The train comes to a halt, and we all scramble to get out. A tall man with bushy hair and a pink umbrella stands to the left. “First years, come with me!” We follow him around a corner and get our first sight of Hogwarts. It’s a beautiful castle set against the night sky. The man leads us to a pair of boats. “Oh, er, by the way, the name’s Hagrid. Now, no more’n four to a boat.” Ethan, Angelica and I get into a boat. “FORWARD!” Hagrid yells. And we’re off across the lake to Hogwarts.
“Heads down!” Hagrid yells as the first of the boats reach a cliff. We all bend our heads and go through a curtain of ivy. We go along a dark tunnel until we reach an underground harbor. We walk onto the rocks and pebbles as Hagrid checks the boats for anything that might have been left behind. We come out onto smooth, damp grass and then walk up a flight of stairs. Hagrid knocks on the door three times.
The doors open to reveal an entrance hall. A woman with black hair and green robes greets us. “Welcome to Hogwarts. I’m Headmistress McGonagall. Come with me.” Lots of voices seemed to be drifting from a door on the right, but she leads us to a smaller room. “The start of term banquet will begin shortly. You will be sorted into one of four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff. Your house will be like your family here at Hogwarts.
“Each of the houses value certain traits. Gryffindor is for the brave, chivalrous, daring, confident, and courageous. Slytherin is for the cunning, ambitious, determined, resourceful, and innovative. Ravenclaw is for the wise, intelligent, clever, sharp-minded, logical, and creative. Hufflepuff is for the loyal, patient, hard working, friendly, and dedicated. Now, before we begin, you should freshen up before you are presented to the whole school.” I can hear the rustling of clothes as everyone makes sure they look good. I do the same. “I will return when you are ready. Please be quiet.” She leaves.
I look around and see that everyone else is nervous too. A minute later, McGonagall comes back. “Form a line and follow me.” She leads us into the Great Hall. There are four tables, each filled with people. Candles float in midair. Golden goblets and dishes are on all the tables. At the front of the hall is where the teachers are sitting. McGonagall leads us up there, facing the rest of the students. My stomach has butterflies. What if I hate my house? What if everyone is mean? What if I mess up? What if mom gets mad at me for what house I’m in?
These thoughts are whirling in my head as McGonagall Places an old hat on a four-legged stool. The hat is patched, frayed, dirty, and it looks like it could fall apart at any minute. Then, out of all things, the hat began to sing:
“Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
And don’t get in a flap!
You’re in safe hands (though I have none)
For I’m a Thinking Cap!”
Everyone bursts into applause. Where do I belong? Will I be kicked out if I don’t have a house? “When I call your name, you will sit on the stool and be sorted. We will do it reverse alphabetical.” She calls names one by one, and when the house is called, that house stands up and cheers.
Only some names catch my attention: Olivia Swan; Slytherin. Victoria Sanders; Gryffindor. Ethan Ross; Hufflepuff. Alice Newman; Ravenclaw. Lilly McGever; Hufflepuff. Edward (Teddy) Lupin; Hufflepuff. (Turns out, he’s a metamorphmagus. He seems like a cool guy.) Keane Jones; Gryffindor. Emma Hallows; Hufflepuff. Angelica Hale; Hufflepuff. (Both of my new friend are in Hufflepuff.) Robert Bradley; Ravenclaw.
“Albers, Kassandra.” I’m the last one, and I’m really nervous. I sit on the stool and McGonagall places the hat on my head. The Sorting Hat comes alive. “Hmm, very smart I see. But also very kind. Hardworking, yes. Oh, and loyal. But so smart… I think I have made my decision. Let it be… HUFFLEPUFF!!!” The members of Hufflepuff stand up and cheer. I rush over and join Ethan and Angelica. I’m relieved I got it over with.
