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Short Story: Rachel Poplar and the Sorting of Harry Potter

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

by REAGAN MOTSINGER - May 8, 2019

My classmates and I sit at our table under blue and bronze banners, chattering and staring sadly at the empty golden plates in front of us.

“When are they going to get in here?” my best friend complains from across the table. He grips the shining goblet tightly in his fist and glares at the towering double doors at the other end of the Hall.

“I don’t know,” I answer in exasperation, rolling my eyes. “For the last time, Timothy, stop complaining. They’ll get here soon enough.”

The wide doors swing open at that moment, and all amicable conversation ceases. Everyone’s eyes turn to the crowd of tiny first-years flooding through the center of the room. I start to take inventory by their appearances: haughty blond kid who acts like he owns the place, shy boy clutching a toad tightly in his chubby hands, girl with huge teeth and equally huge hair who talks excitedly to the girl next to her, awkward ginger boy … and the famous Harry Potter.

I can’t believe it. The legend is finally here at Hogwarts. This is incredible. I hope he comes to Ravenclaw so I can hear his incredible stories.

Professor McGonagall steps up in front of the newcomers, dropping a stool onto the platform and placing the Sorting Hat atop the seat. The hat is dilapidated and disheveled, but nevertheless, the rip near its brim open wide and it begins to cheerfully sing as the professor moves aside.

“Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,

But don’t judge on what you see,

I’ll eat myself if you can find

A smarter hat than me….”

The song seems silly, but I can’t help but smile as the first-years goggle with saucer-like eyes at the energetic pointed hat performing for them.

Once it concludes its song and falls silent, Professor McGonagall returns to the dais and unrolls a long scroll of parchment. “When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted,” she commands. “Abbott, Hannah!”

A small girl with rosy cheeks and messy blonde pigtails steps forward nervously, tripping over her own feet. When she sits on the stool and puts the hat, it falls over her face and thinks for a minute. “HUFFLEPUFF!” it declares.

I applaud as the little girl jumps up and runs to the celebrating Hufflepuff table. Another girl named Susan Bones is also sorted into Hufflepuff, and I can sense the pride radiating off their table.

“Boot, Terry!” Professor McGonagall shouts.

The boy’s hair sticks up, and he tries rapidly to flatten it down as he approaches the stage. However, the hat immediately messes it up again. “RAVENCLAW!”

Terry climbs down from the stool, still trying to fix his hair as he walks to our cheering table with a grin.

The next girl, Mandy Brocklehurst, comes to our table too. She sits down in the small empty space next to me, and I smile at her. “Mandy, right?” I ask softly. She nods. “I’m Rachel.”

“Hi, Rachel.”

“How are you feeling?” I ask, noticing that she looks slightly sick. Is she recovering from Sorting nerves?

“I’m so hungry,” she moans sadly, eyeing the empty golden platters in front of us.

“I know,” I reply. “As soon as this is over, you’ll get more food than you could ever imagine.”

Mandy smiles timidly. “I’m so glad to be here, though. My older sister finished her seventh year last year, so I’ve been hearing about it for as long as I can remember, but now I’m finally here, and it’s even better than I could have imagined.” She gazes around at the bright banners, the enchanted ceiling, the crowded tables. “What’s the first spell I’ll learn?”

I chuckle. “I don’t remember. Maybe Wingardium Leviosa to levitate things. Remember that pronunciation is key.”

Mandy is about to reply, but the room erupts with noise as Lavender Brown skips to Gryffindor and Millicent Bulstrode is sent to Slytherin. Most of the room glares after her as the Slytherins appraise their new member.

“Finch-Fletchley, Justin!”


“Granger, Hermione!”

I’m certain she’ll be in Ravenclaw. I heard her jabbering on and on about Hogwarts: A History on the train. Most people never read that in their entire Hogwarts career. She obviously has the dedication and the natural intelligence to be a Ravenclaw.

“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat screams a few moments later.

I clap politely, secretly disappointed to watch the new smart girl walk away. Mandy seems to remember what she meant to say earlier at that moment, and she draws me back into a whispered conversation to pass the time faster.

“Potter, Harry!”

I look up curiously as the small, noodle-like boy with messy black hair and crooked wire glasses takes a deep breath and sits down on the stool. The entire room falls silent, awaiting the call that will declare his House. I try not to, but something inside of me insists that he has to be a Ravenclaw. He has to. It’s the best place to train a wise fighter, I tell myself. He’ll make smart choices, and he’ll be able to use what he learns practically. Nothing against the other Houses, but I just see the most sense in the way Ravenclaw runs things.

The hat opens its mouth. It seems like an eternal second before the word escapes. “GRYFFINDOR!”

The Gryffindors jump up, screaming in excitement. One reckless kid jumps onto the table in jubilation. The Slytherins sit silently, glaring daggers at the tiny kid as he darts over to his House table.

Oh no, I think. This poor fool’s gonna get himself killed.

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