198. House Pride

He had pictured this moment countless times over the last few months. The last few years, really, but in the months leading up to his first day of school he had thought of it a lot more frequently. He had made up a few different versions, but the general plot was always the same.

He hadn't expected this.

He had imagined removing the hat, smiling in a casual, cool, sort of way, handing it back, then walking confidently over to take his place at the Gryffindor table, sitting on the same bench his father had once sat on. He had imagined introducing himself to his fellow Gryffindors – Lupin, Ted Lupin, because Ted sounded much more cool and grown up than Teddy. Then he would eat, and eventually trail the well worn path up to Gryffindor tower, where his father, and most of his favourite people, had slept and spent their free time.

But it hadn't happened like that. Instead, he'd removed the hat slowly, his face blank, not entirely sure he'd heard correctly. He had handed it back, then looked blankly out at the hall, until a helpful soul had waved him over. With a sudden rush of embarrassment, he realised he'd been standing still for far too long, and hurried over to the table, sitting in the first empty seat, opposite the girl who had waved him over. He felt the heat on his face, and knew his cheeks were red.

Teddy stared down at his plate, struggling to control the embarrassment, and the wave of disppointment. He should have known, really, should have expected it. He wasn't brave, particularly, and he definitely wasn't bold or daring. He wasn't entirely sure he knew what chivalry was. If he had thought about it, really thought about it, he might have expected this.

But he had felt so drawn to Gryffindor. Most of the stories he knew of Hogwarts were from Gryffindors – it was the house of his father, his godfather, and most of the people he considered family. It was the house he had expected to be in, because it was the house he was most familiar with, the one he had heard the most positivity about. He'd heard about sleeping in a four poster bed in Gryffindor tower, so that was what he had imagined. Not sleeping in...well, whatever bed he would in fact be sleeping in.

The sorting had finished. Teddy watched food magically appear in front of him, and heard noise erupt around him, and people began to chat and eat.

"It's okay." The girl who had waved him over smiled kindly at him. "To be disappointed. Some people still are...we're still not as flashy as the other houses."

"I'm not disappointed." Teddy said quickly, flushing with guilt. "Honestly. Just a – a bit surprised."

"Well, that's okay too." She smiled her kind smile at him again, and made him feel even more guilty.

"Gryffindor was my dad's house." He explained. "I thought...I was expecting to go there. For some reason."

"Ah. Yes, a lot of people want to be in Gryffindor. We're not a bad house, though, you'll see."

"Oh, I know. I mean – erm, loyalty, patience, ah, dedication, and, um, fairness. Right? Right. Those are good qualities." As he said it, shame began to set in. "Sounds pretty good to me."

"Exactly." She smiled. "My Mum was in Hufflepuff, and apparently people used to think they were a bit, well, lame, really. Most people know better now, but, well, I think we're still seen as a bit weak. I suppose being loyal doesn't sound quite as impressive as being brave, or intelligent, or ambitious."

"I think loyalty is important." Teddy said quietly. The girl offered him a bowl of mashed potatoes, and he added some to his plate absently. "My Mum was a Hufflepuff, too." As he said it, a fresh wave of shame washed over him. He had forgotten. "Everyone says she was pretty awesome."

"There you go then – you're in your mother's house. How lovely. You're Edward, right?"

"Teddy." Teddy corrected automatically, then caught himself. "Er, or, Ted. I mean...um, whichever." Awkwardly, he began to add more food to his plate.

"Nice to meet you, Teddy. I'm Eliza – I'm a prefect, so if you need anything, give me a shout. Eat, now, it'll be bedtime soon."

He ate, and he thought. The house of his mother. It was nice, he realised. It was nice to think that she had once sat at this table, perhaps in this very spot. That she had spent her free time in the same common room that he would, slept not far from where he would sleep.

Yes, he decided. It was nice. When the feast was over, he walked with his housemates, not up to a tower, but down towards the basement. He listened to the instructions on how to enter the common room, amused by the whimsy and the simplicity. And he surveyed the cozy, homey common room with a smile.

He found his dorm, and his bed, charmed by the patchwork quilt, and the buttery yellow hangings. He changed into his pajamas, and slid into the warmth, full and sleepy.

It wasn't what he had expected. But he thought of the stories he had been told, of the Hufflepuffs who had fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, risked and lost their lives to do the right thing. He thought of his mother, the face he only knew from pictures, the woman he only knew from stories.

And he thought of the qualities of each Hogwarts House. No, he wasn't brave, or bold, or daring. He wasn't cunning and ambitious, either, nor an intelligent lover of learning.

He liked to think he was loyal, though, and fair.

Smiling, he began to drift off to sleep. He was a Hufflepuff, and he was proud.

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,

And unafraid of toil.