A Suitable Sorting of Sorcerers
To get to the castle, apparently, they had to take small wooden boats across a lake, four people to each vessel.
“Ah, the classic pre-game fishing trip, of course,” said Calvin, climbing into a boat. He was joined by Hermione, Ron, and Harry.
“I’m not sure if anything lives in the lake, mate,” replied Ron as the man Harry had identified as Hagrid bellowed ‘FORWARD!’ The boats began to glide across the water, leaving gentle ripples in their wake. The gangly boy leaned over the lake and peered down, but all he could see was his reflection.
“Actually,” said Hermione, drawing her robes tightly around her. “A giant squid make its home in this lake, as well as several tribes of mermaids.”
“How’d’you know that?” asked Ron, looking up at her.
“It’s in Hogwart, A History; honestly, Ron, don’t you ever pick up a book?”
“Yeah, I just put ’em back down after a few seconds,” Ron muttered. Beside him, Harry chuckled. “What’re you looking so serious about,” Ron asked, turning to Calvin.
Calvin stared intensely down at his reflection in the lake surface. “I’ve decided I’m going to catch the giant squid. Do you think it’s the same one that lives in the bottom of my toilet and drinks all the water whenever I flush it?”
Hermione gagged. “Eww. Why would you say such a thing?”
“Oh, that’s what my dad said when I asked where all the water goes. Of course, he was trying to concentrate on something at the time, so I suppose he could have gotten mixed up. His Dad ratings were way down that week.”
“Dad ratings?” Harry said, raising an eyebrow.
“Yep. If my dad wants to stay Dad, he’s got to keep the votes of the people! Otherwise, what would stop him from becoming a dictator?”
“Me, obviously – though Hobbes gets half a vote every other week on odd-numbered months when there’s a full moon,” Calvin answered carefully.
The small fleet of boats carrying the first-years neared a great cliff, and they were all told to duck as they passed beneath it. They entered a tunnel of some sort, and before long the tunnel opened up into a spacious cavern, a dock reaching out into the water from the pebbled shore.
They climbed out onto the dock, then up a winding stone passageway before coming out onto a soft, springy grass clearing right in front of the castle. Then it was a short trek over to a set of stone steps, with a great oak door set into the wall at the top. Hagrid knocked three times with his mammoth fist, and the the door instantly swung open.
“Hey, it’s Professor McGonagall!” Calvin said, craning his neck to see through the door.
“She looks nice,” said Hermione.
“She looks scary,” said Ron, who didn’t seem to be in a very good mood. He kept swallowing nervously and holding his stomach.
“I’ll take it from here,” Professor McGonagall was saying to Hagrid, pulling the door open as wide as it could go. The first-years followed as she lead them through the gigantic entrance hall, flaming torches lining the stone walls, each resting in its own metal mounting. She walked up to an enormous set of double doors and turned around, addressing them.
“Now, before we go in, I just want to welcome you all to Hogwarts,” the Scottish witch said, smiling at them. “There is going to be a start-of-term banquet, but first you will all be sorted into your respective houses. The four houses, named after the four Founders of Hogwarts themselves, are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff-”
“Marshmallow people!” whispered Calvin.
“-Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its virtues, its strengths, and its history. Each house has produced its share of outstanding witches and wizards. Each house stands for something – but do not forget that while certain traits may be more celebrated within certain houses, a true witch or wizard tries to encompass all such traits. That said, the Sorting is very important, because during your stay here at Hogwarts, you will spend most of your time within your own house – it will hopefully become something like a family to you. Classes, free time, and sleeping quarters are all arranged by house.
“Throughout the year, everything you do reflects upon the rest of your house – triumphs will earn you house points, while rule breaking get those points taken away. At the end of the school year, whichever house has accumulated the most will be presented with the House Cup, a trophy, but more importantly a great honor. I wish you all much luck in whichever house you are Sorted, and I believe that you will prove to be people who your housemates can be proud of.
“Now, take a moment to tidy yourselves up and we’ll go through these doors into the Great Hall, at which time the Sorting will begin.” She surveyed the group of chattering first-years, gaze settling disapprovingly for a moment here and there, where students had their cloaks sliding to one side, or draped over their shoulders. Her eyes came to a rest on Calvin’s spiky hair.
