Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic results if they really want to.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.

A/N: Another new school year is starting at Hogwarts, another group of first years is to be sorted, but at least two late arrivals already know which houses they are destined for.


"Now, don't forget that even if you probably won't find yourself in a position to dominate Slytherin house right away, you must start working towards that goal immediately. Only if you dominate at least your year-mates at all times can you hope to ever dominate your house."

"Of course, Father,"Anthony said obediently. It would have been a bad idea to remind his father that he'd told him this several times already and that they were late, and all Anthony really wanted to do was jump out of the coach and take a proper look at his new school. It always was a bad idea to get uppity with Duke Crowley, and as far as the Duke's only son was concerned, pretty much any statement other than 'yes, father', 'of course, father' or maybe 'as you wish, father' would have been considered very uppity indeed. A son had to respect his father, after all.

So Anthony sat and listened to all the familiar advice once more, patiently and even looking attentive, until he was finally dismissed. Then he descended from the elegant carriage, pulled by four magnificent thestrals, slowly and dignifiedly, even though he'd much rather have jumped out and rushed up the steps to the door.

Perhaps the delay had been worth it after all, though, for just as he was about to set foot on the first step another, almost equally magnificent, carriage came dashing down the drive - this pulled by four snow-white unicorns. Anthony did not recognise the coat of arms on its side, but given the many golden crosses that decorated the vehicle, this was not to be expected. Clearly this was the favourite conveyance of some high clerical dignitary, which meant that it was probably about to deliver some high-born student that had been educated by said dignitary until he'd received his Hogwarts letter.

Might it even be a prince? If so, Anthony's father would surely expect him to befriend the boy - even though, upon a moment's thought, Anthony remembered that the King did not have a son of the right age. A princess then? Or maybe a prince from foreign parts? Or perhaps the heir of some other important nobleman? Either way, this was an important connection that he could not afford to pass up while still in sight of his father, whose carriage was still standing right where Anthony had left it.

So Anthony drew back his foot and turned around to watch the clerical carriage arrive. There was some jostling as it drew up next to the Duke's carriage, and the unicorns and thestrals snapped and kicked demonstratively. Luckily the clerical driver appeared to be familiar with the two species' dislike for each other and had made sure they didn't come close enough to actually be in kicking range.

"Oh yes, Uncle Abbot!" Anthony heard an excited voice shout. "Of course I will work as hard as I possibly can. I want to learn everything I can about Our Lord's wonderful creation! ... To better appreciate it and to be able to use it to help his poor and suffering faithful, of course."

And then the door of the carriage flew open, and a boy in simple peasant's robes jumped out and almost fell flat on his face on the hard-packed earth of the drive.

"Careful, my dear boy!" a mild voice admonished. "Do not hurt yourself in your eagerness. Ah, the exuberance of youth!"

The boy didn't seem at all daunted, though. He called some hasty good-byes to his 'Uncle Abbot' and then caught sight of Anthony. Hard as it was to believe that that was even possible, his face lit up even more, and he ran up to Anthony, beaming widely.

"Hello, dear friend," the complete stranger greeted Anthony. "Are you new as well?"

Anthony regarded him with disappointment. Clearly this was no important dignitary at all, but merely a favoured servant's child, or perhaps even a foundling from the abbey's orphanage that the abbot was giving his condescending attention due to his promising magical talent.

Still, there was something about the slightly pudgy peasant boy with his bright blue eyes that drew Anthony to him, and if he was such a prodigy he might still be useful.

"Yes, I'd only just dismounted, myself, when I saw your carriage and thought I should wait to meet you."

"Oh, that was kind of you!" the peasant boy exclaimed. "I was a little worried it would inconvenience the people here that I am so late, but you know how it is. There was this awfully nice woman at the last way-station and she baked us a cake. So of course we couldn't just depart without tasting it. And it was really worth staying for, too."

He closed his eyes dreamily for a moment, and Anthony almost laughed. Of course any sweet morsel would probably seem divine to an orphan dependent on people's charity for bread.

"I am told the food at Hogwarts is quite good as well," he offered.

"Oh, I do hope so!" the boy exclaimed. "Though of course we should be grateful for every morsel our Lord sees fit to give us in his ineffable wisdom."

There was a moment of silence because Anthony had no idea how to reply to such a strange statement.

"Anyway, I am Aziraphale. From Abbeytown Abbey, I suppose. At least that's where I've lived all my life. I'm not quite sure where I was actually born. My father is an itinerant healer, you see, so he and mother never stay anywhere very long. That's also why they gave me to Uncle Abbot to raise. He's mother's brother and he hardly ever leaves the abbey, so I didn't have to travel all the time. Travelling is not good for young children."

