A piece of Harry Potter fanfiction written 31/05/07.
Summary: Sorting is an inexact magic. Four students brave the Hat for a second time (including Tonks, after a fashion).
Disclaimer: the Harry Potter et al belongs to JK Rowling.
Extract from ‘Hogwarts: A History’ twelfth edition, Bagshot B. pp.659:
Sorting is an inexact magic. It attempts to divide the students of Hogwarts into four distinct groups, known as Houses, according to the nature of each student. However, children are liable to change once they reach maturity, sometimes making them no longer suitable for the House that they were Sorted into as eleven-year-olds. If it is deemed necessary by the Headmaster or Headmistress at this time, said students can appeal to the Hat² to be reSorted.
ReSorting is a rare occurrence as, even if students no longer suit their assigned House according to their nature, the bonds they have made with their Housemates have become such that the House is a family and, however differing its members, it is pointless to alter the House dynamic. Even rarer are occurrences of a student being reSorted before reaching a degree of maturity, generally held to be by fourth year.
²for more information on the Sorting Hat see page 650.
Starting with Slytherin
Thomas had been quiet on the train. Discretion was the better part of valour after all. His father, a Lancashire business man with high hopes for the growing cotton industry, had taught him that, mostly by letting everyone know exactly what he was thinking and thereby letting them take advantage of him.
When he had received his letter for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry his father had turned his nose up straight away declaring it ‘utter nonsense’ and ‘make believe’. His mother had sat quietly for a minute before inquiring how much it would cost. The letter mentioned only buying school supplies and not any sort of fee, which sounded like an affordable education. If it were real.
When it became apparent that Hogwarts and magic were very real indeed his mother had argued that a magical education was surely better than no education at all, his father had argued that he’d never had any higher education and he’d done fine in the world and Thomas had sat quietly in the corner wondering if wizards had more interesting career opportunities than the cotton industry.
The steam train had stopped in the early evening and a bearded man had herded them towards some unstable looking boats that seated four students each. Thomas ended up sharing with two blond-haired girls and a redheaded boy with far too many freckles who cheerfully introduced himself as “Reginald – call me Reggie.”
“I’d rather not,” replied Thomas flatly. “That’s something you’d call a rabbit.”
Reginald just laughed and proceeded to explain about a giant squid that lived underneath the lake that his older brother had told him about.
When they got there the Great Hall was filled with robed students all talking loudly. Thomas was glad he was wearing his new school robes over his muggle outfit or he would have felt quite inadequate.
“That’s Margaret McGonagall,” Reginald said, pointing at a dark-haired girl wearing a tartan hat. “My brother said she’s a prefect and really nice.”
Thomas thought that really prefects ought to be fair not nice, but then the world wasn’t perfect and if you couldn’t have a fair prefect a nice one would be better than a strict one, if only because a nice one would be more likely to let you off if you’d done something wrong.
The girl had caught Reginald pointing and smiled at them, so Thomas politely smiled back.
“Granger, Thomas,” the bearded man shouted and Thomas headed towards the stool at the front of the Hall where the man dumped an old hat on his head.
Well, that’s unusual. Haven’t given much thought to which House you’d like to be in, have you? said a dry voice.
Ah, a talking hat, thought Thomas. So that’s what all the fuss is about.
I beg your pardon? This time the voice sounded a little cross. I am not a TALKING hat, thank you very much. I am a THINKING hat.
Thomas wondered if it was actually possible to get on the bad side of a hat, and if it was how you were supposed to apologise to it.
You may consider your apology accepted.
Now then, no thought at all as to which House you’d like to be in?
Not really. I don’t know that much about them.
Well then, let us have a look inside your head. It paused and Thomas shuffled uncomfortably on the hard stool. Discrete and you like figuring out how to get what you want. Plenty of ambition there too I see. Right then, you’re going in –
Reginald ended up in Hufflepuff, which his Gryffindor brother seemed a bit chagrined about for some reason, but Reginald seemed happy enough about it. The two blond girls from the boat went into Ravenclaw and Thomas was joined at the Slytherin table by Marvin Black, Rebecca Stein, Simon Parkinson, a large boy who’s name he missed and a sharp-nosed boy called Leister McCaffery who smiled at him as he sat down.
