I’ve been thinking about all the posts that went around the other day and JK Rowling’s announcement that James Sirius Potter was sorted into Gryffindor. I know she’s not planning on writing a series about the kids (and honestly I would rather she didn’t anyway), but the sorting was profoundly lazy.
Think about it. It’s September 1st, 1998, just a few months after the end of the War. People are still rattled, but as it goes the world turns ever on, and Hogwarts reopens after months of rebuilding. There are fewer students on the Express and on the platform, but it’s not really noticeable until they’ve reached the station near Hogsmeade. Older students stare nervously at the thestrals and the first years stare nervously at Hagrid. Their eyes have a wariness that only children who have witnessed war can have. In the Great Hall, the whispers start long before the first years even file in to be Sorted, because it’s hard to miss the lack of students at the Slytherin table.
The handful that are there have their eyes down, not meeting anyone’s eye. Slytherin, the House that turned tail and fled when it came to defending Hogwarts (forgetting the fact that they weren’t ever given the choice to stay), the only House that fared well in the past year and a half of Death Eater control of the castle. The House full of students whose parents fought on the wrong side of the War, whose relatives were responsible for the awful bloodshed and who were thought ever more as the Bad House. No good ever came from them, or so it seemed. So everyone said anyway, and no one was polite enough to say it out of earshot. The animosity was evident. So, painfully few Slytherins returned to Hogwarts that year, and the first years were more pale and shaky than usual, the Hat deliberating more than usual (what could it do when every student begged, “not Slytherin”?)
Years pass and the House grows in numbers as new students join each year, and people become somewhat less angry; the pain is dulled after all this time. But it’s not gone. James Sirius walks to the old wooden stool, every eye on him and whispers racing across the Hall like they did for his father before him. Named after two Marauders and members of the Order, half Weasley and the eldest son of Harry Potter himself, James comes from a heritage of Gryffindor.
He’s a bright young boy, every bit as brave as his parents, with the same casual disregard for the rules as his namesakes, a wicked pranking streak that brings uncle George endless joy, and a knack for flying that surprises no one. But he’s ambitious above all, having grown up the child of celebrities, he wants nothing more to make a name for himself. He’s not his grandfather, he’s not Sirius, he’s not either of his parents. And so, after several moments, the Hat talking in his ear longer than it ever did with his father, it declares, Slytherin!
There are no whispers. The Great Hall falls into dead silence as James Potter walks on shaky legs to a seat at the Slytherin Table. McGonagall is watching him with shrewd eyes and takes a moment before reading the next name on the list. The world does not end, and James Potter spends his next years under nearly as much scrutiny as Harry before him, and he too proves himself. He has the support of his family and of the friends he makes at Hogwarts, the wisdom from Teddy and Victoire, the energy of the Quidditch team (he’s the best chaser at Hogwarts since his mother).
People don’t forget about the War, not really, but it’s James who changes minds about Slytherin House. They even win the House cup a couple of times during his seven years, and nobody is terribly put out.