Who Would Snape Choose?

"So, now that the unpleasantness that was Voldemort is over and you've all managed to miraculously survive, which, by the way, I attribute mostly to dumb luck and bad aim on the part of your enemies rather than any great skill on your part . . ."

Hermione, Harry, Ron and the rest of the non-Slytherin class glowered at the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, professor Snape as he addressed them from the front of the classroom. The dark wizard was as dour as ever, if not even more so, and there was a harder cast to his sharp, hawk-like features. Even his humungous nose seemed more hooked and beaked than any of the Trio remembered.

"My gods. Do you think Voldemort put a mild transformation spell on him before he sicced Nagini on him? You know, to make him more appealing to snakes? Snakes like to eat birds, after all." Ron stated to Harry and Hermione one day after leaving Snape's class. "It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Otherwise, Nagini probably wouldn't have gone near him. He's just—unappetizing, period."

"Oh, shut up, Ron," Hermione had snapped at him as Harry sniggered.

But listening to Snape malign their dueling skills was just too much. And to think they actually went back for his snarky arse in the Shrieking Shack and saved him. Hero or not, Snape was still the gittiest git at Hogwarts, if not in the entire wizarding world.

The class makeup had changed for the semester that followed the final battle. Attendance was down in the lower grades. There was still some trepidation on the part of the parents, who were just getting used to the idea of a Voldemortless world. Some still feared there would be retaliations so kept their children away. But time would heal those wounds.

Because of the smaller student population, the 7th year Defense Against the Dark Arts class consisted of all four houses. Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, Slytherins and Hufflepuffs all got to sit in together for the course. This was great for Snape, who could take points in masse without it being time consuming. He hadn't changed a bit.

Snape continued.

". . . I would like to find out what you have learned about aligning yourself with worthy allies," Snape said, his dark eyes sweeping over the class. "Now, I'd like you to tell me, if you had a choice of only one ally with which to do battle against your foes, which house would he/she come from? A show of hands, please."

Hands popped up all over the classroom. Snape zeroed in on Harry immediately.

"Ah, Mr. Potter. Contrary to popular belief, you didn't overcome Voldemort alone, did you?" Snape asked him with quiet malice.

"No, of course not. I had plenty of help. You know that," Harry repled angrily.

"No attitude, Mr. Potter. I just wanted to clarify that fact for the rest of the class and assure myself that your swollen head hadn't absorbed that particular fairy tale," Snape replied coolly. "Now, what house would you pick your ally from, and why?"

"Gryffindor of course," Harry said staunchly. "Gryffindors are courageous, and go right for it. They'll face anything."

"Of course," Snape sneered as Ron and several other Gryffindors nodded.

Hermione wasn't one of them.

Several more students answered Snape's question based on their own outlook. It was pretty cut and dry, with students choosing allies of their own house for the most part. Except for the Hufflepuffs—and Hermione.

"I'd choose a Slytherin," she said. "Sometimes you need someone at your side to do the things you won't in order to win."

Snape frowned.

"Don't be a suck up, Miss Granger," he responded. "If you take on an ally simply because you think they might do something you won't in a pinch, then you haven't allied yourself well at all. There is no certainty that a Slytherin will do any such thing, especially when retreat would be the better part of valor. Self-preservation is ingrained in Slytherins above all else. Besides . . ."

Here, Snape curled his thin lips sardonically.

"If you choose to ally yourself with someone who would perform an act you won't when in the heat of battle, that is because there is an underlying weakness—perhaps—cowardice within you."

Hermione reddened.

"I'm not a cow—" she started to say defensively.

"Silence, Miss Granger. That's neither here nor there. What's clear to me that all of you have learned very little about alliances despite your recent experiences. Thick skulls still abound."

"Why that ungrateful bastard," Ron muttered under his breath to Harry. Unfortunately, his comment wasn't far enough under so Snape's sharp ears didn't hear him.

"Fifty points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley. Would you like to try for one hundred?" Snape asked, his black eyes glittering.

"No," Ron said in a low voice, ducking his head as his housemates groaned. A few snickers rose from Slytherin.

"Who would you choose to align yourself with, professor Snape?" Harry suddenly blurted out in challenge, his green eyes narrowed.

The rest of the class looked at Snape curiously. Harry had called him out. Snape's mouth tightened a bit.

"From which house would I choose an ally, Mr. Potter?" Snape responded as if to clarify Harry's question.

"Yes. Which house?"

Snape turned and slowly walked behind his desk, his black robes billowing slightly as he turned. He pulled out his comfortable swivel chair and sat down. He didn't speak for a full five minutes, increasing the air of tension and expectancy.

Finally, he replied..

"I would choose," he said softly, "Someone from Hufflepuff house."

Little gasps arose from the students, particularly the Hufflepuffs themselves. They knew out of all the houses, theirs was considered the most namby-pamby of all. They didn't make waves, they rarely broke rules and overall they simply went about their studies as they were supposed to do. They didn't have the bravado of Gryffindor, the logic of Ravenclaw or the cunning of Slytherin.

"Hufflepuff? You have to be joking, professor," Ron responded out loud as other students murmured agreement.

