House Category: Hufflepuff
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Nymphadora Tonks, Hannah Abbott, Professor Sprout, with mentions of other canon Puffs and a few OCs
Beta Reader(s): sigrundora
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Note: This was my first time writing most of these characters, so I really hope I did them justice!
Summary: When Tonks pays a quick visit to her old Common Room, she starts to remember what it is that makes her a Hufflepuff. Set right before the Battle of Hogwarts.
They slipped through the castle quietly and stealthily. Despite the air of foreboding surrounding them, the halls were strangely empty.
"It's been so long since I've been back here," Nymphadora Tonks whispered to the young blonde girl next to her.
"Me, too," Hannah Abbott whispered back. Her voice held a tinge of regret, but it was expected. She had left Hogwarts in a rush last year after her mum had been murdered by Death Eaters.
"I'm sorry," Tonks said, "about what happened to your mum."
"She'd want me to be here," Hannah said. "She'd want me to fight. But what of you? I heard you have a baby now. You're really okay with leaving him?"
Tonks shrugged, a combination of sadness and determination flashing across her face. "I can't let him grow up in a world like this. I owe it to him to try and change things."
Hannah didn't answer, just reached out, took Tonks' hand and squeezed it gently.
Together, they slipped down the corridor toward the kitchens, and for a second, Tonks was lost in time. Everything looked just as she remembered it, including the stack of large barrels that held the entrance to the Hufflepuff Common Room.
As Hannah lifted her hand, tapped her fingers in a familiarly comforting rhythm, Tonks closed her eyes, memories rushing back.
The day she arrived in the Hufflepuff Common Room for the first time — September first of 1985 — she was black-haired and bitter.
"I was supposed to be in Slytherin," she kept telling herself and anyone who would listen. "That Sorting Hat is a prat."
Her dormmates were too smiley, too friendly, too nice. She hated them on principle.
She opened her trunk and threw things across the room, the clunk they made as they slammed into the walls and the bed not doing much to make her feel any better.
"My whole family is a Slytherin," she moaned. "Or a Gryffindor. There's one of those, too. Why not me? Why not? Why am I not good enough?"
She flopped on her bed, feeling like her whole life was over.
She saw one of her dormmate's heads pop up over the top of her own trunk that she was unpacking. She thought her name was Shannon, but she wasn't sure. She also didn't really care.
"Not everyone can be a Hufflepuff," her dormmate said quietly. "We're just as special as they all are."
Tonks just snorted.
Crawling down the passageway and then climbing out into the Common Room was like coming home. Overstuffed sofas and couches in yellow and black. Burnished copper lamps casting a soft, warm glow over everything. Copper pots filled with all sorts of plants, some singing softly, some moving their branches in a gentle wave.
Outside the circular windows, the night sky was inky black, but Tonks could just make out the soft glow of the night stars high above.
It was hard to tell, at first glance, that a battle was about to take place.
Until she looked closer.
Instead of students seated on the couches, with quills and textbooks spread across their laps, there were piles of blankets and strips of cloth. Bandages, Tonks guessed. On the tables was a collection of food that towered unevenly.
Two younger students were desperately trying to prevent the piles from falling.
Various students, dressed in their robes and their yellow and black ties, were rushing back and forth. Their faces were serious and intent, focused on their work.
For a second, Tonks and Hannah went unnoticed as they stood by the passageway and watched the scene unfold in front of them.
Then, one by one, their housemates began to notice them.
"Hannah!" Ernie Macmillan shouted. He came flying across the room to grab her in a bear hug, spinning her around.
An echo of cries seemed to rise up from every corner of the room, even from the doorways that led to the dormitories.
Tonks turned toward the warm greeting. Professor Sprout, her hair a little grayer than Tonks remembered, her eyes a little more tired, her face a little more wrinkled, stood beside her, her arms full of what looked like old robes in a variety of colors.
But before Tonks could react, Professor Sprout had tossed them aside and gathered Tonks in a warm embrace.
"It is so good to see you, my dear, so good. Even if it is under such unfortunate circumstances."
"Nymphadora, may I see you for a minute?"
It was October the first, exactly one month after Tonks had been sorted. Her hair was still as dark as midnight, her face still in an almost permanent scowl.
She hated the world. She even tried unsuccessfully to get Professor Dumbledore to trade her to a new house, but he wouldn't hear of it.
It wasn't even so much that she hated her house. Her housemates, by all means, were pretty amazing. They were nice to her, even though she gave them no reason to be. They left her alone when they thought she needed space. They talked with her when they thought she was lonely. They tried their hardest to get to know her, especially her dormmate Shannon.
But she just couldn't shake this feeling that she was meant for more than Hufflepuff.
"I know that you feel you don't belong, dear," Professor Sprout started.
Tonks shrugged, still scowling. "I don't."
Professor Sprout pursed her lips and pressed the tips of her fingers together.
"Do you not think you are hard working?" she asked.
Tonks shrugged again. "No, I am."
"Do you not think you are a fair person?"
"Oh, no, I'm definitely that." Living with her parents, and watching the way they had been treated by the rest of the family, had ensured that.
"Do you not think you are a good, caring person?"
"Of course I am."
"But you don't think you are a Hufflepuff."
