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Chapter no 7 – Sorting Hat

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The DOOR opens immediately. A tall female mage wearing an emerald green robe stood there. His face was fierce and Harry’s first thought was, don’t make this wizard angry.

“First class, Professor McGonagall,” said Hagrid.

“Thank you, Hagrid. Let me take over now.”

He opened the door wide. The hall behind the door was so wide, the entire Dursleys’ house could be moved into it. The stone walls were lit by flaming torches like at Gringotts. The ceiling was so high it couldn’t be seen, and there was a magnificent marble staircase in front of them, leading to the upper floors.

The children followed Professor McGonagall across the checkered stone floor. Harry could hear the buzzing of hundreds of voices from the door on the right – the other students would already be there – but Professor McGonagall was taking the first years to a small, empty room off the hall. They were huddled together, standing closer together than usual, looking around anxiously.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start party for the new school year is about to start, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be selected as to which dorm house you will be assigned to. Selection is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your dorm will become a kind of family for you in

Hogwarts. You will study in the same class as your dorm friends, sleep in your dorm, and spend free time in your dorm recreation room.

”There are four houses here, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each house has a noble history and each has produced great wizards. During your time at Hogwarts, your achievements and victories will add points to your house, while breaking the rules will see your house points deducted. At the end of the year, the house that has accumulated the most points will be awarded the House Cup, a great honor. I hope you all will bring pride to whatever dorm you will be in.

“The selection ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the entire school population. I suggest you tidy yourself up as much as possible while you wait.”

His eyes glanced for a moment at Neville’s robes, which were buttoned below his left ear, and Ron’s nose, which had black dirt on it. Harry nervously tried to smooth out his hair.

“I will return when we are ready to receive you,” said Professor McGonagall. “Wait here and don’t make a fuss.”

He leaves the room. Harry swallowed hard.

“How do they select us into the dormitory?” he asked Ron.

”With some kind of test, I guess. Fred said the process was very painful, but I think he was just joking.”

Harry’s heart sank. Test? In front of the whole school? But he knew absolutely nothing about magic—what should he do? He didn’t expect there would be a test as soon as they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that the other children were just as afraid. No one said much except Hermione Granger, who in a whisper quickly recited all the spells she had learned and wondered which ones she would need. Harry tried hard not to listen to him. He had never been this anxious, never. Even when he had to bring a report from school to the Dursleys that he had somehow turned his teacher’s wig blue, he wasn’t this worried. His eyes

directed him to the door. At any moment Professor McGonagall could return and lead him to doom.

Then something happened that made him jump about a foot in the air—several kids behind him screamed.

“Is there a…?”

Harry gaped. So do the children around him. About twenty ghosts had just entered through the back wall. Pearly white and somewhat transparent, they floated around the room, busy chatting and barely paying attention to the first years. It looked like they were fighting. The ghost who looked like a fat little monk said, “Forgive and forget. I think we should give him a second chance…”

“My dear monk, haven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He’s giving us all a bad name and you know, he’s not even a real ghost—eh, what are you all doing here?”

The ghost wearing a ruffle collar and tight trousers suddenly noticed the first year students.

No one answered.

”New students!” said the fat monk, looking around with a smile. “Will be selected soon, right?”

Several children nodded silently.

”Hopefully we’ll meet again in Hufflepuff!” said the monk. “My dorm was there.”

“Get out of the way,” came a firm voice. ”The selection ceremony will begin soon.”

Professor McGonagall has returned. One by one, the ghosts floated out through the opposing walls.

“Now line up one by one,” said Professor McGonagall to the first class, “and follow me.”

Feeling as heavy as if his legs had turned to lead, Harry fell into line behind the brown-haired boy, with Ron behind him. They walked from the room, returned to the entrance hall and entered through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.

Harry had never imagined that such a strange and wonderful place could exist. The hall is lit by thousands of candles floating in the air above the four

long table. The higher class students sat around the four tables. These tables were covered with shiny golden plates and goblets. At the end of the Hall, on a higher place, there is another long table, where the teachers sit. Professor McGonagall led the first year students there, until they stood in a long line, facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces that looked at them looked like pale lanterns under the flickering candlelight. Scattered here and there among the students, ghosts shimmered like a silver mist. Avoiding so many eyes staring at him, Harry looked up and saw a velvet black sky dotted with stars. He heard Hermione whisper, “Enchanted to look like the sky outside. I read it in the History of Hogwarts book. 

