On the morning of the first of September Ginny had a stomach full of butterflies. The Weasley house was chaos, and as much as everyone tried to be prepared the night before, it still took hours to get the car packed. Ginny’s mum had a simple stack of toast and eggs ready for everyone to snack on while other family members helped each other bring down school trunks.
Arthur started taking trunks out to the car one by one, and when the twins burst into Ginny’s room to heave her trunk downstairs, she volunteered to get all the boys’ broomsticks from the shed outback like she did for them every year.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Molly called to Ginny. She had almost made it out the backdoor to the broom shed.
“Out to get the broomsticks…,” she said hesitantly.
“Oh, no, you aren’t!” said her mother, “You have to finish packing for yourself this year. The boys can pack their own brooms. Go feed the chickens; they’ve been bothering your father every time he takes a trunk to the car.” With that Molly turned around and filled the sink with water by magically turning on the tap, floated the dish soap over to it, and laid out bread to make sandwiches for the train ride, all with a few flicks of her wand.
Ginny sighed as her mother waved her away. She really wanted to hold the Nimbus again, but instead she filled a sack with feed and went out the backdoor to find the pesky birds. She walked all the way around to the front of the house where she found them trailing after her father, who had just gone into the front door.
Throwing the corn grain well away from the door but still in view, Ginny began to call to the chickens. All but one of them, the one who nearly followed Arthur into the house, ran over to her in a flurry of feathers and clucking noises. The one on the porch noticed the other chickens flocking towards Ginny and started to amble its way back down the front steps. Arthur reappeared, carrying Ginny’s trunk this time. Just noticing the stray chicken, Ginny began calling it more urgently, but it was too late. Her father was already at the bottom of the steps and the chicken wasn’t quite fast enough to get out of his way.
The chicken connected with the same foot Arthur was using to step off the last step, and trying not to squish it, he and the trunk pitched forward. Ginny watched in horror as her father ended up kicking the chicken off to the side while her trunk flew forward out of his hands. The trunk was heavy however, and didn’t fly very far and still unsteady, her father promptly tripped right over it. Her dad planted his face straight into the dirt in the front walk-way and immediately the kicked chicken ran over to peck at his arms in anger.
Her father yelled quite a few swear words when he told Ginny to call the chicken off of him. She ran over and scooped it up away from him, and Arthur rubbed his neck as he got up to put her trunk into the car. After she set the chicken down with the others to feed, she quietly skulked back around to the backdoor and into the kitchen again.
“Ginny! Are the chickens out of your father’s way?” hollered her mother.
“They are now!” Ginny called back, then she heard her mother telling the boys one by one to go get their own brooms this year. She ran up to her room and did a last check for things she wanted with her in her dorm room. Her bed was made, wardrobe was checked last night, vanity top was empty, bookshelf organized and pile of books to read on breaks on the nightstand by her bed. Her mum called for everyone to get loaded into the car as her dad loaded Harry and Ron’s trunks last. Ginny climbed into the front with her mum.
“Dad, stop. I gotta go back and get my box of Filibuster fireworks!” George said. He popped out and returned within a couple of minutes. While he was gone, Fred asked Ginny how all the brooms fit together this year with the extra trunks.
“Didn’t you pack yours?” Molly asked, “I told you boys to pack your own things this year. Ginny had to worry about her own luggage today.”
In disbelief, Fred got out too to fetch his Cleansweep.
The car was trundling past the village and they were near the highway when Ginny started doing a mental check and decided she couldn’t wait to write to Tom about today. It would definitely be a day she would never forget. That’s when an image of the diary on the stack of books on her nightstand appeared in her mind. “Dad! Turn around! I forgot my diary!” she shrieked.
They finally arrived at King’s Cross Station with only fifteen minutes to get onto the train. They went through the wall to Platform 9¾ in pairs, Ginny and her mum second to last with Ron and Harry bringing up the rear. Once she and her mum were through, there was only a couple of minutes left to board the train. In a slight panic Molly began dashing up and down the platform to find at least a partially open carriage.
Then a voice sounded over the milling crowd of families saying their good-byes, “Ginny! There you are! I saved you a spot!” Hanging out an open window, where his dad and brother stood under it still on the platform, was Colin Creevey.
A look of relief fell over her parents’ faces, and her dad heaved the trunk to the carriage, Colin’s father helped to lift it onto the train’s steps, and Colin whisked it away to his compartment while Arthur lifted Ginny onto the steps and gave her a quick kiss good-bye on the forehead before hurrying off to help Ron and Harry. Molly went up to Ginny and gave her a hug, and after promising that she would write home as often as she could, Ginny was allowed to go into the compartment with Colin and wave out the window.