Calvin, noticing the look, shrugged helplessly. “It’s no use, Professor McGonagall, the only way to make it look any neater is by shaving it off and replacing it with highlighter. And even then, it just grew back the next day.”
Professor McGonagall shook her head, then straightened up and clapped her hands to get the students’ attention. “All right, here we go now. Line up, rows of two, let’s go – keep a hold on that frog, Mr. Longbottom. Mr. Finnigan, get back in line and put that flint away, we’re wizards not cavemen. Everybody ready?” The double line of nervous children shifted like a single, living organism. “Right, then.” She turned and pushed open the massive doors, and the sounds of hundreds of people inside the Great Hall washed over them like a tidal wave of conversation.
They marched in behind the green-clad witch, trying to take it all in at once. The walls were tall and sheer, and the ceiling depicted a midnight-blue sky speckled with twinkling silver stars. Candles floated in the air above their heads, flickering gently. Along both sides of the room were two tables, each as long as three buses and filled with students of all ages, talking and joking with each other.
At the far end of the room was a table on a raised stone platform, and seated at the table were people Calvin guessed to be the other teachers. The one seated in the middle, in a high-backed armchair, looked like he was born in the late cretaceous period at least, judging by the length of his white beard, and his eyes twinkled kindly from behind a pair of half-moon spectacles perched on his nose. That must be Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore! thought Calvin. To the esteemed Mugwump’s right sat a crow of a man if there ever was one, with a hooked nose and long, greasy hair, his angry eyes glaring out from beneath heavy brows. There was also a nervous-looking man in a large purple turban, and at the right end sat the gigantic fellow who’d led them all to the castle.
Situated behind almost the entire line of students, Calvin didn’t realize they’d stopped moving forward until he bumped into the person in front of him. He leaned out to the side, trying to see what was happening, and noticed Professor McGonagall on the raised stone platform, standing in front of the table. Next to her was a four-legged stool, and on the stool lay an old, pointed hat, stitched and patched in places. It had a rip near the brim, and seemed a bit washed out. Suddenly, the hat twitched, gave a little jump, and the rip opened wide like a mouth. The hat burst into song.
“I know what you are likely thinking –
Oh, it’s just a dirty hat.
But let me let you let me tell you,
That I’m much more than that.
I’ve sat on heads both great and dull
And have perused their minds,
I’ve sifted through their myriad thoughts
While they rested their behinds.
I found inside their beating hearts
The reasons they were here,
And picked apart their wants and needs,
Their hopes and dreams and fears.
I listened in and made a choice
To Sort them in the place
That would serve their interests best,
That would cater to their tastes.
Whether it be brave Gryffindor,
For those with inner courage,
Or the loyal friends of Hufflepuff
Who never are discouraged.
Whether the clever minds of Ravenclaw
Who never cease to question
Or ambitious company of Slytherin
Who plot at their discretion –
Put me on and get excited,
You can even do a dance,
For though I have none, don’t be fooled –
Your future’s in good hands!”
As the room thundered with applause the hat bent back and cackled loudly, then abruptly ceased moving, once again appearing to be just an ordinary hat.
The applause trickled off to silence, and Professor McGonagall stepped forward, pulling out a long scroll of parchment from her robes and unrolling it. She looked down at the gathered first-years. “When I call your name, please come up and sit on the stool, and put on the hat to be Sorted.” She cleared her throat and lifted the scroll up.
A girl with rosy cheeks and blond hair in pigtails rushed up, placing the hat on her head as she sat down. Being rather large, it slipped over her eyes. A second or two passed, then –
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat declared loudly from atop Hannah’s head.
One of the tables on the right started cheering and clapping as the girl, smiling and blushing, went over to take a seat among the rest of the Hufflepuffs.
That’s it? Calvin thought to himself, frowning. You just put on a hat and it screams out the name of one of the houses?
“Bones, Susan!” Professor McGonagall announced over the dying cheers.
Another girl scurried up to put on the hat.
I thought it would be more dramatic. This just seems silly. Not that there’s anything wrong with silly.
This time it was a table on the left that applauded, welcoming the boy to their table. A few people stood up to shake his hand and make room for him.
