"Oy, you there! Is this your toad?" said Hagrid, who was checking the boats as
people climbed out of them.
"Trevor!" cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered
up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid's lamp, coming out at last onto smooth,
damp grass right in the shadow of the castle.
They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, Oak front
"Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?"
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
THE SORTING HAT
The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes
stood there. She had a very stern face and Harry's first thought was that this was
not someone to cross.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said Hagrid.
"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here."
She pulled the door wide. The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the
whole of the Dursleys' house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches
like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent
marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.
They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Harry could
hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right -the rest of the
school must already be here — but Professor McGonagall showed the first years into
a small, empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together
than they would usually have done, peering about nervously.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "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 your house points, while
any rulebreaking 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
Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville's cloak, which was fastened under his
left ear, and on Ron's smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair.
"I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please
She left the chamber. Harry swallowed.
"How exactly do they sort us into houses?" he asked Ron.
"Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking."
Harry's heart gave a horrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? But
he didn't know any magic yet — what on earth would he have to do? He hadn't expected
something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw
that everyone else looked terrified, too. No one was talking much except Hermione
Granger, who was whispering very fast about all the spells she'd learned and wondering
which one she'd need. Harry tried hard not to listen to her. He'd never been more
nervous, never, not even when he'd had to take a school report home to the Dursleys
saying that he'd somehow turned his teacher's wig blue. He kept his eyes fixed on
the door. Any second now, Professor McGonagall would come back and lead him to his
Then something happened that made him jump about a foot in the air -- several
people behind him screamed.
"What the --?"
He gasped. So did the people around him. About twenty ghosts had just streamed
through the back wall. Pearly-white and slightly transparent, they glided across
the room talking to one another and hardly glancing at the first years. They seemed
to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying: "Forgive and forget,
I say, we ought to give him a second chance - — "
"My dear Friar, haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives
us all a bad name and you know, he's not really even a ghost — I say, what are you
all doing here?"
A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years.
"New students!" said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. "About to be Sorted,
A few people nodded mutely.
"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the Friar. "My old house, you know."
"Move along now," said a sharp voice. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start."
Professor McGonagall had returned. One by one, the ghosts floated away through
the opposite wall.
"Now, form a line," Professor McGonagall told the first years, "and follow me."
Feeling oddly as though his legs had turned to lead, Harry got into line behind
a boy with sandy hair, with Ron behind him, and they walked out of the chamber,
back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.
Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by
thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables,
where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering
golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the
teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that
they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind
them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering
candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver.
Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black
ceiling dotted with stars. He heard
Hermione whisper, "Its bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it
in Hogwarts, A History."
It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall
didn't simply open on to the heavens.
Harry quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged
stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she put a pointed wizard's
hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn't
have let it in the house.
Maybe they had to try and get a rabbit out of it, Harry thought wildly, that
seemed the sort of thing — noticing that everyone in the hall was now staring at
the hat, he stared at it, too. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then
the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth — and the hat began
"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 Hufflepuffis 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!"
The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song. It bowed to
each of the four tables and then became quite still again.
"So we've just got to try on the hat!" Ron whispered to Harry. "I'll kill Fred,
he was going on about wrestling a troll."
Harry. smiled weakly. Yes, trying on the hat was a lot better than having to
do a spell, but he did wish they could have tried it on without everyone watching.
The hat seemed to be asking rather alot; Harry didn't feel brave or quick-witted
or any of it at the moment. If only the hat had mentioned a house for people who
felt a bit queasy, that would have been the one for him.
Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding 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. "Abbott, Hannah!"
A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat,
which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moments pause --
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the
Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.
The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up
to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
" Brocklehurst, Mandy" went to Ravenclaw too, but "Brown, Lavender" became the
first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry
could see Ron's twin brothers catcalling.
"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry's imagination,
after all he'd heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked like an unpleasant
lot. He was starting to feel definitely sick now. He remembered being picked for
teams during gym at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen, not because
he was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked him.
Sometimes, Harry noticed, the hat shouted out the house at once, but at others
it took a little while to decide. "Finnigan, Seamus," the sandy-haired boy next
to Harry in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat
declared him a Gryffindor.
Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.
"GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat. Ron groaned.
A horrible thought struck Harry, as horrible thoughts always do when you're very
nervous. What if he wasn't chosen at all? What if he just sat there with the hat
over his eyes for ages, until Professor McGonagall jerked it off his head and said
there had obviously been a mistake and he'd better get back on the train?
When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell
over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When
it finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR," Neville ran off still wearing it, and had to jog
back amid gales of laughter to give it to "MacDougal, Morag."
Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once: the
hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, "SLYTHERIN!"
Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.
There weren't many people left now. "Moon" "Nott" "Parkinson" then a pair of
twin girls, "Patil" and "Patil" then "Perks, Sally-Anne" and then, at last — "Potter,
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires
all over the hall.
"Potter, did she say?"
The Harry Potter?"
The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full
of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black
inside of the hat. He waited.
Hmm," said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage,
I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, A my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst
to prove yourself, now that's interesting.... So where shall I put you?"
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
"Not Slytherin, eh?" said the small voice. "Are you sure? You could be great,
you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to
greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you're sure -- better be GRYFFINDOR!"
Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. He took off the hat
and walked shakily toward the Gryffindor table. He was so relieved to have been
chosen and not put in Slytherin, he hardly noticed that he was getting the loudest
cheer yet. Percy the Prefect got up and shook his hand vigorously, while the Weasley
twins yelled, "We got Potter! We got Potter!" Harry sat down opposite the ghost
in the ruff he'd seen earlier. The ghost patted his arm, giving Harry the sudden,
horrible feeling he'd just plunged it into a bucket of ice-cold water.
He could see the High Table properly now. At the end nearest him sat Hagrid,
who caught his eye and gave him the thumbs up. Harry grinned back. And there, in
the center of the High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry
recognized him at once from the card he'd gotten out of the Chocolate Frog on the
train. Dumbledore's silver hair was the only thing in the whole hall that shone
as brightly as the ghosts. Harry spotted Professor Quirtell, too, the nervous young
man from the Leaky Cauldron. He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban.