Professor McGonagall coolly leads the children across the flagged stone floors as noisy sounds can soon be heard echoing through the halls. Professor McGonagall leads the first years into a small chamber to the side as the children nervously swallow and glance at each other. Professor McGonagall calmly addresses them at the front of the room. "Welcome to Hogwarts, young wizards and witches. Shortly, the start-of-term banquet will begin. But before you may take your seats in the Great Hall, you must be sorted into any one of the four houses. The Sorting Hat ceremony is an important and tradition in deciding, where you shall grow and be nurtured in the following years."
Professor McGonagall pauses a moment to allow them to absorb the information, before continuing, "The four houses of Hogwarts are as follow, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. With each house having its own noble history and have produced outstanding witches and wizards in every generation."
Professor McGonagall solemnly pauses and eyes them for emphasis. "Please remember, that your triumphs will earn your house points. However, any rule-breaking will do just the opposite and lose your hard-earned house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will be awarded the house cup, a great honor. I can only hope that each of you will strive to be a credit to your house," Professor McGonagall frostily said causing some of the more troublemaking students to gulp at the pressure-filled statement.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the entire school. I suggest you all make use of this time to smarten yourselves up," Professor McGonagall warningly said as her eyes fixated themselves on a couple of students with messy clothing. Those students hastily try to smooth out their clothing with a few kind-hearted souls helping them become a bit more presentable.
"I shall return shortly," Professor McGonagall seriously instructed, before departing with a swoosh of her cloak.
"It's not a test is it?" The timid witch from the boat said.
"No," Rowan replied with a bored expression. "You're just putting on a talking hat on top of your head in front of the entire school, which will only serve to decide your fate for the rest of our seven years here."
The timid witch pales and stammers, "That sounds even worse."
Rowan shrugs innocently as Lily narrows her eyes at Rowan and pats the timid witch on her back in an attempt to comfort her. Suddenly a series of screams cause everyone to leap up except for Rowan who studies her fingernails and wonders, why did her finger sting? Did she get a splinter from the wooden boat? Come to think of it, did she ever get a shot for tetanus?
"What the-?" A student called out as a group of about twenty pearly-white ghosts glide through the wall in innocent chatter.
A rather stout monk excitedly says, "New students!" The Fat monk exclaimed. "This ghostly one is known as Friar."
"More like the Fat Friar." Everyone drily thought in their minds.
"About to be sorted, I believe?" The Fat Friar excitedly said.
A few people nod their heads in silence. The Fat Friar beams at them and says, "In that case, I hope to see you in Hufflepuff then. T'was my old house, you know."
"Move along now", Professor McGonagall crisply said. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start." With a trace of fear, the ghosts hastily float away and pass through the wall one by one.
"Form a neat orderly line," McGonagall firmly instructed with a clap of her hands. The children hurriedly do so as Professor McGonagall says, "Now, stay in an orderly line and follow me." The group of nervous children quietly follow through the giant hall to a pair of giant doors that swing open to reveal the Great Hall.
The rest of the students 2nd years and up are already sitting at a row of four long tables as thousands of candles float overhead and illuminate the entire Great Hall. "Talk about a fire hazard," Rowan grimly thought to herself. "Aren't they worried about being sued for possible liability issues given candle wax burning? But then again, this is a place where death defining learning is encouraged..."
The rest of the children are in awe and shock as they study the table filled with gleaming golden saucers and goblets. At the very front of the Great Hall is a table filled with a single long table for the Hogwarts's professors to all sit at. The children begin to pale as Professor McGonagall leads them to the front and gestures for them to properly line up in a uniform line and face the mass of students before them. Some of the first years begin to look queasy but manage to not throw up from their nerves.
The seated student's face's flicker ominously under the flickering can delight as flickering shadows are cast over their faces. The only pure light is the steady glowing of the pearly-white ghosts seated according to their houses. Rowan eyes the black ceiling lined with star-like pattern said to be enchanted to match the sky outside. "Hmm, it's a nice night for a walk," Rowan idly thought to herself.
Professor McGonagall moves her wand as a four-legged stool appears before the stunned first years with a single raggedy hat on top of it. Everyone's eyes become glued to the hat as Rowan stifles the urge to yawn. Suddenly, the hat begins to twitch as it opens at the fringes to reveal a mouth. The sorting hat begins 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 moment the sorting hat finished its song, the entire hall burst into applause. With a slight bow to the seated students at each of the four tables, the sorting hat grows still once more. Most of the students sigh in relief with a few like the shy witch from before remained pale as ever.
McGonagall steps forth with a lambskin parchment in hand. "When I call out your name, please put on the sorting hat and take a seat on the stool to be properly sorted," Professor McGonagall instructed, before calling the first name, "Abbott, Andrew!"
A round-faced, blond boy with a fearful face walks up and puts on the hat, before taking a seat. After a minute, the hat shouts, "HUFFLEPUFF!" The table on the right side is filled with Hufflepuffs as the entire table explodes in loud cheering as the Fat Friar waves cheerfully at Andrew.
The list continues as Sirius Black and Lily Evans are properly sent to Gryffindor as promised. Severus on the other hand dimly watches Lily go as he eyes Rowan with mixed feelings. On one hand, he was proud of Lily and on the other hand, Rowan had told him, that he would be in Slytherin. What was he supposed to do now that they were in two different houses?