Neville Longbottom and the Sorting Hat

Neville Longbottom is forced into the Sorting Hat by Voldemort, and makes an unexpected discovery

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling

‘It is Neville Longbottom, my Lord! The boy who has been giving the Carrows so much trouble! The son of the Aurors, remember?’

‘Ah, yes, I remember,’ said Voldemort, looking down at Neville, who was struggling back to his feet, unarmed and unprotected, standing in the no-man’s-land between the survivors and the Death Eaters. ‘But you are a pure-blood, aren’t you, my brave boy?’ Voldemort asked Neville, who stood facing him, his empty hands curled in fists.

‘So what if I am?’ said Neville loudly.

‘You show spirit, and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.’

‘I’ll join you when hell freezes over,’ said Neville. ‘Dumbledore’s Army!’ he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort’s silencing charms seemed unable to hold.

‘Very well,’ said Voldemort, and Harry heard more danger in the silkiness of his voice than in the most powerful curse. ‘If that is your choice, Longbottom, we revert to the original plan. On your head,’ he said quietly, ‘be it.’

Still watching through his lashes, Harry saw Voldemort wave his wand. Seconds later, out of one of the castle’s shattered windows, something that looked like a misshapen bird flew through the half-light and landed in Voldemort’s hand. He shook the mildewed object by its pointed end and it dangled, empty and ragged: the Sorting Hat.

‘There will be no more Sorting at Hogwarts School,’ said Voldemort. ‘There will be no more houses. The emblem, shield and colours of my noble ancestor, Salazar Slytherin, will suffice for everyone, won’t they, Neville Longbottom?’

He pointed his wand at Neville, who grew rigid and still, then forced the Hat on to Neville’s head, so that it slipped down below his eyes. There were movements from the watching crowd in front of the castle, and as one, the Death Eaters raised their wands, holding the fighters of Hogwarts at bay.

‘Neville here is now going to demonstrate what happens to anyone foolish enough to continue to oppose me,’ said Voldemort, and with a flick of his wand, he caused the Sorting Hat to burst into flames.

Screams split the dawn, and Neville was aflame, rooted to the spot, unable to move, and Harry could not bear it: he must act –

And then many things happened at the same moment.

They heard uproar from the distant boundary of the school as what sounded like hundreds of people came swarming over the out-of-sight walls and pelted towards the castle, uttering loud war cries. At the same time, Grawp came lumbering round the side of the castle and yelled, ‘HAGGER!’ His cry was answered by roars from Voldemort’s giants: they ran at Grawp like bull elephants, making the earth quake. Then came hooves, and the twangs of bows, and arrows were suddenly falling amongst the Death Eaters, who broke ranks, shouting their surprise. Harry pulled the Invisibility Cloak from inside his robes, swung it over himself and sprang to his feet, as Neville moved too.

In one swift, fluid motion Neville broke free of the Body-Bind Curse upon him; the flaming Hat fell off him and he drew from its depths something silver, with a glittering, rubied handle –

The slash of the silver blade could not be heard over the roar of the oncoming crowd, or the sounds of the clashing giants, or of the stampeding centaurs, and yet it seemed to draw every eye. With a single stroke, Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the Entrance Hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in a scream of fury that nobody could hear, and the snake’s body thudded to the ground at his feet –

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling

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