Chapter 2 : The Sorting
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The room was silent save the occasional cough or rustle of robes. All Albus’ classmates, like him, did not want to be the one to break the nervous silence. A girl near Albus was biting her lip and twisting her long, black hair with her fingers, though she didn’t seem to realize she was doing it, and a boy near the back with tousled brown hair was rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, hands in the pockets of his robes, eyes fixed steadily on the floor.
After what seemed to Albus like hours, though it was only a few minutes, the door Hagrid had let through opened and a tall witch in sapphire robes who Albus assumed was Professor Kapoor strode in. She had thick, black hair that fell straight down her back and dark eyes that gazed sternly down at them all, though Albus could see there was a certain warmth to her stare as well. She was not an old woman, but the roots that showed under the brim of her black hat had a certain amount of graying to them.
“Welcome,” she said to the room at large, “to Hogwarts. I am Professor Kapoor. I will be your Transfiguration teacher during your time here. Before you are Sorted into your Houses, I have a few words. For those of you who do not know, Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago by the four brightest witches and wizards of the day: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin, and Rowena Ravenclaw. The four Houses bear the names of the four founders. I am Head of the Hufflepuff House. While here, your House will be like your family. You will have classes together, sleep in the same dormitories, and ear together in the Great Hall.
“Hogwarts is a school of longstanding tradition and I assure you that rule breaking will not be tolerated by me or any other staff member. You are here to learn and misdeeds will earn you detentions or loss of House points. Exemplary behavior, however, will earn you House points. Points will be displayed in the hourglasses in the entrance hall and the House with the most points at the end of the year will receive the House cup.
“I trust you all to uphold Hogwarts’ high standards while you are here and I look forward to helping you further your magical education. Any questions?” She glanced around at them, her eyes lingering for the briefest moment on Albus. When no one raised a hand, she nodded curtly and said, “Very well, follow me,” before opening the door behind her and ushering them all back into the entrance hall.
As they crossed the hall, Albus glanced at the four giant hourglasses situated to the side of the oak front doors. The top bulbs held many small, sparkling gemstones while the bottoms were empty, for no one had yet had a chance to earn points.
Professor Kapoor opened the pair of double doors on the other side of the hall and the noise of hundreds of chattering voices became much louder. They all followed nervously into the Great Hall and there were many low cries and gasps of wonderment; Quinn let out an excited giggle behind Albus.
There were four long tables stetching from one side of the massive Hall to the other, where a fifth table sat facing the other four. High above them were many small windows through which Albus knew the morning post would come. The ceiling, enchanted to look like the outside sky, appeared to open directly into the star-strewn sky that could be glimpsed through the windows. A thousand candles floated overhead, causing the golden plates and goblets laid out on the tables to glow and sparkle warmly.
As they all gazed around, some with open mouths and eyes wide as Galleons, they shuffled past the first table, which was full of students wearing green and silver under their black robes, some of whom turned to watch them curiously, and up the aisle between the second and third tables, whose occupants wore either blue or yellow.
As they moved towards the staff table at the other end of the Hall, each of them trying not to be in front, Albus glanced at the table on the other side of the Hufflepuff table to his right to see James and Fred pulling faces at him and laughing. He felt his face burn and stared down at his feet, nearly running into the boy in front of him as he stopped. Albus looked up. They had reached the end of the House tables and Professor Kapoor was striding to the gap between then and the staff table, where an ancient, patched and frayed hat sat on a three-legged wooden stool. The Sorting Hat.
Professor Kapoor’s eyes swept the Hall and the excited chatter died down as everyone turned to stare at the worn old hat. For a moment, nothing happened, then a rip near the brim opened and the hat began to sing in a quavering voice.
“Many years ago
There were, you know
Wise and great.
Two wizarsd bold
Two witches fair
A school, to make.
They wished to train
Young boys and girls
Across the land to be
Witches and wizards
As smart as they,
That’s how Hogwarts
Came to be.
Was wise and sharp
The brightest in
Would wise to meet
Sword in hand
Was kind and just
Love by all those
And with Slytherin,
Cunning and quick,
The Houses were set.
