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“Slytherin!”

Everyone burst into whispers as the Boy-Who-Lived numbly took off the hat and gave it to a thin lipped McGonagall who looked just as shocked and disapproving as everyone in the room. Harry avoided Malfoy’s smug crowing whose eyes said ‘you-should’ve-picked-me’.

He picked the end of the table and sat down, shoulders slumped and wanting to disappear. The hat didn’t listen to his plea and now he was going to be all alone in a house that probably detested his very existence.

In the crowd, Ron Weasley narrowed his eyes at Harry’s downtrodden form, the chess master’s mind whirling.

Names were called, the Houses settled down until the youngest male Weasley’s name was called. Unlike the other previously shuffling nervous children, Ron’s steps were steady and resolute like a general’s march. He snatched the hat from McGonagall’s hands like he had a grudge, and plopped it over his signature red head.

Nobody payed attention, all anxious for the feast to begin. Ron was one of the last ones on the list and everyone was impatient for the obvious sorting to be done.

But that’s not what happened.

Few intense minutes ticked by, Ron furiously muttering under his breath in a low tone. People looked to each other in confusion and a pair of red heads were leaning into each other with a suspicious glint in their eyes. Even the staff was puzzled over this development, for no Weasley’s sorting has ever went beyond the fifteen second mark.

“Stubborn child!” the hat suddenly boomed out with exasperation dripping his tone. “Better be Slytherin!”

Chaos erupted.

Shouts of ‘traitor’ and ‘blood hell’ scattered all around the room. If the situation wasn’t so outrageous, the Hufflepuffs probably would’ve gleefully taken pictures of the gobsmacked, horrified expressions on the Slytherins’ faces at the idea of a Weasley being sorted in Slytherin. Malfoy looked ready to commit suicide.

Harry didn’t care though. Because Ron was grinning triumphantly and whipping off the hat to hand it back to a speechless headmistress before dashing off to where Harry was sitting. He smacked himself down next to him and bumped his shoulder in a friendly, camaraderie manner.

“Sorry it took so long.” Ron made a contrite face. “The bloody hat wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Harry couldn’t stop grinning even if he wanted to.

“It’s okay.” And it was. The boy who was undeniably his best friend was here. He wasn’t alone. “Thanks.”

“Like I could’ve left you alone in this snakepit.” Ron snorted. “Oooh, pass the turkey leg, would you? I’m starved.”