Time to start fitting in he thought and ignored the rest of the Sorting in favour of talking to Leister.
He’d been at Hogwarts a week when he was swallowed by a rug. It didn’t have any teeth, so it didn’t hurt, and its stomach turned out to be a small room which, unfortunately, had no windows or doors or any obvious way out at all but, fortunately, did have a large packet of biscuits and a shelf full of fantasy books written by muggle authors, so he had something to pass the time whilst he was waiting for someone to find him.
However, once they did find him life in Slytherin House became almost unbearable. A dead rat found its way into his bed, several lots of homework were drenched in Inalterable Ink just hours before it was due in and he lost count of the number of times he was cursed and hexed. Just sitting down in the common room became dangerous.
All because of a rug that apparently only ate muggleborns.
“Well, it hasn’t ever swallowed anyone else,” Leister whispered in their dormitory after lights out. “And you are a Muggleborn, aren’t you?”
“So what if I am? It’s just a rug.”
“What do you know about the founders?”
He saw Leister nod in the light from the window.
“A bit. I was going to get ‘Hogwarts: A History’ out of the library next week. Why?”
“Salazar Slytherin, the founder of our House, he, well, he didn’t like Muggleborns. He said it was their fault that Muggles hated and hunted us, because they told their families that we existed, and that they brought Muggle things into our world, ruining our culture.” The sharp-nosed boy looked uncomfortable. “The four founders had a big fight about it and Slytherin left, but there’s all sorts of legends about stuff he left behind to try and stop the Muggleborns from staying here, like the Chamber of Secrets and that rug and some of the stone snakes in the dungeons that’re supposed to bite people who don’t have pure blood and - ”
“You don’t really believe all that do you?” Thomas rolled his eyes. “Blood’s just blood. Everyone has it and it’s all the same colour.”
“Well, the culture thing, maybe.”
“The others believe it.” He rolled over in bed so his back was turned. “You’re alright Thomas, I know you are, but maybe…maybe not in Slytherin.”
Thomas didn’t know whether it was possible to be Sorted into another House when you’d been Sorted once already, but the next time his Head of House called him for a ‘private chat’ about his ‘difficulties acclimatising’ he told him what Leister had said (although not that Leister had said it) and found himself being escorted to the Headmistress’s office.
“I’m not sure if it’s possible,” she told him, “but let’s find out, shall we?”
He took the offered Hat and placed it on his head gingerly.
Back again are you? It didn’t seem displeased, just a bit surprised. What can I do for you Mr Granger?
Thomas wasn’t sure what to say, so he thought about the rug and the hexes and hoped the Hat understood.
Oh I see. Well, I don’t reSort people very often Mr Granger, but sometimes…sometimes it does happen. As I recall you didn’t know much about the Houses last time, did you? Do you have any preferences as to where you’d like to be this time?
Thomas kept quiet and tried very hard not to imagine the annoying Reginald or what the Gryffindors would think of an ex-Slytherin joining them.
You know, knowledge is power and Ravenclaws are less inclined to practical jokes as a general rule. And with your intelligence you ought to fit right in with them...
Are you asking or telling?
The hat chuckled. Well you’re definitely not a Hufflepuff and the Gryffindors won’t thank you for having been in Slytherin House. Ha, a few of them might actually accuse you of being a spy –
Well they’re idiots then.
So some people say. It sounded amused. Yes, definitely –
Starting with Gryffindor
They were all watching her – the Headmaster, all the Heads of House, the portraits – and they all looked so serious. She wanted to tell them that it wasn’t her fault that she wasn’t fitting in, that she’d tried for three years now, but it just wasn’t working and she was fed up with waking up with green hair or finding squishy things from the potions cupboard mixed in with her underwear…
The Headmaster gestured to a chair in front of his desk and handed her the Sorting Hat. She took a deep breath and placed it on her head. It promptly slipped down to cover her to her chin.
Hello again. It sounded a little puzzled. Didn’t I place you in Gryffindor?
Madeline bit her lip. She was going to have to explain things to the Hat as well, wasn’t she? It had been embarrassing enough when she’d confessed how things were to her friends in Hufflepuff and even worse when she’d gone to her Head of House like they’d suggested, and then there was the Headmaster…and now the Hat.
