The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 23: A Slytherin in Gryffindor
Phoenix’s face was enthusiastic. He started moving his desk more in so that there was no room for his throne chair, which was moved to the side of the room where the sorting hat was. The sorting hat was now directly in front of the door. As he flicked his wand to levitate the hat, the door opened a fraction and Lorcan stepped out of the way, a little confused as to what was transpiring in front of him.
Phoenix then swooped over to the fireplace, reached into a bag hanging from the mantle, took some powder, and threw it in the fireplace, calling “Era, summon Mr. Malfoy for me.”
They waited for what seemed like ten minutes, though it was much shorter. Galadral was too excited to be patient and realize how much time really passed, and Albus just wanted it to be over. But it was still like walking through a long dark tunnel, with a bit of light at the distant end.
It took a while, but after five minutes, the door opened a little further. The hat still floating, Galadral rushed forward, and took a bewildered Scorpius by the arm, almost like an excited child, and sat him on the three-legged stool. “Sit here, please.”
He positioned himself so that he faced Albus, Mark, Alex, Eric, and a Scorpius who was looking very confused. All the portraits of the Headmasters and Headmistresses were awake and watching him with unconditional attention. It seemed as if Galadral was about to make a speech.
“Before me stood Minerva McGonagall as Headmistress,” Galadral began. “But the Headmaster before me was Albus Dumbledore, and he’s the one who I dedicate this moment to. Thank you, Albus.”
A few of the Headmistresses clapped, and nodded at Dumbledore’s frame. Dumbledore beamed as Phoenix continued, “When I was a student, I was told that I wasn’t like a usual Slytherin, and it led to the Headmaster saying ‘We sometimes sort too soon.’” The portraits of Snape and Dumbledore shared a glance, as if having an inside joke. Phoenix went on, “I remember disagreeing wholeheartedly. Now, I find myself remembering that time, and I see proof standing before me. Albus, what happened, boy. Don’t be scared.”
Dumbledore nodded encouragingly at Albus, but the boy was shaking. All eyes were on him. He never thought he’d be grateful to hear Eric speak. But even so, the red-head spoke forcefully and angrily. “Albus was sorted into Slytherin, that’s what happened.” Eric seemed not to care that all eyes were on him now. He didn’t seem to give a damn that some were looking disapprovingly at him. “He was meant in Gryffindor like his brother and family before him. But thanks to a full-blown Slytherin like Malfoy, he makes Slytherin, and is left to bad influence. I proved now he belonged in Gryffindor like the rest of his family. The hat declared him a Gryffindor without outside influences!”
“Ah,” Dumbledore said from his portrait. “But I proved my point with Severus and Galadral here. Both made Slytherin, but acquired bravery fit for a Gryffindor. For I relayed those same words to Severus.”
“They’re antagonistic houses,” Eric argued, and it was amazing. Eric really did belong in Gryffindor. He had the audacity to stand up and argue with the portrait of the greatest Headmaster Hogwarts ever had.
“What the world came too,” a Headmaster said behind the table. “A student has no right. He shall regret arguing with”-
“Thank you, Phineas,” Dumbledore and Phoenix said in unison.
“So, I’m an experiment?” Scorpius asked, face unfathomable. Albus couldn’t tell how he felt about this.
“Yes, but in a good way,” Phoenix said happily. “So, Dumbledore proves his point with Severus. Probably with me. Let’s see if a Slytherin who fights for his own house even before he was sorted into it himself, can stick with it. No dialogue. No interference. Let the hat make its decision. If he truly belongs in Slytherin, where the power-hungry reside, he’ll be resorted there. If he is brave enough to stand for his friends…”
Even Snape held interest in the black eyes of his. Galadral Phoenix lowered the levitated hat onto Scorpius’ head, and stood back, though he was already far enough. He folded his arms, and leaned against the door, giving one final command but this time to the hat, “Your decision. No choices this time.” All eyes were on Scorpius now, and the boy was well aware of it.
Once more, a Slytherin to be resorted. And where do you wish for?
“That’s you this time, right? So, answer them.”
You’re up for fair play? No one will discover, you know. It could be the same routine. You ask for the house, I sort you into it, and prove Phoenix wrong. How embarrassing would it be if you made Gryffindor anyway?
“Are you saying you’d put me into Gryffindor?”
I didn’t decide yet. You need to answer my questions. So, do I make your call… or mine?”
“Are you saying your call is different from mine?”
I’m saying you’re not answering my question. Do you or do you not desire Slytherin?
“You know what? Al seems to be having a rough time, and after hearing what Eric had to say… I can’t say I want to see Albus get humiliated. So, if he goes into Gryffindor, then I… I… you decide.”
Ah ha! So, you assess the situation wisely, and ask questions. A Slytherin trait. Yet, you leave it up to me in the end. You’re willing to risk Gryffindor, and being made a fool of for your friend. You’re willing to face it with him. You’d face the unknown. You chose fair play. A Gryffindor trait.
