Steve the Hufflepuff

Aka, the power the dark lord never saw coming….

Harry stepped of the Hogwarts Express for the very last time. It was almost bizarre, looking back, nothing at all freaky or weird had happened in his seventh year at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. He managed to get through the year with only minor cuts and bruises, did well in his studies, and best of all lived an entire year free of Snape and Malfoy. The world around them got shot to hell and back, but nothing upset the Trio in their final year. Harry even managed to enjoy being a teenager, have a few flings, and just not have to worry about looking behind him anymore.

Everyone laughed at Harry when last summer, Harry wrote Voldemort a letter. Everyone assumed he lost his mind from the grief. What would possess a man to politely ask the Dark Lord to leave him alone? Worse, what had Harry said that made him listen? It simply wasn't the way this whole good versus evil game was played. Harry was supposed to blame Voldemort for all the deaths, should have used his thirst for vengeance to drive his magic into new heights, should have hunted down and killed them once and for all. Instead all he did was politely ask to be left alone, and promise not to go looking for trouble.

The wizarding world felt betrayed.

But what they would never know was that Harry told Voldemort the prophecy he had searched after for nearly seventeen years. He told him that neither of them could really die so long as they didn't kill each other. If Voldemort never killed Harry, no one else could, and vice versa. Voldemort considered this carefully, read between the lines a little, and discovered he quite liked the idea. Just leave Harry and his friends alone and never have to worry about death? That sounded like a deal worthy of a Dark Lord.

As he stepped off the train for the last time in his school career, Harry noticed the Head Boy, a Hufflepuff named Steven Clark, coming towards him looking intent on something. "Harry," he called in a very cultured accent, "The Master wants to see you as soon as possible. If you could just come this way please…" "Sorry Steve, I'm on a mission for Professor Sprout, here check the message." Harry replied silently conjuring an envelope and casting a forgery charm on the parchment inside. "But as soon as I am done working for your head of House, I'd be happy to come see the Headmaster." "No, you don't understand…" "No, no, its quite alright. I've already worked this out ahead of time." Harry interrupted. "You did? Oh well can I come by your flat tomorrow and escort you?" Steven looked very relieved. "Umm... I guess so, but I've got to hurry. I'll see you later. I'll be at the Leaky Cauldron."

Harry quickly scurried out of Kings Cross and apparated to the Leaky Cauldron, barely believing that his harebrained idea actually worked. He was on no such mission and really just wanted to be left alone by all parties especially that meddling old man. Months ago he had arranged by owl to have his parents house in Godric's Hollow rebuilt, and after countless special tutoring sessions with Professor Flitwick Harry felt confidant he could enact a Fidelius charm and several wards over his new home. Dobby would be his secret keeper. Not only would no one ever suspect it, but he knew for a fact that Dobby wouldn't tell anyone without his permission. The bonds between house elf and master were nice like that…

Thinking of the Fidelius charm brought a smile to Harry's face. He remembered the first time he successfully used the charm, and consequently how he had lost Gryffindor the House Cup. He worried about how to hide something that everyone already knew about. In theory, it should work just fine regardless of who and how many people previously knew the secret, but in practice Harry had to make sure. So one Saturday morning, the entire school and staff forgot that Hogwarts had indoor toilet facilities. Every last bathroom in the entire castle just vanished from people's minds, and they just naturally thought up creative alternatives. Almost nowhere was safe. Chamber pots, bedpans, potted plants and mop buckets all got pressed into service. The poor house elves just couldn't keep up. The prank wasn't called off until the centaurs got a little annoyed at a group of first years for marking their territory with inferior human scents. Finally at dinner one night, Harry asked the Headmaster for a moment to address the students. The roar of offended yells and obscenities was deafening. Gryffindor lost three hundred points for his stunt, but the morning after he took down the charm, he found himself inundated with job offers, stock certificates, and endorsement deals from every joke and prank store in the wizarding world. It seemed that everyone was amused with the sheer balls on him, and wanted that creative genius on their side not against them.

Harry broke out of his nostalgic flashback and decided he had a lot of work to do before moving into his new home. Not only did he need a few rare and expensive ingredients for the Fidelius, but there were a few things he wanted to pick up. So Harry stashed his trunk and owl in one of Tom's rooms and proceeded out to the Alley.