She took another deep breath, which was difficult with the Hat over her mouth. I’m not getting on with my Housemates and I think it would best for everyone if I changed to a different House.
Thinking of others, not just yourself, hmm?
Yes. They obviously don’t want me there anymore than I want to be there. Another breath. I wouldn’t want to be in Slytherin, if that’s alright. I have friends in Hufflepuff, so that would be nice, and I promise to work really hard if you put me in Ravenclaw.
I don’t get asked to reSort people very often you know. It took a lot of courage for you to ask for that. It took a lot of courage for you to tell people you were having problems as well, and to make friends outside of your own House…
I’m not brave. I’m not.
You’re not? Or you don’t want to be?
Maybe you might have made a mistake? When you first Sorted me? I mean, you had an awful lot of people to go through and I’m near the bottom of the alphabet and you must have been tired –
I don’t make mistakes. She felt her hair move as it sighed. Sometimes, not very often mind you, people change and they ought to belong to another House, so, IF they ask, I reSort them. You haven’t changed.
No, Madeline didn’t think she had. She was still that short first year who people had to explain things to multiple times before she understood anything, still the same first year who took nearly eight months before she didn’t get lost when left to find her classrooms on her own…
The Hat chuckled. You are definitely not a first year. You are, however, definitely a –
She took off the Hat with a sinking feeling in her stomach. That was it then.
“Well that was an absolute waste of time,” snapped the new Head of Slytherin House. “How long does a dubious fashion accessory need to make the same decision as before? And why, in Merlin’s name, did we have to be party to this idiocy? If the girl’s Head of House had shown even a degree of competency - ”
The Headmaster gestured at the door and Madeline made her escape as quickly as possible, fleeing automatically for the Gryffindor Common Room.
“Oh look, it’s the Mad One,” Lorna tittered as she tumbled through the portrait hole. “Do we finally get to be rid of you then?”
“N-no.” Madeline stared. She hadn’t told anyone in her House that she’d asked to be resorted.
“Pity, but then I suppose we should have known not to believe anything a Hufflepuff comes out with, especially if they’re friends with you.”
Lorna must have been listening to other people’s conversations, Madeline told herself desperately. Her Hufflepuff friends had sworn they wouldn’t tell anyone what she was going to do. They’d promised and Hufflepuffs were supposed to be loyal…
By now most of the Common Room had stopped whatever they’d been doing before she came in so they could watch the entertainment. The rest of her roommates were gathered behind Lorna with wide smiles on pretty faces.
“But then Hufflepuffs are stupid, aren’t they Maddy? Nothing between their ears but badger dung and compost - ”
“I’ll be sure to tell Michael that next time you start flirting with him.” She was tired and she’d been reSorted for nothing and her mouth just seemed to keep going of its own accord. “You shouldn’t go around calling other people stupid since you seem to think the best place to store your potions ingredients is in my bed. Or is that some special advice from Professor Mathers? Is that why you don’t like Hufflepuffs? Because you like a seventy-odd year old teacher?”
She could see open mouths out of the corner of eye, but she tried not to look at them.
“Yes, I went to be reSorted Lorna, but the Hat said that I’m definitely in the right House. If you’re so desperate to get rid of me maybe it’s you that needs reSorting, or does it take a lot of Gryffindor courage to pick on someone smaller than you?”
She’d been a bit worried at first to hear all these words spilling out of her own mouth, and the more she talked the louder she seemed to get, but, strangely, it also made her feel, well, better. And Lorna deserved to be yelled at.
“Hufflepuffs aren’t stupid and no, you’re not getting rid of me. Next time you think about picking on me think about this: I’m in your House, I’m in your classes, I’m in your room and I’m not going anywhere. Next time you tip my cauldron over or aim a hex at my back you just remember that I have plenty of opportunities to get my own back and maybe, just maybe, the reason I haven’t done anything yet is because I don’t do stupid little bullying things like you and I’m waiting to do something a lot worse back.”
Madeline spun around to see her Head of House looking very much displeased.
“Twenty points from Gryffindor. Merlin knows I hate taking points from my own House as much as any other Head, but such disrespect towards Professor Mathers is completely unacceptable.” Madeline fought against blushing and lost miserably. “You will be serving a detention with me tonight in which you can write him a heartfelt apology, understood?”
