Sorting It Out
Author's Note: Many thanks
to J. K. Rowling for carefully not noticing what we do to her
characters while her back is turned. Further thanks are due to Lisa
(NightZephyr) for her excellent beta reading. In this story you will
find a three-paragraph quote from the first Harry Potter book that all
of you should recognize. If you can't spot it, shame on you!
The first time they met was only a few years after
He-Who-Can-Now-Be-Safely-Named was killed for the
It started with a casual suggestion from Ginny Potter, and like most
vague but good ideas, it grew and grew with each input from those who
heard of it. After wresting the planning from Hermione Granger, who was
going spare from trying to do it all perfectly, everyone in on the
planning simply passed the word. Additionally, Harry Potter paid for an
ad in The Daily Prophet upon
his wife's intense urging. A reunion of
Dumbledore's Army was being held in a meeting room above
Cauldron. Buy your own drinks from the bar. Casual dress. Seven-ish,
third Friday evening in June. Dates and spouses were welcome.
Ginny Potter was pleased to see how many people had arrived by eight.
She and Harry had just gone through a final intense period of advanced
training at Saint Mungo's and they both had needed this break. The two
of them wandered from group to group and listened to everyone chatting
about the stuff of post-Hogwarts life: babies, jobs, Quidditch, the
idiots at the Ministry, who was dating whom, and on and on.
In one group, several people were talking about the Hogwarts Houses,
and how they
were not a very good predictor of what careers were later followed.
Blaise Zabini gestured toward the couple. "Take the Potters here.
Both Gryffindors. Both fought What's-His-Name. Yet instead of being
Aurors, both are healers
now, even though most people think Hufflepuffs would be the most
natural to be healers. Who
have guessed it back at Hogwarts?"
Harry Potter grinned. "You know, I could have ended up in Slytherin
instead of Gryffindor.
Sorting Hat almost put me there."
"No! No way!" Blaise looked at him in disbelief.
"The Sorting Hat and I had a discussion about it. I think it
put me in Gryffindor just because I insisted that I didn't want
Slytherin. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I hadn't
resisted Slytherin so."
"Why would you resist?" Blaise asked. "I thought you had no idea
what the Houses and Hogwarts were about when you first came to
Hogwarts. Raised by Muggles and all that, y'know."
Harry grimaced. "I had just met Draco Malfoy, who was
sold on Slytherin, and for some reason that biased me." Harry had a wry
"I suppose it was due to
the instant and total dislike we had for each other."
Amusement rippled through the group. The enmity between Draco and
After Harry had described his conversation with the Sorting Hat,
Longbottom looked surprised. "So I'm not the only one who
the Sorting Hat about what house to go in?"
Hermione looked speculative. "I also had a talk with the Hat,
Neville. I'd love to hear your story, but wait just a moment. There may
be others who have stories, too."
Hermione tried to get everyone's attention but was having no
success. It was just too noisy.
Ginny said, "Allow me," and then cupped her hands together as if
holding a large mouse, carefully parted her thumbs a little, and blew
at an angle across the small opening between her thumbs. A piercing
note filled the air, and she flipped a little finger away enough that
the non-existent mouse could have stuck one paw out. The second note
was higher pitched and just as loud.
In the surprised quiet that followed, a grinning Ginny called out,
"Anybody else have Sorting Hat stories, like Harry and Neville? They
argued with the Sorting Hat about which house to go in." Several
wandered over and enlarged their group.
"I wish you hadn't done that, Gin." Harry sighed. "I'll just have to
tell the story all over again."
"So?" Ginny, Ron and Hermione chorused, and then looked at each other
and broke up laughing.
"Honestly, Harry," Hermione said with a small smile, "we have to do
something to break through your extreme shyness."
"Yeah, mate, then you might be ready to take a leadership role some day
of some sort." Ron shrugged, keeping a straight face. "Can't imagine
what sort, though."
At the urging of several of the latecomers to the group, Harry told
his Sorting Hat story again.
said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of
courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, oh my goodness,
yes - and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting. . .
. So where shall I put you?"
gripped the edges of the stool and thought, not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
Slytherin, eh?" said the small voice. "Are you sure? You could be
great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help
you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that -- no? Well, if you're
sure -- better be GRYFFINDOR!"
"Now, was that so hard, Harry?" Ginny had a challenging look in her
Harry grinned at her and whispered something in her ear. Ginny
flushed a bit and said in a low voice, "Well, you can try..."
"Hey, you two stop flirting with each other and let's get on with
"Oh, yeah. Now tell us your story, Neville," Ginny urged.
"Well, I was leaning toward Hufflepuff, what with Gram telling me
all the time about how that's the only place I'd fit in. Then the
Sorting Hat was put on my head..."
"So you would like Hufflepuff, I
see. Why is that?" Startled by the sudden voice in his ear, Neville
did not answer at once.
After a thoughtful pause, the voice
continued. "I sense that you would be comfortable there and that you
would fit in. But what about Gryffindor, where your parents went?"
Neville finally gathered up sufficient
to reply to the odd little voice in his ear. "Look where that got them.
Tortured by Death Eaters until they went mad. I would rather not, if
you don't mind."
"You need not become an Auror just
because you have courage. There are all sorts of courage, young
Longbottom." Neville had no answer to that. "I sense a potential within
you that you do not believe in as yet. The House that would best bring
that out is GRYFFINDOR!"
"I didn't know that about your parents, Neville," Parvati said
Several others agreed.
Neville grimmaced. "There was a time when I wouldn't have told
anyone about it. Too afraid of embarrassment. Got that from Gram too, I
think. She'd never talk about what the Death Eaters did to my parents.
