Disclaimer: JKR's world. I'm just playing.

Better Be Gryffindor (Ron Weasley)
By Bil!

Every Weasley was a Gryffindor. That was the unspoken rule. There'd been a bit of speculation that Percy might have gone to Ravenclaw, but even pompous perfect Percy had been sorted into Gryffindor. It only made Ron's nervousness about going to Hogwarts even worse. What if he was sorted into Hufflepuff? His dad told them over and over again that it didn't matter what house they went into, that there was no shame in Hufflepuff... but Ron knew there was. Anything but Gryffindor would be wrong. Anything but Gryffindor would be a failure.

It wasn't until he was falling asleep in the Gryffindor dormitory on his first night at Hogwarts that Ron could finally believe he wasn't going to fail. But it had been close. Closer than he'd ever admit.

Harry had confessed once that the sorting hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin. He'd spoken quietly, as if fearing rejection from Ron and Hermione, as if expecting them to tell him they couldn't be friends with him anymore. Hermione had immediately jumped in with assurances that it didn't matter what house he was in he was still their friend, and Ron had made agreeing noises.

He'd never told Harry or Hermione that the hat had made him the same offer.

Ron was always the youngest brother: he had five older brothers all bigger and stronger and smarter than he was. He was always at the back, always the smallest and the dumbest, just trailing along in their footsteps. He wanted to stand out, to have something of his own. But if he was good at schoolwork it just meant he was like Bill and Percy; if he was good at Quidditch he was taking after Charlie; and of course in anything creative and adventurous there was no competing with the twins.

So if he did well in any of those things it wasn't a big deal, he was just living up to people's expectations because someone else had done it first. Someone else had already had all the praise and there wasn't any left for him. Even being able to beat all his brothers at chess – even if he was the youngest – wasn't good enough because his dad was a brilliant chess player.

Ron was sick of hand-me-downs, he wanted something that was his. Some triumph someone else hadn't won first, something that didn't make people say "Oh, you're just like..." Even Ginny didn't have that problem because she might be the youngest but she was The Girl and that made her different right from the start. The ambition burned inside him, the desperate need to find something, do something, that would bring him out of the shadows, that would belong to him and him alone.

Percy... Percy would understand, he sometimes thought. Because Ron, looking up at his brothers, could see things that probably no one else in his family did. Bill, Charlie, even the twins, they were brilliant at what they did. Absolutely brilliant, with the casual ease of those who find things coming naturally to them.

But Percy wasn't brilliant, Ron could see. Percy was like him, with no natural talent, nothing to make him stand out. But Percy worked. He worked so very hard and because of that he could at least pretend he was brilliant. Every triumph, every success, cost him ten times as much effort as anything the others ever did and that was why those triumphs meant so much more to Percy, why he clung to his achievements and refused to let anyone take them away. He'd earned them.

Ron wondered sometimes if the sorting hat had offered Percy not Ravenclaw but Hufflepuff. He was pretty sure it had offered him Slytherin.

"Another Weasley, eh?" the sorting hat murmured in his ear, voice like old cloth, and Ron winced. Always just another Weasley. Never Ron. The hat chuckled. "That's a nice thirst to prove yourself you have here. Real ambition. Slytherin would foster that ambition, you know. Teach you to use it well."

Slytherin! Merlin, his parents would kill him! He couldn't be in Slytherin! Slytherins were evil!

"Evil? Don't be foolish. There's nothing evil about ambition and you could do with a little cunning. You're one of the most unsubtle minds I've seen in several years. Slytherin would do you good."

Gryffindor! he thought urgently. It had to be Gryffindor. He was a Weasley, he had to be in Gryffindor.

"You young people. Never knowing what's best for you." The hat sighed. "If you're quite sure...?"

He'd never been so sure of anything in his life.

"All right, then, have it your way. But remember what I said, you could have done well in Slytherin."

Ron remained obstinate.

"GRYFFINDOR!" yelled the hat and Ron beamed in relieved delight.