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SIYE Time:16:08 on 17th January 2022


The Bond and the Philosopher's Stone
By HarryBond007

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Category: The Bond Challenge (2012-4), The Bond Challenge (2012-4)
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Action/Adventure, Humor
Warnings: None
Rating: PG
Reviews: 35
Summary: Harry and Ginny need to face to challenges that come together with a bond while facing with the philosopher's stone
Hitcount: Story Total: 9628; Chapter Total: 2146





Author's Notes:
I was pointed out to the fact that G goes before H. My bad. Hahaha if you already read this don't expected an important update. Just moved Harry's sorting to next chapter.




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Life at the Burrow continued virtually unchanged for the rest of the month, so when Harry realized it, it was already the night before their departure. He was so eager to leave that his trunk was already full with all of his school things since a week before. Ron on the other hand, still had things over the floor on the first morning of September.

One side of Harry was sad that he had to leave the Burrow, he had spent the best month of his life there. He had learned to play quidditch which he loved, he had enjoyed the twins' pranks and he had felt that he was loved for the first time since he could remember. But if Harry was honest, he wanted to be at Hogwarts already.

Hogwarts offered him a whole new set of different opportunities. He would have the chance to make more friends besides Ron and the twins, at the muggle school Dudley threaten anybody who tried to befriend Harry and that made of him a very lonely person. Well that was not much of a problem now, Ron was his best mate and if he couldn't make new friends he could surely enjoy school with only him as a friend. Harry was also counting the minutes to see the wonderful castle by himself even when Fred and George made very good descriptions, but above all he was eager to learn magic.

The fact that Ron didn't knew much more about doing magic than he did calmed him a little bit, there wasn't much he could learn just by reading his books, he needed practice to understand.

"..wrestle a troll, but don't say I told you that is supposed to be secret" Harry heard Fred whispered to Ron at breakfast. The color drained from Ron's face.

Ron mumbled something back and Fred answered quietly "..it's a little one don't worry. No one has died in .."

Harry raised an eyebrow facing Ron. "Later" Ron's voice barely came out.

"Harry, can you please pass the butter?" Ginny said with a small smile. She had been talking more in front of him but that was sure the longest sentence he ever heard from her. Giving her that gift was probably the best he had done in his life.

"Sure Gin" He answered quickly moving the butter near her. He didn't even noticed the short name he used. Ginny turned bright red.

"Oh, you're in trouble my friend.." George started

"..no one calls Gin-Gin like that.."

"..and lives to tell it" they finished with a fake expression of concern.

"Oh, sorry Ginny" Harry blushed worried.

"It's ok" She cut him quickly with a shy smile.

He had enjoyed Ginny's company the last month especially after her birthday when she became more open in front of him. Still, she seemed to die with embarrassment every time she woke up at his bed. Harry knew that she didn't do it on purpose but there was something strange about the whole thing. No one had discovered their secret even when Harry had tried to convince her that someone could help them figure out what was happening.

The days when he felt more exhausted were the days on which she appeared by his side. Those times were the only days when he could actually sleep without nightmares for most of the night. Harry found himself more rested those days and what was more intriguing, happier. Even though, as time passed he was getting tired more quickly than the first time and Ginny woke up in his bed more often.

His tiredness, the tiredness he also perceived on Ginny and the fact that both problems vanished away on the nights they spent together was a mystery. Surely those things were related and possibly also related to the time they blacked out but the only cause he could think of was magic. He wished to have a place or a way to look for an answer to this. He also worried about what would happen once he was at Hogwarts, was Ginny going to appear there also? If so, that could be very hard to explain.

Everybody was on rush except Harry who had all already packed and Ginny who didn't have to pack. They smiled at each other while Percy was bringing down his trunk and Ron was looking for a missing sock all over the house. Meanwhile the twins seemed to be fueled by their mother's yelling.

Surprisingly they arrived at King Cross station on time as a big happy family and Harry felt as one more of the Weasleys. Harry was very distinguishable while walking next to seven redheads though.

When they were getting close he looked at his ticket. "Nine at three quarters?" He asked doubtfully.

"That's right Harry" said Mrs Weasley calmly.