I misunderstood why, and I thought she was ashamed of them. It took me
to realize that it just hurt her too much to even talk to me about it."
"My Sorting Hat experience was a lot like yours, Neville," Hermione
said. "It looked like Ravenclaw was a good fit for me,
suppose that the hat
that was the easy road for me, and I needed to develop in other ways..."
that you would do well in any of the Houses." The voice in her ear
startled her. "You have considerable intellect and the drive to succeed
by using it, wherever you are placed. Do you have a preference?"
gave her almost automatic response, "Ravenclaw, I should think. I want
learn everything I possibly can at school."
Ravenclaw would give you the most room for intellectual growth,
there is no doubt of that. However, do you realize that there is more
than learning from books?"
was puzzled. "Well, there is learning from experience. I understand
that many of the classes have hands-on work, like learning spells and
Sorting Hat interrupted her. "Classwork is not the sort of experience I
mean. You would not reach your full potential if you could always fall
back on your intellect. The best house for you to learn other ways of
dealing with life is GRYFFINDOR!"
"Huh." Neville was rather amused. "Anybody else have arguments or
discussions with the Sorting Hat?"
"I did," Cho Chang answered. "I didn't really know a lot about the
Dad was in Hufflepuff and Mum was in Gryffindor.
I had relatives in all four houses and never heard them talk much about
it. To them, family was a lot more important than House. So I was
leaning toward Slytherin because my favorite cousin went there.
Then the Sorting Hat realized that I was not looking at it the right
yes. Another who can easily adapt to several different houses. Do you
have a preference?"
heard that the hat sometimes talked to you before sorting you into a
house, so she was not greatly startled by the small voice in her ear.
in Slytherin. She is like a sister to me and so..."
would like to be in her house. Is there any other reason to choose
began to realize that she didn't know.
learn easily, certainly enough to get by. However, you need to be
challenged to think more, and that you will be, in RAVENCLAW!"
Then looking at the crowd, Cho hesitantly said, "I can tell
you what the Sorting Hat
told Cedric, too, if you like. I'm sure he wouldn't mind now, wherever
he is." Several assured her of their interest. Cho took a sip from her
drink and then began...
"Ah, yes. If all the
students were like you, we would not need Houses. Your courage is as
well developed as any Griffindor's, your ambition would make you a good
Slytherin, you are as intelligent and studious as any Ravenclaw, and
you are as helpful and cooperative as any Hufflepuff. So the question
for you is: What do you want
Cedric was a bit
taken aback, but answered immediately, "I want to make a difference,
but I don't know
"Very good, then. I
place you in the house that most needs your ability to make a
if you will promise me one thing."
"What is that?"
see that you have both a liking and a talent for Quidditch. Try out for
Quidditch team as soon as you are allowed to do so, no matter how good
or bad the team may be."
Cedric almost laughed
out loud. "Sure. I promise."
"Your new house needs
the leadership and morale boost that you eventually will provide.
Welcome to HUFFLEPUFF!"
Cho shook her head wonderingly and paused for another sip of her drink.
"I thought Cedric was joking about the Quidditch, but he
convinced me that he
wasn't. At first, he thought it very strange that the Sorting Hat cared
about Quidditch. Then once he was in Hufflepuff for a while he realized
that the Sorting Hat actually was concerned about the morale of the
House, not just the Quidditch team."
Hermione added, "Many of the songs the Sorting Hat sings are about
friends and House and School. It's been that way for hundreds of
years." No one bothered to ask Hermione how she knew this, realizing
that she probably would refer them to a book like Hogwarts, A History.
Ron Weasley, Hermione's long-time fiance, grinned a little. "I don't
think any of us Weasleys would
That hat barely has to touch us and it yells out 'GRYFFINDOR.' Same for
some of the Slytherins, like Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. Boring, eh?
Anybody else have a good
"The hat and I had a nice little chat," Luna Lovegood said
number of people perked up, anticipating an unusual story.
"Hmm. You have an
interesting mind. Quite creative and unfettered by conventional
attitudes. Do you have a preference for a House?"
"Not really. Do you?"
Luna was curious, "Which house would you want to be in, if you sorted
"I have never been
asked that before." The Sorting Hat seemed to be amused. "I would favor
each house equally, and ideally I
would be in all of them. So you
do not have a preference?"
"Oh, no. They all
take the same classes and use the same library, you see. I had thought
that you would do the sorting by some mysterious process. I didn't
that we students might have
a choice. Or do we?"
of House comes from your previous and potential life choices. In
practical terms, most often I
students in their houses based upon their needs, rather than their
preferences. Hmm," the Sorting Hat
thoughtfully. "I see an admirable capacity for fun in you, a need to
explore, and a tendency to go your own way. Your greatest need is
to gain a better understanding of how others think. Therefore, I am
placing you in RAVENCLAW!"
When Luna finished her story, Ron laughed. "
I can't believe
that you asked the Sorting Hat how it would sort itself
Luna shrugged. "It's hardly your everyday, ordinary hat, you know. I've
not met many other hats that show so much intelligence, and I wanted to
know what it would say. So I asked and
No one else had a Sorting Hat story. Since everyone carefully avoided
what other intelligent hats she had encountered, the former Hogwarts
students began to
drift into multiple conversations and further reminiscences about
Hermione looked over at Luna and sighed in frustration. "I had the
beginnings of a theory about the Hat and how it sorted, and Luna just
blew it out of the water." Hermione shook her head, then a gleam of
speculation appeared in her eyes. "Wait a minute. Other
intelligent hats? Luna! A
word with you, please?..."
could do a loud whistle like Ginny did. He used it to call cows, dogs
and kids. I've often regretted never mastering the technique myself. It
would have been useful for calling dogs and kids. I've never had any
cows, which is something I don't