Where No Weasley
Has Gone Before
A Sorting Story
This story takes place approximately
fifteen to twenty years after the Trio’s graduation from Hogwarts, and follows
the daughter of Ron and Hermione. The world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K.
Rowling, as do all the adult characters in this story. Many thanks to my
wonderful beta-reader, NightZephyr.
The gray hall was filled with a mass of rain-drenched, black-cloaked eleven
year olds. It seemed an enormous room to Anna, although she supposed that by
Hogwarts standards it was only a small antechamber. From the stories her
parents and Uncle Harry told, the wizarding school had halls the size of
Quidditch fields, ballrooms that spread like oceans, and towers that frequently
collided with passing clouds. And of course, the occasional swamp that
remained from Uncle Fred and Uncle George’s time here, she remembered, smiling.
Anna couldn’t believe that she was
finally here, and that she was about to be Sorted. She shivered with
anticipation, and hugged the book Uncle Remus had given her to read on the
train close to her chest. Voyage of the
Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. She had read the Chronicles of Narnia
before, of course, but she didn’t own any of them, and this volume was
extra-special, since Uncle Remus had told her that it was the exact same book
he had read on his first train ride to Hogwarts. Sometimes she thought Uncle
Remus was her absolute favorite uncle, even if he wasn’t really related to her.
It was a much better present than the leather-bound copy of Hogwarts, A History that Mum had given
her. She appreciated that Hogwarts, A
History would be very useful, and she had struggled most of the way
through it before leaving home to make Mum happy, but she just didn’t enjoy
non-fiction the way Mum did.
She had loads of other presents, too – in
fact, Anna’s luggage had nearly doubled after the going-away party at the
Burrow last night, and she had had to ask Mum to put an Expansion Charm on her
trunk. She had an owl from her Uncle Harry, a large sampler of items from
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes from her Uncles Fred and George that she had managed
to keep her mother from noticing, more Chudley Cannon paraphernalia to decorate
her dormitory than she had ever imagined existed from her father, and a maroon
jumper from her Grandmother Weasley, among other things.
Anna had been to the big celebration her
Weasley grandparents had put on for all their grandchildren the night before
they left for Hogwarts as long as she could remember, but this was the first
time that the attention had been almost entirely on her. By some strange
miracle, she was the only Weasley grandchild of her age, so she was the only
one leaving for the first time this year, and the only other grandchild who was
given special attention was Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur’s oldest daughter, Molly,
who had been made Head Girl.
Molly had been toasted more than once,
but Anna had been the center of attention most of the night, while all of her
relatives gave her presents and advice, and tried to guess what house she would
be Sorted into. There wasn’t much question of that, of course – nearly all the
Weasleys still ended up in Gryffindor. Granddad and Aunt Ginny said that she
might end up in Ravenclaw, but Anna privately thought that if Mum hadn’t been a Ravenclaw, there was
no chance that she would be one. Uncle Bill and Uncle Charlie said she was
hardworking and nice enough to be a Hufflepuff, but that was just because they
had mostly seen her on her best behavior. Uncle Harry had kissed her cheek and
told her that she had the kindness of a Hufflepuff, the brains of a Ravenclaw,
and the cunning of a Slytherin, God help her, but that she had the heart of a
lion and couldn’t be put anywhere but his own house. That had been really nice
of him. Then he had told her all about the Sorting Hat, so that she wouldn’t be
scared by any of the stories her cousins told her about having to club trolls
over the head or defeat basilisks just to get sorted into a house. Uncle Harry
was actually the fifth of her uncles to take her aside that night to tell her
that, but it was still nice of him.
Anna looked around at the swarm of
first-years surrounding her, and wondered how many of them knew what the
Sorting Ceremony was like. Not many of them, judging by how withdrawn and quiet
they were. Or maybe they were just worried about what house they would be
sorted into. Her mum had told her that she shouldn’t worry about what house
she’d end up in, since the whole point of the Sorting was that she’d be placed
into whatever house was best for her, and no matter where she ended up she’d
make wonderful friends. Her dad had laughed, and told her that no true Weasley
ever ended up anywhere but Gryffindor, and that she should tell the Fat Lady
hello for him. Anna agreed with Mum in principle, but thought her father was
probably right. While she didn’t see anything wrong with being a Hufflepuff or
a Ravenclaw, she’d probably be a Gryffindor. Still, it didn’t hurt to be
She wondered who among the students
standing around her would be in Gryffindor with her – or in Ravenclaw or
Hufflepuff, of course -- and how quickly she would be able to make friends. She
had hoped that she might make a friend on the train, like her dad and Uncle
Harry had, but the only first-years she had run into on the train had greeted
her by asking if she was a pure-blood. She had looked down her nose at them
with disdain and walked out of the compartment with a chilly dignity. At least,
she had hoped that it seemed like chilly dignity. She had been trying to imitate
the way her Aunt Fleur behaved when she felt she was being slighted by people
beneath her, but Anna was afraid she had a little too much Weasley in her to be
able pull it off. Maybe she should have pulled out her wand and tried out that
Bat-Bogey Hex that Aunt Ginny had showed her. She grinned to herself at the
thought. Either way, it looked like she would have to be making friends
elsewhere, and that was just fine with her. She knew better than to want to
associate with that sort.
