Larry Daykin watched his sister join the other first years being rounded up by Hagrid. She stuck close to Fatty and and Pip even though he'd seen her talking with some other girls on the train. She'd be all right with the other Find-Outers. Once again he hoped the Sorting Hat would place them all in Hufflepuff. It would be easier if they were all together.
He wasn't the only student keeping an eye on family members. Julian Kirrin, a second year like Larry but a member of Slytherin, shouted some instructions to his younger brother, Dick, who simply shook his head in response. His arm was being practically pulled from its socket by a curly-haired boy and Dick had to hurry up or risk falling over.
An large unruly group of new first years pushed past Larry as they hurried to join Hagrid. He grabbed at Bobook's cage as it wobbled perilously in the wake of flapping robes. A squawk of protest followed them down the platform and Larry made haste to soothe his owl.
“The first years are worse than ever this year.” The complaint made Larry look up. He saw Molly, one of the Hufflepuff fourth years and a member of the house Quidditch team, bending to pick up books and papers scattered on the ground.
“Slytherins most likely,” responded Belinda Towers, the team captain as she helped gather some of the loose papers.
“Hey, Larry! Wait up!”
“Roger! I didn't see you on the train.” Larry grinned at his friend who skidded to a halt beside him.
“My cousin Snubby got himself into a spot of bother.”
“Oh dear. I'd forgotten your loony cousin was starting this year.”
“No, Loony's his dog.”
“Come on, we're practically last. You can tell me about it on the way.”
Snubby's exploits on the train as well as the holiday doings of the Lyntons (unmasking a nest of gun-runners) and the Daykins (capturing a group of international thieves) kept them occupied until they found themselves in the Great Hall, waiting for the Sorting Ceremony to take place. They pictured the scene taking place in a side room, where Professor McGonagall would be exhorting the nervous first years to straighten themselves up and then ordering them into a long line.
Everyone burst into applause when the Sorting Hat finished its song. Larry positively did not cross his fingers under the table as he waited for Daisy's name to be called. Roger punched his arm. “Daisy's all right. She'll be in Hufflepuff, you'll see.”
“Allen, Elizabeth,” announced Professor McGonagall.
The girl had to be pushed toward the stool. She'd made no secret of the fact she didn't want to be at Hogwarts and that she planned to do everything possible to get sent home. Members of the other houses were visibly relieved when she was sorted into Gryffindor. William and Rita, the Gryffindor Head Boy and Girl exchanged glances. There would no doubt be some explosive times ahead for them.
Larry sat up straight when 'Daykin, Margaret' was called, then breathed a loud sigh of relief when she joined them at the Hufflepuff table. He sent a pleased 'thumbs up' in Pip's direction when he too was sorted into Hufflepuff.
Slytherin numbers were swelled by the addition of Betty Hill, Alicia Johns and Georgina Kirrin. Georgina frowned blackly when her name was called. Larry stared at her in puzzlement. He'd been sure it was a boy who had dragged Julian's brother towards the boat. He stared even harder when Kirrin, Richard was directed to the Hufflepuff table. He made a mental note to keep an eye on young Dick.
Lynton, Peter was sorted into Gryffindor, much to Roger's dismay. Larry listened with half his attention as Roger muttered into his ear, “Mum told me to watch out for him. I can't do that if he's not in with us.”
“Barney's in Gryffindor. He'll keep Snubby from getting into too much mischief,” offered Larry by way of reassurance.
“Whew, you're right. Mum and Dad can't hold me responsible for all of his misdeeds then,” said Roger thankfully, and turned his attention back to the Sorting Hat, currently directing Isabel O'Sullivan to Ravenclaw.
Isabel's twin sister Patricia ended up in Slytherin, along with some of the girls Daisy had spoken to on the train. Alicia Johns knew she'd be sorted to Slytherin, just as her mother and grandmother before her. She took up with Betty Hill straight away and was prepared to include George, as she preferred to be called, Kirrin as well as Janet in her set. Janet was one of a group of seven who'd been split by the Sorting Hat. Gwendoline Mary Lacey wasn't so lucky; she fell short of Alicia's favour and was left to hopefully find her own friend at the Slytherin table.
A second group of girls settled themselves at the end of the Gryffindor table. Sally Hope and Darrell Rivers looked like becoming firm friends. They quickly made room for one of the shyest new girls. Mary-Lou seemed surprised she'd ended up on the Gryffindor table. Larry and Roger agreed she barely looked old enough to be at Hogwarts in the first place. Larry thought she looked practically the same age as Bets, Philip's young sister, who had to wait several more years before she could finally join the others.
At last Professor McGonagall announced, “Trotteville, Frederick Algernon.” Really, Larry shouldn't have been surprised when the Sorting Hat called out Ravenclaw. Fatty had more brains than anyone else Larry knew. At least the Find-Outers hadn't been as badly split as the Secret Seven. Larry and Roger had a good laugh when they found the group called themselves that. It wasn't really much of a secret when you went around announcing the name to all and sundry. Janet and Peter had ended up in Slytherin, George in Ravenclaw, Jack in Gryffindor and Pam, Barbara and Colin in Hufflepuff.
Professor McGonagall considered the way the Sorting Hat had split the new students. She watched with interest as Larry Daykin directed Dick Kirrin to the ham and tongue sandwiches, lettuce and tomatoes and the lashings of ginger beer. She leaned close to Dumbledore and murmured, “It's going to be an interesting year.”