Gawain too was overcome with excitement at the two new arrivals. He flew around and around their heads, twittering loudly.
“Is this your owl?” Lily asked, laughing.
“Yeah,” Remus said eagerly.
“Can’t you shut him up?” the boy, Severus, said harshly.
“That’s the smallest owl I’ve ever seen,” Lily said, batting away her companion’s comment.
“He’s a Scops owl,” Remus explained, “they’re supposed to be tiny. His name’s Gawain.”
Severus snorted. Both Lily and Remus looked at him. “After that dumb knight in those stupid kid’s stories, what, are you four or something?”
“I’m eleven,” Remus replied in a small voice, not picking up on Severus’s sarcasm.
Severus then made a Gnnnhhh noise through his teeth, “Seriously, are you thick or something?”
“Sev!” Lily injected firmly. She seemed shocked at the way he is acting.
Remus felt his insides crumble. He was not doing a good job at making friends here. He was saying all the wrong things. Lily and Severus then started talking about Hogwarts as if Remus wasn’t even there. It was strange that you could feel so alone in a compartment with two other people, but Remus did. He felt like he was invisible, unworthy of thought or consideration.
Gawain landed on the small table in front of him. He looked up at Remus with his large black eyes, surrounded by yellow rings. Then he took flight and landed on Lily’s shoulder, nibbling her ear, the way he did to Remus’s. For one awful moment, Remus thought he was being abandoned, that he was being ditched for Lily. He felt his eyes sting and he blinked furiously. He hadn’t cried in years and it had to stay that way.
“This is the sweetest owl I’ve ever seen,” Lily said, stroking Gawain’s feathers. Remus smiled. He understood now. Gawain was making sure that Lily didn’t forget that Remus was in the compartment with them. “But I suppose that isn’t saying much,” she went on, “I haven’t seen many owls, just on the telly and in the zoo.”
“What’s the telly?” Remus asked, puzzled. He had never heard of the telly before.
“You must be a proper wizard then,” Lily said.
Proper wizard. Remus didn’t understand what she meant. “Isn’t everyone?”
“My parents are Muggles,” Lily explained, “I’d never even heard of Hogwarts until Sev told me all about it. His dad is a Muggle, and his mum a witch, see.”
“So you’re a witch and a Muggle at the same time!” Remus blurted out without really thinking.
Severus rolled his eyes. “You really are thick!”
Remus retreated back from the pair slightly. He had said the wrong thing again. For his whole life he had been denied friendship, and that left him severely lacking in the social skills required to engage with the two people in the compartment with him; and the annoying thing was that there was nothing he could do about it. He would have to learn to be a normal boy and fast.
“Sev!” Lily said sternly. “What’s up with you?”
“Nothing,” he said moodily, folding his arms. Then he muttered something that sounded like: you’re my best friend, not his. Remus stared at Severus. He wasn’t trying to stop Lily being Severus’s best friend; he was only trying to get Lily and Severus to be his friends.
“So what’s the telly?” he asked again.
Lily explained all about the telly, or television which was its proper name, and loads of other Muggle things Remus had never even heard of. He found it all fascinating, like microwaves Pass machines and telephones and dishwashers. He couldn’t stop asking questions and Lily seemed to like answering. Severus didn’t say much, he mostly glared at Remus and kept trying to turn Lily’s attention back to him, but it didn’t work.
“So what house do you think you’ll be in?” Lily asked, after about forty-five minutes of being questioned on the Muggle world.
“I don’t know,” Remus said nervously. The thought of houses hadn’t crossed his mind too much, he just always assumed that he would be in Gryffindor like Dad or Ravenclaw like Mum, but now that the prospect of being sorted drew nearer, he was having severe misgivings. What if they put him in Slytherin?
“But if you could pick any house, which would you pick?”
“Gryffindor,” Remus said. He was brave, that’s where he belonged, or so he hoped.
Severus rolled his eyes again, “Not another twit who’d rather be brawny than brainy.”
Remus had no idea what to say to this. He felt himself unconsciously retreat away from the pair of them again. Why did he always have to say the wrong thing?
“Sev wants to be in Slytherin,” Lily explained kindly.
“Slytherin?” Remus repeated, mouth a gape. “But that’s where all the bad wizards and witches go!”
“That’s where all the great wizards and witches go, thank you very much,” Severus snapped, his dark eyes narrowing on Remus. He had said those words with such force and venom that Gawain instantly flew off Lily’s shoulder and up into the luggage rack above their heads, desiring to put distance between him and the new intruder.
