main character is Harry Potter, there are no pairings mentioned.
disclaimer: I hold no legal rights to any recognized Harry Potter character, I am placing my own interpretation on the Historical Personage, as JKR's books only told us name, gender and house affiliation. I am borrowing the concept of the Translating Charm from the fanfic 'Make A Wish' written by Rorschach's Blot.
notes: A Pottery Shard, set in a non-Umbridge 5th year.
Harry Potter sighed as he arranged the books on his desk for History of Magic. One of the things that they did was hide the dicta-quill he had set to write down everything audible from his desk. Granted, he'd have to sort out a lot of unneeded things about gobstones, quidditch, fashion and the written indication of snoring, but it beat trying to stay awake himself, and it had only been three galleons. If he managed to get the books just right, neither Professor Binns or Hermione would be able to tell that he was reading Luna's copy of the Quibbler instead of listening to Binns. Luna was an odd girl, but she seemed nice enough. While he had no idea about some of the things in the Quibbler - what were Heliopaths, who was Stubby Boardman, and why did they need to know the mating season of the Tyranolagomorpha, whatever that was - it was an interesting magazine. He'd even been able to start matching some names to titles for the Wizarding World, and picked up an idea what a couple runes meant.
"Last week, we discussed the Goblin Rebellion of fifteen seventy, led by Graknab the Ferocious. Before I begin today's lecture, I am telling you all that there will be a thirty inch essay due on a historical personage. Each student will take a slip of paper from the basket, and the name on the paper is who you will write about. We will begin with you, Anna Abbot," here Binns gestured at Hannah Abbot as a small wicker basket floated to the Hufflepuff.
"I don't know why he gets so many names wrong," Ron grumbled. "Why are we drawing names from a basket anyhow? That doesn't make any sense."
"Unless you intend to give the lecture on the Troll-Goblin Conflict of sixteen twelve, be quiet Rannulf Weasley," Binns didn't look towards the redhead as the basket continued to float. "You are all drawing names so that I am not forced to read another thirty essays on Merlin, twelve on Dumbledore, and thirty on assorted Quidditch players, five of whom will be on Josef Wronski. The names Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and Merlin Emrys are not in the basket. Anyone turning in an essay on either of those individuals will receive a failing grade for the project."
Harry blinked, sitting up straighter in his seat, the Quibbler still in his book-bag. It sounded like Binns was remarkably alert to the class for once, even if he was getting the names wrong. A thirty inch essay though... Maybe better than more goblin wars, probably better than more Wizengamot debates. Much better than anything to do with people being terrified of He-Who-Hated-His-Name-And-Couldn't-Kill-A-Baby and then getting killed.
"I want each essay to include the basic biographical data - where and when the individual was born and may have died to the best of your accessible information - as well as why they are considered a person of Historical Interest. Some of the individuals are currently alive or otherwise still active on the mortal plane. As my ego is fairly small, the basket of names does not include Cuthbert Binns. You must present thirty inches, but no more than fifty, Ravenclaws and Miss Granger. I assure you all that there is sufficient available information on each name for the required length," Binns waggled a translucent finger at them.
Murmurs began circulating in reaction to the slips, some pleased and others considerably less so.
"Who's Ignotus Peverell and why should we care?" grumbled a boy in the dark corner farthest from the door.
"I know I've heard of Daisy Dodderidge before, but I can't remember where," whined someone else.
"Isn't Newt Scamander mentioned in the Books of Monsters?" the low tones of Goyle were unmistakable.
"Devlin Whitehorn? This'll be the best assignment ever!" Ron sounded positively gleeful.
"Artemisia Lufkin? Oh, this will be fun, I'll have to take a closer look into her political stances and reforms," Hermione started scribbling notes on a scrap of paper, the tip of her quill brushing her chin.
Harry took a slip of paper from the basket, letting the basket move on to the next student before carefully opening it just enough to read the name. He was hoping for someone interesting, someone that he could find things on without spending all his free time turning the library upside down. Maybe he'd just settle for recognizing the name.
With a sigh, Harry wondered just what he'd find. Did they even know when the Founders were born, or where? Her date of death should be easy enough to learn, and at least one thing she'd done to be considered of Historical Interest was obvious - helped found Hogwarts, of course. But Helga Hufflepuff... the founder of the house that most of Hogwarts considered duffers and losers? What had she been, some sort of ancient times Professor Sprout?
Though what did he really know about her, other than she'd helped found Hogwarts a thousand some odd years ago and that she had to be long dead by now? Had she chosen the badger as a mascot or had that been determined later? How did she die? Did she leave children after her?
Harry was just glad that they didn't have another class until Astronomy that night. As Ron and Hermione started arguing or discussing or ranting in the general direction of the other about the assignment, Harry stepped away from the rest of the Gryffindors. Instead of retreating to the common room, he headed towards the library, still carrying all his books. It might be best to start looking now, even if all he did was get an idea how much information he'd have to work with and how hard it would be to find more.
Madam Pince gave him her usual suspicious look.
Attempting to look studious and safe for the books, Harry asked, "Can you direct me to the oldest history books, or at least touchable copies of them? There's a History essay..."
"If you're actually taking this essay seriously, what time-frame do you need materials referencing?" One eyebrow raised, as if she doubted that he was really here for a history paper.
