Chapter Four: Sorting a Black Sheep
After walking past a few pretty full compartments, they finally found one that surprisingly only had two occupants. One was Hermione from Diagon Alley, and the other was a round-faced, brown-haired boy. Opening the door, Ginny cleared her throat and said, "Um, hi Hermione, could we sit with you? Everywhere else seems to be full." Hermione looked up from the book she was reading and gave the female twins a bright smile, "Of course!" So they entered and got their trunks loaded up onto the rack with the help of the boy who introduced himself as Neville Longbottom.
Once they finally sat down, Hermione asked the two girls, "Where are Ron and Harry?" The two looked at each other, then looked back to Hermione and shrugged their shoulders in perfect synchronization, making Neville's eyes widen in amazement, "How'd you do that?" The female twins smirked and replied together, "It's a twin thing." Soon enough, Ginny and Neville were playing a game of Exploding Snap together, while Hermione and Amber eagerly shared information about different books that they have read, the one book that they talked about the most, was Hogwarts a History, because Hermione was so excited to finally have someone else who's read the book as well.
About an hour into the train ride, and still no sign of Ron or Harry, the compartment door slid open. Amber had gone to the restroom and Hermione, Ginny, and Neville were playing a game of Muggle Go Fish. When the three friends heard the door slide open, they looked up to see if it was Amber coming back, or if it was the two still missing boys. Their smiles morphed into frowns though, when the person they saw standing in the doorway was non other than Draco Malfoy, with Crabbe and Goyle standing on either side of him as usual.
"Well, if it isn't Bookworm Granger and Longbottom the Coward!" Draco sneered as he saw his fellow year mates. His eyes then landed on Ginny, and for a second, he blinked as if he recognized her from somewhere. He quickly shrugged the feeling off as he could not remember why the new girl seemed so familiar and simply drawled instead, "Introducing another freak to your band of weirdoes Granger?"
Suddenly, Draco tensed as he suddenly felt the very real feeling of a wand tip being pointed into his back! He shuddered in slight shock, and fear, as a voice he instantly recognized from Diagon Alley, spoke directly behind him in a dangerously calm voice, "I am only going to say this once. Leave my sister and friends alone, or I am going to hex you till you won't know left from right. Now move."
Draco slowly turned around, and came face to face with non other than the girl he met in Diagon Alley, Amber. Once she was sure he wasn't going to try anything, Amber put her wand away, then held her hand out to Draco and said, "I don't believe that we properly introduced ourselves last time we met. Hello, I am Amber Weasley, and you are?" Amber had to keep herself from rolling her eyes, or smirking, as Draco's eyes widened in complete and utter shock, and he spluttered, "W-Weasley? You're a Weasley!"
Continuing to hold her hand out in a sign of greeting, Amber, with an unreadable expression on her face, repeated in a calm voice, "And you are?" With a great deal of effort, Draco reined his emotions back in and with an unreadable expression as well, he briefly shook Amber's hand and stated, "Draco Malfoy." As quick as they grasped hands, they released as a spark of what felt like electricity coursed between their hands. Then without another word, Draco turned and walked quickly away, followed by two very confused lackeys.
Amber sighed and closed the compartment door, then went and sat by the window, pointedly ignoring the jaw-dropped expressions the other three were giving her. Finally Ginny seemed to get ahold of herself and scooting over to her twin she asked, "What… was that?" Hermione nodded vigorously and added, "I have never seen Malfoy so shaken up before!" Still not looking at her companions, Amber simply replied, "It's nothing. Just a misunderstanding that happened in Diagon Alley." And that was all that Amber would say about it for the rest of the trip.
After another two hours had passed, the train finally reached its destination. As the group of friends prepared to get off the train, Hermione was in hysterics, "They must not have gotten on the train! Otherwise they would both be with us right now! Oh, I am so going to kill those two the next time I see them, for making me worry this much!" Amber, who had been quiet for the remainder of the train ride, finally reached out and placed a comforting hand on Hermione's shoulder, Ginny doing the same to the other shoulder. Calmly, Amber stated, "Harry and Ron will both be fine. Knowing those two, they went and did something stupid, if it is true that they missed the train." Ginny nodded in agreement, and with a deep sigh, Hermione gave both younger girls a strained smile of gratitude and together they exited the train.