A very short, wizened old man with puffy
white hair and a kindly smile entered the room and began to corral the
first-years into an orderly line for the sorting. Anna realized with a bit of a
thrill that he exactly fit her parents’ description of their Charms teacher,
Professor Flitwick. She hadn’t realized that he was still teaching, and
wondered a little why she had never heard any of her cousins mention him. He
began tell the first-years about the importance of Houses and the Sorting and
all kinds of things Anna already knew about, and she lost herself in a daydream
about what it would be like to be in his class. Swish and flick! Wingardium
Leviosa … or was it Leviosa? She couldn’t remember.
The line trickled slowly into the Great
Hall, and Anna caught her breath at the beauty of the candlelit hall and
enchanted night sky. She managed to pay attention while the dilapidated Sorting
Hat sang a very long and very boring song, but lost her concentration while it
began to sort her classmates. She was at the end of the very long line, and
there were so many fascinating things in the hall to distract her. There was a
horde of ghosts in the back of the room, some of whom she thought she might
recognize from stories – was that Moaning Myrtle? The House Ghosts were at
their house tables, of course. She squinted to see whether she make out the
blood on the ghost at the Slytherin table, but she couldn’t tell. Anna didn’t
really want to look at that table, but she had always been curious about the
Bloody Baron, and couldn’t find anyone to really tell her anything about him.
There was the Fat Friar at the Hufflepuff table, and not too far from him were
her cousins Paul and Will. They were smiling at her, she realized, so she waved
and smiled at them. Her cousin Cedric at the Ravenclaw table had already been
waving at her, and made an expression of mock hurt when she waved at her
Hufflepuff cousins before him. Anna stuck her tongue out at him, then smiled
and blew a kiss. Someone hissed at her, and she turned around to see a whole
host of redheads waving at her, blowing kisses, and making victory signs from
the Gryffindor table. She tried to give them each a special wave: Sirius,
Albus, Sylvia, Fabian, Callista, Gideon, Lily, Jim, Ted – even Molly offered
her a prim smile. Having so many relatives at Hogwarts was going to be a royal
pain sometimes, she knew, but days like this surely made it worth it.
Her turn finally arrived, and she
swallowed the little trepidation she had left and marched up to the front of
the hall and put the on the worn and raggedy hat, wondering as she did so why
no one had put a better preservation charm on it.
Hmmm, and what do we have here? the hat buzzed at her. Another Weasley … but different from the rest.
Hmmm. You’re a challenge, little one.
Anna felt slightly miffed at being called
“little one” by a hat that barely came up to her knee. Then she remembered how
old her mother (and that ridiculously detailed tome on Hogwarts’ history) had
told her the hat was, and felt a little ashamed. The hat seemed amused, though
it didn’t say anything about it.
A nice thirst to prove yourself, yes.
Ambitious, aren’t we? Quite intelligent, too. And cunning, oh my. You’re
kind-hearted and loyal in your own way, but I don’t think you’re a Hufflepuff,
no indeed. Courageous, and yet … perhaps not a Gryffindor.
Anna sat very straight and willed herself
not to give the hat any preference. She wouldn’t
plead to be put in Gryffindor because everyone else in the family was there.
The hat should put her where she fit best.
Oho, is that the way it is? asked the hat, still sounding amused and now
somewhat gratified. I don’t hear that
very often. In that case … if you’re sure… better be “SLYTHERIN!”
~ * ~
Anna felt the blood drain from her face.
The hall was suddenly entirely silent – Anna hadn’t realized exactly how much
noise the older students had been making until they all stopped at once. In the
vast mass of students in front of her, she could see a dozen Weasley faces
suddenly gone white under their red hair. Fabian had been pouring a glass of
pumpkin juice, she noticed with a sudden burst of nervous hilarity, and his
goblet had started to overflow onto the table.