McGonagall walks up to a podium and everyone goes silent. “Before we begin, I would like to say a few words. First years should note that the forest on the grounds is absolutely forbidden to all students. Remember: no magic should be used between classes. Quidditch trials will be held the second week of the term. If you are interested in playing, notify Madame Hooch. Now, you may begin!”
The plates suddenly all fill with food of all sorts: chicken, turkey, pork chops, sausages, bacon, steak, fries, potatoes, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, gravy, all kinds of fruit, and rolls. I grabbed some chicken, fruit, rolls, and fries. The goblets filled with pumpkin juice (which is my new favorite drink). As we are eating, a ghost pops through the table, frightening me.
“Hello! You must be the first years! Welcome to Hufflepuff. I’m the Fat Friar, the house ghost. I’ll see you in the common room!” He floats off. One boy next to me, I think his name was Bill, starts complaining. “My siblings say Hufflepuff is the worst house. They say we’re the leftovers. Well, I agree. Why was I sorted into Hufflepuff? My siblings are all in Ravenclaw!”
I ignore his negative comments. I’m too happy to be put into a sad mood. Once we are finished with our dinner, dessert pops up. Ice cream in all flavors, pudding, pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, cookies, brownies, chocolate frogs, cheesecake, pie, banana splits, dumplings, and chocolate cake. I help myself to everything.
Once everyone is too full to eat a single bite more, McGonagall steps up to the podium again, and the desserts disappear. “Before we go to bed, let us sing the school song.” Everyone joins in as we sing:
“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.”
Everyone claps, and then we’re sent off to bed. “First years! Hufflepuff first years, come with me! I’m Prefect Gabriel Truman, and I will show you to the common room. You will find your stuff is already there.” He leads us down the hall and a flight of steps. We abroach a wall. In front of us is a still life picture of a fruit bowl. “This is the kitchens. If you want to access it, just tickle the pear. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. You should try it sometime.” We head to the right and arrive at a stack of barrels.
“Now, to enter, you tap the barrel two from the bottom, middle of the second row to the rhythm of ‘Helga Hufflepuff.’ Like so.” He taps the barrel, and a round door appears. He opens it up. We go through a narrow hallway that slopes upwards a little way and arrive in the common room. It’s a cozy, round, low-ceilinged room similar to a badger’s den. Makes sense since the house symbol is a badger. The room is decorated in cheerful yellow and black furniture with highly polished, honey coloured wood for the tables and round doors leading to the boy’s and girl’s dorm.
Colorful plants and flowers can be seen everywhere; various cacti stand on shelves that curve to fit the walls. They wave and dance at us as we enter. Copper bottomed plant holders dangle from the ceilings and the vines brush my face as I go under them. A portrait over the wooden mantelpiece (carved all over with decorative dancing badgers) shows Helga Hufflepuff toasting her students with a tiny, two-handled cup. Small, round windows level with the ground show an outside view of grass and dandelions, and the occasional feet. In front of each of the dorm doors, there is a birthday list. Looks like they celebrate birthdays here.
“Girls on the left, boys on the right. Don’t forget to add your birthday to the lists! Now get some sleep; classes start tomorrow.” I head over to the dorm door and find a hallway lined with doors. The first one on the right says “First Years.” I enter and find four twin poster beds with yellow and black quilts draped over them. The room feels sunny and smells of earth and rain. My stuff is on the bed second from the left. The sheets are white and the pillows show the Hufflepuff crest. They look made for a pillow fight. I share the room with Angelica (left), Emma Hallows (second to the right), and Lilly McGever (right).
“I’m so excited to start class!” Emma remarks. “I’m so glad I got into Hufflepuff. It’s the best house!” Lilly exclaims. “Do classes start tomorrow? Or do we wait a day? Does anyone know how we will find our classes?” Angelica asks, still new to this whole wizarding thing. “I think we start classes tomorrow and Professor Sprout will show us how to get to our classes. At least, that’s what I heard,” I answer while getting pajamas on. We all snuggle into bed and fall asleep.