Title: House Pride
Disclaimer: I own nothing here that anyone recognises.
Summary: A very interesting diary is found and turns the perception of the Houses of Hogwarts upside-down.
Notes: If anyone has tried this before, I apologise, but I promise that this isn't an idea I'd encountered outside my head. Also, this is at sort-of alternate sixth year. Extremely AU in nature, this is just a sort of contemplation on a few things. Further notes of explanation will be found at the bottom.
The school had been becoming more and more fractured every day. No matter what anyone tried the Slytherins and Gryffindors were at each other's throats, the Ravenclaws were staying out of it with a sense of smug superiority that they were not visibly at war with anyone and the Hufflepuffs had retreated from the rest of the school, not wishing to get caught in the crossfire.
Naturally, the 'Puffs and the 'Claws were derided for their cowardice, even as they derided the Gryffs and the Slytherins for their ridiculous posturing and open animosity.
The houses were in a state of near-open warfare with each other on the matter of points and the house cup. It was utter madness as everyone tried to prove in his or her own way that their house represented all that was great in wizarding society and the other three were merely bit players. It was a battle royal for supremacy in the wizarding world played out at the level of school children, everyone knowing that their futures, once they were out of school were equally determined by their houses as by their OWL and NEWT scores.
That was until one day; Dean Thomas found an odd little diary while researching a project for History of Magic. It was in the very back of the library, a small volume, hidden amongst the biographies and memoirs of various famous witches and wizards. His eye was caught by the very smallness and plainness of it.
Dean had an uncle with a PhD in Mediaeval literature, and consequently had a surprisingly excellent grasp of Latin. It wasn't something that came up much, he was no overachiever like Hermione Granger, after all, but he wasn't a bad student either.
He picked up the book and flicked through the first couple pages, his eyes widening as he realised who the author of the small tome was. Fired by curiosity, Dean collected the book and found himself reading it as he walked the halls down to dinner.
It was an odd coincidence that, as an argument between Malfoy and Harry reached a particularly fevered pitch on the matter of Gryffindor versus Slytherin superiority, Dean read a particular paragraph. The end result of that paragraph having been the violent argument going on a few seats down from him, Dean was struck by the sheer ridiculous nature of the House rivalries, given that particular paragraph. He couldn't help it, surrounded by fuming Gryffindors, with Slytherins sneering at the other end of the Hall, the 'Puffs keeping their heads down and the 'Claws giving looks of smug superiority at everyone else.
As the silliness of this outcome, a thousand years after an attempt to resolve a simple administrative problem struck him further, Dean slid to the floor, helpless with mirth.
Quickly, his hysterical form, slumped over the table, prostrate with laughter garnered more and more attention. Eventually the whole hall quieted. "Er . . . Dean?" Seamus asked, hesitantly. "Are you alright?"
A few more sniggers escaped from Dean before he managed to control himself. "I'm fine. I just thought it was funny the way everyone's turned a try to fix the roommate problem into a big social issue."
"What idiocy are you talking about?" snapped Malfoy, who didn't like his Potter-baiting to be interrupted by a nonentity like Dean Thomas.
"This," Dean said, holding up the slim volume he'd gotten from the library. "It's a diary written by Slytherin about the first couple years of Hogwarts," he explained.
Hermione always anxious to have more information of any kind, chorused with Malfoy and a dozen other people, "Slytherin's diary?" It was only Hermione that added, however, "What could be amusing in that?"
Dean grinned, and read aloud.
We have been planning for the second year of this school, but no one had yet discovered some means of controlling the problems that have come with the dormitories. Each of us has taken authority over one of the dormitories, planning to provide an adult for the students to apply to in loco parentis.
Rowena has once again expressed her annoyance at the need to apply to Gryffindor to sort out the rowdier members of her dormitories, a sentiment echoed by Helga and myself. Helga is particularly irritated at having to roust me out in order to deal with the little scoundrels of the Malefoi clan, who only seem to respond to my particular brand of dire threats to remain under some sort of control. Godric is also becoming tired of requiring Helga's assistance with the more sensitive and retiring members of his students, and applying to Rowena to pry those over-studious ones out of his tower.
Not to mention the fights that have continuously broken out amongst the students of wizarding lineage and those of baser muggleborn birth, the raucous nature of some conflicting with the studious nature of others and those without any particular need to bring attention to themselves becoming lost as no one can afford the attention spent on them.
Helga was the one with the rather brilliant idea of taking both the new students arriving this year and those from the previous year, and redistributing them into grouping more personally amenable to one another, and to their sponsoring dormitory head. I suggested some sort of exam, set to determine the personality of the student in question, but Godric and Rowena would not hear of it. The brash twit whipped that ridiculous hat he so favours off his head, and volunteered to spell it as a sort of legilimens.
Thankfully, while Rowena agreed with the basic principle, she insisted upon doing the spellwork herself, little trusting the man not to damage our students. Considering how dimwitted some of them can be, I suppose it is for the best. We will call the new divisions Houses in an attempt to foster a greater sense of home and familiarity than the much more impersonal dormitory.
