This was the day. This, this was a good day. Lance’s first day at Hogwarts. And he was about to be sorted.
His siblings were scattered throughout the 4 houses, his older brother Arthur was in his last year in Gryffindor. His sisters, Gwen, Morgan, and Vivian were in Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff respectively.
Then there were the friends he had met on the train. Hunk was so friendly, it was no surprise he’d end up in Hufflepuff, right before Gunderson, Pidge had been put in Slytherin. Shiro, a prefect Lance had heard about from his siblings (a hero in Lance’s eyes) was nodding at him from Hufflepuff table as well. There was a beautiful girl named Plaxum who was in Ravenclaw, Lance thought he might actually have a chance. And then, of course, there was another prefect and absolutely beautiful, ethereal woman (even though she yelled at Lance for goofing around on the train) Allura, in Gryffindor house. Of course, so was that guy KEITH. The hat barely sat on his head for a moment before shouting that out. Something about him rubbed Lance the wrong way.
But, other than that little hiccup, Lance was ready for anything. He was ready to be told where he would belong.
“McClain, Lance,” Professor Smythe said, his orange mustache wobbling.
Lance jumped up excitedly, hearing the whispers of “another McClain?” around him. He was practically bouncing on the stool, ready to be placed.
The hat was so big it dropped down over his eyes, blocking out the hall and the bright lights, even muffling the sounds of the students chatting.
“Hmm…interesting.” A voice said in his head. Gwen had told him about it when Arthur and Morgan had tried to scare him. “Curious, curious indeed. Such diversity in personalities among your family, isn’t there?”
Lance smiled and bit his lip. Hello, sorting hat he thought silently.
“A friendly one, aren’t you?” The voice said, practically chuckling. Friendly…that was a Hufflepuff trait. He thought of Vivian, Hunk, and Shiro. “Is that what you want? To be in Hufflepuff?”
Lance frowned, his brows brushing against the inside of the rim. What he wanted? Wasn’t the sorting hat just…supposed to tell him? “I can do that, if that’s what you want,” the hat said, “I can choose one at random.”
Random? Lance repeated in his mind, no, no that wasn’t how this was supposed to work. The sorting hat was supposed to look into his mind, pull out his personality, and tell him where he would do best.
“You want to be the best? A hero?” The hat said to him, “Gryffindor may help you with that.”
So…is that where he was supposed to go? Gryffindor was the house of heroes and the brave. He thought of Arthur, Allura, and ugh, even Keith. Still…he might do okay there.
“If that’s what you want.”
No, he thought, that wasn’t how this WORKED! How did this thing work? Like, this was a magic hat, right? So, did it work like mind-reading? How far could it reach into his mind? Could it just not see far enough into Lance to tell/ This wasn’t how things worked according to his siblings…
“A curious mind as well,” the hat said, “a bit unconventional for a Ravenclaw, perhaps, but not unfitting.”
Ravenclaw? That was for smart people, like Gwen and Plaxum. He didn’t feel particularly smart. Didn’t really feel brave, or even really friendly. He had friends, but he knew he could be loud and obnoxious and selfish. Look at the way he was just treating Keith! And he hardly knew Keith…
“Well, if you don’t like any of those options, there’s always Slytherin.”
Slytherin…Pidge and Morgan’s house. Made for cunning and ambition…he supposed he had ambitions. The muggleborns on the train were talking about people called ‘astronauts’ who went to the moon. No wizard had ever gone up there. He wanted to do that. But…cunning? The slytherins he knew were sly, quiet until they wanted something, not silly and loud like him.
Maybe…maybe he didn’t belong anywhere……
He felt the fabric of the hat wet against his cheek, realizing it was from his own tears.
He heard the muttering of the hall around him. How long had he been sitting up here? It must have been a long time. How long would they let him just sit? Would they take the hat away? Send him home? Tell him he didn’t belong here at all?
“Or you could just pick one,”
Pick a house…just pick?
“That’s right. Whichever one you want.”
What he wanted…what he WANTED was to belong somewhere, to fulfill some destiny, find some greatness, become worthy of respect…which house would give him that?
