Chapter 1: The Sorting
Gryffindor Primary: Although there’s a strong case to be made for Hufflepuff as well. But ultimately Olivia lives by her gut instincts, and that’s what drives her to seek justice for those who have been wronged and abused. Olivia’s an amazing case of someone whose life experience should have turned her into a Stripped Gryff (lost faith in her internal compass), but which instead reaffirmed her outlook and morality.
Gryffindor Secondary: Do not get in Olivia’s way, she will run you over.
Slytherin Primary: After his father’s betrayals and his mother’s death, Peter is Petrified Slytherin for most of his life. Taking care of himself over everything and everyone else became his highest priority. Until Olivia, and later Etta. Destroying everything, including his own identity, for the sake of his daughter? Like father, like son.
Slytherin Secondary: Improvisation was Peter’s most important tool for a life spent constantly on the move. Peter has a special talent for modeling other Primaries and Secondaries, so it’s not surprising he might be mistaken for Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.
Olivia/Peter works because when Peter attaches to her, he chooses to model her world view. This arrangement performs as intended until s5, when Etta vanishes: Peter drops everything to search for his daughter, while Olivia feels compelled to continue her work.
Hufflepuff Primary: Innately values life, all life, and genuinely wants to make things better for everyone.
Hufflepuff Secondary: The one really doing all the work in the lab? That’s Astrid. Cleaning up Walter’s messes, arranging for interviews, filling out forms, dealing with the bureaucracy on all levels. The place would fall apart without her and she knows it, but she doesn’t resent the lack of appreciation. Much. Usually.
Slytherin Primary: (pre-St. Claire’s) “There is no God in this lab but me.” Science is his tool for proving all his personal ambitions correct. And then he breaks the world(s) for love of his son. He pretends his motivations align to Hufflepuff, but it’s a faint performance at best. (St. Claire’s and after) Carla Warren’s death and then Elizabeth’s suicide Petrified his aspect even in regard to his own ambition, but he slowly begins to recover during s1.
Ravenclaw Secondary: A tool or theory for every situation, and the willingness to use it—ethics be damned.
Gryffindor* Primary: He’s a believer. Bell has constructed his own value system for what he wants the world to be and nothing can shake his beliefs—but more important, he acts on those beliefs without reservation or hesitation. He pretends to Ravenclaw Primary, but his thinking is innately flawed and doesn’t bear self-examination.
Ravenclaw Secondary: Plans for every contingency and then some. Bell presents as Ravenclaw because he does understand that his intensity can be off-putting...and he wouldn’t want anyone to know what he’s planning until he’s ready to unleash it.
* “A Gryffindor Primary values morality and action, yes–but the moralities of individual Gryffindors vary intensely. They can range from selfless service to dictatorial world domination to confident self-interest.” [SHC]
Ravenclaw Primary: Every decision is carefully weighed and measured to her own standard, which might or might not have anything to do with other people’s notions of morality or ethics. Nina in s4 consciously transforms her personal system when she adopts Olivia and Rachel, a great example of a Ravenclaw Primary’s adjustable nature.
Ravenclaw Secondary: She builds systems and enables the people who can use those systems to their (her) best advantage.
Phillip Broyles and Alternate Phillip Broyles
Gryffindor Primary: He chafes at the system he’s in sometimes, but he joined up with that system out of an innate desire to protect and serve—because it’s the right thing to do, not because of the specific (or generic) people involved.
Gryffindor Secondary: Leading and inspiring from the trenches, doing what needs to be done and charging at bureaucratic windmills. (Alt-Phillip grumbles a lot more about this than his counterpart.) Most of the time, he doesn’t bother to rein Olivia in because she’s chasing the same goals; at least he can keep the red tape from tangling her up.
Gryffindor Primary: “Gryffindor Primaries are the type to leave everything and travel halfway across the world if that’s what they feel is necessary.” [SHC] He’s not always sure about where he stands, but he’s still driven to act when something offends or attracts his innate morality.
Hufflepuff Secondary: More head-down and cautious than Olivia, he’d rather gather information about a situation before charging in, if possible. But he’s not afraid to take leaps of faith when his Gryffindor nature demands.
Alternate Lincoln Lee
Gryffindor Primary: Holding the line against a world that’s falling apart. The work is the most important thing—and (by extension) the people who benefit by that work.
Ravenclaw Secondary: Turning to science represents a deliberate decision on Lee’s part, deciding that knowledge was the best defense against a world turned upside down.
When the Lincolns talk about where their paths diverged, it’s in their Secondaries. They’re driven by the same things, but Lincoln knew it’d take hard work to get where he was going; Lee didn’t have that luxury of time and needed answers immediately.
Charlie Francis and Alternate Charlie Francis
Gryffindor Primary: Serve and protect. Charlie’s a cop through-and-through, doing the best he can for the most people in a flawed system.
Gryffindor Secondary: Bluntly sure of his actions, Charlie would rather be in motion than stuck behind a desk. He’s learned to perform Hufflepuff to deal with FBI bureaucracy, but he’s still innately impatient with the procedures. (Alt-Charlie lacks even the pretense of that patience.)