"I am Viscount Crowley," Anthony introduced himself in turn, feeling slightly relieved that Aziraphale wasn't a foundling after all. An itinerant healer was of course still far from respectable, but the nephew of an abbot certainly was acceptable as an associate, especially if he had lived with said abbot all his life.

Aziaphale's face fell a little and so Anthony hastened to continue: "Well properly, you know. You can call me Anthony, of course. And ... and my father is the Duke Crowley. And ... and he's really important and travels a lot, too. We have several estates and a town house in London that he travels between. My mother stays in London, though. She's a Lady-in-waiting of the Queen."

"Oh, do you know the King and Queen, then?" Aziraphale gasped.

Anthony considered lying, but then decided it would be too easily seen through if Aziraphale should mention it to anyone more world-wise.

"Not yet," he admitted. "I am too young to be presented at court. I will be when I finish school, though. That will be quite an event, I suppose, but at the moment I am more interested in the sorting. Shall we go inside?"

"Oh, yes!" Aziraphale exclaimed and bounced up the steps, waiting and hopping in place every now and again so Anthony could catch up with his slow, dignified steps. "What house do you think you'll be in?"

"Slytherin," Anthony replied without hesitation. After all, he'd known that all his life.

Aziraphale stopped hopping and stared at him, horrified. "But Slytherin is evil! You can't really want to be sorted there!"

"It is not!" Anthony exclaimed angrily. "It's dignified. And ambitious. All the important wizards in politics are Slytherins. It just teaches you how to get on best in politics. And I'm to be a Duke. I've got to learn those things."

"But they say Slytherin himself was a dark wizard," Aziraphale argued. "And then there's the dark lord and ..."

"So there have been some bad Slytherins," Anthony allowed. "But that doesn't mean the whole house is evil. You can't judge all of us by a few bad apples."

At that Aziraphale looked quite chastised. "You are right. That was very unchristian of me. Of course all houses must have their black sheep, and it is our holy duty to forgive them and lead them back to the right path and not to condemn them."

This sounded a little strange to Anthony, who had had very little contact with religious people in his life so far, but he did realise that it must be something Aziraphale had been told at the abbey, and decided to ignore it. Aziraphale had taken back his statement that Slytherin was evil in any case, he decided. and that was all that mattered.

"So what house do you want to be in?" he asked politely.

"Why, Hufflepuff, of course!"

"Hufflepuff?" Anthony repeated incredulously. "But ... that's so ... so ... boring." He didn't want to hurt Aziraphale the way it had hurt him when Aziraphale had said that Slytherin was evil. "I mean, there's nothing wrong with Hufflepuff, of course, but all the other houses are much more exciting."

"Why, Hufflepuff is the greatest house of all!" Aziraphale exclaimed. "It's ... why, it's simply the best! What is there that's supposed to be exciting about the other houses?"

Oh, how to put this diplomatically!

"Well, there's Slytherin for the politicians, like I already said. Slytherins are powerful."

"So, what's being powerful good for?" said Aziraphale. "In the end only God has true power, and we should work towards his glory and to earn a place by his side in Heaven."

"Why, so you can if you're powerful. You can ... influence things for the good ... and have churches and abbeys built if you're powerful."

"Oh well," Aziraphale allowed. "I suppose that is a good way of doing it if one is born to inherit a title, like you are. I am not. I will never be powerful, so it would be quite useless for me to learn how to use power."

"Then there's Gryffindor," Anthony hastened on. "They ... well, I admit that I wouldn't want to be a Gryffindor either. They are such brutes, but Gryffindor has produced many great knights who have won fame and glory."

"Now you're making the same mistake I did earlier," Aziraphale pointed out. "Calling all the Gryffindors brutes."

"Well, many of them are," Anthony defended himself. "Using main force comes with being a knight. That's why they are often brutes. But how about the fame and glory? Wouldn't you like that?"

"It is awfully selfish and arrogant," Aziraphale said. "And all the fame and glory should be the Lord's. Besides, knights kill people. That is against God's commandments."

"But it's knights that fight in the crusades to regain the Holy Land," Anthony said triumphantly.

"I suppose," Aziraphale agreed. "But I still wouldn't want to be a knight and kill and destroy. I want to be a monk and copy illuminated manuscripts for the glory of the Lord. And of course to do good and help the poor."

"Well, then there's Ravenclaw. The Ravenclaws are wise and study illuminated texts and devise new spells that can be used for the good of everybody."

"I ... well, I do suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad, but Hufflepuff is still much greater. It produces healers and monks and ..."

"Servants and farmers," Anthony said with a sneer. "I know they are kind and hard working, but what is great about Hufflepuff? Show me one truly great thing Hufflepuffs have done."

"They ... they ..." Aziraphale stuttered.

