Chapter 5 - Slytherin and Gryffindor
The entire Slytherin fourth-years went down to the greenhouses to have Herbology with Professor Longbottom. Unfortunately, they were sharing it with the Gryffindors.
“All right, then! Fourth-years, this way!” Professor Longbottom said in a shrill voice. He led them to one of the greenhouses. Lucas got jeered and jabbed at while they were doing so. Evidently, enmity was still very high between Gryffindor and Lucas.
In the greenhouse, Professor Longbottom introduced them to a new plant. “This, class,” he continued, “is an ignis plant. Very dangerous. That’s why I’ve got these gloves for you. Dragon hide. Now, as we need the leaves of these ignis plants, you’re going to have to be careful.” he stepped aside and revealed a small, stumpy plant. It looked like the stump of a tree trunk, except it had a face and was grimacing horribly. It was shaped like a flame and made crackling noises when it breathed out.
Professor Longbottom pulled on his gloves. “Now, class, what you want to do is to pluck out a big bunch as quickly as you can. Watch.” he grabbed some leaves and pulled. The leaves came out faster that you could say ‘A peanut butter sandwich’, but the stump screamed horribly and then, to everyone’s surprise, it breathed out fire through its mouth. “NOW, YOU HAVE TO COVER ITS MOUTH! IT WON’T HARM YOU! THESE ARE DRAGON HIDE!” Longbottom yelled over the screams and shouts of everyone, demonstrating what he had said. “AFTER A WHILE, IT WILL STOP!” Longbottom pulled away his hands and the ignis plant really had stopped breathing fire.
“Now, every part of the ignis plant is horribly hot, so I recommend you not try to be a smart aleck and remove your gloves. When you pluck a bunch of leaves, place them in the fireproof container you have. Begin!” Professor Longbottom commanded.
Lucas turned to his plant, but his mind was not on it, it was on what had happened earlier, during breakfast, in the Great Hall…
The Gryffindors had not forgiven Lucas quite yet, so they bullied him as hard as they could, among some of them: Dunking his head in cereal, untying his shoelaces so he fell, calling him names, poking and prodding him. His need to become famous and known grew stronger every time they bullied him.
But deep down, he knew that he was right, he knew that he had not done anything at all, it was only because he was a Slytherin, if he had been a Ravenclaw, a Gryffindor or even a Hufflepuff, it would have been dismissed as a simple prank. It was prejudice, against Slytherin, and why did the Sorting Hat have to place him there, he was rightfully a Gryffindor, then he would not have had to suffer this torture…
Just as he was going through this internal rant of his, he dropped a leaf he was holding, and it dropped onto the wooden table he was working at, and it burned a hole in it. It was only after Professor Longbottom yelled, “BLAKE!” that he woke up and retrieved the leaf (which had gone through the table by then).
Lucas lay in his room, hands behind his head, thinking of plans to eradicate Gryffindor. It was late at night, and he remembered the Sorting Hat, and it had caused all this trouble to him, and he hated it hated it HATED IT.
With his anger coursing through him he got up, and then hardly knowing what he was doing, he got up and stormed out of the dungeons. He wanted to find the Sorting Hat and ask him why it had placed him Slytherin. But the Sorting Hat was kept in the Headmistress’s office, and how was he going to get in there?
Lucas kept on walking. He made his way steadily to the Headmistress’s office, deciding to figure out how to get in once he got there. As he climbed the staircase that was beside the office, he heard a flurried movement.
He leant against the wall, suddenly aware of the fact that he was horribly exposed. His heart thumped and he looked out, seeing who was there.
It was McGonagall. She was locking the office, as usual, then, suddenly, she paused and seemed to be considering something. She stooped down, as if picking up something, and then got up and walked off.
Fortunately for Lucas, she was headed in the opposite direction, but she kept on walking for ages, and Lucas had to wait a long time before he was sure she was gone. Then, he crept forward and tried to slip past the gargoyle. Surprisingly, there was a crack between the gargoyle and the wall, and it was just big enough for him to slip through. The gargoyle seemed unaware of this.
Lucas climbed the staircase and headed for the office. He opened the double doors with a creak and walked inside, trying to make as little of noise as possible so as to not wake the portrait. The Sorting Hat lay on a shelf.
He took it off, but it woke with a start. “WHO ARE YOU!” it yelled.
“Shush!” Lucas commanded it. “Shush or I’ll set you on fire!”
The Hat sneered at him. “Oh you,” it said, “you’re the one that pulled off the prank. Why, I remember once –”
“Look,” Lucas said, shaking the Hat, “I need you to tell me why I got placed into Slytherin!”
The Hat put on a thoughtful look. “Ah, you. You were a tough choice, you were.
“The reason I placed you inside Slytherin was because I saw your potential. You could become great, I saw. In fact, you were like Harry Potter himself. But deeper inside you, I saw, indecision. The exact house you needed to guide you to greatness because of this indecision was Slytherin.”
“But why wasn’t I placed inside Gryffindor?”
“Gryffindor couldn’t help you. You already had the courage, the bravery. Sneaking up here, that was true bravery.”
“But why Slytherin?”
“I told you. My job is to decide where students go best. I saw that cunning mind of yours. That plan of the stink bombs? Quite impressive, actually. Slytherin is helping you on the way to greatness. Come, put me over your head and let me look into you.”
Lucas did as the Hat bid. He felt the Hat move over him, deciding. It said, “Hmm. You have changed. You have realised that your plans aren’t perfection, that nothing is perfect. But I still feel you belong in Slytherin.
“Not all Slytherins are bad, you know. If you use that cunning mind of yours to good, you would do good. I can tell you that.” The Hat continued. Lucas took off the Hat. There were tears in his eyes.
“You think I can do good?” Lucas asked in a quavering voice.
The Hat nodded. Or at least it tried to.
Lucas set it back on its shelf. “Thanks,” he whispered. “I will.” And then he ran off.
When Lucas had exited the room, a figure came inside. In a hopeful voice it spoke, “Did all go well?”
The Hat nodded for the second time.
The figure smiled. “You did well tonight, Hat. I must say, you did what I couldn’t.”