"..and where is it?" He said looking from the distance at a big plastic number ten followed right after a big plastic number nine.

"Between platform nine and ten, of course" George intervened smirking at Fred.

"Oh sure" Harry decided that it was not time to argue.

"Ok Percy, you go first" Mrs Weasley said. When she said it Percy nod and ran toward the barrier. Harry almost closed his eyes preparing for the crash when Percy just disappeared through the solid wall. Harry just stood there with a shocked expression and Ginny noticing it, smirked at him.

The twins went next and then it was Harry's turn. He gathered all the courage he had and prepared his cart for the run. "Always be sure that no muggles are watching" advised Mrs Weasley and he nod.

He gave a last reassuring smile to Hedwig and ran toward the barrier.

Moments later they were all contemplating the large scarlet engine on a platform packed with people. He saw a sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o'clock, behind him there was a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it.

When everybody was there Harry asked with a smile while they start moving forward "So, why not Nine and One Half?". Everybody laughed at this.

A lot of boys and girls were at the platform receiving some last comments from their parents, Harry heard a boy that was looking for his lost toad. When they were close enough they prepared for the goodbyes. Ron was first.

"Mum - geroff." He wriggled free when Mrs Weasley started to rub his nose.

"Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?" said one of the twins.

"Shut up," said Ron.

"Where's Percy?" said their mother.

"He's coming now."

He had already changed into his billowing black Hogwarts robes, and Harry noticed that he had the red-gold prefect badge on his chest.

"Can't stay long, Mother," he said. "I'm up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves -"

Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise. "You should have said something, we had no idea."

"Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it," said the other twin. "Once -"

"Or twice -"

"A minute -"

"All summer -"

"Oh, shut up," said Percy the Prefect.

"How come Percy get's new robes, anyway?" said one of the twins.

"Because he's a prefect," said their mother fondly. "All right, dear, well, have a good term - send me an owl when you get there."

She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned to the twins.

"Now, you two - this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you've - you've blown up a toilet or -"

"Blown up a toilet? We've never blown up a toilet.

"Great idea though, thanks, Mum."

"It's not funny. And look after Ron."

"Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us."

"Shut up," said Ron again. He was almost as tall as the twins already and his nose was still pink where his mother had rubbed it.

"Harry" Mrs Weasley started "hope you have a good term dear. It has been lovely to have you around, you can write anytime you like.". When she finished she had a big smile and was hugging Harry tightly.

Mrs Weasley was a bit odd toward him the first days after he met her but quickly Harry developed a special feeling for the kind woman. She had been looking after him ever since he arrived at her house even when Harry was used to take care of himself, he was very grateful for that. Still he believed that she and Mr Weasley were hiding something from him since the Diagon Alley day.

"Thanks Mrs Weasley, I'm sure I'll do it" he said gaining a smile from the matriarch.

"Bye Harry" he heard a low voice from behind Mrs Weasley. It was Ginny.

Harry smiled and approached her giving her a quick hug. "Bye Ginny, have fun at the Burrow. I'll be waiting for your letters" he said and she blushed so much that he couldn't distinguish where her face ended and where her hair started.

A whistle sounded.

"Hurry up!" Mrs Weasley said, and the four boys clambered onto the train. They found an empty compartment and rushed to the window, from there the Weasley boys leaned out for her mother to kiss them good-bye, and Ginny began to cry.

"Don't Ginny, we'll send you loads of owls."

"We'll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat." Harry made a huge effort to not laugh.

"George!"

"Only joking, Mum."

The train began to move. Harry saw Mrs Weasley waving and Ginny, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with the train until it gathered too much speed, then she fell back and waved. Harry waved at her from his window.

The twins helped them to settle their trunks on the compartment and then they left with their own trunks to find their friends. "We'll be back, just need to leave these with Lee" one of the twins said pointing at the trunks. Lee Jordan was their best friend and they were eager to find him.

"Okay" replied both Harry and Ron who still had a black mark on his nose.

The two boys started talking about all sort of stuff from quidditch to their future lives at Hogwarts. The twins visited them two or three times during the journey, they were talking about a giant tarantula that Lee had. One of those times Harry gave them some of the candies they had, apparently he had bought more than enough. They laughed a lot, Harry wondered how difficult could have this been if he didn't already have friends to tell him about this new world that for him was a mystery.