"I assure you, Mr. Weasley, I am not joking. Do you not remember what occurred in your fourth year?" Snape asked him.

"Voldemort returned," Hermione replied.

Snape glowered at her.

"Five points from Gryffindor for answering out of turn, Miss Granger. I was not addressing you."

"Oh, bollocks," she muttered as once again, her housemates groaned at the point loss. At this rate, they'd be in the negative numbers concerning getting the house cup.

"Voldemort's return is inconsequential in this case. Do you not remember who was chosen as Hogwart's Tri-wizard Champion?" Snape inquired of the whole class.
Neville answered.

"Harry was."

Snape's large nostrils wrinkled immediately and Neville instinctively lowered himself in his seat in a vain attempt to make himself smaller.

"You Gryffindors," Snape snapped. "You are all so self-centered and think yourselves so important that you ignore the real facts of the matter. The true Tri-wizard Champion was Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff house. Out of all the students in this school that cast their names into the goblet, it was he who was found most suitable to face the dangerous challenges that awaited him. Mr. Potter was thrown into the challenge through deceit and trickery, not chosen. Even if he had been of age, believe me, he did not have the qualities of a champion. He merely survived the tasks, and, may I add, with help that should have disqualified him. But, as we all know, Gryffindors believe themselves immune from the rules, even the rules of good sportsmanship. And our staff at the time did nothing to cull that belief."

Snape sounded a bit bitter about this fact. He knew first hand how Gryffindor house was favored for years and years. They could do no wrong, although they did wrong constantly, from the Marauders down to this bunch.

Harry reddened guiltily, but didn't respond. He had received help dealing with the challenges from several sources. True, he had warned Cedric about the dragons, because Ron had in a round about way warned him. But Cedric had told him how to access the information in the golden egg, and he would have never figured out he needed Gilly Weed except for Dobby. Cedric would have dealt with the dragons without forewarning, and he had figured out the secret of the egg and how to beat the water challenge on his own. He also made it through the maze through his own abilities, helping Harry along the way. Harry nearly let him be taken by the Devil's Snare.

Snape eyed Harry with a bit of disgust, as if he were using Legilimency and could clearly see his thoughts. All of the Hufflepuffs sat in somewhat uncomfortable silence. Rarely did they hear anything positive about their house, and to hear the nefarious professor Snape say anything remotely complimentary about them, was absolutely mind-boggling. He never praised anyone.

"Hufflepuff house is the most under-estimated house at Hogwarts. And their true power lies in the fact that they ARE under-estimated. Hufflepuffs are dependable, loyal and fair-minded. Qualities the other houses are greatly lacking."

"Gryffindors are loyal," Hermione said in defense of her house.

"Yes, Mr. Weasley proved that in the forest of Dean, didn't he?" Snape sneered back at her. "And let us not forget Peter Pettigrew, who was responsible for the deaths of two of his housemates."

Ron shifted uncomfortably as neither Hermione nor Harry looked at him. He had temporarily abandoned them in the forest. It was a matter of record. And Pettigrew had given the location of Harry's parents to Voldemort. He was supposed to have been their friend.

"Let us face facts. The house of Ravenclaw has a tendency to think before they act. Unfortunately, the tendency to logically weigh all options can be deadly in a situation when immediate action is needed. There is usually no gut response and this can cost lives. Inversely, Gryffindors act for the most part, without thinking, which can also have a deadly outcome. Remember the adage 'Only fools rush in." And Slytherins react based on self-interest and survival, so anyone with them could be left without an ally at all," Snape stated matter-of-factly. "Only the Hufflepuffs have the capacity to react quickly with reasonable foresight and purpose. They have dependable skills and will do what is necessary and practical instinctively, like breathing. Not for gain or glory or vengefulness, but because it needs to be done. Therefore, they are the best allies."

Everyone stared at Snape, and the other three houses looked back at the stunned Hufflepuffs, who stared at professor Snape, unable to believe his high opinion of them.

"Now," Snape said, "Your assignment for this evening is as follows: Write a foot and a half of parchment identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your house . . . HONESTLY. Not perceived notions and handed down mythology but the reality in everyday terms, along with examples. If you find more strengths than weaknesses, you'd best provide clear proof concerning your conclusions or you can count on a failing mark. Class dismissed."

Snape watched as the students departed silently. It was clear he'd thrown them for a loop. That was his job after all, to challenge preconceived notions. As the Hufflepuffs left, he could feel a kind of renewed energy coming from the students. Something akin to . . . pride. Something they sorely lacked for far too long.

The classroom emptied, and he sat there, a thin smile on his pale face. A few high opinions had been toppled, even in his own house. This was a good thing. As was once said about truth by a very wise wizard: "You can bend it and twist it... You can misuse and abuse it... But even the gods cannot change the Truth."

A/N: This is the first thing I've written in a long time. I'm not sure how well it will be received, but I've been doing a lot of thinking and believe Hufflepuff gets the short end quite a bit, when they appear to be the most balanced house at Hogwarts. So . . . I wanted to give them props. Thanks for reading.