Chapter 1 : The Sorting Hat's Secrets
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I, Rowena Ravenclaw, the brains of the school, was always the one to come up with everything: The floor plan, the secret passageways, and yes, the competitions; I could always hold a great contest, if I do say so myself.
One day, many years after Salazar’s departure from the school, Godric Gryffindor approached me about a dilemma. He had always come to me first when he needed a helping hand. Even though Godric was a very bright and quick thinking man, he was never good in the originality department. He lacked my sense of creativity, which is how I ended up designing the school in the first place. It wasn’t that Godric wasn’t intelligent, for he was actually quite the intellectual. But his curiosity always got the better of him because he could think of truly complex inquiries and ideas, but have no idea how to carry them out. This is where I always came in, but I didn’t mind though because I know he truly valued my friendship.
The day Godric Gryffindor came to me with his dilemma, I was utterly surprised. He walked in, with a puzzled look embedded upon his features and I knew at once that he was going to ask me for help. As usual, he was wearing his battle-worn and pointy wizard's hat was on his head. Helga was always annoyed with the wretched thing since it was so dirty, and she always claimed that simple magic could easily clean it. He believed that the wear and tear of the hat showed his bravery in dueling and was like a battle scar of some sort. That was the pompousness of his character though. It wasn’t easy to change his mind and it was pretty much a lost cause to anyone who tried.
That hat of his proved to be of great help the day he presented me with a problem that I’d never once thought of.
“When we are gone, how will they decide the houses of the students?” he asked as he began to pace around my office. I shuddered. I’d never once thought of my own death before. Yes, we were getting on in our years, but the thought never occurred to me, or rather, I tried to avoid it. Godric noticed my expression and smiled softly.
“Rowena,” he began. “You know that we will not be in this world forever, my dear friend. At least I hope Slytherin dies before we do because I couldn’t stand it if he ever saw the likes of our students again. I don’t even know why we still have a house dedicated to him since I kicked him out of here, but I guess we have to find somewhere to put the ambitious, cowardly little horrors.”
“Godric!” I scolded. Yes, what he said was harsh, but he was Godric Gryffindor, the slightly cocky duel master whose heart was always in the right place. Even though he often put his foot in his mouth, he stood for good things as well. “Slytherin helped found this school like we all did. Even though he may have had the wrong intentions, he’s as much a part of this school as you or me. He’s modest enough nowadays to say that he left the school of his own free will. You know what people would say if they found out you kicked him out.”
“He wasn’t being modest, he was being conceited. He wants people to think that he’s better than us by claiming that he left the school. I must have forgotten that you always did have a soft spot for Salazar though,” said Gryffindor with a tiny but of playful malice in his voice. He was giving me a knowing glance full of contempt. He had never liked the fact that I had shown more interest in Salazar than him. Yes, he’d gotten in an argument with Salazar, but the main reason he kicked him out all those many years ago was because he loved me and Godric was jealous: Another one of his many traits. But it was true. Yes, I did have a, “soft spot” for the cold Salazar Slytherin, but what I said about Godric’s comment would still be correct even if I had hated Salazar. I hated the fact that he’d kicked him out of this school, but no one really knew how it really went down except for the three of us. Even Helga didn’t know and I didn’t plan on telling her. There are some things better left unsaid.
“No matter, Rowena,” he said as he continued to pace while still showing his knowing glance. “Now back to my question.”
I picked up my diadem from its stand and placed it gingerly on my head. I immediately felt my brain rush, as my mind began working furiously to solve the problem. I looked up at Godric and smiled.
“You’ve got it?” he asked hopefully.
“It’s your head,” I stated with an accomplished look on my face. Gryffindor rolled his eyes.
“What are we going to do? Cut off my head when I die and make it decide what houses the students will be in?” he asked sarcastically, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Close,” I said. “The hat. We’ll bewitch so when it’s placed on a student’s head, it will speak and say which house the child belongs to.”
“That’s foolish!” exclaimed Godric, but he always trusted my ideas. He smirked. “But brilliant. It’ll do then, I suppose. Thank you Rowena,” he said as he walked out my office. I placed my diadem back on its stand and smiled again. Another one of my wonderful ideas had been created.
People often thought that the diadem gave me the idea, but that wasn’t true. I specifically invented it so upon being placed on my head, it would weed out the different thoughts of my brain and lead me to the correct answer. It was a stimulator, not a creator.
As I sat there in my office with a satisfied air, an owl flew through my open window. I recognized it immediately as Silas, Salazar’s black Great Horned Owl. I was still in contact with Salazar and this was probably the only secret I ever kept from Godric. He’d kill me if he ever found out. Only Helga knew, but only because she’d seen a letter come in one day, when we were both conversing in my office. I had made her swear she’d never tell Godric.
I smiled and opened the letter, but my smile faded instantly.
I know you were a great friend of my brother, so I feel that it is my duty to let you know of his passing. It was a peaceful death, but I couldn’t help but feel that in his later years he’d started to feel depressed, but he would never tell me why. He used to speak of you fondly, all the time. I’ll send another letter soon with arrangements for the funeral. I hope everything’s going well at the school.
Godric had gotten his wish. Slytherin was the first to pass. It was my entire fault, I deducted. After his and Godric’s fight, Salazar told me Godric was making him leave the school. He had also asked me to come with him, but I refused. He was angry with me, but understood my motives. Since then, we’d always kept in close contact and in every single letter of his, he would ask me to come away from the school and live with him, but I always refused. This school needed my intelligence and in this case, love didn’t come first. I didn’t really know until now that I’d broken his heart. He may have been a bit proud of his blood status, but I knew he’d just been brought up that way.
Now, I was the one to blame for everything. I knew that if I’d really tried, I could’ve made Salazar see the light and come to his senses about muggle-borns, but something always held me back. Maybe I admired his brutality and confidence so much that I didn’t want to see it go. Now I realized that I’d ruined all the future Slytherins because they would want to be like their founder, or more accurately: what they thought their founder was like. Only I knew the truth behind the real Salazar Slytherin, and I died being the only one.
The Sorting Hat turned out excellent even though it was very shabby. Helga insisted upon making it sing a song every year, which was an idea that Godric didn’t like, but agreed to in the end. He figured that since I’d thought of the idea and he cast the enchantments, Helga needed to have some input on it too. So finally, he allowed the hat to have a song.
I retrieved Salazar Slytherin’s Dagger from a drawer in my desk. He’d given it to me before he left. Besides his famous locket, he also prized his dagger, but no one except him and me ever knew about it. I used it to cut the mouth of the Sorting Hat. Slytherins always had a mouth that could be used to talk themselves out of things, but could also be used for good. And I know that in the end, Salazar’s words were put to good use. Engraved upon the rim of the hat there are tiny words that are overlooked by most students. Salazar spoke them before Godric Gryffindor kicked him out of this school. They say:
In the end, the uniting of the houses is thus the best response to a great challenge. Wisdom, friendship, bravery, and ambition are always needed in the great and magical school of Hogwarts. Do not forget that though we are four houses derived from four people, we are really one great band of humans that should stick together, even in the greatest of challenges.
"Does it have to sing?"
And for a split second I thought I heard Salazar's faint chuckle fill my ears, but I knew I was only daydreaming. I looked around the room just in case, but he wasn't there. One can only hope.