Chapter 4 : The Sorting
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4. Sorting and Settling
After an uneventful boat ride they arrived at Hogwarts. Hagrid led them up to the castle where a tall, thin witch in bottle green robes was waiting for them by the large, open, oak front door. Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun, her square glasses resting on the end of her nose and her hands clasped together in front of her.
‘Thank you, Hagrid’ the witch said, nodding her head slightly at Hagrid.
‘No problem,’ Hagrid replied cheerily, smiling down at the students before trudging off round the side of the castle whistling.
‘Welcome to Hogwarts. I’m Professor McGonagall,’ the stern looking witch said, turning back to the students. ‘Follow me.’
As she led them across the vast, torch lit Entrance Hall several students gasped at the sight of a group of ghosts floating through the double doors on the right of the hall. Professor McGonagall either did not hear the sounds of amazement from the students, or was simply ignoring it as she carried on through the Entrance Hall and led them into a small chamber in silence.
Once all the first years were inside the chamber Professor McGonagall addressed them.
‘In a few moments I will take you through to the Great Hall to join the rest of the students for the start-of-term feast. Before the feast begins you will each be sorted into your houses, once sorted you will take a seat at your house table. The Sorting ceremony is very important. While you are here at Hogwarts you will be spending vast amounts of time with the other members of your house; you will have lessons with them, share a dormitory with them and spend free time with them in your house common room.
‘At the end of the year the house with the most house points is awarded the House Cup. Throughout the year your achievements will earn you points for your house and any rule breaking will lose them. The four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. I hope you will all be a credit to your chosen house. Take a moment to tidy yourselves up, I shall come back to get you when we are ready for you.’
Professor McGonagall swept out of the chamber and the students immediately began talking in low, murmuring voices. She wasn’t gone long though, silencing the students a few minutes later when she walked back into the chamber.
‘We’re ready for you now, follow me please.’
The first years obediently followed her back across the entrance hall and through the large double doors they’d seen the ghosts glide through moments ago in silence. The rest of the students were already seated at the four long tables that ran the length of the Great Hall, all of them watching the first years make their way to the front of the hall behind Professor McGonagall.
As they walked the length of the hall, most of the new students stared at the high ceiling, which depicted the dark, star filled sky, but Sirius and James were looking round for Sirius’s cousin, wondering whether their dung bombs had worked. Halfway down the hall Sirius nudged James and nodded at the table nearest the wall on his left where a blonde haired witch was following Sirius with her eyes, her eyebrows raised.
‘Either your dung bombs were faulty, or those Slytherins have no sense of smell!’ Sirius whispered, turning away from the glare of his cousin.
James nodded his agreement. None of the students surrounding Narcissa were wearing looks of disgust, or looked at all like they were breathing in any foul aroma. James was slightly disappointed his dung bombs hadn’t worked, but nothing could dampen his spirits now he was finally at Hogwarts and was about to be sorted.
Professor McGonagall stopped just in front of the staff table at the front of the hall, where a frayed, tatty old hat sat on a three legged stool. Taking her place next to the stool, Professor McGonagall instructed the first years to make a line in front of her.
As the first years stared at the hat, most of them wondering what it was doing there, it started twitching. Someone to the left of Sirius gasped as a moment later the hat came to life and began to sing.
Now please don’t judge me on my looks
For there is so much more to me
It is my job to read you mind
And decide in which house you should be.
The founders they put brains in me
So when they were dead and gone
I could choose the right students
To help their favoured traits live on.
The ambitious and the cunning
With an ancestry that’s pure
Would do well in Slytherin
That much I know for sure.
But the clever and the wise
Who are eager to learn more
Are sure to make their friends
In the house of Ravenclaw.
For the fair and the just
The loyal and the patient
The house of Hufflepuff
Is where you’ll be sent.
For the chivalrous and brave
The bold and daring too
The house of Gryffindor
Is the only place for you.
So come place me on your head
You have nothing to fear
Just let me take a look inside
And your house I will see clear
When the Sorting Hat had sung the last words of its song, and had once more become perfectly silent and still, the hall filled with the cheering and applause of the students.
The hall fell silent again as soon as Professor McGonagall called out the first name from the roll of parchment in her hand.
As Sirius watched a tiny blonde boy step out of the line, eyeing the Hat suspiciously, he started to feel a little nervous. What if he was sorted into Slytherin? As desperate as he was to break the long standing Black family tradition, he didn’t think he’d be fortunate enough to actually do it. Being placed in Slytherin would certainly please his parents, but he knew that it would make his time at Hogwarts much less enjoyable than he had thought earlier, and pleasing his parents was not a priority for him.