You’re supposed to take me off now,
and set me on the chair, the hat
“Is this your idea of a joke?” Anna hissed
at the hat. “It’s worse than your poetry! I am NOT a Slytherin!”
You could have fit in another house, the hat buzzed. But you asked me to put you where you fit best, and that’s Slytherin.
You can’t hide who you are from me – it’s all in your head, you know –
“Miss Weasley?” Tiny Professor Flitwick
was hovering at her elbow, and had taken the idiotic, incompetent, and
downright cruel hat off of her head. He looked at her with her concern. “You
ought to go join your housemates,” he told her gently. “It’s a bit
overwhelming, I know, but you’ll feel better when you’ve got a bit of food in
She stood up shakily, and tried to smile
at him, but it didn’t work at all. She began to walk slowly towards the
Slytherin table. It was full of people wearing green and black, looking down
their noses at her with beady eyes. They looked a little bit like monsters, or
the bloodthirsty aliens that frequented Ted’s Muggle comic-books. Her
housemates. She swallowed, and realized that if she didn’t get out of the hall
quickly, she was going to be sick.
Anna walked right past the Slytherin
table, and out the door that stood behind it. Once she was out of the hall, she
began to run.
Anna was hopelessly lost, but she
supposed it didn’t really matter at this point. She had stopped running a while
back, but before she could find her way back to the Great Hall, she had fallen
waist-deep into the black marble floor of one of the more dimly-lit corridors.
After spending at least an hour trying to come up with ways to extricate
herself, she had finally given up. Anna tried to relax and avoid thinking about
how dark the hallway was, or about what kind of creature could be making be
making the peculiar noise coming occasionally from somewhere in the blackness
behind her. Her cousins would find her eventually – in fact, it shouldn’t even
take them very long, since one of them should have the Marauder’s Map. If they
decided that it was better not to look for their Slytherin relative, she would
just die of thirst in about seventy-two hours, maybe a little bit less since
she hadn’t drunk much at luncheon. All in all, she’d prefer that fate to
spending the next seven years in Slytherin.
She began to shiver uncontrollably, and
wrapped her arms around herself to try to stop herself from shaking. How could
she have landed in Slytherin?
Sure, she wasn’t always as nice as some of her cousins were, but she’d never
even considered that she might actually be evil. How could you be evil without
realizing it? What did this mean about her future? Would she wake up one
morning and suddenly develop the urge to hex small children? Would her
subconscious automatically start formulating plots to kill her Uncle Harry and
bring back He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-Even-Though-Uncle-Harry-Says-He-Should-Be?
Would she no longer be able to appreciate sunsets and rainbows and puppies and
cute little bunny rabbits? Not that she had ever liked bunny rabbits all that
much, and she really hadn’t been that thrilled about puppies ever since she’d
been bitten by Uncle Charlie’s dog. There it was – she had already been
demonstrating signs of evil tendencies, and hadn’t even noticed it. She’d
better move away from her family before the uncontrollable urges to curse
Muggle-borns and blood-traitors set in.
She felt something brush against her
shoulder, and she flinched, barely managing to keep herself from shrieking
“It’s all right, it’s just me,” someone
said soothingly behind her, and Anna turned to see the freckled face of her
cousin Cedric, his glasses glinting from the light of his wand. “Are you
“I’m stuck,” Anna told him miserably. Her
voice shook and she sounded like she’d been crying, but she decided she didn’t
care. Cedric shook his head at her, smiling.
“Honestly, the scrapes you get yourself
into, youngling. This hole is really hard to get out of – they usually keep
this corridor locked, I can’t imagine how you got in here. Hang on a minute.”
He knelt next to her and pointed his wand at the ground, muttering something.
After a minute, the floor lit up, and Cedric lifted her easily out of the
marble. She leaned against him, still unable to stop shivering, and he held her
tightly, stroking her hair.
“You’re alright, youngling,” he
whispered. “It’s okay now.”
“No, it’s not,” she muttered into his
She felt, rather than heard, him sigh.
“Let’s see if we can’t get you warmed up.” He conjured a blanket out of the air
and wrapped it around her. Cedric was only a fifth year, but he was very smart.
“Maybe I ought to take you round to the kitchens before we try to figure out
where your dormitory is. You must be hungry, after missing the Feast.”
