For one Christmas, I can’t remember which, I received my first Harry Potter books. It was the first boxset, the one that contained Sorcerer’s Stone through Goblet of Fire. Before then, I hadn’t known or cared what Harry Potter was. I was unimpressed by the intricate Golden Snitch presented to me by a classmate on stark white computer paper. Looking back, I’m not sure how or why I avoided the topic for so long.
But one does not spurn a gift of books, and my mother knew my tastes well enough. Before long I had devoured them, tore through them like Dudley through his birthday presents.
And, like every true witch, I fantasized about receiving my letter, taking the train from King’s Cross, and being sorted into the house of my choice.Of course I, bookish loner that I was, was destined for Ravenclaw. I knew this for a fact.
As I grew older and ventured out into the World Wide Web, I reveled all there was to be found for a young wannabe witch. I joined chat rooms, devoured fan theories, and proudly proclaimed “Ravenclaw” on my early profile pages. I discovered dozens of online quizzes that confirmed what I already knew to be true. These were the kind of tests that always contained the inevitable “Do you like to read?” that landed you squarely in the house of blue and silver, regardless of what you other answers may have been. But I continued to take them just for the satisfaction of being proved right.
Years later, long after the release of the final book, I dove back into the embrace of online community through Pottermore. Never mind that it failed to meet my expectations in nearly every aspect, all its content was Rowling approved…including the Sorting Hat test. This was the ultimate determination: I would finally know exactly where I stood in the world or wizards and witches.
But of course I already knew. I was Ravenclaw, through and through.
As I filled bubbles that would ultimately determine my fate, one of the questions stuck with me:
A troll has gone berserk in the Headmaster’s study at Hogwarts. It is about to smash, crush and tear several irreplaceable items and treasures, including a cure for dragon pox, which the Headmaster has nearly perfected; student records going back 1000 years and a mysterious handwritten book full of strange runes, believed to have belonged to Merlin. In which order would you rescue these objects from the troll’s club, if you could?
I asked myself, what would a Ravenclaw do? Surely a true ravenclaw would salvage the book and records; to hell with the cure.
This wasn’t the only question I found myself tackling in this way. I had mastered every other test, quiz, and questionnaire out there, and surely this one, official as it was, was no different. I was positive that I could nudge it just like any other, to put me in the place I belonged.
As it happens, this kind of manipulation is a very Slytherin thing to do.