Chapter 5 : Tests and Sorts
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The week went by fast, with having more and more things to do and prepare for. Being able to go into Diagon Alley with my parents was really fun, we’ve gone more than a couple times since I first did with Anusha Reddy.
It was a little difficult to get Dad into the Leaky Cauldron, but luckily the Ministry has granted my father a magical bracelet that lets him get past wards easier, with his job being for a magical business. I would always look at Dad whenever we went out and would count the times he would put his hand on Mom’s back or waist. My mother looks very young for her age, and having Italian roots in her gives her features that most women covet.
This also attracts the eyes of many men, both old and young. Kinda disturbing, but yeah, that’s what happens everywhere we go. It’s why Dad can be a bit possessive, but Mom thinks it’s sweet that he cares that much to publicly show his affection to her. I find it somewhat gross when my friends tell me how hot my mom is and all, but I know they don’t actually want to break up my parents. Dad is very handsome as well, but he can also be pretty intimidating when he wants to be.
Unfortunately, even though I tried to keep my eyes peeled for some sign of James every time we went into Diagon Alley, he (or his look-alike) wasn’t there.
The tour of Hogwarts is today. It is only two days from September first, the day of when move-in is. The days have gotten only slightly shorter as the season progresses.
Not only do I look forward to school, but I look forward to season of autumn; the crisp air, the warmer colors of nature, everyone wearing boots and scarves, the crunch of leaves when you walk outside. It’s like a symbol of beginnings. The beginnings of friendships, new routines, etc. I just love the change that autumn brings.
Headmistress McGonagall has told me that I can bring my parents along if I so desire. I asked if either or both of them want to come with for the tour and they both agreed. Dad’s only seen Ilvermorny a couple times, but he wants to know what an English magic school looks like. I told him because America is only so young, Hogwarts is more historic and Gothic style, so it must have a lot of stone, unlike Ilvermorny’s foundation. Ilvermorny looks more modern and Renaissance style in architecture, with everything being granite and marble, a beautiful castle all the same. I read that Ilvermorny is the closest equivalent wizarding school to Hogwarts.
“Ready?” Mom asks me from my doorway, I notice she’s got her purse and shoes on, and I hardly have gotten out of my pajamas. “Okay I’ll give you a minute, we’ll be in the living room,” she adds before walking away.
“Yeah, probably making out with Dad,” I mumble to myself while I grab my bag, wand, and shoes. I give myself another look in the mirror, and decide to French braid my hair down my back.
I make my way upstairs, taking heavier strides than normal so that my parents stop whatever type of affection they are giving. They smile innocently at me from the couch when I enter, knowing well what my motives were with making a show of meeting them in the living room.
We make our way to the Leaky Cauldron, and I spot Anusha Reddy at a bar talking to one of the employees. She sees me and heads over to greet my parents, shaking their hands and exchanging names.
“So, are we gonna be taking a train to get there or Apparating?” I ask to her.
“No, actually, we are going to Floo into Hogsmeade - the village adjacent to Hogwarts - so that you can see what Hogwarts looks like from the outside,” she steps to the side to gesture the fireplace at the wall closest to us. I realize we don’t Floo as much, since my Dad owns a car and we Apparate more when in the States.
Anusha grabs a handful of Floo powder, throws it into the fire and projects, “The Three Broomsticks!” The flames turn a jade shade and steps into the fireplace, motioning us to join her. I didn’t realize how spacious this fireplace is until I’m inside it.
And then, blackness fills my sight and a warm, squeezing sensation until we arrive in another fireplace. The four of us step out, wiping soot off our clothes (something I don't particularly like about using the Floo Network: the ash), and I take in my surroundings. It seems like we’re in another version of the Leaky Cauldron, but it’s larger and more of a proper restaurant than a pub. And a bit cleaner for that matter.