“Oh, is that where you’re getting at? Well, fair play is also more a Hufflepuff trait, so”-
We decided Hufflepuff was not the house for you a long time ago. So, the traits are even. As it was for Albus… and do you know what he made?
“Well, from what the picture looks like… I’d guess”-
Scorpius froze. Dumbledore beamed, and Snape widened his eyes. Albus looked up in shock and pride. Scorpius Malfoy. His best friend. He made Gryffindor. Eric was wrong. Eric gaped open-mouthed in shock, Alex in interest and Mark disbelievingly. Phoenix nodded, and took the hat off. He took Scorpius by the now-stiff hand, and forced him up, so he could place the sorting hat on the stool again. Flicking his wand, the office returned to normal. Galadral took a while to speak, and no one dared talk first. Finally, he looked straight at Dumbledore, and grinned, “You were right. We do sort too soon.”
“Explain yourself,” Snape demanded. His face was unfathomable behind the greasy black hair. He stared through his cold black eyes at Scorpius, who went red.
“I-It was about whether I’d give myself up for another. Well, I left it for the hat to decide, but in truth… who’d be so heartless to watch his friend suffer? It’s not a true friend then and even the hat says Slytherin is the house of friends– but for ones he doesn’t know, he’d rather stay out of it. He’d help his friends, but not someone he hardly knows… not for a cause that doesn’t concern him. That what sets them apart from Gryffindors. Slytherins strictly stick together and help only each other. Gryffindors are nosy, and stick for everyone regardless.”
(“Some call that bravery” Eric muttered.)
Scorpius ignored him and went on, “After all, I stood by Albus when he got busted for going into Knockturn Alley. You three know about that.”
Mark and Alex nodded, and Dumbledore said calmly, “Severus?”
“I think…” Snape looked down. “I think he’s spoken like a true Slytherin.”
At that, Mark rushed forward, and embraced Scorpius into a hug. Scorpius hugged very rarely, and the last time was the summer before. He was taken-aback, but to shake it off, he grinned, and gently pulled himself away, “We’re friends, but anything further… it won’t work out.”
Albus and Mark laughed at the joke, and even Alex grinned a little. Eric sniffed out angrily, and looked away. Dumbledore beamed further. “So, there you have it, Phoenix.”
“Very well,” Galadral announced. “So, Dumbledore proves his point. However, I do something now no one ever did before. Eric Wallaby lost his argument, but his case is accepted. Albus Potter will indeed change dormitories. Scorpius Malfoy will stay Slytherin.”
Reactions were instantaneous, and proved friendship and loyalty. It further negated Eric’s case as Albus and Scorpius jumped. “WHAT?” Albus and Scorpius said in unison.
“Albus is a Slytherin!” Scorpius said, near angrily. “And so am I. If he moves to Gryffindor, what makes me different?”
“The dorm is collapsing,” Albus said calmly. “Riley left, and now me.”
“Riley’s coming back,” Lorcan muttered angrily, not failing to let Galadral Phoenix hear him. “I swear it.”
“Why should he leave and not me?” Scorpius asked.
“Because your part in the experiment is over,” Phoenix said simply. “Now, if the change was permanent, your case would be stronger.”
“For one week, Potter joins Wallader and the twins in the Gryffindor dormitory,” Phoenix said aloud, as if making a King’s decree. “The first Slytherin to legally enter the Gryffindor Common room, and receive a Gryffindor schedule. Then, Saturday night, if he so wishes, he returns to Slytherin where he originally belongs. Meanwhile, a reward for all five of you will be in order at the end of the year. Meanwhile, I revoke the points you lost over the forest earlier.”
Then, Phoenix turned to Lorcan, eyes going harder as he motioned for the angry boy to sit down. “Now for you Scamander. If those five students would please leave.”
The five did leave, leaving Lorcan with Phoenix. Lorcan still looked mad and Phoenix didn’t look ready to give in. Despite being good and lenient concerning Albus, he and Lorcan seemed to have it for each other.
“Mr. Scamander, I’m going to make this brutally clear to you,” Phoenix said calmly, placing the articles in a pile on the desk. “Riley Blackberry is expelled, Nate Blackberry is distrusted for association with Riley Blackberry, Professor Era is demoted for being full vampire forgiven only for honorable acts. Parents are scared, and we deserve peace. Your intentions are fine, but there is nothing you or I or anyone else can do unless the Ministry itself steps in… and that will not happen. Give it up or I’ll have no choice but to expel you.”
Lorcan swore in front of Phoenix, to all the students, he’d succeed in his campaign. There he faced the biggest threat. He didn’t want to give up, but he didn’t want to be expelled either. He followed the Headmaster’s finger out of the door, articles in hand. All options had been tried. Lorcan had no choice. If he stepped his game up, expulsion would result. Only one choice was left to him.