Dock \Dock\ (d[o^]k), n. [AS. docce; of uncertain origin; cf. G. docken-bl[aum]tter, Gael. dogha burdock, OF. doque; perh. akin to L. daucus, daucum, Gr. ?, ?, a kind of parsnip or carrot, used in medicine. Cf. {Burdock}.] (Bot.)
A genus of plants ({Rumex}), some species of which are well-known weeds which have a long taproot and are difficult of extermination.
—1913 Webster.


It Takes All Sorts.

Out of the nice warm brightly lit train the Potter stepped, and into the cold damp almost cavelike darkness of the station. There was an information board posted on a pillar; next stop was Hogsmeade.

15° centigrade and falling, light rain, wind (lick finger) southwest at 29 km/h, humidity (dry hand on robes, wave about) 88% give or take, conclusion: I am fffreezing in this tiny little body. He bounced up and down, shuddering in the cold and dark, and discovered that bouncing up and down was fun even if it didn't seem to warm him up at all.

Inventory! Weasley, check, Granger, check, Longbottom — where is Longbottom? Longbottom is hanging back, stop that.

He reached out and tugged the Longbottom's sleeve. Puzzled look from the Longbottom, don't-wander-off look from the Potter, Oh! look from the Longbottom: right, that's sorted, now what?

And then out of the darkness came a lamp.

"Firs' years over here! That you over there, Harry? Firs' years follow me!"

The Potter looked up at the lamp, and then further up (someone gave a low whistle) at the utterly spectacular person it illuminated.

Nine foot thirteen he stood, need hedge clippers to groom that beard, what could he be, magic and a new species of human (Homo Immensus?) and not even dinnertime yet! —And no, definitely not Harry over here, not even an amnesic could forget meeting someone like you, you are a person who should be at the centre of the earth terrifying German geologists. Except of course there are no German geologists at the centre of the earth, they'd have the sense to keep out of it, they'd be incinerated, and besides it's too hot. What am I thinking? Am I thinking?

I'm thinking I'm a first year,he decided. And I'd better wave at the nice giant, else he'll wonder where Harry am. Is. He did this — a certain number of people turned around to look — and then joined the group filtering itself from the crowd to follow the nice giant.

Down from the station they went, onto a narrow. dark, steep and twisting path that the nice giant had no trouble with despite his size, I wonder if Hannibal ever considered crossing elephants with goats?

"Hogwarts castle roun' the next bend!" called the giant.

Jon Anderson would have understood what happened next, and Alan Hovhaness would have wished he could have been there, because mysterious mountain. Out of nowhere, just looming there, and it took a lot of mountain to loom at that distance, there was a whole great black lake in between it and them...

The rain didn't dare get in its way, that was the kind of mountain it was, and so it just shone clear bright silver under the full moon.

And yes, there, built into its side, above the white cliff face at the far side of the lake, positively erupting with towers both crenellated and conical:

Castle Duckula!

Several people said "What?"

Okay, didn't mean to say that out loud, but still, a couple of them had even got it — and was one of them, yes, yes that was the Malfoy wasn't it? People are like Bertie Bott beans, you never know what you're going to get...

And what have we here?

"No more than four to a boat!" said the giant, waving his umbrella at the little fleet that was waiting for them on the near shore of the lake.

I've always enjoyed messing about in boats, thought the Potter, and picked one with apotropaic eyes painted on the prow. All three of his cabin companions piled in after him, and he noticed that the earlier coldness had gone with the rain.

"FORWARD!" said the giant, and the flotilla moved as though he had just fired Helen of Troy out of a (suitably large) starter pistol.

They weren't even self-rowing rowboats, they just moved. Steam trains, but self-motivated boats — ferryman straight out of a job — just as well, my money's in my trunk. Or on it. And what are you on about now? No, no, don't listen to me, I'm just your internal monologue, pay me no mind. Fine, be that way.

Silently they crossed the mirrorblackness of the water, under white stars so sharp they didn't even hurt — and upon looking up into the sky the Potter suddenly realized that some significant, very important fact had been and gone, passed by unrecognized, leaving only an ambiguously shaped dotted outline behind. He'd missed something. Notice everything, because trying to remember something with nothing to go on but the shape of its absence is like searching through a suit made entirely of pockets for a jujube when you've forgotten the definition of jujube and also have a great deal of extremely interesting lint.