It was hard to imagine that there was a ceiling above, and that the Great Hall did not open directly to the sky.

Harry quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On the bench he placed a pointed magic hat. The hat was patched, frayed and very dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn’t allow the hat to be brought into the house.

Maybe they should try some magic and get a rabbit out of the hat, Harry thought frantically. It seemed so, for everyone in the Hall now turned their eyes to the hat. Harry looked at him too. For a few seconds, there was just complete silence. Then the hat twisted. The tear near the edge opened wide like a mouth—and the hat began to sing:

“Oh, maybe you think I’m ugly ,

But don’t judge me by my appearance, I bet you won’t find a hat smarter than me.

Your cloak can be pitch black, Your hat is smooth and tall , I excel at all of that

Because here at Hogwarts I am the Sorting Hat. There’s nothing on your mind

What you can hide from me ,

So use me and I’ll tell you which House is right for you.

Maybe you’re right for Gryffindor ,

The gathering place of the brave and honest , Their courage, tenacity, and heroism Made the name of Gryffindor famous;

Maybe Hufflepuff is your place, With those who are fair and loyal, Hufflepuff residents are patient and loyal

Hard work is not a burden for them; Or who knows in Ravenclaw ,

If you are smart and want to learn, this is a place for wise people and intellectuals, a gathering place for those who are smart; Or it could be Slytherin

You found a friend of the same heart ,

These cunning people use any means to gain personal satisfaction.

So, hurry up and use me!

Do not be afraid and do not hesitate! Guaranteed you will be safe

Because I’m your Sorting Hat!”

The entire Hall erupted in thunderous applause when the hat ended its song. The hat bowed towards the four tables and then fell silent again.

“So we have to wear the hats!” Ron whispered to Harry. “I killed Fred. He said we had to fight the trolls .”

Harry smiled weakly. Yes, wearing a hat was much better than magic, but he would have preferred to be able to do it without everyone watching. The hat seemed like it was asking too much. Harry didn’t feel brave or intelligent or anything at the moment. If only the hat mentioned a hostel for those who feel restless and want to vomit, that hostel is the most suitable for him.

Professor McGonagall stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment.

“Those who are named should come forward and wear a hat, then sit on a bench to be selected,” he said. “Abbot, Hannah!”

A red-faced girl with blonde hair in a ponytail stepped out of the line, put on a hat, which immediately fell over her eyes, and sat down.

A moment later…

”HUFFLEPUFF!” shouted the hat.

The table to the right cheered and clapped as Hannah approached and sat down at the Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Monk waving happily at Hannah.

”Bones, Susan!”

”HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat shouted again, and Susan ran to sit next to Hannah.

”Boot, Terry!”

”RAVENCLAW!”

The second table from the left changed to applause this time, several Ravenclaws stood up to shake Terry’s hand when he had joined them.

”Brocklehurst, Mandy” also went to Ravenclaw, but ”Brown, Lavender” became the first new Gryffindor members and the table at the far left erupted in cheers. Harry saw Ron’s twin brothers screaming.

The next one, ”Bulstrode, Millicent”, is for Slyth erin. Maybe it was just Harry’s imagination, after everything he had heard about Slytherin, but the Slytherins didn’t seem very pleasant to him.

Harry really wanted to throw up now. He remembered the sports team selection event at his old school. He was always picked last, not because he couldn’t play sports, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked Harry.

”Finch-Fletchley, Justin!” ”HUFFLEPUFF!”

Sometimes, Harry noticed, the hat would immediately shout out the name of the house, but it could also take a long time before deciding. ”Finnigan, Seamus”, the brown haired boy in front of Harry, sat on the bench for almost a full minute before the hat decided on Gryffindor for him.

”Granger, Hermione!”

Hermione almost ran to the bench and excitedly put the hat on her head.

”GRYFFINDOR!” shouted the hat. Ron complained.

A terrible thought crossed Harry’s mind. As usual, scary thoughts always appear when you are very anxious. What if he is not selected? What if he sat there on the bench with his hat over his head, until Professor McGonagall took it off his head and declared that there had clearly been a mistake, and sent him back to the carriage?

When Neville Longbottom, the boy who always lost his frogs, was called by name, he fell over as he walked to the bench. The hat took a long time to make a decision for Neville. When at last the hat shouted “GRYFFINDOR”, Neville ran off still wearing the hat, and was forced to return amidst the laughter to give it to “MacDougal, Morag”.