Luckily he didn’t have too long to dwell on his thoughts and his nerves didn’t have time to really kick in. The Hat sorted Corinne Ashcombe into Gryffindor and as Sirius watched the blonde haired girl walk confidently over to the table on the far left, smoothing her hair as she did so, he heard Professor McGonagall call his name.
Sirius strode up to the stool with a confidence he didn’t feel, picked up the hat and pulled it down firmly onto his head as he sat down. The last thing he saw before the hat covered his eyes was James smiling reassuringly at him.
‘Ah, yes, another Black.’
Sirius scowled to himself under the hat, none too pleased at being referred to as ‘another Black’. He was only too aware of which house that name was associated with. The hat, however, seemed to take no notice of the thoughts running through Sirius’s mind and continued muttering.
‘But, my, my, where to put you? It’s all here, you have a sharp mind. Edgy though. Unpredictable. Yes, wouldn’t get along there’
Sirius was utterly perplexed as to what the Hat was talking about now, and shifted uncomfortably on the stool. It felt like this was taking much longer than any of the few students who had already been Sorted.
‘Impatient, yes, yes, I see. But loyal, brave even. Yes. Better be… Gryffindor!’
Sirius could hardly believe it; he hadn’t been placed in Slytherin. The Hat had obviously paid more attention to his thoughts than he had realised. Ecstatic, he whipped the hat from his head and thrust it at Professor McGonagall as he jumped up from the stool. After shooting a happy grin at James he hurried over to join the other Gryffindors, trying hard to keep the bounce out of his step.
James, feeling pleased for his new friend, watched Sirius sit down at the Gryffindor table and greet the ruffle necked ghost he was sitting next to. He stared at the ghost for a while, trying to remember what his father had said his name was… Needy Headed Nick? No, that wasn’t it... Never Heartless Nick? No, that wasn’t right either. James gave up trying to remember and turned back to the sorting hat just as ‘Esterly, Stuart’ became a Hufflepuff.
The small, mousey haired boy rushed towards the Hufflepuff table and ‘Evans, Lily’ was called. James watched as the unsociable red-haired girl from the train stepped gingerly out of the line and walked nervously up to the stool. As she sat down, carefully placing the hat on her head, James found himself hoping she would be Sorted into Gryffindor – not because he wanted to be in the same house as her particularly, but because he was sure this would really irritate the hook nosed Snivellus!
The hat had barely fallen down over Lily’s eyes when it declared her a Gryffindor. James smirked as he noticed the dismayed look on Severus’s face. Excellent, James thought to himself. Lily gave Severus a sad smile as she headed to the Gryffindor table.
James hoped that all the students would be sorted as quickly as Lily had been; even though the sorting had not long started he was beginning to get impatient. He started to wonder whether he would remain friends with Sirius if he was sorted into Ravenclaw. Perhaps he would become a bookworm as his mother hoped he would (at least he thought that’s what his mother hoped), and if that happened Sirius wouldn’t want to be friends with him, he was sure. And would he want to be friends with Sirius if he became a bookworm? Probably not.
Shaking his head slightly, trying to forget all thoughts of becoming a Ravenclaw (or a bookworm), he turned his attention back to the Sorting Hat. ‘Jacobs, Isabel’, a slightly plump girl with shoulder length dark hair had just been called and was sitting under the hat. She too became a Gryffindor. James looked over at the Gryffindor table and saw Isabel sit down next to a blonde girl he had not seen be Sorted.
‘Knightly, Jake’ and ‘Kollson, Jenna’ became Ravenclaws, ‘Lippton, May’ became a Hufflepuff and then ‘Lupin, Remus’ was called. James thought Remus looked extremely nervous as he walked towards the stool; his face looked pale and drawn under his mop of light brown hair and he was clutching the sleeves of his cloak very tightly. The Hat stayed on Remus’s head for far longer than it had for any other student, and Remus was shifting in his seat. Finally the Hat announced that Remus was to become a Gryffindor and Remus hurried over to the Gryffindor table looking at his feet, not making eye contact with anyone. James noticed Sirius slide along the bench, leaving a space next to him as Remus sat down next to him on the other side. He felt sure Sirius was saving that seat for him.
