Disclaimer: HP not mine, yar.

Now, don't get me wrong - I love Hufflepuffs. Hell, I'm pretty sure that if Hogwarts was real and I was an eleven year old English witch, I'd be Sorted into Hufflepuff. (As it is, Hogwarts is only real in one's imagination, I'm eighteen, utterly mundane, and I'm an American, so no luck with the Hufflepuffage.)

I heart Ron madly.

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Being around Harry…it's almost like courting death, you know? Well, maybe not death, exactly – Harry's pretty good at keeping his friends alive, even if we do tend to get into loads of trouble – but definitely change. Maybe a death of who you were before you met him, of who you might have been.

Adults don't get the full effect of his presence, I don't think, probably because most of them don't bother actually talking to him – he's either a hero or a nuisance to most of 'em. But people our age who spend time around him…they change.

Take Hermione, for instance. Back in our first year, she was a completely friendless stickler for rules, a know-it-all of the worst sort. Authority was spelled with a capital A and teachers were gods to us mere mortal students, and we children were at Hogwarts to learn and stay out of trouble. Expulsion was a fateworse than death and adventures were best left to others.

Since we saved her from that troll, Hermione's helped us in countless law-breaking activities, and now she's agreed to ditch an entire year of school to try and save the world. Talk about change, right?

And an adult – not that we're not close enough to being adults as it is – but an adult might think Harry and I've corrupted her or something, destroyed her...her, I dunno, potential.

We haven't, not really. We've just shown her what's important. Friends, family, laughter and living – all more important than grades and rules. S'just how it is, and it took me and Harry to make her realize it.

And then there's me.

I was…I was an insecure, jealous little bugger. Not always, but the first few years that I knew him, the specter of Harry's fame haunted me. I couldn't ever fully commit to our friendship, because I didn't just want to be his friend – I wanted to be him.

I wanted money and fame and respect, and it grated at me, always playing second fiddle, being the idiot sidekick while Harry got worshiped.

But he and Hermione…well, I think I might have ended up a bit like Percy without them. Percy and I, we used to have a lot in common, though I'd never have admitted it. We both wanted power, I think, and we both wanted recognition. He just never learned that some things are more important.

I have.

I swear, Harry's turned me into a right Hufflepuff – I'm even risking Mum's wrath to leave Hogwarts and go trotting around the globe searching for horcruxes. Because he's shown me – though never intentionally, never knowingly – that some things are more important than me.

A few years ago, when I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw myself as Head Boy and Quidditch Captain. That's when I was still a midget first year, or rather, a first-class moron. I measured myself against my brothers, and desperately wanted to be the best of them all.

Without Harry and Hermione, I'd be like that still. But now…now I think if I looked in the Mirror, I'd see us all safe and happy. The war'd be over and the darkness in Harry's eyes would be gone, Mum wouldn't look so pale and worried all the time, and Dad'd lose that pinched look and those extra lines around his mouth.

A right Hufflepuff, I am. Now I just want the people I love to be safe, and never mind personal glory.

And that's the thing about Harry, why being around him makes you grow up that much quicker and better. He makes you notice the important things, because he doesn't see anything else.