For as long as Ginny could remember, she was the one standing on the platform waving good-bye and watching the train recede into the distance year after year as the train carried more and more of her brothers away, one by one. Except of course when it took the twins as the same time. She watched her mother shake Colin’s father’s hand, thanking him for helping with her trunk and then scan the windows, waving farewell to her brothers. The train was already moving when she saw her father race back to her mother’s side. They both had concerned looks on their faces and rushed away.
This year there was no one to chase the train as it slowly picked up speed. Colin’s father was still standing there waving with little Dennis next to him. Ginny politely waved back with Colin until the Hogwarts Express turned a bend in the tracks and the platform disappeared out of sight.
Settling in for the long journey, Ginny and Colin sat on opposite sides of the compartment when they heard a rumbling in the corridor. Another student popped her head in, “You guys first-years too?” She had very dark colored skin and eyes, and her hair was pulled back in what looked like a million tiny equal sized braids that trailed off, held together with nothing at their ends yet still staying in place with no magic. It fascinated Ginny, just like Luna’s hair did when her mum cut it.
“Yeah,” said Colin, moving over and making room, “You can bunk with us for the train ride.” Ginny helped the girl heave her trunk into the luggage rack while Colin made introductions, “My name is Colin, and this is Ginny.”
Sitting down on the bench next to Ginny, the girl replied, “Everyone just calls me Ash.” Looking at Ginny she said, “Ginny, as in Ginny Weasley?”
“How did you know?”
“Everyone talks about the ONE Weasley girl when talk of the old families come up. Plus, my family follows your brother, makes sure he doesn’t give the goblins wizard artifacts,” said Ash.
“Oh,” said Ginny, “you’re a Burke aren’t you?” She had heard some of the stories from Bill about the Burkes breathing down his neck, constantly inspecting his work before it was turned over to the goblins at Gringotts. Bill understood their work was important for the wizard community, but he wished they trusted him more to do his job well.
“Yup,” said Ash smiling, “I’m going to be the first person in my family who is both a historical wizard artifact expert and a curse breaker. That way we’ll be there on sight when ruins and tombs are first opened and explored so nothing is missed or lost.”
Ginny remembered the name of the shop that Harry came out of when they couldn’t find him in Diagon Alley, “Is your family connected to that shop in Knockturn Alley? Borgin and Burke’s?”
“Kind of,” replied Ash, “that’s one of my dad’s distant cousin’s side of the family. The Borgins run the shop and we procure the merchandise. They only get the sellable artifacts of course; my father’s side focuses on keeping and maintaining historical ones.”
Colin, who had been listening with interest, asked, “What do you do with the historical artifacts? Put them in a museum? Do wizards have museums?”
Ash looked at him, puzzled, and Ginny answered. “Usually, the old families just hoard them,” she explained.
“Are you a Muggle-born?” Ash asked Colin.
“What’s a Muggle-born?”
Ash began nodding her certainty that yes, he was. “Muggles are non-magical people. So if a wizard is born to two non-magical parents, your status is called Muggle-born. Oh, and by the way, if you are a wizard, you say ‘Do we have museums?’ You’re one of us officially now, okay? Since the day you received your letter.” She said it as though she were debating someone who wouldn’t consider Colin a wizard. Ginny inwardly smiled at Ash’s personal convictions. The Burkes come from a long line of Slytherins, most of whom believed in pure-blood statuses only.
“Ok,” said Colin, “what does status mean?”
“It’s just a classification. It doesn’t have anything to do with magical ability,” said Ginny, catching Ash’s eye to silently convey her agreement.
“These days it’s just an easy way to gauge how long someone’s family has been part of the magical community,” added Ash.
“… And you guys are both from old families?” asked Colin.
“Yeah, but you’ll find most students are half-bloods, and everyone starts at the same place at Hogwarts,” said Ginny.
“You know what?” said Ash, changing the subject, “I like that idea of a wizard museum. My dad will hate it, but I can do what I want with what I find.”
“You can put it in Diagon Alley,” said Ginny. “That’s where I met Colin. We were getting our wands at the same time at Olivander’s.”
“That reminds me!” exclaimed Colin. “I have your picture!” He dug around inside his trunk and pulled out an ordinary folder. When he opened it, there were all sorts of little strips with miniature-looking pictures inside plastic sleeves and black and white photographs of varying sizes. Colin rifled through a specific stack that looked like places from around Diagon Alley and pulled out the photograph of Ginny.
“That’s beautiful!” said Ash, recognizing Colin’s potential talent from growing up surrounded by relics.
It was pretty amazing, Ginny had to admit. It made her a little self-conscious that she was the subject in something someone said was beautiful, but she glowed a little inside too.
She was perfectly clear in the picture and everything behind her was slightly blurred out of focus. The sparks emitting from the wand made little bright spots that formed a perfect arc around her upper body, following the trail through the air she had made when she had felt that it was her wand. She wasn’t looking at the camera, like in the pictures she normally took with her family, but that somehow made it better. Instead, it let the observer see what she was seeing and feel what she was feeling in that particular moment.