“Very good.” Her face cracked into a smile. “Then five points, for standing up for yourself for once.”
Madeline gulped, then glanced over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of Lorna face. I’m not a Hufflepuff, she thought. I’m not loyal to my House beyond reason.
“Actually Professor, could you take those five points off instead of adding them on? Only I think people would be less inclined to bully me enough to make me angry if me being angry loses our House points instead of gaining them.”
Professor Potter groaned. “Let the points stand, I’m not taking any more of my own House tonight. If you must lose points the next time you yell at your year-mates then yell at them in another professor’s hearing, alright?”
Starting with Ravenclaw
Myrtle was lonely. She’d never known how quiet the school was over the summer holidays and, she decided, she didn’t like it. All the students had gone home. Most of the teachers had left too and the ones that hadn’t didn’t have time to spend with adolescent ghosts, even Professor Binns. (Myrtle vowed that when that idiot finally realised that he wasn’t breathing either then she’d call him a ‘floating nuisance’ and see how he liked it.)
Nearly-Headless-Nick, who was usually quite friendly, was off somewhere composing poetry, the Fat Friar was haunting the teacher’s wine cellar and none of the other ghosts had even bothered to introduce themselves to her yet.
This haunting business was boring.
A few times this week she’d wished that she’d died properly instead of coming back as a ghost, but she’d really wanted to get her own back on Olive Hornby. And she had, lots of times, only now Olive had graduated and Myrtle was still here. Somehow that didn’t seem to be much of a victory.
She floated round the castle aimlessly for a while and found the prefects bathroom, which was, alas, prefect-less, before Peeves began throwing things at her. She got a bit confused whilst making her escape and instead of going through the wood-panelled wall in the second floor classroom and down she’d gone through the stone wall and left and then got hopelessly confused. By the time the poltergeist had left her alone in search of more amusing mischief she was floating through walls at random trying to get back to somewhere that she recognised.
The latest room she’d arrived in was as empty as the rest of the castle, but not as quiet. Lots of instruments and devices she’d never seen before were whirling and clicking and buzzing and portraits were snoring on the walls. On closer inspection they turned out to be paintings of the old Headmasters and Headmistresses, which meant that this must be the Headmaster’s office.
“You shouldn’t be in here,” one of them said, sneering. “Even the ghosts aren’t allowed in here without an invitation.”
Myrtle ignored him. She’d tried talking to the portraits for the first four weeks of the holiday, but it got boring after a while. They were interesting enough if you asked them to tell you stories about their lives or things that they’d seen happen at Hogwarts since they’d been painted, but you couldn’t really have a conversation with them. They were just images of people who’d died charmed to act like the person who’d passed over with enough of their history embedded in the charm for them to be able to do so. She’d heard that the portraits of the Headmasters and Headmistresses were a little different, but if she wasn’t supposed to be in here then they probably wouldn’t want to talk with her anyway.
She watched the moving objects in the office for a while and made up stories for herself about what they could be for. The sparkling thing, she decided, was a soap dish used by a princess in the thirteenth century and the blue thing that clicked was an instrument that translated English into Rodent-speak so the Headmaster could talk to mice and find out all the secrets that they heard whilst running around the school.
Eventually she drifted over to the shelves and began inspecting the titles of the books stored there and the ornaments and objects scattered on the shelves between them.
One such object was a battered old wizarding hat. Myrtle remembered it from first year when she’d had to put it on her head and it had told her which House she was going to be in. Actually, it had told her not to be nervous and she’d had a bit of a conversation with it.
She bit her lip and, concentrating, floated herself through the shelves and up until she could see the dark insides of the Hat.
“Hello?” she whispered.
Good afternoon. It’s a little early for the Sorting isn’t it? it asked distractedly.
“It’s the summer holidays,” she told it politely, “and I’m not here to be Sorted.”
Well I haven’t finished my song for the new school year, so it’s good that time isn’t already upon us. Do excuse me.
“I’m sorry if you’re busy, but I thought maybe I could talk to you for a bit. If you don’t mind.” She hoped she didn’t sound too desperate.
I only talk to people when they’re being Sorted I’m afraid.
“Oh.” Myrtle tried not to cry. Flooding the Headmaster’s office would probably not be a very good thing to do.
