When the train lurched, we saw that night approached and there were lights shining out of the darkness of the windows; we were at another station. Looking back to look in our compartment, Sarah was once again standing on the seat, but this time, she pulled down her trunk and her owl, I did the same, except I grabbed my empty pet carrier from under the seat.
"We should put our robes on", said Sarah, as she opened her trunk, pulled her black robes out, and slipped them on her. I put mine on, too. They seemed to have become tighter since I first bought them. When we closed our trunks, we left our stuff on the seats, knowing someone would take them to our new dormitories.
"Bye, Norman. I'll see you in a little bit", Sarah told her owl. He answered her by screeching.
I walked over to the sliding door, and opened it. The two of us walked out of the compartment and into the aisle filled with excited and exhausted kids. I was nudged a couple of times by swinging elbows, but we finally made it onto the station. It felt strange standing still after we've been moving that long.
As I looked around I saw a very tall, hairy man, shouting "Firs' years, firs' years over here!". His voice was really rough. Sarah grabbed my sleeve and pulled me with her through a group of kids, that led to another group of kids that looked our age, standing in front of the man. "Come on follow me. Any more firs' years? Mind yer step now! Firs' years follow me!"
I could see Hermione, who was walking fast with her nose up in the air. Yep, her and my Gran would get along real good.
We all followed the man through a patch of woods, nobody said anything on account of how dark and cold it was.
"Hey", Sarah whispered in my ear, but it was so dark, I could barely see her face. "I hope we're in the same House. It would be nice to already know you if we are."
"Yeah", I whispered back.
"Yeh'll get yer sight o' Hogwarts in a sec", the giant man said. "jus' round this bend here".
He was right, I heard a loud "Ooohh!" from the rest of us as we stared at Hogwarts. It was a huge castle, we could see the lights from inside, lighting up the night.
"You know, that looks just like-", I whispered to Sarah, but when I turned to look at her, she was gone. I figured we got seperated by this large group. I began feeling nervous again. It was like she said, it would be nice to know at least one person. But I was a big boy, I could handle being alone.
"No more'n four in a boat!", shouted the man pointing to a few boats, bobbing up and down in the water. I quickly ran over to Hermione and got into a boat with her, and two other boys.
As soon as we all got into the boats, they began moving gracefully towards the castle. I couldn't take my eyes off of it, it was really something. "Heads down!", yelled the man. The next thing we knew we were under a cold something, and we were brought on shore, I suppose. When we got out of the boats, the only light we could see was the man's lantern shining in my face, as he led us out of the cave.
"Oy, you there! Is this your toad?", he said, as he pulled out my pet from his pocket.
"Trevor!", I said loudly, retrieving him. I noticed at that moment how many stares I got. We then walked up a lot of steps that were leading to the front doors of the castle.
"Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?"
I nodded and he preceded to knock on the door, making a loud, hollow sound. It opened almost immediately; a tall, woman came out, she seemed very strict. Why did everyone remind me of my Gran? Her shiny, green robes made mine feel old.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall."
"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here". With that, she pulled open the door all the way, so we could all get through. The inside looked bigger than the outside. There were torches on the wall making the entire place light up. Marble staircases that led up, and up, and up. Not to mention how many portraits of moving figures there were. Professor McGonagall showed us into a small corridor, causing us to squish together.
"Welcome to Hogwarts", she began. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seat in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your Houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony, because while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
"The four Houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house had its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your House points. While any rule breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points is awarded the House cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever House becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting", she finished.
I could tell she was looking at me. Her stare, ice cold. I quickly fixed my robes that were messed up.
"I shall return when we are waiting for you, please wait quietly", she said, and then she was gone. My Gran told me about the Hat that was going to sort us, a raggedy, old thing it was. I was hoping that it wouldn't say Slytherin for me, after hearing so many horrible things they have done, I didn't want to be in it. The others were whispering to each other about their Houses as well. However, a voice broke through my thoughts.
"Excuse me, excuse me, oops! Sorry!", I looked back to see Sarah, pushing her way through the crowd, right when she stepped on a girl's foot. In the back I also saw Ernie, he was talking to two girls and another boy; not even been here an hour and he's already popular. "Hey!", Sarah said, happily.
I smiled back at her. "Hey. Where'd you get to?"
"Yeah, sorry about that. This really mean kid and his three friends kept pushing me and some others out of the way. They'll regret that when I learn how to do real spells", she said determinedly. "One time, I accidentally turned my cousin's dog into a bug. It took us days to find him after that". We both laughed.