It wasn't a question.
"I just think …" Tonks trailed off, not sure how to say what she needed to say. "I just think I'm more than all that. I'm cunning. I am. I'm brave. I'm resourceful. I'm mischievous. … I'm more than this."
Professor Sprout peered at her for a long time without speaking. Tonks fiddled with the edge of her robe, her face suddenly flushing pink from embarrassment.
Finally Professor Sprout spoke. "Just because you're a Hufflepuff," she said, "doesn't mean you aren't any of those other things."
Tonks just rolled her eyes.
Ernie was pointing out the preparations to Hannah and Tonks. He appeared to be in charge.
"We have no idea what is going to happen," he said. "But we want to be prepared."
"Plus we're totally starving and we were afraid the house elves were going to make a run for it," piped up Megan Jones, who was munching on a pastry.
"Yeah," Ernie agreed. "That, too."
Hannah laughed. "I've missed you all so much."
Tonks smiled, silently agreeing with her. The vibe in the Hufflepuff Common Room was so different than the one they had just left behind in the Room of Requirement. There, it was an air of determination mixed with anxiety, fear mixed with courage. This was different, a softer sort of courage, draped in bits of laughter and gentle smiles.
"Aren't any of you scared?" Tonks asked Ernie.
It was Megan who answered. "Oh, no, we're scared," she said. "Petrified, actually."
"But if we're going down," Justin Finch-Fletchley said. He, too, was standing by Megan, eating a cupcake. "We're going down together."
The other Puffs in the room nodded their assent.
It was November the first, exactly two months after Tonks was sorted and one month after her talk with Professor Sprout. The bitterness had faded a touch and, with it, the stern blackness of her hair. Today, it was changing from a dark black to a mousy brown to an occasional burst of other colors.
Unfortunately for Tonks, she still hadn't quite learned to control it, and even more unfortunately, the other students found it hilarious.
Right now, two large fifth years were leering at her, pointing at her changing hair.
"What a loser!" one of them sneered. The other nodded and laughed.
Tonks glared. She flew to her feet, her wand clenched tightly in her hand.
The one who had called her a loser cackled. "I thought Hufflepuffs were too weak to fight," he mocked.
A voice came from behind Tonks.
Tonks whirled. There behind her, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, wands outstretched, stood eight of her housemates, including Shannon.
"Call her a loser again and we'll show you who the loser is," Jonathon Madley said. Jonathon was almost seven feet tall. He glared. Tonks' two attackers took a step backward.
They never bothered her again.
"So, we've been practicing fighting," a little fourth year, Eleanor Branstone, was telling Hannah and Tonks proudly. She was barely five feet tall, but her enthusiasm was contagious.
She recounted the secret practicing they did at night when the professors thought they were sleeping. Professor Sprout pretended not to hear.
"It's come in handy," Ernie said. He pulled back the sleeve of his robe to show off a long, red scar.
"Fighting with the Carrows," he said proudly. "I won."
Megan rolled her eyes. "No, he didn't," she told Hannah and Tonks. Justin laughed.
"I did," Ernie insisted. At his housemate's dubious looks, he sighed. "I'm still alive, aren't I?"
"There is that," Justin said.
"So I won."
"If you say so." But Justin was smiling.
It was December the first, exactly three months after Tonks was sorted, two months after her talk with Professor Sprout and one month after her housemates had defended her honor.
Her hair was now a bright cotton candy pink, her scowl more often than not a smile. She spent more time in the Common Room than moping in the dormitory.
But there was something that was on her mind, and had been for days.
"I need to ask you something," she said suddenly. Her three dormmates — and also three of her new best friends — all stopped talking and looked at her, waited for her to continue.
"Last month," she said. "when … when those guys were bothering me, you defended me. Why? I never gave you any reason to. I wasn't even really nice to you. I didn't deserve it."
Shannon answered almost immediately.
"You would have done the same for us," she said simply, as though it were the most logical explanation in the world.
"You don't know that."
"Yes, I do."
"How?" Tonks challenged. "How do you know that?"
"Because it's who we are," she said. "And it's who you are, too."
Ernie's tale of prowess and fearlessness was interrupted by a soft clearing of a throat.
The occupants of the Hufflepuff Common Room, as one, all stopped what they were doing and looked up.
"It's time," Professor Sprout said quietly. "Professor McGonagall wants everyone in the Great Hall now."
"I'm not leaving Hogwarts," Ernie said staunchly. "If they want me to leave, they are going to have to take me by force. I am not leaving."
"Exactly!" Justin said, stopping his foot for emphasis.
Hannah, beside him, nodded her head in agreement, as did most of the students standing behind her.
Professor Sprout smiled at all of them. "Hogwarts is lucky to have you all."
Hannah shrugged. "Hogwarts is our home. These people are our family."
Professor Sprout just nodded. "Yes, they are. Now, let's go, everyone. After Nymphadora."
Tonks took a deep breath. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen. The only thing they could do now was face it.
She tightened her fingers around her wand and headed toward the passageway. The members of Hufflepuff House followed into line behind her.
"Badger claws out," Tonks called back just before she stepped into the passageway.
"Oh, don't worry," she heard Hannah answer. "Our claws are always out."