First time

The Sorting Ceremony

Chapter 2

The Sorting ceremony

Professor McGonagall returned a few minutes later, and led the students through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall for the Sorting Ceremony. The rest of the students were already there, seated at the four house tables. In the front of the Hall was another table, where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall motioned for the students to stop a few feet away from the teachers’ table, and then placed a high stool in front of them. On it she laid a battered-looking pointed hat.

Immediately, the hat began to sing. But Elizabeth wasn’t listening – she seemed more interested in the teachers. She looked at every one of them thoughtfully, wondering what they were like and what they taught. Her gaze stopped on a man dressed all in black. His long, slightly greasy hair was also black, and so were his eyes. She was just wondering whether he taught Defence Against the Dark Arts when she realized the hat had stopped singing and that it was now Professor McGonagall who was talking.

“When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted,” she was saying. “Abbott, Hannah!”

Elizabeth watched the sorting with interest. She noticed the hat had taken quite a long time before finally placing Harry Potter in Gryffindor.

When Jane’s name was called, Elizabeth gave her a smile and a reassuring look. The hat only thought for a few seconds, and then placed Jane in Ravenclaw.

Now it was Elizabeth’s turn. Slowly, she made her way towards the stool, taking a deep breath before sitting down and putting the hat on. Suddenly, she was surrounded by blackness, and a tiny voice whispered in her ear: “Well, well, well, I wonder what is going on this year? You’re even harder to place than that Potter boy ... in fact, I could put you in any of the four houses. You’re certainly brave enough to be a Gryffindor, clever enough for a Ravenclaw, loyal enough to become a Hufflepuff, and even the Slytherins would nothing but gain if I sorted you into their house. Hmmm, I hate to admit it, but this is probably the first time in my career as a Sorting Hat that I could use some help. Is there any house you’d prefer to the rest?”

“Ravenclaw?” Elizabeth tried to sound convincing, but failed.

“You don’t sound very sure,” the hat remarked. “You can still change your mind, you know.”

“No, really, make it Ravenclaw,” Elizabeth said, more decidedly this time.

“O.K. then, as you wish... RAVENCLAW!”

The Ravenclaw table erupted in cheers as the hat shouted the last word for everyone to hear. Elizabeth let out a sigh of relief and went to sit next to Jane.

“I’m glad we’re together,” she told her.

“Yeah, so am I,” answered Jane, inspecting the empty golden plate that was in front of her.

Just then, the last student was sorted, and Professor McGonagall took the hat and the stool away. Then the Headmaster, a very old wizard with long, silvery hair and beard, a crooked nose, and half-moon glasses, rose from his seat.

“Grandmother said that Albus Dumbledore is the best Headmaster Hogwarts has ever had,” whispered Elizabeth. “She used to be a teacher here, so I suppose she should know. Anyway...” She wanted to say more, but as Dumbledore was already speaking, she decided to tell Jane later.

“Welcome!” he was saying. “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!”

“I think I should learn not to take Grandma’s opinion too seriously,” Elizabeth managed to say before both she and Jane burst out laughing. When they’d finally stopped, they noticed that the table was now full of food ... and it all looked delicious.

“I was going to go on a diet while here ... but guess I’ll have to think again,” wailed Jane, and stuffed her plate with a bit of everything.

After dinner, the Headmaster had another little speech, mostly concerning the out-of-bounds areas – the third-floor corridor and the Forest in the school grounds. Then they all sang the school song – everyone at their own favourite tune. Elizabeth noticed that most teachers didn’t quite enjoy this, especially the black-haired teacher’s expression had become rather sour.

After this, it was time to go to bed. Elizabeth and Jane were so tired they could hardly keep their eyes open. So they just blindly followed the Ravenclaw Prefect, a girl called Penelope Clearwater, up the stairs, along the corridors and through secret passageways to the Ravenclaw common room. It was hidden behind the portrait of a slim lady in a beautiful purple dress.

“Hello, Violet,” said Penelope to the lady. Then she turned to the bunch of little Ravenclaws and called: “Everyone – pay attention! The password to get into the common room is – VIOLETS. Everyone got that?”

As she said the password, the portrait swung open, revealing a hole. She climbed through it, followed by the other students. As soon as they were all inside, the portrait snapped back into place.

“Welcome to the Ravenclaw common room!” announced Penelope with pride, making a dramatic pause.

The room looked cozy and comfortable – there was a huge fireplace and a number of soft couches and armchairs.

When she thought she’d achieved the desired effect, Penelope continued: “Boys! To find your dormitories, follow the stairs on the right. Girls – your dormitories are on the left. You’ll find that your luggage has already been brought up.”

Elizabeth and Jane, along with the rest of the girls, obediently walked up the stairs on the left side. Their dormitory turned out to be a round room which Elizabeth and Jane shared with three other girls. Elizabeth wanted to at least find out what their names were, but she realized she was too tired to do anything except undress, so she decided to leave it until morning. She’d barely wished Jane good night when her eyes started closing, and seconds later, she was fast asleep.
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