Chapter 1 : The Choosing Ceremony
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Disclaimer: The factions mentioned in the following chapter and throughout the rest of the novel are from Veronica Roth's Divergent series.
Minerva Mcgonagall was sitting at the desk in the Heads' office, taking an inventory of the private collection of books that Professor Dumbledore had left behind, when she heard the tapping on the window. After sighing and glancing at the watch on her wrist, which revealed it was barely past midnight at the time, she stood and slowly pulled the window open, allowing a large barn owl to glide inside. Once perched on what used to be the stand that Fawkes used to stay on, it held out its leg and watched her cross the room with grave amber eyes.
Right away, she noticed the letter was addressed to her from the new Minister of Magic. Feeling a slight sense of dread, she opened the envelope with trembling hands and began reading. As she read, she went through slight stages of shock; parted lips in horror, pale skin, quick breaths, reaching her free hand out blindly to find her chair before slumping into it, still staring at the letter in disbelief.
"What is it, Minerva?" the troubled voice of Albus Dumbledore asked from behind her. She slowly turned to look at the portrait that contained the late headmaster of Hogwarts before she swallowed dryly.
"The Ministry is interfering with Hogwarts, Albus," she said hoarsely, closing her eyes when her voice cracked on his name. "They are insisting that the war happened because of the Houses and the impossibility of uniting our students under one school body, saying that the rivalry went so far back that it influenced Voldemort into becoming who he was."
Minerva paused and opened her eyes in alarm when the portrait didn't begin to deny it. Instead, she found him gazing thoughtfully at the ceiling, stroking his long beard softly. Eventually, he murmured, "That does ring with truth."
"But, Albus -"
"What does the Ministry mean to do?" a cold voice cut in. Minerva glanced to her right and saw the portrait of Severus Snape glaring down his hooked nose at her. She swallowed her sarcastic retort, reminding herself of who Snape had truly turned out to be, and whispered, "They want us to replace the Houses with something they call factions."
"Read us the letter, Minerva," the portrait of Dumbledore suggested respectfully before throwing Snape's portrait a stern glance. Minerva nodded once, pushed her reading glasses slightly farther of her nose, and began to read aloud.
"Dear Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,
It is on behalf of the court system of the Ministry of Magic that I write to you in regards of the operations of your school. Although the witches and wizards of the Ministry of Magic respect your school and the history it upholds, we cannot allow you to continue on with the concept of pre-chosen Houses by which your students are divided and placed in. We recognise that the ideas of the Houses are the ideas upon which Hogwarts itself was founded. However, it has been concluded that the effect the Houses have on the students and their ability to unite as one school body is unacceptable and must be dealt with accordingly. It has been suggested that this effect is what influenced Tom Riddle to begin his assault on the wizarding community. We here at the Ministry of Magic have decided upon a new system by which you will house your students. They are called factions.
There will be five, each representing a trait that each student might feel is of more importance when it comes to wielding magic. These five factions are Abnegation, Amity, Dauntless, Erudite, and Candor. Students who choose Abnegation choose selflessness as their defining trait of magic. Those who choose Amity choose peace, or choose Dauntless choose bravery. The students who choose Erudite choose knowledge, while those who choose Candor choose honesty. The option to choose a faction that they feel will most illuminate what they value as a witch or wizard is something that is expected to bring the students together more willingly.
