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Irene Valiant

Staring isn’t going to get you a seat... probably

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Irene Valiant

Hufflepuff.

 

The Sorting Hat’s words repeated in her head as she got off the stool with a small hop and walked away from the center of the Great Hall as quickly as she could, away from the attention that had caused her cheeks to burn a furious pink out of embarrassment. She wasn’t a Gryffindor. That was the first thing she realized as she absentmindedly looked at the table of her new home and made her way over there.

 

Irene couldn’t quite make out what her feelings were. Disappointment? Relief? Probably bewilderment at best. She had both looked forward to and ran away from the idea of sharing the same house as her father, however the Sorting Hat had clearly thought different. It had called her kind, and fair and with a bright heart. It had even pointed out her curiousness and desire to know the world, but nowhere in its speech had there been a hint at bravery.

 

Because she wasn’t. Brave, that is. And it had always bothered her to carry such a surname on shoulders that weren’t made for it. She sighed, reaching the Hufflepuff table as her mind raced with countless thoughts of the possibilities of her parents’ reactions, even if she knew they would be nothing but loving. Irene realized a beat too late that she had been staring at the table for too long just sighing and thinking to herself.

 

“Sorry, for staring...” She mumbled, blushing furiously once again as she uttered the apology to the girl sitting where she had been staring.

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Harper Caldwell

Harper sat towards one end of her new house table, Hufflepuff, with the other incoming first years. The friendly girl was torn between chatting happily with her new housemates every time another first year joined their ranks and between contemplating the Sorting Hat’s words. For an article of clothing, it demonstrated an amazing insight into her personality. She valued equality, a desire for all to follow their own path, loyalty, and hard work. The only thing she doubted was it calling her humble. Harper knew she was great and knew she would do great things one day. But that wasn’t what was preventing her from being completely thrilled with her new house. 

 

Wasn’t Hufflepuff the loser house? The rejects who wouldn’t be accepted into the other three prestigious houses of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin? She heard her classmates at the Pre-Hogwarts Primary say that. She even heard sorted students and adults alike saying that. She couldn’t be a reject. She was meant for great things. She was funny, she was talented, she helped others… 

 

As she looked up and down the Hufflepuff table, she didn’t see anyone who looked like a reject. The new first years she chatted with and even some of the older students nearby appeared to be perfectly lovely and competent people. 

 

As students with names further down the alphabet began to get sorted, Harper decided that she would make a decision on her new house. Hufflepuff deserved that, her new housemates deserved it, and so did she. 

 

She broke out of her reverie when her housemates began to clap. Her blue eyes looked up, warming when she saw a girl standing there. She looked just as lost and apprehensive as Harper felt. Friendly and caring in nature, the thin brunette moved slid down the bench to make room for the new girl. Waving the girl to the seat, Harper smiled “Don’t be silly, come take a seat next to me!"

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Irene Valiant

Irene looked up when the girl replied, and found herself looking at the blue eyes of the brunette that was now smiling at her, a smile that made her feel just a little less apprehensive as she nodded her head to the petition and took a seat next to her now housemate. It took her just a bit of effort to not trip over herself, but just a few moments later she was sitting next to the welcoming girl and smiling back at her. It was shy smile, but it was the best she could muster with all the things she was feeling inside.

 

“Thank you, I didn’t quite know where to sit.” Irene said, trying to not speak too lowly so the other could hear her over the chatter and applauses as the last few students were sorted. “Ah right, my name is Irene Valiant, nice to meet you.” She added, remembering all she had been taught about being polite to strangers.

 

Irene couldn’t help but wonder if there were others that felt just as lost and confused about their sorting as she felt. There probably were, and she hoped that, by the end of the night, they would all find at least some sort of sense of belonging to the house they were a part of now. If not, well, she couldn’t imagine herself being at a place she disliked for seven whole years, which is why she was willing to try to belong, and although she was nervous, she decided that talking to this girl was a good first step.

 

“What is your name?” She asked, smiling once again, trying not to seem too nervous as she hid her hands under the table to keep them from fidgeting too obviously.

