"Doesn't that mean she's in Hufflepuff?"

Rapunzel handed the hat to the girl called Megara.

The tall lady who had ushered the students off the train also had her hand on the hat, having come over while Rapunzel was still distracted.

"Professor Watase?"

The man with the pink hair stared at them.

"The other students need to be sorted."

The girl with the brown hair sat on the stool but the students were still mumbling.

"What are they gonna do with her?" Think she'll get kicked out?" "That's the girl with no robes… maybe she's not even magic." "She's obviously just a Hufflepuff." "Maybe the hat is broken."

Tears started to roll down Rapunzel's cheeks unwittingly. Her eyes were wide and unblinking. No. After all of this?

Professor Choko and the tall woman ushered Rapunzel out of the hall, away from the amazing smells of food, and the flickering candles, and people, into a room behind the teachers where she sat and listened.

Slytherin.

Hanajima, Saki… Slytherin.

"What's wrong with me?" Rapunzel fretted from a chair. She didn't look at either woman, both of whom were giving each other worried glances.

"I guess we should put her with Hufflepuff… Helga would have taken her," she heard Choko say.

"There must have been a reason the sorting hat didn't put her there, then."

"Let's ask Yuri, that's all I can think of."

"When the ceremony is over, we bring the hat in here, give it as long as it wants to decide."

"I'm still sticking with Hufflepuff."

"Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to put a hat in charge of these kinds of decisions!?"

Holo… Ravenclaw.

Honda, Tohru, ….Hufflepuff

Ichinomiya…

Rapunzel stared blankly at the wall. Maybe if she could find a way to get back home, she could avoid this whole mess entirely. She could make an excuse for why she wasn't there when her mother got home… pretend the only thing magic about her was her hair… most people didn't even have that.

She didn't have enough of a defining personality to even sort her? How many decades had…

"I mean, how many centuries has this place been open and no one has ever been NOT sorted," Choko said.

Centuries.

Rapunzel gulped.

Well, she could give the clothes back and no longer be indebted to Professor what's-His-face…

If she was really a member of the clever house, she would have everything figured out.

If she was really a member of the brave house, she would have taken a stand. Against her mother. Against the stupid hat.

If she was a Slytherin, she wouldn't feel so awful about betraying her mother'

And if she was a Hufflepuff…. She'd be something.

Kawashima, Ami… Slytherin.

Kerchak, Tarzan… Ravenclaw

Kitamura, Yusaku… Ravenclaw

Two of those names sounded familiar…

Kushieda, Minori…

Rapunzel was on the edge of her seat, listening.

Hufflepuff!

"That's about half of them." The tall lady mumbled.

The time seemed to drag on.

Lawrence, Craft… Ravenclaw

Legume, Gaston… Gryffindor

Oginome, Ringo… Gryffindor

Olympia, Hercules… Gryffindor

Otomiya, Haines… Hufflepuff

Porter, Jane… Ravenclaw

Sohma, Hatsuharu…

"You know," said the tall lady with a small laugh, "I heard that all the Sohmas are animagi."

"Shut up!"

"It's just a rumor, I mean, come on, they're just kids."

"I've heard of it happening."

"I shouldn't have said anything, don't want her getting the wrong idea."

Rapunzel looked up to see the tall lady winking at her. The lady stretched and stood up straight.

"I wanna hear this- I bet Slytherin gets at least one of them there's what…?"

"Six."

"Six of them coming through this year."

Rapunzel grew curious as well. It seemed that the boy, Hatsuharu, had gotten sorted into Hufflepuff.

Sohma, Kagura… Gryffindor

Sohma, Kyo… Slytherin

Sohma, Rin… Slytherin

Sohma, Yuki… Ravenclaw

Southern Isles, Hans…

"Wanna place bets on whether or not they are animagi?" the tall woman asked Professor Choko.

The shorter of the two shook her head and chuckled.

Slytherin

Takakura, Himari… Hufflepuff

Takakura, Kanba… Slytherin

"More siblings?"

"I guess so. Heard the other ones were cousins, though. I mean, obviously not sextuplets…"

"All the same age?"

"No," the tall woman replied to Choko, "Um, I guess after they stopped enrolling the middle-schoolers, the enrollment age was left up to discretion of some parents…? I mean all of them are 14… 15… 16… but you know, only wizarding families. Others just have to wait till they get that letter."

"I think you're lying." Professor Choko replied.

"Not lying. Ask Watase."

"Up to discretion, my butt."

"After the whole Voldemort thing, parents are teaching their kids things at a younger age, now. Basics…"

Rapunzel tuned the two out.

Takakura, Shoma… Hufflepuff

Takasu, Ryugi… Hufflepuff

Rapunzel recognized the name as that of the boy who had been looking coyly at Minori; she was secretly glad that the two were in the same house. As time passed, she was starting to become more at ease about not being sorted… it was like a sort of warmth had been coaxed out of the dreary lull of voices and she was no longer very at touch with reality, or ecstatic enough to believe it all to be true. It was too good to be true, so she listened to the sharp voice of the stupid hat like a dream, imagining all of those kids and all of the fun that could be had and she enjoyed it before she knew that very soon, she would have to wake up.

Togu, Shizumasa… Gryffindor

Tsujimiya, Maguri… Gryffindor

Uotani, Arisa…Gryffindor

There was a lengthy pause after the clapping for Arisa had stopped and she heard the distinct voice of Professor Watase…

"Gryffindors… Ravenclaws… Slytherin… and Hufflepuff… the esteemed houses. All have been sorted, except, obviously, one."

Rapunzel cringed. Was he always this blunt.

"And the night wouldn't be complete without that…"

"Are we supposed to bring her out?" Choko asked.

"I guess so?" the tall woman responded.

Rapunzel gazed up at both with wide eyes and then followed them out.

Despite being lit only with candlelight, the Great Hall seemed bright in comparison to the dark chamber she had been in. She felt like a spectacle and knew, very honestly, that she was. She wondered if they would try the hat again, but she looked at it and all of its previously animated features had fallen limp.

"So, how should we sort this young girl, huh? "

"We'll take her!" She heard a voice shout from the table with yellow ties. Hufflepuff. Minori's table.

"Ah, as you would, but… there would be a reason the Sorting Hat did not put her there. I know! Whoever wins the House Cup this year gets the girl!"

"PROFESSOR!" the tall woman yelled. The whole room was stunned into silence.

"I quite agree," said a male professor behind them with light brown hair, "We can't just not sort a girl for an entire year and then auction her off like a prize to be won."

"This is madness." Said another with glasses.

"I'm the headmaster," said Watase, "And I think my logic is sufficient. Let's see what house is worthy of a girl who's priceless."

Rapunzel was suddenly embarrassed and looked out at the crowd hesitantly.

"Where is she to sleep?"

"What is sleep?" the headmaster waved his hand.

Rapunzel began to panic. This was such a bad idea, such a bad, bad idea. Never should have left, never should have…

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. The male teacher with the light brown hair had a hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry… you're going to be a Hufflepuff…" he started to guide her down to the table of yellow-ties.

Leftovers… no one else was a leftover, everyone else was picked. Just her… leftover…

"Kureno," the tall woman cautioned, "If she ends up sorted to another house, she'll know how to get into the Hufflepuff Common room…"

"Oh well, I trust her…" he addressed Rapunzel, "Are you trustworthy?"

Rapunzel was so sick to her stomach that the voices just flooded like radio static. She wanted to go home.

"You can trust me."

"Okay, go sit down."