"The new firs' years, Professor McGonagall." Hagrid said. McGonagall regarded him for a moment.
"Thank you Hagrid. I will attend to them from here." she said. She pushed the door wide, and they all gaped. The entrance hall was big enough to hold a full-size house in it, with torches hanging on the stone walls and a flagged stone floor. A huge marble staircase facing them led upstairs. They could hear voices from a large set of doors off to the right, but Professor McGonagall instead showed them into an empty chamber off of the hallway. They packed into it like sardines in a can, watching her expectantly.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start-of-term-banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats, you will be sorted into your houses. Sorting is important, as while you are here, your house will be like your family. You will have classes with your House, sleep in your House’s dormitory, and spend free time in your House’s common room, as well as eat meals with them.”
The explanation sounded routine, but everyone was attentive. Ted was too excited about the school to be bored, and continued to listen, captivated by the wonders of the castle that Professor McGonagall explained to them. It was better than reading, where Ted had "mind-movies" to satisfy his wonder. This was a real world that McGonagall was exposing to them, and Ted was eager to plunge himself into it.
“The four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has a noble history and has produced amazing witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn you points; any rule-breaking and you will lose points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the House cup. I hope each of you will prove an asset to whichever house you will soon belong to.”
“The Sorting Ceremony will take place in five minutes in front of the entire school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.” she said, her eyes lingering on LT’s crooked robe and Clifford’s askew tie. Ted self-consciously patted his hair down and Callan fiddled with the collar of his shirt.
“I shall return when we are ready for you.” she added. “Please wait quietly.”
She left the room. Callan turned to fix Clifford’s tie while Ted turned to Barku. The bigger boy looked just as surprised as Ted did, and the young twin was glad for it. Hushed whispering broke out like wildfire among them.
“How do they sort us?” Ted asked. Barku looked surprised, and he shrugged.
“Well my older brother Christopher said we have to fight a troll. But he was probably joking.” Clifford explained, though he was visibly very nervous.
“What the bloody hell is that?” someone suddenly cried out. No less than twenty ghosts came soaring through the back wall.
They were pearly-white and somewhat transparent. They eyed the students with surprise, and the students, gaping, stared back. Many of the first years were now frozen with shock.
“I say, what are you lot doing here?” a ghost in a ruff and tights asked. He looked as though the presence of children in this room wasn't a very common thing at all, as though it had not been scheduled.
“Oh! Right, we forget this every year. New students!” cried a fat little monk. He had an amiable smile upon his face, looking like the sort of ghost one might not be quite so uneasy with.
“That’s quite right, my dear Friar, it is the first day of the new term.” the ghost in the ruff said, remembering suddenly.
“About to be sorted, I suppose?” the Fat Friar asked. Some students nodded, but none of them with a great deal of confidence, and some of the nods seemed to be only out of politeness.
“Hope to see you lot in Hufflepuff, my old House.” the Friar cried merrily, waving at them.
“Move along, you lot.” Professor McGonagall said. The ghosts drifted through the opposite wall, leaving the incoming first-years alone with the headmistress, who eyed them sharply.
“Now form a line and follow me.” Professor McGonagall demanded. They shuffled into a line and followed McGonagall back across the hall and through a set of double doors, into the Great Hall. Ted gulped and wanted to screw his eyes shut as the doors to the Great Hall opened.
The Great Hall was lit by thousands and thousands of candles floating in midair over four long tables, where hundreds of students were sitting. At the top of the hall was a great table where teachers sat. Professor McGonagall led the first years up to here, and they came to a halt. There was a stool standing there in between where they stood and the teachers’ table. On it was an old hat, whose brim opened like a mouth. Much to their shock, it began to sing:
“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,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!”
The hall burst into applause and the hat bowed to each of the four tables. Professor McGonagall stepped forward with a long roll of parchment. Ted gulped, a great excitement bounding about his inside, like a hyperactive rabbit.
“When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted.” she said, looking around at them.
"Aarons, Jake!" she called out.
A brown haired boy stumbled up to the stool, going a pale green color as he very shakily sat on the stool, closing his eyes long before McGonagall dropped the Sorting Hat down on his head. He sat up there, trembling for a full two minutes, but then...
