The Black Lake glistened underneath them, reflecting the image of the newly emerging stars on its surface, splashing gently against the sides of the rowboats as the first-year students were carried towards the castle. Andre was holding up a lantern to light the path in front of his and Robbie's boat, feeling it tip slightly as Robbie leaned over one side to get a better view of their new school. Andre wedged his foot under a loose plank and hoped they wouldn't capsize. Soggy and gross wasn't exactly how he wanted to make his first entrance at Hogwarts. He glanced over at Jade's boat, but she looked too calmly captivated by the giant building looming ahead of them to notice him. He managed to catch Beck's eye and exchange a look of amazement with the boy sitting behind Jade. There was no denying it, Hogwart's was absolutely breathtaking, and the view they had of it from the lake was chilling. A few boats behind them, Cat could barely keep all her excitement and nerves inside, not noticing how violently she was making her boat rock.
As the boat's self-docked on the shore, the gameskeeper got out and began helping the clumsy out of their boats while everyone else was left to fend for themselves. Once they were all standing in front of the majestic building, he began to herd them forward. "This way." They entered through a door that had remained unnoticed up until this point, and filed into a stairwell dimly lit with torches.
"This place is so… medieval," a voice hissed in his ear. Andre whipped his head around to see who had crept up behind him, finding Jade standing directly behind him, closely followed by Cat, Beck, and Robbie. He had forgotten their agreement to stick together until they were separated.
"Wouldn't it be so cool if we were all put in the same house?" Cat chirped happily.
"Don't get your hopes on it," Andre replied.
"What's that supposed to mean?!" Cat gasped in offense.
"He's saying its pretty unlikely all five of us will get sorted into the same house," Beck backed him up.
"Almost impossible," Jade added with a grimace.
"Right," Andre nodded. Cat frowned, sighing her disappointment.
As the stairs began to level off, they saw a middle-aged man with light copper skin standing there waiting for them. The group of first-years formed a cluster around him. He waited for them to quiet down before beginning to speak. "Welcome to Hogwarts, everybody," he said with a bright smile. "My name is Professor Alexander, and I'm the deputy headmaster at this school, I'm also the Head of Hufflepuff. Most people just call me Lane, whatever you feel most comfortable with. Now, in a few moments, you'll be sorted into your houses. Its a very simple procedure, we have this old hat we'll put on your head, and it'll tell you want house to go to. Your house will be your family at Hogwarts for the next seven years. You'll live in its dormitories, support its quidditch team, and compete against the other houses for the Yearly Hogwarts House Cup. Once your house is announced, you're to walk to your appropriate table and wait for everyone else to be sorted. Any questions?"
A blonde girl raised her hand timidly. "How do we know which table to sit at?" she asked.
"Slytherin sits on the far left, then Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw on the other end. If you get confused, your table is probably the one cheering for you," he replied with a smile. "Alright! If that's all the questions, follow me into the Great Hall."
Lane led the way into the dining room. Everyone gaped at the ceiling, the colorful decorations, and the massive amount of people as they were lead between two long tables and up to the front of the Hall. Once they reached the corner opposite the professors, they formed a clump and waited for instructions. Jade slapped Andre's arm lightly, pointing to a rusty looking pile of fabric perched on a stool in the middle. "Is that the sorting hat?"
"What else could it be?" Andre shrugged, staring at it for a moment before turning his attention to the crowd of older students watching them.
Just then, the sorting hat began to sing, "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 folks 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!"
The room erupted in cheers for the Sorting Hat's song. Lane stood up and stopped behind the stool. "When I call your name, please come and sit on the stool," he repeated his instructions and picked the hat up. "Aegrid, Kelly." The shy blonde girl who had asked the question stepped forward.
"RAVENCLAW!" the sorting hat boomed as it was placed on her head. As one side of the room broke into shouts of approval, the girl skipped off stage and scampered to sit down with the blue table. This was how it went on for a while. Finally they were to the H's. As Thomas Harley moved to the Gryffindor table, Lane called up the next to be sorted.
