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- Chapter 8 -


Behind the great oaken doors stood an older woman wearing ruby red wizarding robes. Her dark hair was pulled tightly into a severe bun, making her frown lines stand out despite the pinched smile that was plastered onto her face.


“ I gots the firs’-years, ‘ere for ye P’fessor McGonagall,” Hagrid said, bobbing his head to her.

“Thank you, Mr Hagrid.” She inclined her head slightly to the large man. “I shall take them from here. Follow me!” she barked at the assemblage of eleven year olds before striding off into the large hall.


With a quick glance at each other, and a small shrug, Draco and Harry led the other first years in the path of the woman. Harry barely stopped himself from whistling in amazement at the size of the Entrance Hall. It was even bigger than he had imagined. When he’d first read about it in Hogwarts A History, he had calculated that the Dursley’s house would have fit in there several times, but the sight of the large hall nearly had him awestruck.

As it was, only Draco’s quick elbow to the ribs stopped Harry from standing stock still like a fool, and they hurried to keep up with the elderly witch. Harry could hear the drone of voices from a doorway to his right, but Professor McGonagall led them into a small chamber slightly further on. They all crowded in, standing rather closer to each other than any of them would have ordinarily preferred. McGonagall stood in the doorway, an imposing figure.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” The Professor said stiffly. “I trust that you have all read ‘Hogwarts; A History’, so I shall not speak for long about the school. Hogwarts is the oldest, and the most revered school of magic in the British Isles, and you are expected to behave with decorum at all times. Once you are Sorted, your Head of House will explain all of the school rules, and your Housemates will help you also. The Sorting ceremony will begin shortly, please smarten yourselves up!” Her eyes rested upon Weasley’s face, which had several smudges of unknown origin, and Granger’s hair; a good portion had escaped the headband she wore, and it stuck out like a halo around her head.

Draco rolled his eyes and let out a sigh of relief as the Professor left the room.

“Long speech and a load of crap. Most revered school… Only school more like!” He murmured into Harry’s ear. The two, having been among the first to enter the room were now pressed into the back wall of the chamber. Harry was grateful for that fact now, as he leaned back into the wall, taking some of his weight from his shaking legs.

“I guess, yeah,” Harry whispered back. “Hey, Draco, how exactly do they sort us?” Before Draco could say anything else, the Professor returned and sorted them into one big alphabetical line and the two friends were separated from each other.

Harry found himself standing behind a girl with wispy, ginger hair and in front of a smiling boy with wide eyes. He could see Draco’s fair hair about ten people in front of him, but saw no way to communicate with his friend. Harry sighed but held his shoulders high as they entered the Great Hall.

Most of the other first years gasped and openly gawked at the décor, but Harry was proud in the knowledge that his awe did not show. Thousands of candles lit the room, some were in wall sconces, but most were suspended in the air above four long tables that sat the Hogwarts students. Harry assumed that each table was for a different House. The ceiling was the most magnificent thing about the room, though.

When they had been outside, the stars had been out in all of their glory, and the ceiling now reflected that. All the stars looked the same as when Harry had been outside. In all fairness, Harry was no astronomer, but it looked pretty accurate to him. On their left was a table on a raised dais that sat the Professors. Behind them were four hourglasses with different coloured crystal stones in them. Harry thought the castle looked amazing.

The line stopped moving abruptly as Professor McGonagall stopped and placed a stool in front of them. She turned back to the high table and took a battered old hat from the oldest man there and placed it onto the stool. Harry watched with baited breath to see what the hat would do. It must turn into something, or maybe that was for them to do. Perhaps that was the test.

Just when Harry was about to lose patience, the hat straightened up, seemingly holding itself erect. A mouth seemed to form in it, and it coughed a little. And then it began to sing.

  You may not understand,

  My reasons (though they’re true),

  Your merry troupe I must disband,

  And dissever all of you.

  Though I hate I must divide,

  My job need still be done,

  You’ll have a place you may reside,

  A home for everyone.

  It began with just the four,

  An honest dream for them,

  And now their school does soar,

  Amongst the best, a gem.

