All characters involved in this story belong to J.K.Rowling
and whichever publishers she's handed it out to by now, but this particular
interpretation belongs to me. Feedback
is worshipped and adored at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The Thinking Cap"
"So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"
Polite applause filled the Great Hall as the battered
Sorting Hat bowed to all four tables, then sat still and silent in anticipation
of the first student to be called forth for the Sorting. Professor McGonagall consulted a scroll of
parchment, then called out, "Abbot, Hannah!"
A pixie-ish girl with fat blonde pigtails approached the Hat
with mingled awe and excitement, pulling it on her head anxiously. While the whole Hall watched, she heard a
gravelly voice in her ear. "Ah,
the first student of a new year! Now
where shall I put you? Hmm...such
loyalty! Lovely to see. You're surely a HUFFLEPUFF!"
It shouted the last word to the entire Hall and the table on
the far right burst into wild applause.
Hannah's grinning face could again be seen as she removed the Hat and
trotted off to join her new Housemates.
The same scene was played out every year, as the first years
were Sorted into their Houses for their time at Hogwarts. No one ever really talked about the little
voice some heard when they tried on the Hat, though some who doubted their
placement took comfort in the Hat's comments.
What no one ever heard, however, were the four other
voices arguing inside the Hat, before the first voice said a word...
"Oh, a new batch of students! I've been looking forward to this. It DOES seem that the crop of students has been a bit light
"These things go in cycles, Rowena. I'm sure we'll have a good set."
"You're just happy because the first one was one of yours,
"And isn't that a good enough reason?" the second
voice said cheerfully. It was a very
nice sort of voice, bright and chipper, bringing to mind mischievous children
and mothers who refused to actually grow up.
It was a decided contrast to the coolly aristocratic tones of the first
voice, though both were definitely female.
A third voice joined in the mix, male and brash and
boisterous. "Of course it's a good
reason, Helga. Now let's concentrate on
this next one, hmm?"
"Yes, Godric," both women giggled in chorus,
sounding for a moment like schoolgirls themselves, as the Hat they were housed
in was placed on a new head, young "Bones, Susan".
A fourth voice joined in now, low and with a slight hint of
hissing on the sibilants. "She has
ambition, but is as cunning as a rabbit," he said dismissively.
"So positive, as always, Salazar," Rowena said
reprovingly, then began her own examination.
"Hmm...well, not a bad mind, but NO desire to apply it."
"Oh! She has
BADGERS!" Helga exclaimed, with the impression of hands clapping together
excitedly. "Oh, I want her!"
"Is that all you care about?" Rowena asked in
"Of course not.
Look at how hard-working she is.
She'd be a credit to my House.
But she ALSO has badgers!
She's perfect. Godric?"
Godric's voice had a definite grin in it as he replied,
"She has no extraordinary bravery or daring. Go ahead and take her."
"Oooh, I like this one," Rowena cooed
approvingly as they looked into the mind of Boots, Terry. "What a bright boy. Such a fine mind. And all he wants to do in life is create new spells!"
"Rowena's in love," Godric laughed.
"One moment," Salazar put in. "That ambition to create new
spells is certainly a fine one..."
"Oh, you can't -- he's so -- you wouldn't,
"Just teasing you, Rowena.
"Why do they always do this so quickly?" Helga
complained. "It's just rush, rush,
rush, one student then another! They
should enjoy this."
"Remember how excited the new students always
were? They just want to know which of
our glorious Houses they'll be placed in," Godric assured her. "They still appreciate us. Speaking of which, I think I want this
one. Absolutely fearless!"
"Muggle-born," Salazar sniffed at Mandy
Brocklehurst. "Yes, you can have
"You really need to work on these prejudices, Salazar
dear," Helga chided gently.
"Muggle-born students can be just as powerful as wizard-born."
"They're my prejudices, I've had them for a
thousand years now, and I'm quite happy with them!" he snapped in
reply. "Besides, I tried a halfblood
fifty years ago, and look how THAT turned out!"
"Right, then, so we're agreed?" Godric interrupted
briskly. "She's mine."
"Not so fast!
