The Sorting Hat’s Song
The train pulled up to the station and everyone got off. Ginny and Luna looked around and heard Hagrid’s familiar voice over the shouting and talking of the children.
“Firs’ yers this way! Firs’ yers this way!”
Ginny turned and saw Hagrid at the far end and waved to him. He saw her and waved back.
“’Allo Ginny!” he shouted in greeting then turned back to rounding up the first years.
Ginny walked with Luna towards the waiting carriages and got in. Luna paused for a moment and patted one if the thestrals before she got in.
“Is this seat taken?”
Ginny looked and saw Colin Creevey pointing at the seat next to Ginny. She immediately noticed that he’d grown over the summer and filled out a little more than at the end of last year. His hair has darkened and he’d become a handsome boy.
Ginny smiled and shook her head, “Hello Colin! No please sit. Is Dennis around?”
“My brother is with his girlfriend,” Colin said as he sat down, “Weird little creature.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say about your brother’s girlfriend,” Ginny said.
“I wasn’t talking about her,” Colin muttered.
The trip to the castle was filled with everyone telling each other about their summers. Colin had spent a couple of weeks with his brother at a quidditch camp and was looking forward in trying out for the Gryffindor team. They got out of the carriages and walked up the steps and into the castle.
They proceeded into the Great Hall and immediately looked up. The hall ceiling was enchanted to resemble a clear star-filled night. Ginny looked to the teachers’ table and saw Professor McGonagall sitting at the head of the table talking to a unfamiliar woman to her right. Ginny blinked in surprise and saw Hermione sitting next to that woman talking to Professor Sprout.
What’s she doing here? Ginny thought.
Hermione saw Ginny, smiled and waved at her friend. Ginny waved back and gave Hermione a confused look. Hermione mouthed “later” and returned to talking with Professor Sprout.
They took their seats at the Gryffindor table and continued chatting until the hall doors opened. The hall went quiet as Hagrid led the wide-eyed first years into the hall and up to the stool with the Sorting Hat on it.
He stopped and smiled at Professor McGonagall and waited. Then, to the surprise of the first years, the Sorting Hat began to speak.
Sixteen years have come and gone
Since the evil hath begun
The end of which will soon be here
In the place of secrets there will be fear
Whether good to triumph it must be clear
The past of the present must meet here
The choice of the victor soon be near
As two become one with mortal fear.
The entire hall was silent. Ginny looked at Hermione who had turned and was whispering to the witch between her and McGonagall. Ginny looked at Colin who shrugged his shoulders in confusion. The Sorting Hat was making little sense as usual.
Hagrid then ended the silence by reading the first name.
The sorting went quickly and each house gaining new members. When the sorting was complete, Professor McGonagall stood and addressed the students.
“Greetings to you all. Second through seventh years welcome back to another school year. First years welcome to your first year. Older students please help the first years as much as possible to adjust to their surroundings as you were helped when you first started here.”
“I have several announcements before we begin. First, the Forbidden Forest is off limits to all students as is the third floor corridor. Secondly, Mr. Filch has asked me to inform you that all products from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezey’s are banned. A complete list of which can be found on his office door should you be so inclined to check,” she paused, “Finally, I have the pleasure of introducing our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Kathryn Ryan.”
The woman sitting next to McGonagall smiled and stood. Ginny clapped and looked at the woman. She appeared to be in her mid/late thirties with reddish hair. She was medium height and was slightly built. By all accounts she was an attractive woman as evidenced by the boys reactions around her.
Wait, that’s Hermione’s Auror teacher! Ginny thought. I wonder why they’re here now?
Ginny was sure Hermione would fill her in later. When the clapping died down McGonagall continued.
“Thank you for that warm welcome for Professor Ryan,” she paused and gave Professor Ryan a quick smile, “Finally I have one more announcement. Due to my duties as Headmistress, I will be unable to still function as Head of House for Gryffindor.”
The Gryffindor table moaned collectively. McGonagall smiled at them in sadness, “I know I’ll miss you too. However, Professor Ryan has offered to take over as your Head of House and I know you’ll like her.”
After a brief clapping from the Gryffindor table McGonagall continued, “Well I believe that is all, let’s eat.”
The tables suddenly filled with food. The first years jumped in their seats at the sudden appearance of their dinner. They got an even bigger shock when the house ghosts chose that moment to make their appearance.
Ginny looked up and saw the Gryffindor house ghost approach greeting everyone as he floated by them. He stopped next to Ginny.