“Want to play Exploding Snap?” Remus asked, trying to keep everyone calm.
“You’re really four years old, aren’t you?” Severus said viciously.
Remus said nothing. He didn’t know what to do. He was failing here, and if he wasn’t careful neither Lily nor Severus would want to be his friend.
“What’s Exploding Snap?” Lily asked.
Remus dug through the contents of his trunk and withdrew his deck of cards and explained the rules to Lily, and they started playing. Even Severus played, though a little grudgingly. Soon the three of them were laughing. When Severus was laughing he didn’t seem too bad. He sort of warmed to Remus slightly as the game went on. He really wasn’t all that mean, Remus thought. Maybe he was just nervous about starting school and leaving home, as Remus had been, and he responded to nerves by acting cold.
“Why do you have a Quidditch captain’s badge on your robes?” Severus asked, after they had been playing cards for a while.
“It’s Plumpton’s badge, you know, the captain of the Tornadoes.”
Severus’s eyes widened. He looked impressed. “How did you get that?”
Remus explained about going to the match against the Magpies and how Plumpton had thrown her badge into the crowd at the end to thank the fans for their support, and how the nice old man had caught it and given it to Remus.
“That was really nice of him,” Lily said, once Remus had finished his story.
“Yeah, I know,” Remus replied. “I couldn’t believe it.” Then he turned to Severus, “Do you support the Tornadoes?”
“A bit,” he said dully.
“Severus’s dad doesn’t like magical things too much,” Lily explained, squeezing her friend’s hand in a reassuring way.
Remus wanted to ask why, but then thought that wouldn’t be polite, so instead he asked Lily, “What team do you support?”
“Spurs,” she replied brightly.
“Spurs?” Remus repeated, “I’ve never heard of Spurs.”
“That’s because they’re a football team, Tottenham Hotspur,” Lily said proudly.
“Football?” Remus’s head was swimming with new words. There was so much about the Muggle world that he didn’t know. He had just assumed that they did the same things wizards did, except without the magic. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
“It’s like Quidditch in the Muggle world, everyone follows football,” Lily explained. She told Remus all the rules. It sounded very boring to be honest. None of the players could fly and there was only one ball, and the off-side rule was just plain daft, it made no sense whatsoever.
“So are Spurs the best in the league?” Remus asked.
“I think they are,” Lily said a little defensively.
Severus, however, laughed. “No, they’re not,” he said. “It’s Liverpool or Leeds, they’re the best, Lily just doesn’t want to admit it.”
Remus thought of his own feelings towards the Magpies; they were the best team around and he hated to admit it. “So there’s the same rivalry in football as there is in Quidditch then?”
“Yeah, ‘course,” Severus replied, as though it were obvious.
Remus couldn’t believe there was so much about the world he didn’t know, so much his parents hadn’t told him. The world was so much bigger than the village in which he lived. There was a whole wide world behind his house, beyond the woods, that he had never even considered before. He always knew that there were other towns in England, that there were other countries in the world, but he never really understood what that meant until now.
“So can you do any magic?” Lily asked.
“Not really,” Remus replied. “I can levitate rocks and stuff, but only sometimes, and one time I magically threw my Quaffle out the window. But that’s about it. I tried out a few of the spells in the books with my wand, but they didn’t work for me. What about you, can you do any?”
“Yeah, a bit,” Lily replied, “but just kid’s stuff, like you, and I can’t get any of the spells to work with my wand either, but Sev can get his wand to light up, can’t you, Sev?”
Severus nodded smugly.
“Wow,” Remus said. “That’s really cool. Can you show me?”
“No,” he said bluntly.
“Why not?” Remus asked, a little taken a back.
“Because I am not a performing House-Elf who has to do what people tell him to.”
Remus didn’t know what to say to this, neither did Lily. He couldn’t really understand why the two of them were best friends. Lily was so nice and friendly and Severus simply wasn’t, but maybe that was the way friendship worked – opposites attracted each other.
But before Remus could try, for perhaps the tenth time that train journey, to start the conversation a fresh, an announcement echoed around the compartment: “We will be arriving at Hogwarts in five minutes’ time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.” *1
Remus felt his stomach start to squirm with both nerves and excitement. “I’d better put Gawain back in his cage,” he said, standing up on the seat and reaching up to his owl who was still perched on the luggage rack above. The owl, however, had no desire to return to captivity. He instantly took off and began flying around the compartment, defying all Remus’s attempts to catch him.
