Don’t sleep on the superiority of the yellow badgers
At the risk of sounding incredibly basic, when I was a kid I longed, desperately, to be one of the members of the house of Gryffindor.
I cheated in every ‘Which Hogwarts house are you?’ quiz, knowing that if I answered “brave” and “confident” and “strong” I would be sorted into the house that all my favourite Harry Potter characters – Harry, Hermione, rapscallion Seamus Finnigan – called home.
Now that I am – a few – years older and a little bit wiser I realise how wrong I was.
Gryffindor kids were…. Kind of sh*t? Gryffindor guys would definitely be the type of man who would leave you on read for days and then text you, plaintively, at three in the morning: ‘U up?’ Gryffindor people were funny and smart and cool, sure, but they were also selfish and arrogant and a little bit vain.
When you’re a kid you are drawn, moth-like, to only the coolest things. That’s all you want. This is the particular lot of youth: to ignore anything peripheral and zero in on whatever is number one. It’s why everyone wanted to be Ginger Spice and not, you know, Sporty. (Sorry, Mel B, you know we love you.) It’s why Gryffindor, the most famous house in all of Hogwarts, was so popular. You can forget about Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff completely.
It takes the 20/20 vision of hindsight to understand how much of a mistake that is. It’s only now, years later, that I realise that the best Hogwarts house is Hufflepuff, actually.
The yellow house, home of Cedric Diggory and Newt Scamander and Nymphadora Tonks, has always been much-maligned throughout the history of Harry Potter. The die was cast right at the very start of The Philosopher’s Stone when Draco Malfoy sidled up to Harry in Diagon Alley and immediately laid into the loveable badgers. “Imagine being in Hufflepuff,” he snarked, “I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”
Their reputation precedes them. Though their house tenets are loyalty, conscientiousness and a hardworking, utilitarian spirit, this has always been translated as uninspiring dullness. As Hagrid puts it: “everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers.”
But upon closer, more grownup inspection, I can see that Hagrid is wrong. Hufflepuff is an open, egalitarian house, the most inviting of all the houses at Hogwarts.
Where Gryffindor, Slytherin and even Ravenclaw strive to make their houses feel like an exclusive club, Hufflepuff has what is essentially a doors open policy. As the sorting hat’s song in The Order of the Phoenix explained, Hufflepuff believes in “teach[ing] the lot and treat[ing] them just the same.”
A Hufflepuff’s patience, kindness and reliability make them excellent people. They’re the Cedric Diggorys of this world, humble to a fault, and loyal to a tee. They’re a house that can produce such varied and distinctive alumnae as Newt Scamander (loves animals, endearingly scatter-brained, never boring) and Nymphadora Tonks (painfully cool, the first person at the party and the last one to leave, will defend you to a stranger after meeting you only fifteen minutes before, drunk, in the loo.) They’re the house that has produced the fewest dark wizards.
They’re the house that supplied the most supporters in the battle of Hogwarts at the end of Deathly Hallows, after Gryffindor. Crucially, Hufflepuffs stayed to fight not because they were battle-hungry like their Gryffindor compatriots but because they felt a sense of duty, J.K Rowling has said. Quite simply, they’re good people who do the right thing.
It takes time to realise that people who have excesses of confidence, or intelligence without the emotions, or naked ambition, aren’t the kind of people that you want to be. It takes a bit of maturity to realise that the best house is one that doesn’t trumpet its greatness, but is confident enough its abilities to just go about getting the job done. (Does that remind you of anything? Does Hufflepuff have big dick energy? My heart says yes.)
In recent years we’ve all done a bit of a 180 on Hufflepuff. Rowling herself called the house her favourite, and revealed that her daughter believes that “we should all be Hufflepuffs”.
Rupert Grint, upon taking the sorting quiz from Rowling’s Harry Potter resource website Pottermore, found himself sorted into Hufflepuff. So did the author John Green, the man who gave us The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. Rowling believes that if she were to be sorted today the hat would call out the yellow house.
Is it possible that, with time, there’s been a change in the perception of Hufflepuff? Is it possible that Hufflepuff is now very, very cool?
I think it might be. And it would be just like Hufflepuff to not brag about it, too.
stylist.co.uk has had a yellow makeover on 15 August, to celebrate our Yellow Issue and pay homage to the colour of the season. Read more about the most playful shade of all here.