“No house will MAKE you into something you’re not,” the hat said. “You just have to choose.”
Choose…he didn’t know…which one did he like? Ravenclaw’s eagle, Slytherin’s snake, Gryffindor’s lion, or Hufflepuff’s badger…which would it be? Which could it be?
“What do you like?”
Lance’s mind thought faster than he could make complete sentences, comparing and contrasting the various houses. He didn’t know…he wasn’t sure…
What did he like?
I… he thought to the hat, I like blue?
That was enough for the hat. “RAVENCLAW!” The hat shouted, and Lance realized it was out loud. The hat was snatched off his head, and Lance was exposed to the bright lights of the hall once again. A table of students in blue ties was cheering, beckoning him forward. He looked up. Coran nodded at him, sending him on his way.
He stumbled forward to where Gwen had made a space for him beside her. “Fascinating,” a boy at the table said, as more students were called up. The boy looked like an older version of Pidge. “I haven’t seen a hat stall before.”
“A what?” Lance asked, trying to keep himself composed.
The boy smiled, offering his hand. “Matt Holt, Ravenclaw prefect,” he introduced himself, “A hatstall is when the hat can’t decide between 2 houses and takes over 5 minutes. This one was nearly 6!”
Lance shrunk into himself. What had just happened was so rare, there was a word for it. And that was just for two houses…
Whatever. It didn’t matter. He had his place now. Everything was fine. Just…fine.
Everything was NOT fine. Four years later, Lance was in the middle of his fifth year. Arthur, Gwen, Allura, Shiro, and Matt had all graduated. He had dated Plaxum for the better part of 3rd year, but it kinda fell through. The were still friends though.
His best friends, though, were really close with him. He, Hunk, Pidge, and even his old enemy, Keith, stuck together through everything. The main problem, though, was each of them were in a different house…and Lance had come to hate his house.
He was camped out in the room of requirement. The room had sorta become an open secret ever since the battle of Hogwarts, and Lance’s group of friends often used it to hang out, since they couldn’t get into each other’s common rooms (sometimes Hunk let them into Hufflepuff, but Pidge and Keith looked exceptionally uneasy at the idea of letting them in. Gryffindor and Slytherin were stingy with their passwords.
Lance really liked the room of requirement, because he haaaaateeeeed the Ravenclaw common room. Especially now that he was locked out…Riddles were a stupid way of protecting a house.
Then once he was inside, he hated his fellow Ravenclaws. Like, his head of house, Professor Smythe (or Coran, as he had them call them) They were all so PROUD to be in the clever house, and they were always competing for who could create the best idea, who could get the best grades, yadda yadda yadda. Okay, maybe they didn’t compete as much as Lance thought, but it felt like they were competing. At the very least there were debates all the time, debates which Lance was too slow to understand.
Hunk and Pidge understood. Even Keith had better grades than him. Keith was one of the best in class at actually performing spells (and he was even BETTER at flying and playing quidditch) even though he wasn’t necessarily as good with written exams and tests.
Lance felt so dumb being around them. So dumb being around his house. He didn’t belong there. But then again, he didn’t belong anywhere…his conversation with the sorting hat echoed back to him.
The requirement room offered him a box of tissues. He took them, gladly, and blew his nose. He was hiding out there now, refusing to return to his house tower and be humiliated. He’d just sleep in here.
It was actually really nice in here. The room had taken the form of his house, his own house back with his parents. Other than the fact there was no food, Lance might have thought his mother might walk around the corner any second.
“Lance?” It was not his mother’s voice, but rather Hunk’s. He jumped up, wiping his eyes, hoping he didn’t look like he’d been crying.
Hunk, Pidge, and Keith were walking in, taking in their surroundings. They had each been to his house before, so they no doubt recognized their surroundings.
Lance composed himself as best as he could. “What are you doing here?” He asked, glad his voice remained steady.
“We don’t know,” Pidge said.
“We were walking back from the great hall—which you weren’t at, by the way—and this door kept appearing in front of us.” Keith said, inviting himself into the room and plopping on the armchair. “Did you…did you need us?”
