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Chapter 5 : The Sorting.
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“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” Hagrid said.
“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here. You may as well go inside for the feast. I wish to have a few words with our new students.”
It was said pleasantly enough, but somehow Rose felt that it sounded ominous.
“Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Professor McGonagall and I am Headmistress here. I hope you will all enjoy your years with us and be a credit both to the school and to whatever house you are placed in today. As some of you will doubtlessly know already, we have a house system in place here. Our students are divided into four houses, based on abilities, talents and attitudes. The houses are Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. For the next seven years, your house will be something like your family here at Hogwarts. You will attend classes with the other first years from your house, eat at your house table, sleep in your house dormitory and spend your free time in your house common room.
“Some of you may also have heard that we have a House Cup each year at Hogwarts. This is a competition between the four houses, and you can gain points for your house in many ways: by answering questions particularly well in class, succeeding in tests and examinations, and perhaps, when you are older, by winning Quidditch matches for your house.”
There were a couple of whispers: “what’s Quidditch” from students who must have been Muggle born, but Professor McGonagall ignored them completely and continued with what she was saying.
“However, you can also lose points for your house. Points are taken away if a student is caught in breach of school rules and I can assure you that the other members of your house will not be pleased with any student who loses them too many points.
“But of course, the immediate issue is finding out which house each of you will be placed in. If you are all quite ready, I would ask you to follow me into the Great Hall, where you will be sorted.”
McGonagall stepped into the castle followed closely by the first years.
Around her, Rose could hear the whisperings of those who were not aware of how the sorting was done.
“Do you think we’ll have to take some kind of a test?”
“I hope not. I don’t know any magic yet. I bet I’d be the worst in the whole class.”
“No, I would.”
“Do you think we’re sort of graded according to our ability? Didn’t she say something about being placed in a house, depending on your ability?"
Rose and Diana shared a moment of quiet mirth. The suggestions were so inaccurate that it was hard not to be amused.
“Muggle borns,” Rose suggested.
“Or people with older siblings who think it amusing to let them worry,” Diana commented.
The whispers paused as they entered the Great Hall and the students gasped. Even Rose couldn’t help being impressed, despite having seen the room before. The ceiling, she knew, was only bewitched to look like the sky outside, but anybody who wasn’t aware was that fact would be convinced that they were really looking up at the cloudless sky, as the sun was setting.
There was no time for any more chat, as Professor McGonagall was lining the students up and a tiny wizard came up carrying a three-legged stool, and a shabby old wizard’s hat.
Almost as soon as the hat was placed on the stool, a tear close to the brim opened and the hat began to sing. It was the same sort of song that Rose had heard of it singing James’s first year and even back when her parents were at Hogwarts. Rose had been hoping for a warning, such as her father had told her it had occasionally given when he was a boy at school. Of course, those were the days around the time of Voldemort’s return, when there was great excitement in the Wizarding world. Nowadays, there was nothing so exciting taking place, and the Sorting hat gave no warnings or anything exciting like that.
Rose lost interest in listening to its song about the origins of the Founders and its own ability to place students accurately. She was more concerned that the hat did place her accurately- into Gryffindor. It was the only house she wanted to be in, and she really wished there was some way she could be sure of influencing the hat to place her there, but even Fred and George couldn’t think of any way to make the hat do what you wanted it to.
Her father always told her that your choices were just as important as your abilities when being placed in a house, and had admitted that the hat had suggested putting him in Slytherin, but that it had put him in Gryffindor, simply because he had asked not to go in Slytherin.
But James had wanted to be in Gryffindor too, and yet the hat had placed him in Hufflepuff.
The hat had finished it’s song and was starting to call the students up to be sorted. Rose’s attention turned from her own thoughts to the students ahead of her in the line. It would be some time before the hat got to the Ps, but she was interested to hear the names of the other students in her year and to find out what Houses they would be sorted into.
As she hoped and believed that she would be placed in Gryffindor, she was naturally most anxious to hear who was sorted into that house, but the As and Bs passed with students sorted into Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, but none for Gryffindor.
“GRYFFINDOR,” the hat shouted after a moment’s pause. Rose had already noticed that the hat sorted some people almost immediately, while others were made to wait some time while it made its decision. She hoped that it would decide quickly when it came to her, but then realised that she would prefer it took its time than that it sorted her into somewhere unsuitable.
The line of students moved steadily forward.
Finally, it came to “Lupin, Diana”. Rose took a deep breath. One thing that hadn’t occurred to her until this moment was what if she and Diana were placed in different houses. Of course, she could, and would, make other friends, but she and Diana had been friends forever, and she had taken it for granted that they would be together.
The sorting of her friend took some time. Almost a minute ticked by. Was the hat deliberately trying to torture her?
Eventually, however, it called out “GRYFFINDOR.”
The students at the Gryffindor table cheered, as did many of the Slytherins. Rose was sure that theirs were not supportive cheers, but that they were cheering to see that Diana had not been placed in their house. Well, Rose didn’t care. She was glad that Diana had not been placed in Slytherin too and she was sure that Diana herself was as well. Who’d want to be a Slytherin?
Rose glanced up in interest. This was the one boy who had crossed the lake in the same boat as she and Diana had. A most unpleasant looking boy, she thought him and wasn’t in the least surprised when it took the Sorting hat bare moments to shout out “SLYTHERIN.”
The girl who had been with them was called up shortly afterwards.
The Ps were getting closer.
To Rose’s surprise, the hat took some time deciding where to place Anthea. Knowing the Parkinsons’ reputation, Rose had assumed that she would be immediately placed in Slytherin. But there was a greater surprise in store.
When the hat finally made its choice, it called out, “GRYFFINDOR.” There was a stunned silence. Nobody cheered and Anthea walked down to join the Gryffindors without a sound. Then the Slytherins began to boo, but silence remained at the other tables.
McGonagall stepped up quickly and silenced those booing and the Sorting hat continued it’s task.
Nervously, Rose stepped up to the Sorting hat, beginning to plead “Please Gryffindor” in her mind even before she placed the hat on her head.
It barely touched her, before shouting out “GRYFFINDOR”.
The Gryffindors began to cheer, with Diana and Rose’s cousin Michael cheering the loudest and greeting her excitedly to the Gryffindor table.
“Thank Merlin you’re in Gryffindor too,” Diana said. “I was afraid they’d put us in different houses.”
Rose had other cousins in Gryffindor too and they joined in the general cheering. So far, Harriet and James were the only two Weasley grandchildren who had not been placed in Gryffindor.
The cheering died down as the sorting continued and more students were placed in various houses.
Eventually, the hat reached the final few letters of the alphabet.
He was the final student to be sorted and Professor Flitwich took the stool and the hat out of the Hall.
Professor McGonagall stood up at the staff table.
“I am aware that all of you are anxious to begin the delicious feast which is waiting for you. However, before you begin, I have a few announcements I want to make. The first thing I want to remind you all is that the Forbidden Forest is off-limits to all students. Last year, we had some problems with students who did not appear to understand the meaning of the name.”
Across the table from Rose, Michael blushed. He was one of the students who had disobeyed this rule the previous year, Rose knew, as she could remember the fussing of her aunt Hermione, when he had been caught.
“I also want to congratulate Albert Weasley, who received 10 Os in his OWLs last year. This is the best result we have had for three years. Congratulations Albert, and I hope that this years’ students will be equally successful. I wish the best of luck to all students taking OWLs or NEWTs this year, in fact.
“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want to wish you all a happy and productive year. Enjoy the feast.”
As McGonagall sat down, the plates began to fill with steak, roast chicken, roast ham, chops, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, chips, peas, carrots, turnips and other foods.
Rose piled some steak, roast potatoes, carrots and peas onto her plate and began to eat. Beside her, Diana had piled her plate high with practically everything on the table, apart from chicken, which Rose knew her friend disliked.
“Do you think we eat like this every day?” Diana asked.
“James says they always have a good spread,” Rose replied. “Hey, how come the sorting hat took so long to place you anyway?”
“It couldn’t decide between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. I didn’t mind too much either way. Those are the two houses I’d want to be in anyway.”
“Ravenclaw?” Rose made a face. “I bet they are all a bunch of swots there. Gryffindor is the best house.”
They finished their meal, and the food remaining disappeared, to be replaced by puddings of all kinds: ice-cream, jelly, apple pie, treacle tart, spotted dick. The options appeared almost endless.
Rose chose some apple pie, with cream, while Diana filled her plate with chocolate cake, apple pie and ice-cream.
Even Diana had to admit that she was full by the time the last of the puddings disappeared and McGonagall stood up to order the students off to bed.
Albert stood up importantly.
“Would all first year Gryffindors please follow myself and Amelia, please”
Rose stood up with the other first year Gryffindors to follow the two prefects to Gryffindor tower. Albert was in his element.
“Follow me, please; follow me. Keep together now. Do try to keep up.”
They reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.
“Now, I am going to give her the password,” Albert declared importantly. “You will all need to remember this, as you will require it whenever you wish to enter the tower.”
Rose thought she saw Amelia roll her eyes. She felt like doing the same thing as she listened to Albert pontificate.
“Audacity” he finally said.
The portrait hole opened and the students clambered awkwardly in.
Inside the tower, the girls and boys parted, as Albert led the boys to their dormitory and Amelia led the girls to theirs. Without Albert present, Amelia was far friendlier and more talkative.
“Ok, this is the first year dormitory this year,” she smiled at them. “I’m glad to tell you that it is completely impossible for any boys to enter this room, although you may visit their dormitory if you wish.”
“Why is that?” Rose asked.
“The idea seems to be that we are more trustworthy than boys are,” Amelia giggled. “Seems like somebody had some sense. Now, I’ll leave you to get some sleep, but if any of you have any problems at any time this year, you can always come to me or one of the other prefects. That’s what we are there for, you know.”
“She seems nice,” Diana commented, as Amelia left the room.
The other girls agreed.
“Yeah, I didn’t like that other prefect, though,” Megan commented.
“He’s Rose cousin,” Diana told her.
“Ooops, I’m sorry, Rose. I didn’t know.”
“Don’t worry,” Rose replied, giggling at the other girl’s embarrassment. “I don’t like him much either.”
She turned to one of the other two girls.
“Hey, what did the sorting hat say your name was? Knee-eve or something like that.”
“Pretty much, yeah, but it’s spelled N-I-A-M-H. It’s an Irish name.”
“So you’re Irish, then. I’d have known by your accent anyway.”
There wasn’t much time for getting to know each other, as it was time they were getting ready for bed and after all, they would be sharing the same living space for the rest of the year, so they had plenty of time.
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