The train came to a halt half an hour later. Sam had finally met up with his brother after an incident which ended with the lunch trolley’s contents on the floor of the corridor two carriages up. Adara and Gem were then left alone together for the remainder of the journey. When they pulled up at Hogsmeade station, the girls got off the train and joined the other first years who were milling in front of a very, very large man.
“Firs’ years follow me! This way to the boats! Firs’ years, this way!” the man was bellowing from somewhere underneath his immense black and grey beard. Adara and Gem exchanged excited looks before following him down a forest track towards a huge lake.
“The name’s Professor Hagrid. I teach Care of Magical Creatures,” he was saying as he lead the first years further into the trees, immense lantern swinging from his hand. “You’ll be gettin’ to Hogwarts by boat tonight and then to the Great Hall where you’ll be sorted.”
They had stopped at the shore of the lake were a small armada of little boats were beached. Adara eyed them warily but Gem jumped into one immediately, beckoning Adara to join her. When they were settled, the boats took off, gliding smoothly and silently through the water. Both Gem and Adara were watching the castle as they sailed towards it. Adara counted the turrets and was unable to tear her gaze from the golden lights that were streaming from every window. Gem was trying to take in all the sights at once which just made her head swim so she kept looking straight ahead. They were heading straight for a cliff wall covered in vines. She grabbed Adara’s sleeve to try and warn her they were about to crash, but when Adara saw Gem’s panic, she just grinned widely and a second later, they had passed straight through the cliff wall to a little bay where students were already clambering out of their boats. Gem’s mouth fell open at the sight, at the top of what would be a small distance, was a magnificent castle.
“Close your mouth” Adara commented playfully “You’ll catch flies”
Soon enough they were gathered with all of the other First Years in front of a pair of large doors. All round them murmurs of excitement and wonder came from their peers, except for one boy who was watching impassively. Adara looked around and noticed Percy standing nearby.
“Oh, look!” Adara exclaimed. “It’s Percy! Hi Percy!” Giving Gem a good shove and a not so subtle wink, Adara walked over to the emotionless boy.
“So, Hogwarts, huh?” she said, eliciting no response. “I can’t wait to explore all the hidden passageways in the castle. Did you know, there are rumours that there’s one passage that leads directly to the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade and that’s how the Order of the Phoenix managed to get into the castle the night Voldemort was killed.”
“I heard,” the boy replied calmly. “But they’re not rumours. My brother found that passage during his second year here.”
“Wow,” Adara replied, still unable to get a read on the boy. “So you have a bit of a head start then, huh?”
“A head start for what?” the boy asked.
“Exploring!” Adara said, rolling her eyes. “Finding out all the secret passages and rooms. There must be hundreds.”
“So... What house do you think you’ll be sorted into?” Adara asked, becoming more and more discouraged by the second.
“Oh, I’ll be sorted into Ravenclaw. That’s easy,” the boy replied mildly. Adara nodded.
“Me too, I hope. I can imagine the Ravenclaws have some fascinating conversations! I mean, can you imagine the debates!”
“Yes, I can imagine that.”
“I hope the Ravenclaw common room has it’s own library!” Adara continued. “The collection of books must be incredible!”
“I’m sure...” the boy said. Adara didn’t get to answer because at that moment, the doors opened and a youngish looking man in brown robes stepped out to meet them.
“Hello, I’m Professor Sigma,” the wizard introduced, clapping his hands together. “In a minute, you’re all going to go into the Great Hall and be sorted into your houses. For those of you who don’t know, they are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. While you’re here, you're houses will be the closest thing you’ll have to family, unless, of course you have siblings because they’re actually related to you.” He joked , then cleared his throat awkwardly when no one laughed. “Now. When we get in there, I’ll call out your names and you’ll be sorted. After you
have been put into a house, you will go and sit with them. You’ll know who they are, trust me. Right, any questions? No? Fantastic! Let’s begin!”
He strode towards the doors and flung them open, Adara quickly found Gem before they followed the Professor into the Great Hall. Most of the people around them, including Gem, were gaping at the sight. The hall was filled with people sitting at four long tables, all of which had paused to look at the newcomers entering the room. Candles that provided the light were floating near the ceiling, joined by a few ghosts.
“Thats beautiful!” Gem gasped, her head tilted towards the enchanted roof. A clear night sky graced the roof, stars sparkling exactly as they would’ve been doing outside. Adara agreed silently, it certainly was an amazing sight to see.
At the front of the room was a large table, stretched across the width of the hall, with adults sitting behind it.
“Those are obviously the teachers then,” Adara commented to the small girl beside her. They all looked normal enough. Most were talking to each other or peering at the First years much like the students they taught.
Gem’s eyes fell onto a small three legged stool sitting in front of the staff table. Professor Sigma walked up to it, clutching a very battered looking wizard’s hat. It might have been black once, but the fabric had long since faded and it had been patched several times. Professor Sigma placed the hat on top of the stool and stood back, as if to give the hat the spotlight. The hall, which a moment ago had been filled with the sounds of excited chatter, fell silent, all eyes were focussed on the hat. As the assembly watched, a large tear just above the brim opened wide and the hat seemed to come alive and, to the first years’ collective astonishment, the hat began to sing:
“A thousand years ago now,
I was mute, deaf and dumb,
But I was still able to witness
How Hogwarts School had begun,
The founders four,
The friends they were
Wanted to share all they knew
With young witches, wizards and warlocks,
Young sorcerers just like you
But how to choose the best?
And who should they admit?
They each had different values
Which caused quite the disagreement.
Good old Godric Gryffindor
Thought the bravest were the best;
Honest Helga Hufflepuff
Wanted hard workers above the rest
As for resourceful Rowena Ravenclaw,
She only wanted the cleverest
And sly old Salazar Slytherin
Prized those with cunning and noble epithet
But how to claim the ones they wanted
And what would happen to the houses?