"SLYTHERIN!" the hat shrieked. The boy moved to the table on their far left, which burst into wild applause. The boy shuffled nervously over to his new peers, looking like he'd very much like to shrink or become invisible entirely as many sets of eyes were turned on him.
"Adams, Winona!" McGonagall called.
A girl with short brown hair walked slowly up to the hat, taking care not to trip or quiver too much as she did. She sat down on the stool, and the Sorting Hat was only on her for twenty seconds before it made a decision.
"RAVENCLAW!" the hat shouted, and the table to their immediate left let out cheers as Winona smiled and skipped down to them. Ted noticed an older student with a badge with a "P" on it that came over and tapped Winona's robes. Blue and bronze suddenly joined her robes along with the black, and the Hogwarts crest on the breast had become a Ravenclaw crest, bearing an eagle. He turned and saw Jake's robes now had green and silver on them, with a Slytherin badge that contained a snake.
A small girl with brown hair and green eyes moved forward and nervously sat on the stool, waiting for only a few seconds.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" the hat cried, and the table to their immediate right burst into applause this time. Sarah happily accepted new robes of yellow and black, with a badger in the crest.
Ted was scared for Barku as he walked forward, hunched for a moment. But then he stopped halfway, stood up taller, and finished his walk to the stool with great gusto. He sat on the stool, and the Sorting Hat had barely touched his head when it shouted.
It was the table on their far right that burst into applause this time as Barku grinned at them before walking over to sit with his house, where a prefect met him and tapped his uniform. Reds and golds appeared on his uniform, as well as the Gryffindor crest on the breast of his robe, containing a lion.
A girl with short black hair strode up to the stool next. She had green eyes and a very devious look on her face. She looked somewhat confident and arrogant. The hat sat on her head for five seconds.
"SLYTHERIN!" it screamed, and Sierra cheerfully went to the cheering Slytherins, sitting across from Jake, who looked only slightly less shaky.
A boy taller than Ted, but shorter than Callan got up. He had dark hair that was medium-length, and he looked perfectly solemn as he shuffled over to be sorted.
"SLYTHERIN!" the hat shrieked again after half a minute, and Liam shuffled once more, but this time to the Slytherin table. Sierra enthusiastically offered the space beside her, and he took it.
A small girl walked up. She had short brown hair that was combed very neatly, and wide eyes with a look of curiosity and wonder in them. She had a kind face, and smiled nervously before the hat was dropped onto her head.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" the hat cried at once, and Lucy stood up, beaming. She half-ran and half-skipped to the Hufflepuff table, where she sat beside Sarah. The two girls began to talk at once, and a prefect tapped her robes as he walked by where the two girls sat.
They watched as "Canterbury, Cole" was sorted into Ravenclaw, and as "Coulson, Emilie" was made a Gryffindor. Ted thought red-haired Emilie was rather beautiful, and couldn't help but admire her a bit. "Curtis, Gwendolyn" also entered Gryffindor, and seemed happy to join Emilie, and "Davidson, Cyrus" was sent off to Ravenclaw to join Cole.
Clifford stumbled forward, rather pale. He sat on the chair and the look on his face was one of pure unease. The hat sat on his head for almost a minute when it made its decision.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat roared, and Clifford nervously shuffled off to join Sarah and Lucy. Ted knew Callan was beginning to feel torn like he was. Their friends had been split up.
A boy with short dark hair walked up next, trying to keep his walk casual and not as stiff as everyone else's, but he was still undeniably as nervous-looking as everyone before him. He sat down gently on the stool and screwed his eyes shut as McGonagall dropped the Sorting Hat over his head, and it stayed there for almost two and a half minutes. His ears had gone bright red.
"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat roared, and Lane was so overjoyed that he ran halfway to Gryffindor table still wearing the Sorting Hat and had to double back apologetically, amid gales of laughter, to hand the hat over to McGonagall before running back to sit with the Gryffindors.
"Ford, Tali" was sorted after Lane, and she made Hufflepuff house, while "Gate, Agatha" made Ravenclaw and went to sit with the other Ravenclaws. "Hedgewick, Anna" joined the girls sorted into Hufflepuff and "Hennessy, Rose" was placed in Slytherin, while "Jones, Jennifer" was put in Gryffindor.