The candies were great and considering that they also had some sandwiches made by Mrs Weasley they were full in no-time. Harry found Dumbledore's card at a chocolate frog which was a shame, he had been eating them at the Burrow and from his collection of eleven cards, three were Dumbledores. Weren't there any more wizards? He knew he just had bad luck since Ron had a huge collection. If he could at least find Agrippa he could do a very good deal with Ron who still didn't have that one. By the time they finished with the candy, Harry had almost doubled his collection.

There was a knock on the door of their compartment and a found-faced boy harry had passed on platform nine and three-quarters came in. He looked tearful.

"Sorry," he said, "but have you seen a toad at all?"

When they shook their heads, he wailed, "I've lost him! He keeps getting away from me!"

"He'll turn up," said Harry.

"Yes," said the boy miserably. "Well, if you see him . . ." He left.

"Don't know why he's so bothered," said Ron. "If I'd brought a toad I'd lose it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I can't talk." The rat was still snoozing on Ron's lap. "He might have died and you wouldn't know the difference," said Ron in disgust. "I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make him more interesting, but the spell didn't work. I'll show you, look . . ."

He rummaged around in his trunk and pulled out a very battered-looked wand. It was chipped in places and something was was glinting at the end.

"Unicorn hair's nearly poking out. Anyway -"

He had just raised his wand when the compartment door slid open again. The toadless boy was back, but this time he had a girl with him. She was already wearing her new Hogwarts robes.

"Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," she said. She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.

"We've already told him we haven't seen it," said Ron, but the girl wasn't listening, she was looking at the wand in his hand.

"Oh, are you doing magic? Let's see it, then."

She sat down. Ron looked taken aback.

"Er - all right." He cleared his throat. "Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow. Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow." He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed gray and fast asleep.

"Are you sure that's a real spell?" said the girl. "Well, it's not very good, is it? I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard - I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough - I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"

She said this all very fast.

'I'm Ron Weasley," Ron muttered.

"Harry Potter," said Harry.

"Are you really?" said Hermione. "I know all about you, of course - I got a few extra books for background reading, and you're in Modern Magical History and the Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century."

"Am I?" said Harry, feeling dazed.

"Goodness, didn't you know, I'd have found out everything I could if it was me," said Hermione. "Do either of you know what house you'll be in? I've been asking around, and I hope I'm in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best; I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad. . . . Anyway, we'd better go and look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon."

And she left, taking the toadless boy with her.

"Whatever House I'm in, I hope she's not in it," said Ron. He threw his wand back into the trunk. "Stupid spell - George gave it to me, bet he knew it was a dud."

They continued their chat, this time they talked about Hogwarts' houses from which Harry already knew a bit from conversations at the Burrow. Harry was glad that today was not one of those exhausting days, Ginny woke up at his bed the day before if it wasn't the case he would have been asleep by now. It was then when the compartment door slid open yet again, but it wasn't Neville the toadless boy, or Hermione Granger this time.

Three boys entered, and Harry recognized the middle one at once: It was the pale boy from Madam Malkin's robe shop. He was looking at Harry with a lot more interest than he'd shown back in Diagon Alley. "Is it true?" he said. "They're saying all down the train that Harry Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?"

"Yes," said Harry. He was looking at the other boys. Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, the looked like bodyguards.

"Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle," said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. "And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."

Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy looked at him.

"Think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford." He turned back to Harry who was getting angry. "You'll son find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."

He held out his hand to shake Harry's, but Harry didn't take it. "I think I can tell the who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks," he said coolly.

Draco Malfoy didn't go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks. "I'd be careful if I were you, Potter," he said slowly. "Unless you're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents. They didn't know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it'll rub off on you."

Both Harry and Ron stood up. "Say that again," Ron said, his face as red as his hair.

"Oh, so you're going to fight us, are you?" Malfoy sneered.

"Unless you get out now," said Harry, more bravely than he felt, because Crabbe and Goyle were a lot bigger than him and Ron. The Weasleys were a good family and he wasn't going to allow him to spoke of them like that.

