Dean Winchester didn’t come from the most well known family. Their name may not have been famous, but there was one thing that everyone knew about the Winchesters. None of them were Slytherin. The very name Winchester was the opposite of the house name. For as long as anyone could remember, every member of the family had either been a Gryffindor primarily, a Hufflepuff, or a Ravenclaw. There had never been a Slytherin, and as far as anyone was concerned, there never would be.
That is, until Dean Winchester received his letter from Hogwarts.
Getting his wand and his supplies had gone as expected. He picked out a ruffled brown owl, that looked for all the world like it was as annoyed as Dean had been when his mother had walked him through the aisles for his textbooks. He caused a little too much damage to the wand shop in the tiresome search to find the right one for him, and then accidentally caused the lights to blow out in his excitement after.
Once all that was settled, it was to station 9 ¾ , and Dean left with his mother’s kiss on his forehead and a bag full of candy from his little brother Sammy. His Dad had simply patted him on the shoulder and promised, “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll get Gryffindor like the rest of us.”
Dean didn’t know if he agreed with that. But he always wanted to make his parents proud, so as he climbed aboard the train, he made up in his mind that he’d probably be a Gryffindor. After all, that was what his dad wanted, right?
He sat next to Castiel Novak and Charlie Bradbury in the cart. They were almost instant friends. Dean liked Charlie’s quick wit and Castiel’s blunt nature. By the time the train reached the final station the three of them had managed to visit every cart and play pranks on whoever they found rude and deserving.
Charlie was the brains of the operation. She knew more spells than Cas and Dean combined, and Dean had a talent for execution. Dean was the best at weighing consequences before they started. Cas was the best at distracting the onboard teachers.
This led them to guess at their future houses as they were led up to the great hall.
“I’ll be Ravenclaw, for sure,” Charlie nodded seriously as they trotted along with the rest of their future classmates. “Mom always said I was too bright for my own good. Not that she minded, of course. She’s been encouraging me forever!”
“That sounds blissful,” Cas said, sounding entirely too old for an eleven year old. “My parents haven’t been quite as… supportive.”
“Right,” Charlie said sadly. “Muggle parents, right?”
“Well, they’re both witches, but they consider themselves hermits committed to muggle studies. I haven’t experienced much magical influence yet.”
“Good thing you’re hanging with us!” Charlie exclaimed, throwing her arm over his shoulder and pulling him into a hug. “Consider yourself influenced!”
Dean could only nod in agreement. He’d certainly had magical influence growing up. His mother had a history of dealing with magical creatures, and she had somehow roped his father into the same studies and eventual career. Dean had seen many fantastical things in the past few years alone, but as for practicing magic himself, he was somewhat limited, like Cas.
But he was excited to see where he would end up. He had no doubt Charlie could end up in Ravenclaw, but from her cunning ability to prank without getting caught, Dean almost wondered if she could find herself in Slytherin.
As for Cas, he suspected Hufflepuff. He was quiet and gentle, and he had an obvious intuition when it came to others around him.
No matter what, Dean hoped that they would all remain friends no matter what houses they found themselves in.
They were lined up together, and Dean watched with wide eyed fascination as each student was called forward and placed under the sorting hat.
With each announcement, there was always a roar of applause and a standing ovation from the house who gained a new member. Dean watched boy after boy and girl after girl go to different tables, watched them get patted on the back, and smiled at the beaming faces who joined their new families.
Dean wanted to be accepted like that.
The Gryffindor table screamed the loudest, he soon realized. They whooped and hollered, some even jumped on the table and shook their fists if a sibling or relative joined the table.
Dean didn’t have any relatives here. There would be no one to welcome him here. No one but Castiel, Charlie, and whoever his new house would be. And hopefully, that would be Gryffindor, as his father wanted.
Charlie was the first one to be sorted from their group. The hat barely touched her head before it shouted firmly, “Ravenclaw!”
Charlie squealed with glee as her house cheered. Moments later she was shaking hands with her new family and sitting amongst a group of fourth years.
Cas went up after her. The hat seemed to mull him over for a few moments, not much longer than Charlie, but soon proclaimed, “Hufflepuff!”
Dean grinned. He was right after all.
Cas smiled shyly and wandered down to his table. He was greeted with warm hugs and handshakes. A few of them patted his shoulder and ruffled his hair. Dean applauded with the rest of the school and looked up at the hat that was soon going to be on his own head.