Godric agreed to take on the troublemakers, noisemakers and the generally brash. "The ones who will go out drinking the night before and take a dragon on the next day," is how he put it. I cannot be certain if he was admiring or sarcastic. It is sometimes difficult to tell with him.
Helga will handle those students who are not particularly interested in making spectacles of themselves one way or another. That is, the students most likely to be trampled on by everyone else and forgotten. I expect a great many more interesting things from the Hufflepuff house than anywhere else. They seem most likely to be well-rounded.
Rowena has been quite eager to nurture the scholarly minds of her House. That is, the students who would far rather read than do anything else. Godric has been grumbling about Rowena getting all the good students, but recalling Fabienne Pruitt, that girl who will not stop reading, but does not read her actual set texts, thus leaving her evaluations rather dismal, I have a suspicion they will not so much shine, as produce dust from the vast quantities of scrolls and books they will be buried under.
I, of course, will get those other troublemakers, the subtle ones. Ambition, power and an irritating tendency to smugness will be my lot. The Slytherin house will no doubt be full of pureblooded wizards and witches expecting to do great things with the fortunes their parents have inherited. Perhaps some of the children will go on to greater things. It has been generally agreed, however, that my severe demeanour and supposed sympathy with their pureblood sense of grandeur will garner more respect than all the aggression, logic or compassion in the world.
Hopefully, by keeping most of the hellions confined to two places, those who can put up with them in those dorms, and separating the ones who could not and will not cope with such persons we can reduce the mild warfare that went on last year.
In a stroke of brilliance, Helga has even determined a way to add an additional censure to our arsenal of punishments for students. She has suggested a competition between the four houses. Points can be given or taken for good or poor conduct, or academic performance. As she rightly pointed out, although the points will mean nothing, the censure of their fellow students for causing them to lose the competition should be an excellent deterrent, as the poor regard of one's peers is particularly harsh for the young.
Godric is exercising his artistic tendencies by creating a pointless 'House Cup', resembling the Quidditch Cup, which can be awarded at the end of the year for good performance.
I have already determined, of course, that in an attempt at creating solidarity, we shall create a small fiction for the students. Instead of telling Gryffindor's lions that they are the noisy troublemakers and the only ones able to put up with those troublemakers, we shall pass that brazen behaviour off as courage and chivalry, Godric's hallmarks. Helga's, we shall say are the loyal and hardworking, as they often are, rather than the possibly forgotten. Rowena's are to be the studious, rather than the merely bookish, and mine will be cunning and ambitious, as they so often are, rather than those equally obnoxious as the Gryffindors, merely more subtly so. It will give the students a sense of pride, and hopefully allay any questions as to our motivations in this sorting.
I must admit, having spent some brief time as a travelling entertainer, I shall enjoy creating a properly dramatic introduction.
Everyone in the hall was dead silent after that. Finally, McGonagall spoke. "Do you mean to tell us, Mr. Thomas, that the Houses are here strictly to reduce student infighting and disciplinary problems?"
Dean nodded. "Yes, Professor. For a thousand years, witches and wizards have been deciding their superiority based on the Founders' attempt to keep the jocks from harassing the geeks."
Most people looked simply gutted.
Three days later, Gryffindor and Slytherin were united in all-out warfare against the other two Houses in strident objections to being declared the unsubtle and subtle troublemakers who were good for nothing else. Harry and Malfoy joined forces to merciless return fire on the smug 'Puffs and snide 'Claws.
Well, it was progress of a sort.
Endnotes: So, I'd been contemplating the Houses recently, and it occurred to me that there had to have been a reason for their creation, right? Well, you could propose that each house had been sort-of apprenticed to the witch or wizard that claimed it, but that's not really a school kind of system. The thing is, when you've got more than a hundred students, you have to divvy them up between administrators somehow. That led me to thinking about dorm assignments at university. Anyone at all familiar with roommates in fiction knows that there are many notorious stories about incompatible people being forced to share living space, particularly in schools. These days, a lot of schools insist on people filling out long forms about cleanliness habits, sleeping habits, eating habits, studying habits, music preferences etc. when they're applying to stay in residence. It's an attempt to make sure that roommates are more or less compatible.
Well, I thought that a boarding school like Hogwarts would have the same trouble. If you just randomly stuck a bunch of kids together, you're likely to get one nerd who wants to read or study in peace, who can't stand the fact that the others insist on playing loud games and music during prime study time and late into the night when he or she is trying to sleep. But that problem's been dealt with via the Sorting.
So what if the Sorting was just to do that, and everything else was propaganda? What if the House Cup and all the points were just to give the teachers another means of punishing students? Recall that in first year, Harry and Hermione were shunned and harassed by their peers for the massive points loss after the Norbert debacle. If you take away points, the other students will punish the miscreant for the teachers in their zeal for the Cup. It's not the points removal that's the punishment, it's being kicked by your best friends and having them hiss at you to shut up before you lose more points. It's actually kind of diabolical. Which has been pointed out elsewhere, I'll admit.