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Getting A Home

The door swung open at once. An extremely short wizard with a shock of white hair and a little beard stood there, dressed in a blue robe. He had a smile on his face, and although Mia was mildly freaked out by how small he was she couldn’t help but think that he looked very kind.

“The firs’-years, Professor Flitwick.” said Hagrid.

“Thanks, Hagrid.” Professor Flitwick said in a somewhat squeaky voice. “Please follow me.” he then added to the students, and they followed him into the biggest room Mia had ever seen; The Entrance Hall. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.

They followed Professor Flitwick across the flagged stone floor. Mia could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right, the rest of the school must already be here, but Professor Flitwick showed the first-years into a small empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously. The blonde girl and Mia exchanged a look.

Professor Flitwick had placed himself in the front of the room on a pile of books that apparently had been placed there before for just that purpose. “Welcome to Hogwarts.” he said. “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room. The four houses are called Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the House Cup, a great honour. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours. The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I’ll come back and fetch you once it’s time. Please stay quiet, and I wish you your best luck.” Flitwick made his way between the legs of the first-years, and Mia gulped. This was it. She glanced towards the boy who had bumped into her on the train to try and found some of the nervousness she felt, but to her dismay she failed; he looked just as calm and cool as ever. Someone poked her on the shoulder, and she turned that way to find the blonde girl looking down at her with a small, nervous smile.

“I’m Shigo Sheehan.” she whispered and put out her hand. “Nice to meet you.” Mia took the offered hand and nodded.

“Mia Carlile.” They shook hands, and then fell silent again, too nervous to talk. A few minutes later Mia jumped at the sound of Flitwick’s voice; he had returned.

“Please move along now.” he squeaked. “The ceremony is about to start. Form a line and follow me.” They did this, and were led across the Entrance Hall again and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.

Mia and Shigo gasped simultaneously. The huge room was even bigger than the Entrance Hall, and lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were floating in mid-air over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the Hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor Flitwick led the students up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The many faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, Mia was astonished to discover several ghosts shimmering like silver. She turned her head upwards and saw the famous ceiling her grandmother had told her about, the one that reflected the sky on the outside. It was currently almost completely black, with only a few shining stars, where the rest of them was hiding behind clouds.

Mia looked down again as Professor Flitwick placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On the top of the stool he put a pointed wizard’s hat. The hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty, and Mia was for the first time gazing at the Sorting Hat. And very soon, if her grandmother hadn’t made it up, it was supposed to start… singing? Indeed it did.

“In times like these,
Of peace and calm,
The darkness always seems so far away.
This could be a good thing,
But it could also be a bad.
A war has passed, not long ago,
And people seem to celebrate.
They seem to forget such small things,
That has been overshadowed by deeds of greater darkness.
But small things are only small,
Before they grow into something bigger,
Things that can go very wrong,
If not treated with carefulness.
Before we get along with the sorting,
I would like you all to listen.
The Sorting Hat a warning gives,
and although you may not thing of it as important,
I proclaim it is.
Although my task is to divide you,
Into four noble houses,
I have always felt certain reluctance,
And this year feels the same.
So, please,
I beg you,
Do remember,
That even though you parted are,
Preserve the thing called friendship,
And do not forget,
To help the ones in need.
Let me proceed now, with the thing,
That I always do;
To present each and every house,
And tell of Hogwarts’s four founders.
First we have the bold Gryffindor,
Who valued those with courage.
He picked only those with bravery,
Although not always the most obedient.
Second comes the fair Ravenclaw,
Who preferred those with great wisdom.
Those who had a thirst for knowledge,
Was praised above the rest by her.
Third to mention is kind Hufflepuff,
Who had no special claims.
She took everyone in, without hesitation,
And treated them all the same.
Last, but not least is the cunning Slytherin,
Who valued those with purest blood.
Those with slyness and ambition,
Would here find that they felt most at home.
And now, my friends, I say to you;
Let the Sorting begin!
But please, I beg you,
Once again,
What I did tell you.”

The entire Hall broke out into a kind of thoughtful applause, and Mia couldn’t help but wonder what the Sorting Hat meant. Was it just telling them to stay friends, or were there some deeper meanings behind the words?

