Pottermore, Part II: Hufflepocalypse Now

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Me: Do you know who that is? That's J.K. Rowling.

Plum: Whoa. She looks weird.

Rowling: [Gravely] "The Sorting Hat is about to decide which House you will be joining ... The Hat's decision is final. Good luck."

[The Sorting Hat appears. The tension is thick.]

Me: Its rip is very big.

Plum: It has to sing, doesn't it?

[The Sorting is, like the wand-choosing sequence, a series of multiple-choice questions, but longer. Plum takes the lead. She chooses the quality she'd most like to get from a magic potion (wisdom), what she'd most like people to feel about her (trust), what power she'd like to have (talk to animals, "because you could have an animal army!"). She chooses from a selection of magic artifacts (a silver dagger). She chooses between black and white (white), and dawn and dusk ("Hang on. What are dawn and dusk?"). The verdict arrives abruptly.]

Me: [Disbelieving] Hufflepuff.

Plum: Cute! I love Hufflepuff.

[There's nothing wrong with Hufflepuff. Absolutely nothing. It's the nice House. But there's no denying that the mood in the room is slightly subdued. It's not exactly a flashy House. Those colors — yellow and black. The common room — it's underground? Off the hallway to the kitchens? And the motto: "Those patient Hufflepuffs are true and unafraid of toil." We're "often underestimated." It seems like the beta House, basically.]

Me: O.K., I'm slightly disappointed. But I'm cool.

Plum: Well, at least we're not in Slytherin. And also it's O.K. that we're not in Gryffindor, because we're still brave. 'Cause it keeps giving us hints that we're brave.

Me: It's a pretty good choice in a lot of ways.

Plum: We don't have to be the smartest person in the world.

Me: I definitely identify with being underestimated. People often don't realize that I'm the smartest person in the world.

Plum: [Punches me] We're supposed to be the nicest.

Me: Shall we brew a potion?

Plum: I want to brew up Felix Felicis. Something that's a good potion. Not that one of living death.

[Potion brewing is a major activity in Pottermore, it turns out. You assemble ingredients and combine them in very specific ways, involving mortars and cauldrons.]

Me: Oh my God, this is complicated. Let's skip it and see what's next.

Plum: Oh come on! If you're at Hogwarts, then you have to be able to make at least one decent potion.

Me: No wonder I didn't get into Ravenclaw.

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