  First came brave Gryffindor,

  I’ll take those of courage, said he,

  Those who dare, with great nerve,

  And a sense of chivalry.

  Then came sly Slytherin,

  He said I’ll take those of ambition,

  Who can think for themselves,

  A true tactician.

  Next came wise Ravenclaw,

  Her choices, those with wit and brains,

  Those of creativity and wisdom,

  A legacy that still remains.

  And finally dear Hufflepuff,

  Chose those loyal and just and true,

  Those hard-working and honest,

  And taught them all she knew.

  They could not help but wonder,

  How to sort once they were gone,

  Yet thanks to a small blunder,

  In me this hat, they do live on.

  So set me down upon your head,

  I know where you belong,

  To sort you is my duty,

  I pray I won’t be wrong!

 Harry blinked at the voice that came from the hat, his mind quickly running through the possibilities of what it had said. It seemed like they just had to put the thing on their heads, and it would say the name of a House. However his speculation time was cut short as Professor McGonagall stepped forward. With a wave of her wand a roll of parchment flew from her pocket and unfurled in the air in front of her.

“When I call your name you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted. Abbot, Hannah!” She called the name out loud enough for the entire hall to hear.

The girl at the front of the queue stepped forward, her blonde pigtails swinging in front of her blushing red face. She stumbled a little as she made her way to the stool, and lifted the hat to her head.

“Sit down first dear,” Professor McGonagall said in an undertone. “It can take something out of you if you’re not careful.” The girl looked up at the older woman with wide eyes but sat before putting the hat on. A moment’s pause-

“HUFFLEPUFF!” shouted the hat. The second table from the door, who wore yellow ties all cheered loudly. Hannah removed the hat and hurriedly headed over to the table. Some older students moved to make room for her and she sat down happily. Meanwhile, Professor McGonagall was peering at the list again.

“Bones, Susan!”

“HUFFLEPUFF!” The hat shouted again, more students moving out of the way so the two young girls could sit with each other.

Boot, Terry and Brocklehurst, Mandy went to Ravenclaw, the other central table, to the left of the Hufflepuff table. The students there wore blue ties.

Brown, Lavender was the first Gryffindor, and the table nearest the door managed to cheer louder than the other two tables combined, despite having roughly the same number of students. They all wore red ties.

Bullstrode, Millicent was a strapping girl, a full head taller than Harry and the first to become a member of Slytherin House. They were the furthest from the door, which Harry approved of and all wore green ties. As Harry watched Millicent, he noticed her tie shimmer and change colour as she walked over to the table, changing to match that of her newfound housemates.

Harry’s mind glazed over as the others in front of him were sorted, only watching familiar faces as they out the hat on. Hermione Granger, the bushy-haired girl he had shared a boat with wore the hat for a minute or two, and made odd faces while she did so. Eventually, the hat called out “RAVENCLAW!” and she went to sit down.

Neville, the round-faced boy who’d also shared their boat was sorted to Gryffindor. Harry privately wondered how such a spineless boy could go to ‘the house of the brave’.

The hat barely had to touch Draco’s platinum blond head before it announced, “SLYTHERIN!” Draco had smirked and sauntered to the far table. Harry noticed that a few boys moved out of the way for him to sit next to Marcus Flint.

A pair of Indian twins by the name of Patil were in tears as they were separated into Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, and then all too soon…

“Potter, Harry!” The room quieted at this, before a loud buzz of conversation followed.

“Harry Potter?”


“Is it really him?”

“He defeated You-Know-Who!”

Harry held his head high and kept an even pace as he walked over to the stool. He lifted the hat above his head, and then firmly pulled it down.

“Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “You’re difficult, very difficult. Parents both Gryffindors, and you have the courage to go there. But you could be very loyal too, if you had someone worthy of your loyalty… Then again, you have a fine mind to boot, could swing it for Ravenclaw. A nice thirst to prove yourself too, I see. How about Gr-”

“No!” Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought hard. “No! Not there! I want to be in Slytherin! Put me in Slytherin!” He didn’t know if his controlling-voice would work in his thoughts, but it was worth a try at the very least. The hat chuckled.