Maybe there’s some sort of test, afterwards, to see if you’re really worthy of whatever house you were sorted into. I hope it’s not a written test. I wonder where Harry, Ron, and Hermione got to? Oh, there they are near the front. Why’s it so quiet? He peeked around the person in front of him to get another look at Professor McGonagall.
The Scottish witch was staring at the parchment in her hands, mouth slightly open. She turned to glance at the bearded wizard with the half-moon spectacles, confusion written across her face. The old wizard smiled blankly at her, eyes twinkling, hands clasped in front of him. Professor McGonagall turned back to the room, flicking her eyes to the rear of the line of first-years, then down to the list of names. She swallowed.
“Boy of Destiny, Calvin!” she called resignedly. All around the room eyebrows were raised. Several people laughed out loud.
“Ooh, that’s me!” Calvin ran eagerly up to the raised part of the room, grabbed the hat and jammed it onto his head, then hopped onto the stool. The hat didn’t go very far down, held up as it was by his excessively spiky hair.
‘You have got to be kidding me,’ a voice spoke into his head.
‘What?’ thought Calvin. ‘Is there a problem, Mr. Hat?’
‘Well, at least you’re polite.’ There was a moment of silence during which Calvin felt something tickle at the inside of his mind. ‘Sometimes, anyway. Hmm, interesting, quite a curious mind you’ve got. Always asking, always thinking – a bit of a philosopher, I see. What do you think of Ravenclaw?’ the hat asked.
‘Um, sounds pointy?’
‘…Then again, maybe not. All right…’ it trailed off again, and Calvin felt as if someone were flipping through his memories like folders in a filing cabinet. ‘My, what a friendship,’ the voice said, and Calvin knew it was referring to Hobbes. ‘Hufflepuff, perhaps?’ it mused.
‘I’m not a marshmallow,’ Calvin told it. He could sense the hat ignoring what he said.
‘But no, there was your part in the Noodle Incident…’
‘THE EVIDENCE WAS INCONCLUSIVE!’ yelled Calvin into his own head.
‘I can see everything, boy, you can’t hide things from me. Now be quiet so I can Sort you.’
‘Wait, you don’t need to talk to me at all? That’s boring. This should be more of an interactive thing.’
‘The Sorting ceremony is as old as Hogwarts, and it’s not going to change just because you are bored. Now shush.’
Calvin felt more memory-tickles, and after about half a minute of silence he said, ‘Aren’t you finished already?’
‘I was trying to find some way out of it, but…’
The hat gave a mental sigh. ‘You’re ninety-one percent Gryffindor already. I thought I’d be able to temper that by placing you in a different house, but it seems it is not to be.’
‘Why would you want to do that?’ questioned Calvin, curious.
‘To try what I could to avert a possible apocalypse,’ the hat replied grimly.
‘Why do people keep saying that!? It’s not like I’m going to do anything bad with magic – I don’t try to destroy things!’
‘I swear, first-years get more naive every year. Now, to get you off my head before your insanity corrupts the ancient spells placed on me by the Founders…it’s time I Sorted you into-‘
“GRYFFINDOR!” shouted the hat from right above him, making Calvin jump.
“Yes!” he yelled, dropping off the stool and punching the air.
‘Annoyinglittlecretinssaywhat?’ spoke a voice rapidly in his head.
“What?” asked Calvin out loud, then realized what the hat had said. “Hey!” Professor McGonagall plucked it off his head before he could think of something to say back. He squinted angrily at the hat as she placed it back on the stool, pointing at his own eyes with two fingers, then turning the fingers towards the piece of headgear. “I’ve got my eye on you, Mr. Hat.”
Professor McGonagall gave him a little push in the direction of the Gryffindor table, which had exploded into applause and cheers. He skipped over and stopped in front of the table, bowing to the redheaded twins on the left, one of whom was banging a pair of large cymbals together. The other one put down a ringing triangle that was as big as he was, and together they walked over to Calvin.
“Oh no,” said their older brother, who had a silver badge with a ‘P’ on it pinned to his robes and was frozen in the act of getting up to shake Calvin’s hand. “He’s one of their kind.”