Wait a minute, the Hat said kindly. How about I reSort you?
“You can resort people?”
Yes. I don’t do it very often mind you, just sometimes. People change you know.
Changed? Myrtle thought. I’m DEAD. How changed can you get?
The Hat chuckled. I heard that you know.
Don’t mention it. Now then, what have you been up to?
I seem to spend most of my time in the girl’s toilet on the second floor actually. That’s where I died.
Hmm, that doesn’t sound very…interesting…
Oh, it’s boring. Except when Olive Hornby’s in there and I can get my own back for all the times she picked on me, but she’s left now. She grew up. Well, she grew TALLER at any rate.
It chuckled again. What else do you do?
Can’t you see it, inside my head? Myrtle asked curiously.
Well, yes, but it seems rather impolite to do that if we’re supposed to be having a conversation. Besides, the vast majority of the people I spend my time talking to are first years, new to the school and often new to the wizarding world. It makes a pleasant change to talk to someone different.
I spend most of my time talking to portraits at the moment. It makes a nice change to talk to someone who talks back instead of just giving me a history lesson.
Thank you. The brim curved up a little at the front so that she could see some of the daylight from the office. Although I can give you a history lesson if you like.
Myrtle pretended to shudder, which was quite a difficult feat for a relatively new ghost and she hoped the Hat appreciated the effort. It laughed a little, so she rather thought it did.
She told it about the things she’d seen in the Headmaster’s office and what she thought they could have been. The Hat told her that the sparkling thing would probably have been more use as a soap dish actually, but that it was some sort of divining tool. It also knew about the portraits in the office being different than the other portraits in the school and it said that that was a way of the old Headmasters and Headmistresses leaving some advice for their successors. She told it some of the conversations she’d overheard in the girl’s toilet and it laughed in all the right places before telling her some of the funny things the first years had said when they’d put the Hat on for their Sorting, but it wouldn’t tell her who had said what.
Some time later, although she wasn’t sure how much later because time was a funny thing when you were dead, the Hat said, and I suppose I shall have to consider you for reSorting now, if I’m to finish my song before the holiday ends.
Can I come back though? Myrtle asked hopefully. I’ll think up lots more things to tell you when I’m floating around, especially when all the students come back.
The brim curved up again, which Myrtle was beginning to think was the equivalent of the Hat smiling. You may come back and be reSorted as often as you like.
But for now, let me see… You’re not sure where your place is at Hogwarts now that Olive has left and you’d really like some people to talk to…friends… Yes, I think this time we’ll put you in –
Myrtle drifted downwards and out from the shelves smiling, then she caught sight of the Ravenclaw badge embroidered on her robes and frowned. They needed a Hufflepuff House badge on them now. She wondered if it was possible to change what you were wearing if you were a ghost, and if it was could you change how you looked too? Maybe the Grey Lady would explain things if she asked her nicely.
“I told you, you’re not allowed to be in here,” the mean portrait snapped at her.
Myrtle turned to it and smiled sweetly. “But I have an invitation.”
“From whom exactly?”
“The Sorting Hat.”
A brown haired woman two portraits down from the sneering man laughed. “Far be it for us to argue with the Sorting Hat, Phineas.”
The man, Phineas, turned up his nose and stalked out of the edge of his painting. Myrtle looked at the woman. “If I’m allowed to be here, can I talk to you too, then? If you’re not too busy?”
“Of course, dear. I suppose there aren’t any of your kind who are your age around here to talk to, are there?”
“Well students aren’t really supposed to die when they’re at school you know,” Myrtle replied sagely. Quite a few of the portraits grinned at that and one actually snorted. “I talk to some of the students sometimes, but the younger ones can be a bit scared and the older ones think I’m still a kid, although I’ve been dead longer than they’ve been at school. To the other ghosts I am a kid, I suppose, and the portraits in the rest of the school are, well…”
“One dimensional?” the woman offered helpfully.
(Almost) Starting as Gryffindor
More than a few people giggled and Tonks wondered if correcting the Professor would make people more or less likely to call her Nymphadora in future. She managed to make it onto the stool without tripping over and jammed the Sorting Hat onto her head. It promptly slipped down over her ears and nose, so she began morphing the former for a bit of fun whilst she was waiting.