"But we don't feel like leaving, do we, boys? We've eaten all our food and you still seem to have some."

Goyle reached toward the Chocolate Frogs nest to Ron - Ron leapt forward, but before he'd so much as touched Goyle, Goyle let out a horrible yell.

Scabbers the rat was hanging off of his finger, sharp little teeth sunk deep into Goyle's knuckle - Crabbe and Malfoy backed away as Goyle swung Scabbers round and round, howling, and when Scabbers finally flew off and hit the window, all three of them disappeared at once. Perhaps they thought there were more rats lurking among the sweets or perhaps they'd heard footsteps, because a second later, Hermione Granger had come in.

"What has been going on?" she said, looking at the sweets all over the floor and Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail.

"I think he's been knocked out," Ron said to Harry. He looked closer at Scabbers "No - I don't believe it - he's gone back to sleep."

And so he had.

"You've met Malfoy before?" Harry explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley. "I've heard of his family," Ron said darkly. "They were some of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared. Said they'd been bewitched. My dad doesn't believe it. He said Malfoy's father didn't need an excuse to go over to the Dark Side." He turned to Hermione. "Can we help you with something?"

"You'd better hurry up and put your robes on, I've just been up to the front to ask the conductor, and he says we're nearly there. You've haven't been fighting, have you? You'll be in trouble before we even get there!"

"Scabbers has been fighting, not us," sad Ron, scowling at her. "Would you mind leaving while we change?"

"All right - I only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors," said Hermione in a sniffy voice. "And you've got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?"

Ron glared at her as she left. Harry peered out of the window. It was getting dark. He could see mountains and forests under a deep purple sky. The train did seem to be slowing down. He and Ron took off their jackets and pulled on their long black robes. Ron's were a bit short for him, you could see his sneakers underneath them.

A voice echoed through the train: "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes' time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately."

Harry's stomach lurched with nerves and Ron, he saw, looked pale under his freckles. They crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets and joined the crowd thronging the corridor. The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform. Harry shivered in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and Harry heard a familiar voice: "Firs' years! Firs' years over here! All right there, Harry?"

Hagrid's big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads. "C'mon, follow me - any more firs' years? Mind yer stop, now! Firs' years follow me!" Slipped and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Harry thought there must be think trees there.

Nobody spoke much. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed once or twice. "Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."

There was a loud "Oooooh!". The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.

"Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. "Right then - FORWARD!" And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was a smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.

After they reached the castle's harbor they headed to the front door and miraculously Neville found his toad by the time they arrived there.

The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Harry's first thought was that this was not someone to cross.

"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said Hagrid.

"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here,"

She pulled the door wide. The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the whole of the Dursleys' house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make it out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.

It was then that Harry noticed someone hiding behind the professor. It was Ginny.

"Ginny! what are you doing here?" Ron shouted walking toward professor McGonagall with an angry look on his face. Ginny seemed ready to cry which made Harry turn his face to Ron clearly not happy at his reaction. Ron didn't notice.

All of the kids from wizardry families looked surprised so Harry knew that this must not be a common situation. Then the professor cut Ron's reaction "Don't need to shout Mr..?" she asked for his name.

"Weasley. Ron Weasley, professor and this is my sister Ginny. She's only ten she is not supposed to be here" said with an accusingly tone.

"Well Mr Weasley, could you please calm down and return to your place?" Ron nod slowly and returned to his place and Draco Malfoy smirked at this.

"Now .. I was just heading here when I found this girl by the door. So .. Miss Weasley could you explain?" she asked her kindly.

Ginny was surprised of being addressed and got nervous of everybody looking at her. "I .. I was home and then I was here" she said with a low voice.

Professor McGonagall just remained thinking when a voice interrupted her thoughts. "But, professor, you can't apparate inside of Hogwarts."

"You're right Miss.."