“Welcome, Boy of Destiny-”
“-to the house of your destiny! Take a seat!” said the twin Calvin had decided was Gred, guiding him over to a seat at their end of the table and pushing him into it.
“Relax!” said the one he was calling Forge, reaching around from behind and tying a napkin around Calvin’s neck.
“Have something to drink!”
“We promise it won’t fill you!” They grabbed his cup and upturned an empty pitcher over it before placing it in front of him.
“I feel like Belle in Beauty and the beast,” Calvin said to himself as the twins piled imaginary dishes onto his plate. “Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test,” he sang, swishing his hands back and forth. “Try our air, it’s the best! Don’t forget to stop and rest!””
“We’ll send you on a tasty quest,” added on of the twins.
“To take part in this eating fest!” his other half finished.
“Granger, Hermione!” Professor McGonagall called.
“It’s Hermione’s turn!” said Calvin. He shoved the twins’ hands out of his face as they tried to force-feed him spoonfuls of invisible food.
Hermione practically sprinted up to the stool, taking the hat and pulling it down quickly onto her head.
“She’d better be in Gryffindor,” Calvin said to himself. “I’m going to need all the help I can get when they start giving us homework.”
“If it’s homework answers you’re after-”
“-we’ve got you covered,” the twins whispered to him.
“GRYFFINDOR!” yelled the hat, and Hermione took it off and headed to the cheering Gryffindor table, smiling with her entire being.
“Phew,” said Calvin. “Well, that’s at least one friend in Gryffindor that I already have. Keep it up, Mr. Hat. Hey, Hermione, over here!” Hermione hurried over, and Calvin help up his hand for a high five, saying, “Great job wearing the hat!”
She tentatively attempted a high five, but just ended up pushing at his hand with her own. “Thanks, I think.”
“This is Gred and Forge,” Calvin said, introducing her to the twins.
They bowed deeply. “We are at your service-
“-oh bushy-haired one.” They turned to Calvin. “And you are aware those aren’t actually our names-”
Calvin shrugged. “I like those names.”
“So we hear you’ve decided to become friends with our ickle Ronniekins.”
“A wise choice – not because of him, obviously, but we’re more likely to help a family member’s friend-”
“-than any old stranger. And our help can come in many forms.” They grinned wildly.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” Hermione told them sternly. “And Ron is a great person.”
“What’s happening, Fred?” one of the twins said anxiously. “I thought we’d left mum at the station.”
“It seems she’s manifesting in this here Hermione,” Fred replied, backing away in fear.
“We’d better make our escape-”
“-while we still can.”
Hermione sat down next to Calvin as the redheaded duo scurried away. “Is everyone at Hogwarts as strange as you?” she asked. Normally she’d hurry to add ‘No offense,’ but she knew Calvin would take it as a compliment, if anything.
“I sure hope not,” Calvin said, looking around. “I pride myself on being the strangest wherever I go – If other people are as strange as me, I’m going to have to actually start working at it.” He shuddered.
They watched while Neville Longbottom, the boy with the toad, was called. As he stepped out from his place in line, Dean yelled to him from behind.
“Put Trevor under the hat, Neville!”
Neville turned around and smiled before heading up to the stool. Thirty seconds later he was Sorted into “GRYFFINDOR!” and happily took off the hat before running over to their table.
“Toad-boy!” Calvin called out to him, waving. Neville hurried over, but Percy intercepted him to shake the boy’s hand.
“Welcome to Gryffindor, Mr. Longbottom,” he said pompously. “If you need anything, just come to me – I’m a prefect.” Then he walked over to Hermione. “I apologize for not greeting you when you first arrived at the table, Ms. Granger, but the twins were here, and I try to avoid them when I can.” He shook her hand and walked back to his seat.
“Does anyone in that family actually like any of their siblings?” Hermione questioned. “I’m an only child, so I can’t be sure, but I don’t think that kind of thing is healthy, do you?”
Calvin gave her one of his shrugs. “Wouldn’t know, I don’t have any siblings either.” They turned to Neville, who had walked around the table and was taking a seat across from Hermione.
“Same here,” he said.
