Hufflepuffs are widely regarded as stupid and only capable of lowly work. Despite the Sorting Hat's reassurances of Hufflepuff's good qualities: loyalty, hard-working and unbreakable spirits, the bad similes fall like rain upon the black and yellow house.

Hufflepuffs are stupid.

Hufflepuffs are a load of duffers.

Malfoy claimed that he would sooner die than end up in Hufflepuff.

They are all blind. If Hufflepuffs were as stupid as the tales claim them, the House would not survive. There is a reason why the Hufflepuff House turns out more Aurors every year than the other Houses put together. And Hufflepuffs stand their ground.

The Hufflepuffs refusal to let go, to give up, is evidenced in many places. If not for that stubbornness, Neville Longbottom wouldn't still be breathing. His mother, Alice, was a Hufflepuff. She became an Auror after her graduation, married Frank Longbottom, and had children. A happy life, it might be thought. It would have been, if not for Bellatrix Black. Neville Longbottom would have grown up a happy and healthy child, if not for Bellatrix Black.

They never stopped screaming.

Had the Hufflepuff stubbornness not kicked in, Neville would still be screaming too. If Alice had not refused to let Bellatrix Black through the door to the nursery, Neville would have been killed. No one but a true Hufflepuff would have stood their ground for so long. In the face of Bellatrix Black's insane laughter, even the bravest would have cowered. But Alice didn't. Confronted with the torture of her husband, she shut her ears to his insane gibberish and did what every proud Hufflepuff would have. She stood her ground.

Bones. Always bones. Bones and blood and marrow, the price for stubbornness and loyalty. Screaming fits and fractured minds are the aftermath of war, a bleak procession of crosses. The names on the graves are friends, relatives, your own. Susan Bones will always have nightmares. But when she is called, she will grasp her wand and not let go until the last minute has passed. She will look after her own. She will be loyal.

She will die for what is hers. But she will not die with a whimper. The badger has claws.

Brave.

Intelligent.

Cunning.

Loyal.

Slytherins are cunning, and with time, they learn artful. Gryffindors are brave, so brave, and so protective of their friends. Ravenclaws are intelligent, but only a precious few are wise.

But Hufflepuffs are loyal. Bravery will turn to cowardice, cunning will become so sharp they cut themselves, and only the wise will remember, but loyalty will never change, will never fail. Upon a fierce loyalty and a determination to do everything for it, bravery will beat in vain, artfulness will be no help, and intelligence will go to waste.

Loyalty. Unafraid of toil. So few are the good things to be said about Hufflepuffs. The only way to know otherwise is to be Hufflepuff. But if the good things said about Hufflepuffs are few, the good things that come of them are plenty indeed.

No Hufflepuff will be remembered with such reverence as Cedric. He does not even need a last name. Even if he wasn't the best student, or the best flyer, or even the best friend, he is remembered with sorrow in the Hufflepuff House. He was the Hogwarts Champion, no matter how much Harry Potter might have come after.

Take the thing you'll sorely miss....

Wasn't that how the rhyme went, during the Tournament? Cedric was claimed by Voldemort, and not the lake-people, but the concept is hauntingly familiar. Like any Hufflepuff, he stood his ground. He took the Cup together with Harry Potter, instead of taking it alone. The choice he made became his death. The question that plagues the Hufflepuffs, to whom Cedric was a friend, a brother, a leading light, and Harry Potter, is simple.

What if?

What if Cedric had chosen to take the Cup alone? It would not have changed anything but this: The world would not have known of Voldemort's return.

What if Harry Potter had claimed the Cup for himself? Would Cedric still be alive?

Doubtful. In a world where the difference between life and death might well be a simple word, Cedric would have died anyway. Because he would not let Harry Potter go alone. The Hufflepuff loyalty would have made the latter choice impossible. In a million parallel universes, Cedric made the same choice.

Put in his place, all Hufflepuffs would do the same.

Bravery is a wonderful thing, but loyalty lasts longer.