Disclaimer: Hogwarts and all you recognize belong to JKR. I infringed
with the best of intentions.
Dedications: To Chelle-sama for being my beta and my twin. To
Arabella for writing 'Before the Beginning'. To Sugar Quill for
being a great place.
Notes: This borrows many, many wonderful ideas from Arabella's
'Before the Beginning', like the meaning of the house colors and the
sett. So go and read it! Read it now! GO! READ!
She graciously allowed me to use her ideas (which was good, I'd already
written the fic) and now I love her forever.
Sett: badger burrows. The Eurasian badger has the largest and
most complex setts, often inhabited for thousands of generations, and
continually enlarged, they have multiple rooms and as many as
twenty different entrance holes, though the record number of entrances
is over one hundred.
To be Hufflepuff
"So, you've been sorted into Hufflepuff."
The young man standing in the center of attention of the Hufflepuff
common room nodded thoughtfully. "Ashamed of that, are you?"
He raised his eyebrows as the first years gasped and shook their heads,
denying it fiercely. The other students smiled. "Why
not? I was. And here I am, seventh-year and a prefect." He
sat down on the coffee table in front of the fire place. "Sit
down, all of you. Have a seat. I know it's been a busy day
for all of you first years; your first full day in the castle, your
first classes, and some of you are Muggle-born and overwhelmed by magic
in the first place. You probably all want dinner and your beds,
but this is important." He smiled as the first years arranged
themselves in chairs and on sofas, eyes fixed on him. All of the
other Hufflepuffs had taken seats as well, sitting and stretched out
along the furniture and floors. The room was full to bursting.
"Take a look around, this is a tradition. Everybody's
right here and nowhere else; we're all together and today, I give you
the truth of what it means to be Hufflepuff. Before I start, I
want you all to note that ugly badger statue on the wall behind me.
See her? Keep her in mind, she's our pride. Right then!"
He clapped his hands and rubbed them together briefly. "I
know, we all know, the story that gets around on the train. Hufflepuff
is a load of duffers. Hufflepuffs are stupid and slow. We're
the house that gets looked over and glossed over; the worst of the lot
to everybody if you listen to Slytherin and better than Slytherin if
only because we're not Slytherin if you listen to everybody
else." The first year students ducked their heads, eyes dropping.
"I imagine that the only people who come here wanting to be sorted
into Hufflepuff had parents in this house and even then, most of you
wanted Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. Cleverness or bravery are a lot
better sounding than 'unafraid of toil'." The prefect hunched
forward, leaning down to meet the eyes that had slid away. "But
that's because nobody knows Hufflepuff like the Hufflepuffs. Even
those of you with Hufflepuff parents don't know our secrets and that's
as it should be."
He sat back with a grin as the heads came back up and
lights lit within the eyes. "Caught your attention, have
I? Good. Because Hufflepuff House has the biggest, best,
best-kept secret in the entire Wizarding world and we have for over
a thousand years; we'll have it for a thousand more. We're Hufflepuffs."
He folded his arms and shook his head. "But I'm getting ahead
of myself." There were groans of disappointment from the
first years and light laughter from the rest. "Aye, you all
know the tricks by now." He told the others with a grin.
"They know this. This speech is a bit of a tradition too."
He told the now-smiling first years. "There are important
things to tell you and the secret is the proof of them."
With a deep sigh, the Hufflepuff prefect stood, walking
around behind the coffee table to stand silhouetted in the firelight.
"First off, never and I do mean never hang your head because
you're in Hufflepuff. And don't ever be ashamed of our colors.
Black and yellow. Black is where we start, the dark of night,
the dark of mother's womb; it's where everybody begins. But we
grow and we learn and we find our light, shed our own, as time passes.
That's the yellow. We'll never, any of us in the world, reach
that white light, for it belongs to whatever you want to call that great,
unknown deity that created us all. Impossible to reach that light
and foolish to try, so we'll try instead for the brightest light we
can; our yellow. And maybe we do look like a bumblebee's
bum, but we know what they mean."
There was a murmur of approval from the new students and
quiet hums of pleasure from the not-so-new students and the soft sound
of contentment filled the room for a moment until the prefect spoke
again. "Second, we're not the brightest students. If
we were, we'd be in Ravenclaw and it's best we know that now."
He moved to the mantle and plucked a quill from one of the clay pots.
He held it up for a moment before popping the feathery tip into his
mouth. There was a general outcry of disgust from several of the
first years, but many smiled and the others took their cues from the
rest of their Housemates. "It's a sugar quill, so relax."
