Disclaimer: - Harry Potter and all related characters, items, and magical spells belong totally and fully to the fantastic JKRowling. This fic is purely made for my personal pleasure and is not meant to offend, ridicule or reduce the wonderful works of Ms Rowling whatsoever.
Ok with that out of the way enjoy!
The way of the badger
Chapter 1: - Introductions
Ernie was literally thrown off the Hogwarts express and onto the platform of Hogsmead station by the mull of students that pushed against him. He still hadn't got the hang of this perfect lark even though it was his second year doing it, unlike his fellow Hufflepuff female counterpart Hannah Abbot who was enjoying her prefect duties immensely. Hannah had wanted to be a prefect since their first year and always claimed the powers that came with the job was just an added bonus! But Ernie suspected differently. He and Hannah where complete opposites, she was shy and reserved, apart from when she was performing her prefect duties and Ernie had always been outspoken and a little flamboyant, again apart from when he was acting as a prefect.
"A great start to the year this is!" Ernie mumbled to himself as he rubbed his now cut palms as he sat sprawled on the station's cold damp surface, as the other students made their way to the carriages and Hagrid led the first years towards the boats.
"Need some help you wuss?" Ernie heard a voice call across the dimly lit platform, Ernie smiled, the voice belonged to Zacharias Smith, another sixth year Hufflepuff and one of Ernie's room mates, Zach offered Ernie his hand and pulled his friend to his feet, Ernie winced as his palms began to sting.
"Thanks" Ernie said as he surveyed the damage to his hands "and enough of the wuss will you! Granger already thinks I'm not prefect material"
"I shouldn't worry too much about her" Justin Finch-Fletchley said as he and Susan Bones headed over to Ernie and Zach, "She can't take your badge away from you and she'll never kick up a fuss, not with the red moron as her counterpart" the four Hufflepuff's laughed at their friends nickname for Ron Weasley.
Hufflepuff students where always thought of as being kind and caring and in most cases they where, but even a badger couldn't help but change especially after certain events that had happened to all the sixth formers over their years at Hogwarts, these events had made five loveable badgers further from the canon characteristics of their house as possible.
"Granger's always got a bee in her bonnet about something" Susan said sagely "Remember last year when she started that silly little society....What was it called......SAPS?"
"SPEW" Justin corrected her,
"SAPS where the people who joined" Zach said laughing at his own joke
"Any way" Susan said glaring at her friend "the point is she isn't happy unless she's the centre of attention and controlling things"
"Like most females then!" Zach said happily and received a kick in the shins for his efforts. The four friends waited as the platform cleared and Hannah finally joined them,
"Sorry" she apologised breathlessly "Neville lost his toad again"
"That bloody thing" Zach said scathingly as the five friends headed towards the carriages "I'm going to use that for one of my potions project one day" The girls both shot Zach horrified looks as they rounded the stations gates to find one solitary thestral driven carriage waiting for them.
"I still can't see them" Justin grumbled as they headed towards the carriage,
"Do you really want to?" Ernie asked turning slightly pale at the thought of the only way a person could see a thestral,
"Yeah! Wouldn't you?" Justin said enthusiastically as he climbed into the carriage behind Zach and the girls,
"Not really, no" Ernie mumbled as he climbed in behind his friend, but then again Ernie didn't share his Muggle born friends fascination with magical animals.
As soon as the door was closed the carriage pulled away and the five friends where finally heading back to Hogwarts for their sixth year at the school.
"Your late" Professor McGonagall called as she saw the sixth year badgers climbing out of their carriage in front of the castle's huge oak doors
"We were waiting for Hannah, Neville's T-" Ernie began but McGonagall didn't want to know,
"Five points each from Hufflepuff for your tardiness. And consider yourself let off lightly. Prefects are supposed to set an example for their fellow students what sort of example do you think being late shows the younger children, Mr Macmillan?" McGonagall said all this as she gazed across the schools grounds towards the lake where several small lights could be seen drifting across its moonlit surface,
"Hurry up!" the deputy headmistress snapped as the five friends shot passed her and made their way into the great hall where the rest of the school was now assembled at their respective tables.
"She's as bad as Snape" Hannah hissed as the sixth years found their seats at the Hufflepuff table,
"You just don't like her because you failed your transfiguration OWL" Susan said reminding her friend of her practical exam where she had accidentally changed her test subject into a flock of flamingos.
Justin tried unsuccessfully to hide his very broad grin; the image of their then self appointed headmistress screaming herself literally purple as the birds fouled the great hall repetitively was an image that Justin would remember forever.
Hannah however hated the reminder that she had cracked under the pressure of taking her exams last year,
"Thanking you so very kindly for the flash back Suzie" Hannah hissed as Susan laughed and hugged her best friend,
"I'm sorry Han"
"Yeah we all are. We'll miss you in Transfiguration this year" Zach said sounding uncharacteristically concerned "What else are we going to laugh at without you blowing your subjects up!" Zach laughed out loud.
"Thanks" Hannah said as both girls gave Zach a warning look.
Zacharias Smith was the only member of the sixth year badgers that was on the house Quidditch team, he played in the position of a chaser and because of this he thought of himself as Merlin's gift to women, even though his four friends knew otherwise.
