Chapter 2: The Hat of Fate
Well, this is it, thought Albus, all of my fears will either come true or I'll be in for a pleasant surprise. Albus hoped it would be the latter. The trio stepped off the train to hear the voice of a booming giant.
"Firs' years over 'ere! Firs' years over 'ere!" boomed the voice of the half-giant Hagrid. Rubeus Hagrid had been a family friend ever since he had exposed Albus' dad to the wizarding world nearly twenty-seven years ago.
"Hi Hagrid!" Albus and Rose shouted.
"Well 'ello there Al an' Rose! How's yer parents?" said Hagrid.
"They're good. Dad told me that we could have tea on Friday in your hut, if that's ok with you." said Albus .
"Friday it is, then!" said Hagrid. "All righ' yeh lot, three ter a boat!" Albus, Rose, and Scorpius boarded the same boat, and Hagrid led them across the lake. The three got their first glance at Hogwarts Castle, and it was simply breathtaking. Massive towers and ramparts seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. The whole castle was lit up in a brilliant glow and reflected in the lake. Albus was awestruck. He had heard stories of how cool this castle was, but it was even cooler in reality. The boats silently trudged through the water, and Albus couldn't help but to worry about the house problem. The boats eventually made their way to the dock at the castle, where Albus was greeted by another familiar face.
"Greetings, first years, welcome to Hogwarts! I am Neville Longbottom, Professor of Herbology and Head of Gryffindor House!" said Uncle Neville (Albus supposed he'd have to call him Professor Longbottom now). A frog croaked and jumped out of Neville's robes. "Ah, there you are, Trevor!" The first years laughed and giggled. "Now, follow me and I'll explain the basic rules of Hogwarts!" Albus reluctantly trudged on, following the rest of the first years. Neville led them up a winding staircase to a pair of large, oak doors. He stopped for a moment and began his long explanation.
"Now, Hogwarts has four houses. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. A house is like your family. You eat at the same table, share the same common room and dormitories, and have the same Quidditch team. You also earn points for your house for doing good things, like answering a question correctly in class or winning the Quidditch cup. You can also lose points by getting into trouble. The house with the most points at the end of the year wins the House Cup. Not to brag, but I'd like to point out that Gryffindor has won the House Cup for the past ten years in a row, mind you. Well, that being said, you will be sorted into each of the four houses based on your personality traits. Those who are brave go to Gryffindor, those who are loyal and hard-working go to Hufflepuff, those who are witty and clever go to Ravenclaw, and those who are ambitious and cunning go to Slytherin. Now, follow me and you will be Sorted!" said Neville, thrusting open the oak doors.
They followed nervously behind Neville. Albus noticed the various house tables as he made his way over to the Sorting Hat. His brother was animatedly chatting about something to the four girls seated near him. Judging by the hissing sound he was making Al assumed it was the time James put a garter snake in Albus' sock drawer.
Albus couldn't help but feel as if he was steadily going closer and closer to his imminent death. You're not going to die if you're in Slytherin, he thought, Your family will just disinherit you, that can't be to bad, can it? He kept up these sardonic thoughts, as they strangely seemed to comfort him slightly. With a grimace he turned his attention to the staff table at the far end of the room.
Seated at the headmaster's seat was Kingsley Shacklebolt, another old family friend. Beside him on his left and right were various professors, a couple of which Albus recognized from his parents' stories of Hogwarts, like Hagrid and Professor Trelawney. Neville took out a long piece of parchment from which he read:
"Now, the Sorting Hat will be placed upon your head, and will analyze your mind and sort you into your proper house. As I read your name from the list, step forward and sit on the stool."
Albus stared at the Sorting Hat plopped serenely on the stool. It had a strange seam in it that looked like a mouth. Albus confirmed this when the Hat began to sing:
Oh you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor
Where dwell the brave at heart
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw
If you're a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or Perhaps in Slytheirn
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands
For I'm a Thinking Cap!
"It seems the Hat has chosen to recycle an old song." said Neville, reaching out to pick up the Hat. But the Hat had one more verse to add:
One more thing I need to say
Before you try me on
There will be two surprises here
And pretences will be gone
Just great, thought Albus, The Hat can predict the future too? I'll bet I'm one of those two. Albus heaved a great sigh before watching the Sorting with mild interest.
"Braggston, Melvin!" Called Neville. A nervous boy walked forward. He seemed to be like Neville in many aspects: black hair, clumsy, and nervous. The Hat was placed on Melvin's head and, after a few seconds of debating, the Hat pronounced, "SLYTHERIN!"