We here at the Ministry understand the reluctance you as Headmistress must feel, but please understand that these factions are becoming international in terms of education and are being adopted by every magical school in the world. It has been decided that, along with their schoolwork, students will be spending the next school year going through an initiation process designed by the new faction leaders to determine whether or not they chose their faction correctly. First years the following year and so on will be the only ones going through the initiation process. Those who pass the initiation process will be accepted into their faction and will be considered a member of that faction for life. Those who fail their initiation process will, regretfully, be expelled from the school, be deemed factionless, and only be placed in a home-schooling program"
On the last sentence, Minerva's voice caught and she looked up at Dumbledore's portrait in horror. However, he still wore his thoughtful expression, stroking his beard. Noticing her staring at him, he sighed and told her in his wavering voice, "Minerva, you cannot do anything about it right now. The best thing to do is to send a letter to all of the families explaining the new decree - that is, if the Daily Prophet hasn't already and -"
"But, Albus, what about the Houses? What about Quidditch? What about the Sorting Hat, a-and the Sorting ceremony, and the House ghosts, and the House Common Rooms, and House points, and -"
"My dear Minerva, you know how quickly things change. We must accept that the Houses have become outdated to the Ministry of Magic. Let them try this new idea they have. More likely than not, they'll scrap it before the year is up. Until then, be amiable and go along with it. The new factions can still play Quidditch, can still have incentive points. Look at it this way, Minerva; All these factions are going to do is cause the students to find that those in Hufflepuff can be smart and brave, or those in Ravenclaw can be honest and selfless, or the Gryffindors can be peaceful and selfless, or even the students from Slytherin can be smart, brave, peaceful, selfless, or even honest. We must look at this next year as a way of uniting our Houses once and for all."
"And if they don't drop the factions by the end of the year?" Minerva asked weakly, staring blankly at the owl that stood on the perch of Fawkes, awaiting a reply.
"Then it would seem the factions would have been a better idea than the Houses," the portrait of Snape cut in coldly."Minerva," Dumbledore warned gently when she opened her mouth to reply angrily. "Think about how this will influence the students. Considering the past couple of years, this may come as a relief to them to be able to decide how they are labeled. Let us give this new system a fair chance and adjust it as much as possible to fit our own standards we have here at Hogwarts."
"But what do I do, Albus? There's so much to do now and so little time. I don't even know where to begin!" Minerva's voice began to rise in a panicked way as she thought about everything she'd have to do - write to the minister, write to the teachers, write to the parents, find new dormitories for these factions, create a whole new list of supplies. It was all so overwhelming.
"The first thing you must do is write to the minister and assure him that you agree with the idea of factions and will be awaiting his reply for further instructions," Dumbledore instructed, inclining his head toward the owl still waiting for a reply. Then he said in a gentler tone, "And then get some sleep. You're about to fall over."
"Yes," Minerva said quickly. "Letter, minister, sleep."
Without another word, she quickly pulled a sheet of parchment toward her and began writing quickly with her quill, her brows scrunched in concentration as she did so. She couldn't help but wonder how the older students would be taking the news.
As we step into the Great Hall, everything is different. The first thing I notice is that no one is speaking; everyone is crowded up to the walls, staring solemnly at the spaces where the House tables used to occupy - but now they have been replaced with five large metal bowls. Each one contains something different. On the far left is a bowl of water, next is a bowl of broken glass, next is one full of small grey stones, the next full of soil, and the last full of burning coals. I assume they each represent a different faction that was spoken of in the letters from the school and in the Daily Prophet; Amity, Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, and Dauntless.
According to both sources, the school is doing away with the Houses and replacing them with these factions. All of the students will be able to choose which trait they think makes a witch or wizard the most successful - Peace, Selflessness, Honesty, Intelligence, or Bravery. When Harry, Ronald, and I had found out about the new Proclamation, we'd all been affected in different ways. Harry had been angry - so angry - and Ron had been angry as well, but he'd been so much more passionate about it. I had been heartbroken that they were taking Gryffindor away from us. But then the letter written personally from Mcgonagall, explaining what she expected to happen, calmed all of us down. She had instructed us to choose Amity and lay low this year.
And that's what we'd decided we would do, Harry, Ronald, Ginny, and I. We'd choose Peace and keep it calm this year at Hogwarts. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what everyone chose after the war with Voldemort.