“Why doesn’t it move?” asked Ginny.
“All Muggle photographs are stationary,” said Ash knowledgeably. “Only wizard ones brewed in a special potion are animated.”
“You, I mean we, have animated photographs?” asked Colin in awe.
“Yeah, it’s a pretty easy potion; every family has it in their household potions book,” said Ash.
A couple of hours into the train ride, Ginny, Colin, and Ash were having a great time getting to know each other until Percy popped his head into the cabin just before midday. “Ginny! There you are. I thought you would be sitting with the twins,” he said.
“Never mind that,” he said. “Ron and Harry are missing. Hermione just found me in the prefects’ compartment and she told me that she searched the entire train after asking the twins if they were supposed to have been on the Hogwarts Express with the rest of us.” He rushed back out of the cabin.
"Is he talking about Harry Potter?" asked Ash.
Ginny froze in indecision, does she let on that her family is close to THE Harry Potter?
“Does your brother know Harry Potter?” asked Ash.
Worried about Ron and knowing that there was always a slight danger being with Harry, Ginny was a little reserved when she said, “Yeah, Ron is one of his best friends.” They were going to find out at school eventually she decided.
“That’s so cool!” exclaimed Ash. “Can you introduce me?”
“Uh, to be honest, I’ve never actually talked to him myself,” admitted Ginny. She was also not going to mention Harry staying with them this past summer.
“Who’s Harry Potter?” asked Colin. “Who’s Ron?”
Ginny and Ash looked around at each other, not knowing where to begin. Ash started. She told Colin Harry’s basic story that all wizards knew about him defeating He-Who-Must-Be-Not-Named, and Ginny recapped his Quidditch achievements and the finding of the Sorcerer’s Stone last year. Colin was amazed that Harry Potter was only a year older than them.
Ash asked Ginny more questions about Bill’s work, and conversation centered around the Weasley boys for some time, all of whom Colin found compelling. Talk of her brothers being on the Gryffindor Quidditch team led to further explaining Quidditch, which led to the House tournament every year at Hogwarts.
“What do you mean, House?” asked Colin. Ash took over explaining again, the histories, the founders, how some families were all over the place and others tended to be legacies in certain Houses. Colin admitted remembering some of this when a school representative visited, but at the time he was too excited about being a wizard to remember it all.
“Most of my family has been in Slytherin,” said Ash. “It’s the best for making political connections, but I wouldn’t mind being around older Ravenclaw students who like to pursue all sorts of knowledge.”
“What House is Harry Potter in?” asked Colin.
“Gryffindor,” Ginny replied, “just like my whole family. Not just my brothers, my mum and dad too.”
“So you’re wanting Gryffindor then?” asked Ash.
“Yeah, my parents won’t mind which House I’m in, and I actually told my dad it would probably be a toss-up between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff,” she answered.
“Why Hufflepuff?” asked Ash.
“I’m the youngest of seven,” said Ginny, smiling. “Sometimes I think I’m the only kind, honest, and fair kid my parents had.” That garnered a laugh from everyone in the compartment.
“I have an older brother too,” said Ash, “Dax is a sixth-year Slytherin. Dad’s been grooming him to take over the family business our whole lives because he’s the one who’s going to pass on the Burke name,” she said bitterly. “It’s not fair. Dax doesn’t even try, and any time he does manage to do something right he gets all this praise. That’s why I’m going to do my own thing.”
“What about you?” asked Colin to Ginny. “Do you have an old family business to get into?” He seemed to feel better when she shook her head no.
“My father works for the Ministry,” said Ginny.
Hermione and another boy entered the compartment late that afternoon. Hermione was still trying to piece together Ron and Harry’s disappearance.
“Ginny, do you remember me?” she asked.
“Yeah, you were shopping in Diagon Alley with my brother,” said Ginny. Then she quickly made introductions for Colin and Ash, and Hermione introduced the boy as Neville Longbottom. Colin looked excited at meeting two more of Harry Potter’s friends.
“Do you remember exactly the last time you saw them?” Hermione asked.
“Not exactly. My mum walked with me through barrier at King's Cross and she told Ron and Harry to come together right after us. They were supposed to be the last ones through,” said Ginny.
“So, maybe they never even got onto the platform,” pondered Hermione.
“Percy will know what to do,” said Ginny reassuringly. Ash and Hermione furled their eyebrows at that statement, but faith in her family was one of the few things Ginny felt one-hundred percent sure about.
“I don’t think Percy is capable of safeguarding against the kind of trouble that manages to find Harry,” said Hermione flatly.
With that, Hermione and Neville left to go change into their Hogwarts robes. Ginny suggested to Colin and Ash that they should do the same.
When they felt the Hogwarts Express pull into the Hogsmeade Station and a voice told them to leave their luggage, Colin had the idea to walk all the way to the train door that led outside. That way they would be the first ones off.