“What did you even let him out for?” Severus asked irritably.
“He doesn’t like being in his cage,” Remus said.
“Well, that’s obvious,” Severus replied, looking at Gawain as if he were a slug or something.
Remus jumped from seat to seat. “C’mon, Gawain, please get in your cage, c’mon now.”
Lily stood up, “Want a hand?”
“Yes, please, there is a bag of owl treats in my trunk, would you get it for me?”
Lily rummaged through the trunk and pulled out the bag. She handed it to Remus, who took out a treat and offered it to Gawain. “If you want more, you have to go into your cage, it’s only for a little while. I’ll let you out later, so you can send a letter to Mum and Dad.”
“What are you talking to the owl for?” Severus asked. He seemed to be annoyed. “He can’t understand you.”
Remus ignored this and continued to coax Gawain over to him. The bird nibbled the treat in Remus’s hand, and once he had been lulled into that false sense of security, Remus caught him firmly in his other hand and put him in his cage. He poked a couple more owl treats through the bars, to keep Gawain occupied for a bit.
The train started to slow down and the breaks began to screech. Remus pressed his face against the glass to try and see where they were, but his eyes could not penetrate the darkness outside. Then the train came to a complete stop and Remus was jerked forward, while Lily and Severus were pushed back into their seats from the force applied by the screeching breaks.
Suddenly, the compartment door slid open of its own accord; and this was followed by numerous clicks which announced that all of the train’s doors had been opened. Lily was beaming with excitement, and even Severus was smiling. Remus, however, felt like he had swallowed Gawain, who was now flying around inside him and crashing into his various insides.
Lily was first to the door, and Severus straight after her. They didn’t wait for Remus. They didn’t even say anything to him. Remus stared for a moment, not so much afraid, but crestfallen at how quickly Severus and Lily had abandoned him. He had thought that maybe they had made some sort of connection, that maybe they were friends. He had just reached this miserable conclusion when Lily’s head re-appeared.
“Remus, c’mon!” she said hurriedly.
He beamed at her, and cast a slightly apologetic look at Gawain as he left. The owl hooted feebly, staring at Remus with a look of incredulity as if he could not believe Remus was leaving him behind. His nerves and excitement, however, drove all thoughts of Gawain from his head as he followed Lily down the train’s narrow corridor and out onto the platform, where Severus was waiting for them, sour-faced.
The platform was littered with students all clad in black robes, making it feel like Remus had just jumped into a stream of dark water. Nearly everyone was taller than him and his first thought was that this must be what it feels like to be stuck in a swarm of Dementors. He kept his eyes focused on Lily’s red hair, which stood out against the sea of black he was immersed in.
Then Remus heard a deep, booming voice, overpowering all the babble of the students: “Firs’-years! Any firs’-years? All you firs’-years c’mon over here now! Firs’-years this way!”
The voice came from the biggest person Remus had ever seen. This man was a giant. He towered over the mob of students. He was even bigger than the train and nearby trees. He was very hairy, and he a great big shaggy beard and this, coupled with his wild hair, made him look like he had a black lion’s mane around his head. His hands were huge, bigger than dinner plates and the length of his shoes looked to be the same as the length of Remus’s whole leg. The man was holding a lantern aloft, and that, along with his sheer size, made him look like some sort of beacon calling out to them all.
“C’mon, Remus,” Lily said again, gesturing him to follow her and Severus towards this giant.
Other white faced first years were weaving their way through the crowd. Some looked confident, like Severus did, as if they knew all that was coming. Remus just felt nervous. He stayed close to Lily and Severus. When they had all assembled, the giant led them down a grassy slope to the edge of a large, black lake. Remus kept slipping on the dew covered grass. The rims of his robes got soaked, but he didn’t care.
When they had reached the lake, a fleet of little boats greeted them. They were bobbing slightly as the water lapped against the shore. The reflection of the crescent moon rippled on the surface of the lake. Remus liked the crescent moon best, because it indicated that the full-moon was far away.
“No more’n four to a boat!” the giant ordered. *1
Severus climbed coolly into the boat in front of them, then extended his hand to help Lily in. Remus clambered in after them, not waiting for an invitation. He figured if he waited for an invitation to do everything, then he would never get to go anywhere. He had to seize every opportunity as it came.