We're being just as bad at rushing as they are," Rowena said with a
haughty sniff. "We need to take
our time and make certain that we Sort these children correctly. Their House can have a significant impact on
their development as a witch or wizard."
"And you want this one," Salazar finished for her.
"I'm just saying that we should be sure!"
"And you want her," Salazar and Helga chorused
"Well...just because I think she'd be a better fit in
my house than Godric's...I mean, honestly, Godric, there IS more to life
than rushing blindly into things.
Mature deliberation and reasoning will always see you through in the
"Which would be why you barricaded yourself in the
library for a full year to figure out how to deal with that upstart wizard in
the next town?"
"I found the solution in the end, didn't I?"
"AFTER I'd already dealt with him!"
"You accidentally knocked him off a cliff!"
"It worked, didn't it?"
"They get into this every time they want the same student."
"You'd think they'd have worked this out by now,"
Salazar agreed. "Although it does
get amusing when he picks up new slang from the students," he added
thoughtfully as Godric shouted that Rowena was a pompous nimrod.
Helga giggled softly, then cleared her throat. "Ahem.
I think Mandy's wondering if she's going to get Sorted."
Godric and Rowena kept shouting at each other, paying their
fellow Founder no heed.
Helga shook her head.
"Stiff-necked and stubborn, the both of you. "QUIET!!"
All other noise in the Hat abruptly ceased. "Now then," Helga continued
primly, "if the two of you have finished shouting at each other, I believe
we have a Sorting to attend to. Godric,
Rowena, why don't you see what the *girl* wants?"
Moments later, the Hat was shouting out,
"RAVENCLAW!", Rowena was gloating, Godric was sulking, and Lavender
Brown was rushing forward to try on the Hat nervously.
The four Founders had worked together for a number of years
even before being enshrined in the Hat, choosing their students according to
their talents and temperaments. It had
actually gotten easier since Godric's spell, since they now possessed the ability
to look straight into the heads of the new students. They'd gotten their work down to nearly a science, able to Sort
students far faster than they used to.
In the old days, a Sorting could take hours as they
painstakingly sifted through each student's mind to identify the precise mix of
intelligence, diligence, bravery, and ambition they possessed, and where those
talents would be best used. Now some
students took a mere heartbeat, their proper place instantly apparent.
Others, though, still took some careful thought...and
"Why should I be the one to back down? 'Sweet Helga', 'dear Helga', 'kind
Helga'! You mean PUSHOVER Helga! I'm not about to turn away someone so loyal
to his friends just because YOU see bravery in him too!"
"Now, Helga, calm down," Godric said
placatingly. "Think about what
would be best for the boy."
"He's loyal and hard-working! He'd be perfect for my House."
"He's also extremely brave and chivalrous to the
bone! He's a Gryffindor!"
"He's a Hufflepuff!"
"Helga, dear, not to side with Godric on these things,
but the boy IS quite daring.
"Oh be quiet, Rowena.
You're just being nice to him so he won't argue with you next
"Oh really, Helga, you're just being silly. Seamus is very Gryffindor. His mother was a Gryffindor. Godric wants him. Don't be difficult. He
let you have that nice Muggle-born boy."
"Justin was completely unsuited to Gryffindor! Godric didn't LET me have him!"
him, then. I hope he loses twenty
points a DAY for you!"
"Gracious in victory and defeat, my lady."
"I'd stick my tongue out if I had one."
"I'm claiming the next one you want, you know,
Godric," Helga promised darkly as the Hat was placed on the next head.
"You're supposed to be the cheerful one, Helga,"
he chided gently. "Let's have a
look at this one now."
"I'm sick of being cheerful." Helga's mutterings trailed off as she looked
into the newest student's head.
"Hmm...well, she's certainly no stranger to hard work, is she? I like her already."
"She memorized her textbooks!" Rowena was nearly swooning in rapture. Well, she'd be swooning if she still had a
body. "Just LOOK at that thirst
for knowledge. She's perfect."
Salazar poked around a bit himself, musing aloud, "She's
certainly one for ambition. Such a
drive to be the best! A little too
rules-bound, but she could overcome that with the proper stimulus...Oh." He sounded suddenly disappointed. "Muggle-born."