Lance shrugged, bringing his blanket up to his chin. “I’m fine.”
Hunk took a seat beside him. “Hey, none of that. Really, what’s going on?”
Lance shrugged again. “Just homesick, I guess.”
“Clearly,” Pidge said, sitting on Hunk’s other side.
Hunk offered a hug. Damn him, he knew Lance couldn’t resist his warm hugs. “It’s only natural to be homesick. You’ve been under a lot of stress. We all have, with O.W.L.s coming up.”
Lance grumbled, burying his head under the blankets. Owls were the last straw for him. “It’s gonna be fine,” Keith said in a tone his friends recognized as his ‘I’m trying to people, even though I don’t understand people, what are people’ voice. “You’re a Ravenclaw, so studying is your thing, right?”
Lance was wrong before. THAT was his last straw. He tried to stop himself. He stared straight into Keith’s eyes. In slow motion, he watched Keith’s face make the subtle change from confused to horrified. Lance was pretty sure he knew why as his vision quickly became blurry. A second after that, his tears spilled over and he sobbed into Hunk’s robes.
Hunk acted instantly, pulling Lance into a tighter hug, squeezing just tightly enough to provide comfort. “What’d I do?” Keith said, his voice laced with panic, “What’d I say?”
“Uh…” Pidge said, looking between things. She ran for the cabinet, pulling out a class. “Aguamenti,” she said, filling it with water and bringing it back.
“It’s okay,” Hunk whispered in his ear, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” Hunk gently coaxed Lance into sitting up to drink the water. Magic water always tasted weird. He chugged it down, still crying.
Keith was hovering over his seat, halfway between jumping up to comfort Lance as well, and sitting back down and out of the way. He swallowed, “I’m…I’m sorry…”
Lance shook his head, “It’s not your fault,” He managed, “I just…I…”
“It’s okay,” Hunk said, “You should let it out.”
“I don’t belong in Ravenclaw,” he sobbed out, “I’m not smart enough, I don’t…I can’t keep up…” he sniffed, “I can’t even get in the dorm half the time. The riddles are too complicated, I don’t get it, and I have to wait for someone to let me in.”
Hunk stroked his hair, “Brain power isn’t everything,”
“It is for a Ravnclaw,” Lance sobbed, “I thought…I thought I’d grow into it or something, but I’m just not smart enough…”
“Well it’s not just smarts,” Pidge said, “I mean, Ravenclaws are defined by like, wit, right? You’re witty.”
Lance sniffed more, taking more sips of water. “Maybe. But I’m still not…” he hiccupped, drinking more, “I don’t think I’m a real Ravenclaw.”
“Come on, now,” Keith said, splitting the difference and sitting on the floor in front of Lance, “the hat must have put you there for a reason.”
Lance winced. “A stupid reason…” he muttered to himself.
“What was that?” Hunk asked.
Lance swallowed. He’d been very good at not talking about his sorting in all his years. But, here he was, with his friends staring him down as kindly as they could. “I…” he said, “the…the sorting hat didn’t know what to do with me. It kept…it kept asking me which house I wanted.” He rubbed his forehead, and drank more water, the beginnings of a dehydration headache forming. Or a stress headache. One of the headaches. “I apparently didn’t fit in any house, so he just had me pick. I literally sealed my fate just because I like the color blue.”
He buried his face in Hunk’s robes again, letting his friends absorb the horrifying bomb he’d just dropped on them. “Then again,” he muttered, “I don’t think I could fit well into any other house either, so…it’s entirely possible I just…don’t belong at Hogwarts at all…”
“Hey,” Hunk said, “Hey don’t say things like that. Of course you belong.”
“Um, Lance,” Pidge said, hesitantly. She was only slightly better with people than Keith. “Is that exactly what the hat said? That you don’t fit?”
Lance sniffed. “I don’t…I don’t remember.” He sipped more water, “what does it matter?”
“Well…” Pidge said, settling on the arm of the couch next to Lance, “It’s more likely that, since it asked you to pick, the hat meant you’d fit into ANY house.”