"Firs' Years! Firs' Years this way!" Hagrid's booming voice could be heard calling out through the crowd. Hermione nudged the two now nervous looking twins in the big half-giant's direction and said, "Better get going, I'll see you both at the feast, good luck!" And with that, she vanished into the crowd to reach the carriages that carried the older students.
Amber and Ginny shared one last nervous look, before linking hands and walking towards the small crowd of what appeared to be their year-mates. Towering over them was Hagrid, carrying a lit lantern and looking around the group to make sure he had all of the new students. When he saw Amber and Ginny, he gave them both a big beaming smile, and the two gave a shy smile in return.
Once all of the First Years were gathered, Hagrid turned around, and motioning with the lantern he called out, "Follow me!" With that, the nervous group of First Years followed the Half-giant down to a group of what appeared to be row boats. "Four to a boat!" Hagrid called out once more, and so Amber and Ginny gingerly made their way onto the front seat of one boat, with two boys in their year who sat in the second seat. When everyone was seated in a boat, Hagrid got into the lead boat, and holding a pink umbrella, he brandished the umbrella in a forward motion, and as one, the boats all started to magically move!
They passed around a rocky bend, and there, in all of its brilliant, glowing glory, the First Years got their first glimpse of Hogwarts Castle! Amber smiled in awe of the sight of all the castle windows being lit with candle light in the dusky evening. It looked better than she had ever imagined it to look! Soon her awe turned to excitement and she shared an identical grin with Ginny, as the boats approached closer and closer to the Castle.
Finally the boats stopped under a rocky cliff that had an old stone staircase leading up to the castle. Once everyone was out of the boats, Hagrid led the group up the stairs and to what appeared to be a side entrance to the main entrance of the castle. He opened the doors and there were more stairs! Amber felt her eyebrow twitch in annoyance, couldn't they just get to the Great Hall already instead of climbing what seemed to be endless stairs? Her question seemed to answer itself, for once they finished climbing the inner stairs, at the top stood a tall woman garbed in dark emerald green robes, her dark hair up in a tight bun under a pointy brimmed witches hat. Her face was set in a stern 'no nonsense' expression, and she wore half moon spectacles that seemed to want to slide down her nose a little.
Once everyone was gathered around her, she spoke up in a clear, crisp voice, "Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Professor McGonagall, one of your teachers here at the school. Now in a few minutes you will pass through these doors and join the rest of the school, before you may be seated though, you will be sorted into your Houses. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin, and while you are here, your House will be like your family. Triumphs will earn you points! While any rule breaking will lose points, at the end of the year, the House with the most points will win the House Cup."
Clapping her hands together, she then said, "Now I must go and let them know you have arrived, while I am gone, please arrange yourselves into two orderly lines and make yourselves presentable." As the Professor walked away, Amber could feel all the nerves that she was feeling early this morning rush back at her and now she was feeling a little anxious as well. How would she feel if she really was separated from her family? Would she make an ok Ravenclaw? Or even an adequate Gryffindor if she was miraculously chosen for it? Ginny, sensing her twin's nerves and battling her own, squeezed Amber's hand to give her a sense of comfort and too let her know that she wasn't alone in facing this step in their journey.
All to soon, Professor McGonagall was back. Looking mildly impressed at the two neat rows of nervous First Years, she said, "We are ready for you, follow me." And with that she turned and led the way to a set of big, grand looking doors, to which she opened in a wide flourish to reveal, what Amber could only guess to be the Great Hall! Inside, all of the upperclassmen were already seated at four separate long tables, with a fifth table holding the teachers and facing the students at the very end of the Hall. Sitting right in front of the teachers table, was a rickety old stool, and on top of the stool, sat a brown, ancient looking, wizards hat.
Once the two lines of First Years stopped in front of the hat, the Hall seemed to get attentively quiet for some reason, everybody seemed to be focusing on the old hat. Suddenly, the hat started to move! The brim of the hat opened up like a mouth… And the hat started to sing? Amber had been expecting something to happen before they were to be sorted, but she was not expecting having to listen to a hat sing.
