So... my fiance has been reading Harry Potter, and he mentioned that his view of the Hufflepuff House is that they're all rather fraidy-cats hiding off in the corner. Which I suppose in books 1&2 is accurate enough. I mean, they're 1st years, and they're being contrasted with Gryffindors, who of course are known for being exceptionally brave and daring.
That doesn't mean that the Hufflepuffs don't grow up into some of the best Hogwarts has to offer.
Can we take a moment to talk about how awesome Nymphadora Tonks is?
(spoilers to follow)
Seriously. She knocks two things over in the books and gets labeled a klutz. She likes to entertain people and is a Hufflepuff so somehow she's not taken as seriously as, well, Moody.
Okay. It's hard to take anyone as seriously as Mad-Eye Moody. And I'm a Hufflepuff so I'm biased towards my house, but I rather think Tonks shows just how insanely awesome the Hufflepuffs are, if anything.
I mean, c'mon. She's an Auror. In HBP the point is made that Tonks is more intelligent than Fleur, being an Auror, and we know that's a good point (Harry disagrees, Fleur being Beaubaxton's champion and all). After all, Harry himself would not have been able to get into the necessary NEWT classes without Slughorn's appointment in Potions.
You know what that means? Tonks got an Outstanding OWL in Potions. She had to in order for Snape (who was certainly potions master when she was in her sixth and seventh year) to take her into his class. And getting her NEWTs is one thing, she still had to pass all the tests for an Auror, making her a peer to such bad-asses as Kingsley and Mad-Eye Moody.
So she's tough and smart and funny... and utterly kind and loyal and open-minded, as we can see by her devotion to Lupin, who had been generally shunned by the rest of the wizarding community. She's also got her head on rather solidly, as she chooses to generally appear with the looks she has naturally, rather than metamorphizing herself to look as beautiful as, say, Fleur. She doesn't feel a need to - she is utterly happy with who she is.
All of these qualities are also shown in Cedric Diggory, the other Hufflepuff to get any decent screentime. Sure, next biggest Huff, prefect Ernie McMillian is a little pompous, but Harry specifically notes that he rather likes Ernie in spite of this, even though this was a quality he found annoying in Percy Weasley, and Ernie is one of the first people to publicly declare that he believes in Harry in OotP. Let us not forget that, other than Gryffindor, Hufflepuff was the only house to unanimously choose to stay and fight Voldemort in DH!
And all of this is only drawing on information from the books! JKR has said a great deal more about Hufflepuff over on Pottermore, including the fact that it is the only house never to produce a Dark Wizard. It's unfortunate that we never got to see their common room on the page or screen, because according to the website it is quite an awesome place to be... not to mention right next to the kitchens! Who wants to bet Hufflepuff was the only house that actually knew the House Elves? Speaking of Hufflepuff Headcanons, here are some of my favorites.