"Boot, Patricia!" Called Neville. A small girl nervously made her way up to the stool and put the Hat on. "HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the Hat. A chorus of cheers came from the Hufflepuff table as Patricia Boot made her way over to sit. Neville kept reading down the list as a Finch-Fletcherly became a Ravenclaw. Ariana Gordon became a Gryffindor, Jonathan Harris became a Hufflepuff, and a sinister, ruffian looking boy named Daniel Long became a Gryffindor. A couple of names later and Neville came to "Malfoy, Scorpius!"
Scorpius silently strode up to the Hat, and, with an impassive face, plopped the hat over his head. After a couple seconds of debating, the hat shouted "SLYTHERIN!" and the Slytherin table erupted into cheers. Albus noticed the Hogwarts Crest on Scorpius' robes had magically turned into a Slytherin Crest. Well, at least you'll have a friend if you're sorted there, thought Albus. He glanced over at James, who was making hissing noises at him and mouthed the word Slytherin. Albus gulped and returned his attention to the Hat, who had just placed Thomas Patota into Gryffindor. They've already gotten to the Ps! Where was I! thought Al. He became a virtual train wreck as he saw Professor Longbottom smile while reading the list.
"Potter, Albus!" he called.
This was it. Albus moved mechanically forward, feeling like he was no longer in control of his own body. It would all end here. He hesitantly plopped down on the stool and Neville placed the Hat on his head, not before giving Albus an encouraging smile. The last thing Albus saw was Rose smiling genuinely at him, as if wishing him good luck.
The Hat kind of smelled funny, and he heard a voice come into his ear:
"Ah, another Potter. I suppose you want to be in Gryffindor too?" the voice asked. Albus hesitated before thinking his reply:
Just put me in the house I belong in.
"Hm…what's this? The house you belong in? Why, my dear lad, I always place students in the house where they belong. Now let's take a look into your head, shall we?"
Very well, just please get this over with.
"Ah, I see. Mr. Potter you appear to be very ambitious. You want to prove to your family that you won't be just 'another Weasley' don't you?"
I suppose. I know where this is going, but continue.
"Ah, there you go! Another trait, I see you've had to outsmart your brother on numerous occasions, making you very cunning."
Naturally. I suppose I have capacity to perform Dark Magic in me as well?
"Mr. Potter, you mustn't go on past assumptions. Slytherin house is in the process of clearing its image. I believe you have the greatest chance of helping them. Besides, do you really want to be the same as your entire family?"
Um…I suppose not. But what will my family think?
"They'll eventually learn to accept it. Your parents and Rose will accept it immediately, but give the rest of your family, especially James, some time to adjust to the change."
Out of curiosity, am I one of the "two" you spoke of in your song?
"You would be correct in that assumption, Mr. Potter. Now, are you happy with your choice?"
I suppose I'll have to deal with it. No matter what you would have put me in Slytherin, right?
"Naturally, I always know what house to put you in immediately. I actually had a bit of foresight with that part of the song at the end. Now, are you ready Mr. Potter? You must be brave like a Gryffindor, loyal to your friends like a Hufflepuff, smart and clever like a Ravenclaw, and ambitious and cunning like a Slytherin."
That's quite a lot for an eleven year old. But yes, I'm ready.
"Wise choice Mr. Potter…SLYTHERIN!" The Hat boomed. Albus felt the Hat lift off his head. The first person he saw was a disoriented Neville, who looked as though he might faint. Utter silence penetrated the entire Great Hall as everyone attempted to process what had just occurred. He looked back at the other first years and saw Rose smiling at him. The Hat was right, she doesn't care what house I'm in. But, the most worrisome thing of all was yet to be accounted for.
Albus anxiously glanced over at the Gryffindor table, where all of his family had been for generations. Fred, Roxanne, Victoire, Domonique, Lucy, and Molly all looked at him with shock and disbelief. He nervously glanced at his brother, and saw his face etched with hatred and disgust. James turned away from Albus, leaving Albus feeling brokenhearted and crestfallen.
"Um…Mr. Potter, p-please t-take your s-seat…," said Neville nervously, pointing in the direction of the Slytherin table. Albus took one last glance at his brother, who had become scornful and still full of hate, before shrugging it off and turning away. He trudged over to the Slytherin table, absolute silence accompanying him the entire way.
However, as he neared the table, he heard the distinct sound of clapping. He looked up to see Scorpius clapping animatedly as the rest of Slytherin house joined with smiles on their faces. He looked back at Rose and saw she was clapping too. But what made him really sad was that no one else seemed to care. His entire family had just blatantly ignored him, save for Rose. He sat down on a seat next to Scorpius. A couple of older Slytherins clapped Albus on the back and said, "Welcome to Slytherin!" A couple of the older Slytherins began chanting, "We got a Potter!" repeatedly. Albus smiled. Maybe Slytherins weren't cold, calculating people anymore.