“I’m not going to my dormitory,” Anna
informed him. “It’s in Slytherin. I don’t belong in Slytherin.” At least, she
didn’t want to belong in
“Look, I know better than anyone that
it’s hard to be the only Weasley in a house, and I was sure hoping that you’d
be joining me—“
“You’re in Ravenclaw! How hard can that
be?” Anna pointed out, indignant. “It just means that you’re smarter than the
rest of the family. No one’s telling you
that you’re evil.”
“Listen to me. There’s not a chance in h–
well, there’s not a chance that you’re evil, and nobody who knows you is
thinking that.” Cedric looked at her critically. “Hold still a minute, you’ve
got dirt on your face.”
Anna held still obediently while he wiped
her cheek with part of the blanket. “Does that mean that they’ll let me be
“I don’t think –“ Cedric stopped in the
middle of his sentence, and sighed. “Maybe. I’ll write Dad and see if he could
talk to the headmaster. People still listen to the Boy-Who-Lived. And we’ll ask
Molly, she’s Head Girl, she might be able to do something. But let’s get you
some supper first, and let everyone know that you’re all right. That idiot
brother of mine forgot the map at home, so we’ve been looking for you the hard
He pulled her to her feet and they
started down the corridor. He held her hand, which Anna usually considered
herself too grown up for, but she decided that it was okay for today. Life
seemed a little better, holding onto the hand of her favorite cousin.
“If they won’t put me in a different
house, maybe I could transfer to Beauxbatons instead,” Anna said hopefully,
trying to be brave like a Gryffindor.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Cedric said
firmly. “You’re staying right here with me. Now come on.”
Before they reached the kitchens they
came across a gathering of most of their cousins, who made a fuss over Anna and
told her how glad they were to see her. (“Our parents would have murdered us
if anything had happened to you – that is, if Grandmum Weasley hadn’t come
after us with her knitting needles first,” Gideon assured her solemnly). Anna
was happy to see them too, but she couldn’t help but notice that most of them
seemed to be avoiding looking directly at her, and she began to lose the small
amount of confidence that Cedric had given her. Molly was there, surrounded by
a few of her most devoted admirers – Molly had inherited her mother’s Veela
traits, and nearly always had boys trailing after her. She also always made
Anna feel about six inches tall. Anna edged closer to her, and asked her in a
small voice whether there was a chance that she could be sorted again.
“Goodness, I don’t know. I’ve never heard
of anyone doing that,” Molly said, blinking her long lashes in surprise. “I
don’t really see what the point would be, do you? I mean, your house is just
something you are. It’s not
as though it will change if you put the hat on again.” Cedric winced at this,
and Molly seemed to collect herself, and blushed a pale and pretty pink. “I’ll
talk to the headmaster about it,” she promised, though she sounded dubious, and
patted Anna’s cheek. Anna bit her lip, and tried to feel encouraged by this.
All too soon, Anna found herself standing
alone with Molly in front of the entrance to the Slytherin common room. It was
late enough that the other Weasleys had had to return to their own common
rooms, and as Head Girl, Molly was the only one of them who was supposed to
know where the Slytherin common room was. Anna seriously doubted that her other
cousins hadn’t frequently visited this dark and dank portion of the castle to
try to torment their least favorite classmates, but they probably couldn’t
admit that in front of Molly. Still, Anna wished it could have been Cedric
standing next to her.
Molly was fumbling through a large sheaf
of papers, trying to remember where she had put the list of the current house
passwords. Anna tried to keep her eyes on Molly and avoid looking at the
Slytherin portrait guardian, which was a disturbingly large and life-like
snake. The snake was staring at her and hissing menacingly, and when it caught
her looking at it, it lunged towards her as if about to strike. Anna knew that
it couldn’t leave its canvas, but she found herself edging closer to Molly
“There it is!” Molly exclaimed finally.
“Your password is ‘dementor’s kiss.’ Can you remember that?” Anna nodded.
“Well, go on then. Tell it to the portrait.”
Anna did so, and the snake lunged one
final time before sliding to the side to reveal an elegantly arched doorway.
Anna stood to the side, and waited for Molly to go in first.
“Go on in, then. One of your prefects
should be waiting for you inside,” Molly told her. “I’m not really supposed to
go into the other houses’ common rooms if there’s not some sort of emergency.”
Anna reluctantly stepped through the
portrait hole, and the door slid silently back into place before she could say
goodbye to Molly. The room she had entered was completely dark except for the
light coming from a gigantic fireplace that stretched from floor to ceiling on
the far side of the room. Before it were the silhouettes of two students
playing chess in complete silence, their shadows stretching nearly half-way
across the green marble floor. There was no one else in the room.
