Chapter 7 : Giant Eyeballs, Singing Hats, and Horrible Manners
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After several intercepted throws at their siblings' heads, Erin and Frank had begun to get bored with the game that Alice had dubbed 'Chuck-Books-At-Each-Others-Heads.' That is, until a badly tossed book had crossed Cassandra's path. That was when all war broke loose.
Cassandra, as it turned out, absolutely hated to get books thrown at her. So each time one struck her, the battle became more violent. Finally, however, Lily and Alice had resorted to grabbing as many books as they could and shoving them in the space between them, away from the others, until eventually the only books left were the ones that Frank wouldn't sacrifice. That was when they'd started to actually converse. The four girls had chatted about everything from their families to their wands to what color they'd like to die their hair. They'd been so giggly that Frank had been forced to huddle his books together and storm out of the compartment, throwing up his hands and muttering about 'bloody giggly girls.'
This, of course, had only gotten them in even worse fits of hysterics.
So, between evading heavy books and rolling on the floor, clutching her side, Lily considered herself lucky to get out of the compartment with all her limbs intact. Alice, though, had a large, swelling lump on her forehead and Erin swore she broke her pinky. Cassandra, however, had unsurprisingly remained unharmed.
In fact, Cassandra was next to her right now, arguing about something with James and Sirius, who, for some reason, they had been stuck with in a boat. For the first few minutes, Lily had attempted halfheartedly to join in, but she had soon grown bored and had by now managed to tune out most of their pointless bickers.
She lifted her head a bit and turned it slightly so as to hear what they were saying.
"I'm going out for chaser this year," James was saying.
Cassandra snorted. "Yeah right, Potter. First years never make it. We're not even allowed brooms!"
"So?" James leaned back, rocking the boat gently. "I brought my Nimbus, anyways. Even if I don't make it, I'm not going all year without flying!"
"Better not let the teachers see it, though," Cassandra warned darkly. It was clear she was very unhappy about this rule, as well. "You can get in major trouble."
Sirius' eyes grew mockingly wide. "Oh no, James! You better watch it, you might get," here he let out a fake gasp, "in trouble!"
Both boys pretended to look fearful, and this is when Lily stopped listening. She had no idea how she'd gotten stuck with the two boys instead of Erin and Alice. It probably had something to do with Erin being stuck with Remus and Peter while Alice had been trapped in a boat with Frank and two other boys.
Lily lowered her head once more, shifting her position and withdrawing her fingers, numb from the cold, out of the lake and sticking them into her robe pocket (which she had changed into shortly after Frank had left) to warm them up. However, they unexpectedly met something soft. Her fingers clasped around it and she withdrew whatever it was, gasping when she saw an unopened bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. She had forgotten about setting those there.
Once again, she shifted her position, this time so part of her hair was dangling slightly over the edge, the tips of it getting wet, as she ate her Every Flavor Beans. She had just popped in a marshmellow flavored one when Cassandra slammed her fist hard on the side of the boat furiously at something James had said, lurching both the boat and Lily's body to the side. Unfortunately, it tipped so the rest of Lily's hair met the water briefly before she toppled in.
The sudden shock of her skin meeting water caused Lily to gasp, which did not help at all. She inhaled a mouthful of water and fought desperately to return to the surface. She wasn't all that good of a swimmer on normal terms, let alone when she had just fallen into a seemingly endless, freezing cold lake.
Her hand, which was flailing wildly above the water, suddenly met something sturdy. The boat. She grabbed onto it and attempted to pull herself up. It was only when she felt someone reach into the water, grab her shoulder, and pull her upwards that Lily rose to the surface, coughing and spluttering. But it was not before she got a glimpse of what lurked in the lake.
She saw an eyeball. One, giant eyeball, staring at her before she broke contact and was pulled into the boat. And she felt something slimy brush across the bottom of her leg, just briefly, yet still spookily. But she hardly had time to think of all this because, the next moment, she realized that Cassandra was shaking her shoulders desperately while, in the background, James and Sirius were struggling to control their laughter.