"I told you, now you at least have one friend in your own house!" said Scorpius. Scorpius passed him a chocolate frog and Albus opened it to see the card inside. The card was Salazar Slytherin. How ironic, thought Albus, the only card I needed to complete my collection. After taking a deep gulp, Neville continued reading his list.
Neville eventually came to "Weasley, Rose" and Rose happily strode up to the stool and sat down. Neville nervously placed the Hat on her head, as if he was afraid it would blow up or catch on fire. After a minute of debate, Rose emerged as the Hat proclaimed,
More stunned silence filled the hall. Neville couldn't take a second surprise, and he promptly fainted for real this time. James looked bug-eyed in disbelief, as did the rest of the Weasleys. The silence broke when the Ravenclaw table erupted into applause for Rose as she happily made her way to a seat. Albus and Scorpius began clapping. The Ravenclaw table was right next to the Slytherin table, so Rose would never be too far away during meals and such.
Professor Shacklebolt cast a magic reviving charm on Neville before standing up to give his speech.
"I welcome both old and new faces to another exciting year at Hogwarts! Though that Sorting may have come as a surprise for some of you, I urge you all to try and get along to the best of your ability, no matter what house you're in!" Albus heard the distinct sound of his brother snorting and turned to see his brother giving him a death glare. Just great, thought Albus sadly, I forgot to ask how long it would take for my brother to accept it. Professor Shacklebolt continued his speech.
"I would like to remind you all of a few rules. The Forbidden Forest is, as aptly named, forbidden to all students, with absolutely no exceptions." Professor Shacklebolt's gaze lingered on James before continuing. "Mr. Filch would like me to remind you that his cat Mrs. Norris is getting very old, so please avoid the urge to ceremoniously kick her." Again, his gaze lingered on James. "Now, with that said, let the feast begin!"
Magically the empty plates in front of them filled with the most delicious assortment of food Albus had ever seen. There was steak, potatoes, chicken, fish, and any other food he could ever one. Albus, hungry from the long journey, eagerly began devouring the food. A couple of the older Slytherins came over to talk to him.
"Hello Albus, my name's Annabel Williams. I'm a fifth-year Slytherin prefect. Pleased to meet you," said one girl with long, wavy black hair. Albus hesitantly replied,
"Hi. Nice to meet you."
"I don't know what pretences you've heard, but I assure you we aren't a bunch of evil dark wizards," said Annabel.
"Though I recommend not getting Annabel mad. She may throw in a Crucio or two," said a sandy haired fifth-year sitting next to Annabel. Annabel casually pointed her wand at the boy with a small smile on her face.
"What did you just say?" Annabel asked.
"Nothing at all! Heh heh. By the way, my name's Coluber Mortinson. You can call me Col for short." said the sandy haired boy.
"Coluber? What kind of name is that?" Albus asked.
"My parents. They're kind of obsessed with Slytherin. Coluber means 'snake' in Latin." he said.
"Your parent's named you snake? I thought my parents were bad…," said Scorpius. Coluber chuckled.
"I'm also the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch Team, so if either of you would like to try out, just let me know," Coluber said. Albus nodded but Professor Shacklebolt interrupted him before he could respond.
"Well, now that the feast has concluded, first years follow your house prefects to the dormitories!"
"First year Slytherins, follow me!" shouted Annabel. Albus rose from the table and followed Annabel out of the doors of the Great Hall. He and Scorpius waved at Rose, who was following the Ravenclaw prefects up a tower to their common room. She waved back.
The first year Slytherins were lead down to the dungeons, which seemed rather dark but overall not unpleasant. They passed by the Potions classroom before coming to a wall with an indent in it, like a coin acceptor on a Muggle vending machine.
"Now, in order to enter the Slytherin common room, you must insert the special Slytherin silver coin into the slot here." She did this as she said it, and Albus heard a distinct metallic click come from within the wall. The coin came back out another slot below the first and a line split down the center of the wall. The two sides of the wall parted to reveal an entranceway into the common room. "We used to have passwords but we figured that other people could enter the common room if they overheard the password. So we came up with this coin system. The coins are magically enchanted to burn the hands of anyone not currently in Slytherin house. If you lose them, they will also magically appear near you after a while. Now follow me inside." said Annabel. Albus made his way into the common room, and was pleasantly surprised.
It had torches on braziers along the walls, casting a pleasant light on the room. Overhead there was a dome that displayed the night sky until Albus realized it was the bottom of the lake. Wow, this is really cool! We're actually under the lake! he thought. A pleasant fireplace created a nice, warm atmosphere and portraits of famous Slytherins adorned the walls.
