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abhorsen.

Sorting Ceremony

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juls

The girl took hesitant steps towards the dais, her eyes fixated on the stern professor that held a worn hat in her hands. "Sit, please," she ordered briskly and gestured with a hand at the stool that was beside her. "Yes, m'am," the girl said with a nod. Was she ready for this? She wasn't, but she took the last step up and slid onto the stool. "Indecisive," muttered the Sorting Hat when it hit her blond curls. "You have strong attributes to a few Houses," it muttered on.

This would define her whole life! Her years at Hogwarts would tinged or enhanced by what the Sorting Hat called out, "Time's wasting, my dear," the Sorting Hat continued, looking deeper into the mind of the girl. "Don't feel brave enough for Gryffindor? Not cunning enough for Slytherin? Are you sure on those?" it prompted. "Too much of either for Hufflepuff, you need a challenge..."

 

The girl gulped. Family in both of the first Houses mentioned - she just didn't want to disappoint either side. But, still.... she'd always admired....

 

"Slytherin!" called out the Sorting Hat with her thoughts.   

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Rdeaver

 

There had to be a way to improve this system. Ronnie sidestepped the shuffling line of first years and scooched along the long House table to get to the front, wanting to see for himself if they were truly letting a hat make their curriculum decisions.

 

Apparently, yes. The girl being sorted looked happily complacent, waiting obediently with her legs crossed and her hands folded on her lap. She sent a thumbs up to someone across the room, her head tilted questioningly, her smile nervous.

 

Everything Ronnie refused to be. Not anymore. There wasn’t a person on earth allowed to tell him whether or not he was good enough to breathe. A 50 caliber handgun in the hands of an angry alcoholic had seen to that.

 

“Hufflepuff!” the hat cried out. The girl’s face lit up with joy as a crowd’s welcome rang out in a thunder of pounding feet and shouting housemates. She ran off the stool toward them all and the Headmistress - McGonagall, an important figure at this place... he was going to want to connect with her, see if there was something he could help her with - had to snatch the hat out of the air to keep the new Hufflepuff from absconding with it.

 

“Ronald Deaver!” McGonagall called out, barely glancing down her list.

 

Ronnie. It’s Ronnie. Literally on my birth certificate, he wanted to complain but by the time he got up to the stool the moment had passed. He thanked the headmistress as politely as he could, trying to sound mature for 11 years old. He took the hat from her so she couldn’t place it on his head. He felt young enough, thank you, without getting dressed by her.

 

Not Hufflepuff! He thought as soon as the hat touched his hair.

 

“…Hello,” the hat replied, clearly affronted. Ronnie blinked. Sure, he’d heard it sing, but he didn’t expect it to talk into his brain.

 

“Oh. Uh. Sorry. Hi, how are you?” he replied automatically, trying not to think ‘I have to be polite to a hat?’ loud enough that it could hear. How did telepathic hats work? Why didn’t they give an explanation pamphlet out first, so you could maintain your privacy?

 

When he was done with this, he would convince someone to make a user’s manual. There was a feeling of pressure in his brain, a bit of digging, that was in no way comfortable. He didn’t care who knew about his childhood; it wasn’t personal, it hadn’t been his fault and he’d fought back as much as he could so why not let the hat dig into it? Not his problem. As long as the hat got him where he needed to go. Still, this whole process was in clear need of improvement.

 

“Not Hufflepuff,” he added, in case it’d been missed.

 

No? the hat questioned. You were a Hufflepuff once. Loyal, compassionate, kind. You want the best for everyone you encounter, you want to raise them up, believe in them. You crave a team, a family, generosity and support, and you offer love in spades. You would find all of that in Hufflepuff.

 

“No,” Ronnie answered but couldn’t articulate why. Damn emotions… why would they never just make sense?

 

“You were damaged, I see. Hurt too much… too young. There’s a darkness now. But perhaps… perhaps Hufflepuff could repair you. It would show you love.”

 

“I would hate everything there,” Ronnie replied, wishing the hat could just see. That girl asked for validation, asked if she was acceptable when she was just sitting there. Couldn’t the hat see how terrifying that was? How he’d try to build her up, to get her to stand up, how they’d hate him for it?

 

He’d say the not-happy-but-true things. For her benefit! So she could grow! And she’d grow to hate him.

 

Happy people always did.

 

Ambitious people though… ambitious people could use him. And he’d be helpful and they’d like him and he’d fit in.

 

“Do you have a Silicon Valley House or something here?” he asked, not very hopeful.

 

Can you feel safe without proving your worth?” the hat replied.

 

Ouch. Go for the jugular, ass hat.

 

“Does it matter?” Ronnie asked. He’d prove his worth. This was his chance! His moment to escape, to become relevant and well-known and useful, to have acclaim and security without question.

 

He would be the best wizard they’d ever seen. He’d try spells they’d never thought of. He’d lead his House to glory, however they defined it. He’d be unapologetically excited and hopeful and nothing in the damned Wizarding world would be able to destroy that. Especially not this hat.

 

He would not let himself down. He would not miss this shot. And he would never look back.

 

“Ambition… fueled by love and joy. You will be vulnerable in Slytherin. You could turn hateful, lose touch with yourself and your true motivations and cut yourself off from people. You could lose your way and live a life untouched by true compassion.”

 

“What can I show you to convince you I’m a Slytherin?” he bargained. The hat laughed.

 

“That was evidence, yes…” the hat replied. “I will place you in Slytherin, Ronnie Deaver, but I will have you promise me one thing. There’s a Ravenclaw in fourth year that needs you. Help Gwendolynn stand up and she will teach you how to love the world again. She has lived that darkness too. Together, you will do great things.”

 

“I promise,” Ronnie promised immediately. One girl. How hard could it be?

 

“Then it better be…SLYTHERIN!

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northbound24

It felt like my nerves had finally settled as the Sorting Hat was placed on my head. 

"Ah ha, you've been waiting a long time for this haven't young man."  the hat sounded like he'd that line stored in his arsenal for centuries. Show off.

"Where did Godric Gryffindor find you then, squire?" I said. 

The hat went quiet for a moment.

"No-one's asked that question before" he admitted. "Interesting" he added.

"Why, you're or were Gryffindor's hat weren't you?" I asked.

"You either like playing the fool or underestimate your own intelligence...not unlike the main original character in your stories, he got sorted later than usual too didn't he?" 

I chuckled. 

Well...RAVENCLAW!" the Hat called out.

 

I handed the Hat back to McGonagall. And just before reaching the Ravenclaw table, I tripped over my own feet. I was eleven-years old again.

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