“Firs’ years this way!” Ginny saw Hagrid calling over the heads of all the disembarking students.
“That’s Hagrid,” said Ginny when she noticed Colin and Ash’s eyes bulge at the sight of him.
“I saw him in Diagon Alley!” said Colin excitedly. “He’s huge!”
Hagrid was leading them all to the side of a lake where scores of little boats were calmly floating. Ginny saw a familiar cascade of white blonde ringlets sitting in a boat by herself.
“Four to a boat,” boomed Hagrid, who was still herding first years. Ginny beckoned Colin and Ash to the boat with the lone girl and introduced them both to Luna.
Once all the first years were seated, the boats began to glide across the lake and a silence fell over all the passengers. Everyone was eager with anticipation to see the Hogwarts castle for the first time. It was beginning to grow dark, so when the turrets of the castle became silhouetted against the sky there were many audible intakes of breath.
Colin fumbled for his camera and waited with it pressed to his eye for their boat to be precisely positioned before taking a shot of the castle. He took a few more after fiddling with some of the knobs. “I can’t wait to see how these turn out, especially that first one,” he exclaimed.
After they had sailed quite a bit closer Ginny watched him focus his lens a bit more and asked everyone in the boat to duck down so he could clearly see over them. From her crouched position, Ginny watched as he rapidly took a series of shots with a slight change in angle from left to right in between each.
“What was that for?” she asked after he let them straighten up again.
“A panoramic, they’re pretty difficult to take. Especially from a moving platform, but I think it’ll turn out okay,” Colin replied.
“Lucky the lake was so placid today,” remarked Ash.
“What’s a panoramic?” asked Ginny.
Colin took a deep breath like he was going to give a lengthy explanation, but seemed to decide against it. “I’m just going to have to show you.”
They neared a cliff that the castle was sitting at the top of, and Ginny heard Hagrid’s voice boom out again, “Everybody! Heads down!” For the second time Ginny bent down low within the boat as the fleet went under hanging ivy, disguising a cave opening within the cliff. Once there, they all sailed through a dark tunnel coming to a landing underneath the castle itself. Hagrid led them all up a narrow path which ended at a door, three booming knocks and the door swung open. On the other side was a tall dark-haired witch with a stern face. “This year’s crop of firs’ years, Professor.”
“Thank you, Hagrid. That will do,” she said. “All of you, my name is Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress to Hogwarts. Form a line please, and then follow me.”
All the first years scrambled into a haphazard line, Luna led their little foursome group to a place somewhere in the middle, and Ginny stood right behind her. Colin motioned for Ash to get in line next in a lady’s first fashion but Ginny glanced over and met Ash’s eyes. They had a silent acknowledgement to protect and stand in solidarity with their new Muggle-born friend in this unfamiliar environment while the pack of first years moved through the school. At the same moment, both of them put their hands on Colin’s shoulders and thrust him in line between themselves, Ginny ahead and Ash bringing up the rear of their section of the line.
“What the heck…?” Colin started to say, but Ash just shushed him and faced him forward. Professor McGonagall had looked over to see what the commotion was and Colin clamped his mouth shut and stood quietly. When the line began to move Colin glanced between them, clearly puzzled, but started to look around in wonder and picked up his camera to take pictures once they reached the entrance hall.
Professor McGonagall led them to a small empty chamber where she addressed the first years more formally. “Welcome to Hogwarts. The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your Houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your House, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your House common room.”
“The four Houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each House has its own noble history, and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn you House points, while any rule-breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points is awarded the House Cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever House becomes yours.”
“The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.” (1)
Ginny knew from hearing her brothers talk about their Sorting Ceremonies that Professor McGonagall was telling them all exactly what she told every group of first years. Nevertheless, it was still intimidating when her eyes lingered on Colin’s camera, which he had raised to take a picture of the room they were in. Realizing that Professor McGonagall was looking at him, he slowly let it hang around his neck again and backed up a bit. Moving as one, Ginny and Ash stepped a little closer together in front of him as if shielding Colin from Professor McGonagall’s shrewd look.
“I shall return when we are ready for you,” said Professor McGonagall, the smallest glint of a smile in her eyes as she glanced away from Colin. “Please wait quietly.” (2)
Ginny, Colin, and Ash listened as many of the students began to whisper about what sort of examination they would have to go through with the whole school watching.
“What if you don’t pass, what if none of the Houses want you?” asked Colin worriedly.
Ash gave Colin a reassuring smile, “You got your letter, you’ll get a House too.”
Professor McGonagall returned, and looked around with approval that they were still formed up in lines. Beckoning them all to follow her again, she led them into the Great Hall.
It was just like Percy had described it. Candles floating in mid-air lighting the giant space. The ceiling bewitched to reflect the sky outside. Four long tables were filled with the older students and at the other end of the hall was a fifth table where the teachers and staff sat.