His mother told him that the hat had a mind of its own. That it looked inside your head and heart to determine where you truly belonged.
Dean didn’t really know where he belonged. He belonged with his family, he knew that much. He belonged where he was loved, or where people cared about him. But was he brave? Was he cunning or wise? Or was he loyal?
Dean felt like he was all of those things. But what he knew for certain, and what he knew from his family history, he was most definitely not a Slytherin.
This thought gave him confidence as his name was called. Dean moved up the steps boldly and sat down on the chair in front of him. A moment later the hat was on his head.
It was heavy and dark. The rim slipped past his eyes, but Dean didn’t move it. He waited patiently for the hat to tell him his new home.
Instead, the hat was quiet. A moment ticked by, then another. Dean squirmed in his seat.
“What’s my house?” He finally asked, when the silence stretched unbearably long. It couldn’t have taken Charlie and Cas this long. Shouldn’t it have been almost instantaneous?
Dean felt a hum fill his ears, and then a voice spoke, almost as if it was in his mind.
“Interesting…” The voice muttered. “So many thoughts… many emotions. Such loyalty to your family, and such a desire to fulfill the needs of those you love. Perhaps Hufflepuff?”
Dean squirmed, bit his lip, then shook his head.
“No, I don’t think so,” he replied simply. Cas was in that house. It would probably be an okay fit. But Dean knew deep down he probably wouldn’t feel very comfortable there. He was afraid he might be too bold for them.
“Bold, you say?” The hat sounded intrigued, clearly reading his mind. “Yes, yes. There is boldness in you. Bravery, courage. But wisdom too. The quick wit of knowing when to jump in and when not to. The thinker that can sort out puzzles. Ravenclaw would also suit you, but you do not feel called there either, I see.”
Dean shook his head no. Again, there was Charlie, his friend. But not a fit he felt comfortable in. Besides, he’d heard of their rules. They had to answer a riddle every time they wanted to get into their rooms. Dean would rather break the door down.
“And there is that recklessness. You have a very bold spirit, child. The likes I have seen many times tonight.”
“Gryffindor,” Dean muttered, a small smile pulling at his lips.
“But it is not right.” The hat muttered, almost sounding disappointed. The thought made Dean frown.
“Why not?” He asked.
“Your motives are… incorrect, flawed. You seek Gryffindor to please your family, your father. You have a fierce desire to follow through with their needs and wishes, but you have not given any thought to what you yourself want.”
“That’s not true,” Dean growled.
“But is it,” the hat clucked. “Tell me, Dean Winchester, what is it you want?”
Dean hesitated, stared into the nothingness of the hat.
Through the fabric, he could hear the whispers of those outside. Some of them were whispering, asking each other what was taking so long. Dean felt the professor stiffen beside him, probably also wondering the same.
Dean frowned and bit his lip.
“I don’t know,” he admitted tiredly.
The hat, however, seemed to hum with pride at it’s knowledge.
“But it’s not Gryffindor either. Tell me, what is it you fear of Slytherin?”
“I… I don’t know,” Dean admitted again. “Dad says they’re evil.”
“Are you evil, Dean?”
“Are you evil?” The hat repeated.
Dean stared into the darkness, thought hard, then shook his head.
“Why?” He asked softly.
“They are just like you, you know,” the hat sounded vaguely tired, as though explaining the alphabet to a child. Dean listened attentively. “Every one of them have the combined traits of every house. Some of them are stronger in some areas than others. But they all have one thing in common. Especially with you.”
“What is it?” Dean asked.
“They want to be accepted.”
Dean stared ahead. He thought long and hard, then asked quietly, “Do I seem like a Gryffindor to you?”
The hat was quiet for a moment.
“What do you seem like to you?” It replied instead.
Dean bit the inside of his cheek.
“I don’t want to be something for someone else,” he said finally. “I want to be me.”
“I see,” the hat said.
Dean felt a humming in his ear, and he smiled.
A moment later, the hat declared, “Slytherin!”
The hat was pulled off Dean’s head. He heard cheers and choruses from the table at the other end of the room. But what he also heard, was a chorus of boos from the Gryffindor table.
Immediately, Dean realized something as he stood and walked to his table, his new family.
He realized he’d made the most important choice of his entire life.