"Granger. Hermione Granger"

"You're right Miss Granger. One can not apparate inside Hogwarts' walls. The headmaster will need to check this. In the meanwhile we're already late for the Sorting ceremony if you please come with me" She said to the group and then she turned to Ginny who was very scared. "Miss Weasley, everything is going to be fine we just need to talk to the headmaster but he is busy right now we will need to do it after the feast. I'll be informing your parents of your whereabouts as soon as I can. In the mean time you will have to go with us, you cannot stay here all by yourself." she finished and Ginny nod slightly.

They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Ginny was walking by Harry's side with her head down since she was avoiding Ron's looks. Draco Malfoy and his friends were joking behind them. They could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right - the rest of the school must already be here - but Professor McGonagall showed the first years, and Ginny, into a small, empty chamber off the hall. The crowded in, standing rather closer together than they usually would have done, peering about nervously.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your Houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your House, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your House common room.

"The four Houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each House has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your House points, while any rule breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points is awarded the House Cup, a great honor. I hop each of you will be a credit to whichever House becomes yours."

"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarted yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting."

Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville's cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Ron's smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair.

"I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please wait quietly."

She left the chamber with a last glance at Ginny. Harry saw Ginny, he had been worried about her but he knew she was fine in here and her parents were going to be informed soon. "Everything is okay" he said to her and she smiled. Then it was time for Harry to worry about himself, he swallowed.

"How exactly do they sort us into Houses?" he asked Ron.

"Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking."

Harry's heart gave a horrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? - what on earth would he have to do? He hadn't expected something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that everyone else looked terrified, too.No ones was talking much except Hermione Granger, who was whispering very fast about all the spells she'd learned and wondering which one she'd need. Harry tried hard not to listen to her. He'd never been more nervous, never, not even when he'd had to take a school report home to the Dursleys saying that he'd somehow turned his teachers wig blue.

Then, some ghosts appeared and talked about being sorted to one of the houses. Judging by the reactions some of the kids already knew that there were ghosts at Hogwarts. Harry contemplated them.

"Move along now," said a sharp voice. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start." Professor McGonagall had returned, One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall.

"Now, form a line," Professor McGonagall told the first years, "and follow me. Miss Weasley, stay by my side. Your parents and professor Dumbledore have been informed, he will be meeting you at the end of the feast."

Feeling oddly as though his legs has turned to lead, Harry got into line behind a boy with sandy hair, with Ron behind him, and they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.

Harry had never imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them.

The hundreds of faces staring at the looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars.

He heard Hermione whisper, "It's bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts: A History."

It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn't simply open on to the heavens.

Harry quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she put a pointed wizards hat. The hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty.

Harry then noticed Ron brothers on one of the side tables, their happy expression changed to puzzled and concerned when they saw Ginny. Harry was so focused on them that he didn't pay attention to the hat singing. The whole house burst into applause as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.

"So we've just got to try on the hat!" Ron whispered to Harry. "I'll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll."

Harry smiled weakly. Yes, trying on the hat was a lot better than having to do a spell, but he did wish they could have tried it on without everyone watching.

Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment. "When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said. "Abbot, Hannah!"

A pink-faced girl with blond pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right across her eyes, and sat down. A moment's pause -

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.

The hat kept calling name after name of the kids on the group and after the hat yelled their house they ran towards one of the four tables. Harry noticed differences between the people from one table to another. Sometimes, Harry noticed, the hat shouted out the House at once, but other it took a little while to decide.

"Finnigan, Seamus," the sandy-haired boy next to Harry in line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.

"Granger, Hermione!"

Hermione almost ran to the stall and jammed that hat eagerly on her head.

"GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat. Ron groaned.

A horrible thought struck Harry, as horrible thoughts always do when you're very nervous. What if he wasn't chosen at all? What if he just sat there with the hat over his eyes for ages, until Professor McGonagall jerked it off his head and said there had obviously been a mistake and he'd better get back on the train.

When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR," Neville ran off still wearing it, and had to job back amid gales of laughter to give it to MacDougal, Morag."

Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his with at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, "SLYTHERIN!" Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looked pleased with himself.

There weren't many people left now.

"Moon" . . ., "Nott" . . ., "Parkinson" . . ., then pair of twin girls, "Patil" and Patil" . . ., then "Perks, Sally-Anne" . . ., and then, at last -

"Potter, Ginevra!"
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