Suddenly, out of the walls, ten or more ghosts came out. They seemed ancient like they've been here a long time. One ghost was big like me, and holding a cup, while another was scary looking and waving his sword around.
"New students!", exclaimed the fat ghost. "About to be Sorted, I suppose? Hope to see you in Hufflepuff! My old house, you know", and with that, he went back into the walls.
After a few minutes, Professor McGonagall returned and shouted for the ghosts to leave us alone; to which they had gone back where they came from, leaving behind a cold chill in the corridor.
"Now, form a line, and follow me", she said. We did as we were told, and formed two straight lines. I was next to Sarah, with Hermione in front of me. Professor McGonagall had opened the doors to the Great Hall.
The room was really big. Inside, there were four really, long tables that had students sitting all around them. I noticed that each table had kids sitting with the same House colors on their robes. I saw the adults who were most likely our Professors sitting at the end of the Great Hall in a row, all staring at us. I looked up at the ceiling, and stared in awe as there were lit candle sticks, that looked as though they were floating in the night sky. I could hear Hermione in front of me, "It's bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History." That must have been the book she read on the train.
We stopped and crowded at the front of the Hall and stared at Professor McGonagall standing next to the Sorting Hat that lay on a stool. The hat seemed to move a little, then perked up and began singing?
"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've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin,
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 (Though I have none),
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"
Finally the song was over and after a round of applause, Professor McGonagall spoke again, while holding a long list of parchment, that had to have all of our names on. "When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted. Abbott, Hannah!"
Just then, a girl behind me, stepped forward, sat on the stool and put on the hat. After some brief hesitation, it shouted, "HUFFLEPUFF!". One table clapped, and the girl named Hannah, took the hat off, and ran happily to the table on the far right.
"Bones, Susan!", just as Hannah did, she put the hat on which announced, "HUFFLEPUFF!". She too ran over to the Hufflepuff table and sat next to Hannah. And the sorting went on one by one.
"RAVENCLAW!", and he ran to his table.
"GRYFFINDOR!". She was the first one, so far.
"SLYTHERIN!". I guess she was that kind. I felt someone tug on my sleeve, and looked at Sarah.
"See that boy with the really blond hair?", she asked. I looked to where she was pointing and saw the boy with another boy three times his size standing next to him. The said boy had a know it all smirk on his face. "He's the one who kept pushing me out of the way. Just a heads up."
"Thanks", I told her, gratefully as we watched the rest of the Sorting.
Hermione looked really nervous and I could swear she practically ran up to the hat. "GRYFFINDOR!". She smiled and ran to sit next to a boy named Seamus, also sorted into Gryffindor. After a few more kids went, Professor McGonagall finally got to the Ks.
"Kennett, Sarah". Sarah looked at me, and I nodded at her, as she smiled back at me. She walked over to the hat, biting her lip. Sitting on the stool, she put the hat on whilst fiddling with her fingers. "HUFFLEPUFF!". Hearing that made her smile. She quickly glanced at me, and ran over sit next to fellow Hufflepuff, Justin Finch-Fletchley.
Professor McGonagall now got to the Ls and called my name. Gulping, I stepped up and did just as the others had done. The hat seemed to be whispering to me.
"Ah, nervous? No need. Kind hearted, yes. Bit of a loner. But lots of courage yet to be found, yes, yes, indeed. GRYFFINDOR!", the Hat yelled. I felt relief. My entire family had been in Gryffindor, and now so was I! I was so excited I didn't realize I had taken the hat off my head, and I ran to but it back. Then took a seat across from Hermione.
I turned around to look at the Hufflepuff table and could barely see Sarah, who smiled sadly and waved to me. I did the same; I mean, it would have been nice to be in the same House, but it's not like we wouldn't see each other, we could still be friends.
Thus, the Sorting continued.
I started getting bored until Professor McGonagall shouted, "Potter, Harry!". Like a snap of fingers, there were whispers and everyone tried to get a look at Harry Potter. Everyone knew about him. He made You Know Who disappear when he was only a baby. It's been said his parents didn't make it, but he somehow made it out alive.
He put the hat on, which stated, "GRYFFINDOR!". There was more applause for him than anyone else. At our table, a pair of twins stood up and began shouting, "We got Potter! We Got Potter!". I watched as Harry Potter sat down in front of me, next to Hermione. All I could wonder was if he really had his scar on his forehead, but didn't dare ask him.
