When Professor McGonagall calls the name, “Black, Sirius,” a boy with dark hair and darker eyes emerges from the crowd of nervous first years. His back is straight, his head is high, but his eyes betray him–terror lurks behind his irises as the sorting hat is placed over his head and falls all the way over his nose.
The hat finds this boy’s mind to be full of the traditions and social niceties that come with a pureblood upbringing. There is a sense of arrogance, which sticks out, as though it has been implanted there–as though this boy has heard his family speak so highly of themselves for so long that he’s forced to believe it himself. But beyond that is a spark of rebellion, and the hat knows that if it were fed the right fuel, the fire that would ensue would be uncontrollable. The hat feels this boy’s own self-contempt; there is a deep aching to be free, so strong that it’s visceral.
The hat sees a stubbornness of the likes he has rarely seen.
A small, timid voice asks, “are you going to put me in Slytherin?” The voice says Slytherin as though it’s a poison that freezes the insides.
The hat only chuckles. It doesn’t say, “I didn’t even consider it.” Instead, it shouts to the Great Hall, “Gryffindor!” and watches as the dark haired boy walks to his new house table, with a look that is equal parts triumph, and fear.
“Lupin, Remus,” is a thin kid in robes that are a size too big. He has nervous ticks–he chews on his lower lip, and tugs at his sleeves; when he sits on the stool he can’t stop bouncing his legs.
“What have we here?” says the hat once it falls over the boy’s head. “I’ve never sorted a werewolf before.”
It’s amazing how quickly the boy’s thoughts turn cold. There’s a moment of anxiety, until he reasons out that no one in the Great Hall can hear what the hat is saying to him, and that anxiety is quickly filled by anger.
“Go on then,” the boy says briskly in his head. “Sort me into Ravenclaw, since I know you’re going to. I know I’m smart and bookish. The boys I met on the train even said so, when they saw me reading a muggle book.”
This boy is compassionate and mild-mannered usually, the hat sees, but his insides are burning. There’s a maturity that shouldn’t be there–as though every time his bones shift to make room for the monster, he ages along with them. The hat, feeling what this boy feels, notices dull pains in every corner of his body, where the wolf has scarred the skin, broken blood vessels, and cracked the joints. Along with the maturity there is a stoicism–this boy literally is always in pain, but he’d never say so; wouldn’t even hint.
“With an attitude like that?” the hat finally replies. “I think not.” And it feels the boy’s jolt of surprise when it belts out, “Gryffindor!”
“Pettigrew, Peter,” is a conundrum.
He is a mousy boy, with a lot of baby fat, and a slight tremble. But the hat can tell that there is much more to him than that.
There is an overwhelming sense of self-preservation, along with a tendency for hero-worship, and a need for acceptance. This is not a boy looking for power, however, this is a boy looking for survival. The hat contemplates Hufflepuff, but for all his passivity, this boy has an inkling of courage that the hat just can’t ignore.
“Tell me,” the hat decides to ask. “Where do you think you belong?”
“I met nice boys on the train,” says the boy. “They’re both in Gryffindor now. I think I’d like to be in Gryffindor too.”
The hat ponders this for a good long moment, before conceding and yelling, “Gryffindor!” because after all, the greatest mark of courage is the courage to ask for what you want.
The easiest sorting of the day comes from “Potter, James,” who struts up to the stool in a manner that looks somewhat ridiculous on an eleven year old.
The hat falls over the boy’s eyes and is hit by a rush of certainty; of expectation. The boy, not unlike Mr. Black, comes from a long line of purebloods, and there is a similar arrogance that lingers, but it’s less pronounced–it’s more natural. This is a boy that is sure of himself and his abilities, and also his moral convictions. The hat sees someone who stands for things strongly, and would die before seeing them taken.
He had thought he had seen the worst case of stubbornness in Mr. Black, but this boy could give him a run for his money. What a force of nature, the hat thinks to itself, those two would become should they ever decide to work together.
It takes approximately ten seconds for the hat the shout out, “Gryffindor!” once again, and it watches the boy jump down with a self-satisfied smirk.
The boy joins his house table, next to the other new additions, and they sit shoulder to shoulder, grinning at one another.
This year’s Gryffindor first years, home at last.