Last time we looked at how putting Hogwarts students into houses creates a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the environment they are placed in, the expectations of others and the student’s beliefs about themselves create the very characteristics they are proclaimed to have. We saw how putting Harry into Slytherin house and letting him stew with a bunch of evildoers turned him into a monster worthy of Salazar Slytherin himself. But what of the other two houses?
There’s never any suggestion that Harry might have ended up in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, but hey, its fun to hypothesise what might have happened. Let’s start with caring, kind, hard-working Hufflepuff. How would donning the yellow and black have impacted young Harry’s development, and the fate of the wizarding world?
I promise this one won’t be as dark as the Slytherin one.
All Harry knows about Hufflepuff house when he starts school is that “Everyone thinks they’re a load of duffers” according to Hagrid and Draco Malfoy would rather leave the school than be selected as one. So he can’t have been too excited about the prospect. And yet the words of the sorting hat give him heart as he sits down on the Hufflepuff table and is warmly greeted by his new housemates, many of whom can’t quite believe it themselves.
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil
That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Being a just, loyal person who knows the value of hard work is a prediction he can get behind, even if he doesn’t excel academically (which he never expected himself to anyway). So Harry relaxes into his first few days, quickly making friends with his affable fellow first years including Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Hannah Abbot, enjoying having good friends for the first time in his life. He probably remains close with Ron too, who has no particular dislike of Hufflepuffs and is still a natural companion to Harry. Encouraged by how quickly he seems to be fitting in to the wizarding world and loving each new discovery in his classes Harry becomes a sociable, cheerful young lad and the Boy Who Lived earns himself many friends and admirers, and a reputation for just being a really nice guy.
Fighting the Stereotype
During his first term Harry struggles to come to terms with the stereotype of Hufflepuffs as being a bit dim. Throughout the books we see that Gryffindor Harry does fairly well in class whenever he puts his mind to it, proving capable of mastering advanced magic like the patronus charm when he sees it as important. So in his first few weeks Harry eagerly studies up, determined to prove the doubters wrong and show that Hufflepuffs can be smart. And his reasonable level of natural ability and the fact that he is still eagerly lapping up anything to do with magic earns him some initial success. But sooner or later he is going to run into a class project or homework assignment that really taxes him. It will probably come from the potions class, since Harry was never great at it anyway, and Snape would be only too happy to try and humiliate Harry by setting him extra work in order to prove his ignorance.
So let’s say Harry gets set an essay on the brewing of some especially tricky potion and can’t get his head around it. What did Gryffindor Harry do when faced with work that as too hard? Ask Hermione, or copy her answers without her knowing. This isn’t an option for Hufflepuff Harry, so he asks his fellow Hufflepuffs what they think. And they don’t have a clue either. Moreover, they tell him not to worry about it, it’s only a silly essay, what good are potions anyway, stop being a nerd and come and play guess the every flavour bean. With a shrug and a laugh Harry abandons his work and spends the evening messing around with his buddies.
Next potions class Harry hands in his essay with trepidation and Snape, noticing his fear, takes the opportunity to humiliate him further- reading out his essay to the entire class and remarking over the derisive laughter of the Slytherins that “fame clearly isn’t everything.” Distraught, Harry runs back to the Hufflepuff common room, where a group of older Hufflepuffs console him, saying that a few bad marks never did them any harm, that getting a verbal beatdown from Snape is something of a rite of passage in their house and that there’s more to life than doing well at school. The young, optimistic Harry takes their advice and feels much better, but can’t shake the feeling that maybe he isn’t cut out for schoolwork after all. So next time Harry encounters a class that he finds too challenging it confirms his fears and he withdraws, not believing he has the mental ability to figure the problem out and so leaving it unsolved to go and play quiddich or something. There’s more to life than studying, after all.
This mentality slowly creates a cycle of reduced engagement with his studies leading to a lower level of success. He becomes distracted in class and his grades start to slip. But Harry doesn’t really care- he’s having a great time at Hogwarts and his friends don’t think any less of him for not doing well in class. So long as he tries his best, they say, that’s all that matters.
Trolls and Trolls
Harry’s view of himself as a friendly, fun loving guy who doesn’t need intellectual ability to do well in life is firmly established by the end of his first weeks. There are a few name callers- mostly Slytherins- who enjoy spreading the rumour that Harry suffered brain damage when he was attacked by Voldemort as a baby, but Harry doesn’t pay them any attention. Ain’t no silly class trolls gonna get him down.
Speaking of trolls, come Halloween Harry hears whispers that one of the Gryffindor girls- Hermione Granger- is crying in the girl’s toilets after overhearing some of the Gryffindor boys saying horrid things about her. Hufflepuff Harry is probably on fairly friendly terms with Hermione- he’s friends with everyone-and Hufflepuff has brought out his natural desire to look after people, so he heads to the girls loo to try and cheer her up.
No sooner has he arrived in the dungeons than the troll bursts in, trapping them both. Terrified, Harry racks his brain for a useful spell that can help them escape. He recalls the levitation charm that they were learning earlier and, legs trembling, draws his wand, squares up to the troll and casts the spell.
…Except that he wasn’t paying attention in Charm’s class and didn’t hear Flitwick’s warning not to say S instead of F, and the Boy Who Lived is crushed to death beneath the bewildered bulk of a buffalo.
Happily Ever After
……Ok, I know I said I wouldn’t make this one as dark as the Slytherin one, so bear with me. What happens if Harry dies? Well, not a lot, really. If you think about it, Harry going through the trapdoor on the third floor and fighting his way to the Mirror of Erised actually doesn’t achieve very much. Even if Harry never shows up, Quirrell/Voldemort still have no way of getting the Philosopher’s Stone. So they’d still be there trying to figure it out when Dumbledore got back. And Quirrell would be no match for Dumbledore and would be defeated and imprisoned with Voldy still attached to the back of his head. I bet he had a fun time in Azkaban with the dark lord shouting abuse at him every time he took his turban off in the shower. Assuming there are showers in Azkaban.
So Harry being unable to turn up and interfere due to being pulped underneath an African plains-grazer is actually the best thing that could’ve happened for the wizarding world. No return of the Dark Lord. And no more teaching spells to first years where mispronouncing a single letter results in instant death.
One of Many Ends
So there you go. Harry’s life as a Hufflepuff gets cut tragically short. You know what I just realised? There’s no F in wingardium leviosa. So you can’t say S instead of F. So Flitwick was talking out of his ass. Can’t believe I never noticed that. Unless he meant F instead of S. Oh well, I’ve written it now and I’m not going back on it.
Right from the first moment I decided to do a “What if Harry was a Hufflepuff” story I knew that it would end with Harry’s untimely death. But Liz and I thought of loads of hilarious ways for our would-be hero to meet his end and we wouldn’t want any of them going to waste, now would we? So I am pleased to announce a new series of posts for A Bunch of Stuff taking you through Harry’s school life and all the moments when he was called upon to show his bravery, strength and determination…but he didn’t.
Stay tuned for The Many Deaths of Hufflepuff Harry.