Alternate Olivia Dunham
Gryffindor Primary: Driven, ultimately, by what she believes is right. She’s done terrible things in pursuit of her beliefs and is willing to own up to that—but not necessarily to regret it. Liv is often assigned to Slytherin, a result of the common perception of the House’s ruthlessness. But more accurately she performs as or even models Slytherin, with her anger over her sister’s death and her dedication to her teammates providing ample justification for her decisions when she feels uncomfortable about necessary actions that conflict with her core values. In s3, this modeling allowed her to get through her mission even when her Gryffindor nature began to chafe at its dishonesty...but it’s her Gryffindor that enabled her to carry it through.
Gryffindor Secondary: She will shoot you down if you get in her way. In s3, Liv performed Slytherin Secondary to accomplish her infiltration. She managed it, but wasn’t comfortable in the role. (“Lies, or even misdirects, are slippery footing. For a Gryffindor Secondary, their blunt honesty is a facet of their personality and their morality—lying about who or why you are taints the victory. A Gryffindor Secondary can and will lie if the cause is important enough—but it will leave a bad taste in their mouth.” [SHC])
In s3, Liv is a Gryffindor compelled to act like a Slytherin to complete her mission. (This does not in any way excuse her actions.) In s4, we see a less-conflicted version of her character.
Alternate Walter Bishop
Slytherin Primary: His love for his son drives him to destroy universes (s3) or figure out how to save them (s4). He wears his ambition more openly, which puts him in Slytherin.
Ravenclaw Secondary: Less hands-on than his counterpart, but still full of plans and contingencies.
Alternate Astrid Farnsworth
Ravenclaw Primary: Her neuroatypical status prompted some particular neurological rewiring, and she rebuilt her life on frameworks she could understand. She constantly examines and redefines her assumptions to better serve the systems she’s devoted her life to.
Hufflepuff Secondary: Doing all the work to enable the jobs of everyone around her. Her House is Hufflepuff because she prioritizes what she does over who she is.
Alternate Frank Stanton
Hufflepuff Primary: Loyalty and dedication to people, all people, and the determination to protect them from disease. (Liv’s betrayal struck his Hufflepuff heart so very hard.)
Hufflepuff Secondary: He does the nasty, hard, dirty work on the ground, providing a steady linchpin for those around him.
(No wonder I ship Frank/Astrid. ;)
Brandon Fayette and Alternate Brandon Fayette
Ravenclaw Primary: Scientific discovery is the reason and motivation for everything. It’s his foundation and his highest power.
Hufflepuff Secondary: Never more unhappy than when you take him away from his work.
Fayette is a great example of how external morals and ethics have no bearing on this system: one appears to be a decent scientist, and the other is a monstrous torturer.
Ravenclaw Primary: A collector of conspiracies and a “fastidious packrat who keeps a handwritten log of every book he's ever sold.” In s5 he’s clearly a Fallen Ravenclaw, since all his cherished institutions have been demolished (and with them, his sanity).
Ravenclaw Secondary: The epitome of the collector, with a book for every situation.
Ravenclaw Primary: She spends her brief time with the Fringe team looking for the why of everything. She wants answers, even if they conflict with her innate religious beliefs.
Hufflepuff Secondary: Methodical investigation, leaving no stone unturned.
Alternate Henry Higgins
Hufflepuff Primary: He’s willing to help Olivia under dire circumstances, even under personal threat. More important, he’s willing to believe her—the Hufflepuff desire to understand others and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Slytherin Secondary: Pulling out the cab’s tracker and choosing to go along with Olivia’s story. That’s Slytherin flexibility: “Sometimes you just got to believe what you can't see.”
[Slytherin Primary]: Whatever Nick might have been was quite thoroughly Burned by the Cortexiphan project. He presents as Petrified Slytherin Primary, self-defense against a world that hurt him so badly. He no longer trusts anyone, including himself. In fic I postulated that he might learn to model a new house based on people he comes to trust; still Slytherin Primary with an attachment to Olivia and/or Lincoln, but willing to trust in and emulate their moral centers.
Slytherin Secondary: Improvisation, the survivor’s necessary skill. (Props to Elfin for her early understanding that Nick and Peter would get along, in her “Ways and Means” series.) His actions in “Bad Dreams” aren’t the bold decisions of a Gryffindor or the logical measures of a Ravenclaw; they’re the last cry for help of a desperate man.
[SPECULATION] In fic I like to play with the idea of a less Burned Nick Lane, one who either wasn’t subjected to the experiment or otherwise came out of it more whole (like in FringeTrek). That Nick, the one in my head (and his alternate version), is pretty firmly Hufflepuff Primary—he wants to help! He likes people! ...which, I suspect, is the root of his reverse empathy. What more terrible thing to do to a Hufflepuff than to ensure his complete isolation. Cortexiphan brings dreams (and nightmares) to life. And he’s Hufflepuff Secondary too, dedicating himself fully to whomever and whatever he decides he loves.