Ignoring her rapid beating heart, Lily sat up. Cassandra gave a cry of relief and smothered her with a hug, apologizing the entire time. "I'm okay," Lily gasped, mainly because Cassandra was choking her. "Now let go!"
Reluctantly, Cassandra released the death grip and let Lily cough up some of the water she had swallowed. The two boys were still laughing hysterically, not bothering to contain themselves anymore. Cassandra seemed to just notice them, however, when James gasped, "That... was... hilarious!" and attempted to imitate Lily flailing her arms around.
The hazel eyed girl advanced on them, her teeth gritting furiously. "YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY?" she shrieked while, in the background, Lily, who was a ghostly white now, hugged her legs to her body in an attempt to warm up.
But before the boys got to reply, a gruff, yet worried, voice came from behind Cassandra. "Y'er alright now, Lily?" Hagrid asked, taking his boat closer to the girl, who was now shivering like crazy while her teeth chattered unstoppably. He frowned when he saw this and seemed to think for a second before his fact lit up and he quickly discarded of the moleskin overcoat that had been draped around him, placing it in front of Lily instead.
"Th-th-thankss, Hag-grid," the redhead said hoarsely, her teeth still chattering. She reached out to put it on and adjusted it so that it covered her like a blanket meant for someone twice her size. It was warm, within seconds the chattering ceased and she barely shivered as she watched Hagrid row away, not looking the least bit concerned for his lack of coat.
After fixing it so that the coat covered every inch of her body, leaving only space from the very tips of her eyebrows to just barely brushing her bottom lip, Lily turned back to the others. Sirius and James were no longer laughing. Instead, they were both sitting, cross armed, with identical looks of loathe on their face, directed towards Cassandra. If Cassandra noticed, however, Lily didn't know. The girl was looking down on the redhead with sympathy, and the instant Lily turned, she burst. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! I-"
But Lily put her hand up to silence the girl. "It's not your fault," she said cheerily, determined not to let one fall ruin her whole first day at Hogwarts. She shot Cassandra a small grin before reaching her hand over to where she had been sitting when the boat had tipped. Miraculously, the Every Flavor Beans were still on board, as dry as ever. She grabbed the bag and instantly began fishing for a good bean, while Cassandra turned her wrath on the boys.
"It's your fault! You made me angry! And you helped tip the boat, you KNEW she would fall!"
The rest of the boat ride continued like that. Sirius, James, and Cassandra battling furiously and loudly, though keeping the boat under control, while Lily sat, relaxed, flicking the beans she didn't want at the boys' heads. She hadn't quite forgiven them for helping her to fall, as she now knew they had done.
Finally, Hogwarts castle came into view.
At first, only Lily noticed it. She sat in silence, completely forgetting about her Every Flavor Beans, her mouth slightly open. The other three continued to bicker, and didn't notice anything until someone, who sounded suspiciously like Frank, shouted out "Look!" and they all turned, gasping. Needless to say, the last five minutes of the ride was unexpectidly peaceful. Though, when the boats came to dry land, Lily jumped up and backed away from the other three, though Hagrid's bulky coat slowed her down a bit, accidentally bumping into Erin in the process.
The pretty girl grinned. "You seem wet," she said simply.
Lily scowled. "They were fighting the entire time! I think I'm going to go crazy."
Erin laughed. "Yeah, we all heard them. And then there was your fall... That was classic, Lily. Really graceful."
"If my hair wasn't plastered under this coat, I'd be ripping it out," Lily said darkly.
"Good thing you have the coat then," Alice said, coming up to join them. "You wouldn't want to rip your gorgeous hair out!"
Just as Lily opened her mouth to accuse Alice of lieing, Hagrid boomed, "Firs' years, foller' me!" and she settled with just glaring, instead, as they walked up to the castle doors.
Once they had all filed into the hall, Hagrid slipped away into the place where Lily supposed they ate, though no one this. They were all staring at the middle aged, strict looking woman standing in front of them, her robes crisp and sharp, and her hat standing proudly. "Welcome to Hogwarts," she said in a prissy like voice to match how she looked. "The start of term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting." As she said this, Lily squirmed uncomftorably and didn't stop until she had left. After all, she was the one sopping wet underneath a moleskin coat fit for someone four times her size. However, this disconcerned her when she heard some of the things people were saying.