The black-haired friend of Dillon stepped forward with near-arrogance. He already knew where he was going, and everyone else found out where he was destined to be a few moments later.
Ross happily strode over to the Slytherin table, smirking as he sat on the side of the table opposite where the other first years already sat.
A girl with long brown hair strode up. She had a pouty, bratty looking face and as she sat down on the stool, she sat gently on it as though it were unclean. McGonagall dropped the Sorting Hat over her head, and it barely touched her.
"SLYTHERIN!" it screamed again, and she happily went to join the Slytherins.
A big boy walked up. He had black hair and brown eyes. He was taller than Ted, but not taller than Barku, and he was looking as though he had just been ordered to fight a swordsman to the death with only a spoon. He sat on the stool and screwed his eyes shut.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" the hat cried, and Marshall slipped off the stool and hurried over to sit with Clifford and the others in Gryffindor. Ted cringed, knowing that his own sorting would be very soon.
While "Martins, Tayler" was being sorted, Ted bit down gently on his lip. It wouldn't be long at all now before his name would be called, now that McGonagall had reached "M". Ted wondered nervously what would happen. What if he and Callan got separated? Or even worse, what if he ended up in Slytherin, without any of his friends but two potential enemies?
Ted’s heart flip-flopped as he watched Callan move forward carefully, trembling a little. Whispers shot through the hall and people began speculating if the other Morgan twin was here as well, and Ted could feel their eyes searching for him, scanning through the crowd of unsorted first years. Ted knew he and Callan were famous in the wizarding world because they had been in a prophecy that led to their parents, both Aurors, being killed. Callan sat on the stool nervously and the hat was dropped over his head. Ted bit on his lip, and silence overtook the Great Hall. They waited a minute...two...three...and then..
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat cried, and the entire Hufflepuff house roared with applause. They could make out Clifford’s cheers loudest of all. Ted slowly drew in a breath.
The whispering became deafening to Ted as he shakily stepped forward, stumbling to the stool, both anxious and petrified with fear as he sat on the stool firmly. The last glimpses he got were of Callan, sitting at the very front of the Hufflepuff table, turning to watch, and the whole of the Great Hall was craning to get a good look at him. His view was then obscured by the black inside of the hat.
“Hmm,” said a small voice, “Another difficult placement, but not in the same way as your brother. A great mind...but not exactly a rule-abider. Not Ravenclaw for you, that won’t do. Kind and fair like your brother...but only fair if the other side plays fairly as well. A great desire to prove yourself...”
“Not Slytherin, please.” Ted thought. At least in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff he had companions. Besides, maybe it was only him, but the Slytherins seemed distinctly unpleasant. And he hated the idea of being forced in with Ross. Dillon would probably make Slytherin too.
“Not Slytherin?” the hat asked. “Are you sure? You have the cunning and ambition of a Slytherin lurking within you. Slytherin might help you rise up the ranks to becoming a powerful wizard. No? Well if you really think you’re better off without Slytherin...GRYFFINDOR!”
The last word was shouted aloud to the school, and Ted couldn't help but burst into a delighted grin as the hat was taken off his head. Perhaps he had been mistaken, but it looked as though McGonagall had smiled. Applause exploded from the table that was now on his far left as he faced them. He could see Barku leading even more gales of applause, applauding loudly himself. Ted turned to the table second from his left and faced Callan, who was sitting with Clifford. Callan nodded Ted along and both twins shared a smile. Ted stepped before the Gryffindor table and got a clap on the back from Barku. A beaming prefect hastened to find him and tapped his robes.
Bursts of red and gold appeared on his uniform, and he smiled at it brightly. He sat beside Barku and across from Lane. On Lane's one side was an open seat, and on his other side sat a girl who was maybe a year their senior. There was an empty seat on Ted’s other side. Barku and the empty space across from him were at the edge of the table nearest to the teachers. Barku and Ted were sitting with their backs to the wall, and Lane was on the side of the table where his back was pointing to all the other tables.
"Welcome to Gryffindor." the slightly older girl said, smiling at him.