Straight up to the sheer cliff face they went, and then into it through a whispering veil of ivy. Behind the curtain was a tunnel, cloud-lit with blue and green phosphorescent fungi, that led at length to a harbor where the boats grounded on a pebble-strewn shore with a lawn beyond it. Rising from the lawn were great stone steps; at the top of those stood the castle's door, surrounded, of course, by castle.

The Potter leaped out of the boat and bounded up onto the lawn. Look at this lawn. How do you get a lawn like this? You roll it and seed it for three hundred years — bend down, pick grass, suck on blade — and then another six hundred just to be sure.

The giant climbed the great stone steps, a bit awkwardly because they weren't great enough for legs like his, raised his hand and brought his mighty knuckles down upon the oaken door. He knocked with echoes.

D'toom. D'toom. D'toom. D'toom.

There was a clock-clock-clock of approaching footsteps on polished stone, and then the door opened with a thoroughly satisfying creak, revealing the castle's inner sanctum, or at least its foyer, and a tall, imposing woman who could wear a pointy black hat and make it look good.

"Firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said the giant, providing the who of the witch.

"Thank you, Hagrid, I shall take them from here," replied the McGonagall, and stepped very aside to let the giant pass before she confronted the student bodies, size small, before her. She scanned them, looking for something that she didn't quite find, before she finally noticed the Potter. She almost raised an eyebrow. "Follow me," she said, and led them into the epic foyer and thence to a near-afterthought of an anteroom for a microassembly.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," she began — and while she was telling everyone else what the Potter had learned from the school prefects earlier, he scanned the room. No, it did not have a couple of extra doors in with a helpful graphic on each. Seven hours on a train, a brisk jog down a difficult path, I think we've all got glowing moss in our hair — where are the washrooms?

"—the Sorting Ceremony will begin momentarily —" she blinked — "shortly; I suggest you smarten yourselves up as much as possible before I return for you," the professor concluded, and then swept off into the hallway.

Smarten ourselves up how? With what? Tongues?

"If anyone needs a moist towelette I have extra," announced the Granger, producing an almost sashlike chain of wet-wipe packets. Now why don't I have that kind of mind? thought the Potter. The wizard-born didn't seem to grasp the principle, but the rest of them queued up immediately.

The Potter passed the Weasley a torn-open packet. "You've got frog on your nose," he said.

"How does this work?" said the Weasley, pulling out a small alcohol-soaked pad, but the Potter didn't reply, because ghosts.

Lots of ghosts, lots of incontestable translucent white ectoplasmic effulgences, streaming in through the walls that lacked washroom doors, oh, they were beautiful, he'd have to take out a subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer now just so he could cancel it with an irate note.

"Oh, it unfolds," said the Weasley. Other people had other things to say, but the ghosts didn't pay much attention.

"My dear friar," one of them was saying — quite audibly, too, despite his less than vaporous vocal cords — this was a ghost speaking, not a startled student — "ours is a ghost council; why should we even bring up the subject of Peeves? He's an embarrassment to all spiritkind. —What's all this?"

He'd finally noticed the room was occupied, and peered down at them fustily.

"Unsorted first-years, Sir Nicholas," said a rather round ghost in a monk's robe. He smiled down at them all. "I do hope you'll be joining us in Hufflepuff! It is a most happening House!"

Oh, oh, oh, look at you, thought the Potter. No, look and listen. Look at those clothes! Look at the weave! That's what, eleventh century? That's old-school — Chaucer isn't even in it yet and you're speaking modern idiomatic English! Well, almost! He wanted to interview each and every one of them.

"Come along!" interrupted a returning McGonagall. "It's time for the ceremony to begin. Queue, please!"

This school has no sense of priorities.


The McGonagall led them across the hall and into what the Potter had learned was the Great Hall; he wondered momentarily whether all the faculty slept in the bower, but that was probably going a bit far with tradition.

Four tables of students, one table of staff - and now one chair on its own with a hat on it - and good grief the candles, the candles, thousands of them, floating in midair, this place just keeps getting better, that makes no sense at all, the energy required to hold them up against gravity probably exceeded the light they gave off. Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. You again? Oh, look, the ceiling's missing.