“That won’t work on me, but you might just be right, Mr Potter.” It laughed again, a throaty sound. “Nobody has ever tried to influence me like that before… Here we go then…”

“SLYTHERIN!” Harry dimly heard it roar out. He stood and lifted the hat off to raucous cheering from the Slytherin table and stunned silence from the rest of the school. Even the teachers at the head table seemed frozen. Harry walked stiffly over to the Slytherin table, where, at a nod from Marcus Flint, yet another older boy moved down the table to let Harry sit next to Draco. Marcus leaned across and shook Harry’s hand thoroughly, a mildly apologetic smile on his face.

“My apologies for my behaviour on the train, I must admit I didn’t think you’d end up here. Call me Marcus,” he kept a semblance of his smile on his face through the entire speech, which Harry found mildly disturbing. “Welcome to Slytherin…” Marcus trailed off expectantly.

“I’m glad to be here, Marcus. Call me Harry,” he offered graciously, although being careful to extend the sentiment to all of the others gathered around the table too.

Harry looked back up to the dais with the high table as a short girl was sorted into Slytherin. None of the older boys around the table moved so she could sit, and she carried on down the table to sit next to a pug-faced girl that Harry remembered was called Pansy.

Harry turned away from the newest Slytherin recruit and ran his eyes across the teachers seated at the high table. At the end nearest the door sat Hagrid and a few places down from him sat the nervy Professor Quirrell. A man who looked older than anybody Harry had ever met sat in the centre of the table. Draco followed his gaze and leaned over to whisper to Harry.

“That’s Dumbledore, the headmaster. Barmy old coot, my father calls him. He was a Gryffindor.” Both Harry and Draco’s faces twisted into sneers at that, and they both looked up again to see Turpin, Lisa sorted to Ravenclaw. Marcus looked curiously at Harry and then leaned in towards them.

“Did you have some trouble on the train?” He asked. “Your nose looks…” Marcus trailed off uncertainly.

“Like it’s been broken?” Harry supplied helpfully. “It probably has.” Marcus narrowed his eyes, as did the other males around him.

“Who?” he bit out through his clenched jaw.

“Weasley. First year Weasley.” Draco interjected. “He just about to be sorted now. Gryffindor for sure.” The others nodded speculatively.

“There’s not been a Weasley that wasn’t a Gryffindor.” One commented as the Sorting Hat proved them right.

“We’ll see to him for you, Harry.” Marcus said solemnly. “You’re one of us now. We protect our own.” The other boys around him nodded, as did several of the girls that sat there too. They all cheered as the final first year, Zabini, Blaise, was sorted into Slytherin. Professor McGonagall flicked her wand and the scroll vanished. Another wave of the wand and the hat and stool vanished, too.

The whole school fell silent as Dumbledore got to his feet. He wore a large smile that filled his entire face, and his arms were wide open exposing the lurid purple robe he wore.

“Welcome all of you to Hogwarts!” he called out cheerfully. “To all of our new students, and to all of our returning students, welcome to school! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words; Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” With that he sat down. Three quarters of the school cheered and clapped. Harry’s quarter, the Slytherin quarter seemed to raise an eyebrow as one.

“He’s crazy,” Harry said almost disbelievingly. “Completely crazy.” The other students around him nodded glumly before helping themselves to the food that had miraculously appeared on the golden platters in front of them.

Harry had to struggle to stop his mouth from watering as he stared at the dishes on the table. There was so much food, and so varied too! He saw roast chicken, sausages, shepherd’s pie, bowls full of colourful vegetables, potatoes in every way one could think of, and oddly, a bowl of mint humbugs.

Harry took in a deep breath of the many smells that assailed him, feeling better fed from that breath than in the previous ten years that he had been living with the Dursleys. Harry carefully took small portions of some of the foods he knew he liked to eat and slowly chewed his meal. The goblet next to him had been filled with an orange coloured juice, which Draco told him was pumpkin.

It seemed like an age to Harry before the food disappeared from the tables. He had barely managed to eat a few forkfuls of the rich fare, before feeling full. Harry spent a fair amount of time talking to the other students around the table. A sandy haired boy called Peregrine talked him through most of the lessons at the school, and Lucian Bole told him about all of the teachers.