Ginny quickly looked around and found the table where most of her brothers were sitting, and where she imagined Bill and Charlie once sat. She saw the twins taking part in jeering at the first years, and Percy gave her a small wave. Hermione and Neville were sitting near them at the same table, but she couldn’t spot Ron or Harry anywhere. Professor McGonagall had them all line up in one long row in front of the staff table and then turn around and face the older students, the teachers' table to their backs.
With no cue that Ginny noticed, the entire hall quieted down at once. Professor McGonagall silently placed a three-legged stool in front of the first years, and on top of that an old pointed wizard's hat. When she stepped back, everyone turned their attention to the hat. Colin once more made to raise his camera, but trying to avoid any more embarrassing attention, both Ginny and Ash silently put a hand over it and forced him to lower his arms again.
Colin jumped a bit when a rip near the brim opened and the hat began to sing:
Let’s begin with this address.
For many generations
Young students, I assess.
I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat,
I’m really quite astute.
Once chosen, arguments fall flat,
As I don’t allow dispute.
So step on up, don’t be shy,
And place me on your dome.
Deep inside your mind, I’ll pry,
So I may find your home.
Hear me now, as I speak,
Each House’s noble lore.
Which of these does interest pique,
Exceptional Houses four?
Loyal Badgers show their grace,
Steady, sure enough.
Fiercely protective of their space,
Tenacious, kindly, Hufflepuff!
And nothing dares too daunting,
For the intrepid Lion’s roar.
Courageous spirits flaunting,
In gallant Gryffindor!
Or perhaps an Eagle in the sky,
Broad visions they may draw.
All endeavors aiming high,
In passionate, Ravenclaw!
Or once the Serpent’s on your side,
Elite brotherhood within.
Cunning and ambitious stride,
Do not mistake, great Slytherin!
Now upon your noggin, I will sit,
Your thoughts I shall decipher.
Once decided, ‘twill be writ,
Good luck to all, whomever!
Everyone, staff and students alike, began to clap for the Sorting Hat’s song. Professor McGonagall walked to the front again and held a long roll of parchment. “When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted,” she said. (3) “Alderton, Katherine!”
A girl with dark brown hair and green eyes walked over to the stool, lifted the hat, sat down, and placed it on her head. A heartbeat later, the brim of that hat opened wide again and shouted, “RAVENCLAW!” loud enough for the entire hall to hear.
The second table from the main entry door burst into applause, some of the students standing up whilst cheering on the newest addition to their House. The dark-haired girl took off the hat, grinning from ear to ear and set it back on the stool and ran to join her Hogwarts family.
“Archer, Terra!” A dark-skinned girl apprehensively approached the stool.
After a moment the hat shouted, “HUFFLEPUFF!” The table next to the one where her brothers were sitting erupted into cheers this time.
“I can’t believe we have to try on that nasty old hat,” said a snobby looking girl a few people down on the other side of Ash. “It’s so old and dirty, it’s disgusting.” Ash rolled her eyes so that only Colin and Ginny could see her.
“That’s another old family last name,” Ash whispered to Colin. The girl who thought the hat was disgusting walked up to the stool. She picked it up touching it as little as possible.
She hadn’t even sat all the way down on the stool while lowering the hat over her head at the same time, when the hat shouted, “SLYTHERIN!” All the Slytherins began shouting, “AVERY! AVERY! AVERY!” Kindra Avery happily tossed the hat back onto the three-legged stool and sauntered over to the table on the far right nearest the main entry door, the one farthest from the table where Ginny’s brothers were sitting.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” Charity went to sit next to Terra Archer.
“Burke, Ashantae!” Ash gave Ginny and Colin an excited look and walked over to the stool. She sat down, took a deep breath and placed the hat on her head determinedly. It was several moments before the hat moved, significantly longer than any of the other first years so far.
Finally, the hat shouted, “SLYTHERIN!”
Once again all the Slytherins began shouting, “BURKE! BURKE! BURKE!” The loudest Slytherin had stood up and was leading the rest of them in the shouting, punching his fist into the air with every shout of her name. He looked like he was probably the brother Ash had talked about on the train ride, Dax.
“Calhoun, Connor!” was the first boy Professor McGonagall called out of the line.
“Carpenter, Dylan!” followed Connor into Ravenclaw, and then it was “Cassidy, Thaliana!” who became the first Gryffindor. The table Ginny’s brothers sat at to the far left exploded with applause. Thaliana went to sit at an open space near Hermione.
Ginny was sure Colin was going to be next, but Professor McGonagall then called, “Cooper, Cepheus!”
“SLYTHERIN!” The Slytherin table exploded again, but this time there was no chanting of “Cooper! Cooper! Cooper!” Ginny supposed this was because it wasn’t one of the old family last names. Nevertheless, many of the Slytherins still greeted little Cepheus with enthusiasm.