"I heard you have to kill a vampire," one boy said haughtily to his friend.
"No," someone not too far away interupted. "My brother says you have to get past a giant."
Just as Lily was starting to consider turning away and running home, she heard a voice in her ear. "Don't worry," Sirius whispered, somehow getting through the thick coat. "It's nothing dangerous. We just try on a hat." And, after giving her a quick wink, he had turned back to James, who he had become rather close to on the train ride.
"What was that all about?" Cassandra, who had joined them during the strict woman's speech.
Lily just shrugged before averting her eyes, with everyone else, back to the doorway, where the woman stood once more. "Form a line, please," she said sharply, her eyes scanning the students once more. "And follow me."
Without realizing it, Lily followed. It was more like being herded than walking in a line. She was only moving because the others were. She stopped briefly, however, once they'd enter the Great Hall.
There were four long tables, each filled with students in black robes, most of which seemed anxious to finish the ceremony. At the front of the hall, however, there was another table at which adults, Lily guessed they were teachers, sat, all looking at the first years. She was well aware that many were looking straight at her, the wet one. All around the people, however, ghosts floated about, and they, too, seemed to line up for the Sorting. What got her the most, though, was the ceiling. It was beutiful, looking exactly like a perfect night sky.
She was jolted out of her thoughts by a sudden loud voice that was... singing? She scanned the room quickly but everyone's mouths were shut and they were all looking at one thing. Lily turned and peered around Erin to see what it was. When she did, she rubbed her eyes. It was a hat? Singing?
But before she could think any more of this, the hat stopped and the entire Hall burst into applause. Lily joined in, but she was blushing because she had missed it all. She took a step to her right so Erin was out of the way and watched as the strict woman walked to the hat, a large roll of parchment in her hand. "When I call your name," she announced, hushing everybody again. "Please make your way up here to be sorted."
And the Sorting began.
"Adams, Timothy!" A small, peaky looking boy shyly stepped up the the woman and tried on the hat. He gave a small jump when it was properly on, and Lily wondered why. The older students seemed to know, however.
A few seconds later, a rip in the brim of the hat opened wide and, here Lily gasped, it announced quite clearly, "HUFFLEPUFF!" The table on the far right broke into cheers as the nervous boy stumbled over to it, his eyes darting up to the large yellow and black banner above the table. The badger upon it seemed to be grinning.
Soon after this, 'Arvin, Melissa' marched proudly up and shoved the hat on her head, sneering at everyone as she did so. "SLYTHERIN!" shouted the hat instantly, and the girl grinned and head towards a particularly nasty looking table.
"Black, Sirius!" the woman, who Lily had overheard someone calling McGonagall, called.
Sirius, who was only two people behind Lily, broke from the line and glided to the hat. The Slytherin occupants were sneering at him, yet sitting on edge, as if waiting for him to join them. Sirius placed the hat gently on his head and the entire hall was silent. Lily watched anxiously, curious to what house he would be in. At least a minute passed, every eye in the hall glued to Sirius, before the brim opened wide.
The table with a gold and red lion above it burst into unexpected applause that covered the Slytherin's loud taunts as Sirius practically skipped to the Gryffindors, grinning the whole time.
"Barnett, Brayden!" A very pompous looking boy with perfectly combed hair made his way to the stool and slowly placed the hat on his head, smiling smugly. It was only a few seconds before the hat declared "SLYTHERIN" and he marched down the cruel looking table.
"Brown, Ivora!" A small, friendly looking brown haired girl walked tentitavely up to McGonagall and placed the hat upon her head, smiling warmly. In a matter of seconds the rip opened wide and... "HUFFLEPUFF!"
"Bunnil, Faylinn!" was quickly sorted into Ravenclaw, followed immideately by "Conan, Nieve!"