"They grow the food without which you would starve," said an unexpected adult voice from the door. "They build the hospitals and provide the doctors that tend you when you are sick or injured. They build the houses that shelter you from the elements. They fight back the plagues and tend to the needs of the poor. Have you ever seen a battlefield right after a battle? There is no power and no glory there, only the dead and wounded and piles of debris wherever you look. It is enough to make you despair, because there are so many things that cry out to be mended that it seems like it can never, ever be fixed. The Slytherins' cleverness shies from such thankless work, Gryffindor bravery fails at the sight of a task that knows no enemy to be beaten, and all the Ravenclaw wisdom fails where it is not spells that are wanted but merely hard, repetitive and sad work to be done. And therefore many, many times it has been the Hufflepuffs that have brought in and tended the wounded, comforted the dying, buried the dead, fixed what could be mended and rebuilt that which could not. Many, many times they have done it and many, many times they will do it again - for there will always eventually be another war to destroy whatever they rebuild. It is enough to make one despair, but they do not. In this, they are the strongest of all. But now, do come inside and be sorted. We have been waiting for you to start the ceremony, and until it is completed we cannot have dinner."

Aziraphale sat on the stool, excited and happy. Finally he was at Hogwarts and would learn all the wonderful secrets of magic!

The headmaster's assistant lowered a rather old fashioned, but quite well kept hat onto his head. It was too wide for him and slid over his eyes, but then, it had done the same for the girl that had been sorted before him.

"Ah," said a little voice inside his head. "So you expect me to sort you into Hufflepuff?"

"Why, yes," Aziaphale thought back. "Where else would I go?"

"It is true that you value all the things Hufflepuffs do," the hat allowed, its voice sounding strangely gentle. "You have been raised with Hufflepuff values, and all your family are Hufflepuffs."

"Of course they are! And so are all the other wizards I know ... well, except for Anthony, but I've only just met him and surely I am not a Slytherin."

"No, you are certainly not a Slytherin, and there is more Hufflepuff in you than Gryffindor. Yet ... you are not quite a Hufflepuff."


"But why ever not!" This couldn't be! He was good and kind and hard-working! He wanted to be a monk! He had to be a monk! "Oh, please!"

"Yes, you want to be a monk," the hat agreed. "But it is not primarily because you want to help people. That is just an excuse to you. In reality, you just want to work in the library and study all their rare manuscripts. That is the mark of a true RAVENCLAW!"

What Ravenclaw? Not Hufflepuff? But he'd always been expected to be a Hufflepuff. What would Uncle Abbot say? What would his father and mother say?

Somehow he managed to get to his feet and stumble to the table the assistant indicated to him. He sat in the first free spot he could find and stared into empty space. He was a Ravenclaw? Could he still be a monk now? Would the people at the abbey forgive him? Should he write to Uncle Abbot to explain? But how could he explain this?

Sure, Ravenclaw had sounded quite tempting when Anthony had described it to him, but could he describe it as well? He glanced back to where his still unsorted year-mates stood. Maybe Anthony would help him word his letter?

But right now, Anthony was walking up to the stool to be sorted himself.

"Slytherin, my young friend?" the hat asked Anthony, sounding surprisingly doubtful. "No, I'm afraid you would not do well in Slytherin."

"But I'm a Crowley! We have always been Slytherins. And I am the heir to the title. I must be a Slytherin! I've wanted to be a Slytherin all my life."

"Oh, no," said the hat. "It is not you who have wanted that. It is your father. You wish to please him, which is commendable, but not a Slytherin trait. You are not exactly ambitious, my young friend."

Not a Slytherin? But if he wasn't a Slytherin, what else could he be? He certainly had never been studious or brave or kind ... though perhaps ...

"Then maybe I could be a Hufflepuff?" he suggested timidly. "I know that it is a really great house," he added, remembering the teacher's impressive speech.

"A Hufflepuff? No, you are definitely not a Hufflepuff. You are not kind enough, though you are not really evil."

Evil? That hurt.

"Are Slytherins really evil, then?" No, surely his parents could not be!

"Did I say anything about Slytherin? I said you are not kind enough to be a Hufflepuff - and you are too lazy as well. And I said that you are not evil. You are more mischievous which is a Gryff ..."

"No! Not Gryffindor! My father would disown me! My mother would never speak to me again!"

The hat paused.

"That is something I had not considered. You are right. It is not my purpose to harm students but to put them where they will do best. Slytherin would harm you, as would your family turning against you, so I suppose it had better be RAVENCLAW!"

The headmaster's assistant pulled the hat off Anthony's head, and Anthony blinked once at the sudden return of the light. Then he blinked again at the realisation that he was now a Ravenclaw.

Then he got up, walked over to his house table and sat down beside Aziraphale.

"Well," he said. "At least we are in the same house now. I do kind of like that. And didn't I tell you Ravenclaw would suit you better than Hufflepuff?"

"I suppose it must," agreed Aziraphale. "And I am glad we are in the same house, too. Everything is much better when one has a friend to share it with."

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