"The ceiling's bewitched to look like the sky overhead," said the Granger, who had noticed his abstraction. "I read about it in Hogwarts: A History."

"Oh?" said the Potter. A perfect replica of the other side. "Did it say why they didn't just make it transparent?"


"I don't see any trolls," said the Weasley, apropos of seemingly nothing. "That's good."

No it isn't! thought the Potter indignantly. If they've got trolls they should bring them out right now!

"Harry, you're drooling," whispered the Granger, handing him a tissue.

"Am I? Well, where would we be without saliva..."

Professor McGonagall was now before them, unwinding a wooden-handled scroll. "I will call your names in alphabetical order," she said. "When it is your turn, you will place the hat upon your head and sit upon the stool." Careful phrasing, that; the hat did seem to have been sat upon repeatedly.

A rather fixed expression appeared on the McGonagall's face.

"However," she said, turning to the hat, "first things first." All the people at the tables had focused their attention on the hat.

The McGonagall inclined her head gravely, and the hat unexpectedly rotated to face the first years, cleared the throat it even more unexpectedly had, and began, quite astonishingly, to sing just like Ronan Tynan:


Slytherin and Hufflepuff
Gryff-in-dor Ra-ven-claw
Though you're stern or sorry stuff
This hat will sort you all.

Once you have sat beneath me
I'll riffle through your mind
And though you try to hide it
The truth is what I'll find.

I can't think why I bother
It makes no sense to me
You're all so very diff'rent
And four's just one plus three

We really need more Houses
There simply aren't enough
The school's enough for pride in;
Now here's a message tough-

Each Gryffindor who leaps in
Each Slytherin who plots
Each Hufflepuff who labours
Each Ravenclaw who jots:

You'll one day meet a teacher
Who simply hates your guts
No matter what your House is
No ifs or ands or buts.

No, courage will not save you
Nor work nor brains nor sleaze
You might as well just skive off
And take up keeping bees.

(All together now—)

Slytherin and Hufflepuff
Gryff-in-dor Ra-ven-claw
Though you're stern or sorry stuff
This hat will sort you all.



"I'd quite like a hat like that," said the Potter.

"Right, let's get on with it," said the hat, in an entirely different voice, one that seemed to have greater acquaintance with cigars than would be healthy for a hat.

"Abbott, Hannah," said Professor McGonagall.

Abbott Hannah skittered to the stool, dropped the hat over most of her head, and was declared "HUFFLEPUFF!" before she even sat down.

Good girl, Hannah, thought the Potter as the Hufflepuff table greeted her with enthusiasm.

He started itemizing the results.

Hufflepuff: Abbott, Hannah; Bones, Susan; Finch-Fletchley, Justin; Jones, Megan. Ravenclaw: Boot, Terry; Brocklehurst, Mandy; Goldstein, Anthony; MacDougal, Morag. Gryffindor: Brown, Lavender; Finnigan, Seamus; Granger, Hermione (not Ravenclaw? interesting); Longbottom, Neville (not Hufflepuff? even more interesting). Slytherin: Bulstrode, Millicent (she seemed oddly familiar); Crabbe, Vincent; Goyle, Gregory; Greengrass, Daphne; Malfoy, Draco (not a surprise, but...); Nott, Theodore—

Stop. Stop. Wait. He'd missed one.

How could he have missed one? He couldn't have missed one! But he had! Right before Nott! Who was it? There was only an echo of an answer, barely more than a dotted outline.


Could he be more specific? Who Moon? Where Moon? Boy? Girl? He scanned the tables, looking for any possible Moonlike substance, and saw no clue. Where did the Moon go?

"Parkinson, Pansy," said McGonagall.

She went to Slytherin. Patil, Padma went to Ravenclaw; Patil, Parvati went to Gryffindor (not entirely identical twin, then, interesting); Perks, Sally-Anne went to Hufflepuff. The Moon was gone. Another thing to worry about.

"Potter, Harry!"

Amid a sudden hush, dotted with identifications and speculations, the Potter walked over to the stool and picked up the hat. I wonder if this hat has an anti-lice spell, he thought, and then tried to erase the thought from his mind on the grounds that it was terribly rude.

He sat on the warm wooden seat and donned the hat.