“Creevey, Colin!” Ginny started when she heard Colin’s name. She was watching the Slytherins and forgot that alphabetically he would be coming up.
Colin went to sit on the stool and jammed the hat on his head. In next to no time, a big smile cracked across Colin’s face just before the Sorting Hat shouted, “GRYFFINDOR!”
Once again the table Ginny’s brothers sat at exploded into applause. Colin went and sat in another empty spot near Hermione and motioned that he was saving a seat for Ginny. Then he looked over across the hall to the Slytherin table and a look of concern fell over his face that Ash sat all the way over there. Ginny just shrugged with a “that’s life,” look when Colin’s pained expression came back to hers.
“Deverill, Charlotte!” and “Faulkner, Emerson!” became back to back Gryffindors right after Colin. The Gryffindor spots were filling up fast now Ginny noticed. Knowing Weasley was going to be at the very end of the line, Ginny settled into waiting for the majority of the first years left around her to be sorted.
At “Jones, Gwendelyn!” a staff member who hadn’t been watching the Sorting came into the room from a door behind the staff table. He had dark-black, oily-looking hair, and he bent his head down to whisper into the ear of a man with half-moon spectacles and a long white beard. The wizard with the beard motioned to a very short staff member who stood up and went to speak to Professor McGonagall. He took her long roll of parchment and she pointed to where she was at on the list. Professor McGonagall, the oily-haired wizard, and the wizard with the long white beard went to stand in a quiet corner and had a discussion that seemed urgent to Ginny.
After the Sorting Hat shouted “SLYTHERIN!” and Gwendelyn Jones went to join Ash and Kindra, the short staff member introduced himself.
“Hello, I’m Professor Flitwick. I’ll be finishing the Sorting for Professor McGonagall. Up next is, Lawless, Logan!”
Ginny watched as the last person she knew who was still standing in line with her approached the stool. Luna picked up the Sorting Hat and dramatically placed it on her head as though she were doing a scene in a play. Well, she is technically on stage, thought Ginny, smiling.
Well, will you look at that, Ginny thought to herself again. I arrived here at the castle knowing all of three other first years and wouldn’t you know that each one of them was put in a different house? That means I must be going to Hufflepuff. It would round everything out nicely, she thought worriedly.
There weren’t that many people left to be sorted now.
“Pyrites” . . . , “Reilly” . . . , “Riordan” . . . , then a “Rosier” for whom which the Slytherin table had leaned forward with bated breath only to be disappointed when he was placed in Ravenclaw. “Ruiz” . . . , “Smith” . . . , “Sullivan” . . . , and then a “Vasquez, Ana Lucia!” Finally there was only two people left waiting to be sorted.
Ginny rolled her eyes at the use of her full first name, and that alone was enough distraction from the butterflies in her stomach to allow her to walk towards the stool and place the Sorting Hat on her head.
“Well, aren’t you a force to be reckoned with?” asked a small voice in Ginny’s ear. It could only be coming from the Sorting Hat. She hadn’t heard it talk to the other students it had Sorted, so she must be the only one who could hear it at the moment. “I wouldn’t expect anything less than a powerful force from the first Weasley girl in generations though,” said the hat with genuine interest.
“You have a very inquisitive mind,” said the hat and Ginny was surprised that maybe it was considering putting her in Ravenclaw. “Ravenclaw?” whispered the hat, “There I’m sure you’d do well, but that isn’t where you belong.”
Sensing her thoughts that she belonged in Hufflepuff, “Yes, I could see you fitting in with those who are fair-minded, and they would certainly help you develop an inquisitive mind.” Heart plummeting, anticipating the hat proclaiming her a Hufflepuff, Ginny began to mentally fight against the hat’s obvious choice.
She decided right then and there that she WANTED to be a Gryffindor. No longer was she just happy to be attending Hogwarts. She was just as magical as anyone else here and she would fight for where she wanted to be. She wanted to hang out in the common room with her brothers and with Colin, she wanted to try out for the Gryffindor House Quidditch team and wear the same robes in scarlet and gold as her brothers with her own number on the back. She mentally demanded that the hat let her Hogwarts family and her Weasley family be one in the same.
Throughout this emotional mental tirade Ginny went through, the Sorting Hat had been quiet. It listened to the fire that brewed up so easily seemingly out of nowhere to fuel Ginny’s determination to stand up for herself. It stayed patient while it let Ginny find out for herself that she had goals, she had expectations, and she had a spine to throw behind exactly what she thought.
“Well, let’s see now,” it whispered, “Inquisitive mind, fair in the heart, fearless in scores, belongs in … GRYFFINDOR!” The hat shouted the last word for the whole hall to hear and the Gryffindor table burst into applause as they welcomed another Weasley into their fold.
Colin scooted over and laughingly said, “See? I saved ya a seat again!”
“It felt like I had that hat on for forever,” said Ginny.