Calvin looked back at the Sorting area just in time to see Draco put on the hat. He sat there under it for about ten seconds, brow furrowed, until the Sorting Hat yelled, “SLYTHERIN!” Calvin watched, intrigued, as the blond-haired boy walked over to the Slytherin table, frowning to himself. He took a seat next to the two large boys who’d been with him on the train and glanced over his shoulder, barely even noticing the thunderous applause he was receiving from his new housemates.
Wonder what that’s about, Calvin pondered. He was raving about going to Slytherin both times we talked, so why’s he looking so edgy? His thoughts brought him to the first conversation he’d had with Draco, back in Diagon Alley roughly a month before. Just about every time Draco had opened his mouth, he’d given off an impression of superiority and self-importance. Yet the arrogance with which he’d introduced himself and started telling them what his parents were off doing was at odds with the way he had responded to Calvin when interrupted. And the whole conversation on the train – apart from his initial words to Harry – had had a decidedly different feel to it.
His contemplation of the strange Slytherin was cut short when he heard Professor McGonagall say, “Potter, Harry!” and the entire Great Hall was promptly filled with urgent murmuring and hushed speculation.
Calvin and Hermione watched as their friend walked slowly up to the hat, fists clenched tight. The symphony of whispers died off as Harry sat beneath the Sorting Hat, fidgeting. Almost two minutes later they returned with a vengeance, as Harry had still yet to be Sorted. The hat lay motionless over his head, obscuring most of his face, but Calvin could see him biting his bottom lip. A moment later the messy-haired boy gave a small shake of his head, right after which the hat shouted as loudly as always, “GRYFFINDOR!”
Harry removed the hat and visibly let out a breath, relief evident on his face. The Gryffindor section erupted into the loudest cheer that evening. As he approached the table, Calvin got to his feet.
“All hail the slayer of the Ogre King!” shouted Calvin.
“All hail the defender of ice cream!” yelled one of the twins.
“The Sultan of Swashbuckling!”
“The Colossus of Claymores!”
“The Great Bamboozler!”
“Hi, guys,” said Harry wearily, sitting down on Calvin’s other side, where a space had suddenly opened up.
“Why were you under the hat for so long?” asked Hermione intensely, leaning across Calvin to peer at Harry.
Harry shook his head. “The hat said something about me being ‘extremely well rounded,’ and wouldn’t sort me until I answered a bunch of its questions.”
“That’s not fair, it wouldn’t even let me talk, barely!” said Calvin, offended. “Why didn’t it just read your mind?”
“Hiya Harry!” said the twins happily, coming over to clap him on the shoulder. “Glad to have you on the team!”
“Now we’ve got the Boy of Destiny and the Boy Who Lived!”
“Hmm, what do we call her…”
“The Girl Who Scolded?”
Hermione hmph’d, rolling her eyes.
“The Girl Who Mothered?”
She ignored them, turning to watch the Sorting.
“The Girl Who Gave Us The Silent Treatment? Nah, too long.”
“Don’t worry, Hermione, we’ll come up with something.” With that, they strolled back to their seats, tossing potential names for her back and forth as they went.
Calvin looked back at the first-years still waiting to be sorted, of which there were four.
“Thomas, Dean!” called Professor McGonagall, and the tall boy bounded up to the stool, shouting enthusiastically.
“Yeah, let’s do this!”
Calvin snorted. “As if it’s even a question.”
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat announced the second it touched Dean’s head.
“Nailed it!” yelled Dean, jumping back up.
“Perfect! Now all I need is for Ron to get Gryffindor and I’ll never have to talk to anyone else for the rest of the year!” said Calvin happily as Dean sped over to the Gryffindor table amidst the deafening applause; their housemates obviously realized how much of a quality Gryffindor Dean was.
“What do you mean by that?” Hermione asked dubiously, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, five friends is more than enough, right?” said Calvin, turning to her. “My mom should be happy with me having five friends. Therefore, I don’t need to make any more.” He stood up and bumped fists with Dean, who was grinning widely. “Knew I’d see you here!”
“Didn’t doubt it for a second, mate,” Dean replied. “I’m going to go find a place to sit.” Calvin looked around, but indeed there were no open seats at their end of the table.
“Alright, I’ll see you later then.”
“Unless I become invisible in the next couple hours, that is.”
“Right. That’s always a possibility,” Calvin said, nodding.