Thankfully though, the food did vanish and all heads turned expectantly to the head table, where the headmaster was already standing.

“Now we’re all happily fed and watered, I’d just like to give you a few start of term notices…” The Headmaster began, but a low buzz of conversation sprung up at the Slytherin table.

“No point listening to the twat,” Marcus told Harry and Draco in an undertone. “He says the same rubbish every year. I’ll tell you what you need to go. Forbidden Forest is a bad idea, so is the third floor corridor, according to the prefects. If you have anything dangerous, or fun, hide it well.” He paused to think for a moment. “Oh, and the Head Boy this year is a Slytherin - Terrence Higgs, over here.” He pointed at a tall, handsome boy with a badge on his chest. “Avoid Dumbledore, if you can. That’s about it.”

“And if you want anything Quidditch related, go to Marcus,” a boy Harry didn’t know spoke up. Marcus threw his chest out, proudly showing off the badge on his chest that proclaimed him to be a ‘Quidditch Captain’. Harry made a mental note to find out what on earth Quidditch was, and why it needed a Captain.

They stopped speaking for a moment, as a gesture was relayed down the table. Harry surmised it meant that the speech was ending, as quiet resumed, and they could hear the last sentence or two of the Headmaster’s words.

“Thank you for listening to an old man who likes to hear himself speak. I wish you all a good year here at Hogwarts, please follow your Prefects to your Houses, and GOODNIGHT!” He roared the last word out as most of the school had stood and began to exit the hall.

Slytherin had, for the most part, stayed seated. Only after a good portion of the rest of the school left did the Slytherin Prefects rise to their feet.

“You take the first-years with Flint, Montague,” a strange boy called out. “The rest of you split up. One from each year takes point, one takes tail. Seventh years split the same way! First-years gather round Flint, (Raise your arm man!), you’ll take centre!” Harry and Draco stuck close to the elder boy, barely having to move to stand next to him.

“First year Slytherin’s!” Marcus roared. “Stick close to me!” After waiting a minute for any stragglers, they set off, following behind the rest of their house. Draco and Harry fell slightly behind, their attention stolen by a portrait of rowdy monks drinking some kind of ale.

“So you’re Harry Potter,” a voice from behind them made both boys spin around to face two identical red headed twins. Harry recognised them as belonging to the raggedy-family, which would make them Weasleys.

“How the mighty have fallen,” the other one said. “Such a pity, sorted into Slytherin and,”

“With a pet Malfoy to boot.” The finishing of each other’s sentences was beginning to get on Harry’s nerves. “We heard you met our brother,”

“On the train. I don’t think you,”

“Got on very well, did you?”

“Your brother is an ass.” Harry cut in stepping forwards towards the two twins. “Why don’t you ask him what actually happened on the train? I get the feeling he gave you an altered version of events.”

“Hey you!”

“Leave our brother out of this!” They both pulled their wands simultaneously, and Harry winced at the flash of blue light, expecting something painful but-

Protego!” Called a deep voice, and a Slytherin boy stepped forwards, pushing Harry behind him as he did so. “I don’t think you two want to know how many curses I know, do you? Run, Weasleys. Run.” The two redheads shared a wide-eyed glance, before retreating up the stairs, muttering mutinously. The boy turned to them, and Harry could see that it was the boy who had given instructions in the Great Hall, at the end of the feast. “Are you two okay? Marcus noticed you were missing, so I came back to find you. What did you do to piss off the Gryffindors already?” He asked.

“I refused to go sit with some on the train.” Harry explained. “Their brother asked me, but I turned him down.”

“Bloody typical,” the boy said. “Stupid Gryffindors, don’t know how to take no for an answer, do they? I’m Terrence, by the way. Terrence Higgs, I’m Head Boy this year, so if they give you anymore trouble just come to me, okay?” Harry and Draco nodded enthusiastically, and Terry gave them a sly side wards grin. “Although, if you went to Marcus for help, he wouldn’t be limited to dealing with Professors and not breaking the rules, if you catch my drift. Anyway, we’ve got to get you pair to the common room, follow me.”