The young man said, removing the treat from his mouth. "It's
the only pot in the room that has them and we all, third year and above,
pitch in to fill it when we can. Because we all need the comfort
and reassurance of caring and good times at some time and most
especially in these times. The rest of them," he gestured
to the room behind them, "are all real and we pitch in with that
as well." He gestured with the quill toward the ceiling.
"The lights that shine on us are moving models of the stars, we'll
see them all again in Astronomy and the plants," his gaze swept
the room, "are plants that we'll find in Herbology classes.
Like I said, we're not the cleverest of the lot, but we're known for
our hard work because we work hard." There was silence
as one and all studied the room; some with new eyes and some with old
"Loyalty and steadfastness." The silence
finally broke. "You'll never have to ask twice for help or
for understanding. We've all been there, we'll all be in those places
again." As he spoke, a pale shape loomed out of the floor.
"This is Friar Waire, for those of you who don't know. And
he'll always be here to help you around the castle, with your homework,
or with anything else you can think of. He's been here since the
fifteen-thirties and he'll be here even in the thirty-thirties. Hufflepuffs
are true, forever. There's never been a dark witch or wizard who
was Hufflepuff and there won't be. Some of us come from dark backgrounds,
I think, but it doesn't matter now because now you're one of us, working
towards the light with the rest of us, so leave that behind you."
There were wide smiles as the prefect moved to stand next
to the badger he'd pointed out earlier. "I showed you her
earlier and told you to remember that she was our pride; she's our proof
that we're all I've said we are." He patted her head, "She's
Helga, named for the creator of our House and of our sett."
At the word 'sett' a hidden door opened. "Follow me."
He smiled and walked through, the first years crowding behind him eagerly,
almost as eagerly as the others. "Now, for those of you who
don't know, a sett is a badger den. Rooms and tunnels and entrance
holes. We've got twenty-seven exits and sixty rooms. We'll
finish room number sixty-one this year." He walked to the
wall where the first room branched into two more rooms, one of which
was larger than the whole of the common room with a high ceiling.
He beamed. "These first three chambers were made by Helga
Hufflepuff herself. Nobody knows about this except
Hufflepuffs. And every seven years since we've finished another
room, corridor or exit. Every room has a map and all the corridors
and exits are coded; by color, flower, animal, constellation, you name
it. It takes patience and planning and a lot of hard work by everyone.
You first years start by hauling away dirt, covertly so that this stays
secret. Everybody starts in the dark, remember, and you move up,
gain your light, as the years pass. Eventually you'll be in on
the mapping of the corridors, the lay of the rooms, decorating, finding
sites to dig and place rooms, tunnels and exits, and the planning of
what comes next. Everything takes time and patience in supreme
amounts; none of these tunnels or rooms or exits is known outside of
Hufflepuff. Some of the tunnels go over other common rooms, as
near as we can figure, but they can't hear us and we make sure that
we can't hear them either. Fair is fair. You'll learn the
ropes as time goes and we'll always be here to help each other."
"Now normally we wouldn't be planning another room
or tunnel yet, but last year was...special." He looked down,
swallowing hard. "Last year we lost on of our own to You-Know-Who.
Cedric Diggory," his voice failed for a moment, "Ced
was everything a Hufflepuff could be. He made Hogwarts Champion
in the Triwizard Tournament. And though the papers sort of ignored
everything, you can read the whole story--a lot of it from Cedric himself--in
the sixty-first room. Before you get angry, as a lot of
us did, you can't blame Harry Potter. Cedric Diggory liked him
and thought well of him. He said Harry was a good bloke and you
can trust a Hufflepuff. The same goes for Cho Chang. She
was Cedric's girl and we'll look after her as Cedric would have wanted,
alright?" He nodded sharply. "Anyway, like I said,
normally we'd not start planning until next year, those in the seventh
form choose the project, but we voted on our last day of last year.
To honor Cedric, to honor us all, we're going to make a tunnel out to
the Quidditch pitch. As best we know it's where he died, but more
importantly, most importantly, it's a place he lived."
The prefect stood a moment longer before leading his house
back to the common room. "It's almost time for dinner, so
clean up, pack up your books and get ready to go out, Hufflepuffs."
Twenty-seven exits, sixty-one rooms
Note on the Fat Friar: Friar Waire was a real person,
though who he was is open to some debate. In any case, he certainly
did exist and though his true identity was never fixed we do know that
he was tortured and died at St. Thomas Waterings in Camberwell on 9
December 1539 or 9 January 1538/9 (the dating is also a bit confusing
in the matter) and that he died along with four others martyrs in that
time and place. I thought that the confusion over the name of
the man (Mayer, Waire, Wyer) and his order made him perfect for our
friar. ^.^ My info came from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15525a.htm