The Hogwarts Common Rooms were known to reflect the virtues and personality of each house it represented, and Hufflepuff was no exception. The Hufflepuff common room was known to be as perennially sunny and welcoming as the people it housed, with its cosy furnishings, brandished copper and everlasting earthy feel. But at night after lights out, the place was comparable to a large, round tomb. It was eerily silent, with only the feeble crackling of logs in the fireplace to offer light and sound. Shadows cast by the light of the dying flames would frolic along the walls and floor in an unsettling dance, flickering and writhing, seeking attention they never received. There were more pressing matters for Elphias to attend to than sit and stare at shadows all night long.
Leaning back in the bright yellow, overstuffed armchair situated near a window, the young Hufflepuff stretched his arms high above his head and groaned when the joints popped satisfyingly loud. It was one in the morning, he was the only one awake, and his energy had long since ebbed. Lethargically nudging the table in front of him away with his foot, he reached for the plastic cup of iced water by his feet and tilted his head back, pouring the cup’s contents directly onto his face. His eyelids twitched, limbs ached, muscles tingled.
“…that didn’t help at all,” he grumbled, voice thick with fatigue. Chucking the cup to the side and dabbing at his eyes with his sleeves, he picked a stray ice cube off of his robes and threw it into the fire. A log hissed in protest.
Using the water to slick back his tangled mess of hair, Elphias tugged the table towards him and picked up his quill and wand. Dipping the quill tip into the stolen inkpot of glittering emerald, he touched it to the sheet of parchment he’d been working on all morning and waved his wand simultaneously, murmuring something while maintaining utmost concentration. Turns out the water did help a little. Soon, without him even moving the quill, the ink started to move on its own, sliding off the tip and sinking onto the parchment in curved, calculated lines like snakes settling into a comfy patch of dirt. Soon, Elphias’s 18th attempt at forging Professor McGonagall’s signature was finally a success. He wanted to rejoice, to call to the heavens and grip the letter in his hand and scream “I’ve done it!”, but all his tired throat could choke out was a satisfied hum.
He read over his handiwork for what was probably the hundredth time that morning, checking for something, anything to be out of place:
Dear Mr. Knightley,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
An exhausted, ecstatic grin spread across Elphias’s tanned face. Not a single ink spot was out of place.