Anna crept along the edges of the room
towards the fireplace. She felt curiously reluctant to step into the light, but
she gathered her Gryffindor courage and approached the chess players.
“Excuse me,” she said politely. “Could
you tell me how to get to the first-year dormitory?”
One of the students moved his knight and
captured the other’s pawn. Neither responded, or gave any indication that they
had noticed her presence.
“Er … can’t you hear me?” Anna ventured,
feeling a trifle foolish. Neither of the students so much as blinked “Right,
then. I’ll just be off and find my own way, then.”
There were at least a dozen unmarked
doors off of the common room. Anna sighed, and opened the one nearest her to
begin her search. Half an hour later, she had discovered no dormitories, but
over a dozen more rooms that seemed to be common areas. All the better for
plotting and sneaking about, she supposed, but it wasn’t very helpful when you
actually needed to find something. She finally literally ran into a prefect,
who sniffed derisively at her, informed her she was late, and escorted her to
the first year dormitory.
The dormitory had the same elegance that
all the Slytherin chambers had – beautiful, but hardly comfortable or inviting.
Five green canopy beds stood in a row, each with a trunk at the foot. The
windows showed a mass of seaweed and a school of fish swimming by, and Anna
remembered that the Slytherin rooms were rumored to be under the lake. Four
girls were talking in front of the fireplace – they turned to see who had
entered the room. Anna realized with a sinking feeling that they were the girls
she had met on the train. They didn’t seem to remember her, however.
“Well, if it isn’t the Weasley brat,
finally gracing us with her presence,” said one of them with a sneer.
The tallest of them extended a hand
towards Anna. “It’s about time a Weasley joined us in Slytherin. After all,
whatever else your family is, at least they’re purebloods.”
Anna regarded the hand in front of her,
but didn’t take it. “I’m not a pureblood,” she said quietly. She was inwardly
shaking with rage and indignation, but she noticed with some pride that her
voice was entirely steady. “My mother is Muggle-born, and a better witch than
She swiftly crossed her room to the bed
that had her trunk sitting in front of it, and pulled the curtains closed
around her. She fought back the urge to cry, afraid that the closed curtains
might not be enough to prevent the girls from trying to torment her further.
But the Slytherin girls stayed on the other side of the room, and Anna let the
tears trail silently down her cheeks until she fell asleep.
You can’t hide who you truly are –
it’s all here in your head, you know.
When Anna awoke the next morning, her
first impulse was to bury her face in her pillow and go back to sleep, refusing
to face the world ever again. But the silk pillowcase felt strange against her
skin, and the light filtering through the heavy bed curtains turned the world
around her a strange and flickering green, and she soon realized that what she
really wanted to do was to get as far away from the Slytherin dormitory as she
possibly could. She waited just long enough make sure that she could still hear
the heavy breathing and light snoring of the Slytherin girls, then sprang out
of bed as soon as she was sure that they were all asleep. She noticed with some
despair that the Slytherin insignia had appeared on her robes overnight, but
hastily donned them anyway and crept quietly out of the room.
Once Anna had run far away from the
Slytherin dungeons and nearly gotten herself lost again, she realized that she
had no idea where to go or what to do. She couldn’t stomach the thought of
entering the Great Hall again, and didn’t really want to eat breakfast anyway.
Her cousins wouldn’t be up yet, so there was no point in trying to find the
entrance to Gryffindor Tower. She finally ended up going outside, where she
amused herself by throwing rocks into the lake (Anna had never been able to
skip stones, no matter how many relatives tried to teach her) and wondering
what would happen if she dove into it and begged the giant squid to take her
in. She would still attend classes, of course, but she could live underwater
with the squid instead of with the Slytherins, and maybe even pick up some
lessons in Mermish from the neighboring inhabitants.
Anna’s daydream was interrupted by the
arrival of her new owl, who was carrying a thick packet of letters and had to
hoot loudly at her to get her attention. Anna tried to make it up to her by
offering an owl treat, but the owl just nipped her finger and perched on a
nearby bench, staring intently at her. It was rather disconcerting, and not at
all the way that Anna had been led to believe that personal owls generally behaved.
Perhaps Uncle Harry had accidentally purchased some sort of specially-bred
man-eating owl. Anna sat down on a nearby bench to read her letters, trying not
to notice her owl stare hungrily at the blood welling up on her finger.