"You do have to admit that despite the occasional combustions, you where still pretty lame at transfiguration" Justin said idly as he ran his hands through his hair.
Where Zach thought of himself as a ladies man, Justin was. Justin Finch-Fletchley was for his age very good looking; he had short curly brown hair and a very definitive jaw line, and was the sole heir to a vast fortune, albeit a Muggle fortune. Justin however was more interested in his studies then girls and had in fact been one of the main contributors to Hannah having to be medicated during the build up to their exams the previous year. Justin had been in the habit of comparing how many hours he studied each day to others around him and he quickly developed the knack of being able to make those who studied less then himself feel stupid in comparison, however unintentional this had been.
"Again thanks, guys" Susan said in reply to Justin's comments as she rubbed Hannah's arm reassuringly, "You're about as useful as Ernie in a brothel!"
"Keep it down!" Ernie hissed, this was still a tender subject between the five friends, at the end of the summer term Ernie had outed himself, and although he had been relatively pleased by his four friends reactions he wasn't willing to let the entire school know his secret just yet, and no way in Muggle hell was he willing to let his pure blood family found out.
"So how's your latest obsession then Suzie?" Justin asked changing the subject,
"He's looking gorgeous as always!" Susan said smiling to herself as she glanced up at the teachers table as Justin, Ernie and Zach all made gagging noises. Susan's 'Latest obsession' had been another revelation from the end of last term; this however was more shocking then the fact that one of their room mates was guy. Susan had revealed that she in fact fancied their Potions master, Professor Severus Snape, the most hated teacher in the entire school was the man that Susan Bones had set her heart on. Zach's explanation of this was that even though Susan was by far the prettiest badger in the house, she was if truth be told a little tapped in the head.
The boys left Susan drooling over the head of Slytherin house as they discussed more manly things such as the brightness of the table cloth and how hideous Gryffindors golden boy Harry Potter looked this year. Slating Harry was one of Zach's favourite activities and he never grew bored of it even though his friends did.
Zach had always claimed that the rivalry that he imagined between himself and Harry Potter was due to the fact that they both had similar personalities; Hannah however believed it was because Zach was a competitive git, and that he was jealous of the fame and notoriety that Harry had. That and the fact that lots of girls fancied Harry.
The entire four house tables suddenly fell silent as Gryffindor's head of house, Professor McGonagall entered the hall and announced that the new first years where about to arrive. This was the sixth years favourite part of the feast, as they loved to scrutinise the new first years and try to figure out which house each kid would be sorted into before the sorting hat declared it.
"That one definitely looks like Slytherin material" Ernie said wisely as he indicated the thin boy at the head of the first years "His eyes are too close together"
"That one will end up with us" Susan said sounding slightly disgusted as she blatantly pointed to a sickly looking girl with mousy blond hair which was set in pigtails
"Merlin I hope not!" Justin said in real shock "She's waving to the Creevey brothers!" any other comments that the friends may have said where cut off by the start of the sorting hats song,
I'm the sorting hat you see
I'll let you know where you should be
Four houses all with different traits
In each house you'll find your mates
My decisions final so don't try to disagree
The Founders four, they gave to me
An understanding of what should be
My words put into song
I've never been wrong
The different traits now we shall see,
Gryffindor was strong and brave
I'll list the traits that he did crave,
He valued boldness, daring and bravery,
This leads them protesting house elf slavery,
The traits of this house leads to many who are fun and like to misbehave
"He missed out the fact that their Dumbledore's golden house and can get away with anything!" Zacharias sneered
"Shusssh" Hannah whispered
Ravenclaw was a clever bird
She valued those wise in word
Wit and learning is her kin
Cleverness and wisdom from within
These are the traits Ravenclaw preferred,
"Oh that's a disappointment" Zacharias said "He could have easily have worked nerd into that"
"Zach I'm warning you!"
Slytherin was an ambitious man
He prided himself on his clan
Cunningness, shrewdness and power
These are the traits this house empowers
Salazar started all this which has now began
"Bit of an understatement there!" Justin whispered to Zacharias
"Will you two shut up we're next" the friends fell silent,
Hufflepuff was as sweet and gentle as clover
Hard-working to the end she was a drover
Traits of these students are kindness, hard-working, loyal, and being just
This is the house you can all depend on and trust
Hufflepuff house is the one which you'll always win over
The friends jaws all dropped,
"Did he just say what I thought he did" Zacharias asked not believing his own ears
"Win over" repeated Susan bitterly
"Translation" Ernie said balling his fists "Means he thinks we're all push overs!"
"Is that really what people see us as" Hannah asked indignantly
"Shusssh" Professor sprout hissed from the teachers table urging her house to settle down But even though the Hufflepuff students did fall quiet, the sixth form couldn't quite rid themselves of the feeling of indignation that they mutually felt inside. The sorting hat continued with his song regardless of the feelings that he had stirred up in the Hufflepuffs
Heed my words and listen to my plea
Four can not divide into three
Horrors are bound and darkness will come
Try hard and don't let yourselves succumb
And soon you'll find that you too will agree
Friends are one thing you can not buy
No matter how hard some might try
The knowledge you gain
Will be your strength not your bane
Join as one or all may be lost and die
The hall fell silent until the students realised the song was over and they all burst into a loud applause, all that was apart from five badgers.