Terrence walked more slowly than Marcus had, and took a little time to talk about some of the paintings and Hogwarts in general.

“Seeing as you two are missing Professor Snape’s ‘new year’ speech, I’ll fill you in a little,” he said. “It won’t sound half as good, but you’ll get the gist of things.

“You should know that you’ve been Sorted into the least liked House, but we’re the best. We’ve won the House cup, and the Quidditch cup, six years running, and I’ll be damned if we won’t win them again this year, though hopefully we’ll find a decent Seeker. That’s been me for the last few years, but because I’m Head Boy I’m not allowed to play again.

“The other Houses aren’t too fond of us, though, so we have to keep things together, to keep everyone safe. Nobody under third year walks alone, and only then if you’re a good duellist. If you see a Slytherin who’s in trouble, go to them. Even if you’re no good at anything, there’s safety in numbers. The more of us there are, the less likely it is that anything will happen. Also, we don’t show any weaknesses to the other Houses, so basically don’t air your dirty laundry in public. If you argue with somebody, do it in the common room, or in the dorms, but when you leave Slytherin territory, you look as if you’re best friends, no matter what.

“You learn a lot more in Slytherin House than in a lot of the other Houses, and we tend to have a lot more fun, too.” Terrence stopped walking abruptly as they reached a dead end. “This is the entrance to the common room. Today’s password is Schlange, which means snake in German, I think.” As he said the password, the wall in front of them split into two, and opened just wide enough for one person to pass through.

Terrence walked through the gap easily, Harry and Draco following through. If Harry had noticed the wall closing behind him, he would have been nervous. As it was he was too busy ogling the common room. It seemed almost green tinted, and was quite dark, but that just reminded him of his cupboard. The dark was the only resemblance, however, as the common room was large and open, with windows all around the edges of the room (although these were currently curtained off) and comfortable furniture of all sorts in the colour green. There were several fireplaces, and plenty of tables for working on.

Harry’s eyes flickered about the many older students gathered around the fireplaces, seeing none of the newly sorted first years. He guessed that it was past their curfew, or that perhaps the older students had removed the younger ones, as he couldn’t see any second or third years either. Draco, having also noticed the lack of younger students, spoke up.

“Perhaps we should be off to our dorms, if you would show us?” he asked carefully, head tilted to the right.

“Not so fast,” Terrence smirked. “You two need to tell me exactly what happened, and why I had to rescue the pair of you. Come sit with me.” Terrence led them over to a group of older boys and girls who sat around the largest fire, smiling and laughing, gesturing for them to sit on a low sofa close to a kissing couple in an armchair. Terrence cuffed the boy on the back of his head. “There’s kids here, save the show for later,” he joked, a wide grin in place across his face.

“Thanks, Tez,” the boy said winking, and ducked behind the girl on his lap when Terrence threw a cushion at his head. “Okay, okay! I surrender!”

“That’s a good little boy, Jacob, do as you’re told.” Terrence said, catching the cushion when the other boy, Jacob, threw it back. Harry and Draco watched the scene with veiled amusement, as did the others sitting with them. “Right, I’d best introduce you all then.” Terrence said finally. “These two are Draco Malfoy, and Harry Potter,” he said, pointing at them. “I think we’ll have to watch out for them, I just caught them dodging hexes on their first day.” Jacob grinned toothily at them, eyes widening at Harry’s name.

“I think I like you already,” he said. “I’m Jacob, Jacob Blishwick. This sweet thing is Marylyn Max.” The girl on his lap gave a simpering smile, and a half wave, before wrapping her arm around Jacob’s neck once more, and pressing her face into his chest. He grinned once more, and wrapped his arms around her tightly. “Although she won’t be a Max for long; we’re to be married after this year.”

“Congratulations,” Harry offered, causing Jacob to bestow him with a wide grin.

“These two are Paulie Gamp and Matteus Prince. Then we have Lucy Patel, Jess Chambers and Camélia Gladiolus. Camélia is our precious flower…” Terrence was stopped in his tracks by a stream of French obscenities, that only Draco of the two first years understood.

