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The Serpent Master by Shaun

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Chapter Notes: Jenny, Cleo and Will are sorted.
Chapter Five

They stepped out onto a windy platform, rain splattering across their faces and robes. In the distance, Jenny could just about see a large figure of a man ambling towards them. His great beard was just specked with grey, while his mangy hair whipped his face.

'Firs'-years over here!' he cried, and a small group who had managed to hear him approached. While they waited for the rest, Jenny saw a girl with blonde hair attempt to put up an umbrella but as soon she raised her arm, it was blown out of her hand and into the distance.

'Hey, Hagrid!' an arriving redheaded girl said. The giant man gave her a pleased nod, then looked over them as if counting, then led them down a short path away from the platform and all the other disembarking students.

They followed the muddy path for a minute until the giant man said 'An' here's Hogwarts.'


They turned a corner, reaching a dock where a handful of boats were moored. Across the shimmering lake, was Hogwarts.

Even through the swirling storm, Hogwarts looked magnificent. A castle jutting out of the ground, its many turrets and towers shooting up into the sky, lights from its windows acting as beacons in the storm.

'Four to a boat,' Hagrid said. Jenny, Will and Cleo clambered into boat and were joined by the girl with fiery red hair.

'Could be a rough ride; hang on.'

They set off, the whirling wind pushing the boats in various directions. One boat went so far in the wrong direction, Hagrid had to wave his wand to get him back with the fleet. Eventually, they pushed through a set of hanging vines until they reached an underground dock.

They climbed out onto a hard stone floor and Hagrid led them up a set of stone stairs until they stood in front on a large pair of oak doors. Hagrid knocked.

The doors opened almost instantly. Standing there was a man wearing magenta robes. His worn face wore a warm smile, though Jenny noticed several scars on his hands and one on his neck.

'The firs' years, Professor Longbottom.'

'Thank you, Hagrid. Please go in and get yourself dry.'

Hagrid gave Professor Longbottom a nod and trudged into a grand entrance hall.

'Please follow me.'

The line of students followed Professor Longbottom into the large entrance hall. Their footsteps echoed loudly as they passed through, not going, as Jenny had thought, to the right where a babble of noise and laughter caught her ears. Instead, they went to the other side of the hall, into a small chamber lined with moving portraits.

Once they were all inside, Professor Longbottom turned to face the students.

'Welcome to Hogwarts. Now, soon you join your classmates in the Great Hall, but first you must be Sorted into your Houses. The Sorting Ceremony will place you amongst your peers, amongst those who value what you value, those who seek what you seek. They will become your classmates, your friends, your allies. But do not forget that those in other Houses can also be friends and allies. They are not to be cast aside just because you do not share the same colours.

'The four Houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each House has produced outstanding witches and wizards. Each House has had moments of glory. Each House has had moments of elation. I hope you all can be a great asset to whatever House you join. Now, I must go and check whether the Great Hall is ready for you. Please wait here.'

He left and the room broke out into an excited babble. 'How do they sort us?' Jenny asked Will, who shrugged.

'I dunno. My dad would never tell me. He seems to think it's a rite of passage that no one knows what to expect. I can't imagine it's anything too stressful, though.'

'I reckon you've got to perform some magic or something,' one boy began to say. 'Why else would they get us in front of the whole school?'

Jenny gulped. Given what happened on the train, she wasn't entirely confidant about performing magic. Still, maybe it wouldn't be too bad. Maybe she would just be asked to remember some spells. She began to rack her brain trying to remember any spells she had read in her books, but she came up dry and gave a nervous gulp.

Professor Longbottom had returned. He clapped his hands and called, 'We are ready for you now. Please follow me.'

He led them back out into the entrance hall and across to the Great Hall, where the babbling noise stopped rather suddenly.