Ron's fingers slip quietly through mine, startling me and stopping my thoughts completely. His palm is warm and pleasant, almost reassuring, as we watch Mcgonagall step up to the metallic-owl podium in front of the Head table. She visibly swallows before beginning with a stern, "Good evening, students of Hogwarts and welcome."
"Good evening," a few murmur back, but almost all of our attention is on the bowls in the middle of the floor. Five unfamiliar adults have walked onto the floor to stand behind each bowl and each are wearing a different uniform. The woman standing behind the water is wearing black trousers with a blue blouse and she has plain glasses perched on the bridge of her nose. The man behind the bowl of broken glass is wearing a muggle black-and-white suit which makes him look like he's on his way to an important business meeting. The woman behind the bowl of grey stones is wearing shapeless, grey robes and has her hair drawn back in a plain braid. The man behind the bowl of loose soil is wearing scarlet robes and is the only one with a warm smile on his face. However, it's the last man next to him that holds my attention.
He stands behind the bowl of fiery coals, not rimrod straight like the others, but with his heavily muscled and scarred up arms crossed, throwing trible tattoos into great relief from the light of the coals. He wears leather trousers, no shirt, but a leather vest left opened to expose more tattoos on his torso. His hair is thick and black, as well as so long and curly that it challenges my own in terms of uncontrolled. But what really captures my attention is the expression on his face. He looks at us as if he is daring us to approach him as the muscles in his jaw clench and unclench periodically.
"Let me introduce the newest members of our staff," Mcgonagall says grudgingly, before continuing on in the order that they stood, "Professor Shirley, our new Faction Leader of Erudite. Professor Liam, our new Faction Leader of Candor. Professor Karim, our new Faction Leader of Abnegation. Professor Desta, our new Faction Leader of Amity, and Professor Kendrick, our new Faction Leader of Dauntless."
As she calls each name, they all nod, save for Professor Kendrick - the one behind the coals - who only rolls his eyes. I understand now - the water, with Professor Shirley, stands for Erudite. The broken glass, with Professor Liam, stands for Candor. The stones, with professor Karim, stand for Abnegation. The soil, with Professor Desta, stands for Amity.
And the coals, with Professor Kendrick, stand for Dauntless.
"I assume all students are up to date with the changes being made at Hogwarts," Mcgonagall says into the silence. She is met with empty stares from the students and muted glares from the teachers sitting behind her. She briefly closes her eyes before saying, "It is time for the Ceremony to take place. If you could please line up in an orderly fashion to await further instructions."
There is a moment of silence before we all begin shuffling and whispering, each trying to find a spot in the jumble of a line. Someway, somehow, I am next to last. Ron has let go of my hand and is in front of Harry, who is in front of me. Ginny is standing behind me, her face tomato red, but she says nothing - she only glares at the boys in front of us. I shrug. We are all going to the same place anyways. It doesn't matter where we stand.
Once we are all in some kind of a line, Mcgonagall pulls out a scroll and begins reading from it in a loud, carrying voice.
"All students are to take a moment to consider their options carefully. You must decide for yourself where and who you belong with. Do you belong among the Peaceful, the Honest, the Selfless, the Intelligent, or the Brave? Whichever you choose, you will be expected to go through an initiation process to determine whether you are truly meant to be in that Faction. If you fail, you will be labeled as Factionless and sent back home to await further instructions on your educational options."
She pauses for a moment, letting us think. I have already made up my mind about Amity and I glance at my three best friends. Ron is staring at the soil with a look of curiosity, while Harry is staring absently at the floor and Ginny is periodically glaring at each new professor.
"Here are your instructions," Mcgonagall says into the everlasting silence after about five minutes. "You are to approach the bowls one at a time, state your name, rip off a piece of fabric from your Hogwarts robes, and drop it in the corresponding bowl of your choice. Remember, water for Erudite, glass for Candor, stones for Abnegation, soil for Amity, and coals for Dauntless. Choose wisely students, for after the Ceremony, your Faction Leaders will take you to the dormitories assigned to your Factions and the Initiation Process will begin and will not end for six weeks."
