In the first Harry Potter book, we learn very quickly that there are four Hogwarts Houses: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. We learn more about them from the Sorting Hat’s songs and through Harry’s limited perspective, but there is more to these Houses. Like many others, I have turned to fanfiction in hopes of satisfying my desire to live in the Wizarding World, and I found one fanfic that acts like a travel guide brochure to the Houses.
While I was looking for fanfics with Snape and Harry interactions, I stumbled on JAWorley’s fanfic about a House Exchange Program (a.k.a. The Great Exchange). The idea is to learn more about the other Hogwarts Houses and cultivate inter-House unity. In this fanfic, we see the exchange through Harry’s eyes and see some imaginative ways that the Houses could be different from and similar to each other. As I list the Houses below, I will follow the order Harry visits them in.
Note: I know that I need a refresher on what Rowling wrote about each House and its living spaces, and I have reviewed the Wiki pages about them. But I love the imagination used in The Great Exchange.
To start with, Ravenclaw is the House that values knowledge and wisdom. To show that, I will quote While the Sorting Hat has a new song every year, I will stick to its 1991 version about Ravenclaw and the other upcoming houses. The Sorting Hat sings,
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind; (Rowling 88)
These are nice qualities, and it’s a fairly simplistic overview of the House, though I am proud to call myself a member of it. What do these students do besides study and answer riddles to get into their common room? JAWorley came up with these ideas:
- They experiment all the time. They play with Transfiguration and Charms. When Harry went through his exchange, they blew up a feather and transfigured it into something that the House decided to sell to Slytherins.
- Flitwick lets them out of the common room every now and then to go look at the stars on top of their roof.
- They still have the unique system of answering a riddle to get into the Common Room, but I like seeing people actually trying to help each other solve it.
This is a Ravenclaw House I would want to belong in. I’m still not that thrilled about using a riddle to get into the Common Room, but I like a House where everyone tries to help each other. I also like seeing the experimentation along with research.
In JAWorley’s story, Harry returns to his regular House for a couple of weeks. We know the most about this House for obvious reasons.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart; (Rowling 88)
It’s pretty clear that if we put Gryffindors in the Divergent universe that most would probably go to Dauntless. I digress. We do know from the series that in the common room, during Harry’s time, that there’s pranking, Wizarding games, and studying that happens in the common room. We also know that many of the Gryffindors do show these traits of bravery in the halls as well as their rivalry with Slytherin.
Now let’s look at what I observed in JAWorley’s rendition of Gryffindor House.
- Gryffindors are very protective of each other, even people they don’t like.
- They play a lot of games and go outside to play. They value that fun time.
- McGonagall is the only Head of House who seems to stay away from the dorms and the common room.
- They share almost everything with each other, like the latest Quidditch magazines.
I didn’t see much that was different about Gryffindor than what we already know about from Rowling’s series, and it doesn’t help that the story is mostly from Harry’s perspective. For the sake of argument, I wish there was a companion piece for Draco’s visit to Gryffindor.
Then we have Hufflepuff, which people truly underestimate. The Sorting Hat sings,
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil; (Rowling 88)
I know that I have zeroed in on “loyal” and left the House at that. There’s clearly more at work with them being “just” and “unafraid of toil,” and that’s made clearer when Cedric becomes a Hogwarts Champion for the Triwizard Tournament.
The Great Exchange takes some liberties with Hufflepuff.
- This is the only House that doesn’t have actual four poster beds. They sleep in little holes in the wall like badgers’ dens. They’re supposed to be more comfortable than beds.
- They have their own special study rooms. Just don’t offend the plant that doesn’t like people being rude to each other, or it won’t let you leave the room.
- The House is governed by the students, and problems get resolved through a student-body court. The court can even overturn detentions!
The student court sounds interesting, and it seems to really care about what is just and what isn’t. The invention for this House is remains true to the description given by the Sorting Hat.
Finally, we have the house of snakes. With Draco Malfoy and Voldemort giving Slytherin a worse name, it takes a long time to see more to the House with a description like this:
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
to achieve their ends. (Rowling 88)
The way this book series sets out to hate one House that only exists in its universe is sad. We at least learn more about it through Snape, Voldemort, and Harry’s own agonizing about it.
JAWorley makes it wonderfully more complicated as a House.
- They play Wizarding Games beyond Wizard’s Chess and Gobstones. They also have games like Mermaid’s Tide and Goblin Fire. I don’t know how these card games are played, but it sounds like fun.
- Snape requires them to work on different projects every term that are outside the normal Hogwarts curriculum. Examples: translating a book from Old Elvish into Modern Elvish to English, researching to help a parent’s business, and conducting a survey.
This is a friendlier version of Slytherin than I’m used to, but I love it. I’m more interested in the projects. One of mine would have involved a foreign language if I was Sorted into this House.
Even if the Hogwarts Houses stuck only to what J.K. Rowling imagined, I would still love for this exchange program to get added to the universe. As described in the story, this is a good way to encourage House Unity.
It would be cool to find out the Houses were this way and everyone is just misunderstood, and this idea of a House Exchange Program made the Hogwarts Houses more interesting. You should absolutely read The Great Exchange. If you write fanfiction, you might try the challenge associated with it: create your own House Exchange program story.
Based on these fanfic Hogwarts Houses, which House do you want to be Sorted into? Would you like to try a House Exchange program?
JAWorley. “The Great Exchange.” Potions and Snitches, 30 Nov. 2017, www.potionsandsnitches.org/fanfiction/viewstory.php?sid=3450. Accessed 20 July 2018.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 1997. Bloomsbury, 2001.