"Founders era, and probably some stuff covering a few decades before. I need to do a report on Helga Hufflepuff, and it has to have a lot more than one of the four founders of Hogwarts, lived and died a long time ago. Since that's all I can think of right now, I guess I need some history books," Harry shrugged.
"I see..." the librarian pursed her lips, and let her gaze focus on a point somewhere above and behind Harry's left ear. "Have the fifth years covered the translation charm yet?"
"According to the syllabus, we're supposed to start on that charm next month," Harry offered. He hoped that did what it sounded like, instead of something weird, like Pepper-Up potion curing the cold instead of being some sort of energy drink.
"I will teach you the translation charm, optical version. You will cast it on your glasses, and then you will be extremely careful with the books. I will show you the books written in the first century of Hogwarts History, which should help you. You will be more careful of those books than you are of your own hide, Mr. Potter. If you damage them, I will be the next reason why you are resting in your usual bed under Madam Pomfrey's care, not monsters, Quidditch, or outdoor detentions. Do you understand me, Mr. Potter?" the witch was giving him a look that threatened specific, excruciating horrible pain that would somehow manage to be legal.
Reminding himself that he'd faced trolls, a giant snake, a dragon, acromantulas, and dementors, Harry couldn't quite manage to convince himself that the librarian wasn't a near-lethal potential danger. He hoped he'd learn this translating charm quickly. "Crystal clear, Ma'am."
As it turned out, the optical version of the translation charm was something cast on a piece of glass or crystal, which visually translated written words into something understood by whoever looked through the charmed glass or crystal. Apparently there was a version for spoken languages that would be covered for the N.E.W.T.'s, and crystal held the charm better than glass. It took Harry three tries under the disapproving glare of the librarian to get the charm right, and then he was permitted to look at the books but not take them from the room. In fact, the huge books with beautifully illustrated pages and fancy lettering were chained to the tables and even the smallest looked to weigh a good forty pounds.
He turned the pages as carefully as he would have handled expensive blown glass ornaments. Glass ornaments would just be money that he might not have, but damaging the books protected by Madam Pince? Finally, he found a reference to the Founders. Scottish Rowena Ravenclaw, who's picture reminded him a little bit of Professor McGonagall, and her maybe-friend maybe-bodyguard, a Norse warrior-witch named Helga.
"Helga Hufflepuff was a Viking?" Harry blinked, looking at the pages again. He double checked his translation charm, then looked at the pages again. Norse, that meant Vikings. The picture showed a tall figure dressed in a fur cloak, with hair that looked to be a faded orange, and the text claimed she was visiting relatives that had scattered to Wales and Scotland, and a very frightening witch... "The picture makes her look so tall."
"This was before Hogwarts was built. How did they know each other?" harry carefully scrawled his notes, thinking that this Nordic Helga was nothing like Professor Sprout, and didn't sound like someone that anyone wanting to live would call a duffer or a loser.
According to this book, the Viking Helga, notable for being a witch and a warrior with a keen-edged axe, had been consulting Rowena of the Raven's Claws about the divinatory arts. Rowena was rumored to not only be able to predict the future, but to have been able to force events to match her predictions. Helga was knowledgeable about 'the Northern Runes', which apparently meant the Ogham and Futhark runic alphabets.
"I've got to pick up some more knowledge about runes, that doesn't tell me anything useful at all," Harry murmured, jotting notes with one hand. "Maybe Rowena was scary organized at causing those effects? Some careful potions, really good timing with some charms..."
Another book claimed that Rowena of the Raven's Claws had many suitors, among them the northern warrior Heingst, brother of the witch-warrior Helga.
A third book suggested that Helga, sometimes called Blood-Axe, had met Rowena while banished from her home after killing an unwanted suitor. That book claimed that the women had met a pair of powerful wizards when they had gone to negotiate with goblin craftsmen for the purchase of finely wrought items. It continued that the witch Rowena had acquired an elegant silver diadem, the warrior-wizard Godric of the Griffons had a goblin-wrought sword encrusted with rubies, and they had also met a wise and cunning wizard scholar named Salazar. That somehow after emerging from negotiating with the goblins - and the book was annoyingly vague about why they'd been talking with them at the same time - the four powerful magicals had gone to start a school, later known as Hogwarts.
Harry found the part where Helga was later seen with a remarkably elegant axe that was not crafted of iron or steel quite interesting. Especially the illustration of her using it to dismember a troll.
The same book later described Helga as having the temper of an angry badger, and defending herself and the healer Rowena from something called seilu varkaita... Renewing the translation charm made that part read soul thieves, and that she'd chopped them to dry bones and tatters with her axe before setting the bones on fire. Frowning, Harry continued to read. Apparently these 'Soul-Thieves' were some sort of wraith-things, shrouded in cold and shadow and despair. "That sounds like a Dementor..."
The realization tried to dawn, and Harry looked back over the passage. If that had said what he thought it said... "Helga fought off what might have been Dementors with an axe?!?"
Definitely not a duffer or loser. Definitely not someone to cross. And definitely nothing like Professor Sprout.
Harry found himself with a new respect for the Hufflepuff founder. Especially when the books seemed to indicate that she was all about just getting the job done instead of making big speeches about it like Godric, or arranging the maximum effect like Slytherin, or debating the possible after-effects like Rowena.
"I think I've found a new hero..."
end Pottery Shard: Hufflepuff Essay.