Anusha leads us out of the place while turning to us and says, “This is the Three Broomsticks, many students will come get food or drinks here when on village excursions.” Once outside, I’m greeted with the warm air that August holds. She walks with us along a pathway and down a ways, chatting amongst ourselves until we reach a lake with a dock. There’s a big canoe that looks like it can hold four people in it. “This is so you get a front view of the castle, usually students that are older than eleven will ride in a carriage to get there, but since it’s your first time here we thought you should see it this way.”
Mom and Dad climb in on the back bench and Anusha and I take the front. Once all of us are seated, the boat takes off as if it’s steering itself. “Wow, no ores, huh?” I hear Dad say softly to Mom, and she only chuckles to him as a response.
The closer we get, the more in awe I am of the place. It’s completely dark stone, darker shingles, with a crap ton of turrets all along it, towers of all sizes that sits atop a cliff. There’s also a bunch of stained glass in almost every window I can see with lots of pointed arches.
The grounds around it are just as nice, with a field of grass all around it, overlooking the lake we are on. In the distance I see a forest just beyond the castle. It’s truly a beautiful building, and whoever designed the architecture of it must be proud of themselves. It’s also a much bigger building (by square feet) than Ilvermorny, even though my school has more people in population.
I see Anusha smile to herself in the corner of my eye, secretly watching all of our amazed faces in reaction to seeing the place. Mom and Dad are pointing at various features, saying things like, “Wow does that piece of stained glass have a mermaid on it, and it’s moving around?” and, “I can’t believe you get to go to school here, Nikkie,” and, “Look! That must be the highest tower, I bet the stars are beautiful from there.”
I can tell Anusha is looking at it in a new light, because it is a new experience for the rest of us. She gives this little lift to the corner of her mouth, as if she’s thinking, Yes, it is very beautiful. And I’ve been going here for seven years now. I’d be the same if I were a tour guide to this hugeass castle. But I told her a bit about what Ilvermorny looks and and she’s looks less proud by the end, realizing I also go to a castle for a school.
Once out of the boat, we trek up to the main doors, where I can see Headmistress McGonagall is waiting for us. She gives a quick look of what I would think to be of knowing to my mom and nods. With a small smile on her lips, she’s eyeing my father, who has had his mouth open since the boat started moving on its own. I think he forgets what magic really can do, as well as how grand a boarding school can be.
“Hello! Mr. and Mrs. Moretti - and you must be Miss Nicolette Moretti - welcome to Hogwarts! We hope that you can make this school your home for the year.”
I hear Dad softly mumble, “I sure could,” and Mom chuckle again.
“Thank you Miss Reddy for escorting them here, you can go into my office and Floo yourself back home or to Hogsmeade if you would like,” the headmistress nods to Anusha, taking her delicate hand in Anusha’s, giving her a piece of what looks like candy and a kind smile. The three of us say our thanks to her. Anusha goes inside, after saying goodbye and you’re welcome to us.
McGonagall turns to me and says, “Now, Miss Moretti, do you want to do the tour or the tests first?”
“The tests?” I ask while tilting my head slightly. I recall something about putting me in the right classes, but I didn’t think I’d have to take a bunch of tests for it.
“Oh, don’t worry,” she laughs a bit, “it’s not like a proper sit-down exam, you’ll need to answer some trivia, do a bit of wandwork, and brew a potion for us so we can see what level you are at. I already got your exam scores from your headmaster at Ivermorny from last year as well as your OWLs from the year before,” we do have OWLs in America, they’re run differently though I think, “but we don’t know exactly what you want to take.”
“Um, then - I guess I’ll do the tests first,” I say. “Excellent,” she replies and turns to open the grand doors of the castle. “This is the entrance room, for the Great Hall is right across from us, and the staircases are just over there.”
She gives us a little time to peek our heads into the Great Hall, Dad, once again with his mouth open wider than before (but then again so was mine).
The room definitely got the name for good reason; there were four long tables that stretched for what seemed like an eternity, until there was a platform with another table on it, with a huge ornate window stretched out on the wall behind. The breathtaking part was the ceiling, which I told my parents is bewitched to look like the sky outside. Dad asked how I knew that and I said common sense, duh, and he gave me a smile and rolled his eyes, then I told him I actually read about it.
