I donít own Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, or pretty much anything else in this story. That honor goes to J.K.R, along with more money than Iíd ever know what to do withÖ
Sorting a Longbottom
I couldnít help shivering as Professor McGonagall called the names, I was so nervous. Why, oh why is L so close to A in the alphabet, I fretted constantly. Itíd only been two minutes, and they were already on the late Bs! I donít even need to try the hat on, I thought, I can already see whatís going to happen. I knew for sure that I was going to put the hat on, and it would announce to the rest of the school that I didnít deserve to be there Ė that I was a squib after all. I could just picture the lot of them laughing at me; Professor McGonagall saying, "Oh, dear me. Our mistake, I guess. Now, back on the train you go," Great-Uncle Algie saying, "Well, we could always try again. Címere to this window, Neville," my Granís disappointed face when I came home and she realized I wasnít a real wizard after all. Then, an even worse idea floated through my head: what if it didnít even sort me at all, just sat there until one of the Professors yanked it off my head? Thatíd be the perfect way to make a fool of myself in front of everybody. I was shaking so badly out of fear that I was worried Iíd faint.
Iíd been nervous for weeks before I came to Hogwarts. Great-Uncle Algie had kept telling me not to worry, that Iíd do fine. The day he bought me Trevor, he said to me, "Neville, dear boy, you know youíll do us all proud. Youíre a Longbottom, and thereís nothing grander. Now, come over here, and letís pick out your toad." "Nothing grander" Ė easy for him to say, he hadnít had to be tossed out a window to make sure he was magic, had he? Gran had scolded him for half an hour when heíd dropped me, but everyone else treated him like a hero for finally finding my magic. I was relieved when I found out that Iíd be able to go to Hogwarts, but I was also scared. What if I wasnít good at magic? What if I couldnít do well on my tests? What if nobody at school liked me? What if I lost my toad?
On the Eís already! I wildly thought, is that hat rushing to get at me? Is McGonagall that anxious to get me out of the way? Whatever happened, at least I didnít have to worry about Trevor. After that huge man had found him in the boat, Iíd made sure he was locked in my trunk before we kept going. I really hope he stays there; heís not that big a toad, and he might get hurt if he gets lost again. I was glad I had a pet; that way, even if I didnít end up with any friends, Iíd have something to keep me company this year. I was so glad when Great-Uncle Algie bought him for me; it was nice to have somebody in the house other than my Gran. I mean, she loved me, I know she did, butÖ sometimes she was hard to live with. She was always comparing me to my father, saying things like, "Neville, you shouldnít let those boys tease you that way; Frank would never have let himself be treated that way. He always stood up for himself." Like I didnít know that I was almost a disgrace to the Longbottom name.
I wondered what my parents would have thought if they could have seen me up there, shuddering like one of Granís Bouncing Bulbs a week after re-potting. Iíd gone to see them only a week before. For a moment, they flashed through my mind; sitting in the room, surrounded by Cushioning Charms, their eyes staring blankly. I still had one of my motherís bubble-gum wrappers in my pocket, and I fingered it nervously as I waited. I was so young when they left. I missed them so much.
It was time for me to go and get Sorted. I walked up to the stool with my legs shaking so badly I was sure my knees would go out, and I sat down. As I put on the hat, it slipped down over my eyes; I couldnít see a thing.
"Well, Mr. Longbottom. A little nervous, are we?"
It was talking to me. The Sorting Hat was talking to me. I let out a tiny, hysterical laugh, which I was sure nobody could hear through the thick fabric of the Sorting Hat. Well, at least one magical person wouldnít mind talking to me.
"Come, come, Mr. Longbottom. You neednít fret like that. Iím sure plenty of people enjoy talking to you. Miss Granger did help you with your toad, didnít she?"
It could hear what I thought? That explained how it sorted people, it read their minds. I figured itíd be best to try to think directly to the hat. That way, nobody would hear me make a fool of myself. Well, that didnít really count, did it? I mean, Iíd asked her to help me. If I hadnít, nobody probably would have given me a second glance. And how did you know that?
"Oh, donít let me worry you. Like my song said, I can look into your mind. It makes things so much easier Ė but thatís beside the point. You neednít concern yourself about what would have happened had you not asked Miss Granger for help, because you did ask her. You managed to overcome your fears in order to find help to look for your toad. But in any case, your mindís wandering. Now, as for what house you belong inÖ ahh, yes. I think youíd make a good GRYFÖ"
Wait! I panicked a bit. You think Iím supposed to be in Gryffindor? Why? Gryffindorís supposed to be for brave people!
"Right." I could hear an amused tone to the word.
Then I donít belong there. I sighed, a small, dejected sound. Iím not brave at all, Iíve known that for years. I should probably go into Hufflepuff; isnít that where all the duffers go?
"Now you wait just a moment! The hat gave a sort of harrumph in my head. Hufflepuff is not a house of duffers, just as Slytherin is not a house entirely peopled by monsters, no matter what the rumours may say. I populate each house with a range of students, each of which has a range of abilities. You really should know better, Mr. Longbottom.
All right, Iím sorry, I thought. But still, why do you think I belong in Gryffindor? Iím scared of everything. Everybody knows it. My Great-Uncle Algie once made fun of me for being frightened to death by a garden gnome.
"My dear Mr. Longbottom, I mean no offense, but youíre still young. You have quite a bit to learn yet, and I donít just mean magic. Trust me when I say this: it shows more bravery to admit that one has fears and to face them than it does to try to show no fear at all. Even Godric Gryffindor himself was not without fear. I should know Ė I was his hat." You deserve to be in Gryffindor, and you want to be in Gryffindor. You can trust me on this Ė as I said, I can always tell.
I was still a little confused, so I just thought, OK, and sat there. The hat had given me quite a lot to think about.
"As you have given me, Mr. Longbottom. I must thank you; it is nice to have things to think about when one is a hat. Now, are you ready to be sorted?"
Yes, sir, I think so.
"Very well, then. As I said, youíll go into GRYFFINDOR!!"
The last word was shouted aloud for the whole hall to hear. As I stood up, I could hear the applause coming from the table to my right. I ran that direction.
WhoopsÖ Iíd forgotten the hat. Blushing, I took it off my head, and ran it back to the stool. I was afraid the rest of the Gryffindors would be embarrassed to have me in their house, but when I came back, they were still grinning good-naturedly at me. A couple of red-haired boys sat me in an empty seat, and I looked around.
I was in Gryffindor. I belonged in Gryffindor.
I really hoped it was true.