Another very frightened little boy stumbled into the boat after Remus. He chubby with brown hair and watery eyes. He looked very nervous. He didn’t say much, he just kept his eyes on his shoes.
“Hi, I’m Remus,” Remus said, feeling more confident about talking to people, after spending most of the train journey in Lily and Severus’s company.
“Peter,” the boy said glumly, but he didn’t say anything else, which meant that Remus didn’t know what to say to keep the conversation going.
Suddenly, the boat jerked forwards. It seemed to be moving of its own accord, because no one was rowing.
“Yeh’ll all get yer firs’ look at Hogwarts in a mo!” the giant exclaimed. He was so huge he needed an entire boat to himself.
The little fleet moved silently and effortlessly through the water, and as they rounded a large cliff-like boulder, that’s when Remus saw it for the first time: Hogwarts Castle. It was perched on the side of a mountain, overlooking the lake. It had hundreds of little windows, and the light pouring out of each was reflected in the rippling water, making it look like hundreds of little fish were jumping out of the lake. The castle itself had turrets and towers, as well as battlements and large, thick walls. It was better than Remus had ever imagined. He couldn’t take his eyes off it, and neither could anyone else, it even robbed Peter’s gaze from his shoes.
Sooner than Remus wanted, because he felt that he could stay in his boat staring at the castle all night and that would be fine with him, the little boat bumped against the wooden dock of a small harbour. Peter stumbled out first, not saying anything. Remus went next, but his foot slipped on the edge of the boat and he would have fallen in the water had Severus not grabbed him by the neck of his robes.
“Thanks,” Remus said, slightly stunned as he stared at Severus.
“Don’t mention it, ever,” he replied bluntly.
Lily beamed. Maybe Severus really wasn’t all that bad, Remus thought. He followed the giant and all the other first-years up a series of stone steps that led from the harbour up to the castle. Flaming torch brackets lined the way, casting the shadows of the giant and all the new students onto the walls of the castle. Remus thought it looked brilliant, like an army of shadows marching alongside them.
Hogwarts had large stone walls that were even bigger than the giant. There were lots of narrow little passageways that weaved around courtyards, cloisters and covered walk ways. There were stone statues of witches, wizards and knights, as well as stone carvings of animals and gargoyles.
Finally, the giant led them to a pair of enormous oak front doors. He raised his large hand and knocked several times. There was silence, then the heavily doors creaked open, revealing a rather stern looking woman in green robes. Her hair was tied back in a tight bun, making her forehead look very stretched.
“I’ve all the firs’-years, Professor McGonagall,” the giant said.
“That will do, Hagrid, thank you,” the woman replied. Hagrid; that must be the giant’s name, Remus thought. It seemed to suit the giant, because he had that strange hag-ridden look about him.
In little groups the first-years entered the castle. The entrance hall was huge. It was the biggest room Remus had ever seen. Right in front of them was a magnificent marble staircase, leading to the rest of the school. To their left were more large doors, behind which they heard the hum of hundreds of chattering voices.
The woman, Professor McGonagall, however, led them through a tiny side door into a small anti-chamber. It took them all a while to squeeze through the small frame. Everyone was strangely quiet, some even looked like they were about to be sick.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “In a few minutes you will be called into the Great Hall to be sorted into your houses. There are four: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each house has a noble history, which you are expected to uphold with the upmost integrity. You will sleep in your house dormitory, study in your house common room and eat at your house table. Your house is somewhat like your family, your successes will earn house points and your misdemeanours will lose house points, and at the end of the school year, the house that obtains the most points will be awarded the prestigious House Cup, and I hope all of you will spent the coming year devoting yourselves to earning that honour for your respective houses.” She paused for a moment, her eyes scanning all their faces. She looked very unimpressed. “I suggest you make yourselves presentable. The Sorting Ceremony will begin in a few moments.” And with a swish of her robes she vanished through another door and out into the Great Hall.
Instantly nervous, the first years began fixing their hair or re-fastening their cloaks or straightening their robes. All Remus did was make sure Plumpton’s badge was on straight, and it was. He could feel the panic rising up inside him. How exactly did they sort you into houses? He turned and asked Lily in a whisper, she seemed to know nothing more than he did, so she turned to ask Severus.
Severus, however, smiled cruelly. He leaned over to Remus and in a whispered, menacing voice, said: “Oh, it’s awful and it hurts a lot. Dumbledore puts a spell on you, a spell that looks into your soul, but it feels like he’s trying to pull your soul out. Then he decides, once he’s looked inside you, which house you should be in.”
