Layla pulled the brush through her thick golden ponytail, enjoying the familiar tugging and the rythmic swish of the brush.

She stared at the ceiling of the antechamber thoughtfully, letting her peers mill around her as she thought. The rustle of cloaks and the high, excitied chatter of children echoed in the high ceilinged room, all waiting nervously, expectantly.

The apperance of the ghosts a few moments earlier had sent the first years into waves of excitement, and everyone waited for their turn to see the Great Hall themselves.  

Professor McGonagall strode back into the antechamber and adressed the students, telling them to follow her to the Great Hall where they would be sorted. 'Now form a line, and follow me.' 

Girls around Layla giggled and whispered as the first years made their way after Professor McGonagall in a straggling line. The conversation had turned to what house they wanted to be in.

'Ravenclaw all the way,' said a girl with a dark bob and freckles. 'My mum and dad were in it too.'

Another girl flapped her hand dismissivley. 'Nah, I wanna be in Gryffindor.'

Layla just smiled and smiled, and everyone around her began feeling less nervous and more like smiling. She was just that sort of person- happy and positive, a joy to be around.

When they entered the Great Hall, hundreds of heads turned to gawk at them as they stumbled down the centre aisle, gazing at the ceiling.

A girl with large front teeth and bushy hair whispered loudly, 'It's bewitched to look like the sky outside, I read it in Hogwarts, A History.'

At the front of the hall, on a small three legged stool sat a battered old hat, and the first years all looked confused as they lined up infront of it.

For a few seconds, no one said anything, until the hat began to sing. Layla swayed to the song, beaming, and the people around her grinned back. She was enjoying herself.

When the song ended and the hall erupted into applause, Layla saw a gangly read head boy turn to the boy with messy black hair next to him and whisper, 'So we've just got to try on the hat! I'll kill Fred, he said something about wrestling a troll.'

Layla smiled to herself, her heart filling with warmth for the school and the people around her. She was so lucky to be here.

Professor McGonagall began reading out names from a scroll of parchment, and one by one, students went up and put the sorting hat on their heads.

After a moments thought, it would yell out a house, and that table would cheer and clap and grin at their new first year.

'McBean, Layla,' Professor McGonagall called at last.

Layla walked up to the little stool, feeling everyone's eyes on her as she pulled the hat onto her face, still smiling happily.

'Well, well, well,' muttered the hat thoughtfully in her ear. 'Well, well, well.

Layla waited patiently.

'Charming girl, I see, bright too. Maybe Ravenclaw, where your mind can flourish...' the hat continued mumbling. 'No, no, not Ravenclaw. Certainly not a Hufflepuff either. My, my, what a heart you have in you.'

Layla beamed.

The hat chuckled darkly. 'However, I think I have a house for you, little one. Plently of potential you'll have, excellent potential, even. Could be great some day.'

The hall was begining to fidget as Layla sat with the hat on her head, waiting for an answer.

'So it is. SLYTHERIN!' The hat boomed to the hall.

Layla froze on the chair. What? Slytherin? But that was where all the unpleasant people were, wasn't it? What about all the dark stories about students from Slytherin house?

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat. 'On your way, dear,' she said.

Layla took of the hat slowly, still shell shocked. The rest of the first years, who had been so nice to her and had taken to her so quickly were now looking at her with distaste, mistrust.

'Slytherin?' She heard people mutter. 'Must be up to no good. All smiles, no real feeling.'

Layla had to try hard to fight back tears as she sat down at the end of the Slytherin table. She didn't dare look up at the rest of her housemates, and stared at her knees with big fat tears rolling into her lap.

The End

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