How would they sort their pupils
When the founders had departed?
Then Gryffindor had an idea of import,
He removed me from his head,
They could just use me to sort
After they were all long dead
Now that is my humble duty,
As the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
To tell of your new family
I haven’t been wrong yet,
So don’t worry yourself, (I’m quite safe)
And I promise I wont bite,
I’m here to tell where you belong
For that is my role tonight!”
The entire hall erupted into applause and cheers coming from the four house tables that took up most of the vast space momentarily overpowered Professor Sigma who was trying to get the student body to quiet down. When the noise finally died away, the professor stepped up behind the stool and took out a long piece of parchment.
“Chase, Annabeth,” The professor called. A girl with stormy grey eyes approached the Sorting Hat confidently and sat down. Professor Sigma lowered the old and battered hat onto her head of long blonde hair and waited for barely five seconds before the hat cried out, “RAVENCLAW!” The table on the middle left reacted instantly, cheers and applause sounded in the hall as Annabeth made her way to their table.
“Coulson,Jack,” Was next. The sorting took longer for the blue red boy, but after thirty seconds the sorting hat cried, “GRYFFINDOR!” and the blonde haired boy went to sit on the table at the far left of the room.
“Donnelly, Lucas,” came after Jack. The nervous looking red-head took a seat on the three-legged stool and after ten seconds, was sorted into “HUFFLEPUFF!”
They came thick and fast after that.
“Holmes, Sherlock.” The impassive looking boy Adara had been talking to before they had been lead into the Great Hall made his way to the stool. Adara swore the hat hadn’t even touched his head before it declared, “RAVENCLAW!” and the boy made his way to the Ravenclaw table.
Soon after, “Jackson, Perseus,” was called and Percy moved forward to be sorted, his sea green eyes brimming with excitement yet churning with nervousness. He sat at the stool and let the talking hat decide where he best belonged.“GRYFFINDOR!” The Sorting Hat cried and Percy walked swiftly to the Gryffindor table.
“Knightly, Cassandra,” was called next and sorted into Hufflepuff. Then it was Gem’s turn.
She was visibly shaking when “Mckenzie, Gemma,” was announced and she had to walk up to be sorted. Gem sat down on the stool nervously wringing her hands. As the hat was placed on her head she almost squeaked to hear it talk to her. Now, your an interesting one, a disembodied voice said in her head. Where am I going to put you. . . It trailed off.
Your shy I see, but you do stand up for what you believe in hmmm, better be. . . Her with was the longest so far, and she was contemplating whether to bolt out the door or not when the hat boomed “GRYFFINDOR!” She was shocked to say the least and scrambled of the stool and ran over to the table taking a seat next to Percy who grinned at her.
“South, Mckayla” Was read next from the parchment, she sat on the seat and waited for a moment for the hat to make a decision “SLYTHERIN!” It yelled.
“Pond, Amy” A girl with red hair stood up and approached the stool, seeminly confident. Except for the fact that her hands we’re shaking slightly. She hadn’t sat down for very long when the hat cried out “GRYFFINDOR!”.
“Whelan, Adara.” It took Adara a second longer than it should’ve for her to figure out it was her turn. She hadn’t been nervous about her sorting before then, but as soon as she started for the front she felt like she was going to throw up.
She settled herself gingerly on the stool and closed her eyes as the hat was lowered over her head. ‘Hmm...’ the Sorting Hat hummed. ‘Fascinating. You have intelligence, so Ravenclaw would be an obvious choice, but...’ the Hat went silent.
“But what?” Adara demanded silently.
‘Your intelligence is not the only thing that you identify with, is it? You are loyal, no? You explained the Hufflepuff values to your friends on the train. Only Hufflepuffs care about the values of the Hufflepuff house, just as only Slytherins value the things that puts you in Slytherin. Loyalty,’ the Hat continued. ‘It’s a touchy subject with you. You feel strongly about it. Interesting... No, I think I have decided. You belong in-’
“HUFFLEPUFF!” The final word was said aloud and the table to the right of where she sat clapped and whistled, beckoning her over. The Sorting Hat was removed but Adara sat frozen in her seat for a second before her eyes found Sam and he motioned for her to get up and head to the Hufflepuff table.
Surprisingly, Adara wasn’t disappointed she was sorted into Hufflepuff. Everything the hat had said was true and she had no qualms about taking pride in her willingness to work hard or her fierce loyalty to her friends. So she smiled as she made her way to the Hufflepuff table and sat down next to Lucas Donnelly.
“Winchester, Samuel.” Sam stood, looking as concerned as Adara had felt a moment ago when she had been called. He glanced to the Gryffindor table as he sat down and Adara glimpsed his brother Dean give Sam two thumbs up. Sam didn’t take as long to sort as Gem or Adara and when the Sorting Hat announced it’s verdict, it was exactly as Sam had predicted.
“RAVENCLAW!” Sam looked immensely relieved as he walked to the Ravenclaw table, a wide grin on his face. Not long after, the last student had been sorted and the hat and stool were picked up and removed from the hall, Professor Sigma returning to his seat next to Professor McGonagall, who sat in the middle of the staff table on a throne-like chair. She stood , brushed off her emerald robes and tapped her glass gently with a knife, the resulting chime unnaturally loud in the space.
“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts,” she began, surveying the students who had all fallen silent. “Before we begin the feast, Mr Filch has asked me to remind everyone,” she looked over to the Gryffindor table where a particularly boisterous group of second and third years were struggling to stay quiet. “That as usual, the forest on the grounds is out of bounds to all students. On no account are you to go into the forest without a teacher present.” She then smiled. “And with that, let the feast begin!