The Dark Lord Voldemort, also known as Tom Marvolo Riddle, was less than happy. Apparently he needed to find better followers. The one twitching in front him under the cruciartus curse was clearly deficient. How hard was it to arrange a meeting? He sent his most polite and normal death eater out with a very simple task. But what did he get in return.

"Steve, did you find Potter?" "Yes my Lord." "Did you tell him I wanted to meet with him?" "Yes my Lord." "Then why is he not here?" "Well he said he was busy, and that he had a meeting with the Headmaster later, and told me he already talked with you to reschedule." "Crucio."

"You see people, this is why I don't like Hufflepuffs who aren't under the Imperius. They just cant be mean enough to get the job done."

The other death eaters just nodded silently, not wanting to share in their master's bad mood. "Please, Master, it wasn't my fault. Potter tricked me!" "Avada Kedarva!"

"Does anyone else want to be polite and kind when I send them to bring me Potter?" Silent stares. "Bring me Potter!"

By the time the Death Eaters tracked Harry to the Leaky Cauldron, he was already gone and the wards around his home up.

Unfortunately for the Death Eaters, another group was silently watching their every move, and it wasn't the Order of the Phoenix.

Death Stalks the Land

By E. Zaire, Staff writer for the Daily Prophet

A strange curse seems to be striking the United Kingdom this past week. The cause of the curse or how to avoid it is as of yet unknown, but throughout the kingdom it seems no one is safe. People of all walks of life, and all ages are being struck down in a variety of ways. At first, it seemed limited to older upper class people, but in recent days wizards and witches as young as sixteen have fallen victim. Ministry workers, society folks, and people in everyday occupations, including one teacher at Hogwarts, have fallen.

At first, the older society members fell ill and died, but more recently people have died in a variety of ways. Some are found mugged and stabbed in alleys, others poisoned accidently, some suffer mysterious bad luck in honor duels, potions accidents, getting hit by muggle vehicles, terrorist bombings, and in case a killing curse. The only thing that is constant about all of these deaths is that somewhere on each and every body is what appears to be a Dark Mark surrounded by a red circle and a slash tattooed somewhere on the body. At first it mainly appeared on people's right forearm, but it has also been found under a person's hair on their skulls, on their chests, and on legs.

The meaning and origins of the circled and crossed out Dark Marks is uncertain, but there is some speculation that You-know-who is somehow involved… One person, a member of the alumni association called "The Hufflepuff Honor Guard", speaking on the condition of anonymity offered this to say. "I don't think these deaths are random. I suspect that if someone were to do some digging they would find out these people had a lot more in common than originally suspected. I think this is personal and those not involved shouldn't have to worry." The Hufflepuff Honor Guard is one of the largest and most closely knit alumni association in the world. Steven Clark, who died by a killing curse, is the only member of this organization to have fallen to this bizarre string of bad luck.

So far the curse has claimed over 157 lives in the past week. Among them is ministry insider and fundraiser Lucius Malfoy.

Continued on A-4 Malfoy Funeral details A-6 List of the fallen A-7

Hufflepuff Honor Guard Declares War on He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named

By Anny Mouse

Today in a bizarre turn of events the Hufflepuf Honor Guard, an association of Hogwarts Alumni from the Hufflepuff house, has openly declared war on the Dark Lord. They have announced that the murder of Steven Clark was done by the Dark Lord himself and such acts will no longer be tolerated.

Shop fronts, restaurants, businesses of other sorts, and almost all service industries not under house elf control have barricaded their doors and closed down as their owners and workers have left to join the Honor Guard in the war. The Honor Guard marched through London today, a force over two thousand strong.

For such a hastily mustered army, they marched with precision and their displays of teamwork and brotherhood are unmatched by any worldwide. The minister, threatened with a nationwide strike of workers and services immediately signed a Letter of Marquee and Reprisal. It was less than three hours between announcing their intentions and marching to the ministry to receive the Letter.

The Honor Guard has announced it will make camp on the Salisbury plain near Stonehenge and has given the Dark Lord one week to meet with them for honorable combat. Notice-me-not charms and muggle repelling charms have already been erected to prevent stray muggles on the battlefield. If He-who-must-not-be-named does not come before Midnight of July 21, 1998, insiders informed us, then the Honor Guard will march on his family home and raze it to the ground.