We are not given the chance to gawk at her words because, at that moment, the first student steps up to the middle of the room with a confident walk. He stops in front of the the bowl of burning coals, rips off a part of his sleeve, and says loudly into the quietness, "Draco Malfoy."
The piece of fabric drifts into the coals and immediately catches on fire as Professor Kendrick jerks his head to motion for Malfoy to get behind him. Malfoy goes to stand behind him and smirks when he catches sight of me at the end of the line. I plan to roll my eyes and look away until his mouths the word, "Mudblood."
Fire instantly shoots through my veins and I want to strangle his puny, ferret neck until Ginny puts her hand on my shoulder and whispers, "Ignore him, Hermione. He's a prat."
I shrug off her hand but say briskly, "I know. But he's an annoying little prat."
All three of them snicker, but I am zoned out now. The names are going by and the amount of students behind the bowls are soon more than the students in front. It's predictable; almost all of the former Ravenclaws have chosen Erudite, most Slytherins and Gryffindors chose Dauntless, and the rest are divided equally between Candor, Amity, and Abnegation. It soon gets to Ron, who begins walking straight to the soil of Amity.
Suddenly, Harry turns around and the look in his eyes are panicked.
"Hermione," he whispers quickly before saying, "Would you be upset if I don't choose Amity?"
"I thought we were all going to choose Amity?" I ask, slightly stung.
"I know," he says in a conflicted voice, throwing a glance at Ron's retreating back. "But, I've been thinking. Dumbledore always said that what made me who I am is my selflessness. So I think I would be better suited for Abnegation."
Just as Ron says his name and drops a piece of black cloth on the growing pile of black in the soil, I nod. I understand what Harry means. Amity doesn't suit any of us at all. But the only problem is now I need to make a decision. Continue on to Amity with Ron, my boyfriend, follow Harry's suit and choose Abnegation to support him - or betray both of them and choose the Faction that would best suit myself.
My conflicted thoughts are put on pause as Harry begins walking to the bowls. The silence is almost defeaning because everyone is holding their breath, waiting to see which faction the Chosen One will choose. He walks past the water, past the glass, and stops in between the stones and the soil. After a moment's hesitation, he rips a strip of cloth off of his sleeve and hastily throws it on the grey stones. Every face is shocked as he goes to stand with the small crowd of Abnegation, all of whom begin thumping him on the back happily at having the Boy Who Lived. I try not to look at Ron's look of disbelief and betrayal as I make my way to the bowls.
I pass the water. For some reason, I can't bring myself to choose Erudite.
I pass the broken glass. I'm an honest girl, but it's not my defining characteristic.
I pass the stones. I am not selfless.
I pause at the soil and look at Ron's pleading face. I grasp the edge of my sleeve and begin to pull until I hear a muffled chuckle. I look to my right and see Malfoy's smirk as he glances down at my hand on my sleeve. Once again, I see him mouthing the word "Mudblood," and I don't think. I act.
Before I know what I'm doing, I have turned and am in front of the burning coals, glaring at Malfoy. I drop my hand from my sleeve, reach up to the emblem of the roaring lion of Gryffindor, and pull it off. The rip seems to echo in the Great Hall as I toss it into the flames.
The lion burns as I go to join my fellow initiates, ignoring all of the expressions of shock and disbelief. Malfoy's smirk has dropped, so I throw him a cheeky one of my own as Ginny comes to stand beside me, having chosen Dauntless as well.
As Professor Kendrick calls us to follow him out the back door of the room, I have only one thought.
The Golden Trio has been split up.
So, what do you think? I am super excited to really start writing this story and I'm sorry that it was short and kind of to the point - I really just want to jump right into the initiation process and the rest of the plot! Anywho, please leave me a review with your honest thoughts on this so far! Thank you!