"You lose out on the best ones that way, Salazar."
"No lectures please, Godric."
I want her in Gryffindor. One
less arguer is fine by me."
"And there he goes again," Helga muttered. "I swear, he waits until he knows WE
want them to speak up!"
"That's not my only reason!"
"So you admit it's A reason?" Rowena spoke up
"...Well, after a thousand years, you need to take your
fun where you can..."
"GODRIC!" two female voices shrieked in unison.
all that aside, this Hermione is perfect Gryffindor material. If she goes into Ravenclaw, she's NEVER take
her nose out of a book. It's a waste of
all her other talents!"
"Oh, so she should go into Gryffindor so she can learn
how to charge blindly into danger?"
"Taking a few risks is a GOOD thing!"
"Might I suggest," Salazar put in smoothly after
the others argued for a while, "you see if the girl has any opinions on
the matter? Not that I expect her to
know anything useful, coming from Muggles, but--"
"An excellent idea!" Rowena bubbled
immediately. "One so fond of learning
will CERTAINLY choose Ravenclaw."
"She knows the value of hard work," Helga said
confidently. "She'll be *thrilled*
to be a Hufflepuff."
"She has a stubborn streak," Godric
predicted. "There are more
important things than books and cleverness."
\\I hope I'm in Gryffindor; it sounds by far the best...I
suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad...//
"NOT TOO BAD?!" Rowena shrieked. "You little INGRATE!"
"At least she MENTIONED your House," Helga
huffed. "What's wrong with hard
work? Honestly, it may not be the most
"Told you," Godric said smugly, as the Hat shouted
Rowena was still pouting by the time the Hat came to rest on
the head of Neville Longbottom.
Occasional mutters of, "Well I never!", "Use MY House as a
second choice, will you?", and "Research and planning, that's the
key!" came from her corner of the Hat, but the other Founders politely
"Right, then. I
don't think there's much question about this one," Godric said briskly,
looking into the mind with satisfaction.
"He's one of mine."
"A bit less confident than your usual," Salazar
drawled, poking around a bit.
"Isn't foolhardy confidence one of your traits?"
"You're just bitter, Salazar. Look at that family. His
grandmother scares ME! But he faces
them." Godric's voice rang with
pride. "All set, then."
"...Not quite," Salazar said slowly, his voice
full of disbelief. "Is he arguing
\\I don't deserve to be a Gryffindor. I should just be a Hufflepuff!//
"Helga, you can't kill
me. I'm just a disembodied mind,"
Godric said swiftly. "It's not my
"WHY is it," Helga asked in a low and deadly
voice, "that everyone seems to have gotten the idea that MY House -- my
loyal, hard-working students -- is full of 'duffers', I believe that one boy
put it? HONESTLY! Oh, be quiet and stop arguing, boy. You clearly don't deserve to be in MY
"He's arguing with the Sorting Hat. The Hat that was created by the Founders
themselves." Salazar sounded
incredibly amused. "Oh yes, he
definitely belongs in Godric's house of idio--er, bravery." A mostly-stifled snicker. "Absolutely."
"Oh shut up, snake boy."
"...Dear, you might want to take the Hat OFF now,"
Rowena suggested gently.
"Honestly. This is why he
clearly isn't a Ravenclaw."
Helga quickly claimed the next student as her own. Godric had known her long enough not to even
bother pointing out young Morag's chivalrous nature. Though they were disembodied now, it was easy to picture the
fiercely stubborn expression on her face.
Helga was sweet-tempered and kind...but like a badger, she was fierce if
you riled her in her den.
Luckily they didn't come across any terribly questionable
students for a bit after Longbottom, giving Helga a chance to repair her
injured pride. Salazar was humming
slightly, though the sound eerily came across as a sort of hiss. He was still pleased about the Malfoy boy,
whose cunning and ambition were so clear that Salazar had simply shouted,
"MINE!" and the Hat bellowed its answer before any of the others
Not that any of them really wanted to.
The Hat was currently perched on curly blonde hair as young
Teagan Nott earnestly awaited her Sorting.