"Something no one outside the group has noticed, but we all know, is that Helga Hufflepuff and the Hufflepuff house are not actually represented by a badger. That's just because of the icons are not very detailed. More properly, our totem is a wolverine. They look similar, except the fur coloring is different. But given the color scheme we work with, it's hard to tell the iconography apart."

A source has also informed us that a secret society calling itself the Order of The Phoenix has offered to aid them with intelligence and resources. Nothing concrete is known about this second group, but rumors have circulated about the existence of such a group for over thirty years.

The Dark Lord could not be reached for comment.

Harry put the paper down and just laughed. If there was one thing he learned in all his years at Hogwarts it was that no one fucks with a 'Puff. Sure, they are polite and friendly, but don't piss them off! Those guys stuck together and could tear the place apart if they needed to. It wasn't that the Hufflepuffs were so nice and boring that they never did anything wrong, it was that they were so good that they were never caught. There was never any evidence, there were never witnesses, the alibis were airtight, and sometimes the memories that something had happened were gone from the victim's minds too. Harry understood what the sorting hat always said about not being afraid of hard work, or about the loyalty. Those guys were hardcore. The average Hufflepuff made one mistake, and it was in first year. After that, they learned to keep their heads down, to have good excuses, and generally not to get caught. They never did exceptional on their exams, but they never failed either. They weren't outwardly brilliant like the Ravenclaws, they didn't boast about their power like the Slytherins, and they never charged into situations without thinking like the Gryffindors. How much a given Hufflepuff actually knew was never certain.

Harry decided he liked this idea and would travel to Salisbury to watch the battle. He had a wizard's tent under Fidelius too and could afford a few days off of his research, besides this would be too good to resist. 'Puffs actually showing full strength and power in public? Too good to miss. Heck, he might even get the chance to off that psycho dark Tosser while he was at it.

The 21st of July dawned bright and clear. The weather was warm but mild, the wind not an issue. The flags and banners over the Honor Guard camp flapped in the breeze. Far out on the field, a table two chairs and two banners sat waiting the day's events. One banner proudly displayed the Hufflepuff badger/wolverine, the other a green banner with a black skull and snake motif. While it wasn't a proper Dark Mark, but it would have to do.

A representative from the Honor Guard was present, waiting quietly next to the table for the negotiations to start.

In the far off Horizon, ten shapes could be seen moving through the sky, while the ground gently started to shake. As they came closer, the shapes could be seen to be dragons, and the heads of a hoard of giants and trolls crested the horizon as the shaking grew. With an ear splitting bang, the entire might of the death eater forces apparated as one into the field. Seven hundred wizards in black with white masks, and Voldemort himself appeared in the field.

Voldemort approached the table as his giants, trolls, and dragons took the field beyond his death eaters. Both representatives put their wands on the table, next to a parchment and quill.

"Never has anyone been so arrogant to challenge me so openly. What do you want?" He hissed. "We are here awaiting your surrender, failing that, we are here to kill you. Sorry it had to be this way, but for someone who wants to rule the wizarding world, you obviously don't understand loyalty." Came the polite reply. "What do you mean I don't understand loyalty, look at my army! Look at what I have done. I am invincible and I reward those who prove loyal to me." "So then Steven Clark killed himself? He was a loyal follower, polite, did as he was told… And your reward was to kill him because of circumstances beyond his control? Some understanding of loyalty. How many of those wizards by your side are here willingly, and how many are under the imperius curse?" "This is all because of Clark? What a stupid way to die." "Not just Clark, but the disrespect as a whole to the values we embrace and support. We agree it is a stupid way for you to die, but that's why we are offering to let you surrender now." Voldemort could only sputter in rage. "So, shall we begin the negotiations or do we have to fight?" The Honor Guard Representative held out a quill in one hand and a knife in the other, hilt first, allowing Voldemort to choose which he would take.

The response is what anyone who knew Voldemort would expect. In one rapid movement he snatched the knife and buried it to the hilt in the other man's neck. Blood gushed from the wound and splattered the parchment, which began glowing as words previously invisible began coursing across the page. The parchment caught fire and burned in a burst of crimson. Shock entered Voldemort's eyes as he felt anti-apparition and anti-portkey wards snap up as the parchment burned. This was it, there was no fleeing the battle now.

