Afterward, things go from practical to dangerous.
Back again! I blame the military. Always a good scapegoat, the military. Cause of the world's woes. And conveniently, they have to protect you even when you're a jerk. Anyway! As always, I own nothing.
An uneasy mutter shuffled through the Great Hall as people mentally took a step back and stared at the frighteningly jovial hat. Or as Ron thought- bloody hell, the thing’s cracked!
Xander snorted. “Melodramatic much?”
“Oh, shut up and let me have some fun.”
“Yessir, Mister Hat, sir. Where’m I headed?”
“Ah, Hufflepuff would be the yellow and black banners, Mr. Harris.” Professor McGonagall managed.
“What? Oh, yes, quite.” Professor Sprout said weakly. “Come, dear boy, sit over here.”
“Well, now.” Dumbledore said. “Now that that’s settled, I bid you all kafluzle!”
Xander eyed the tables Professor Sprout had motioned toward. They were full of Seniors, brimming with confidence, wise to the world, and knowledgeable in all its ways. Ah, youth. He sat down with the Freshmen. Or were they Junior High? Whichever.
“What are you doing?!” The girl beside him squeaked.
“Sitting down.” Xander replied, doing just that.
“But you’re not a Third Year!” Hm, third year at thirteen, fourteen…
“Don’t look like a Seventh Year, either. Whaddya figure, Seventeenth Year?” Xander poked at his… what was this stuff, anyway? Some sort of British… sustenance.
A boy snorted. “More like Twenty-Seventh.”
“And I say hey!
The girl thwacked the boy on the head. “Don’t be a jerk, Colin.”
“Ow, Jenna!” The boy glared at her, rubbing his head.
“You’re bleeding!” Jenna exclaimed.
The boy jerked upright. “I’m what?! Bloody hell, girl-”
Jenna rolled her eyes. “Not you, numbnuts, him!“ She turned to Xander. “Are you alright?”
“Hm?” Xander looked up from where he’d discovered mashed potatoes. “Oh, the blood. It happens sometimes. No biggie.”
Jenna stared. “No b- you’re bleeding!
“And if you wait a couple minutes, I’ll do this amazing trick where I stop.”
“That’s got to need some skin-sealing potion, at least!”
“Skin-sealing potion? Like in the Matrix?! There will be no sealing of the skin here! I like my mouth where it is, thank you very much!”
“What? What are you talking about? Here, let me see-”
“Leave the skin alone!”
“All right, all right, geez.” Jenna turned back to her food.
Colin snickered. “Leave the poor Aussie alone, Jenna. He’s obviously here for ‘special’ education.”
“Aww, he’s like a mini-snark.” Xander ruffled the boy’s hair.
“Hey, leave off!” Colin said, shoving his hand away.
“So!” Xander said, dueling absentmindedly with a sentient chicken leg, “Magic school. What’re you guys up to in class, fireballs, magic missile?”
Jenna stared. “Magi-what?”
“Can you set things on fire?” Ha-ha, the leg took the bait!
“Oh, yes. That’s first year.”
“Took her ‘til second year to learn how to put things out.” Colin muttered with a grin.
“Hush you!” Thwap.
Xander laughed. “Is this a habit of yours, getting women to hit on you?”
“Well, they get all flustered when I hit on them.” Thwack!
“Bloody hell, woman!”
After dinner, everyone retired to their dorms. Xander, not quite sure where to go, decided to follow the people dressed up like honey bees.
“The kitchens!” he exclaimed, sniffing the air. “You guys live in the kitchens? This place is so much cooler than I thought.”
Jenna rolled her eyes while Colin snorted. “No, mate. Just under. Same staircase, though, I suppose I can’t blame you for mixing the two up. It’s hard, not being able to count more than ten steps.”
“Jenna, have you noticed a certain amount of hostility coming from this guy?” Xander asked conversationally. She snorted.
Xander nodded. “I know, it’s weird. I think he’s got some unresolved issues, maybe hatred of the world for what happened in his childhood.”
“You mean what’s happening.” Jenna replied, gigging. “He hasn’t left it!”
“It must be a terrible trauma, holding him back like that.” Xander shook his head mournfully.
