A blackness surrounded his gaze and engulfed his entire being in a fear so strong he nearly collapsed with fright. The hat was so large it had slipped passed his ears and rested comfortably at the edge of his nose, leaving solid darkness to rest over his eyes. Silence from his peers rang through his ears like a fly buzzing against a window. He whimpered, gulped, and waited with forced patience.
What if I am a squib after all? he thought to himself miserably. Perhaps that time when Uncle Algie dropped me out of the window was a mere coincidence? What if I really don't have any magic in me? What if he had forced me to use the only bit of magic I had in me? And now it has run out? What if that letter was meant for someone else named Neville? Surely this had to be an accident? Or a dream?
Neville pinched his leg, then winced at the pain. I'm awake. But I bet my magic is gone and they're going to send me home now, I just know it… I can't stay here if I don't have any magic.
"Magic is a curiosity, isn't it?"
Neville felt his mouth drop open. It… spoke? The hat talks? Not only did it speak, but it listened to his train of thought? Neville quickly closed his gapping mouth and nodded his head, but realized that the hat wouldn't be able to see it, so instead he just sat still and silent.
"You are a curious fellow," the hat whispered. "Yes, wouldn't Hufflepuff suit you well."
Gran had told him about Hufflepuff being a good house, but she also spoke of Ravenclaw and Gryffindor with much more fondness.
At least I've made it to Hogwarts, Neville thought with optimism. He wiped his sweating palms on his pants and waited, once more, for the hat to continue.
"But there is something else I sense," the hat continued. "Something that has yet been born. A desire of sorts."
Neville held his breath as he waited for the hat to yell out his chosen house. But it didn't. It was silent, as if in deep thought.
"You are not what you seem," the hat said, more so to itself than to Neville. "You are more of something not seen."
More of… what? Neville tried to sort out his thoughts, but the hat spoke again before he could grasp a plausible idea.
"You have it in you, and I expect you will be great."
Neville's heart pounded in his chest. This is it…
He was stunned. His heart hammered harder and louder than it ever had before as a roar from the Great Hall met his ears. He was shocked to see, as he took off the Sorting Hat, a table clad in gold and red cheering for him. He was so enthused, in fact, that he had ran off to the table before giving the stern looking Professor the hat back.
With heat rising to his face, he bustled up to the front of the room and handed it to her with shaking hands. A hint of a smile flickered on the witch's face. With that, Neville rushed back to his spot and nestled in with confidence, a permanent smile played across his dry lips.
Gran will be so proud, Neville thought. No longer capable of paying attention to the bustle around him, Neville stared lazily up at the ceiling with glazed happiness.
More importantly, for the first time in his life, Neville felt like he was doing something right. He was proud of something he had done. Everything in this moment… was simply perfect.
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