The line of first years continued to dwindle, and the hall was filled with a Mexican wave of cheers as each new student was sorted. James was beginning to get fidgety, looking from the Sorting Hat to the Gryffindor table, to the stars sparkling on the high ceiling, and then back to the Sorting Hat. This was taking forever! After what felt like hours but in reality was only minutes, Professor McGonagall reached the P’s.
‘Pettigrew, Peter’ became a Gryffindor, ‘Pickering, Emily’ became a Hufflepuff, and then…
‘Finally!’ James thought as he stepped out of the line of students and hurried up to the stool. He grabbed the Hat and rammed it onto his head. It didn’t stay on his head for very long.
‘Ah, yes,’ said the Hat, ‘I know just where to put you... Gryffindor.’
James wasted no time in joining Sirius at the Gryffindor table. He thrust the Hat at Professor McGonagall, in much the same way Sirius had, and rushed over to the cheering Gryffindor table, clapping Sirius on the back as he reached him.
‘I knew we’d both make Gryffindor,’ James said, plonking himself down in the seat next to Sirius, choosing to forget about his thoughts of becoming a Ravenclaw.
‘I wasn’t sure you’d make it; the hat seemed a bit unsure of where to put you,’ Sirius replied, a cheeky grin on his face.
‘Ha ha, you’re so funny.’
‘I like to think so.’
The rest of the Sorting passed by much quicker now that James had been sorted; at least it felt that way to James. When the last student had been sorted, Professor McGonagall carried the stool and Hat away, and Dumbledore stood up, immediately getting the attention of the excitable students. All heads were turned in his direction and the hall had fallen into complete silence.
‘Welcome!’ Dumbledore said, throwing his arms open wide. ‘Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! I’m sure you’re all famished and in no mood to listen to an old man’s ramblings, so… let the feast begin!’
The golden platters and bowls in the middle of the tables instantly filled with a wide assortment of food, the empty jugs filled with pumpkin juice and the hall buzzed with the sound of friendly chatter as the students started piling their plates with an assortment of food.
Reaching out for a chicken drumstick, Peter leant forward, looking past Remus at James. ‘Hi! I’m Peter… Oops!’ In his enthusiasm to introduce himself to James (having already done so to Sirius and Remus) he hadn’t noticed Remus’s pumpkin juice and had knocked it over. The juice flowed across the table towards him and started dripping onto his lap. Peter pushed himself away from the table slightly harder than he should have done; with his arms flailing, unsuccessfully trying to balance himself, he fell backwards off the bench onto the floor with a thud.
With many students staring at him (some looking concerned, some trying hard to conceal their amusement, and some openly laughing at Peter's misfortune), Peter's face turned a bright shade of red as he picked himself up off the floor and straightened his robes, a bashful smile on his face.
‘Nice introduction, Peter,’ James said, holding back a smirk, while Sirius sniggered into his pumpkin juice. Peter's face turned slightly redder.
‘Are you OK, Peter,’ Lily asked kindly, throwing a reproachful look at James and Sirius as Peter sat back down, dodging the wet patch on the bench. Peter nodded in reply.
Next to Lily, Corinne got out her wand and pointed it at the spilt pumpkin juice. She muttered an incantation and the puddle of juice disappeared, leaving the table and bench dry and clean. She put her wand back into the pocket of her robes and started eating again.
‘When did you learn to do that?’ Lily asked, amazed that someone who had only just started Hogwarts was able to perform magic already. ‘I thought underage wizards and witches weren’t allowed to perform magic outside of Hogwarts.’
‘Oh, my auntie has been teaching me a few spells. I’ve never actually performed them before but she taught me the incantations and wand movements.’ Corinne replied. ‘I’m just glad it actually worked; I’d have felt a bit foolish if nothing had happened!’
Lily smiled. ‘Do you live with your auntie?’ she asked.
‘No. No, I live with my dad, but he’s not magical.’
‘So you get your magic from your mum’s side?’ Lily asked, popping a forkful of carrots into her mouth.
‘Well, it’s from both sides really. My mum is a pureblood witch, my dad’s a Muggle but his sister is a Muggle-born witch, so it runs in both sides.’
‘Oh. Does your mum not live with you then?’ Lily asked, feeling like she was interrogating Corinne but not being able to stop herself from asking.
‘No, she died when I was very little.’ Corinne replied before quickly changing the subject and addressing Abigail to prevent Lily questioning her further. ‘What about you, are you from a magical family?’