"Thank you." Ted said, smiling nervously.
They turned their heads and saw the rude brown-haired boy from before walking up. His sorting didn't even take ten seconds. The moment the hat touched him, it screamed.
"SLYTHERIN!" it cried, and Dillon smirked arrogantly before sitting beside Ross at the Slytherin table.
A girl with dark hair and chocolate-brown eyes walked slowly up to the stool to be sorted. She seemed matter-of-fact in the way that she sat down, and the hat took a minute and a half to sort her.
"RAVENCLAW!" the hat cried, and Ever happily skipped off to join the other girls in Ravenclaw house.
The tall red-haired boy from before walked up nervously. He was definitely on par with Barku for being a very tall first year. He sat down on the stool, but was strangely calm when he did this.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" the hat screamed, and LT ran down to the the Hufflepuff table.
They watched "Phillips, Lauren" go to Ravenclaw, and "Piper, Miriam" went to Hufflepuff. "Posey, Ibbe" had been sent to Ravenclaw and "Race, Kylie" had just been sent to Slytherin.
A black boy taller than Ted walked forward with a bold air about him, but he wasn't overconfident in any way. He looked reassured, if anything. The hat took only ten seconds to decide for him.
A boy with brown hair emerged from the unsorted first years that remained. He had gone very pale, and he slowly sat down on the stool, eyes screwed shut. A half-minute went by, then a full minute, then a minute and a half...
"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat cried, and Joshua sighed with relief and put the hat down before half-running to Gryffindor table. Ted offered Joshua the open space beside him, and the boy thanked him and took the seat. Only a few students left needed to be sorted. They watched two girls be sorted. One of them, "Senters, Britney", found herself in Slytherin, but "Smith, Bianca" ended up in Ravenclaw.
The Filipino boy that had fought the weedy and unpleasant looking boy strode forward, blushing a bit. Perhaps he saw Hagrid's reproachful look, recalling the little scuffle that had taken place not even an hour ago, for he bowed his head, but moved towards the stool quickly, and with purpose. The hat made a decision in only twelve seconds.
"GRYFFINDOR!" it roared, and Jerry grinned and jogged over to their table, slinking in at the end of one side of the table, just beside Lane and across from Barku.
They watched "Turner, Ian" be sorted into Hufflepuff, and a dark-skinned boy wearing glasses named "Wise, Shakhan" was placed in Ravenclaw. With only two sortings left, they watched as "York, Rowena" joined the girls from Gryffindor at the table. The last sorting was "Zimmerman, Ezekiel", the weedy boy who had fought with Jerry. He was made a Slytherin, and he rushed over to the table.
Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting hat and its stool away. Ted’s stomach grumbled. The sweets eaten on the train had long vacated his stomach, and the growling in his stomach told him he was growing rather hungry. They now noticed Professor McGonagall was sitting in the head seat at the teacher’s table.
"Who knew she was head?" Barku whispered to Ted excitedly.
Suddenly, they all nearly leaped back. Food had suddenly appeared on the dishes before them, and Ted had never seen so many of his favorite foods at once. There was roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops, lamb chops, sausages, bacon, steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, baked potatoes with butter or sour cream, spaghetti, sandwiches of all kinds, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, stuffing, and for some odd reason, peppermint humbugs. Ted was so hungry that he piled his plate high with food. His cup, he found, was filled with ice-cold pumpkin juice, and it tasted wonderful.
He noticed another boy sitting near them. It was the older boy who had tried helping LT find his owl earlier. He was taking in a mouthful of baked potato with sour cream and talking to the girl who had welcomed Ted to Gryffindor. There was a third student with them, a boy who looked even older, maybe thirteen years old.
"So Victor, excited to go to Hogsmeade?" the boy from the train asked.
"It's great. I'm glad to finally be a third year, Ivan. Got my new electives too, I'll be taking Care of Magical Creatures and Divination." Victor said, eating a piece of roast pork.
"I'm jealous. I want to buy sweets from Honeydukes." the girl said.
"Maybe I can sneak you in, Ambrosette?" Victor suggested. Ted began cutting up his steak.
"So what kind of families do you lot come from?" Barku asked suddenly, catching Ted's attention.