Picked the students
In whom they
And they taught them all
There was to know
Halls and shalves.
But now that they
Are gone, they
Have left the job
So slip me round
And I’ll tell you where
You ought to be!
The Hall erupted in applause as the hat fell silent, looking careworn and tattered again. Professor Kappor pulled out a long scroll of parchment and again the silence fell.
“Breckenridge, Joanna,” she called, and the girl with long black hair who had been next to Albus in the antechamber walked forward, twisting her hair through her fingers again. She sat on the stool and Professor Kapoor dropped the Sorting Hat on her head, where it slid down over her eyes.
There was a pause and then the rip in the hat’s brim opened and it cried, “RAVENCLAW!” The table to Albus’ left broke into applause as Joanna pulled off the hat and walked quickly to sit with the other Ravenclaws. He saw his cousins Louise, Dominique and Victoire, as well as Lysander Scamander, clapping along , Victoire’s Head Girl badge flashing in the candlelight.
Professor Kapoor continues slowly down the list and Albus watched as his classmates were divided up amongst the four Houses.
Scorpius shot Albus a nervous look and walked up to sit on the stool, his face even more pale than usual as the hat slipped over his gray eyes. The hat was silent for a full ten seconds, during which Albus held his breath, before shouting, “SLYTHERIN!”
Scorpius took off the hat as the table to the far left clapped and cheered. He glanced at Albus, who smiled encouragingly, before taking a seat at the middle of the Slytherin table.
As Professor Kapoor read Albus’ name, there was a certain amount of murmuring from around the Hall, as Albus had been told to expect from his parents. Rose squeezed his arm and Quinn gave him a fleeting thumbs up before he strode forward, stumbling slightly on the hem of his robes. He glanced up at the staff table, at Hagrid, who waved and winks, and at the gray-haired witch in sweeping robes of emerald green sitting in the golden throne at the center of the table. Her dark eyes watched him appraisingly.
Albus sat on the stool and gazed briefly out into the sea of faces before the Sorting Hat fell over his eyes and he could see nothing but the dark fabric interior.
“Hmm,” the hat said thoughtfully in Albus’ ear. “You’ve got a brain there, boy, and a good one at that. Very clever, indeed. And you want to prove yourself, there’s a lot of ambition in there. Your father was ambitious, too, but he asked not to be in Slytherin. I suppose you’ll be wanting the same.”
No, Albus thought.
“No?” the hat said, sounding surprised. “You don’t want to be in Gryffindor?”
Not that, Albus thought, his heart beating very fast. I just want to be where I should be.
The hat chuckled dryly. “Of course,” it said. “Well, like I said, you’ve got real ambition, and with a good head on your shoulders, too. Better be SLYTHERIN!” It shouted the last word to the Hall and as Albus pulled it off there was an outbreak of shocked muttering from all sides.
He slid off the stool and walked shakily towards the Slytherin table, where Scorpius was one of the few people clapping. Glancing around, Albus saw Rose, looking crestfallen, and Quinn, who smiled. He turned his gaze to the Gryffindor table and saw James and Fred staring at him, eyes wide and mouths agape in shock.
Finally, he reached Scorpius, who moved over on the bench to let him sit. Professor Kapoor had continued down her list, though many eyes continues to flick to Albus, and “Prince, Lillian” was now being sorted into Hufflepuff. Albus saw Lorcan Scamander and his cousin Molly clapping.
He slumped down in the seat, trying to make himself as small as possible and wishing he could simply sink through the floor. Scorpius patted him on the shoulder and smiled.
“So I guess we’re roommates now,” he whispered.
Albus nodded but couldn’t speak. What would his parents say? Would they be ashamed to have a Slytherin as a son? Perhaps they would think that he, like so many Slytherins before him, would one day go bad.
Albus looked up to see the girl across from him smiling. She had sandy hair and warm green eyes. A silver Prefect’s badge gleamed on her chest.