"Chaucey, Erin!" Erin moved to the side of the line, momentarily blocking Lily's view again, jogged up, and jammed the hat on her head eagerly. She gave a small wink aimed at Lily before a look of shock took over her face. It didn't slide off until the hat shouted "GRYFFINDOR!" and Erin literally jumped for joy before sprinting to join Sirius at the table, sitting a few seats away from him.
"Clearwell, Alice!" Alice, who had been in front of Erin and now stood directly ahead of Lily, seemed frozen. Lily frowned and, knowing that could not happen, gave her a little push. Alice stumbled forward and then seemed to realize where she was and, blushing, shyly walked to the stand.
Lily briefly remembered watching Alice as she was sorted into Gryffindor, though she didn't have much time to soak it in for 'Evans, Lily!" was the next name out of McGonagall's head. The redhead's eyes widened as she hurried forward, struggling under Hagrid's lagre coat, grabbed the hat when she reached it and placied it delicately on her head. It was soft.
"Hmm," came a small voice in Lily's ear. Lily jumped - this must have been what scared the other students, the hat was talking to her! "Very smart, yes. Very smart indeed. Brilliant, some may say. Ahh, what's this? Loyalty. That is a key quality." Lily just sat there as the hat continued to ramble in her head. "Bravery, that is distinct," it said wisely. "Yes, now I see it. Only one place for you," and then it's voice became amplified, loud enough for everyone to hear. "GRYFFINDOR!"
Lily was in shock as she stumbled over to the Gryffindor table to sit with Alice and Erin, who were cheering the loudest. The rest of the Sorting was a bit of a blur to her. She vaguely remembered Cassandra being sorted and bounding over to join them, soon followed by Remus who sat with Sirius. Frank, however, was sorted into Ravenclaw. Lily saw him shoot Erin an apologetic look before sitting down. Erin, who had gone rather quiet, had thought her brother would join them and Lily knew she was dissapointed that he didn't.
Both James and Peter joined the table, one right after another, completing the Gryffindor first years. Soon after them, 'Zarrow, Jenkin' was sorted into Ravenclaw and therefore ended the Sorting. McGonagall grabbed the hat and took it with her to the head table, where a very old and wise looking wizard was now standing, ready to make a speech.
"I would like to welcome you to another fabulous year at Hogwarts," he said, his eyes twinkling. Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you, now tuck in!"
Everybody in the hall burst into applause, except for a few confused first years, such as Lily and Cassandra. "Is he mad?" Cassandra hissed into Lily's ear through the applause. Lily just shrugged, though that was hard with the bulky moleskin on her. Cassandra seemed to notice and, with her help, Lily got it adjusted so it wrapped around her waist and legs. It was then that she realized that food had appeared on the plates in front of her. Not just any food though. Wonderful food of all sorts, each bit looking delicious.
She dug in.
"This is delicious," Erin mumbled across from her, the blonde's mouth filled with chicken. "Do we eat like this every day?"
"No," came a deeper voice from a few seats away. The four girls jumped and turned to see a tall, redheaded boy grinning and reaching for a roll. Lily cocked her head, this boy looked fimiliar. "Just at the feasts. But there are a few feasts."
"Too bad," Cassandra replied dully. Then she perked back up. "How many feasts are there?"
The boy, who Lily noticed had a large, shiny badge with Head Boy sprawled across, raised a hand in front of his face to start counting. "Let's see. There's this one, the Halloween feast, the end of term feast, and the christmas one. Not very many, but definitely worth the waiting periods between."
"Oh," both Erin and Cassandra said in dissapointed unison. Cassandra reached out to shove yet another spoonful of potatoes into her already full mouth while Lily and Alice watched with disgusted looks.
"If I had known you ate like that I would never have sat in your compartment," Alice grumbled, taking her knife and cutting a small piece of chicken away from the bone before scooping it up with her fork and slowly raising it to her mouth.
"That's what I said the first time we went out to lunch," Erin replied as she continue to pile her own plate. "Though, I wasn't as obsessed about table manners as you obviously are," she added as an afterthought, eyeing Alice's perfectly portioned meal.