“You weren’t the longest person,” replied Colin, “but you weren’t exactly quick either. What’d it say to you?”
“Um, we fought … maybe,” said Ginny, puzzling out how the hat incited her into fighting for what she wanted instead of just going with the flow like she usually does. “Did it talk to you too then?”
“Yeah, it said I could work on my ‘passion for photography’ in Ravenclaw, but I wanted to be in the same house as Harry Potter, and the one you would most likely be in,” said Colin. “I guess it eventually agreed.”
Just then Ginny heard someone with an Irish accent lean over and ask Hermione if she’d heard about the rumor going on about Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. Ginny and Colin both leaned closer and listened intently as a boy named Seamus said someone had a copy of the Evening Prophet with an article of a Muggle car seen flying north from London.
Professor Flitwick announced the name of the last student standing that was waiting to be sorted, “Zhang, Tai!”
“HUFFLEPUFF!” With that the Sorting Ceremony was over. Professor Flitwick rolled up the parchment and picked up the Sorting Hat and the three-legged stool and carried them all out of the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall went out the door behind the staff table with the oily-haired wizard.
The wizard with the long white beard moved to address the students next. “Welcome! Welcome to yet another year of learning here at Hogwarts.”
“Is that Dumbledore?” whispered a first-year boy who would be sharing a dorm room with Colin. Ginny racked her brain for his name but couldn’t remember it from the sea of names that was announced during the Sorting.
“Yeah,” whispered another one back to him.
“Before we begin, let me say a few words,” announced Dumbledore. “Feast founds, forthwith!”
Many from the Ravenclaw table burst out laughing. Hermione and Percy were among the few Gryffindors who understood and chuckled to themselves. Colin caught Ginny’s eye to see if she understood what the Headmaster said but they both just shrugged and applauded along with everyone else in the Great Hall until Dumbledore also disappeared through the door behind the staff table. Before either of them could ask what it meant, the golden plates on the table magically filled with food. Ginny saw all sorts of dishes she was familiar with from her mother’s cooking, and a few odd things that she had never seen before.
Colin’s initial surprise was short lived, for soon after, he elbowed Ginny and nodded in the direction of Hermione and the twins, who were in deep conversation with some other Gryffindors Ginny didn’t recognize. She caught the words flying car, tree, and expelled.
The Welcoming Feast couldn’t be over soon enough. Sick with worry for her brother and Harry Potter, Ginny followed Percy's example and quietly listened while the other first-year Gryffindors were introducing themselves to the older students. The boy who asked about Dumbledore was named Jasper Greene, a half-blood who loved Muggle sports. The one who answered him was named Jai Misra, a pure-blood of Indian heritage. The other boys in Colin’s dorm, Emerson Faulkner and Blake Sullivan, were also half-bloods.
The only first-year girl sitting close enough to Ginny for her to learn anything about was Thaliana Cassidy. She had dirty-blonde colored hair and talked about some of the instruments that she liked to play. She seemed somewhat interesting to Ginny, except that when she spoke it was always with an air of authority. The other three Gryffindor first-year girls were seated too far away for Ginny to get introduced to.
After she and Colin had finished eating, Ginny glanced back up at the staff table again and was surprised to see that all three members who had left earlier were now back and enjoying the feast. When Professor Dumbledore finished, long after most everyone else had, Ginny was taken aback that all the plates and goblets were magically wiped clean at once.
Leaning back when it happened, Colin looked at Ginny with a look of fascination on his face and said, “That was so cool! It appears, and then disappears!” Now Ginny knew why her mum was said to be happy that her brothers at least carried their plates to the sink after meals at home. They literally had to do nothing here at Hogwarts.
Everyone in the hall quieted down when Professor Dumbledore got to his feet once more to address them again. “Now that we are all fed and watered, I have a few start-of-term-notices.”
Professor Dumbledore explained to the first years that the forest was forbidden to all students, no magic was allowed in the corridors, and that Quidditch tryouts were to begin next week. These were all things Ginny already knew though from stories from her brothers. She just wanted to find out what happened to Ron and Harry.
"Finally, I want you all to give a nice warm welcome to our newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart," Professor Dumbledore gestured towards Lockhart who was sitting between Professors McGonagall and the oily-haired Professor. Lockhart stood up, waved his hands in a few quick circles, and took a deep bow for the applause that broke out around the hall. He was wearing robes of what Ginny could only describe at grape and clearly stood out from the rest of the staff members, all of whom were wearing black for the Welcome Feast. Ginny was among the few who did not clap exuberantly at the idea of a celebrity being everyone's new teacher.
Once they were released, Percy began to call for all of the first years to follow him and the other prefects up to Gryffindor Tower. Ginny thought about going with a different prefect for a moment but then thought better of it. With Ron missing she dutifully got into Percy’s line with Colin right behind her. Percy gave her a nod of acknowledgement and then began to explain tricky parts of the castle to her group as he showed them secret passageways and short cuts up to the common room. Colin picked up his camera again and pulled Ginny to the back of the line so they could straggle a little ways behind everyone else.