If Jenny wasn't so preoccupied with staring at the ceiling, which showed a greying swirling blackness, and at the hundreds of floating candles over the four Houses' tables, she would have felt an intense awkwardness as all the students' eyes fell upon her and the other first years. Still, she wasn't the only one who was distracted. A brown-haired boy had his mouth half open in awe, so distracted he didn't even notice that his shoelaces were untied. Another girl seemed virtually terrified by the ceiling and the floating candles; she looked close to tears.

Professor Longbottom led the first years up the middle of the Great Hall, between the four tables, until they arrived in front of the staff table.
Before them sat a stool and on the stool sat an old and tattered wizard's hat. There was silence for a moment, then the hat began to sing.

This is my song.
This is my tale
Of a time long ago,
A time beyond the veil.

In these hallowed halls, four people did teach,
of magic and learning and life they did preach

There was Gryffindor, he was daring and brave.
A chivalrous heart which he took to the grave.

Of Hufflepuff, her kind and loyal heart.
Her patience and dedication really set her apart.

And dear Ravenclaw, the wisest of them all.
On her creativity and wit others did often call.

Yet Slytherin, for he was an ambitious sort.
His cunning and shrewdness never sold short.

For these four friends would teach and over their students they would fawn.
But who would teach and Sort them, when they were all gone?

And so I came and Sorted. The brave from the wise.
So put me up upon your head, I never tell lies.

I Sort you into Houses, that's all I ever do.
Don't be afraid, don't be nervous, I'm here to Sort you!

The hall broke out into applause. Professor Longbottom pulled out a roll of parchment from inside his robes, then began to read.

'Abel, Cleo.'

Cleo gave Jenny a nervous look, then slowly approached and placed the hat on his head.

Jenny watched her brother nervously. Here they were about to be split up. She could tell. She was worried they were going to get split up at secondary school and now she was worried they would get split up at Hogwarts.

'Gryffindor!' the hat bellowed, and the table on the far right burst into cheers and applause. Cleo took off the hat and moved over to the Gryffindor table.

Well, if that was Cleo, there was no question who was next.

'Abel, Jennifer.'

Slowly Jenny approached the stool. It took great effort to raise the hat and place upon her head where it comically dropped down covering her eyes and the stares of everyone in the Great Hall.

'Ah... now let's have a look then shall we?'

The hat's voice rang clearly in her head. Jenny breathed in deeply trying not to show her fear.

'You...can hear me?' she thought.

'Yes, yes, I can. Now... where to put you? You want to join your brother, of course. Well, you are brave... a bit arrogant, clever, of course, ah... yes, that makes sense. Well, I think I know where to put you.'

'You do?'

'Yes... I think... Gryffindor!'

The hat shouted Gryffindor so loudly Jenny's ears rang. She was slightly dazed for a moment until the loud cheering and clapping at the Gryffindor table told her where to go. She hurried over and sat down with a plop next to her brother.

'I'm so glad I'm in the same House as you,' she muttered to Cleo, who laughed for a brief second, then hugged his sister.

'Me too...' he whispered.

'Benson, William.'


'Bones, Maggie'


Watching the Sorting Hat from this angle was a lot more interesting now that Jenny knew she wasn't about to be called up. She began to predict with Cleo where the students would end up, though got rather annoyed when 'Clarke, Elliot.' ended up in Slytherin rather than Ravenclaw as she had guessed.

'Douglas, Wilbert.'

Jenny and Cleo both stared at each other for a brief moment. There was no point denying that both of them knew where they wanted Will to end up. He seemed however, to take a rather long time being Sorted, until eventually the brim of the hat opened up and the hat declared him a Gryffindor.

'That was lucky,' he said dropping in next to Jenny, 'I almost got put in Ravenclaw.'

'Glad that didn't happen,' Cleo said. 'And Wilbert?'

Will glared at him.

Guessing which House each student would get sorted into was a lot more fun with someone else, whether it was Will's demonstration that 'Fincher, Gideon.' clearly had never picked up a book in his lifetime and so couldn't possibly get sorted into Ravenclaw, or Jenny and Cleo arguing over whether 'Patterson, Daisy,' was Hufflepuff potential or not. Jenny got her wish as after several minutes under the Hat, Daisy came and sat at the Gryffindor table.