Bored are we?
She tried not to jump and thought sorry very hard.
Yes, well, I suppose you are near the end of the alphabet. Are there many more after you, do you know?
Three more, I think.
Thank you. Now then, where to put you…
She shrank her ears back to their normal size and made her hair pink before remembering what her mother had said about ‘radical hairstyles’ being ‘disrespectful’ and morphing it back to brown.
Lots of determination I see, a bit clumsy… Very well then, let’s put you in –
“GRYFFIND - ”
What ARE you doing?
Erm, changing my hair colour? The shock of being put in a house entirely different to either of her parents had made her lose her morph for a moment. She forced the black hair to turn back to brown and reached up to take the Hat off her head.
Now wait just a minute!
Um, I thought you’d just put me in Gryffindor? I’m sorted, aren’t I?
My hair? Changing my hair changes what House I’m in? Tonks blinked. I usually like to have my hair pink, if that helps. Really bright pink.
Why? The Hat sounded thoughtful and curious and just a little confused, Tonks thought.
I like it pink. It makes me look cheerful.
The Hat didn’t respond.
I’m a metamorphmagus, so I can change what I look like, she explained helpfully. Mostly I just change my hair though. It feels a bit too strange to go around wearing someone else’s face all the time, but lots of people change their hair colour these days. With potions and charms. Muggles do it too, only with dyes. So yeah, erm…
May I see you with your normal hair colour please?
Erm, not to be impolite or anything, but CAN you see? I mean, HOW can you see?
The Hat chuckled. Stop trying to make me put you in Ravenclaw. And for your information, I would like to see what you are THINKING when you have your normal hair colour, if you please.
For the first time since she’d been old enough to be able to maintain a morph for a whole day Tonks relaxed all her ‘magical muscles’, as her Dad called them.
I remember the last generation of your family. You’re quite right; the resemblance is striking with the black hair.
I thought you couldn’t see, Tonks grumbled.
I can see a picture of what you know you look like now inside your head. Well, that would be the simple answer at any rate.
Fine. She morphed her hair back to brown then made the ends wavy to try and cheer herself up.
You don’t like looking like a Black. Now why is that? Ambition to stand on your own merits, don’t want to be associated with murderers –
STOP IT! She bit her lip to keep herself from saying anything out loud.
I apologise. The Hat’s voice was quiet. Do you really think people won’t like you because of that?
She tried not to think of anything except cheerful pink hair.
If you want that much to have friends Miss Tonks, however courageous you are, then I think you really ought to be in –
She took the Hat off and stumbled over to the appropriate table.
This time she did trip over.
Extract from ‘Hogwarts: A History’ twelfth edition, Bagshot B. pp.659:
Perhaps the most noteworthy example of reSorting is the case of Hogwarts only resident student ghost³, who is reSorted on a regular basis, if a ghost can indeed by reSorted. When asked for his opinion on the matter the current Headmaster, Professor A. Dumbledore stated, “very few floods in my office. Not many taps and toilets you see.” Fewer students who are reSorted divulge their experience with the Sorting Hat than those of us who braved the Hat only once, limiting the information available on this phenomenon. Whilst this author appreciates the insight into the school’s plumbing situation, more specific information is needed if we are ever to gain an understanding of this relatively unknown concept.
³Died 1943, commonly known as ‘Moaning Myrtle,’ see chapter entitled 'Hogwarts Residents: Ghosts, Ghouls and Spectres'.
A/N: Just a few things:
Thomas Granger may or may not be a distant, many-generations-back relative of Hermione Granger, who may or may not have split away from the rest of the family over time – your choice. (The Muggleborn/Mudblood Eating Rug first appeared in ‘The List’.)
Potter and Longbottom being old Pureblood family names it seemed appropriate that they cropped up somewhere. Originally I had Madeline as a Potter and the Professor as a Black, although I think this Professor could be related to the McGonagall family somewhere ;o)
According to information on JK Rowling’s official website Myrtle was in Ravenclaw and Tonks was in Hufflepuff. I was a bit relieved when I found that because I couldn’t remember it being mentioned in any of the books. (And if I hadn’t found it Myrtle would have been a Slytherin turned Hufflepuff.)