Malfoy walked over pretentiously when his name was called and his wish was immediately granted. As soon as it touched his head, the hat immediately shouted, “SLYTHERIN!”

Malfoy joined his friends Crabbe and Goyle, a look of satisfaction on his face.

There aren’t many left now.

”Moon”… ”Nott”… ”Parkinson”… then a pair of twin girls, ”Patil” and ”Patil”… then ”Perks, Sally-Anne”… and then, finally…

”Potter, Harry!”

As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly spread like sizzling fire throughout the hall.

“Potter, that’s what he said?” “That Harry Potter?”

The last thing Harry saw before the hat covered his eyes was the children in the hall craning their necks to get a better look at him. The next second what was visible was the black inside of the hat. He waited.

“Hmmm,” came a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Great courage, apparently. The brain is also weak. There’s talent, oh, my, yes—and

thirst to prove oneself, ah, that’s interesting… So, where should I place you?”

Harry gripped the edge of the bench and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.

“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be a great wizard, you know, it’s all in your head, and Slytherin could help you achieve fame, there’s no doubt about it—no? Well, if you’re sure—better GRYFFINDOR!”

Harry heard the hat shout the last word down the hall. He took off his hat and walked shakily towards the Gryffindor table. He was so relieved to have been chosen and not placed in Slytherin, that he barely noticed that he was getting the most rousing welcome. Percy the Prefect got up and shook his hand excitedly, while the Weasley twins squealed, “We got Potter! We got Potter!” Harry sat opposite the ruffle-collared ghost he had seen before. The ghost stroked his arm, making Harry feel like he had suddenly been plunged into a bucket of ice water.

Harry could see the High Table clearly now. At the far end sat Hagrid, who made eye contact with him and held up both thumbs. Harry smiled back. And in the center of the High Table, in a large golden chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry immediately recognized him from the card he got from the Chocolate Frog on the train earlier. Dumbledore’s silver hair was the only thing in the Hall that shone as brightly as the ghosts. Harry saw Professor Quirrell too, the nervous young man he had met in the Leaky Cauldron. Professor Quirrell looked very strange wearing a large purple turban.

Now there are only three children left to be selected. ”Thomas, Dean” a black boy and taller than Ron, joined Harry at the Gryffindor table. ”Turpin, Lisa” became Ravenclaws, and then it was Ron’s turn. Ron was deathly pale now. Harry crossed his fingers under the table, hoping for luck and a second later the hat shouted, “GRYFFINDOR!”

Harry clapped loudly along with the others while Ron sank into the chair next to him.

“Well done, Ron, great,” said Percy Weasley proudly, as “Zabini, Blaise” was declared Slytherin. Professor McGonagall rolled up the parchment and took back the Sorting Hat.

Harry stared at his empty gold plate. He just realized how hungry he was. That pumpkin pastel feels like it’s been around for a century.

Albus Dumbledore was on his feet. He smiled at the children, his arms wide open, as if nothing would have pleased him more than seeing them all there.

“WELCOME!” he said. “Welcome to the new school year at Hogwarts. Before we begin our meal, I would like to say a few words. Here it is: Stupid! Fat! Strange! Jewer!

“Thank You!”

He sat back down. All the children clapped and cheered. Harry didn’t know whether he should laugh or not.

“Is he—kind of crazy?” he asked Percy doubtfully.

“Crazy?” Percy said made up. ”He’s a genius! The most powerful wizard in the world! But he’s a bit crazy, isn’t he? Potatoes, Harry?”

Harry’s mouth fell open. The plates in front of him were now full of food. He had never seen so much food he wanted to eat served on one table. Roast beef, chicken, pork, goat, sausages, bacon, steak, French fries , boiled potatoes, pudding, beans, carrots, broth, tomato sauce, even spicy candy.

The Dursleys didn’t starve Harry, but he was never allowed to eat as much as he wanted. Dudley always took whatever Harry wanted, even if it made him sick to his stomach. Harry filled his plate with bits and pieces of everything, except the spicy sweets, then started eating. Everything is delicious.

“That looks delicious,” said the ruffle-collared ghost sadly, watching Harry slice his steak .

“Can’t you…?”