She didn’t get much time to think this over, since Professor Flitwick now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment. “When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted.” he said. “Avery, Cletus!”

A small boy made his way out of the line and towards the stool and sat down. Flitwick dropped the hat over the boy’s brown hair and it fell down over his eyes. The whole room seemed to hold its breath, and then the hat shouted:
“Slytherin!” The table closest to the door started to cheer, and Avery got the hat off before running over to join them. Mia didn’t like his smile; she thought it looked slightly creepy.

“Bletchley, Darius!” A much bigger boy than what Avery had been now tried the hat on, and was soon proclaimed to be a “Slytherin!” as well.

“Bundy, Gemma!” became the first “Ravenclaw!”, and the table beside the Slytherins erupted in loud cheer that went even louder when “Bradley, Emily!” was made a “Ravenclaw!” as well.

“Cadwallader, Merlin!” got a lot of stares because of his name, and the last Mia saw of his face before it disappeared under the hat was how red it was. Moments later he had been made the first “Hufflepuff!”, and the table beside the Ravenclaws clapped their hands, while the Gryffindors, seated by the table furthest away from the door, seemed to go more and more disappointed.

“Capper, Fanny!” was made a “Ravenclaw!”, and all of a sudden “Carlile, Mariah!” was shouted by the small wizard. She froze for a moment, but then stumbled forward and sat down on the stool, while she tried to avoid looking out at the other students. Then the hat fell down over her eyes, and she twitched as the sudden voice belonging to it mumbled in her ear.

“A Black and Prince, all at the same time, eh? There’s ambition in here, you could work well in Slytherin, no doubt about it… Plenty of loyalty too, perhaps Hufflepuff would be a good choice… Still, I sense one thing that overshadows everything else… your bravery. You’re daring, oh yes… and seeing as you have certain values… No… I think the best choice will be GRYFFINDOR!”

Mia heard the last word being shouted into the hall, the hat was yanked of her head, and the Gryffindor table exploded in cheers and ovations. She smiled weakly, happy that it was over, and made her way over to the table. She spotted Rachel beside a beautiful red-haired girl and sat down in front of her, beside an older boy with a weird hair-colour; the almost shoulder-length strands were a deep, blackish violet.

Rachel now leaned forward to say something, but had to close her mouth again when “Carmichael, Adam!” was sorted into “Ravenclaw!” Then there were two other boys; “Chambers, Basil!” and “Davies, Jack!” who also made their way to that table. Then there was a “Flint, Kalysta!” who made it into “Slytherin!”, and Mia had a hard time trying to decide if it was a girl or a boy. “Golden, Austin!” was shouted, and the boy that had bumped into her on the train got out of the line. He still looked as cool as ever, although Mia thought, or perhaps she only hoped, that she could see some nervousness on his face. The hat seemed to have problems deciding which house to put him in, since Golden had to sit on that stool for almost a minute before the hat declared him to be a “Gryffindor!” Mia grumbled.

The twins that had been in the same boat as Mia and Shigo were up next, and “Gullins, Steve!” and “Gullins, Tim!” were both placed in Hufflepuff. “Higgs, Edric!” were the next “Slytherin!”, and then it was Shigo’s turn. She looked almost completely calm as she made her way up to the stool, and some seconds later, the hat had declared her a “Gryffindor!” Mia enthusiastically clapped her hands, and with a huge smile on her face Shigo sat down next to her newly acquired friend.

“Smith, Natalie!”, “Stebbins, Opal!” and “Summers, Patience!” all joined the twins, and “Urquhart, Heidi!” and “Vaisey, Ilean!” went to “Slytherin!”, and then there were no less that three Weasleys, all with flaming red hair, that all joined “Gryffindor!”. Everyone clapped, but no one seemed particularly surprised. Only one boy was left now who nervously glanced towards the other students. When “White, Leopold!” was called he looked surprised for some reason, and then relieved, before he hurried forward to try on the hat. It barely touched his head before it made him a “Gryffindor!”.

Professor Flitwick rolled up the scroll and took the Sorting Hat away as Rachel did thumbs up towards Mia and congratulated her. “I knew you wouldn’t end up in Slytherin.”