The letters were, on the whole, not
nearly as comforting as Anna had hoped. The first was from her father, and was
nearly illegible in its vehemence. He assured her that he knew she couldn’t
possibly be a Slytherin, and raged for nearly three pages against the
incompetence of the Sorting Hat and the many ways in which Hogwarts had
degenerated since his days. Anna noticed that he had several times forgotten
himself and written down naughty words that she wasn’t supposed to know, which
her mother had carefully crossed out later. Her mother had painstakingly
written out a twelve-page list of carefully documented examples that not all
Slytherins were evil, including the founder of St. Mungo’s (who had been later
prosecuted for unauthorized and inhumane experiments on Muggles, but was still
quite a humanitarian). Her mother concluded by reassuring her that they all
loved her no matter what house she was in, and immediately afterwards told her
that she was sure that Anna would be re-sorted soon.
Uncle Harry’s letter was much shorter, though
not of much more help. He described a conversation that he had once had with
Dumbledore in which Dumbledore had told him that it was the choices that people
made that made them who they truly were. Uncle Harry encouraged her to continue
making choices to form herself into the best person she could be, and not worry
about which house she was in. Anna would have found this rather touching if she
hadn’t heard the story before. Since she knew that the conversation had been
about houses, and Professor Dumbledore had been telling Uncle Harry that it was
the choices he made that separated him from You-Know-Who and the Slytherins,
Anna found Uncle Harry’s letter to be the most disturbing in the entire packet.
Aunt Ginny’s postscript detailing several more curses than she had previously
taught Anna was at least useful. Aunt Ginny also mentioned how sweet she
thought Anna’s new owl was. Anna had agreed with her about that just the day
before, come to that. Maybe it was just waiting for her to try a little harder.
She approached the branch cautiously,
holding an owl treat in an open palm. The owl snatched it from her, but started
hissing at her when she tried to pet it. Yesterday, it had loved that.
“What is it, you just don’t like
Slytherins or something?” Anna asked, exasperated. The owl hooted and flew
away, causing the branch to snap up and hit her in the face.
“Yeah,” she said, settling back onto the
bench. “Me neither.”
Anna had begun to doze off when she felt
someone standing behind her. She looked up to see a girl only a few years older
than her. The girl was wearing insignia-less black robes, and had a head of
bright bubble-gum pink hair.
“Wotcher, Anna,” said the girl. Anna
stared at her for a moment, and then it clicked.
“Aunt Tonks!” she cried, leaping up and
wrapping her arms tightly around her favorite non-related aunt. Aunt Tonks, the
fantastic Auror-aunt who could banish monsters from under the bed with a single
flick of the wrist, and who could make the best shadow-puppets of any of her relations
by simply morphing her hand to fit the right shape. Aunt Tonks, who had
defended Anna from nightmares throughout her childhood. Anna couldn’t remember
ever feeling as happy to see anyone.
“Hello, love. I couldn’t make it to your
going-away party, but I thought I’d drop by and see how your first night had
gone. Sorry about the morph, I wasn’t sure that the new headmaster would
welcome uninvited guests.” Aunt Tonks rarely changed her appearance around
Anna, since she had been frightened and confused by Aunt Tonks’ changing
appearance when she was small. “How do you like Hogwarts so far?”
“’s awful,” Anna muttered into Aunt
Tonks’ stomach. “Horrible.”
Aunt Tonks gently untangled Anna’s arms
from around her waist, and led her back to bench again. “I heard you were
sorted into Slytherin.”
Anna gave an involuntary moan, and tried
not to start shaking again.
“What’re you so afraid of, love?” Aunt
Tonks asked softly. “What’s so terrible about being sorted into Slytherin?”
Anna stared at her in disbelief. “What do
you mean what’s so terrible
about being sorted into Slytherin?” She choked back a sob. “Every story Mum and
Dad and Uncle Harry tell, every story anyone tells, Slytherins are the
villains. They’re nasty and malicious and prejudiced and downright evil. The
only Slytherin that ever seemed half-way decent or admirable was Severus Snape,
and he betrayed everyone who counted on him, murdered
the only one who trusted him!” Anna sniffed. “It’s stupid enough for me to be
in any house but Gryffindor. I’m a Weasley, and Dad says that all true Weasleys
are Gryffindors. But Mum says that the hat picks a house that we belong to,
that fits who we truly are. And Uncle Harry told me that Professor Dumbledore
told him once that the hat picks a house for us based on our own choices, and
that our choices show us who we truly are. What kind of choices did I make to
end up here? What did I do
that made me a Slytherin?”
She was crying in earnest now, and Aunt
Tonks reached into her pocket and handed her a large yellow handkerchief. Anna
blew her nose. “I do nod
wandt do bedray anyone,” she said into the hankie. She felt Aunt Tonks putting
an arm around her, and she leaned into her aunt’s shoulder.
“Anna,” Aunt Tonks said after she had
absent-mindedly splashed her feet in the puddle under the bench for a few
minutes, “What house makes for the best Aurors, do you think?”
“Gryffindor,” Anna recited automatically,
sniffling. “They’re brave and they stand up for what’s right.”
“Nah,” Aunt Tonks said casually, still
dangling her foot in the puddle. “Gryffindors are well-meaning and all, but
they’re not so good at plans. They see something wrong with the world, and they
want to fix it right then and there. They don’t have the patience to think
about all the possibilities and come up with the best strategy. Not all of
them, of course, there’ve been some smashing Aurors from Gryffindor, but it’s
really not the house that we try to recruit from.”
Anna was a little shaken by anyone
suggesting that Gryffindors were not the best and most sought-after for
anything, but she tried to pull herself together for another guess. “Er …
“Ravenclaws have their good points. All
that knowledge comes in handy, even if they sometimes get distracted and forget
what they’re supposed to be researching, or become more interested in
discussing the theoretical implications of Nerbiggle’s Third Arithmetical law
than in actually solving a case. But no, they’re not our favorite house
Anna stared at her aunt incredulously.
“You’re not telling me it’s Hufflepuff.” Hufflepuffs were nice and all, but
somehow she couldn’t picture them as being the best at tracking down the
world’s most formidable threats.
Aunt Tonks sighed, and shook her head,
“But – but – that only leaves Slytherin!”
Anna spluttered, and blushed to hear herself so taken aback. She sounded like
her father. “Slytherin supplies the evil wizards, how could you trust them to
“Slytherins are cunning, patient, and
subtle,” Aunt Tonks said. “In other words, we’re good at putting plans into
action. That means that we turn out a lot of people who are quite effective in
trying to take over the world, but also those who are good at outwitting them.
Slytherins make superb Aurors.”
Anna digested this. “We? You’re … a Slytherin,
then?” she asked in a small voice. Aunt Tonks had always seemed so nice. And she had been in the Order.
Anna had always assumed she was a Gryffindor like everyone else.
“Don’t look at me like I’ve grown three
heads, girl. Although I could do that, if you’d like,” she added with a grin.
Her grin softened into a more gentle smile, and she took Anna’s hand in hers
and patted it gently. “I’m still the same Aunt Tonks you’ve known all your
life, child. Slytherin traits don’t have to be evil, love, or even unpleasant.
We’re ambitious, yes, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with ambition. It
can be something to be proud of – we know what we want, and we’re willing to
work to get it. Ambition can lead people to do terrible things, like
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or in a smaller way like your Uncle Percy, but it’s
equally likely to lead people to do wondrous, beautiful things. Where would the
world be without people whose highest ambition is to somehow serve their fellow
“B-but, S-Slytherin has produced more
Dark wizards than any other house,” Anna protested. “And even the ones who
aren’t Dark are still prejudiced against Muggles and Muggle-borns.”
“Gryffindors – particularly Weasleys –
are equally prejudiced against Slytherins,” Aunt Tonks said in the hard, bitter
voice that she usually used when speaking about Death Eaters and escaped
prisoners from Azkaban. “I’m not excusing my housemates, mind, and I share your
family’s hatred of certain Slytherins. But that doesn’t change the fact that
they condemn an entire group of people based on the actions of individuals.
They’re not so different from Slytherins as you might think.”
Anna couldn’t find anything to say to
this, so she looked fixedly at the lake instead of Aunt Tonks. She couldn’t
believe what she was hearing, and she felt a rush of anger at her aunt for
saying such a thing about the family. But deep down, something in her admitted
that her aunt might be right.
“It’s not an easy thing to be a
Slytherin,” Aunt Tonks continued after a few moments of silence. She spoke
softly, almost as if she was talking to herself. “It’s true that my house – our house – has turned out a lot of
Dark Wizards in the last fifty years or so. But sometimes I wonder how much of
that is because of a cascade effect. ‘Iron sharpens iron,’ my dad used to say,
‘and so does one person shape another.’ One student corrupts another, and an
entire year goes bad. The house develops a reputation because of one person or
one year, and then the good and decent people who might have been in the house,
like your Uncle Harry, choose not to enter it. The innocents who make it into
Slytherin are treated by everyone else as though they’re already evil, and
eventually they find it easier to just fulfill people’s expectations.”