"Hmmm..." Godric mused, poking through her mind. "I like this one. She's fearless."
"A good mind, but no focus," Rowena dismissed.
Helga poked around next and made a generally approving
noise. "Well...she could stand to
apply herself a bit more, but she is still young, after all. Very commendable family loyalty. She'd do well in my House."
"But she'd do better in mine," Salazar put
in firmly. "Look at that -- a
budding artist, and she wants to be the very best in the wizarding world. She needs my House to nurture that ambition."
"She'll be a timid follower there! She needs a chance to try out her nerve or
she'll never know it's there!"
"Your lions will tear her to shreds, and not do a THING
to encourage her talents. She needs to
be guided, not thrown in the river to see if she can swim!"
"She has ambition and bravery," Helga put
in, ever the peacemaker. (Well, at least once her ruffled feathers were
smoothed.) "But which will do her
the best to encourage, Godric? I'll let
Salazar have her."
"Ach, if you're going to gang up on me...Fine, take
There was a bit of good-natured bickering between Godric and
Rowena over a pair of twin girls, resulting in each taking one of them, then
Helga argued hotly with Godric until Salazar and Rowena both had to step in to
place Sally-Anne Perks in Hufflepuff.
If they'd still had bodies, Salazar would have sat up and crowed when
the hat dropped on the next head.
I haven't seen one in fifty years!
This is wonderful! And here I
thought it was going to be just another Sorting." Salazar was dancing a mental jig as he poked
around young Harry's mind. "Oh, I
like this Potter. I remember his
father; he was a real little hellion."
He cackled. "What an
addition to Slytherin!"
"Weeeeeeeell..." Rowena dragged the word out
consideringly. "He has a fine
mind. Mmm, he could do well..."
"Oh relax, Salazar, I'm just teasing you. He's a far better Slytherin than
Helga laughed merrily.
"He does have a commendable capacity for loyalty, but I
agree. He'll do well with your
Salazar rubbed his figurative hands together.
"Just a moment please, Salazar," Godric
"Oh come off it, Godric, Rowena already tried
Salazar spluttered for several seconds before he could
formulate any words. "Godric! You're not seriously protesting my claim on
THIS one? He's a Parselmouth,
for Merlin's sake! What use do you have
for him in Gryffindor?"
"The same use I always have for someone so brave and
daring! The boy is nothing but a giant
nerve. He'll brave anything. Look at what he's gone through already! Face it, he belongs in my House."
"I will NOT face something so patently untrue! You're always trying to steal my best
students. I won't HAVE it, I tell
"YOU won't have it?
Listen, Salazar, you have to accept--"
Suddenly, without any of them prompting it, they became
aware of a thin voice chanting resolutely.
\\Not Slytherin. Not
Slytherin. Please, anything but
Godric tried desperately to
restrain himself, but wild laughter escaped nonetheless. "I think that answers that, old
"But--he's a PARSELMOUTH!" Salazar wailed, even as
the Hat called out, "GRYFFINDOR!"
"Wait, wait, come back, try the thing on again properly. You couldn't possibly have meant--"
But the Hat was already coming to rest on another head, and
the other three Founders were quietly snickering at him. "Don't you have anything to add to this
one, Salazar?" Godric asked solicitously.
"Oh shut up."
"Really, Salazar, you're taking this awfully persona--"
Anything but Slytherin'," Salazar quoted in a high
voice. "Honestly, what did I do to
"Do you want that alphabetically, categorically, or
"Be nice, Godric.
He's sulking," Rowena advised.
"See if I ever side with YOU again!" Salazar
snapped at her. "I am NOT
"Good, does that mean I don't have to be nice?"
"FIVE minutes out of this bloody hat, Godric, with or
without a wand, and I will make you regret every bloody--"
"BOYS!" Helga snapped. "There ARE children present."
"They can't hear us!" Godric and Salazar roared in
There was a moment's pause, then all four started
laughing. It took a very long time to
sort Hephanion Ranyon, and it wasn't because they couldn't agree on a House.
"Are we done with this group yet?" Salazar
asked irritably a short while later.