“Guess I don’t qualify, since I’m not a pure-blood.” Mia said.

“Half-bloods and Muggle-borns can end up in Slytherin as well.” The boy with the weird hair colour spoke, and he glanced up at the table were the teacher sat. “Just look at old Snapie.”

“Snape, the one with the greasy black hair. He’s a half-blood.” Mia looked up at the teachers, her eyes first catching the witch in the middle, who had a stern face behind square glasses and black hair that was greying a little pulled into a bun. Mia assumed this was the headmistress, Minerva McGonagall, and then moved her eyes to the left. Several seats away from the headmistress and her golden chair he sat, her mother’s cousin. Completely dressed in black, Severus Snape looked like he wished to be anywhere but here, and Mia couldn’t quite say that she longed for her first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson anymore. Snape seemed to have a look to him that made you dislike him, and his hair was just… disgusting.

Then Minerva McGonagall got to her feet. “Welcome!” she said, and a miniature smile glinted on her lips. “I hope you all will find this new year as Hogwarts very educational. And now, time to eat!”

The dishes on the table were suddenly filled with food; roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup and, for some strange reason, mint humbugs. Rachel laughed at the shocked look on Mia’s face before they all started to eat. The ghosts all watched with gloomy expressions.

When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the puddings appeared. Blocks of ice-cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding…

“You like Hogwarts?” Rachel asked with a grin.

“Love it.” Mia said while she stuffed her mouth full of strawberries. Shigo laughed, and Mia knew that right there and then, it was the happiest moment of her life. She was very happy that the boy from the train, Golden or whatever his name had been, didn’t sit anywhere near her at the moment.

At last, the puddings too disappeared and McGonagall got to her feet again. The Hall fell silent.

“Now, I have some things to tell you about your school, so I hope you listen closely.” She looked around the Hall and her piercing glance seemed to accuse them in case they wouldn’t do as she said.

“First-years should note that the forest in the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. Mr Filch, our caretaker, has asked me to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors, and the number he mentioned of times he’s asked a Head of this school to do that was too long to include in this speech.” Many students giggled at this, and a lot of them glanced towards a hunchbacked older man who currently seemed to be trying to stare McGonagall down with his lamp-like eyes. The only positive thing Mia could come up with about him was that the dust coloured cat sitting by his feet was cute, without knowing how she later would change her mind and instead start to hate it.

“Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of term.” McGonagall continued after sweeping her eyes over the tables again to silence the students. “Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch. And now, off to…”

Hem, hem.”

McGonagall froze, and then whirled around to face the woman who had made the sound. She was pretty, although it was something about her that made it hard to determine her age, and she seemed like she could be anything between twenty and sixty. She was quite short, had long, slightly curly dark brown hair that cascaded down her shoulders and back, and brown mischievous eyes. Beneath that, however, there was something that told of how much this woman had been through, and it didn’t seem to be very pleasant things. Mia couldn’t really figure out what it was, but she still felt like she would like this woman. The fact that she was currently staring down the stern Professor McGonagall just made her even cooler.

“Yes, Professor Archer?”

“I would like to suggest we all honour the old tradition of singing the school song.” she said, the smile and mischievous look never leaving her lips and eyes. McGonagall’s face became very fixed, accompanied by a lot of the other teachers. Then she nodded, although very reluctantly.

“Very well. As Professor Archer was so kind to remind me, we will sing the school song. Off we go.”
The school started to sing, and Mia did her best to follow, although she didn’t know the song.

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,

And learn until our brains all rot.

McGonagall didn’t look happier as the song ended, although Professor Archer had a huge grin on her face. “As I was about to say, it is off to bed. You will have tomorrow to get to know the castle, and on Monday the lessons will start. Off you go!”

Two older Gryffindors with a silvery “P” on their chests started to shout to the first-years to follow, but Rachel got a hold of Mia’s arm and stopped her. Shigo noticed this, and looked towards the Prefects with uncertainty before she also followed.

“We know a shortcut.” Rachel smiled, and Mia and Shigo exchanged a glance before they followed Rachel, the boy with the weird hair colour, and the beautiful red-haired girl. But suddenly, someone shouted two names, and both the boy and the red-haired girl turned their heads in that direction with huge grins on their faces.