“Emily,” she whispered, holding out a hand which Albus shook. “Emily Patterson. Nice to have you. I’m sure you’ll be a great Slytherin.” She winked at him, nodded at Scorpius, and turned back to watched “Sidler, Samantha” become a Ravenclaw.
When there were only five more students to be sorted, Professor Kapoor called Quinn’s name. She walked shakily to the stool and slipped the Sorting Hat over her blue eyes. Albus crossed his fingers in the pocket of his robes as the hat considered her.
“GRYFFINDOR!” it cried after a moment and Albus’ heart sank as the table on the other side of the Hall erupted in applause. He watched her move towards the table, flashing him a small smile and shrugging. She sat down across from James, who leaned forward to say something to her, which caused her to laugh.
Albus felt a sick, burning sensation in the pit of his stomach and turned to watched the boy with tousled brown hair(“Trent, Theodore”) become a Slytherin. He clapped with the rest, trying to keep his eyes off Quinn, who was chatting animatedly to James and Fred.
When “Valentin, Juliette” (“HUFFLEPUFF!”) and “Vetch, Damian” (“RAVENCLAW”) had been sorted, Rose was the only one left standing, a lone figure with long red hair and a freckled face, pale and scared.
There was more muttering, though not nearly as much as there had been for Albus. He felt Scorpius sit up a little straighter next to him.
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat called.
Rose took the hat off and scuttled over to the Gryffindor table, flushed with excitement as James, Fred, Quinn and the other Gryffindors cheered and clapped; James whistled loudly. She sat down next to Quinn and Fred and James leaned across to thump her on the shoulder.
Scorpius sighed heavily and stared down at the table. Professor Kapoor was rolling up her parchment and carrying the Sorting Hat and stool out of the Hall through a door to a side chamber.
“I’m sure we’ll see them around,” Albus said. “You know, I know we’ll have some classes together.”
“She hates me,” Scorpius said, glancing at Rose. “Your cousin really hates me.”
“She doesn’t hate you,” Albus said reassuringly. “She’s just…It’ll take her some time to get over what happened. You know, between our parents.”
Scorpius frowned at him. “Why don’t you?”
“Why don’t I what?”
“Hate me? I mean, you have every right,” he trailed off, looking sheepish.
“No, I don’t,” Albus said, “I mean, the whole point of why my parents fought was to stop people from thinking that purebloods were the only ones that mattered and that Muggleborns are worthless. If I turned around and started hating purebloods I’d be just as bad. Rose will come round. Her mum is Muggleborn so she suffered a lot back then and her Dad, well, he holds grudges for a long time. I don’t blame you for what your father or grandparents did.”
Scorpius opened his mouth gratefully but before he could speak, the witch in emerald green robes sitting at the center of the staff table stood.
“Well, here we are,” she said, smiling around at them. “Another year at Hogwarts. For those of you who do not know me, I am Professor Aldebrand, your Headmistress. I want to extend my hand of welcome to all our new students, and to our old students, welcome back. I trust we will have another fine year. Before we sit down to another wonderful feast, I have a few rules for our new students and for those among us who often need reminding.” Her eyes flicked to James and Fred, who were making their forks fight in midair with their wands. “The forest on the grounds is off limits to all students. All products from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes remain banned as well as a number of other objects including Fanged Frizbees, Nosebiting Teacups, and Shrinking Mood Rings. The full list can be found in Mr. Filch’s office for those who wish to peruse it.” She nodded to the man standing to one side of the staff table, a wheezy, skinny and hunched old man clutching a scrawny gray cat and looking sour. “Magic is, as always, prohibited in the corridors. I hope I can count on all of you to uphold these rules and to keep in mind that our Prefects and our new Head Boy and Girl will be enforcing them, as will I and the rest of the staff.
“Lastly, those of you wishing to try out for your House Quidditch team should put your names in to your Head of House. First years are not permitted to try out, as usual.
“Well, I believe I’ve delayed you all from what is to be a delicious feast long enough! Enjoy!” And as she spread her arms wide, the tables were suddenly sagging with the weight of the food that had appeared on the golden plates.