“I just want to take some shots of these hidden passageways for my dad,” said Colin.
“That’s not very secretive of you,” commented Ginny. She really wanted to laugh but was still too filled with worry for her brother.
“Dad won’t know the difference.”
When the group made it all the way up to the portrait of the Fat Lady, Percy told them that they would need to give her a password every time they wanted to enter the common room. The password changed regularly, but for now it was ‘wattlebird.’
Everyone scrambled through the hole behind the portrait, and Ginny and Colin got their first look at the Gryffindor common room. It was spacious, round, and full of squashy armchairs with some tables for doing homework and a large fireplace on one side. Percy directed the boys to one door that led up to their dormitory and the girls to another that went up to theirs.
Ginny glanced at the door to the girls’ dormitory and looked back at Colin. It was the first time they would be separated since they began this journey together of leaving behind everything they knew.
“Meet for breakfast tomorrow? Here, at like 7:00,” asked Colin.
Immense relief swept through Ginny. She knew she could find her way back down to the Great Hall in the morning with one of her brothers and sit with them at breakfast, but it made her feel much better knowing that she would be with a fellow first year who wanted to hang out with her and would actually be attending classes with her. She smiled and nodded her head yes and went to explore her dorm room.
She found a door with a plaque that read First Years on it, and when she opened it saw that the only other girl who had so far arrived was Thaliana.
“Lights out within the hour. I want all of us fresh for our first day of classes tomorrow,” she immediately said to Ginny. Thaliana sat at her vanity and began to brush out her hair.
“No problem,” replied Ginny, rolling her eyes. She located the bed her trunk was next to and pulled out Tom Riddle’s diary. She thought about writing in it, but put it down again in favor of picking out her clothes for the next day and putting them on top of her own vanity, folded up. Then she checked her bag and put the general class materials inside it: parchment, quills, and some folders. She would add the necessary books after getting her schedule.
Then she went back down to the common room. Colin stayed up in the boys’ dormitory, no doubt taking more pictures. Downstairs, Hermione was pacing. Eventually Hermione couldn’t take no real news anymore and declared that she was going to go talk to Professor McGonagall. While she was away, the twins and their friend Lee Jordan came back down from their dorms and excitedly talked with more confidence about Ron and Harry having arrived at school in the Weasley family Muggle car. People were passing around copies of the Evening Prophet, reading some sections out loud.
Less worried about where her brothers were, and now only concerned if they had been expelled or not, Ginny waited with many of the older students for Ron and Harry to finally arrive in the common room. Everyone grew quiet when they heard a commotion on the other side of the portrait hole.
“Skip the lecture,” said Ron impatiently, “and tell us the new password.”
“It’s ‘wattlebird’…” (4) Ginny heard Hermione say before the twins and Lee Jordan shoved the portrait hole open and grabbed Ron and Harry and yanked them back through the hole, drowning out the rest of Hermione’s words. Everyone started yelling and clapping them on their backs and praising Ron and Harry for their unbelievably awesome entrance into the school year. Hermione was left to scramble through the hole by herself after them and stood there with a scowl on her face while the rest of the common room talked excitedly.
Ron and Harry confirmed that yes, they drove the car to school, yes, they crash landed, but no, they weren’t expelled. Fred and George claimed that they would have gone with them, if they had known. Lee Jordan couldn’t stop going on about them using the Whomping Willow as a landing site. Then Percy came back downstairs from his dorm, and Ginny watched Ron and Harry immediately disappear up to their room before he could tell them off.
Percy went over to check on Ginny after Ron and Harry disappeared upstairs. “Our brother is fine. Are you going to be able to sleep okay?” Ginny nodded her head yes. “Off to bed then.”
Ginny went back to her dorm room. The other three Gryffindor girls were up there now.
“Lights out in twenty minutes!” said Thaliana. A girl with tan skin and dark chocolate brown hair and eyes rolled them behind Thaliana’s back. Another one with light blonde hair who was already sitting on her bed in her pajamas smiled over the book she was reading at the dark-haired girl in a sort of covert agreement. Ginny’s last roommate didn’t roll her eyes or smile. She had merely glanced at Thaliana when lights out was announced and obediently finished getting ready for bed. Ginny pulled her pony tail lower so it was more comfortable to sleep in and decided to puzzle out these girls tomorrow.
If Thaliana wanted to be large and in charge, that was fine with her. If the other girls wanted to giggle and rebel, that was fine too. Ginny didn’t want any part of any of it. She snuggled under her covers and fell asleep almost instantly. She thought about her first night sleeping so far away from all her family members only for a few seconds before drifting off.
(1) SS/PS Page 114
(2) SS/PS Page 114
(3) SS/PS Page 119
(4) CoS Page 84