“Ah Miss Weasley!” he tipped his hat and managed to take his head with it. It completely freaked out the first year sitting next to Ginny, “Oh I’m sorry,” he apologized to the first year, “I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let me introduce myself. My name is Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington.”
“Just call him Nearly Headless-Nick,” Colin piped up from across the table.
Sir Nicholas gave Colin an angry look and said indignantly, “Sir Nicholas if you must shorten my name,” he looked at the first year, “I am the Gryffindor House Ghost.”
The first year didn’t reply but just sat there wide-eyed.
Sir Nick looked at Ginny, “I get this reaction every year,” he turned back to Ginny, “Again hello Miss. Weasley.”
Ginny laughed at him, “Hello Sir Nicholas. How are you?”
“I feel saddened Miss. Weasley,” he said with a frown, “The Fat Friar and I were commenting that you are the last Weasley to attend Hogwarts. It won’t be the same here without one of your family in attendance.”
Ginny smiled at him, “Thank You Sir Nicholas, but I’m sure I won’t be the last.”
He nodded and his head flopped forward again scaring the first year. He placed his head back on and replied, “Yes, but you and your family have certainly become a fixture in these halls.”
Ginny smiled, “I understand. Thanks again Sir Nicholas.”
The ghost smiled and proceeded down the table greeting students as he past. Ginny finished eating and looked around the hall. The atmosphere was different now that Harry’s year had left. There wasn’t as much anticipation than in years past. She half expected and hoped to see Ron and Harry burst through the doors, out of breath and late for another Welcoming Feast.
This definitely will be a boring last year. She again thought with a slight sigh and sad expression.
The hall was dismissed by McGonagall when they had finished dinner. Ginny and Colin (the other Gryffindor prefect) led the first years to the Gryffindor Common Room. They reached the portrait of The Fat Lady and waited until the first years gathered around.
“Welcome first years!” The Fat Lady exclaimed excitedly, “I’m known as The Fat Lady.”
The first years mumbled a hello to her and Ginny spoke the password, “Crookshanks.”
The portrait opened and Ginny led the group into the crowed common room where Colin’s younger brother Dennis greeted them.
“Professor Ryan should be here shortly,” he said, “I think she just wants to say hi.”
Ginny nodded and quickly gave the first years the orientation of the common room and dormitories. She finished just as the portrait opened and in walked in Professor Ryan and Hermione.
Professor Ryan greeted them with a bright smile, “Greetings all!”
The students greeted her more enthusiastically than they had The Fat Lady.
“As you know I’m Professor Ryan and I’ll be your Head of House,” she paused, “Please feel free to come to me with any problems or questions you may have. My door is always open. Now I’d like to introduce my teaching assistant, which I’m sure some of you may remember, Miss. Hermione Granger.”
The common room erupted with applause and cheering, especially from the seventh years, with Ginny being the loudest by far. Hermione smiled and blushed as she nodded her thanks to the group.
Professor Ryan was laughing at her assistant, “Well I know were I stand,” she chuckled, “Thank you all for your welcome and see you in the morning for breakfast. Good night!”
Hermione whispered to Kathryn, who nodded then left. Ginny remained behind as the crowd cleared. Soon it was just the two of them left.
Hermione gave her friend a hug, “It’s good to see you!”
Ginny smiled and pulled back, “What are you doing here? I thought you’d be training?”
“I am,” Hermione said, “Kathryn’s been assigned here by the Ministry as extra protection. It seemed more natural that she be a teacher and I as her assistant.”
“I’m happy you’re here,” Ginny said, “Can we see each other at lunch or dinner sometimes?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t miss it!” Hermione said before becoming serious, “But you have to promise not to tell anyone who Kathryn and I are.”
“I promise,” Ginny nodded.
“Well you should get some sleep,” Hermione said, “I’m a bit wasted myself.”
The two friends hugged one more time before going their separate ways. Ginny headed to her dorm, changed for bed and laid down. She was asleep soon after.
Ron came down from his room and walked past the living room headed towards the kitchen. He stopped half way down the hallway and backed up. He looked and saw what he thought he’d seen. A grubby Harry Potter, wrapped in his equally dirty cloak, sleeping on the couch.
Ron shook his head slowly, “Harry,” he called out.
His friend didn’t move so Ron raised his voice, “Harry!”
Harry groaned and muttered something un-intelligible, but didn’t wake up. Ron went over to him and started shaking him.
“Harry, wake up!”