Several thousand voices rang out as one "LIBERTASIO!" as all of the Death Eaters were still trying to recover from shock. Suddenly panic overcame the ranks as victims were freed from the imperius and shucked the masks and robes running off the field. Voldemort and the quicker Death Eaters retaliated quickly with curses and jinxes of all kinds.

The deciding factors in any war are these; weaponry, numbers, tactics, and teamwork. The Honor Guard contingent had all of them, as people were about to see. Without any signal from a commander, the Hufflepuffs broke into several distinct units.

Some from one unit dropped flat, others kneeled beside them as the rest stood their ground. The spell they cast in one voice had never been heard before, and was totally unexpected. "Fudi Munio Avada Kedavra" and a literal wall of brilliant green spellfire raced down the field with no gaps to dodge through. Everyone in its path died instantly.

The next yelled "Adgra Vesco" while pointing at the ground beneath the enemy forces. In the dead of night, this team had sown the battlefield with the seeds of devils snare and venomous tentacula vines. The spell just cast caused the seeds to burst forth fully grown. The plants vines quickly latched on to the surprised forces and even the trolls had a hard time moving about.

The last group called out "Alecro Multo Gulo" as hundreds of giant wolverines dug out of the ground and began to savage the now helpless enemies.

The Death Eaters only response to such an impressive and organized attack plan was to scream and curse. A popular curse thrown that day was "Ah! Not the Face!" at the appearance of the raging wolverines.

The Honor Guard then immediately turned their attentions to the dragons and giants, which never stood a chance uncoordinated and uncontrolled as they were against so many witches and wizards.

Voldemort of course was still struggling and swearing as the army cleaned up the battlefield. The Honor Guard immediately broke his wand in half and presented Harry with an axe and the pieces.

Harry was stunned speechless. In less than fifteen minutes he had witnessed the total and complete slaughter of the dark forces and was now given a chance to end the war permanently. Harry never wanted to be a killer, he never wanted to fight in this war, but now, when he had the chance to end the suffering and fears of so many people how could he walk away. Reluctantly he picked up the axe.

"Hey Tom, remember that whole 'Power the Dark Lord knows not' thing? Apparently I have the power to watch what I say in front of an angry army of Hufflepuffs." Then the axe thumped down for the last time.

Harry was pulled from his thoughts moments later when he heard the magnified voice of Professor Sprout, head of Hufflepuff House. "Everyone, please, gather over here and listen to me very closely. We can celebrate our victory in just a moment, but there is one last thing to do. Harry Potter, please come join me here up front."

Harry walked over to the conjured stage and stood next to his former Professor turned General. "Alright, everyone face forward please, that's it. Now listen closely…. OBLIVIATE! Harry Potter has single handedly defeated the forces of the Dark Lord Voldemort! When he heard of our battle he simply had to come try to stop it. Though he wasn't able to save all of us, the friendship and loyalty he displayed today was exemplary of everything we stand for. He is now an Honorary Hufflepuff."

And just like that, only two people in the entire wizarding world knew the truth. Any crazy conspiracy theorists, like those at the quibbler, who wondered how a single man had defeated ten dragons, hundreds of trolls and giants, and almost a thousand death eaters as well as the Dark Lord Himself, was paid a quiet visit by Pomona Sprout. She always left smiling, her secret safe.

No one ever suspected that the Hufflepuffs actually ruled the world, not even they themselves. Harry Potter and Pomona Sprout knew, but no one would ever believe them. In fact, the more often Harry tried to shed his glory and fame as undeserved the more often he seemed to be awarded more. The Daily Prophet? Hufflepuff owned and operated. The Order of Merlin? Awarded by a council of Hufflepuffs. Ministry of Magic? Controlled by record voter turnouts. The Hufflepuff Honor Guard was a very persuasive organization.

Harry Potter laughed hysterically. If there was anything he wanted, it was his. So long as he never interfered in the business of the Hufflepuff House. And how could he? They made him one… "Oh yes, they are clever little bastards…" Harry thought to himself. "Worse than any mafia or mob in the world, yet it seems that without them life would grind to a halt. They are the base upon which everything was built, and you cant undermine them. Clever little bastards."