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J. K. Rowling «Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone» / Chapter VII. The Sorting Hat
J. K. Rowling «Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone»
Chapter VII. 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
"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
"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."
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 wait quietly."
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 --"
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
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, I suppose?"
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 to sing:
"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek
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,
try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong
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
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I
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
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 --
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
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
" 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?
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, Harry!"
stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over
"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?"
the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
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.
And now there were only three people left to be sorted. "Thomas, Dean,"
a Black boy even taller than Ron, joined Harry at the Gryffindor table. "Turpin,
Lisa," became a Ravenclaw and then it was Ron's turn. He was pale green by
now. Harry crossed his fingers under the table and a second later the hat had
Harry clapped loudly with the rest as
Ron collapsed into the chair next to him.
"Well done, Ron, excellent,"
said Percy Weasley Pompously across Harry as "Zabini, Blaise," was made
a Slytherin. Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat
Harry looked down at his empty gold plate. He had only just realized
how hungry he was. The pumpkin pasties seemed ages ago.
had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide,
as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there.
he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet,
I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment!
He sat back down. Everybody clapped
and cheered. Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not.
"Is he --
a bit mad?" he asked Percy uncertainly.
"Mad?" said Percy
airily. "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes.
Harry's mouth fell open. The dishes in front of
him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat
on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages,
bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas,
carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.
The Dursleys had never exactly starved Harry, but he'd never been allowed to eat
as much as he liked. Dudley had always taken anything that Harry really wanted,
even if It made him sick. Harry piled his plate with a bit of everything except
the peppermints and began to eat. It was all delicious.
look good," said the ghost in the ruff sadly, watching Harry cut up his steak,
"Can't you --?"
I haven't eaten for nearly four hundred years,"
said the ghost. "I don't need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don't
think I've in troduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service.
Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."
"I know who you are!"
said Ron suddenly. "My brothers told me about you -- you're Nearly Headless
"I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy --"
the ghost began stiffly, but sandy-haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.
"Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"
looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasn't going at all the way he
"Like this," he said irritably. He seized his left ear
and pulled. His whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder as if
it was on a hinge. Someone had obviously tried to behead him, but not done it
properly. Looking pleased at the stunned looks on their faces, Nearly Headless
Nick flipped his head back onto his neck, coughed, and said, "So -- new Gryffindors!
I hope you're going to help us win the house championship this year? Gryffindors
have never gone so long without winning. Slytherins have got the cup six years
in a row! The Bloody Baron's becoming almost unbearable -- he's the Slytherin
Harry looked over at the Slytherin table and saw a horrible
ghost sitting there, with blank staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained
with silver blood. He was right next to Malfoy who, Harry was pleased to see,
didn't look too pleased with the seating arrangements.
"How did he
get covered in blood?" asked Seamus with great interest.
never asked," said Nearly Headless Nick delicately.
had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates,
leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the desserts appeared.
Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts,
chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding
As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to
"I'm half-and-half," said Seamus. "Me dad's
a Muggle. Mom didn't tell him she was a witch 'til after they were married. Bit
of a nasty shock for him."
The others laughed.
you, Neville?" said Ron.
"Well, my gran brought me up and she's
a witch," said Neville, "but the family thought I was all- Muggle for
ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some
magic out of me -- he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned
-- but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner,
and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles when my Great Auntie
Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced -- all the
way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was
crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here
-- they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie
was so pleased he bought me my toad."
On Harry's other side, Percy
Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons ("I do hope they start right
away, there's so much to learn, I'm particularly interested in Transfiguration,
you know, turning something into something else, of course, it's supposed to be
very difficult-"; "You'll be starting small, just matches into needles
and that sort of thing -- ").
Harry, who was starting to feel warm
and sleepy, looked up at
the High Table again. Hagrid was drinking deeply
from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor
Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair,
a hooked nose, and sallow skin.
It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed
teacher looked past Quirrell's turban straight into Harry's eyes -- and a sharp,
hot pain shot across the scar on Harry's forehead.
clapped a hand to his head.
"What is it?" asked Percy.
The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder
to shake off was the feeling Harry had gotten from the teacher's look -- a feeling
that he didn't like Harry at all.
"Who's that teacher talking to Professor
Quirrell?" he asked Percy.