Albus’ mouth dropped. He had heard about the Hogwarts’ feasts from his relative--most often from Rose’s father--and was used to his Grandmother’s magnificent cooking, but nothing could have compared to what lay before him. There were platters piled high with roast beef and chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, ham and steak; massive dishes of vegetables, including half a dozen different potato dishes; tureens of thick, steaming gravy; golden crusted steak and kidney pies; and then there were jugs of ice cold pumpkin and dandelion juice to wash it all down.
The Hall was full of the sound of laughter, talk, and the clinking of knives and forks on plates. Exchanging a look of thrilled incredulity with Scorpius, Albus began piling his plate with everything he could reach. He had suddenly realized how hungry he was.
“So, Potter,” Emily said as Albus spooned mashed potatoes onto his plate. “You seemed surprised to be put here, in Slytherin, I mean.”
Albus, who had a mouthful of roast chicken, swallowed hugely and shrugged.
“So you’re not surprised?” She asked, eyebrows raised as she bit into a Yorkshire pudding she had just dipped in a tureen of gravy.
Albus took a swig of pumpkin juice as he considered the question. “It’s not so much that I’m not surprised,” he said slowly. “Just, just not concerned, I guess. I mean, I told the hat to put me where I belong not where I wanted to be. Not that I didn’t want to be in Slytherin,” he added quickly.
Emily smiled and looked to Scorpius, who had been watching the conversation with interest. “And who are you?”
He blushed slightly at been addressed by a sixth year but muttered his name in reply.
“Malfoy, eh?” she said, surveying him with an unreadable expression. “Well, I bet you’re not surprised to be here.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” Emily said, shrugging. “Just that your whole family has been in Slytherin for ages, hasn’t it?”
“How did you know that?” Scorpius asked, staring at her. His fork was halfway to his mouth, a bit of pork chop hanging from it.
She shrugged but didn’t quite meet his eye as she said, “Heard it somewhere. You’re family is rather, ah, infamous, given past events.” She turned back to her plate, ignoring the angry look Scorpius was giving her.
Albus nudged him hard in the ribs as he opened his mouth to speak again. Scorpius rounded on him and Albus nodded to the badge on Emily’s chest.
Scorpius closed his mouth, shot another malevolent glare at Emily, and returned to his pork chop. They ate their way through the many dishes, pausing to watch as a dozen pearly white and transparent ghosts soared in through the walls and glided over the tables, some greeting students and smiling down at them all. Albus shuttered and lowered his eyes to his plate as the Bloody Baron, the Slytherin ghost, soared overhead.
When everyone had eaten their fill, the food vanished and was replaced by desserts. Pies, crumbles, treacle tart, thick chocolate gateau, éclairs and custards now filled the golden dishes.
Albus ate his way slowly through a bowl of rhubarb crumble, wondering aloud with Scorpius what their schedules would be like for the next day. When the last bite of crumble had disappeared into his mouth and the golden plates were again gleaming and spotless, Professor Aldebrand stood again. The chatter died down instantly.
“I hope you have all had your fill and are ready for a good night’s sleep. Classes start first thing tomorrow and you shall all want to be well rested for the beginning of what I’m sure will be another excellent term. Now, off to bed. First years, your Prefects will show you to your dormitories.”
There was a great scraping of benches as everyone stood, some calling to friends or yawning as they moved towards the entrance hall. Albus yawned as well, suddenly feeling very warm and drowsy.
“Let’s go,” Scorpius said and Albus saw him glancing over the heads of the other students towards the Gryffindor table, where Rose and Quinn were being led, with the other Gryffindor first years, by a Prefect across the Hall.
They moved together through the crowd of jostling students, coming out at the back of the Hall just as Rose and Quinn reached the Ravenclaw table.
“Oi, Rose!” Albus shouted, waving to her.
She and Quinn waved back and when they and the other Gryffindors reached them, Albus and Scorpius fell in step with them.
“Shouldn’t you be with a Prefect?’ Rose said, nodding to the tall boy they were following.
“We met one at dinner, she’ll probably be in the hall,” Albus said, his eyes briefly sweeping the crowd for Emily.
Quinn shivered with excitement. “I just can’t wait to start tomorrow. I hope we have Transfiguration or maybe Charms, do you think?”
“Won’t know until tomorrow, will we?” Scorpius said, glancing at Rose, who nodded.
“Our Heads of House will give us our schedules at breakfast, my Mum said,” she said, looking excited. “I hope we have Herbology so we can see Neville, I mean Professor Longbottom, but I hear old Professor Flitwick is nice. Not looking forward to Potions though, Mum and Dad said to watch out for the Professor.”
“Professor Zabini?” Scorpius said, turning to her. “He’s not bad, he’s a friend of my dad’s. Head of Slytherin, too, so he shouldn’t be too hard on us, at least, Al.” He grinned at Albus, who smirked back. Seeing Rose’s frown, he gave her a reassuring smile. “He’s a good teacher, too, my Dad says.”
“But our parents went to school with him, so how would he know? He hasn’t been teaching very long, only three years,” Rose said.
Scorpius shrugged. “Guess we’ll see, won’t we?”
They had reached the entrance hall at last. As Albus had expected, Emily was waiting on the other side of the marble staircase with a small group of first years and the other six-year Slytherin Prefect, a tall black boy with thick dreadlocks who was laughing heartily.
“Well,” Albus said as they all looked at each other, shifting awkwardly on their feet. “I guess this is where we split.”
Rose nodded, staring at her feet.
“Are you going to Hagrid’s Friday for tea after classes?” he said, remembering suddenly the Gamekeeper’s invitation.
“Oh, yes!” Rose said, perking up. “Do you think he’s mind if Quinn came?”
“It’s Hagrid, Rose,” Albus said, laughing. “And I’ll bring Scorpius, too.”
“Setting up a play date, are we?”
Albus looked up to see James and Fred coming out of the Great Hall with a group of Gryffindor boys. James threw his arm around Albus and Fred leaned on Rose’s shoulder.
“How cute,” Fred said, smirking.
“Shut it, you two,” Rose said, pushing Fred off.
Albus shrugged James off angrily. “Shove off,” he growled.
James winked and ruffled Albus’ hair. “Calm down, little brother, we’re going.” He went to Quinn and threw his arm around her instead. “We’ll take care of you’re new friend. Though we think she’s much too cool to hang out with you anyway, right, Fred?”
“No doubt,” Fred said, nodding sagely.
Albus glared furiously at them both, avoiding Quinn’s eye.
“Well, I can see we’re not wanted,” James said. “Shall we? Ladies first.”
He gestured to the marble staircase. The rest of the Gryffindor first years were already at the top. Rose and Quinn flashed Albus and Scorpius small smiles and hurried to follow.
“Good luck tomorrow, little brother,” James said. “Don’t blow yourself up or anything.”
“Yeah, we’re not worried about you, but our parents would kill us if it happened,” Fred said.
Laughing heartily, they strode off up the marble staircase behind a group of Ravenclaw girls.
“Er,” Scorpius said tentatively.
Albus shook his head and walked quickly towards Emily and the other Slytherin first years.
“Took you long enough,” she said, smiling at them. “Oh, this is Mark Holloway,” she added, nodding to the tall black boy with dreadlocks. He grinned at them and they nodded in reply.
“I think this is everyone, then,” Emily said, counting them quickly. “Let’s go, I’m exhausted.”
She and Mark led the way through the door to the left of the marble staircase, which took them down another, small staircase into a torch lit corridor with rough stone walls. They passed several closed doors, their footsteps echoing loudly in the confined space.
They stopped at the very end of the passage, where there was nothing but a blank stretch of rough wall lined with torches. Albus and Scorpius glanced at each other curiously.
“Lacus Atrum,” Emily said loudly.
Someone gasped as a section of the wall slid back to reveal a large open.
“Remember that, all of you,” Mark said as he ushered them through the opening. “That’s the password.”
Albus and Scorpius were the last ones through behind Mark and the wall ground closed behind them. They had entered a large, low-ceiling room lit with an odd greenish glow. The walls were of rough stone like the corridor they had just left. There were many low-backed black and green sofas and armchairs grouped around the room, several were situated in front of a massive fireplace with a carved mantle. Albus noticed that there seemed to be snakes everywhere: carved into the table and chair legs, curling around archways and pillars, and wrapped around the mantle. There were dark cupboards and bookshelves lining the walls and a large wooden door was set on either side of the far end of the room.
“Boys, follow me,” Mark said, holding open one of the doors.
Albus, Scorpius, and the other four first year boys followed Mark through the door and up a tight spiral staircase to a narrow hall, which was rather warmer and brighter than the common room below.
Thick, emerald carpet covered the floor and portraits, mainly of lakes and mountains, lined the torch lit wall, where seven more doors were set.
“You’re the third door,” Mark said, pointing to one of the doors. He smiled at them and went through the first door in the hall.
Albus opened the door Mark had pointed to and they all entered a circular room lined with six four-poster beds made of dark wood and draped with emerald hangings.
There were narrow windows set in the rough walls, through which Albus could see the lake. Judging by how close they were to the water, part of the common room must have been under the lake.
Their trunks and owls were already waiting at the foots of their beds, which looked extremely comfortable. Albus strode to his bed and sat down, stroking Driscoll as the owl hopped from his cage and sat on his knee.
Scorpius was in the bed to his right and a black boy names Andre Peters was on his left.
“Not bad, this place,” said a short boy with spiky brown hair named Nikolai Gorgovitch.
He examined the serpent shaped handle of his dresser, looking impressed. He opened his trunk and began putting up a poster of a man riding a broomstick and wearing bright orange robes emblazoned with a large CC. The name Dragomir Gorgovitch was stretched across the bottom of the poster. The man zoomed in and out of the poster, occasionally fumbling the bright red ball in his hands and struggling to catch it. “My uncle,” Nikolai said, shaking his head. “Horrible Chaser, but, he’s my uncle.”
Albus grinned, thinking of his uncle Ron.
The boy in the far right bed, Maxwell Finley, laughed. He was the tallest of them, with shoulder-length, sandy hair. “I was going to say, if you supported the Cannons, I’d be concerned. When did they last win the League? 1892?”
Theodore Trent laughed as he began changing into his pajamas.
“Who do you support then, Max?” Nikolai said.
“Kenmare Kestrals, of course,” Max replied. He rummaged in his trunk and pulled out a pair of emerald green pajamas adorned with two large, back-to-back black K’s. “Now, they’re the team to beat, Nick.”
Nick snorted as he pulled on his own pajamas.
“What about the rest of you?” Max said to the room at large.
“Tornados, of course,” Theo replied.
“Same, Tornados,” Andre said, giving Theo a thumbs up.
“I don’t really follow the League much,” Scorpius said, shrugging.
“What about you, Potter?” Nick asked as he emerged, tousle-haired from his pajamas.
“Harpies,” Albus said. “I have to, don’t I? My Mum did play for them. And they’re not a bad team. Third place last year.”
Max nodded in agreement. “True, true.” He climbed into bed, laying his wand on his bedside cabinet. “Well, night all.” He pulled the hangings closed around his bed and was silent.
One by one, they all followed suite until only Albus and Scorpius lay with their hangings open. Albus watched as Driscoll and Lina soared out through the window into the dark night to hunt, the moonlight reflecting off the water and filling the room with a pale glow. His parents had told him to write after his Sorting but it could wait; his four-poster bed was soft and warm and he wasn’t looking forward to telling them they had a Slytherin for a son.
He lay his glasses and wand on his table and stared up at the canopy overhead.
“Night,” Scorpius said to his right.
“Night,” he replied as Scorpius pulled his hangings shut.
He sat up and pulled his own hangings closed. As he lay back onto his pillows and drifted off to sleep, he wondered if his parents would be disappointed in him.
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