Lance screwed up his face, surfacing from Hunk’s robes. “W-what?”
“Actually, that fits, if you think about it,” Keith said, thinking about the issue like it was a difficult puzzle, “you ARE clever. Maybe not grade-clever, but you figure things out in your own weird way. And you’re friendly, AND brave, AND ambitious.”
Lance blinked. It’s not that he thought Keith hated him, not anymore, but it was weird to hear genuine praise from him. Especially when he said it so freely, with no hint of reluctance or irony, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“That’s true!” Hunk said, smiling, “you tend to fit into whatever social group you’re put in anyway, it makes sense that you’d be able to fit into whatever house you wanted.”
Lance frowned. “He could…he could fit anywhere? “But…” he said, “I’m not REALLY good at any of those things. So like…doesn’t that just mean I’m just…mediocre at everything?”
“What’s wrong with that?” Pidge asked.
Lance blinked. “It means…I’m not special…” he said, his voice so small, even he wasn’t sure he said it.
“Oh Lance.” Hunk’s hug was no longer restrained and had crossed over into bruising, “of course you’re special! We love you.”
“Yeah, man,” Pidge said, awkwardly lowering her arm to wrap around what she could reach around Hunk, “look, some people have special skills, myself humbly included, but I’m terrible at basically EVERYTHING else,” she patted his head, “I always thought you being a jack of all trades was…pretty cool.”
Lance felt a nudge on his leg. Wanting to offer physical comfort as well, but finding no more space on the couch, Keith had scooched closer to him and offered his hand. Hesitantly, Lance took it and held tight. “You were the hatstall, right?” He asked. Lance nodded. “Shiro told me hatstalls are really rare. And a hatstall between all four houses must be like…super rare,” he said. Lance’s eyebrow twitched, unsure where he was going with this. “So…it seems more to me like, the very thing you think you’re not special for…you’re the most special of all.”
Lance couldn’t do anything but stare. He had never put anything they were saying that perspective before. He still didn’t quite believe them, thinking they were just being nice. “I don’t know…I just…I still feel wrong in Ravenclaw. I don’t even really have any close friends there anymore.”
“Hey,” Pidge said, “I have an idea. Sleepover!” She referenced the room. “Right here, so we don’t have to stay in separate houses.”
“Past curfew?!” Hunk squeaked, instantly nervous. Pidge and Keith glared at him. “I mean, yeah, that sounds fun.”
Lance gave a small smile. “You guys don’t have to do that for me.”
“We want to,” Keith said, squeezing his hand.
Lance’s smile grew. “Okay.”
With that word, the room shifted. Instead of Lance’s living room, it turned into a dorm, like the dorms in the houses, with red, yellow, green, and blue beds. Lance was now on the blue bed instead of his couch. There were no house symbols, but everything else they would need to stay the night.
“It’s like our own personal house,” Keith said, leaving Lance behind to see the red bed.
“We should name it something,” Pidge said. “Lance? What’s a good name?”
Lance’s mind went blank. “Uhh…” the three of them looked at him. For some reason, the first thing he thought of was the muggle comics Keith had shown them all. “Vol…tron?”
Keith smirked. Pidge and Hunk nodded, “I like it,” Hunk said. “We should get some food from the kitchens, so we can snack out.”
“Lemme get my movie projector from my room, I’ve charmed it to work, we can watch muggle movies!”
“Okay!” Lance called after them as they both ran out, “We’ll make the pillow fort!”
The room was oddly quiet in their absence. Keith chewed his lip awkwardly, clearly going through his analogue of phrases appropriate for the situation. It was a short analogue. “How are you feeling?”
Lance took a breath. “Better,” he said, “I think.” He looked around the room. “This is all really nice, but tomorrow I’m still going to have to face the Ravenclaw common room.”
Keith slumped, defeated. “Well…maybe we can come up with something then.” That was classic Keith, not wanting to deal with things until they came up.
There was another awkward pause, before Keith lifted his arms in a clear (if slightly pathetic) offer of a hug. Lance smiled. He knew what it meant for Keith to actually offer physical affection. He quickly accepted and held him close. “Thank you.”