Hogsmeade Station looks to be on the outskirts of a little village. The train platform is small and dark, with the sun well and truly set by now, so it's easy to spot the bright lantern as it approaches - not from the direction of the village, but by a dark forest path leading the opposite way, and being carried by Mr. Hagrid. He whistles, loudly, to get the children's attention, and calls, "First years over here!"
She turns to address the gathered students. "Follow me, please," she says in a carrying voice.
Harriet is not first in line to follow, but she does obediently file in, staring around, wide eyed, at her first glimpse of the inside of Hogwarts.
The Entrance Hall alone is larger than the Dursleys' entire house, huge and grand and palpably ancient, lit by torches and chandeliers, with a vast marble staircase opposite the entrance and another grand double-door to the right. Professor McGonagall leads them to neither of these, but to a smaller doorway in one corner of the room.
This is definitely what a magic castle should look like.
(Harriet's only kinda watching where she's walking.)
The next chamber is smaller and less grand, but still large enough to comfortably fit forty eleven year olds, an elderly professor, and a stool with an extremely old, extremely floppy-looking black wizard's hat.
She turns, with a swish of her robes, to face the assembled first-years, as they all gather into the room behind her.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," she says smartly. "My name is Minerva McGonagall, and I am the Deputy Headmistress of this school; you may call me Professor McGonagall."
"In some minutes," she says, "the Start of Term Banquet will begin, in the Great Hall to the right of the Entrance Hall; but before this, it is necessary to conduct the Sorting. Each of you must be sorted into one of the four Houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. These Houses will serve you as a sort of surrogate family during your stay at Hogwarts; each House has its own dormitory and common room, and prefects and a head boy and girl who you can go to if you need help or support. The Sorting Ceremony begins here; the Sorting Hat," she indicates the wizard's hat on the stool, "will speak with each of you in turn to assess which house you are most suited to. Then, you will all enter the Great Hall, and one by one you will be called to the front of the Hall, and the Hat will announce your House."
She shifts from foot to foot, not muttering like a lot of the other kids are, but - anxious, kinda.
(She's - scared, she thinks, of being sorted. Probably the Hat won't think she's any good.)
(But, well, she's gotta try.)
"I will call your names in alphabetical order," she says.
Of the Four, the first up is Auberon, Ami.
He's serious, going up, and sits under the Hat with his expression firm and determined.
Hello, Mr. Auberon, the hat says.
Something of a variety-pack family, I see, the hat says. I could see you in a number of places... but where do you think you belong, Mr. Auberon?
He considers this question rather seriously.
My dad's a Ravenclaw... But I'm not sure I'm the same sort of... Person whose main interest is knowledge, like him? I want to help people and change things. Bravery sounds like... A good trait to have. So does working hard and being loyal.
So does being ambitious, actually. Nothing changes if we don't try. And fixing everything is - I think it's more important than being brave about it, or working hard about it. It'd be okay if being a lazy coward could save people. But everyone acts like Slytherins are all evil.
People will find reasons to hate any of the Houses, I'm afraid, the hat says. What's important is which House will help you grow into your best self.
I don't know how they'll make me grow, though. Doesn't that depend a lot on who's in them?
Mm, that's true, the hat says. Sorting can be a difficult job, and a difficult choice. But in general, the students in each House do take that House's values fairly seriously, so they must be fairly decent at teaching newcomers to take them seriously as well.
He nods. I think... I don't think I have any trouble being brave, and my dad's been teaching me to be smart my whole life. So probably Hufflepuff or Slytherin will help me most?
I'll see what I can do, Mr. Auberon, the hat says. Good day.
He takes the Hat off his head and slides off the stool for the next student.
Professor McGonagall will call a number of names in succession, and a number of eleven-year-olds will spend anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes under the hat before it pokes McGonagall to take it off. It's not long before she gets to "Evans, Harriet.”
She steps up and sits under the Hat, a bit nervously.
The hat - chuckles, inside her mind, sort of affectionately. Oh, you look like a Gryffindor to me.
But I'm not brave at all.
Aren't you? the hat says slyly.
I'm scared all the time. Of everything. I don't think that's bravery.
You and Godric would have a lot to talk about. Miss Evans, you can't be brave if you're not scared.