“Remarkable language for a lady, don’t you think?” Terrence said to the pair conversationally. “At least I think it is, but I don’t speak French.”

“I do,” Draco revealed. “She says she knows a hex to remove your… parts.” Terrence paled slightly and unconsciously leaned over, protecting himself.

“Then my apologies go to a beautiful woman!” Terrence smiled charmingly. “Along with my prayers for lenience, dear Madamoiselle!” One side of Camélia’s mouth quirked up. “Here’s a lesson for you, anyway, don’t tease Camélia about her name. Both her first and last are flowers, hence my completely inappropriate joke.” He looked sideways at Camélia then whispered conspiratorially to Harry and Draco. “Think I’ve apologised enough yet?”

“Enough of your laughter,” Camélia said in a surprisingly clear accent. “You’ve missed one of us, Terrence darling.” She turned to the fair haired boy who sat on her right hand side. “This is Josef Yaxley.” Josef’s mouth quirked up slightly on one side as he played with his fingers, refusing to look up.

“And that’s all of our introductions, which only leaves me one question. Why, on your first day, are you being chased by Gryffindors?” Terrence looked at them, his head cocked to one side, eyes flashing.

“It’s as I told you,” Harry said smoothly. “Their brother felt that I had wronged him when I wouldn’t sit with him on the train, and I would imagine he made up a story, of sorts.” Terrence smiled slightly.

“You’re a good liar, you know. But I already talked to Marcus. Any reason your nose is more crooked than it was on the train?”

“None-” Harry sighed as Draco shook his head.

“To be fair, Harry, Marcus wasn’t wrong. The Weasley boy punched him, must have broken his nose, I guess.”

“Thanks, Draco.” Harry told him sardonically. “Wanted the whole world to hear that.” Terrence stopped Draco’s retort with a raised palm.

“Did you retaliate?” Harry shook his head. “Good. We can get Gryffindor down a good few points then. I reckon if we get to Snape before his morning coffee, they’ll be down by at least one hundred.” He paused for a second. “One of you will have to do it though, I’m Head Boy, and clearly can’t show favour to any House. Camélia? Use your big eyes on him?” Camélia snorted derisively.

“The day that man notices a woman is the day the world ends.” The other girls laughed with her, while the boys just smirked. “I will take both of you in the morning,” she told Harry and Draco. “Wait for me here, I’ll take you to breakfast, too. And if our dear Head of House only wishes to talk to our celebrity, you and I will have a sweet talk in French, no?” She winked coyly at Draco, who seemed to be trying hard not to blush.

“But for now, I think these two need to be in bed.” Jacob said, a wry smile on his face. “Sit with us at breakfast tomorrow and tell us how it goes. Hey, Terrence, isn’t it in your job description to show ickle-firsties to their dorms?” Terrence grumbled but obligingly stood, gesturing for Harry and Draco to follow him.

He led them across the common room, pausing to smile and wave at a few other students, towards two dark, empty doorways. As they neared them, Harry realised that they were two staircases leading even further downwards. Terrence pointed at the left hand one, and raised an eyebrow.

“That is the girls’ dorms. If you step on the staircase, it will turn into a spring set and forcibly eject you. Of course, you realise the obvious flaw; a levitation charm on yourself, or a broom, will get you down there fairly easily. The right hand staircase is the boys’, ours. Go down as many staircases as you can, and it’s the door with your names on. I’m sure you’ll like the view, that was my favourite room.” Draco looked at Terrence, mystified, but the elder boy refused to elaborate, only gesturing that they should go down. Harry sighed, and led the way down the staircase, rightly recognising the single pair of footsteps behind him as Draco’s.

“Well,” he craned his neck back to look at Draco. “I think I’m gonna like it here. Have you written to your father yet? I’m sure he’ll be glad to know you’re here.” Draco shook his head with a sardonic grin.

“Harry, we’ve been with each other since the sorting, how would I ever have written him?” Both of them laughed a little then, stopping at the daunting sight of the door to their dormitory.

“Here goes,” Harry said, pushing firmly on the door.