Chapter 2—The Great Feast
In which the Sorting Hat Delivers a Warning
Characters: Headmaster Dippet, Professors Dumbledore and Slughorn, all the first-years
Summary: The Sorting Hat does its annual chant and the sorting begins
The doors to the Great Hall opened with a resounding crash, and Professor Dumbledore, his auburn hair streaming behind him, led the annual cluster of first-years into the room. Some of the new students tried to appear at home, others stared openly at the floating candles and the illusory night sky above them. None of them strayed far from his fellows.
As he reached the front of the hall, Professor Dumbledore nodded to Headmaster Dippet and turned to face the students. From Dumbledore’s left, a shortish, roundish wizard entered, carrying a stool on which sat a battered, patched hat, its point drooping nearly enough to touch its wide brim. Professor Slughorn placed the stool next to Dumbledore, exchanged a nod with his colleague, and withdrew to his place at the staff table.
The hall grew quiet as all the students waited for the sorting to begin. Suddenly a long rip at the front of the hat opened, as if it were a mouth, and the hat began to speak:
“Welcome to you one and all,
The feast will soon begin.
But ‘ere you eat I must decide
Which house to put you in.
I'll know your mind and sort you out
I'll put you where you go,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat,
As all of you must know!
Divided into houses four
This school has always been,
But as pieces of a greater whole
The houses must be seen.
For you will face a deadly foe
Who is not what he seems:
He’ll gather strength and use it
To pursue his twisted dreams.
So though I will divide into
Hogwarts’ houses four,
I hope that by the time you leave
You’ll have esprit de corps
With folk from all the houses,
Not exclusively your own:
Together we can triumph, but
You cannot win alone.”
The silence stretched out, and dissolved into uncomfortable murmuring until Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat and said, “New arrivals, as I read your name, please step forward to be sorted.”