He wished they would wash him. Dumbledore used to wash him from time to time. Armando Dippet before old little Dumbs had done the same. Sure, the Hat knew he wasn’t pretty or anything akin, but dirty was an altogether different thing. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, quite unlike Dips and Dumbs, never bothered to clean him. No matter how often he asked. She only told him to stop being bitter. Him, bitter? He resented that. He wasn’t bitter. He was simply annoyed. She’d be too, were she half as dirty as he was. Quite disgusting, he grudgingly admitted himself to be.
For Merlin's sake, all he required was a bucket of water and a piece of soap. Nothing all too fancy. He could make do with the bare minimum, as long as he got clean. A bit of a shine to his coat. A nice odour. And perhaps a lady hat to mingle with. Though he was quite satisfied chatting up the female paintings.
He blamed it on the Gryffindors. Always doing this and that; claiming all of the Headmistress’ attention. They were a royal pain in the ass, though mostly, the Hat knew, they just considered themselves royal.
He blamed those damned Weasleys too. In fact, if he was completely honest, he blamed it all on the Weasleys. It was their fault. Entirely theirs.
All the Weasleys were in Gryffindor. Though he partially had himself to blame for that. He had sorted them, an honest mistake on his part. But they had seemed such good kids at the time. How could he have known that they would become the bane of his existence? The thorn in his side. Harry's Voldemort. The House Elves' Granger.
After James Sirius Potter, at least one Weasley a year had come to him to get sorted. And he, foolishly, had shouted every time he was placed on a red, almost always freckled head, ‘Gryffindor!’
Now Gryffindor was ruled by redheads. By Weasleys. Hogwarts, in turn, was ruled by Gryffindors. The Hat was certain Godric would love it. But he’d be the only one. Though perhaps Harry Potter was having a laugh. The cheeky sod.
This year was no different than before.
Sitting on his three-legged stool, singing his song, the Hat had already spotted the newest addition. Only one this year, thank Merlin. A golden-skinned boy with hair more brown than red, but the Weasley-gene was unmistaken. Even without the freckles, the Hat knew. Another Weasley. Another pain in the ass.
He almost stumbled in his song, as he stared daggers at the youngest Weasley.
The Headmistress shot him a look. He felt it burning. She knew of his aversion towards the Weasleys and she disapproved. The Hat was quite certain, however, that she hated them too. With a passion. There was no other way.
A round-faced girl was the first to be sorted. She wrinkled her nose when he was put onto her head. He could hardly blame her.
‘It’s not my fault I smell,’ he told her. ‘Ask your Headmistress.’
‘Just sort me,’ she replied. ‘You’re ruining my hair.’
He sorted her into Slytherin, whispering to her right before he was taken off her head, ‘Hope the damp in the dungeons doesn’t ruin your hair.’
Silently he added, ‘little tart.’ He was pretty sure she heard it. It made him feel a bit better about his predicament.
Perhaps he was a bit bitter. Just a little bit.
The next, much to his chagrin, was a dark-skinned boy, definitely a Gryffindor. The lions roared as he walked to their table, James loudest of all. Louis even stomped on the table. The Hat cursed them both.
The Hat shouted Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and at times disdainfully whispered Gryffindor, and the row of first years became smaller and smaller. When he got to the letter ‘T’ the Hat took his time. The girl whose head he occupied didn’t mind either. She seemed a sweet child and after listening to some of her childhood stories he sorted her into Hufflepuff. She thanked him before taking him off and it made the Hat smile. Perhaps there was hope still. The next in line, however, was the Weasley.
No U or V this year. It made the Hat sad.
He shuddered when the Headmistress placed him on the boy’s head.
‘Hello,’ the Weasley said. ‘I’m Fred.’
The Hat did not reply.
‘I’m sure you’re tired, after all this sorting stuff. Well, only three left. So you’re almost done.’
The Hat didn’t make a sound.
‘You have a strong odour,’ the Weasley continued. The Hat refused to think of him as Fred. He was a Weasley. The Weasley.
The Hat growled.
‘James said you stank,’ the Weasley said, ‘but I think he was exaggerating. You simply smell old. Wise.’
‘You know, like an old book,’ the boy mused. ‘The musty ones in the library.’
‘Musty,’ the Hat growled.
‘Oh no, not musty in a bad way,’ the Weasley was quick to say. ‘Musty in the way I imagine Dumbledore used to be musty.’
‘Why yes,’ the Hat agreed before he could stop himself. ‘Albus was rather musty.’
The Weasley smiled.
‘So we’re talking now, aren’t we?’ he grinned good-naturedly. ‘I got you there.’
The Hat hissed.
‘I don’t like you lot,’ he said. ‘And I don’t like you.’
‘You sound bitter,’ the boy observed.
‘I am not bitter!’
The Weasley jumped, startled by his loud voice.
‘You sound bitter,’ he replied after a while.
The Hat sighed. He wished he had shoulders to slump.
‘It’s simply you Weasleys,’ he said defeatedly. ‘You’re everywhere.’
‘We’re only in Gryffindor,’ the boy said cheekily.
‘And Gryffindor is everywhere,’ the Hat groaned.
‘All people talk about is the Gryffindors. They’re so handsome and so smart. They’re so loyal and brave. The pranks they pull are so funny. And you Weasleys are the worst. You’re practically Gryffindor royalty. And there’s nothing I can do about it, because you’re all so Gryffindor-y.’
He sighed. ‘All I wanted was to be washed, but none of the professors have the time because all they worry about are the Gryffindors.’
The boy laughed. ‘But we are handsome, smart, loyal, brave and funny. It’s in our genes.’
‘My dad George was the biggest prankster Hogwarts ever knew,’ the boy continued proudly, ‘and he’s brave too. And my mum is the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen and she’s really smart.’
‘I remember your mother,’ the Hat nodded. ‘She was very smart.’
The boy smiled. ‘She says I’m even smarter than she is.’
‘The Hat smirked. ‘Oh, does she now?’
The Weasley nodded so furiously, the Hat almost fell of his head.
‘Well then,’ the Hat grinned. ‘I guess I’m ready to sort you.’
Hear them roar, he thought before shouting loudly and cheerily, ‘Ravenclaw.’
The entire Great Hall went silent. Louis’ hand froze mid-air above the table he was just about to bang on; James’ mouth was wide open, cheering soundlessly.
The Sorting Hat smirked smugly as the Headmistress lifted him off Fred’s head. He had the feeling this might be the year he would get his bath.