Rowena snorted at him.
"Try to have a little patience, Salazar. This is actually a small class. Remember back in the 1800s when we had that
population boom? The Sorting took hours!"
"Given that Godric has been cleaning up this Sorting,
I'm anxious to have it over and done with so I can start ignoring his gloating
"Gloat?" Godric protested in a highly offended
tone. "I do not gloat,
Salazar. Just because I happen to
remind you on a semi-regular basis how fortunate my House has been in recent
years does not mean that I'm gloating.
Honestly. We should've enchanted
a dictionary in this bloody Hat too."
"Oh look!" Helga exclaimed, trying to
distract the others before their shouting could give her a headache. Well, a disembodied-mind-ache. "I can see that hair without eyes! It's another Weasley."
There followed groans, laughs, and a muttered, "How
many of them are there, anyway?"
Helga thought that sounded an awful lot like Rowena's voice.
"Let me guess," Salazar said sarcastically. "Gryffindor."
"So glad you agree, old friend. Since that's settled--"
"HOLD ON! I'm
not giving up another Weasley without a fight, you--you--nimrod." Salazar pronounced that name with great
relish. "You always take
the Weasleys. Barely even give me a
chance to argue anymore. Those
twins would've been perfect in my House!
Cunning, sneaky, and so ambitious.
Planning a joke shop at age eleven!"
"Yes, but so brave as well. You can't have all the pranksters,
Salazar. Nobility and a sense of humor
are NOT mutually exclusive, whatever you may argue."
"You took the twins!
You took the little boy who wanted to be Minister of Magic. Fine, I'll give you the dragon tamer -- that
kind of stupidity can only come from a Gryffindor -- but you can't have them
ALL! This one is very
"His chief ambition right now is a new set of robes,
"Look beyond that, you prat! He wants to outshine all his brothers. If that's not ambition, I don't know what
"If you'd look past your obsession with ambition for
one bloody minute, you'd see he's just reeking with bravery as
"Yes, reeking is exactly how I'd describe
"CALM yourselves!" Rowena barked. "For heaven's sake! You'd think you were children yourselves,
not grown wizards more than a thousand years old. Honestly. We'll settle
this calmly, as we always do."
"You weren't so calm when you were arguing over those
Patil twins," Salazar muttered.
As I was saying..."
"All his brothers are in Gryffindor," Helga spoke
up, having spent her time actually looking at Weasley's mind instead of arguing
like the others. "The poor boy
will be crushed if he's the first in his family sent elsewhere."
"Have a heart, Salazar," Godric said winningly.
"IF you'd pay attention to these children's thoughts
all these years, you'd see that I'm completely evil," Salazar
snapped. "I don't have a
heart." He managed a very gusty
sigh for someone who no longer possessed lungs. "Fine. But the next
Weasley that comes along, I'm taking."
"Not if he's been trained by the same parents these
have," Godric said smugly.
"I think this is the last one," Helga said
cheerfully as the Hat came to rest on the head of Zabini, Blaise.
"Salazar, weren't you just complaining that this was
taking too long?" Rowena snorted.
"I think he was hoping for another pair of Weasley
twins," Godric gloated.
"Maybe next year."
"And he wonders why I ignore him."
"Oh, I don't wonder at all."
"If you still had a face, Godric, I'd come wipe that
cheerful smirk right off of it."
Rowena snickered and looked into Blaise's head. "Hmm....quite
intelligent...Hrmph. I think he's one
of yours, Salazar. No
desire for research or study."
"But very cunning," Salazar pronounced
"Also quite loyal to his friends...and willing to work
hard for his goals," Helga added.
Salazar's voice was pleading.
"Oh, Salazar, you can sound so pathetic sometimes! All right, all right. You can have him."
"You were always my favorite, Helga!"
"HEY!" Rowena and Godric protested together.
"Don't try to sound insulted, Godric. Honestly, between the Parselmouth and the
Weasley, I may not speak to you for the rest of the year!"
"Do you promise?"
The Hat was filled with laughter as McGonagall placed it
back on the stool and removed it from the Great Hall. Another year, another Sorting.