'Potter, Lily.'

The red-haired girl who had shared a boat with them on the lake stood forward and placed the Sorting Hat on her head. Jenny saw James Potter give an encouraging wave.


Lily sat down next to Daisy Patterson. 'I almost thought I was going to go into Hufflepuff then,' she said.

The line of students waiting to be sorted was thinning now. 'Weasley, Hugo.' also joined Gryffindor, receiving a grin from Lily and an encouraging nod from James,

'Wood, Heather.'


'Young, Kirsty.'


Finally with 'Zeller, Dominic,' 'Ravenclaw!' the Sorting was finished. Professor Longbottom took the stool and the Sorting Hat away, and everyone's attention now seemed to focused on the staff table.

As Jenny's attention had been focused on the Sorting, she hadn't noticed the staff table but now watched as an elderly witch wearing dark blue robes rose from her seat to address the students.

'Welcome back to Hogwarts! To all new students, welcome. I am Professor McGonagall, Headmistress. I hope you all have a fantastic time while at Hogwarts. I have words to say but first, let us indulge in this fantastic feast!'

Jenny suddenly realised how hungry she was. Devoid of any lunchtime meal, her hunger was at an unquenchable level. If she was hungry, then Cleo must have been famished. This was the boy who couldn't go two hours without having at least a sandwich. Jenny always thought it was lucky Cleo was active, otherwise his eleven-year-old body would have had too much excess fat to count.

The food that appeared on the tables then was all delicious. Turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, with assortments of sauces and gravy to go with it. Roast potatoes, carrots, peas, sweet corn, and platefuls of chips to make even the most stringent dieter tempted. Jenny put a bit of everything on her plate and began to eat, listening to the conversations around her.

'I dunno if the Arrows have it in them, though. Didn't Demelza Robins miss out on the managing role?' said Cody Vasco, a blond-haired boy who had been sorted into Gryffindor.

'Yeah,' Hugo Weasley replied. 'But wasn't she going to move to the Kenmare Kestrels?'

Cody shrugged. 'No idea. My dad said her husband works in the department of Education. Apparently he didn't want her to take the Arrows job.'

On the other side of the table, Daisy Patterson and Tandy Riggs were talking about their parentage.

'I'm Muggle-born,' Tandy said. 'I used to make plates fly around in the dining room. It used to scare my brother to death. Then again, it scared me to death.'

Daisy laughed. 'Pureblood. Though it's just an expression these days. Most purebloods have a couple of Muggle-borns in the family line somewhere.'

Next to her, Cleo and Will had struck up a conversation with Fred Denton, a wiry-haired boy with bright green eyes.

'Maybe they've got wires hanging from the ceiling?' Fred asked. Cleo was considering the idea for a moment, but Will, Jenny noticed, looked completely fed up with the whole situation.

'Maybe it's magnetic? Like, opposite magnets on the ceiling and the floor keeping it floating?'

Jenny leaned into Will and asked, 'What... are they talking about?'

Will gave a raspy sigh. 'They're trying to work out how the candles are staying in the air. They won't believe me when I say it's magic. If I have to put up with this for seven years, I think I'll go starkers.'

Jenny laughed, and she was pleased to see that Will gave a chuckle as well. She turned now to the only other first year that was not speaking to anyone else.

'So,' Jenny said. 'Lily, isn't it?'

'I'm surprised you know me already. No one else really does. Except... they know my dad.'

'Harry... right?'

Lily nodded. She took a bite of chicken and looked over to the Slytherin table at a boy with dark black hair and green eyes. He looked quite moody but gave a laugh when a platinum-haired boy next to him spoke.

'That's my brother Albus... you've probably heard of him already?'

'A bit...' Jenny said. Lily shrugged and pushed some lamb onto the end of her fork.

'I'm one of the last in my family to go to Hogwarts. Me and Hugo. There is Auntie Luna's children... but they're not coming for a few years... plus she's not really my aunt.'