“I haven’t eaten for almost four hundred years,” said the ghost. “It’s not necessary, of course, but sometimes I want to. I guess I haven’t introduced myself yet? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington is at your service. The Ghost of Gryffindor Tower.”

“I know who you are!” Ron said suddenly. “My brother told me about you—you Nearly Headless Nick!”

“I’d prefer you call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy…,” said the ghost stiffly, but brunette Seamus Finnigan interrupted.

“Nearly Head-Broken? How can you be called Nearly Headless?”

Sir Nicholas looked very irritated, as if their little chat had not gone as well as he had hoped.

“That’s it,” he said irritably. He grabbed his left ear, then pulled. His entire head slipped from his neck and fell onto his shoulders, as if hanging on a hinge. Obviously someone tried to behead him, but didn’t do it perfectly. Satisfied with their surprise, Nearly Headless Nick put his head back to his neck, cleared his throat, and said, “So—new member of Gryffindor! I hope you will help us win the Inter-House Championship this year. Never before had Gryffindor not won for this long. Slytherin won the cup for the sixth year in a row! The Bloody Baron has become so pretentious and so annoying—he’s Slytherin’s ghost.”

Harry looked at the Slytherin table and saw a hideous ghost sitting there, with blank eyes, a pale face, and robes stained with silver blood. He sat next to Malfoy and Harry was pleased to see that Malfoy didn’t seem happy with this seating arrangement.

“How did he get so covered in blood?” Seamus asked curiously.

“I never asked,” answered Nearly Headless Nick.

When everyone had eaten as much as possible, the remaining food simply disappeared from the plates, and the plates were immediately sparkling clean as before. A moment later the dessert appeared. Various puddings, ice cream of all flavors, apple pie, caramel tart, chocolate eclairs, chocolate donuts, jams, nuts, honey, jelly….

As Harry picked up the caramel tart, the conversation turned to family.

“I’m half-assed,” said Seamus. “My father is a Muggle. My mother only told him after marriage. Imagine how shocked Dad would be.”

They all laugh.

“What about you, Neville?”

“I was brought up by Grandma and she was a witch,” said Neville. “But for years the whole family thought I was a Muggle. My grandmother’s younger brother, Grandpa Algie, tricked me many times to try to get the magic out of me—he even pushed me so I fell off the pier, I almost drowned—but nothing happened until I was eight years old. Grandpa Algie came to drink tea with us and he was holding me upside down by my ankles from the attic window, when his sister, Grandma Enid, offered him a sweet cake, and he accidentally let go of his hold. But I survived—just soared through the garden and onto the street. They are very happy. Grandma cried with joy. And you should have seen their faces when I came in—because they didn’t think I had the magic power to get back in. Grandpa Algie was very satisfied, so he bought me my frog.”

On the other hand Harry, Percy Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons (“I hope they start straight away, there’s so much to learn. I’m especially interested in Transfiguration, you know, turning something into something else. Of course it’s very difficult…”,” Start small first, matchsticks become needles and things like that…”).

Harry, starting to feel warm and sleepy, looked up at the High Table again. Hagrid was busy drinking from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, in his magical turban, was talking to a greasy black-haired teacher, with a hooked nose and pale skin.

It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell’s turban straight into Harry’s eyes—and hot, stinging pain shot through the scar on Harry’s forehead.

”Ouch!” Harry put a hand to his forehead. “What is it?” Percy asked.

”N-nothing.”

The pain disappeared as quickly as it came. What was harder to shake was the feeling Harry got from the teacher’s gaze earlier – the feeling that he didn’t like Harry at all.

“Who is that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?” Harry asked Percy.

“Oh, you know Quirrell, don’t you? No wonder he looked so agitated, it was Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, but not really

wanted—everyone knew he wanted Quirrell’s post. That Snape knows a lot about Dark Magic.”

For some time Harry watched Snape, but Snape did not look at him again.

Finally the dessert also disappeared and Professor Dumbledore stood up again. The hall immediately fell silent.

“Ahem—just a few more words after we’ve had enough food and drink. There are several announcements for the start of the school year that I will convey.

“First grade students should know that the forest surrounding the yard is forbidden for anyone to enter. And some of the higher grade students would do well to remember this too.”

Dumbledore’s glowing eyes were directed at the Weasley twins.

“I was also asked by Mr Filch, the school custodian, to remind all of you that magic is not to be used during class changes in the corridors.