The Headmistress leads us up a bunch of different staircases, which awed Mom, and the old lady told us that they move on their own schedule, students will soon figure it out on their own when they need to go to classes. I already knew that bit (again, from reading), but I let the headmistress tell my parents about the facts of the school.
As we walk down a few hallways, I realize that in order to get to her office, we basically went through a lot of the castle. But who am I to know all corners of the castle?
We finally get to her office door and she turns to my parents, asking if they want to wander the castle for a bit, since my tests will take about two hours. They say sure and are handed what looks like a simple map of the castle with the instructions to come up in two hours whenever they want. The password is “lemon sherbet” to come back up.
After they leave, McGonagall and I are finally in her office once she muttered what I assume to be “lemon sherbet,” and up a moving spiral staircase. Interesting - Ilvermorny doesn't use passwords, we have keys (that magically change with the locks every once in awhile) to our offices and lobbies. I guess I will forever be comparing my former school to my current one now.
“Okay, Miss Moretti,” McGonagall says after we take our respective seats, “we are going to go over most of the subjects that are taught from Sixth Year that Hogwarts allows. You will then get to pick which subjects you want to study for the NEWT level. You know what NEWTs are, correct?” I nod in response and she says great.
The headmistress places a globe on her desk and transfigures it into a small replica of Hogwarts, “Please stand Miss Moretti, and take a look at this,” she says to me and I get up from my chair, “Now, I’m going to turn it back into a globe and I want you to try your best to turn it back into Hogwarts from memory.” With a wave of her wand, the castle vanishes and is replaced by the globe from before.
I pull out my wand, and with a couple swishes, change the brass globe into a small stone version of Hogwarts. “Very impressive, you got it almost completely accurate,” McGonagall says with a small smile. “Now I want you to turn it into a kitten, and then back into the globe it once was.”
“What type of kitten?” I ask before I do what she says. Transfiguration is my second best class, so I like to do more complex spells.
“Let’s see a grey tabby,” she instructs, with bright eyes.
“Okay. . . how many?”
“How many what?”
“How many kittens do you want?”
Headmistress McGonagall pauses, her face showing somewhat surprised mixed with a bit of pleasantry. She looks as if she has never been asked this question before, but also wanting to take the bait of challenging me. “Five kittens, all grey tabbies and one orange tabby,” she says slowly, as if I can’t keep up.
With a tiny smirk and determined eyes, I wave my wand in a series of flicks, and there are now five small kittens atop her desk instead of the castle that was occupying it. I turn them back into the globe.
“Well, very well done, Miss Moretti. I am quite impressed; multiple Transfiguration is not taught here until the beginning of Seventh Year. If you must know, I used to teach the subject - before I became the Head of this school,” she tells me. I feel like maybe I’ve given her some brownie points to be on her good side.
“Thank you, Headmistress,” I say. She has me translate some runes, as well as a few Mermish sentences and speak a short basic conversation. Then she has me recognize and point out some constellations to her on a map of the sky. Once I give answers to History of Magic (we were only taught basic level on the UK so her questions weren't too hard), Muggle Studies, and Magical Creatures trivia, it seems like we are done since my parents come up and sit in some chairs off to the side.
She then asks me to create an Uncorporeal Patronus, as it is widely known that most wizards cannot cast a Corporeal one (aside from those in Harry Potter’s time, since there was a war among them). I do so easily and then she tells me she is going to perform a Stinging Spell on me, to which I have to pause and realize what she said.
Before I know it, she’s standing with her wand pointed at me and I quickly send a Protego in front of me without thinking too long about it. I stand up straighter afterwards, a frown evident on my face. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to deflect it or to let it hit me and cure myself after.
“You just passed your Defense Against the Dark Arts portion,” McGonagall says in response to my confusion, “even though that wasn't specifically Dark, just a hex.” She asks me a couple questions about Defense and seems satisfied.