There was darkness, and a small buzzing voice in his ear—


"One at a time, please," said the Sorting Hat, wearily.

There's only one head under here, honest.

"Feels like two."

Definitely only one head. I could try to grow another does take a while...

"No thank you! —Well, we do what we must."

The Hat paused, and the Potter developed the feeling that it was pacing around him, giving him dissatisfied looks.

Could I just ask a question? Where did you put Moon?


You sorted Moon. Somebody Moon. Five students ago, between two Slytherins.

"I do character, not appellation. I don't even know your name."

Professor McGonagall just said it!

"Who listens?"


"And speaking of character: too much of a scatterbrained butterfly-chaser for Hufflepuff."


"Clever enough for Ravenclaw — but a conclusion-jumper, and slapdash. They've lost enough towers to that sort of thing already."


"Vain enough for Gryffindor—"

Not vain.
Never vain.
Sooner dead than vain.

"...How about boastful, conceited, self-congratulatory, overconfident and smug?"

Oh. Well. Yeah. Practically perfect in every way!

"Hmm...and brave, can't deny that, very face-to-the-foe, battle all villains Gryffindor...but with a manipulative streak that wide? And so needlessly enigmatic? Slytherin cries out for you."

How's their chess club?

"Finest in the school."


"And you still feel like two people. Hm. Any personal preference?"

I want to be a Hufflepuff.

"They'd stuff you through a window."

Don't you mean throw me out a window?

"They're in the basement, I know what I mean. Do the terms hard work and patience seem to have any personal relevance to you?"

Well! Broadly

"How many jigsaw puzzles have you ever finished that you didn't make yourself? Forget Hufflepuff. Second choice?"


"Are you familiar with the terms explosions, flames, and burning things?"


"So are they. Forget Ravenclaw! Tertiary choice?"

Minus Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, I think I'm of two minds on the subject.

The Hat grumbled like a distant oncoming storm. "Very well then — the best of both worlds is to have both worlds —"


"GRYFFINDOR HYPHEN SLYTHERIN!" had a nice ring to it, like Gilbert & Sullivan.

The Potter took the hat off and got up and wondered if he'd gone deaf from the shout, because silence had fallen.

Everyone was staring at him even more intensely than they had been.

Except for the ones looking at the High Table, where a beak-nosed teacher had apparently just knocked a goblet of wine into the lap of a teacher wearing a purple turban. (Turban? What rubbish. Turbans aren't hats, they're lazy mummies.) And the ones watching Professor McGonagall, who had just dropped the Sorting Scroll, which was even now unrolling toward the far wall.

The Headmaster, now — he looked perfectly happy, and just like his Chocolate Frog card, and proceeded to break the aforementioned silence with a clap and a cheerful "Splendid!"

"?" said Professor McGonagall. "!"

"The decision of the Sorting Hat is of course final," declared the Headmaster, rubbing his hands together. "Mr Potter shall have free access to the facilities of both houses as he desires, and any points he may earn or lose shall be divided equally between them. —Next!"

The McGonagall started across the room to retrieve the Sorting Scroll, the tail end of which had finally reached the wall, and got about halfway before she stopped to shake her head and draw her wand. "Accio scroll!" she said.

The scroll flew into her hand. That was a good one, must learn that...

The Potter returned the Hat to its chair.

"Ooh," he said, looking back and forth between the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables. "Do I get two dinners?

"No? Ah." He started waving his finger back and forth. "Yan, tan, tethera, methera — oh, bother it," he said, and — after mouthing I TRIED at the Hufflepuffs, who were very understanding — went to sit with the Granger and the Longbottom and, come to notice it, opposite the ghost who had been talking about Peeves, whoever Peeves was.

"Gryffindor and Slytherin!" said Percy Weasley. "Well, it beats the reverse, I suppose."

"Why didn't we get a hyphen?" said a much aggrieved Fred Weasley.

"The plotting we could have done with those resources!" said George.

"We should appeal," said Fred.

"And risk breaking up the set?" said a tarantula-fondler further down the table.

"Bite your tongue, Lee Jordan!" the Weasleys flanged.

