Author's Note: Welcome to the first installation of The Cunning Muggle-Born saga, dear readers. I do hope you enjoy. Rather you like it or hate it, reviews are appreciated.
A Surprising Sorting
Green hills rose and rolled past Hermione Granger's pensive gaze as the Hogwarts Express chugged through the Highlands, gradually making its ingress into the vicinity of Hogwarts. Hogwarts: A History laid in her lap (she had to have read the book three times prior to her boarding the train) and her fingers drummed lightly against its spine. It was heavy thinking spells such as these that guided her to seclusion and the sole company of her thoughts. Enlightened of her place in the world of magic but a small while ago, her mind was still gluttonous for an unspecified quantity of facts and notes that would put her far before most of her class. No different than how it had been at her Muggle school, really…Well, excuse her drive!
Knowledge is power, after all. Though…her context of that philosophy was a tad foregrounded.
She jumped in her seat and out of her reverie when the compartment's door slid open, and a frantic boy with a round face came scrambling in, searching the floor with desperation.
Hermione blinked. "Is…everything alright there?"
His head shot up as though surprised by her presence. "Trevor! M-My toad! I can't find him anywhere!" The boy was blubbering and trembling, and tears were pooling at the corners of his distraught eyes. Hermione was quite taken aback by how this boy visibly regarded the loss of his toad as a dire situation. Hermione's personality was an unyielding one at best, but her clumsy first acquaintance's dismay compelled her to offer some aid.
She stood and gingerly grasped his heaving shoulders. "Settle down, settle down. I'll…help you find him. What is your name?"
He dabbed the waterfalls leaking from his eyes with his sleeve. "N-Neville."
"Neville Longbottom," he lowly finished.
Hermione helped him to his feet, her face empathetic. "Can you remember where you saw him last?"
Both children exited the compartment in search of Neville's beloved amphibian. They parted to separately survey the other compartments and ask other passengers if they had spotted Trevor. She had already changed into her robes; the crest would remain gray until after the Sorting Ceremony, when all the uniforms would assume the colors of the House their wearers were sorted into. It was at that moment that Hermione realized she hadn't given much thought to which House she would want to be put in. She consulted her mental summaries of each House and their desired traits:
Hufflepuff: The most inclusive of the four Houses; values hard work, dedication, loyalty, patience, and intrepidness towards toil. Its emblematic animal is a badger, and the House corresponds to the element of earth. (It is noteworthy that Hufflepuff has produced the smallest number of Dark wizards.)
Gryffindor: The House that greatly emphasizes courage, chivalry, daring, nerve, and determination. Its emblematic animal is a lion, and the House corresponds with the element of fire.
Slytherin: The House accepts those who are cunning, resourceful, and ambitious; also those who bear a fixed sense of self-preservation. Its emblematic animal is a snake, and the House corresponds to the element of water. (Slytherin bears a Dark reputation due to its founder's aversion of teaching those of Muggle heritage, and also from the most feared Dark wizard having come from the House.)
Ravenclaw: Members of this House are characterized by their wit, learning, and wisdom. Its emblematic animal is an eagle, and the House corresponds to the element of air.
Ravenclaw sounded quite lovely. Hermione was quite the studious child, so perhaps there was where she might be best suited…
Neville had flanked beside her once more when they approached the compartment messy with wrappings and empty containers of various confections. The occupants were two boys: one red-haired and the other cute and skinny with green eyes and glasses. She cleared her throat. "Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," she said.
"We've already told him we haven't seen it," said the boy with red hair, but his words went unheard the moment Hermione's eyes fell upon the wand in his hand. She was suddenly intrigued.
"Oh, are you doing magic?" She casually strolled into the compartment and sat. "Let's see it, then."
He blinked. "Er―alright." He cleared his throat, pointed his wand to the rodent in his lap, and recited a rather inane incantation:
"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."
Hermione had to fight back an amused grin at nothing slightly magical being invoked by the spell. "Well it certainly was effective on the rat's teeth, if that was your intention."
He shot her a dirty look while the bespectacled boy giggled lowly. A giggle that was innocent yet reserved, she quaintly observed.
"Are you certain that was a real spell?" she lightly questioned. "Nobody in my family's magic at all, but I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for me―"
She observed that the boy with glasses was listening with humble attentiveness, while the boy with red hair's eyes were narrowed in irritation. She had always had a vexing habit of prattling on about her academic strengths, but she was conscious of when people were becoming weary of her self-flattering loquacity.
Following a half-hearted chuckle, she chose to introduce herself. "I'm Hermione Granger, by the way. Who are you?"
"Ron Weasley," he tartly muttered.
"Harry Potter," said the boy with glasses.
Her heart didn't leap per se, but experienced a slightly past-normal pulsation of astonishment. This was Harry Potter? Seated across from her so casually? This was The Boy Who Lived?
This time she was too excited to hold her tongue. "Are you really? I know all about you, of course―I got a few extra books for background reading, and you're in Magical Modern History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century."
"Am I?" he incredulously gasped.
She nodded. "Do either of you know what House you'll be in? I've been asking around, and I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad…Anyway, we'd better go and look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon." She hoped that she hadn't come off as too much of a prim know-it-all as she exited the compartment with Neville.
She was able to decipher the words of Weasley's cold hiss when she slid the door shut: "Whatever House I'm in, I hope she's not in it! What an insufferable know-it-all!"
She blinked. It was such a cruel comment for him to direct towards her―and yet she was fighting back laughter instead of tears.