Harry’s eyes sprang open and he was on his feet within a second, pointing his wand at Ron. Ron raised his hands as if he were being held up and crossed his eyes as he looked at the wand pointed in his face.
Harry realizing who is was dropped his arm and stepped back, “Blimey Ron! I could have hurt you!”
Ron slowly put his arms down, “No kidding Harry! Who did you think I was? You-know-who?!”
Harry’s breathing returned to normal and he shook his head, “I’m sorry Ron. I didn’t…,” he trailed off.
Ron let out a long breath, “It’s ok mate. I should have thrown a bucket of water on you instead.”
Harry laughed at his friend and put his wand away, “At least I’d be clean,” he said looking at his grubby hands. He ran his hand through his short and perpetually messy hair, “I guess I need a shower. I’ll be back down in a few minutes.”
Ron nodded and watched his friend head to his room and thought to himself that Harry looked very exhausted and almost worn down to nothing. His friend’s movements were mechanical, as if he was programmed. Ron had seen this after Hermione pointed it out to him one night a few weeks ago.
Ron went into the kitchen and found Dobby, standing on a step stool and dancing around singing, cooking breakfast. Dobby had come with Harry they had moved into Grimwauld Place after graduation. Harry paid Dobby ten gallons a week and every Thursday off to be his house-elf, which Dobby was more than satisfied with. Hermione had argued that he should have gotten more, but Dobby would not have it.
“Good morning Dobby.”
Dobby stopped dancing and singing, turned as if he’d been caught doing something bad and smiled at Ron, “Oh goods morning Mr. Weasley. Dobby will be finished cooking soons.”
Ron nodded and stifled a yawn, “Thanks.”
“Dobby does apologies. Dobby is very late in cooking. Dobby will nots do it again.”
“That’s ok Dobby. I don’t mind and neither will Harry,” Ron said trying to put the house-elf at ease.
Dobby let out a small laugh of embarrassment, “Dobby thanks Ronald Weasley most humbly. He most kind to Dobby.”
“No problem,” Ron said and opened The Daily Prophet and began reading. The first several pages were filled with articles about the war and Voldemort. Ron breezed through them, as he would get updates throughout the day at work. He had just started reading the quidditch scores when Harry walked in clean, but still tired.
“Chuddley beat Ireland,” Ron read, “It was a slaughter.”
Harry grunted and sat down. Dobby served breakfast to the two humans and went to clean the kitchen.
Harry and Ron ate in silence for several minutes before Harry asked, “Where ‘Mione?”
Ron looked at Harry in confusion, “She’s at Hogwarts with her teacher.”
Harry looked at Ron and then away thinking. Ron leaned forward and said in a slightly concerned tone, “Remember they’re there as protection? She told us about it before you left.”
Harry’s memory suddenly clicked and Harry nodded, “Thanks. Sorry, I just forgot.”
Ron nodded and began reading again. He would occasionally look up at his friend eating.
“Are you ok mate?” he asked.
Harry looked up and nodded, “Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”
“You seem a little distracted.”
Harry sighed, “A little I suppose.”
“No luck finding the last of You-know-who’s horcruxes?”
Harry shook his head and dropped the fork on his plate, “None. I would have though I’d have found them all by now, but I haven’t.”
“Well be patient mate. I’m sure you will,” Ron said and stood, “Well I’m off.”
“Say hi to your dad for me,” Harry said, “Oh sorry for missing lunch the other day.”
“That’s ok,” Ron said, “Mum was sorry you couldn’t come. I think she’s worried about you.”
Harry nodded and smiled. Mrs. Weasley was the mother he’d never had. He was sorry he’d canceled on her.
“Oh and Ginny says hi by the way. We saw her as well. She’s started her last year,” Ron said grabbing his bag.
Harry’s stomach lurched. He’d had forgotten this was Ginny’s final year, “How is she?”
“Ok I guess,” Ron said, “I think she missed not seeing you.”
Ron turned and saw Harry’s head down. He knew it had broken Harry’s heart to break-up with Ginny after Dumbledore’s death. Ron hoped that Harry would someday ask his sister out again. After all… the fact that all seven brothers (Percy included) agreed on one guy that met their approval as their only sister’s boyfriend was equivalent to world peace being declared.
“Will you be home later?” Ron asked as he grabbed the doorknob.
Harry shrugged, “Kingsley and I are head to Edinburgh, so maybe.”
Ron nodded, “Well I’ll see you then,” and with that was out the door.
His last vision was Harry sitting, lost in thought.