He sat back down just as Professor McGonagall announced the second to last person, “Weasley, Ronald!”
“Ronald,” Calvin chuckled. “I am so calling him that from now on.”
“Aaaaand that’s a wrap!” declared Calvin, joining in with the clapping. Harry had stood up and was applauding wholeheartedly, smiling, while Hermione looked quietly pleased.
Ron walked up to the table and was instantly mobbed by his brothers.
“Ickle Ronnie, so glad you could make it!”
“Now we can tuck you into bed every night!”
“Get away from him, Fred, George,” Percy told the twins from the other side of the table. They were ruffling Ron’s hair and pinching his cheeks, ignoring the embarrassed boy’s protests. “Or mum will hear about this.”
The twins gasped in shock. “You wouldn’t.”
Percy glared coldly at them.
“Okay, okay, we’re going. We’ll give you the full welcome later, little brother, don’t you worry.” They retreated.
“Fantastic job, Ron,” the prefect told his brother proudly, leaning across the table and shaking his hand.
Ron rounded the table to take a seat that Percy had apparently been saving for him. “That was nerve-wracking,” he admitted to them, running a hand through his red hair.
“Tell me about it,” said Harry. Then he looked down at his gleaming, yet empty, plate. “I’m starving. When’s the food part of the banquet?”
“Shh!” Hermione said, pointing to where the Headmaster had pushed his chair back and stood up, smiling radiantly out at the entire student body.
“Welcome!” he said warmly, spreading his arms wide as if to hug them all. “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” He smiled even more radiantly than before and clasped his hands. “Thank you!” Then he sat back down. Everyone cheered.
“Go Mugwump Man!” yelled Calvin loudly, clapping. Dumbledore waved to him.
“You are contagious, aren’t you,” Harry commented, staring at Calvin.
“Nah, I heard Dumbledore’s always been a bit mad,” Ron said. “Woah, lamb chops! Haven’t had those in ages.”
Calvin and Harry gaped in amazement at the food that had literally just appeared on the table.
“You guys wouldn’t be so dumbstruck if you’d read Hogwarts, A History,” said Hermione, serving herself some potatoes. “It’s in chapter seven – page six, line fourteen if I’m not mistaken.”
They piled food onto their plates, passing around dishes and drinks. Calvin had never had pumpkin juice before, but found that he quite enjoyed it. He ate more than he ever remembered eating, devouring an entire platter of steaks by himself, not allowing anyone else to take from it. When they’d finished, and were all leaning back exclaiming how they couldn’t eat another bite, the food disappeared, leaving both their plates and the serving dishes clean as a newborn’s criminal record. After a few seconds they were filled once again, this time with all kinds of desserts, ranging from gigantic cake towers and puddings to wriggling gummy worms, the sheer volume of food making what they’d had on the Hogwarts express look like a collection of crumbs by comparison. They dug in.
Calvin munched on a wafer-like cookie with sparkling sprinkles coating it, and turned to listen to what Seamus was saying; everyone had shuffled around during the meal, and he and Dean ended up across from them and next to Neville, while Percy had floated further down and was talking to someone from his own year.
“I’m half-and-half,” the Irish boy told them. “Mum’s a witch. Dad’s a muggle. Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out – she didn’t tell him about it till after the wedding.” Everyone laughed.
“I think I might be half-and-half too,” Dean said. “My dad left shortly after I was born, so we can’t know for certain, but my mum reckons he was a wizard.”
“What about you, Neville?” said Ron.
“Well, my gran brought me up and she’s a witch,” said Neville, “but the family thought I was all- muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me – he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned – but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced – all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here – they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me Trevor, my toad.”
“I’m a muggleborn,” said Hermione. “Not a drop of magical blood in my family.”
“Way more than a drop in mine,” Ron said wryly. “Way more family, too. All my brothers went to Hogwarts – the oldest two graduated already, and of course Percy and the twins are still here. My younger sister’ll be starting next year, too.”
“My parent’s were wizards, but I don’t remember them,” said Harry. “I grew up living with my aunt and uncle and cousin – they’re muggles, and they’re bloody awful.”
