The Sorting Ceremony
A/N: Hello! Welcome to After All This Time. If you know me personally, yes. I write under a pen name. :) This is a Harry Potter AU. There will be similar/the same events and circumstances from the real HP world, but some have been flipped around to fit the story of this world. Please do not come for me for this. Just enjoy the Draco smut and romance. That being said, this is 18+ ONLY!! Thank you for being here, and enjoy the story. :)
Year one. As a 7th year. Yeah, no. This was definitely going to be hell. You looked around at all the first years surrounding you. At 18 years old, you towered over the 11 and 12 year old first years. You shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. You wished Hogwarts didn’t make such a big spectacle of sorting. A whole ass hat that talks to you? You suppose that it’s not much weirder than carvings talking to you. At least at Ilvermorny, your sorting was private.
You took a deep breath, trying to calm your nerves. All the first years around you were talking excitedly and full of the hope of all the possibilities ahead of them. Most of them were sweet. No weird looks even though it was obvious you were much older. Some of them probably made the assumption you were a prefect. After several long and grueling minutes, a tall and poised older woman stepped gracefully through the enormous double doors. You assumed this was Professor McGonagall whom you’d read about before. She was powerful and inspirational. You were ecstatic to learn under her.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said McGonagall with enthusiasm and electricity. She locked eyes on you almost immediately, and there was something warm in her gaze. Something gentle and kind. She stayed focused on you as she continued. “In a moment, I will lead you through these doors and into the great hall to begin the sorting ceremony. Please, do not be nervous. The sorting hat knows best. There are four houses. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.” Some nervous and some excited giggles escaped the mouths of all the younger kids around you.
And with that, the large stone doors that towered over us like giants reopened to the biggest hall you had ever seen. Four rows of extremely long tables going from one end to another with another long table at the end facing all of the students. Every single head turned expectantly at all the first years, but it felt as if every pair of eyes was on you. You could hear the the whispers now. “Who is she?” “What kind of a first year is that tall?” “What’s her story?” In reality, the hall was dead silent. You didn’t know which would be worse. The thick silence or the dense whispers? You didn’t want to think of it any longer.
Eyes forward. Head high. Don’t let them think you have anything to hide. You could answer all their questions in due time. On your time.
The walk down to the front of the great hall seemed to last for hours, but you know you were there probably in a matter of seconds. One by one students were called up and quickly and easily sorted into their houses. A wave of dread washed over you. You weren’t sure why you were so nervous.
Then it happened. Your name was called, and all the blood drained from your face. Dead silence again, and all eyes on you again. You inhaled deeply, holding it for just a moment before letting it go as you strode forward. Once again, you were greeted by such a warm smile from McGonagall, who held the hat in her hands.
Quick and easy. Everyone has been quick and easy. It will be the same for you. You sat down on the stool in front of you, and your mouth went completely dry as you looked upon the faces of everyone in the Great Hall. Acid bubbled up in your throat, and you thought you might vomit all over the poor kids.
A deep but calming voice reached your ears before the hat even touched your head. “Ah, yes. Interesting.” Interesting? What the hell was interesting? Your palms started to sweat, and you wondered if your time here would be short. If anyone knew why you transferred, you’d be bullied and ridiculed.
“A bright young witch you are. A very successful education at Ilvermorny, you did have.” And cue the whispers. They flooded your senses as you watched in panic at all the students leaning in to each other to make their comments about what the hat had said.
“You excelled in all your classes. Intelligent and studious no doubt. But you took chances. Risks. You wanted to try new spells, new potions, and reach new heights.” What the hell was it on about? You wondered curiously; it seemed each descriptor could probably put you into any house. You groaned internally. Truth be told, you weren’t sure where you wanted to be placed, but you did know one thing for sure: You did not want to be placed in Slytherin with the reputation it had.
As if the hat could read your thoughts, it said, “Hm, more interesting indeed. You push away ideas that could make your greatness soar even more.” More internal groaning. Why was this taking so long? Were you really that complicated?
“Such impatience. Yes. That tells me much more. Better be, GRYFFINDOR!”
Cheers and applause erupted in the Great Hall, and every single Gryffindor stood up to welcome you to the table. As you quickly sauntered over to your peers, you sat next to a tall boy with a nice face. His dark skin was golden and smooth. Over all the noise, he leaned in with a hand extended and introduced himself. “Hi! Dean Thomas. Welcome to Gryffindor. That there is Seamus”. He pointed across the table to a smaller white boy with the largest grin you had ever seen. His hair was gently tousled around, and it seemed a bit unkempt. Dean leaned back in to say, “Careful ’round him if you ever have potions. Has a bit of nasty luck getting things right.” He then mimed an explosion and made exaggerated noises. Seamus threw a piece of bread at his face. It was the first time you had laughed in months. You thought to yourself that maybe you could make a home of this place yet.
The rest of the first years were sorted, and Dumbledore stood up and silenced everyone with a simple hand wave. He spoke peacefully but thunderously. He could command a room so effortlessly. It was clear the school had his respect.
He looked majestic and mysterious, but comforting. His long white hair reached well beyond his shoulders, and his beard fell down close to his belly. His half moon glasses sat further down his nose than people normally wore glasses. His voice was soothing underneath its thunderous tone.
“Welcome, everyone, to another year at Hogwarts. It is with great sadness that I must begin another year’s speech with warning and caution. As you all know, Voldemort is still at large.” Whispers erupted once again. Fear clung thick to the air at just the name. Even in America you knew the powerful dark wizard was nothing to take lightly.