“I don’t want Dumbledore looking into my soul! I don’t want anyone looking into my soul!” Remus blabbed without thinking, fear pushing the words from his mouth without thought. His heart was racing and he could feel himself started to sweat.
“Sev, stop!” Lily said, a little frightened herself. “He’s only messing, don’t worry, Remus, it’s nothing like that.”
“How do you know?” Remus asked, not bothering to hide the desperation in his voice.
“I just don’t think Dumbledore is that mean,” she said simply. She was right too and Remus calmed down slightly. Dumbledore was a kind old man; he wouldn’t put a spell on a student that hurt.
All such thoughts were pulled from Remus’s mind, however, as several seconds later about a dozen pearly-white figures floated in through the walls, actually floated. Several people screamed.
“Ghosts!” Remus exclaimed in a whisper. He had never seen a ghost before. They looked like normal humans, except they were transparent; Remus could see right through them, right through them. Some of the ghosts looked like they had died in the time of King Arthur, some looked like they were from the 1500s or 1600s. One of the ghosts was bound in chains and he had what Remus strongly suspected was blood all over his robes. All the ghosts were chattering amongst themselves, as if they couldn’t see the first-years at all. They glided overhead, before disappearing through the wall and out into the Great Hall.
Remus was just about to tell Lily all he knew about ghosts, when Professor McGonagall returned to bring them into the hall. Remus was consumed by nerves. He could feel himself starting to shake. His legs felt like they were made of jelly and it became increasingly hard to move them.
As soon as he entered the hall Remus forgot his nerves for a moment. Hundreds of eyes landed on the first-years and these eyes belonged to hundreds of students sitting at four long tables. Candles floated serenely in the air, flickering in the breeze from the open door the first-years were filing through. At first Remus thought there was no ceiling, then he realised that there was, only it seemed to mirror the night sky above. At the top of the hall was the teacher’s table. The giant, Hagrid, sat at the end, at least four times taller than everyone else. Dumbledore sat on a throne-like chair in the middle. He was smiling at everyone behind his crooked glasses. A stool with a very old, very decrepit looking hat on it stood in front of all the teachers and this was the point that Professor McGonagall was leading them to.
Everyone fell silent and every gaze was fixed on the hat. It quivered slightly, and the rip near the bottom opened, like a mouth. Remus stared transfixed. That’s when the hat started to sing.
I am the Hogwarts Sorting Hat and I know where you belong,
So do some closer, students, and listen to my song!
A thousand years or more ago, four friends made a pact,
To build a school for gifted children, and teach them magic to be exact.
Rowena Ravenclaw picked the eagle and started the house of bronze and blue,
She took only the smartest students, and gave them praise when it was due.
Godric Gryffindor chose the fierce lion in the colours of red and gold,
For his students knew no fear and always valued the chivalry of old.
Salazar Slytherin picked the snake adorned in silver and green,
And accepted those of purest blood with cunning minds so keen,
Then came Helga Hufflepuff, who chose the badger in yellow and black,
She took any student willing to learn and never once did they look back.
So all the students came to school and did their teachers proud,
They proved they were worthy of their learning, and not a dumb old crowd,
And so for a thousand years or more Hogwarts has taught students to learn,
And now, young ones, you’ve to try me on, the wait is over, it’s now your turn.
For the next seven years or so, this castle is your home,
And your house is like your family, so you’ll never be alone,
So be not afraid and put me on, for I’ve never once been wrong,
I’ll look inside your head, and place you where you should belong.
Once it stopped singing the whole hall broke into applause. Remus tried to clap too, but his hands had gone numb. Right now he didn’t feel smart and or cunning and he definitely was full of fear. He looked around, nearly everyone was feeling the same way he was, including Severus. Peter, the boy from the boat, was shaking from head to foot and he looked beyond terrified.
“When I call your name, come up onto the platform and place the Sorting Hat on your head, and then you’ll be sorted into one of the Houses,” Professor McGonagall said briskly as she unrolled the scroll of parchment in her hand.
Remus actually felt like he was going to be sick, heat was rising up his face and he found it very hard to breathe. His heart was hammering and he could feel the blood pumping in the veins in his neck, flooding his brain, making it pound in time with his heart. He didn’t like the idea of that hat looking inside his head. What if it saw that he was a werewolf, and suddenly screamed that fact to the whole school and Remus got thrown out there on the spot? Or what if someone from the village was sitting at one of those long tables and recognised his name when it was called and screamed out in protest at him being here?