"You're quite the oddment, aren't you, young man?" said the ghost, who leaned in for a closer look at him only to have his head fall off, dangling loosely from a flap of ectoplasmic skin, leaving the Potter with a highly instructive view of the interior of a ghostly esophagus. "Blast! I wore the wrong ruff! Must go change...what a terrible faux pas...profuse apologies..." It fled through the wall.

"That was Nearly Headless Nick," said Fred.

"He tends to do that," said George.

The Potter noticed that the Granger and the Longbottom were giving him funny looks. "What?" he said, rather wounded. "If Churchill were a wizard he'd have gotten the same result! And Disraeli! Well, no, he'd probably have been in Ravenclaw besides..."

"Hmm," said the Granger.

The Sorting continued as soon as Professor McGonagall had finished rewinding her scroll, and the Gryffindor table was shortly joined by Thomas comma Dean. Turpin comma Lisa went to Ravenclaw...

...and then three ginger Weasleys stared as one newly black-haired Weasley walked over to the sorting stool.

"Oh my," said Percy. "I didn't even recognize him."

"So that's where Harry got the hair," said Fred. "Was going to ask about that."

"You think Mum'll kill him more than once?" said George.

"GRYFFINDOR!" said the Hat.

"No," said Percy, and led vigorous applause.

The Weasley came over and sat down, radiating defiance.

"Well?" he said.

"Splendid job, Ronald," said Percy. "Glad to have you join us. —You look good!"

"Yeah," said the Weasley. "I do."

"Have I missed something?" said the Granger.

We all come in in the middle, thought the Potter. While the Weasley explained the hair thing, Zabini comma Blaise went to Slytherin, and Professor McGonagall took the Hat and stool away.

"That's fascinating," said the Granger, pulling at her long frizzy brown hair and looking at it. "I wonder how I'd look in red..."

"You're fine the way you are," said the Potter, touching her arm. She smiled at that, but when she did, she tried to hide her teeth. Well, we'll work on that...buck teeth are cool...

There was a tinking of glasses from the High Table, and the Headmaster rose to address the gathering.

"Hello, Hogwarts!" said Professor Dumbledore. "Now that we are well and truly sorted, minus certain turncoat exceptions at the Gryffindor table who know who they are, I would like to say a few words preliminary to the feast.

"Wolf! River! Baby! Turnip!

"Thank you!"

There was considerable applause, during which the Headmaster was handed a bit of paper by a somewhat dodgy-looking man in clothes that suggested Janitorial Staff; he donned a pair of gold half-moon spectacles to read it.

"Also!" he said. "To the owner of a red, yellow and green 1894 Dunton vardo: your lanterns are burning! Thank you for your kind attention. —You may now stuff yourselves!"

Professor Dumbledore sat down as a small professor at the end of the High Table got up and slipped out of the room, and also just as staggering quantities of tucker appeared ex nihilo upon all the tables.

"Potatoes, Harry?" said Percy.

He was absolutely correct.


The dinner was prolonged and noisy and educational, at least in certain areas. Gryffindor people liked to talk about sports (or at least one sport), the attempted break-in at Gringott's, if, why and when Professor Snape's head would explode, whether and how he would kill Professor Quirrel, and various forms of politics, but not much about magic, although the Granger did her bit.

The Potter gave his attention to the turkey and potatoes while filing the names and identities of everyone at the high table except the innominate fellow who owned the vardo, and even he was definitely the new Muggle Studies teacher — replacing Quirrel, who was taking a new role as Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher against the objections of Professor Snape, hence the taking of odds and placing of small bets.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see at the table behind him a Slytherin ghost covered in silver bloodstains watching the Malfoy not eat. Something was wrong again...perhaps he shouldn't have had the beans, no, that wasn't it. It was something meaningful.

He looked at the table. They were down to the dessert now. Apples and pears. Bananas. Shouldn't there be strawberry ice cream...? Oh, wait, there it is, could have sworn it wasn't there before. Was it supposed to have those little silver things on it? Why do I feel so thick? Too much to eat? Well, it was a skinny body, not used to such things. And yet, and yet...never eat the food in fairyland...or was it just the turkey?

Younger students were beginning to fall asleep into their mostly-empty plates, a prospect that seemed increasingly attractive, when (tink tink tink) Professor Dumbledore rose again.

"Some final announcements before we retire!" he, well, announced.

