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There was a long, breathless pause. All that could be seen of Bill's daughter was the fringe of black-and-copper hair that peeked out beneath the Sorting Hat.
At last the hat said slowly and distinctly: "Slytherin!"
"A Weasley," Draco said. "In Slytherin. My, my, we are in for an interesting year."
Keket hopped down from the stool, waved gaily at the staff, and skipped off to the bottom of the Slytherin table.
Ron blinked. "I don't think there's been a Weasley in Slytherin since ..."
"Sixteen-something," Charlie said. "Eustacius, I think his name was. Wound up in jail for fraud -- bilked a bunch of lords with some sort of scheme to set up a settlement of Brownies in the Virginia colony."
A grunting noise made them look up -- Penelope had transfigured her salt shaker into a pig with wings and sent it buzzing around their heads, oinking madly. Draco swatted at it and she grinned.
A crowd had gathered around Keket. Harry squinted to see what was happening, and then Charlie clapped his hands over his eyes. "Oh, no," he groaned. "Somehow or other she smuggled that aerolizard in." He turned to Ron. "Good luck, little brother. You get to be the one who takes it away from her."
"I don't suppose she's good enough to transfigure it into an owl?" Ron said glumly.
Among the Ravenclaws, Mary Logan was whispering to the first-years and pointing at the top table, but Harry couldn't tell whether she was drawing their attention to Draco or himself.
Down at the student tables, the older children were elbowing each other and watching the newcomers, waiting to see who would scream when the ghosts came in. The new first-years were gaping at the enchanted ceiling, examining the teachers, sizing one another up, wondering what was going to happen next.
Harry grinned. There was no telling.
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April 25, 2003