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Harper Caldwell

“Of course!” Harper’s smile grew larger as the new girl slid onto the bench next to her. She always tried to extend the hand of friendship when meeting people even during a normal day. But here and now, in Hogwarts on their very first day, Harper decided to go out of her way to make new friends. It wasn’t for entirely altruistic reasons either. She wanted friends. She was a muggleborn and unlike many of their peers, the eleven year old knew nobody here. Loneliness hasn’t kicked in quite yet but Harper wanted to get ahead of the game. 

 

“Its nice to meet you too Irene! I heard all of us first year girls will be in one big dorm. It will be nice to have at least one friendly face in there, don’t you think?” And Harper decided that Irene did indeed look nice. Someone who was so nervous surely couldn’t be mean. Nervous and mean normally didn’t go hand in hand. 

 

“Oh, I’m sorry!” She blushed and the many freckles sprinkled across her face appeared to disappear as her face turned pink from embarrassment. “That was rude of me. I’m Harper!” She couldn’t handle silences, especially potentially awkward ones, well and tended to spit out too many questions at once. In general, she was just excited to be meeting someone new. “Are you excited to be here in Hogwarts"

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Irene Valiant

Irene felt quite proud of herself for talking to a complete stranger as soon as she joined the table, remembering how she had kept silent almost the whole express ride and also during the short boat trip they had taken to the castle. Those memories seemed almost impossibly far away now that she knew what her house was and that she was sitting next to the people that were going to be like a make-shift family for the next seven years.

 

Her eyes widened comically when she heard they were going to share just one room. That sounded somewhat exciting and also terrifying, since Irene had no siblings and she had always slept by her own she didn’t know what to expect, still, if everyone -or almost everyone- was like the girl in front of her, then she guessed she was going to be just fine.

 

Irene’s expression softened when the girl, who she now knew was named Harper, blushed pink in what she guessed was embarrassment. She had noticed the glint of freckles as well, and had found them endearing, and so she decided that someone who was capable of blushing like that was certainly not someone she should be afraid of.

 

“It’s okay.” She said, her posture relaxing as she felt more comfortable in her place. “I’m very excited about being here, and very nervous, too.” She chuckled, covering her mouth with one of her hands. “My dad was a student here as well so I know a bit about Hogwarts, and I’m happy it’s finally my turn to be here? Even if I can barely control my nerves... What about you? Do you like it so far?”

 

Irene supplied, finding it easier to fill the silence with words rather than letting it be, plus if they were going to be sharing a room, then might as well make it as little awkward as possible.

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Harper Caldwell

“Great.” Harper grinned in relief and skin tone returning back to it’s normal fair shade. She was happy that Irene was so quick to wave off her rudeness and not one to take offense. Some of these pureblood students reminded her of real sticklers for outdated rules of etiquette that Harper simply did not have the time for. She was a modern woman living in a modern world. “I bet. I feel the same.” She smiled again when Irene admitted to being excited and nervous at the same time.

 

How could anyone feel any differently? A new school was always a bit intimidating but a new opportunity as well. Harper didn’t necessarily like change but she did love learning and exploring new things. 

 

“Your dad went here?” Harper’s interest peaked and she was impressed with her new roommate. She was a muggleborn and the first in her family to ever hear of Hogwarts, let alone attend it. Sometimes she worried that she’d be at a disadvantage but the friendly girl hoped to meet new people who could catch her up to speed. “That’s wicked. I’m a muggleborn so I really don’t know much of anything. Well, I read a bunch about the magical world but it’s not the same, is it?” 

 

The girl always began to spit question out quickly when she was interested in something. 

 

“So you must know a bunch about Hogwarts, right? Tell me something cool!” She pleaded.

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Irene Valiant

“I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling so uneasy, that would be quite lonely.” She said, waving it off with a smile as she finally looked at the food in front of her with some interest. Irene wasn’t particularly hungry with how nervous she was, but she had to admit it looked quite tasty. Hopefully she would be more hungry in the morning when they had to go down for breakfast.

