Disclaimer: All places and characters associated with
Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling.
Under-age wizards. Witches. Hundreds of them. All sitting
in neat rows at each table, waiting for the results.
Caught sight of Percy, a few places in front of me. He's
looking greenish. Can't say I blame him. The sight of a full blown castle
hall full of people who could curse you in a second is enough to make
anyone head for the hills. Shot him a reassuring smile. Don't think he
saw me though, cos' he's looking worse. Either that, or my reassuring
smile looked more like a evil grin.
Percy isn't the only one looking ready to spew any minute.
Half the first-years look like they've swallowed a tub of cod liver oil.
Can't see what the problem is though. There's only a stool in the middle
of the hall, with a hat on top. All we have to do is sit on the stool
and put the hat on. A much, much easier thing to do than some of the rumours
that went round the train. Somebody said we had to wrestle a troll, somebody
else said we'd have to perform in front of everybody, even Percy said
it was going to be hard and difficult, and he's usually not wrong. How
hard can putting the hat on be? Unless the hat is gonna sing loud and
off tune in your ear?
Professor McGonagall is up to the 'P's. Walter Perkins
is sorted into Ravenclaw.
Taking a good look at him. He doesn't seem like the Ravenclaw
type at all. Unless my hearing needs to be checked, the hat did sing that
Ravenclaw should be smart people. Perhaps I heard wrong, (It was fairly
high-pitched and squeaky) for here is a boy with what looks to be all
body and no brain. Maybe their captain struck a deal with the hat. They'd
take one no brain person because they're short of a few good beaters?
Shuffling up a few paces. Oh Merlin, I don't feel so
well now. McGonagall is up to the 'T's. Somebody's walking up to
the Gryffindor table. From the back, it looks like the girl that was standing
in front of Percy. So he's probably next. He stands there, waiting for
McGonagall to call out his name. She does, and he walks forward.
Go on Percy, you can do it. Get into Gryffindor, I mean.
Spent the whole train journey telling me what a great house Gryffindor
is and how his family would be disappointed if he isn't in it, blah blah
blah. What a load of bore. Can just imagine what he'd start saying
if he isn't in by now.
A load of clapping erupts from somewhere. Craning
my neck to see. Ah, the Gryffindor table. Percy's gotten in, it's all
good, so far.
'Wood, Oliver!' What?! Already? Drat. I turn to face
McGonagall. She nods. Guess it's really me then.
Walking up to the stool. Slow and easy does it, Oliver,
you don't wanna trip and make a fool of yourself. On second thought, you
look like a tortoise. Go faster.
Hurrying up to the stool. Sit down, and pick up the hat.
The felt feels worn and patched between my fingers. Like the kind of material
on your grandfather's robes. Only dirtier. Doesn't look very threatening.
Slipping the hat over my ears. So far, nothing yet, except
for the intoxicating smell of the previous person's shampoo.
'Hello Oliver,' a voice in my ear. Merlin! The
hat can speak.
'Yes. What do you want?'
'That wasn't terribly polite of you,' the hat
chides. Not polite? I'm not the one that whispers into people's ears whenever
'You surprised me.'
'Ah yes. That happens sometimes. Let's get straight to
the point. You ought to be in Gryffindor, my boy.' Really? How come?
'You're loud, bold and upfront,' he? She? It answers.
'How do you know that?' The hat seems to sigh.
'Remember my song specifically stated I could read minds?'
Well I'll be. The hat's a mind reader. Must make the job easier, seeing
as no one can possibly lie.
'I wasn't listening'
For some reason this seems to tick the hat off. It makes
a 'hmph' sound.
'My opinions changed…oh never mind, a hat can only take
so much psychoanalysing, Gryffindor it is,' bellowing the last part.
Oh Merlin, my poor ears are taking quite a beating. I'm
sure to go deaf before the evening finishes.
I walk towards the Gryffindor table. Percy claps like
a madman. No need, no need. He pulls a chair out for me to sit down.
'Well done! Now we're in the same house,' he beams.
Same house? Oh yes, I'm positively thrilled.
'Yeah. Shouldn't there be some food? Seeing as it's dinner
'There's still some more students left,' he indicates
the three or so first years still standing in the middle of the hall.
Two girls and a weedy looking guy.
You've got to feel sorry for them. The remaining students,
I mean. Everyone's already been sorted, no worries, and they're still
standing there. All eyes on them. Make one wrong move and they'll be vanquished.
Okay, maybe not quite.
The last person, 'Young, Paul' gets to be a Hufflepuff.
I don't envy him at all. Hufflepuffs don't look too bright. I only
know this because Percy was reciting the history of the school to me on
the train. (Which would have actually been alright, if he didn't try and
do it in Old English.)
The sorting is finished as McGonagall drags the stool
away. Thank Merlin. For a moment I thought we were gonna starve.
Wait a moment, what's this?
The headmaster stands up and clears his throat. Long
silvery hair, sharp blue eyes and wrinkly skin. I hope he doesn't croak
when he talks. I don't know how old he is, but my great-grandfather's
90 and he sounds like a chainsaw when he opens his mouth.
'A big welcome back to you all,' the headmaster says,
opening his arms out wide as if to embrace us. 'I trust the train
journey was comfortable-' a slight murmurring goes round the hall. Comfortable
yes, but also boring. You would think that an invisible train speeding
off to a magical castle would hold some excitement, but no…even
my fizzing whizbees let me down, refusing to lift me more than 10cm off
the ground, and I ate 15 of them in a row.
'-and that you are all refreshed, ready to start the
school term, come morning.' A collective groan all around. Dumbledore
chuckles in amusement, his eyes twinkling at everyone else's misery. The
groaning dies down, and he continues, 'but I'm sure you'd rather go to
bed on a full stomach…' he trails off, waves his wand around for a bit
while muttering some words under his breath and poof!
A lot of food appears suddenly. Oh my. Everybody
else acts like it's totally normal, and they start eating, but I'm not
the only one with my mouth hanging half open. Most of the first years
were bewitched, and even Percy managed to look surprised before regaining
Helping myself to the food. Mash potatoes to the right,
roast beef to the left, chicken and gravy back behind and vegetable soup
down the end. There's so much of it, I don't think anyone cares about
how much we take. The plates just keep refilling anyway. I think I'll
enjoy meal-times here.
Everyone eats in silence. Gryffindors seems to mind their
manners, no one's talking with their mouth full. Actually, no one is talking.
It's almost eerie.
Someone starts up a conversation. Bravo! I can't
hear what they're talking about, but it sounds interesting.
'So, is anyone excited?' (yeah) '-nervous?' (nah) 'looking
forward to Quidditch?' (yes!)
'I'm looking forward to Quidditch'
The blonde boy at the end of the row raises an eyebrow.
No idea who he is. Don't like the way he looks at me. All self-assured.
Like he's the inventor of Quidditch, or something.
He pushes his plate away. Rests both elbows on the table
and leans into the conversation.
'Really?' he smirks at me. I don't like that smirk. He's
His grin gets even wider, so wide that I can count
the number of teeth he has. Ugly. Seems to think Quidditch is a joke.
'You like it a whole lot?' Well duh.
'Good' he runs his hand through his hair in a confident
manner. Holds the same hand out to me. (oh ick.) 'I'm the Gryffindor Quidditch
captain' You!? You've got to be joking!
'You seem to be disappointed,' (that's because I am)
'-I assure you, we are a very good team-'
'-we aren't that good a team' another boy buts
in. The captain glares at him. He stares back defiantly.
'As I was saying, we come second every year.' Only second?
Why not first?
'Why don't you come first?' Both boys shift uncomfortably.
They trip over each other's sentences.
'Well Slytherin are quite good-'
'-our best player was out for a couple of matches-'
'-we couldn't book any training sessions-'
'-the other teams all had superior brooms-' etc, etc,
etc. Amusing to see them suddenly awkward after their confident start.
The taller one seems to recover.
'Anyway, I'm Matthew, and this is my brother Andrew.'
Looking at the two of them. They're brothers? It's impossible to tell.
The taller one, Matthew I think, is blonde and lanky, while Andrew
is short and stumpy. They have the same grin though, I guess. They seem
more like boss and second-in-command to me.
'We should go to bed,' Matthew says abruptly.
Andrew raises his eyebrows in question. Matthew nods, and suddenly, Andrew
complies. They both get up and leave. Perhaps I wasn't wrong about the
boss and servant thing.
A few people watch them leave. Mostly girls. Gryffindor
doesn't seem to be a very sociable place. Pushing my plate away. I've
had enough for tonight. Maybe I should go to bed like Matthew suggested.
Walking out of the great hall, and into the entrance
hall. Looking around. Which staircase? Oh Oliver! You fool, you don't
have the slightest inkling where the dorms might be, do you? Where is
Percy when you need him? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Hurrying back into the great hall. Hope nobody notices.
Argh! What's this? Seems like I've been hit with a sledge hammer. Staggering,
trying to keep on my feet. Oh no, not a sledge hammer, just a hall full
of people. What rotten luck. I decide to go in, everyone decides to come
Trying to push my way through the crowd. I've got to
get to the edge, or the lord knows where I'll end up. They're all going
in different directions; it'll be like being drawn apart by wild
Who should I follow? Not the ones going into the dungeon,
that's for sure. I might not be the world's most attentive student, but
even I was awake for the part when Percy was telling us the Slytherins
lived in the dungeons. The ones going to the right? Left? Up?
Oof! Someone is pushed into my back. A very bony someone.
Trying to see who it is, but the crowd is so thick I can't turn my head.
Ow! His, no…her head bangs into mine.
'Sorry,' the girl gives a weak smile. Points for
effort. You've got to be a champion to be able to smile in the midst of
getting crushed. From what I can see, (which isn't a whole lot) she looks
intelligent. I'll ask her.
'You know where the Gryffindors should go?' Her face
draws a blank, and she shrugs as much as she possibly can.
'I know the Ravenclaws go to the right,' she points.
Thanks, but I'm not a Ravenclaw. Which leaves either to the left or up.
Think, Oliver. If you were trapped on a deserted island…no wait,
what a stupid question. Deserted islands don't have crowds. Up or left?
Left or up?
The crowd doesn't leave me a choice as it surges forward.
I manage to grab hold of a stair rail. I pull myself out of the crowd
carefully, as not to break any bones. Golly, that was difficult. People
could have gotten knocked out in that crowd.
'The dorm rooms are up this way.' Who said that?
Looking around. No one in the crowd, that's for sure. Somebody's behind
me. I can hear them. Turning around, and…
Oh great. It's the Blonde Brothers. Matthew and
Andrew. What are they doing here?
'What are you doing here?' They grin, and flash their
teeth at the same time. Yuck.
'We're just here to give friendly advice to any first-years'
Andrew says, looking smug. 'Don't think we mentioned this at dinner, but
me and Matt are both prefects. That means you listen and obey us.'
Listen and obey? You guys? Percy was right, prefect standards
really have dropped since the 17th century.
'Yeah okay, whatever. What's the common room password?'
Matthew frowns. Now what? It was an innocent enough question.
Don't tell me I have to say please?
'I don't think he believes we could be prefects, Andrew.'
Too right I don't.
'Look, can you please (I said it) tell me the password?
I want to go to bed.'
Andrew snaps to attention. 'The password's "Chimaera",'
he reluctantly tells me. Chimaera, is it? Good, I can go now.
'We'll see you upstairs!' Andrew yodels to my back. Merlin,
those two are strange. I'd like to see what they'd be like without each
other. Probably walking around in circles, I bet. Percy is more useful
than those two are put together.
Through several corridors and up another set of
stairs. Merlin, this castle is big! And all these staircases! Now I know
why the staff dare feed us so much. We'd work off all the fat just getting
to bed. Where am I again? In front of a huge portrait.
'Password?' Whoa, even the portraits talk in this
place. If she's asking for a password then this must be the entrance then.
'Chimaera,' The portrait swings open to reveal
a pretty big tunnel. Not that big, though. Must take a long time for everyone
to get in and out.
Through the hole, and into a bright orange room. Bright
orange?! No wait, that's just the glow from the fires. This must be
the common room. Empty, no one's in sight. They must have gone to bed.
'I was wondering when you'd come.' Who said that?
Lord, this castle is full of surprises. Look around. Is that red hair,
or another orange glow from the fire? A movement. Percy?
'Perce?' A muffled sound.
'Yes. I was waiting for you' A sniff of disdain.
'Why?' Percy sighs.
'I've been up to the dormitory already. Our room
mates weren't terribly polite or eager for classes. I would have done
a little study, but they were too loud for me to remember anything. So
I came down here.'
'Nice of you. Where's our beds?' Percy sprints towards
the stairs, full of energy. I have to run to catch up.
Up we go, I see long flights of stairs in front. I can't
even see where they stop. With my luck today, the dorms would be at the
I seems I was wrong. Not the top. Second from the top.
Percy yanks the door open with a flourish. Three heads turn in our direction,
probably wondering what the big noise was.
The one closest to us raises an eyebrow. He points to
the empty bed.
'That one's yours,' he says. Noisy room mates,
huh? They don't seem that talkative to me. Didn't even say hello. Percy
yanks my arm forward.
'This is Oliver Wood, everybody,' he says. They murmur
'Hello. I'm Seth. I'll be having the bed over there,'
he points to it, 'so don't sit on it.' He starts to shuffle something
in his hands.
'We're having a game of exploding snap. Wanna play? Though
I have to warn you, it will hurt if you lose,' he grins, his light
blue eyes sparkling mischievously.
'Nah, I'm fine.' Seth shrugs, and turns back to the game.
He doesn't seem too friendly. Or too keen.
Plonking down on my bed. Nice and soft. Perfect. Each
four-poster bed has scarlet curtains hanging around. Across the room,
Percy packs his stuff away carefully. Possibly colour-coding his jumpers,
who knows? Seth and the other two boys are playing exploding snap on
one of their beds.
I get up and draw the curtains closed. The sound of cards
exploding is still audible, but less so. The castle's finally at rest.
Through the window, a full moon beams down upon the lawn. Not a sound
as everyone drifts off into dreamland…
Wide awake again. Are they still playing exploding
snap? Peek through the curtains. Drat, they are.
Trying to ignore the sounds. How does Percy sleep through
Can't get to sleep…
Somehow that didn't sound right. Get up and open the
curtains a smidgen. They're all asleep. So where did that noise come from
then? Ah, nevermind, I'll find out in the morning. Sleep is good.