Alice glowered at her. "Manners are nothing to be ashamed of," she said, sounding very much like Lily's mother. Lily, who had been staring at the Head Boy curiously, wondering where she had seen him before, snorted into her drink, remembering how many times her mother had made Lily take lessons for her manners. Petunia, of course, had aced the course.
"Besides," Cassandra said, her mouth now clear of food, as Lily slowly came back to reality. "I'm not nearly as bad as him." She cocked her head to the side and Lily's eyes trailed down a few seats before seeing who she was talking about. When she did, she nearly burst out laughing.
Sirius had nearly twice as much food in his mouth that Cassandra had had in hers only moments before. And to top it all off, he was talking! It seemed he was telling a joke, because James and Peter (who also had food shoveled into his mouth) were bursting with laughter. Remus, however, was just rolling his eyes and eating his food in an actually human way.
"You know," Erin said thoughtfully after a moment, in which all girls had been gawking at Sirius. "Cass, you and Sirius might just work out. He can stuff his face more than you!"
"Ha ha," Cassandra said sarcastically, turning back to her plate. Then a hopeful glint came to her eye and she looked up once more. "You really think I have a chance?"
Erin just threw up her hands and returned to her own meal. Cassandra shot her a glare before returning to shoveling food into her mouth while muttering about 'boy crazy veelas' under her breath.
"AHA!" Lily exclaimed, interrupting Erin, who had just opened her mouth to yell at Cassandra. The three girls, and one or two other people near them, looked at the redhead questioningly. Lily, after realizing that she had said that aloud, quickly blushed and lowered her voice. "I finally figured out where I know him from!"
"Who?" Alice asked, confused.
"The Head Boy!" Four sets of eyes quickly darted down the table to where the older boy was now talking to another boy. Cassandra quickly turned back to Lily, shooting her a 'yeah, so?' look. Lily rolled her eyes. "He used to be my neighbor! Arthur Weasley, right?"
Cassandra nodded. "Yeah, that's him, but why does it matter?"
Lily paused, then shrugged. "I dunno, it just bugged me."
The four girls sat in silence for only a moment before Erin and Cassandra began to bicker again. Lily and Alice just rolled their eyes and turned to their own conversation. A few minutes later, though, Erin and Cassandra, seemingly bored of their argument, joined in and the four girls continued to chat until the plates had been magically cleared.
"Hey!" cried out Cassandra indigently, but Alice quickly shushed her. It was easy to see why. Up at the head table, the ancient looking wizard was rising from his chair once more.
"Now, I would like to say a few words now that you are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you," he began.
"Before anything else, I would like to welcome two new staff to Hogwarts this year." At this, Arthur Weasley gave a snort, along with a few other older students. "First off, Professor Salwa Rawlins, who has kindly filled the post as our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." At this, a tall blonde woman stood up from two seats next to the old man and was greeted by enthusiastic clapping through the hall that quickly faded away once she sat back down.
"And I would like to take a moment of silence to think of Ogg, our old gamekeeper who risked his life to protect Hogwarts from that centuar's battle last year." The hall immideately silenced and Lily could have sworn she heard a sob coming from the Hufflepuff table. Before she could turn to look however, the old man was speaking once more.
"Now, I would like to introduce you to our new gamekeeper, Rebus Hagrid!" Hagrid, who had come up to the side of the long table, gave a small bow as he was applauded, strongest of all by Lily.
"First years should know the the forest on grounds is strictly forbidden to all pupils, as is the village of Hogsmeade to all below third year." His eyes twinkled as he said this. "Also, Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to remind you that magic is not permitted in the corridors."
"That is all, and I would like to wish you a wonderful year at Hogwarts!" he concluded. "First years, please follow your house prefects up to your dormatories."
Abruptly, the hall began to fill with noise once more. As Lily stood up, she could just make out Arthur Weasley through the crowd. "First years, over here!" he was calling.
Lily grinned and grabbed Alice's hand, completely forgetting about Hagrid's coat as she pulled the smaller girl over to where the other first years were beginning to huddle. Remus, who was in front of her, turned around and grinned at her. Lily smiled back, coming to the conclusion that she had been correct.
This would be a wonderful year at Hogwarts.
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