“Lastly, I need you to make a Pepperup Potion - I know it’s a potion we here make in Fourth Year - but I want you to do it by memory. The only thing I will provide you is a list of the ingredients.” Ah, shit, I think, this is where I'm going to fail.
I'm just enough able to follow instructions in class, never mind memorize the stupid order of things. I look back at my parents with a grimace. Mom gives me an encouraging smile while Dad just shrugs.
McGonagall turns her globe into a cauldron and brings out a piece of really old looking paper (like the parchment I bought). Thankfully there’s at least the amount of each ingredient next to it. She then gives me a bowl of rocks. I catch on that I'm supposed to transfigure them into the components. Knowing how to change them into the right thing is for Herbology.
After what seems like an eternity, but is most likely just a half hour - the cauldron is slightly emitting steam and has dark orange contents in it. It’s not as thin or as red as it should be, but I know it could qualify as “good enough” for a student.
Mcgonagall looks inside and stirs a long spoon inside it. She nods to me, “Well done, it would've been a bright red shade if you added a bit more mandrake root, and thinner if you simmered it longer. But nonetheless you've now passed all our core credits and basic electives.”
I release a small sigh I didn't know I was holding in. Damn, these English people are serious with their tests (“not like a proper sit-down exam” my ass), she had no mercy for me.
I then sign up for my classes, which she strongly recommends I take Advanced Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts, my best subjects, as well as Advanced Charms. Since I don’t really know exactly what I want to do after school yet, besides go to college in America, I sign up for most general things.
By the end, I have the three McGonagall told me to take, as well as Advanced Potions (to better my poor skills at the subject), Astronomy, Ancient Runes, and Alchemy (because learning the four elements and transmutation really fascinates me).
Headmistress McGonagall tells me that seven NEWTs is pretty average, the minimum being five and the higher average being nine. Technically you can take as many as they allow at NEWT Level, but only one person has had the guts to take over ten in the last fifty years. (Any guesses? Yes, it was Hermione Granger-Weasley when she came back for her last year of school after the war. I think she begged the Headmistress for it too.)
She walks around her desk to a shelf on the far wall saying, “Last, but not least, we are going to Sort you into your Hogwarts House. Do you know about the Houses and their qualities?”
I nod while she comes back towards me to place the Sorting Hat on her desk. My parents are now fully awake (only because Mom elbowed Dad in the side) as the Sorting part would be more fun to an audience.
“Well, hello there,” a small raspy voice says from the huge seam. “I’m assuming you are a transfer student?” it actually turns to McGonagall, who says yes, she is. “Ah, well do you want to hear a small song, since you’ve never been witness to the Sorting Hat Ceremony before?”
I say sure and it starts singing a tune:
You may think I’m just an old hat,
But alas, I am way much more than that!
You see, I was strung together by hands
That wanted to help the lands
Of witches and wizards alike,
To bring them together -- yes, tykes!
Who can learn to control their magic
And to not go about and wreak havok.
So these hands were of four greats:
Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Gryffindor
Made a school that was anything but bore,
These founders -- they had a great fate,
Who each possessed qualities not as of late:
Courage, humility, ambition, and wit!
To which one of you do you fit?
Well, just put me on your head to find out,
I will then be able to see about
What one caliber you best value,
Let’s start already, shall you?
Wow, I wonder if he makes these up on the spot or not. McGonagall gestures that I take the hat from the desk and I do so. Somewhat scared, if I’m going to be honest. The small voice is now pronounced and clear, but inside my head as if it’s in the back of the room.
“Hmm, interesting. Very interesting. . . I see a big heart - yet a sly mind, but also know that you are very caring towards those you are close with-” Whoa. “-You have the motivation to get what you want, very nice quality indeed - but not if it’s for the wrong reasons, which counters with the good morals I see you have, yes.” Can you hear what I’m thinking too? “Yes. Curious. You’re very curious, many questions you have in your head - yes, I do sing a new song every ceremony! Thank you, it was nice to sing more than one time for once. Let’s see now, where to put you. . ."