"Harris, Andre!" Clearing his throat to deal with his nerves, he walked forward and gave a nod to Lane before smiling a little out at the crowd and taking a seat on the stool. He felt the smooth fabric of the old piece of clothing enclose his head. "Hmm…" it pondered. "How about, yes, perfect, GRYFFINDOR!" it shouted. The red table burst into applause. A group of kids parted for him to sit between them as he reached the table. He grinned as he was congratulated by smiling faces around him.
Andre watched and waited as first-year after first-year was sorted. Finally, someone else he knew was called up.
"Oliver, Beck!" Andre watched as his recently made friend was anointed with the hat.
"Ah…" it drew a pause. "SLYTHERIN!" it announced. The table in the corner began to cheer. Beck walked over to the green table, taking a seat across from where Andre was sitting at the nearby table, exchanging a brief shrug before Beck was engulfed in congratulations from his fellow Slytherins once more. The two boys waited a bit more before, "Shapiro, Robert!" The curly haired boy sat down. "RAVENCLAW!" the hat roared. Andre winced a little, but he wasn't too shocked by that decision. There were still two more to go. Maybe Cat or Jade would end up in Gryffindor.
"Valentine, Caterina!" Cat leaped to center stage, unable to keep still as she waited for her house to be announced. There was a 3 in 4 chance she'd be with one of her friends from the train. "HUFFLEPUFF!" She paled a little until she heard the shouts of encouragement from the yellow table. Then she smiled widely and sprang down, racing towards her new house.
Three more kids were called up after her. Now there were only four unsorted students standing in the corner. Most of the room had lost interest, absorbed in their own side conversations. But there was still one person in their group who hadn't been sorted yet.
From their places evenly distributed throughout the tables, Beck, Andre, Cat, and Robbie looked up to watch Jade's sorting. With one in each house, she didn't have to worry about not knowing anyone in her group. Slowly making her way to the front, the brunette sat down and looked up as the hat was lowered onto her head. "SLYTHERIN!" the sorting hat shouted immediately. Brushing her hair back as the hat was lifted from her head and making her way towards the table, she accepted a high-five on her way down the row. Beck moved over to make room for her on the bench and she turned around to look at Andre, catching his eye and smirking. She had predicted she'd be placed in the most troublemaking house of the four.
After the other three students had been sorted, the headmaster stood up and began to speak. Although he tried to listen, Andre began tuning him out about half-way through. His stomach was growling from lack of food, and he was still muttering through his disappointment that no one else had been a Gryffindor. Oh well. He was bound to make some new friends, and he could still hang out with those four around campus.
As the speech came to an end and food appeared in front of them, a student sitting beside him elbowed him. "Hey, kid. Andrew."
Andre turned to look at her. "Its Andre," he said with a polite smile.
"Yeah, sure, whatever," she held up her hand, clearly not interested. "You look bummed out. What, like you wanted to be in one of those other houses?" she scoffed at her words, clearly showing a bias towards her own house.
"Oh, nah, its just, none of my friends are in Gryffindor.." Andre explained.
"Oh… yeah. Believe me, I get that," she nodded along with a slight chuckle. "Two years ago, I was best friends with this girl, Zoe Shay. She got sorted into Ravenclaw. Haven't spoken to her since."
"Not even once?" Andre asked, feeling that was a bit ridiculous.
"Nope, why should I? In Gryffindor I can find brave, courageous friends," she laughed. "Besides, this school enjoys keeping the houses away from each other as much as possible."
Andre thought about this. He was pretty sure this girl had some screwed up logic, or she was just exaggerating. Either way, it sounded as though there was some truth in what she had said. Maybe it was too much trouble keeping up with multiple friends from multiple houses. He shrugged, it wasn't like he could only have those four friends though. Of course he could make some Gryffindor friends as well.
"I'm Trina Vega, third year," Trina interrupted his thought train.
Andre worked up a smile and forced himself out of his thoughts. "Well, congratulations, Trina," he joked. "You're my first Gryffindor friend."
"Oh…" she winced a little. "Okay. But if anyone asks— I don't know you."