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Old February 6th, 2014, 3:48 am
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ccollinsmith  Female.gif ccollinsmith is offline
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Join Date: 24th December 2009
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Re: "A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student" ~ Contest One Shots

Challenge 4: The Sorting Ceremony

I skipped Challenge 3

In Challenge 4, contestants were required to do all of the following: "describe your sorting ceremony, your entrance into your common room and especially your thoughts about your house." Additionally, Slytherin entries were required to use the following set of words/phrases at some point in the story: Professor Snape OR Slughorn, Bloody Baron, underwater views, Merlin. Other houses had a different list.
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The first fortnight’s password was “Bloody Baron.” And once spoken, the concealed stone door slid open, allowing us our first entrance into the Common Room.

I would have said “our first view,” but the place was pitch black, and unnaturally silent. No green lamps illuminated the room. No fire gave off heat. No voices emitted a sound. And believe me, we tried to speak, but our voices died in our own ears.

Then at precisely the moment that we adjusted our eyes to the blackness, a ribbon of words appeared in the air, accompanied by a loud round of cheers:

“Welcome to the Dark Side!” the ribbon proclaimed. “We’ve got bickies!!!”

“Bickies?” asked Ellsworth (the American student who crowded in behind me). The moment he spoke, the lamps and fire combined to create a sudden burst of light, revealing the crowd of older students.

“Er, that’s what you’d call cookies, I think” a low voice answered.

The prefect had warned us on the long-way round to the dungeons that our House had a fondness for Dark-Magic humor. If we would pretend outside the walls of Slytherin House to be Dark-Wizard wannabes, armed with a library of curses, then the other Houses would just leave us alone. It was Slytherin’s oldest inside joke, one that Riddle and his ilk took a bit too seriously.

What the prefect didn’t tell us was that Slytherin’s ability to party outmatched even Gryffindor’s.

As the welcoming party ramped up, some 7th years placed a shielding charm around the edges of the room… not to mention around the group of 3rd years in the center, competing in a game called “The Longbottom.” According to the rules, each student would start the Cure for Boils and then attempt to create the biggest cauldron explosion possible.

A couple of 5th years gathered bets on which combinations of wrong ingredients, wrong heating levels, and wrong stirring directions would yield the best results. One student collected 17 Galleons when she predicted rightly that the winner would add Dried Billywig Stings and Boomslang Skin (after the Porcupine Quills), then turn the heat up high and stir six times counter-clockwise for a quite satisfying KERBLOOM! (Thankfully, one of the older students came from a family specializing in metal charming, so no cauldrons were permanently harmed in the playing of the game).

As the game broke up, I filled my cup with punch as a few 4th years practiced Levicorpus on the unsuspecting. That’s when a dry sardonic voice near the left wall asked if I was having fun. It was the Slytherin House portrait of Professor Snape - smiling widely, nodding his head in rhythm to the beat of the latest Weird Sisters hit, and sipping from a large umbrella-drink.

The entire effect was quite unsettling. I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought about the exploding cauldrons or the use of his signature spell. But now, as a “Famous Slytherins Collection” portrait hanging inside the walls of his own House (and having no serious responsibilities for the future of the Wizarding World), Snape seemed quite relaxed, almost loquacious.

He’d invented Levicorpus, he told me, for Slytherin parties such as these, but the spell had somehow got out to a group of Gryffindors who spread it across Hogwarts.

“That,” said the portrait, “is why what happens in Slytherin stays in Slytherin.”

An hour or two later, as the party wound down, the prefects herded us ickle firsties toward the thick and ornate Common Room windows, to give us our first good glimpse of the underwater views. As we watched, a choir of Merpeople began its annual Slytherin serenade while the King of the Merpeople gazed at length into each pair of new Slytherin eyes - a tradition having its roots in the early days of Hogwarts, when the Merpeople developed an uncommon bond with the young Slytherin student called Merlin.

So now that the party’s over, I’m staring at a piece of parchment, wondering how best to tell everyone that I’m writing to them from a four-poster decked in green hangings while looking out at the green weeds waving in the murky water of the lake.

All I can manage is Hello Mum and Dad and Sally and Emma, and then my mind goes blank while the owl just blinks at me. This is not the letter anyone expected me to be writing.

What do I say? Hey, you know all those riddles you taught me so I’d never get stuck in front of the entrance to the Common Room? Or Well, it doesn’t look like Iíll be needing that new blue and bronze cloak for the next family reunion!

I was supposed to land in Ravenclaw. And then the Sorting Hat landed on my head. I had a ready mind, it said, but also a thirst for greatness. I was clever and resourceful, a natural-born troubleshooter who could intuitively arrive at multiple solutions to complex problems and arrange opportunities toward successful outcomes. How, the Hat asked, did I think I would look in green and silver?

Well, despite the nasty rumors about Dark Magic and Pureblood snobbery, it sounded exciting - certainly more exciting than becoming the seventh generation to go uniformly into Ravenclaw. Slytherin was not a place for spending long hours studying the unknown properties of Flobberworm Mucus. There was rebuilding to do, a sense of purpose, a desire to reclaim the ancient legacy of Merlin and wipe away the corruption of Riddle. Naturally, I thought “Yes!”

And now, after my first night in Slytherin, I know the Sorting Hat was right. Here, I can learn to achieve greatness… and enjoy the party. The question is: How do I tell my parents?

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Last edited by ccollinsmith; February 6th, 2014 at 3:54 am.
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