And it goes like that. For a long time. I don’t know how long, but it is. He keeps talking, pausing here and there. McGonagall was at first very calm, a smile on her face, until after awhile it went to confusion, but it was gone in a split second when I look up at her. It’s now encouraging.
“Do you have a preference to which House you’d like to be in, Miss Moretti?” The Hat asks me. I think, for a little bit. . . Do I want to be in a House of loyalty, wisdom, ambition, or bravery? Ah I can’t decide. “Which do you value most?” it asks when I don’t give an answer. I don’t know, aren’t you supposed to know this? “Pish posh, I was just asking for reference, girl.” I don’t know much about other than the sterotypes I heard, I guess. “Very well, I will choose. RAVENCLAW!”
The shout makes me jump, in turn making everyone else in the room jump as well. I think I saw even a couple portraits that were interested in my Sorting jump. It was very quiet for some time until now.
“Very interesting, Miss Moretti!” McGonagall claps, “It seems as if the Sorting Hat couldn’t choose which one you best fit in. I don’t think we’ve had a decision take that long for nearly half a century -- not a bad thing, that you have qualities in every House,” she adds upon seeing my wide-eyed expression.
“Seeing as we are now done, we can go to your new Common Room and see a bit of the castle. We’ve gone through the main part of the castle to get here, but if you would like, we can show you the library and anything else. You will need to get Ravenclaw robes before Friday.” We head towards the exit and I swear I see the portrait of Albus Dumbledore wink at me on my way out.
McGonagall briefly shows us a standard classroom, the Hospital Wing, where all the other Common Rooms are located (though we don’t go inside), and the library, which is very close to the Ravenclaw Common Room itself. The door is a cream color with only a bronze eagle knocker on it. Like, literally, there’s no handle or anything. “There’s no password I need to know?” I turn to the principal and she shakes her head, so I grab the eagle and knock.
A small female voice comes from the knocker and says, “You can see me in water, but I can never get wet. What am I?”
Are you fucking kidding me? I have to answer a riddle? What is this? I’m like, no good at riddles. Of course I get the one freakin’ House that uses riddles to get in. What if I’m like all of a sudden mute? How will I get in? What if I’m too tired to answer a stupid riddle? What if I can never answer the riddle and have to wait outside like some sixteen year old who got locked out of their car? Of all things, I need to solve A RIDDLE?
The voice repeats itself and I realize that the adults are either waiting for me to answer, or they’re also confuddled. I heave a sigh, let’s do this then.
If you’re in water, you’re wet. . . If you’re out of water, you’re dry. But if you’re in water and never wet then -- then what? Then you’re just Jesus Christ himself. Well I guess he walked on water technically. So it could be on top of water, like floating in it, and that’s like technically in. Wait wait, she said I can see me in water, but can never get wet. If I see and am not in the water myself, then it’d either be in the water (which would make it wet) or on. I guess it’d be a reflection then. “A reflection,” I conclude. “Well done,” she says and the door opens.
Dad pats me on the back. Damn, that was a lot to do in such a short time. Why did I get put in the logic House? I’m not logical!
All my thoughts dissipate when we enter because I’m stopped in awe once again of the beautiful and grand room that now surrounds me. I see right away, opposite of the entrance, are two doorways are next to each other, with an alcove filled with books in between. I can only guess that’s where the dorms are.
Everything else comes at me in waves. Circular room. Spacious. Velvet. High ceiling. Stars etched on said ceiling. Marble. Arched windows. Lots of natural light. Drapes. Dark wood. White. Blue. Bronze. Home.
A/N: And here you go! I'm sorry this took a lot longer than the others to get up, but hopefully the longer chapter length makes up for it??? Right??? It took me some time to really get everything together on a document from my terribly messy brain.
Please let me know what you think! Love it? Hate it? Did you guess Nicolette's House right? I WANT TO KNOW! Your reviews really encourage me to keep writing this story!!
UP NEXT: A train, a feast, a first night on campus, and a surprise.
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