"Here are your coins." Annabel said, passing out coins to all of the first years. Albus examined his. It was a silver piece with a snake forming an S engraved into. Al thought it looked like a pretty cool symbol. He stashed the coin into his pocket. "Now, the boys dormitories are on the left down that hall, and the girls are on the right. You'll find your stuff has already been put there. If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask me or any of the other prefects. Good luck and welcome to Slytherin!" And with that, Annabel left.
"I'm going to go unpack, are you coming?" asked Scorpius.
"No, I think I'll look around a bit first," said Albus. Scorpius smiled and strode over to the dormitories. Albus couldn't believe this had actually happened. I'm in Slytherin, he thought, Everything I was afraid of for the past six months came true, and I couldn't be happier. Being in Slytherin actually seems kind of cool! Albus mildly wondered if the Hat could mess with your mind and chuckled at his own humor. A few Slytherins were hanging out in the common room, some of them reading books. Annabel and Coluber were playing Wizard's Chess by the fireplace. Albus was excited so he began examining the various portraits around the common room. He stopped when he came to a strange portrait of a greasy-haired man next to the fireplace.
Severus Snape. The nameplate read. The man Albus was named after. Albus' father had told many stories about his days at Hogwarts, but strangely never really mentioned Severus Snape. Uncle Ron always said Professor Snape was "a mean old git" but Aunt Hermoine and Dad always respected him. Dad even referred to him as "the bravest man he ever knew," so the man must have done something pretty impressive. He continued to stare into the man's deep black eyes which appeared to be voids into oblivion.
"Any particular reason you're goggling at me like some strange zoo animal, Potter?" asked Professor Snape.
"Oh, I'm sorry professor, my dad had told me a couple of things about you and I just wanted to see what you looked like." said Albus earnestly.
"And how, pray tell, did you become a Slytherin, given the revolting family you were born into?" asked Professor Snape.
"Well, I decided that I wanted to be different from the rest of my family. I wasn't going to be 'another Weasley in Gryffindor' and the Hat must've taken that to be ambition. The Hat also said having to outsmart my brother on numerous occasions made me very cunning, so here I am." said Albus. Snape merely blinked.
"What did your father tell you about me?" asked Snape.
"He said you were the bravest man he ever knew, and that's why I'm named Albus Severus Potter," said Albus proudly. Snape's black eyes widened.
"Potter named you after me?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yes, sir, he did," said Albus. Snape turned around sulkily and walked out of the portrait. I suppose he just needs time to process what he just found out, thought Albus, maybe he's going to tell Dumbledore about it. Albus smiled and walked over to the dormitories.
Albus found out he'd be sharing a room with three other people, as there were normal size beds. He spotted Scorpius chatting to the other two people, whom Albus found out were Melvin Braggston, a nervous muggleborn, and Sandro Oceano, a pure-blood transfer student from Italy. Both of them seemed nice and unlike stereotypical Slytherins. Well, the stereotype that he had head before was entirely false, based on what he had seen. He unpacked and decided to write a letter to his parents, trying to break the news gently.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I don't know exactly how to break this to you, but, well, I've been sorted into Slytherin. Don't worry; I'm perfectly ok with it. Rose was sorted into Ravenclaw. The Hat told me that Slytherin isn't evil any more, and that I can help the house improve its image. Everyone in Slytherin seems really nice. Aside from Rose, the Slytherins have treated me the best out of everyone. I'm kind of worried about the rest of the family. But I'm so excited. I hope you'll understand the whole house thing. I'm still the same Albus.
I talked to Snape's portrait today. It's in the common room, next to the fireplace. He seemed rather shocked when I said that he was the bravest man you ever knew and told him my full name. He sulked out of his portrait, so I don't know if that's a good thing for him or not.
I'm really excited to have my classes tomorrow. I can't believe how much I was worrying about being sorted into Slytherin. Slytherin's great and I'm really happy here. Tell Lily I'll send her home some Hogwarts Candy if I get the chance.
Love you all very much,
P.S. Tell Kreacher I said hi.
Reading over the letter, Albus sealed it and marched off to the owlery. He gave it to his snowy white owl Khione (named after the Greek goddess of snow).
"Bring this to mom and dad," he said. He watched Khione as she flew off into the night. He headed back to his dormitory and found that Melvin and Sandro were both asleep. Scorpius lay awake reading a book called Secrets of How to Be Successful at Hogwarts.
"Good night, Scorpius, I hope we'll be good friends." said Albus, plopping down into his bed.
"I'm sure we will. You, Rose, and I have become the new Golden, or, should I say, Silver Trio." said Scorpius. Albus laughed before drifting off into sound sleep, contemplating what the next day would hold.