"I was raised my my aunt and uncle, who are Muggles." Ted said, before eating a piece of steak.
"I'm half and half." said Jerry through a mouthful of lamb chops. "My dad's a Muggle, and my mom's a witch. She didn't tell him until they got married, and boy was he shocked. But he's used to it now."
"I'm all wizard, but my uncle Philip thought I was Squib. I accidentally set a scarf my grandma was knitting on fire. That sure changed his mind." Lane said, smiling, biting into a sausage.
"I'm all wizard too. I was brought up by two wizard parents." Josh explained through a mouthful of fried chicken.
"Same for me." Barku said.
When they had eaten as much dinner as they could manage, the food faded and was replaced by wonderful dessert foods. There were blocks of ice cream in every flavor imaginable that refused to melt, with a tureen of hot fudge and scoops of chopped nuts or cherries or whipped cream that one could add on. They also had apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs, jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding, cheesecakes, cookies, and miniature cupcakes. Accompanying the deserts were large goblets of milk.
Ted immediately helped himself to vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream, and was soon tasting other desserts with his new peers. Barku had long devoured his first dessert, a slice of apple pie, and was now starting in on a vanilla cupcake with a chocolate topping. Jerry was helping himself to a treacle tart, while Josh helped himself to some trifle. They all complimented the wonderful food and listened politely to Victor explaining what he would do on his first trip to Hogsmeade
Ted began to presently feel quite tired and warm and rather full. The desserts soon disappeared, as everyone had eaten their fill. Professor McGonagall stood up.
“First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils.” she announced. “Mr. Filch would also like me to remind you that magic should not be used between classes in the corridors. Any student found using a Skiving Snackbox or other Weasley product to get out of class will lose their house twenty points and be given a detention. Before we go turn in, let us sing the school song.” she said.
A man in black beside her stood up and a golden ribbon shot out of his wand, turning into a loud banner the whole school could read. They all began to sing:
“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.”
They all sang at their own pace and with their own tune until finally only Jerry and some older Gryffindors were left. When they had finished, McGonagall spoke a final time to them.
"Now off to bed. Prefects, show your first year students to the dormitories."
The prefect that escorted them was named Elias York, and he was the older brother of one of Ted's new peers in Gryffindor house, Rowena York. The siblings were both Filipino like Jerry was, and Elias looked friendly enough. They followed him out of the Great Hall and up a large marble staircase, and then up more stairs until they reached the seventh floor, where they passed through countless hallways. Ted felt they must have been walking for ages when they reached of a large woman in a pink silk dress.
"Password?" she asked them.
"Bowtruckle." Elias said, and the portrait swung open like a door, revealing a large hole in the wall. Elias helped them climb through it and came in behind them into a room full of squashy red armchairs sitting beside a lovely fire. There were tables to study and play games at together, windows that provided a lovely night view of the grounds, and a notice board. There were two sets of double doors, one leading to the left and the other led to the right. They had reached the Gryffindor Common Room at last.
"First year girls, this way!" cried Ambrosette, and the boys watched as Emilie, Gwen, Rowena, Tayler, and Jennifer headed to the door on the left.
"First year boys, over here!" cried Victor, and he led them through the door on the right and up a spiral staircase. They passed by rooms until they reached one at the very top. Victor opened the door and they gasped.
There were five beds lined up in the room, five lovely four-posters with scarlet curtains that looked as though they were made of silk or velvet. Their trunks were already placed in front of the beds. Ted found his was at the far end of the room, in the middle (unbeknownst to him, a bed once occupied by Harry Potter). On the left-hand side of his bed was where Barku was placed, with Josh to his right. Lane's bed was beside Barku's, and Jerry had the bed beside Josh's.
As Victor left, they slowly changed into their pajamas. Ted noticed a black cat at the end of Jerry's bed and was reminded of Chief, who was probably with Callan in his dorm right now. Though he missed Callan, Ted knew that he would be fine with Clifford. He looked around for Ares and Brutus, but recalled they would be living in Hogwarts' own Owlery. As Ted slid into bed, he tried to ask Barku if he had tried the steak, but then fell fast asleep.