“Battlebury, Kayla,” called Professor McGonagall.
A trembling, curly haired girl edged forward, whose face was as pale as a sheet. Professor McGonagall placed the hat on her head, and it fell down over her eyes. Remus thought that the hat was kind to so that, because it would be less frightening being sorted when you couldn’t see the swarm of faces staring up at you. The hat was still for a moment or two, before it yelled proudly, “HUFFLEPUFF!”
The table on the middle left started clapping and shouting. Kayla looked relieved as Professor McGonagall pulled the hat off her and she walked over to her house table and sat down.
Professor McGonagall returned her gaze to her scroll. “Black, Sirius.”
Instantly, there were mutterings from the Slytherin table, but Remus couldn’t think why. A black haired boy grinned at that messy-haired boy in glasses beside him and walked up on the platform and tried on the hat. There was silence, then, ten seconds later, the hat cried: “GRYFFINDOR!”
The table in the far corner exploded into cheers and applause, and the Slytherin table exchanged whispered mutterings. A blonde-hair girl at the Slytherin table even stood up in outrage. She had an appalled look on her face. The boy, Sirius, grinned from ear to ear, winked at his friend in the glasses and sat down at the Gryffindor table. Remus turned his attention to the hat. It didn’t seem to announce its deliberations aloud, which calmed him slightly, but then again was being a werewolf too big a deal to keep quiet about?
‘Entwhistle, Evelyn’ was called next and she became a Ravenclaw almost instantly, the hat had barely touched her head. Then Professor McGonagall called, “Evans, Lily.” Lily gave Severus and Remus a nervous smile, then tried on the hat, which placed her in Gryffindor. Remus heard Severus swear loudly, but none but the students around him heard it, as the Gryffindor table were making so much noise, welcoming Lily to their house.
‘Keogh, Alannah’, went next. She had blonde hair and lots of freckles. She went to Ravenclaw. Remus was getting nervous at how quickly Professor McGonagall was going through the list of names, they were on ‘K’ already. Sometimes, the hat took a long time to decide on where to put a student; and others times, like with Evelyn Entwhistle, it seemed to know instantly. Remus was just beginning to think that he wanted to be put out of his misery, because he literally could not stand waiting in this state of intense panic any longer, when Professor McGonagall called his name.
He shrunk in the crowd, and wanted to cover his ears from the sound of the mutterings and whispers he imagined being exchanged. He’s a werewolf! exclaimed a voice in Remus’s head. He started to tremble uncontrollably.
“Lupin, Remus!” Professor McGonagall called more sternly.
Remus jumped out of his skin. That’s when he realised that no one was speaking, that his name had prompted no mutterings from anyone. Severus poked him hard in the back and Remus stumbled forward. He sat on the stool and gripped the edges so tightly his shoulders hunched and his knuckles turned white. The last thing he saw was hundreds of eyes staring menacingly up at him, when the hat was put on his head. It fell down over his eyes, kindly hiding him from view.
Suddenly, a little voice spoke in his ear. Remus jumped. “No need to be so nervous, lad,” it said. Wait, was the hat talking to him? Could the people in the hall hear what Remus could too? “Alright, let’s see now, very interesting, very interesting,” the hat mused. “You possess an uncommon amount of loyalty and a fierce determination to prove yourself, or more accurately prove others wrong, those are the traits Helga Hufflepuff prized, you know. But there is also ... hmmm.... you’ve a clever mind too, make no mistake, and a great hunger for knowledge, so perhaps Ravenclaw would suit you better? No, what’s this now? Good Godric, you’ve courage by the bucket-load and copious amounts of selflessness, but you also have fear, oh yes, there is a lot of fear in you too. But, wait, no, what’s that I see?”
Remus’s heart was beating so fast, so fast he thought it would explode out of his chest. He coiled his feet around the legs of the stool like a snake.
“I know what you are,” the hat said quietly.
No! Remus begged silently. No! Please don’t tell them! Please don’t tell them! Please! His heart was pounding. He felt dizzy, felt as if his impending doom was fast approaching.
Then the hat opened its mouth and bellowed one word: “GRYFFINDOR!”
Direct Quotes from:
*1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone pg. 83 (UK edition)
References are from:
“Chapter Six – The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (UK edition)
“Chapter Seven – The Sorting Hat.” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (UK edition)