Dumbledore continued with an unperturbed demeanor. “We have every safety protocol in place, and we are continuing to maintain constant contact with members of the Ministry about his whereabouts. To ensure student safety, trips to Hogsmeade without professor escorts are strictly forbidden, as is entrance to the Forbidden Forest. Like last year, there will be a strict curfew on school grounds of 9pm.” At the sound of this, there were a few snickers from the Slytherin table across the way.
Two stocky brunette boys laughed and nudged a slender blonde boy. He didn’t laugh with them. You watched him for a moment, curious about his presence. He sulked in place with his chin resting in his hand. He looked tired. So tired. Almost as if his mind was completely elsewhere. You wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall in his brain. You didn’t know why you were so transfixed on him. His hair was so perfectly parted but tousled and messy. His jawline was sharp and his lips pursed in thought.
No. Stop it.
You couldn’t get caught up in a romance. Not after...No. You didn’t deserve it. Focus on yourself. Focus on your studies. Get out and become someone.
Dumbledore rambled on for some time about the power of positivity, love, and friendship. You didn’t catch much of it, as you were trying hard to process everything around you. And then you heard Dumbledore say your name.
You froze in place. Why was he saying your name? All eyes were back on you. Again. Blood rushed to your cheeks from dire embarrassment. This time, you were listening to what Dumbledore had to say.
“It is not common to have transfer students, but we have made an exception this year. She was top of her class at Ilvermorny, and I know she will make a great addition to Hogwarts. And with times being as dark as they have been, we have decided to do something special this year.” You swallowed hard. Where was he going with this, and what did it have to do with you?
“We will be holding another Yule Ball this year. However, it will only consist of students from Hogwarts as is it too unsafe for travelers to come through. In these most uncertain and desolate times, we must remember the power we have in love and in each other. And now, let the feast begin.”
You were sure that it would just be awkward silence, but instead, everyone burst into more applause, and the whole mood switched when an enormous feast appeared right before your eyes. Okay. That was cool. Back at Ilvermorny, the food was usually already there.
As soon as Dumbledore finished his speech, Dean and Seamus turned their attention back to you. Seamus started first. “So, heard ye were in Wampus back at Ilvermorny. What the feck is a Wampus anywho?” His thick Irish accent made you smile. You weren’t used to this. You were used to whiny american boys.
You smiled back cooly and said, “It’s like...a cat? Sort of. It honors and favors warriors.” Dean chimed in with, “Ah, that makes sense you’d be placed in Gryffindor then. Well let me tell ya, you were sorted into the right house. We’ve got all the best mates.”
Dean cupped his hands around his mouth to project his voice down the table some. “Oy! Neville, Ginny! Over here!” A tall, hunched boy shuffled over, the one you assumed to be Neville. He had short, brown hair that was lightly parted to the side. He pretty unassuming, but he was still handsome. He seemed extremely shy. He waved a tiny and awkward hand in your direction before sitting down and saying hello. The girl you assumed was Ginny was standing at her part of the table still, leaning down and chatting with some other girls. After she finished up, she meandered over with a light breeze to her. She seemed so cool, but not in the “I’m too cool for you” way. She had fire orange hair that was stick straight but still beautiful. While she wasn’t necessarily peppy, she was miles more confident than Neville. Her smile brightened the whole place, and you felt at home just looking at her. She plopped down next to Neville with a certain cheerfulness.
“Gang’s all here I guess,” said Ginny.
“Hi, it’s good to meet you. Good to meet all of you. I was scared I’d be eating all alone,” you replied.
Ginny took your hand and said, “Nonsense! Truth be told, the whole gang isn’t here, so it’s nice to have backups.” You stared at her for a hard moment feeling a little hurt. You didn’t want to intrude or be anyone’s backup. Ginny’s face suddenly went white, and she reached for your hands again quickly to try and reassure you. “Oh my gosh, no, I’m so sorry. It was a joke that clearly didn’t land. We’re always joking and teasing within our group. It’s like second nature. We’re always happy to expand the circle. I’m so glad you’re here. I promise, you are so welcome here.”
You looked into her sapphire blue eyes and could tell she was sincere. You squeezed her hands to let her know that you understood, and you went back to eating. You looked around at everyone’s faces, and you felt relaxed for the first time in a while. Your cheeks started to hurt from smiling.
“So....this Yule Ball thing. What is it?” you asked. Ginny’s eyes brightened even more some how.
“Oh you’ll love it! It’s normally tradition to host it during the Tri-Wizard tournament. I’m surprised they brought it back. But I suppose Dumbledore is right. It might be just what we need right now. It’s just a big fancy dance. It’ll be fun! We can all go as friends if you want.”
Your smile matched hers, and you replied, “That sounds amazing.”
An hour or so passed and everyone began to shuffle to their respective dorms. You and Ginny walked with linked arms, and as you departed the great hall, you saw his face again. The boy who looked so heavy. So tired. Instinctively you wanted to reach out and embrace him. Just as quickly as you saw him, he disappeared around a corner. You thought that you wouldn’t let it shake your brain too much.
When you got upstairs to the Gryffindor common room, you realized you were too tired to take it all in, and you would examine it all more closely tomorrow. You were sad to find out that Ginny was a year younger than you, so you wouldn’t be sharing a room together, but she came inside to help you unpack some. She really was so sweet. You said your goodnights, and you finally let your head hit the pillow.
You thought deeply about how refreshing your new start felt. You kept replaying your new friends smiling faces over and over. You think the nightmare is over. And then you close your eyes and know that it isn’t.