Collin opened his mouth in outrage. “You-“
“Ah, here we are!” They stopped at the bottom of the staircase, in front of the door to the cellars.
“Okay, basement, not so cool.”
“Being a Hufflepuff is about hiding in plain sight.” Jenna tapped a wine bottle in a painting. “Re vera, potas bene.”
“You talk to paintings in latin often?” Xander asked.
“It’s the password.” She said with just a hint of exasperation. The painting swung open.
“Pithy, yet apt.” Xander stepped through and stopped.
“Hey, keep moving! You’re in the way.”
“Hobbiton. I’ve stepped into Hobbiton.” Xander breathed, letting Colin push him aside.
“What?” Colin glanced around the room. “It’s the common room, you nutter. A bit poofy, but well, that’s what you get when your founder’s named ‘Puff’”
They were in a large earthen room filled with cheery yellow tapestries and thick, cushy armchairs. There were several large stone fireplaces spread along one wall, with spits and pokers and several other implements he suspected were used for the roasting of victuals. Aside from the smaller tables scattered throughout the room, there was a large, round wooden table in the center, surrounded by sofas.
had him glancing around suspiciously for hairy feet were the doors. Each and every one leading out of the room was perfectly and unabashedly circular. And painted bright yellow.
“Come now, move along!” Professor Sprout bustled through the doorway. “Alright, you all know we’ve got a new student. Xander, this is our common room. All you lot, this is Xander. Basic rules- no fighting, spitting, insulting, or engineering any large and complicated spells that could cause anything to explode, implode, burn, or gain sentience. Normally, we don’t have trouble with that last one, but every once in a while a Ravenclaw slips through and all hell breaks loose. I don’t know how, but I think it’s the hat screwing with me. At any rate! Boys to the left, girls to the right, bathrooms on either side, and if you decide to cook anything, you clean up the mess. Any questions?”
Xander shrugged. “Not really. Where do I sleep?”
The professor paused. “Oh, dear. I don’t think it would really work out, putting you with the boys. Very well; we shall simply create a room for you here.” She snapped her wand out toward the wall. “Terra Liberare!
Dirt exploded outward and swirled up in the air, until it swooped up a chute in the far corner by the fireplaces. Professor Sprout nodded satisfactorily. “There. The gardens have been needing some virgin soil for a bit now.” She walked over to the new opening and poked a seed in the dirt. “Pro domo, crescatus.
A sprout wiggled out of the ground and quickly spread into a wooden floor, sliding up the walls until the entire room was encased in wood. Several more spells, and his room had grown a desk, a wardrobe, some torches, and a bed.
“That should do for starters.” The professor said briskly. “Once you’ve gotten a handle on the spells, you can adjust the room to your liking. As long as you don’t encroach on any other rooms, you may expand it as well. Most of the sixth and seventh years like adding a second floor.”
“Er…” Xander glanced around the room awkwardly. “You can do that?”
“Certainly! Just make sure you dispose of the dirt properly.” The professor replied, waving toward the chute. “Now for the door. Accio
lid!” A barrel lid dropped out of a hole in the ceiling above the round table. “Engorgio Erecto.
” There were a fair number of muffled snickers to the left.
The lid expanded with a sudden fwoomf!
and latched itself neatly in the doorway.
“There we are. Password it tomorrow, but for tonight, you may open it with your birthdate.”
“You’re entirely welcome. Now…” She leaned in close. “You’re a Hufflepuff now, and that counts for something. But I know that dirty old hat, and he’s as much a bastard as Godric was. He doesn’t care
about anyone in Hufflepuff, and he cared about you, so that means he’s up to something. So while you’re one of mine and I’m going to back you to the hilt, let me give you one, clear, precise warning- you know a mother, a good mother, the kind what no one can refuse? Imagine her furious, like an oncoming hurricane, and imagine her furious with you
. That’ll be me, if you hurt someone. At tenth strength.”
Xander gulped and nodded, pale. “Yes, ma’am. No worries, ma’am. I’ll be good, ma’am.”
She looked at him for a moment, and then nodded sharply. “Good!”
Suddenly the Professor looked like a harmless old biddy, and the world was cheerful again. “Welcome to Hufflepuff, Alexander!”