"Mr Filch the caretaker wishes me to remind you that magic is not to be used in the hallways, or for that matter upon them, and that using magic on the staircases is how we got so many of the dratted things."

Apples and climb so high, you fall so low...

"Second, quidditch trials begin 9th September; interested parties please contact Madam Hooch.

"Third, access to the right hand side of the third-floor corridor — that's second-floor to you exchange students from America...unless it's fourth, well, keep on your toes — is restricted to persons wishing to die a horrible death. Interested parties please contact Madam Pomfrey.

"Third and a half, the Forbidden Forest is still forbidden under much the same terms.

"Fourth and finally, will you all please be upstanding for the singing of the school song?"

The Potter wobbled to his feet along with everyone else and blinked in the direction of the High Table. Half the synapses in his borrowed head were blinking with yellow warning lights and the rest were thinking about it. The Headmaster waved his wand, and projected words in traceries of fire.

"In the key of alohomora — follow the bouncing quaffle!"


Hogwarts, Hogwarts, teach us the questions, do
And some answers, probably need them too
We'll balance your educating
With ludicrous recreating
Then we'll beat feet when we've our sheet
From the diploma mill called you.


That didn't sound at all right. But he was too tired to care. Tired was interesting...

The Headmaster wiped tears from his eyes. "Ah, there's nothing like a good singalong, and that was nothing like a good singalong. We'll be here all year. Thank you and good night!"

Percival the Perfect Prefect led them all from the Great Hall and up the grand marble staircase. Further in and further up they went, making their winding way through hidden doorways, lots and lots of those, through halls of mirrors and portraits — the portraits talked, the mirrors didn't; maybe you had to ask them a question first — up and up and into a corridor where they stopped on the grounds that a bundle of canes hanging in the air ahead was blocking the way.

"Here we go again," said Percy, mostly to himself. "Blasted poltergeist. Don't do it, Peeves, or I'll go straight to the Bloody Baron!"

The bundle of canes proceeded to go to pieces and pelt the crowd with itself, revealing in the process that it was not in fact a mere bundle of canes but a translucent little imp behind a bundle of canes. If that's Peeves, where's Wooster? thought the Potter, absently catching the cane that would have hit the Longbottom. Oh, right, West Midlands...and why call it a poltergeist when it's not a ghost? He leaned on the cane and was glad to have it because the legs weren't working properly any more.

"Right!" said Percy. "About face, everyone! We're off to see the Baron, I'm sure he'll be absolutely delighted to have the Slytherin dungeon filled with Gryffindor first-years who want to use the washroom!"

Peeves blanched, to the extent that it was possible, and blew everyone a raspberry before disappearing through the floor.

"It worked? Thank goodness. Come on, we're almost there..."

At the end of the corridor was a larger-than-life portrait of a larger-than-life lady. "Password?" she asked.

"Ouroboros," said Percy.

"Entrez-vous!" said the fat lady, and the portrait swung out of the wall, revealing a round hole behind it, which they all climbed through.

"This is the common room," yawned Percy, and the Potter followed suit. "Notice board over there, for announcements, class schedules, that sort of thing, always read that in the morning. First years follow me, the rest of you know where you're going."

The Potter et al. followed Percy up still another flight of stairs and into another, smaller, room full of beds. Beds, that was good, like a nice bed, higher brain functions shorting out, arrgh. Oh, look, they even brought up the empty candy box. Where is trunk with Harry James Potter written on it, there, next to owl cage with no owl in it. Just Trevor the Toad, right, my fault, I neglected to tell the toad not to eat the owl, oh dear, sorry Harry, not even a feather left...unless Trevor just taught him escape tricks...bad influence, that toad...

Percy Weasley, who had noticed his puzzled look, said "If you had an owl, it's been taken to the owlery. It'll stop by the Great Hall in the morning to see if you have any mail to send."

"Oh, that's good," said the Potter. "Excuse me a moment, I have to lose consciousness, be right back."

And with that he collapsed face down on the bed.

He was vaguely aware of Percy dousing candles, turning dim to dark to black, and then the black became nothing all on its own.

At the very last moment, on the knife-edge of the void, a thought went through his mind, and it was a thought not of his own making.

It was the thought of a very indignant eleven year old boy, and it was this:

Who are you and what are you doing in my head?!