A tear trickled down Anna’s cheek again,
even though she had mostly stopped crying. “I don’t want that to happen to me,”
she choked out. “I’d leave Hogwarts and move in with Muggles before I let that happen to
“Good,” Aunt Tonks said briskly. Anna
stared at her with horrified resignation, and Aunt Tonks laughed and drew her
close. “Not about the leaving Hogwarts part, I meant about the not letting it
happen to you. A house is just a house,
Anna. It’s just a set of rooms, and a group of people who are constantly
changing. It has no more power over you than you give it. You make your own
choices, and determine who you are by yourself. After all, I managed to come
out of it alright, didn’t I? And believe it or not, I’m not the only one.”
Anna managed to nod mutely at this, although
she wasn’t too sure about the bit about Aunt Tonks not being the only one.
“Maybe this time it will be you who begin
the cascade effect, who teaches Slytherins to be kind again. After all,” Aunt
Tonks said, dropping a kiss on Anna’s head, “not only do you have the cunning,
subtlety, ambition, and class of a Slytherin, but you have the courageous and
kind heart of a Weasley. You’ll be fine. Oh, drat.”
“What?” Anna asked, straightening
suddenly. She noticed that a bracelet around Aunt Tonks’ wrist was vibrating
“The gits at the Ministry have never
fully understood the fine concept of a day
off,” Aunt Tonks said with exasperation. “I’d better run. Will you
be all right now?”
Anna swallowed. She had felt better while
talking to Aunt Tonks, but without her – well, she had to get used to facing
the world without the help of her relatives sometime. “I’m all right,” she said
bravely, like a Gryf – like a Slytherin. Aunt Tonks kissed her forehead again,
and stood up, tripping over her own feet in the process. “I’ll owl you,” she
called over her shoulder, sprinting towards the Forbidden Forest – where, Anna
remembered, she would be able to Apparate. Surely that was the only reason why
someone would sprint towards the Forest.
After she left, Anna sat alone on the
cold iron bench, watching the first few raindrops of an approaching storm fall
into the lake. She thought about casting a warming charm, but surprised herself
by thinking that perhaps she’d go inside instead, and find a fireplace to warm
herself by. But she stayed several minutes more, watching raindrops form
ripples on the lake’s surface that spread until they collided and disappeared.
When she finally returned to the castle,
she found an older boy blocking the doorway, scrambling to pick up the supplies
from his satchel. The satchel had evidently split from the weight of all the
books he had tried to cram into it – that, as much as the insignia on his
robes, marked him as a Ravenclaw. Anna recognized a lot of the books from her
mother’s library: Wandering With
Werewolves (An Anthropological Study), Meddling Muggles – Muggle and Wizard
Interactions in Medieval Times, A Comparison of Principles of Potion-Making and
Muggle Chemistry, The Personal Narratives of Various Ghosts Haunting Linlithgow
Palace as Transcribed by Hebert Nerflinger, and of course, Hogwarts, A History. Anna smiled
fondly to see someone so like her mother – it was true, her mum really could
have been a Ravenclaw. She noticed that a bottle of his ink had rolled so far
that it had ended up near her feet. Anna picked it up.
“Here,” she said, offering it to the boy.
He took it, then scowled at her.
“Sod off, Slytherin.” He shouldered the
bag and walked away with quick, impatient strides. Anna sighed, and leaned her
head against the wall of Hogwarts.
It was going to be a long seven years.
But she would stick it out.
- FIN -
A few notes:
- I should mention that the idea that
Remus Lupin read Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the train to Hogwarts
came from Thistlerose’s “At the Beginning.”
- Anna’s belief that Severus Snape betrayed everyone who trusted him is not
meant to add fuel to the “Snape: evil or not?” debate. I don’t have an opinion
on the matter, one way or the other; it fit this story for Snape to at least
appear evil, so I went with it. I think it quite likely that even if Snape is
still loyal to the Order, his innocence will never be widely known, and so Anna
may simply be misinformed.
- Tonks as a Slytherin: No, I don’t really think that J.K. Rowling intends
Tonks to be a Slytherin. We don’t know what house Tonks belongs to, however,
and I don’t think that Slytherin is an entirely unlikely home for her. Tonks
appears to be a bumbling idiot a great deal of the time, but is in fact a brilliant
Auror and at times a double-agent for the Order; to me, this shows that she
possesses the Slytherin virtues of cunning, subtlety, and general sneakiness.