”Quidditch player selection will be held in the second week of the semester. Anyone interested in playing for their house team, please contact Madam Hooch.

“And finally, I must convey to you that this year, the third floor corridor on the right is best avoided by those who do not want to die in agony.”

Harry laughed, but he was only one of the few who laughed. “He’s not serious, is he?” he muttered to Percy.

“Seriously,” said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. “It’s strange, because he usually gives us reasons why we shouldn’t go into certain places—the forest is full of dangerous animals, everyone knows that. I think he should at least tell the prefects.”

“And now, before we sleep, let’s sing our school song!” cried Dumbledore. Harry noticed that the other teachers were all smiling.

Dumbledore flicked his wand, as if trying to dislodge a fly from its tip, and a long golden ribbon flew out of the wand, flew high above the tables, and twisted into words.

“Each one chooses his favorite tune,” said Dumbledore, “and off we go!”

And the song rose:

“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, Teach us something ,

May we be old and bald or young and innocent,

Our heads are empty and still need a lot of filling ,

With interesting and useful things, So that we become meaningful people ,

Remind us of the things we have forgotten , And teach us everything we need to know, Guide us as best we can ,

We will study with all our hearts.”

Each ends the song at a different time. In the end it was just the Weasley twins who sang it in a very slow funeral march style. Dumbledore acted as conductor, leading the last lines of their song with his wand, and when they finished singing, Dumbledore was one of those who clapped the loudest.

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “More magical than anything we learn here! And now, it’s time to sleep! Leave!”

The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chattering crowd, out of the Great Hall and up the marble stairs. Harry’s legs felt heavy as lead again, but this time it was because he was so tired and stuffed. He was so sleepy he didn’t notice the people in the paintings hanging along the corridors whispering and pointing as they passed, or that Percy was leading them through a door hidden behind a sash panel and a tapestry hanging on the wall. They climbed more stairs, yawning and shuffling their feet, and Harry was just wondering how much further they had to go, when suddenly they stopped.

A bunch of sticks floated in front of them and when Percy took a step forward they came flying and hit him.

“Peeves,” Percy whispered to the first years. ”Jail ghost.” He raised his voice: “Peeves—show yourself.”

There was an obscenely loud noise, like air being released from a balloon.

“You want me to call you the Bloody Baron?”

There was a pop and a small man, with mischievous dark eyes and a wide mouth, appeared, floating cross-legged in the air, holding the sticks.

“Oooooooh!” he said with a mischievous laugh. “First class! Fun!” Suddenly he lunged at them. The children looked down.

“Get lost, Peeves. Otherwise the Baron will hear about all this.

Right!” snapped Percy.

Peeves stuck out his tongue and disappeared, dropping the sticks on Neville’s head. They heard him slide away, knocking the armor as it clattered.

“You have to be careful of Peeves,” said Percy, as they set off again. “The Bloody Baron is the only one who can control it. He wouldn’t even listen to us prefects. Well, we’re here.”

At the end of the corridor hangs a painting of a very fat woman wearing a pink dress.

“Keywords?” he said.

” Caput Draconis ,” Percy answered, and the painting swung forward. It turned out that there was a hole in the wall behind him. They all squeezed through the hole—Neville needed to be pushed—and were suddenly in the Gryffindor common room, a comfortable round room full of soft sofas.

Percy sent the girls through one door to their bedrooms, and the boys through another. At the top of the circular staircase—they were clearly in one of the towers—they finally found their sleeping quarters: five large beds with dark red velvet mosquito nets. Their suitcases had been brought up. Too tired to chat, they put on their pajamas and fell straight into bed.

“The food is really delicious, isn’t it?” Ron muttered to Harry from behind the mosquito net. “Move, Scabbers. He chewed my sheets.”

Harry wanted to ask Ron if he had eaten caramel tart, but fell asleep.

Maybe Harry ate a little too much, because he had a very strange dream. He was wearing the turban of Professor Quirrell, who kept talking to him, telling him to immediately transfer to Slytherin, as it was his fate. Harry told the turban he didn’t want to move to Slytherin. The turban became heavier and heavier over time. He tried to pull it off, but the turban wrapped around him tighter and tighter until his head hurt—and there was Malfoy, laughing at him while he struggled with the turban—then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh was shrill and cold—there was a burst of green light and Harry woke up, sweating and shaking.

He turned over and immediately fell asleep again, and when he woke up the next morning, he had no memory of his dream at all.

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