Morning dawned bright and early. The weather was cheery; cotton-like wisps of thunderclouds still clogged the sky, but the rain had left everything smelling fresh and looking magical. Still, this perfect morning wasn't enough to mask the depressing memories of the previous night. Godric, Rowena, and Helga met one another in the Great Hall, not speaking, with only their conciousnesses to talk to.
In the midst of this unusual silence, in which the distant echo of Quidditch commentary, the rattle of rocks in a bucket, and laughter seem to float out of the intervening weeks, Rowena looked up, her eyes red and puffy, and said, "I've been thinking, and-"
"I know, me too-" Helga interrupted.
"But we can't, isn't that what we did all this for?" Godric pleaded.
"Just because he left it doesn't mean we're closing the school. We have to stick to this, no matter what happens, because there are children out there depending on us. In any case, I already sent them their letters last night, before...."Rowena said firmly, her voice trailing off at the end.
"You do realize what we have to do today, then?" Godric pointed out.
Helga clapped a hand to her forehead, and said, "That's right! What day is it?"
With a smile, Rowena said softly, "September first. The students arrive tonight."
* * *
The rest off the day was spent preparing for the arrival of the students that night. Godric went off to arrange their dormitories and schedules, while Helga rounded up House-Elves to cook supper that evening. Rowena docked ten or eleven miniature boats off the small dock for the students to sail in. When the sun had turned into an orange-gold blur across the horizon, and candles and torches magically ignited in their brackets, the three hurried off to dress properly in their common rooms. "See you in a bit," they grinned, and scuttled off.
* * *
They entered the Great Hall some time later to see each other dressed their best for the occasion. Godric wore a handsome scarlet and gold tunic to clash nicely with his crimson hair. In his belt he had side-saddled a silver sword, encrusted with rubies at the hilt, for decoration. Helga had put on her best dress. It was yellow, and fringed with black lace around the hem. The dress was of a floaty, floor-length material and puffed around the long sleeves. She had pinned her long blonde hair back slightly, leaving an elegant effect, with a gold, leaf shaped clip to match her hazel eyes. Meanwhile Rowena wore a long, shimmering, deep blue gown embroidered with silver lace around the edges. Her shoulder length soft brown hair hung daintily at the sides of her face. She wore a simple, silver tiara with a sapphire shaped like a dew drop placed in the center. At the top was a silver eagle. Her blue eyes seemed to glisten with excitement as she and the others took their seats at the top of the table.
The three sat there awhile, not talking much, but smiling a lot and shaking a bit to get their jitters out. At once there was a loud knock from the Entrance Hall. Godric stood up immediately to fetch the children. "Ready?" Helga asked nervously.
"I suppose," Rowena said.
"Oh gosh, brace yourself-here they come, look!" Helga said with a grin.
Godric neatly organized the small eleven-year-olds into a straight line in front of the high table, and rushed back into his seat between the two girls. There were about forty children, girls and boys. they stood in their line, not talking, but exchanging nervous and glad glances. "What do we do now? How do we put them in our houses?" Rowena muttered.
"I- I didn't think of that," Helga said, her eyes widening in shock.
"Perhaps we could test them to see whats in their cap," Godric suggested, patting his head with a smirk.
"Wait-Godric, that's it! Give me your hat," Rowena said impatiently, clicking her fingers.
Reluctantly he swept off his battered and frayed wizards hat, and handed it over. Rowena placed it carefully in front of her, waving her wand, and muttered, "Specious continual." The hat emitted a few feeble sparks and then lay silent.
"Have I ever told you you're a genius, Rowena?" Godric said weakly, looking from the hat to Rowena and back. Rowena didn't reply, but grinned in an exasperated way at Helga, who smiled right back. She picked up Godric's hat and conjured a wooden stool from her wand, which she placed in the center in front of the High Table. Daintily, Rowena laided the hat upright on the stool, then took her seat.
At first nothing happened. The students stared in awe at the hat, and at Godric, Rowena, and Helga, while the three stared at the hat and the students. Suddenly a ripped patch near the brim opened wide like a mouth, and the hat burst into song:
"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
You top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
Now Hogwarts founders four,
They hatched a daring plan,
To educate young sorcerers
Thus Hogwarts school began.
Now these four founders
Formed their own House, for each
Did value different virtues
In the ones they ought to teach.
You might be like Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might be like Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet like wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps like Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
Now though I have to split you,
Though this shall never win,
I wish you luck on your ways,
Let the Sorting now begin."