As the hat continued to sing, Amber quickly grew bored, and her eyes started to wander. She first looked towards the teachers table, where she saw sitting in the chair designated for the Headmaster or Headmistress, an old man with long frizzy white hair and beard with half-moon spectacle glasses watching the now named sorting hat with a happy smile on his face and his electric blue eyes twinkling merrily. 'That must be Headmaster Dumbledore', Amber thought to herself, and then quickly averted her eyes to somewhere else, when Dumbledore's twinkling eyes suddenly focused on her!
As her eyes continued to roam the vast room, she suddenly found her sight drawn to the table on the far left of the room, decked out in silver and green Slytherin colors. As she looked at the table, she suddenly spotted Draco Malfoy sitting with a group of what appeared to be his year mates, while his classmates all seemed to be listening to the hat's song, Draco seemed to be focusing his attention on her! He had his chin resting on one hand as he looked at her with a thoughtful frown on his face. Suddenly their eyes met, and Amber could swear she saw Draco's cheeks gain a little pink tint as he hurriedly looked away, while her own cheeks felt a little warm as well as she quickly focused back on the hat as it finished its song and the whole Hall burst into applause.
Professor McGonagall then unrolled a roll of parchment and said, "When I call your name, I want you to come forward, I shall place the sorting hat on your head, and you will be sorted into your House." With that, she looked at the list and called out, "Megan Abbot!" a short, sandy blonde haired girl, with chubby cheeks nervously came forward first from the two lines of First Years. She walked up to the stool, and when Professor McGonagall gestured towards it with the sorting hat in her hand, the little girl sat down slowly on the stool, and the Professor dropped the hat onto her head. A few seconds went by, and then suddenly the brim of the hat opened and shouted out, "HUFFLEPUFF!"
And so the sorting began! After Megan, their seemed to be a pattern of one to each House, although there seemed to be more going to Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff than to Gryffindor and Slytherin. Finally, with both of their nerves on near breaking point, both twins tensed as McGonagall called out, "Amber Weasley." Ginny gave Amber one last squeeze of the hand before Amber let go and slowly made her way up towards the dreaded stool.
Once she reached the stool, she took a deep breath, and sat down, briefly catching a glimpse of her older brother's Fred and George giving her an encouraging thumbs up, then the hat was placed on her head, and all she could see was darkness. Suddenly a chuckle could be heard resonating through her head and a rough voice suddenly sounded in her ears, saying, "My, my, another Weasley, and a female this time! What a puzzle you are my dear…" Frightened, she asked in a whisper, "Who are you?" The voice gave a softer chuckle this time and replied, "I am the sorting hat my dear. Do not worry, no one can hear this conversation except for you and me, see, it's all happening up here in your head. Now, where to put you…"
Eased at knowing who was speaking to her, Amber listened as the hat started to contemplate where to place her, "Well, as I said earlier, you are truly a puzzle. I have been placing your family in Gryffindor for generations, and you would certainly be fine in that House, but you also would excel in Ravenclaw as well with the love of books and learning that you have. Your ambition and want to succeed and get a good job after Hogwarts could maybe place you in Slytherin as well, but I'm afraid there may be to many obstacles if I put you on that path, for a Weasley has never been in the House of Snakes before… OH! Oh my!"
The hat suddenly sounded genuinely surprised at something and Amber, getting nervous at the length of time the Hat was taking to sort her, asked, "What? Is something wrong?" Suddenly the hat started to chuckle again, and it was a chuckle full of pure amusement, "My, my, looks like I know exactly where to put you now, for you will definitely need the reckless courage that this House is renowned for, to be able to face what you are no doubt already struggling with!" Confused and a little bewildered, Amber asked, "Face what? What do you mean?" All the hat replied with was, "Think about what Ollivander said about your wand my dear. In the mean time enjoy your time with your family in the den of the lions of… GRYFFINDOR!"
Before the Hat was fully removed from her head, Amber suddenly heard it murmur to her, "Have faith, young one, courage of the heart is rare and precious, don't lose sight of what you believe to be right."