“Teddy! Victoire!” Three redheads suddenly collided with the boy whose name apparently was Teddy. It was the Weasley first-years, the ones who had all been sorted into Gryffindor. Dominique, who looked like a copy of the one called Victoire, just younger and shorter. Molly, a thin little girl with bushy hair and a kind look to her, but with eyes that sparkled with something steely and determined. Then there was the stocky, short boy who seemed a bit hyper; Fred. All of them seemed to know the other two, and it was soon clear that Dominique was the younger sister of Victoire.

They ended up in the Great Hall for quite some time, hugging and talking, until McGonagall came up to them and told them to immediately go to their dormitories, and not to be such a bad example for the new students. They hurried away, Teddy with a smug smile, and Victoire saying not so nice things about McGonagall under her breath, although Mia had a very hard time figuring out the words, since they were in French. Still, she got the idea.

They followed Teddy and Victoire through corridors, up stairs, through hidden doors that Teddy innocently called “shortcuts”, until they finally made it to a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress.

“Password?” she said.

Teddy, Rachel and Victoire both looked at each other, and then suddenly looked nervous. “Um…” Teddy said, before he fell quiet again.

“Excellent…” Dominique mumbled with a dark look towards her sister, the irony clear in her voice. Victoire ignored her.

Hinkypunk.” They all spun around at the sound of a voice, at the same time as the portrait swung open. A woman in a billowing lavender robe came walking towards them, still with traces of the smile she had had down in the Great Hall. It was Professor Archer.

“I figured you would need help with that, since you were busy having that little reunion down there while all the Prefects and Head Boys and Girls walked away without you.”

“Thanks so much, Professor.” Teddy said and smiled, and all of a sudden, like switching of a light, Professor Archer’s smile vanished, and she just nodded.

“Your welcome. Off to bed now.” With that she left, and Teddy sighed.

“What’s wrong with her?” asked Molly curiously. “Teddy, why was she looking at you like that?”
“I have no idea.” he said. “She’s always like that around me. That’s why she freaks me out, and that’s why I’m not taking Muggle Studies.”

“Let’s do as she says, though.” Victoire said. “I need my beauty sleep.”

Mia was very close to comment that with something not so nice in English, but stopped herself. Instead, she, Shigo, Dominique and Molly made their way into the cosy dormitory and continued up a spiral staircase. In one of the towers they found a door signed “First-years”, and behind it they found four four-poster beds hung with deep-red velvet curtains. Their trunks had already been brought up.

Dominique and Molly went to bed almost immediately, but Mia sat down on her bed and finally let her thoughts loose. Things had gone as good as they possibly could have done since she entered platform nine and three-quarters, if you didn’t count the boy she had ran into and managed to be sorted into the same house as. She had made two good friends, and Teddy, Molly and Fred all seemed nice. The French-speaking sisters she was still a bit unsure about, but maybe she would change her mind. She had been sorted into a house, and on Monday she would start with her lessons. She was going to learn magic, and she was about to discover all the wonderful things about the wizarding world. Then there was her mother’s cousin. She didn’t want to judge him before she had really met him, but she couldn’t help but dislike him. It was like he asked for it, in a way, considering the way he looked. Not to mention all the things he had done, that had been so hidden and secret from the public. Would it really be all that secretive if it wasn’t something big and unpleasant that had happened?

Before she fell asleep, the last thing she thought about was Professor Archer, and what it could be with her that had made her look at Teddy that way. There had been some kind of haunted, sad and desperate look in her eyes, and she had decided to leave so soon after that. It was certainly weird, and quite a mystery. A mystery that Mia suddenly wanted to solve. Maybe she could talk to Shigo or Rachel about it, and they could try and find out…

The last thing she saw before she fell asleep was Shigo sitting in the window in a white night-gown, combing her long, white blonde hair with a brush. The moonlight seemed to reflect itself in her blue eyes, her hair seemed like liquid, and she had a dreamy expression. For a moment, Mia thought she looked at some kind of unearthly beautiful creature, not quite human, but before she could think more about this she fell asleep, and in the morning she didn’t remember it at all.

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