'If it makes you feel any better,' Jenny said, 'me and Cleo are the only ones to go to Hogwarts. Well, apart from our mum.'

As they spoke, the food on their table vanished, to be replaced by cakes, ice creams, éclairs and all manner of desserts. Jenny took a bit of everything, but she was starting to feel rather full and sleepy now. Looking around, she saw she wasn't the only one. The girl who had looked terrified when she entered the Great Hall was trying not to fall asleep on the Hufflepuff table.

Soon the deserts too were cleared away and Professor McGonagall stood, supported, Jenny noticed, by a walking stick.

'I have a few start-of-term announcements to make,' she said, and eyes turned her way, all chattering ceased. 'Our caretaker, Mr Croaker, recently got a horrid case of limping logs and he has been in bed for most of the summer. He is back now, but I would appreciate it if you were to be just extra kind to him. It wouldn't do well for you to agitate him further than he's already been pushed. Quidditch trials will be held in two weeks time. Anyone who is interested in playing for their House team, please see Miss Robins. Finally, it is with great sadness that I tell you that Professor Flitwick has retired. However, I am pleased to say that replacing him is Miss Ivy Alderton, who will also be taking over as head of Ravenclaw House.'

There was a light round of applause. A woman with short black hair raised a hand in greeting.

'Well, I'm sure you are all full of food and excited to get to your lessons tomorrow morning. Good night.'

Talk broke out almost instantly as people began to rise from their seats and leave the Great Hall. A blonde older student approached the far end of the Gryffindor table. Jenny noticed she had a red badge with a 'P' on it.

'Hi, guys. I'm Circe Dibbler. I'm the Gryffindor prefect. I'll take you up to our common room. Come on, follow me.'

Pushing through all the exiting students (and getting some agitated looks as she did), Circe led them out of the Great Hall, up the marble staircase and into the depths of the castle.

Jenny didn't particularly pay attention to where she was going. Up some stairs, along a narrow corridor, down a spiral staircase then up another one. Her eyes followed the person in front of her, yawning with every step she took.

Eventually Circe led them into a corridor with a portrait of a rather fat woman in a pink dress. Like all the pictures in the wizarding world, this one was moving. Jenny, however, had a little jump when the woman in the portrait giggled.

'So they made you a prefect, Circe? Oh, I'm glad. She truly is a wonderful girl. New first years?'

She eyed the first years with interest, pulling out a bottle of wine with a free hand.

'I was saving this for Violet. But I think this is just an equally valid occasion... or do you want to get in?'

Circe smiled. 'Please. Pay attention, guys, this is how you get into the Gryffindor common room.' She moved directly in front of the fat lady and said 'Mittens.'

'Oh, very well... I shall just have to go and see Violet.'

The portrait swung open and Circe stepped inside. The first years followed, finding themselves in a warm circular room with a blazing fireplace.

'Ok, boys' dormitories are upstairs to the left, girls' on your right. Get some good sleep; you'll have a busy day tomorrow.'

Jenny gave Cleo a hug, saying 'Goodnight,' as she did, then followed Lily up the stairs to her dormitory.

Up the stairs to the top, she found that her belongings had already been brought up, placed around the bed on the far left. Aurora was also there, sleeping peacefully on her bed.

'Sorry, buddy,' Jenny said as she got into her pyjamas and lifted her cat into the air and climbed into bed. Aurora gave a hiss, but lay back down on Jenny's chest and almost instantly fell back asleep.

Jenny, however didn't. Though she was tired, her mind was racked with various thoughts and ideas. She remembered back to her mother; though she had last seen her earlier that day, it felt so long ago. She said she took Jenny and Cleo out of the magical world to give her some sense of normality. At first Jenny was upset that her mother had denied her a chance at a childhood she should have had, but now she realised that had she grown up in the wizarding world, all this would have seen mundane and for that, Jenny was rather grateful.
Chapter Endnotes: a/n: A bit of a longer chapter for you today. In fact, the longest chapter so far. Please enjoy and r/r!