 

Irene blushed ever so slightly to the sudden attention that was being paid to her and the story of her family, yet she was glad Harper found it interesting, it made the words roll out of her mouth with ease.

 

“Oh! My mother is a muggle too, I received most of my education from her so I don’t know that much about the magic world, however my dad told me a lot of stories from when he studied here.” She explained, feeling a little better when thinking of her parents. “He was a Gryffindor...” If she hesitated for a few seconds there, she didn’t mention it, instead she brushed the thought away and continued with her story.

 

“I don’t know if I know more about you about Hogwarts, but my dad has told me a couple of stories.” She chuckles. “During his first year he used to get lost a lot because of the moving stairs, hopefully that won’t happen to us.” Irene pointed out with a smile. “I know our common room is close to the kitchens, at least that’s what he told me; I’ve also heard there used to be a lot of secret passageways? Although I’m not sure if that’s true anymore since the castle suffered a lot of changes.” She shrugs, not making a big deal of it.

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Harper Caldwell

“For sure.” She smiled briefly before glancing around at the other first years at her table and then in the whole Great Hall. “I don’t think we’re as lonely as we might be feeling.” She was sure they weren’t the only two out of so many students to fell alone or missing home. Harper knew that homesickness was a real thing… she had just never been to far from her family or for too long. 

 

“Really? That’s cool.” Harper grinned, relieved she wasn’t the only person in the school with two muggle parents and that she wasn’t educationally behind everyone in the school. “Gryffindor sounds cool. Your dad must be really brave!” At least according to what the Sorting Hat said. Not for the first tie that night, she wondered why she wasn’t sorted into any house but Hufflepuff. She felt brave, she felt smart, and she felt ambitious. She’d have to figure it out later. 

 

“What! Really? The stairs move?” Like escalators? No, that didn’t make sense then if her dad got lost. She couldn’t mean that the stairs like moved places? Harper loved a good snack and smiled excitedly when she learned they were by the kitchens. “Excellent.” Maybe Hufflepuff wasn’t so bad. Snacks were life. “And secret passageways? Those must be really wicked in a magical castle.”

 

She missed the implication that something went wrong at Hogwarts, far too deep in thought. 

 

“Wait, so how did your mum and dad meet if she’s a muggle?"

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Irene Valiant

“Right.” Irene felt somewhat comforted by Harper’s words. She was right, it was certainly unrealistic to thing they were the only ones feeling like that, and Irene found comfort in that. Of course, it wasn’t nice to feel homesick, but people that felt alike could help each other feel better, and she liked that.

 

“Thanks, my mom is really cool in my opinion.” She said with agreement, smiling widely at the thought of her mother. “I guess my dad is brave, at least, braver than I’ll ever be.” Irene mumbled, blushing ever so slightly as she remembered how easily she got scared by everything. “But I’m not sure Gryffindor is entirely about being brave? Or more like, I think the Sorting Hat’s song simplifies everything a lot... I don’t know how to explain it, but I love my dad.” She ended with a shrug, leaving the topic behind to not get tangled in her own thoughts.

 

“That’s what my dad said! That they move, I don’t know, I just hope I don’t get lost because I’m really bad at finding my way back.” She laughed. “Right? I have my doubts about those secret passageways being a thing, but I don’t think my dad would lie to me.”

 

Talking had opened her appetite and at some point she had started eating tiny pieces of bread that she would tear with her hands before pushing them into her mouth. It was warm and soft and made her feel slightly better. 

 

“Ah, my parents? Well, dad works in the Ministry of Magic as a part of something that has to do with international stuff? In any case, he traveled to Mexico once because of his job, when he was still very new to it, and he met my mother there who was finishing her degree in... Uh... Something that has to do with medicine? I don’t remember the exact name. They met by pure accident when my dad was being shown around, and I guess he just kinds liked her and decided to get to know her more. Although I am not entirely sure how his secret was revealed? They never told me that.” She explains, trying to remember the details of the story she had heard a lot of times before.

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