"Oh, you know Quirrell already, do
you? No wonder he's looking so nervous, that's Professor Snape. He teaches Potions,
but he doesn't want to -- everyone knows he's after Quirrell's job. Knows an awful
lot about the Dark Arts, Snape."
Harry watched Snape for a while,
but Snape didn't look at him again.
At last, the desserts too disappeared,
and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent.
-- just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term
notices to give you.
"First years should note that the forest on the
grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well
to remember that as well."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in
the direction of the Weasley twins.
"I have also been asked by Mr.
Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes
in the corridors.
"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week
of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact
"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor
corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish
to die a very painful death."
Harry laughed, but he was one of the
few who did.
"He's not serious?" he muttered to Percy.
"Must be," said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. "It's odd, because
he usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere -- the forest's
full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us
prefects, at least."
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing
the school song!" cried Dumbledore. Harry noticed that the other teachers'
smiles had become rather fixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick,
as if he was trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flew out
of it, which rose high above the tables and twisted itself, snakelike, into words.
"Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off
we go!" And the school bellowed:
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
back what we've forgot,
just do your best, we'll do the rest,
learn until our brains all rot.
Everybody finished the song at different
times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow
funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when
they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.
he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime.
Off you trot!"
The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the
chattering crowds, out of the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase. Harry's
legs were like lead again, but only because he was so tired and full of food.
He was too sleepy even to be surprised that the people in the portraits along
the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed, or that twice Percy led them
through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries. They climbed
more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, and Harry was just wondering
how much farther they had to go when they came to a sudden halt.
of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took a step
toward them they started throwing themselves at him.
Percy whispered to the first years. "A poltergeist." He raised his voice,
"Peeves -- show yourself"
A loud, rude sound, like the air being
let out of a balloon, answered.
"Do you want me to go to the Bloody
There was a pop, and a little man with wicked, dark eyes and
a wide mouth appeared, floating cross- legged in the air, clutching the walking
"Oooooooh!" he said, with an evil cackle. "Ickle
Firsties! What fun!"
He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked.
"Go away, Peeves, or the Baron'll hear about this, I mean it!" barked
Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking sticks
on Neville's head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armor as he
"You want to watch out for Peeves," said Percy, as they
set off again. "The Bloody Baron's the only one who can control him, he won't
even listen to us prefects. Here we are."
At the very end of the corridor
hung a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress.
she said. "Caput Draconis," said Percy, and the portrait swung forward
to reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it -- Neville needed
a leg up -- and found themselves in the Gryffindor common room, a cozy, round
room full of squashy armchairs.
Percy directed the girls through one door
to their dormitory and the boys through another. At the top of a spiral staircase
-- they were obviously in one of the towers -- they found their beds at last:
five four-posters hung with deep red, velvet curtains. Their trunks had already
been brought up. Too tired to talk much, they pulled on their pajamas and fell
" Great food, isn't it?" Ron muttered to Harry through
the hangings. "Get off, Scabbers! He's chewing my sheets."
was going to ask Ron if he'd had any of the treacle tart, but he fell asleep almost
Perhaps Harry had eaten a bit too much, because he had a very
strange dream. He was wearing Professor Quirrell's turban, which kept talking
to him, telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his
destiny. Harry told the turban he didn't want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier
and heavier; he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully -- and there was
Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it -then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed
teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high and cold -- there was a burst of green
light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking.
He rolled over and fell asleep
again, and when he woke next day, he didn't remember the dream at all.
Chapter I. The Boy Who Lived
Chapter II. The Vanishing Glass
Chapter III. The Letters From No One
Chapter IV. The Keeper Of The Keys
Chapter V. Diagon Alley
Chapter VI. The Journey From Platform Nine And Three-Quarters
Chapter VII. The Sorting Hat
Chapter VIII. The Potions Master
Chapter IX. The Midnight Duel
Chapter X. Halloween
Chapter XI. Quidditch
Chapter XII. The Mirror Of Erised
Chapter XIII. Nicolas Flamel
Chapter XIV. Norbert The Norwegian Ridgeback
Chapter XV. The Forbidden Forest
Chapter XVI. Through The Trapdoor
Chapter XVII. The Man With Two Faces
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