‘Oh, no! First I knew of magic was when I got my letter, which we threw in the bin thinking it was a prank. Next thing I know Professor McGonagall is in my house making the plates and cutlery dance around the dining room table!’ Abigail chattered enthusiastically. ‘I’m definitely the only witch in my family!’
‘Me too!’ Lily said, glad that she was not the only Gryffindor to be Muggle-born. Then thinking about how easily Corinne had just performed magic, added in a low tone, ‘Are you as worried as me that you won’t be able to perform the spells as well as the others?’
Abigail laughed. ‘No! Magic can’t be that hard, you just wave your wand and say a few words. You saw how easily Corinne just did magic on her first try! Nah, we’ll be fine Lily, stop worrying.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ Lily replied, wishing she could be as optimistic as Abigail.
‘Abigail’s right,’ James interjected with a mouthful of roast potato. ‘Magic is easy – well, for some of us anyway.’
Lily huffed in annoyance, thinking her first impression of this boy was right, what an arrogant show off. Abigail, however, beamed at James as he turned back to his mountain of food. ‘See!’ she aimed at Lily.
Remus, who had been happy simply listening to the conversation going on around him, raised his eyebrows at Abigail’s statement. She was going to have quite a shock when she started lessons, he thought. If only magic was that simple. He decided not to say anything though, he had a feeling Abigail wouldn’t believe him anyway if he told her just how hard performing magic was – especially after James’s statement of confirmation.
Conversation continued among the Gryffindor first years with talk of Hogwarts and the classes they would be attending and which ones they were most looking forward to. Lily rolled her eyes when James started talking about flying lessons, about how he didn’t really need them but was looking forward to showing off his skills. At this point Lily looked over at the Slytherin table, locating Severus, wishing they hadn’t been separated. Severus was deep in conversation with his fellow first years, but looked up and smiled at Lily as he felt her eyes on him.
Before they knew it the feast was over. The clattering of knives and forks came to a halt, and the loud, happy voices of the students turned into a low murmur. The food disappeared from the table leaving the plates as sparkling clean as they had been when they’d first sat down.
Once again, Dumbledore stood to his feet at the staff table, making the low murmur become utter silence.
‘Now that we are all fed and watered I have a few notices for you. Firstly, Mr Filch would like me to remind you that no magic is to be used in the corridors between classes, and I would like to remind you that the Forbidden Forest is out of bounds to all students.
‘Quidditch trials will be held in two weeks time, a notice will be put up on your house notice board. To all who wish to try out for their house teams, good luck.
‘That is all for tonight,’ Dumbledore said, smiling broadly, ‘now off to bed!’
As soon as Dumbledore had finished talking, a tall, dark haired boy and a slightly shorter, blonde girl, both wearing silver prefect badges on their robes, appeared behind Sirius and James.
‘Hey Issie,’ the dark haired boy said smiling widely at Isabel. ‘Well done for making Gryffindor. Mum and Dad will be so pleased.’
Isabel smiled back at the boy. ‘Thanks Ryan.’
‘Well, I’m Ryan and this is Sara,’ Ryan said indicating the blonde girl next to him who was smiling kindly at them. ‘We’re going to take you up to your dormitories. We will take you up by the most direct route, then hopefully you’ll all be able to remember your way back down in the morning!’
‘Right, follow us,’ Sara said turning towards the double doors.
The first year Gryffindors followed Ryan and Sara across the hall. When they reached the door and had stopped to let a group of Hufflepuff students go out the doors, James caught the end of one boy’s conversation.
‘It’s not my fault, someone let off a dung bomb on the train and I can’t get rid of this stench!’
‘I hope it’s gone in the morning, cause if it isn’t there is no way I’m sitting next to you in lessons!’
James grinned to himself, happy in the knowledge that his dung bombs had in fact worked, nudged Sirius and whispered, ‘It was your memory that didn’t work, not my dung bombs!’
‘Oh well, at least we know they work.’ Sirius was clearly not too bothered that he had got the wrong compartment, or that he had made an innocent Hufflepuff the victim of their prank. In fact, as the Hufflepuff boy passed him he said loudly ‘what is that smell? It’s disgusting!’ The boy glanced at Sirius and hurried through the doors and out of sight looking rather angry and upset. Laughing at the boy, Sirius turned back to James. ‘I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun with those!’
AN: Firstly, Many thanks to PhoenixStorm for all her help with Sirius’s sorting and for all her advice! And secondly, I apologise for the amount of time it has taken for me to update, life has been hectic for the last year, but hopefully updates will be coming much quicker now :)
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by Lucy Weasley