When the sorting was finally finished, our Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of all time, started speaking once the hat was put away, and we were all sitting.
"Welcome!", his voice calm and shaky. "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! Thank you!"
There was yet another clapping of hands, I wasn't really sure what he said, so I just shrugged my shoulders, when suddenly, plates and plates of food appeared on the table. My Gran normally made this for me, but not as much as there was in front of me. I started filling my plate with sausages and fries, with a little bit of those peppermint humbugs.
I felt uncomfortable when the ghosts came back and didn't hesitate to pass through a student or two. The talk at the table was quite boring; a few boys were talking about Quidditch, that didn't interest me too much, I liked it, but I don't obsess over it. Then they started talking about our familes. A boy named Ron asked about mine. I didn't want to talk about my parents, so instead, I told them about my Gran, and when my Uncle Algie proved I was a wizard, and that was pretty much it.
Hermione was talking to an older boy who I suspected was a Prefect, due to him wearing a badge with a large P on it. They went on and on about classes and tests. Shocker.
After we finished eating, the plates of food along with our empty ones disappeared and we turned to face Professor Dumbledore.
"Ahem! Just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have just a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note, that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember as well.
"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". I remembered Mr. Macmillan telling Ernie to leave Mr. Filch's cat alone, unless he wanted detention.
"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch". I saw a brown haired boy, pound his fist, smiling really big. He must be on the team, along with the twins, because they were whispering to each other.
"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". I gulped again, hoping he wasn't serious. Sarah caught my eye. She was laughing, most likely taking it as a joke.
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!". Dumbledore raised his wand, and out of the tip came words. "Everyone pick their favorite tune. And off we go!". The majority of everyone in the room began to sing, where as I and a couple of other first years remained silent just listening instead of trying to join in.
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heada 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 forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot."
"Ah, music", said Dumbledore. "A magic, beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"
With that, our Prefect, I heard his name was Percy, told us to follow him, just as the other Prefects told the first years in their House to do.
Percy led us out of the Great Hall, and into the main corridor. The Ravenclaws walked ahead of us already going up the stairs. The Hufflepuffs were walking next to us, when I saw Sarah run towards me, once again, grabbing a hold of my sleeve and tugging it.
"Isn't this place great, Neville?! I mean, even though I wanted us to be in the same house, we'll still have classes together! And, just, I'm so excited!"
"Relax!", I joked. "We still have a long night ahead of us", I giggled.
"Yeah, I know. I just can't believe I'm really here! Oh! I have to go. But I'll see you tomorrow?", she exclaimed, happily.
"Yeah", I said. With one last smile, she followed her Hufflepuff Prefect around a corner.
We followed Percy up the stairs, but stopped when we saw a bundle of what looked like walking sticks started floating toward us. "Peeves", Percy whispered to us. "A poltergeist. Peeves, show yourself!". At that moment, a ghost appeared where the walking sticks were. "Peeves, do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?".
Peeves seemed to frown, but ignored him, and looked at us. "Ooooooh! Ickle firsties! What fun!", he cackled.
"Go away, Peeves, or the Baron'll hear about this, I mean it!", shouted Percy. With that, Peeves dropped the sticks, but without reacting as fast, the sticks fell on my head. I cried out in pain, and began rubbing. I looked back up at the ghost, but he was gone. "You want to watch out for Peeves. The Bloody Baron's the only one who can control him, he won't even listen to us Prefects. Here we are", he said, showing us a portrait of a fat lady, she looked pretty, but seemed to be full of herself.
"Password?", she asked.
"Caput Draconis", Percy responded. And the portrait swung open toward them, revealing a small tunnel leading into the Gryffindor common room, decorated with almost everything red. Red drapes, furniture, carpet, a moving picture or two. There was even a roaring fire to keep us warm. Percy told us the boys dormitories were to the left of the staircase, and the girls' were on the right.
As we walked up to the rooms, I walked into one that held five beds, dressers, and a heater in the middle of the room.
I saw my pet carrier on the side table next to one of the beds, which I decided was going to be mine. A few minutes later, I found I was going to be sharing a room with Harry, Ron, Seamus, and a boy named Dean Thomas.
I stuffed a sleeping Trevor into his cage, changed out of my robes, noticed a fresh pair with the Gryffindor symbol on it. I put on my pajamas, and waited until the others were done talking so I could drift off to sleep. Excited about nothing else but tomorrow.