Everyone turned to Calvin expectantly. “Oh, I was a blue-light special at K-Mart. Hey Ron, can you pass some of those squirmy orange things?” he asked, ignoring everyone’s looks of bewilderment. “Thanks. Mmm, slimy…yet satisfying.”
“Ouch!” Harry said suddenly, slapping a hand to his forehead.
“What’s wrong?” Hermione asked concernedly.
“My – my scar hurt. Just for a second. I was just looking at the table with all the teachers.”
Hermione frowned. “Maybe you should go to the nurse, Harry.”
“He’ll miss the rest of the banquet!” complained Ron. “Come on, Harry, you’re fine, right?”
“Yeah, the pain’s gone now.”
Hermione frowned. “If you’re sure. If it hurts again though, you really should go.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.”
The desserts soon disappeared, though, heralding the end of the feast. Professor Dumbledore stood, and quiet instantly swallowed the Great Hall.
“Ahem – just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils – that is why it is called the Forbidden Forest, after all. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well.” Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins. They stood and held their hands up to let everyone know it was them the Headmaster was referring to.
“I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors, and that tormenting his cat in any way will result in a detention – and I quote – ‘the likes of which have never been seen in this castle in the last century and a half at least, though God knows why not, the nine-tailed whip works gorgeously, just gorgeously.’ Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term: anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch, and anyone interested in announcing should contact Lee Jordan, who will be auctioning off the chance to announce certain games throughout the season. And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death. Unlike last year, when it was the middle dungeon on the left-hand side.”
“So if we do want to die a very painful death, the corridor isn’t out of bounds?” said Calvin to Harry, perking up. “As long as someone wants to die and yet manages to avoid dying, he can do whatever he wants in that corridor?”
“You know that’s not what he meant,” Hermione replied, looking at him. “Now shush, I want to listen.”
“And now, before we head off to La-La Land, let us sing the school song!” proclaimed Dumbledore cheerfully. With a flick of his wand, a twirling gold streamer flew from the end of it, undulating through the air and coming to a rest above the tables. It began to twist, and Calvin could make out words becoming clearer in the streamer’s form. “Everyone pick their favorite tune and key,” said Dumbledore, “and off we go!”
“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.”
Everybody stopped singing at different times. Finally, only the Weasley twins and Calvin were left singing, them to a very slow funeral march and him to the tune of ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ in his best Elton John impression.
Dean joined Calvin on the last line, warbling, “And learn until our braaaaaiiiiiiins….all roooooooooooooooooooooot.”
Dumbledore smiled merrily and conducted their last measure with his wand, then clapped enthusiastically when they’d all finished.
“Ah, music,” he said, bringing a finger to his eyes and wiping away a glistening tear. “A magic beyond all we do here! Why, I remember a time when I was lost in the woods, and had to sing a lullaby to a sapling to make it grow into a cabin for me. Of course, that is a story for another time – off you go now, to beddy-bye times!”
After saying goodnight to Hermione at the landing below, where the girls and boys split, they stumbled into their dorm blearily. One of them yawned, setting them all off, and they almost fell asleep right there in the entrance, still standing.
They’d run into Peeves the poltergeist on the way up, and he’d started pelting Neville with pieces of equipment until Dean and Calvin picked up two of the walking sticks the phantom man had thrown, and entered into a sword-fight with him. Outnumbered and outmatched, he’d flown off screeching about the unfairness of ganging up on him.
Calvin tottered over to where he saw his trunk and flopped bonelessly onto the bed face-first.
“What did you think?” asked Ron, opening his own trunk and getting out his pyjamas. “Good food, huh?”
Calvin flipped over over and wheezed, “So. Many. People.”
“I’m used to it, for the most part,” Ron told him. “Comes from having a family as big as mine. Mind you, even when Bill and Charlie were home I never slept in the same room as this many people.”
While everyone was changing into their night clothes, Calvin fell asleep.
“Night, Calvin,” Ron said, climbing into bed. When no answer came, he peeked over at his friend. “Hey, Harry, Calvin’s already out!” He fluffed his pillow. “Harry? Not you, too.” Silence. “Dean?” More silence. “Seamus?” Ron turned to his other side. “Neville?” Snoring filled the room. “Way to make me feel awkward, guys. I really appreciate it.” Ten seconds later his snores joined in with the rest.
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