[Slytherin Primary]: His previous aspect was Burned nearly into nonexistence when he inadvertently killed his sister and was forced to murder others. To survive he modeled Petrified Slytherin Primary, choosing to prioritize his own existence over all others. Still, in “Over There, Part 1” he spends his last night using his ability to heal the sick, suggesting a possible Burned Hufflepuff underneath; he overextends so much it ends up costing him his life. I’m pretty sure he would’ve counted that a fair exchange for the lives he took, if asked.
Slytherin Secondary: He’s been driven to hunt and kill his fellow Cortexiphan subjects to ensure his own survival.
[Slytherin Primary]: Based on her following Nick Lane into another universe in s2, and adopting David Robert Jones’ creed in s4. Like most of the other Cortexiphan subjects, she’s at least partially Petrified—sacrificing her own needs in favor of the people she’s chosen to connect to. (“[Petrified] Slytherin Primaries...who have decided that they themselves are not one of their most important people, but maybe a friend or lover is.” [SHC])
Gryffindor Secondary: Reaching here since we have so little canon evidence, but at the very least she’s willing to go blindly where her trusted allies lead, even to destruction.
[Slytherin Primary]: Much like James Heath, with a similarly Burned aspect due to his enforced isolation and vulnerability. He also presents as Petrified Slytherin Primary, having separated himself from the rest of humanity to preserve his sanity. Yet even at the risk of having his brain burned out by too many intruding thoughts, Simon chooses to help Olivia. That’s due to Olivia’s amazing inspirational ability, of course—and (I suspect) his true Gryffindor nature rising to meet hers.
Gryffindor Secondary: By process of elimination: he’s not an improviser, we don’t see any evidence of planning, we don’t know if he values hard work. But like Sally, he does charge into a personally dangerous situation to do what he considers the right thing—or what he’s been convinced is the right thing.
[Slytherin Primary]: As Petrified as the rest of them, choosing a lonely occupation to keep from having to engage with people. But I suspect a Burned Hufflepuff underneath, rising to Olivia’s call to action. “If you had given me some special power, that'd be one thing. Maybe I'd be special. Or at least I'd be useful.” He’s also community-minded: “I used to wonder about [the other Cortexiphan subjects] a lot.”
Hufflepuff Secondary: He drives a supply truck, suggesting steadiness and reliability.
There’s a reason the activated Cortexiphan subjects are Burned on one level or another. Olivia is the anomaly, for so many reasons. But most of the rest were so traumatized that they lost faith in other people and even their own values. Walter Bishop has so much to answer for.
A few quick sorts:
Carla Warren [R]: Ravenclaw Primary, Hufflepuff Secondary
David Robert Jones [G]: Gryffindor Primary, Ravenclaw Secondary (after Bell)
John Scott [G]: Gryffindor Primary, Slytherin Secondary
Miranda Greene [G]: Gryffindor Primary, Hufflepuff Secondary (She wasn’t “activated.”)
Nancy Lewis and Susan Pratt [S]: [Slytherin Primary], unknown Secondary
Observers [R]: Ravenclaw Primary, Ravenclaw Secondary
Rachel Dunham [S]: Slytherin Primary, Slytherin Secondary
Sanford Harris [S]: Slytherin Primary, Slytherin Secondary
Sonia Francis [H]: Slytherin Primary, Hufflepuff Secondary
Thomas Newton [R]: Ravenclaw Primary, Ravenclaw Secondary
Saved one special sorting for last:
Gryffindor Primary: The world is wrong and needs to be fixed. Full stop, the end. (Her mother’s daughter...)
Slytherin Secondary: She’ll do anything she needs to do to make that happen. (...and her father’s.)
Chapter 2: On Relationships
Some thoughts on character interactions, derived from the above. I realize it’s possible to justify nearly anything using this system, so take all comments with a grain of salt.
Olivia Dunham [G/G]/Peter Bishop [S/S]: Gryffindor and Slytherin aren’t opposites, but different types do attract. Olivia gives Peter a moral system to believe in; Peter helps her understand that a little honest selfish emotion is good, healthy, and necessary. Also: “ ...a Slytherin Secondary and Gryffindor Secondary who are on the same page and working together have the potential to be a nearly unstoppable team. Improvising together, they can take charge of a situation in a holistic way that leaves no social angle unexplored– or unexploited.” [SHC] —and in that light, see the comment on John below.
Olivia Dunham [G/G]/Lincoln Lee [G/H]: Same types attract, too. But as most O/L fans will say—okay, I’ll just speak for myself here—in many ways they’re too much alike. Both of them could use a little bit of healthy selfishness...which is why I also ship them both (together and separately) with Peter and Nick.
Alt-Olivia [G/G]/Lincoln Lee [G/H]: So why don’t Liv/Lincoln have the same issue? Because Liv knows how to model Slytherin and freely borrows self-interest when it suits her. Or to frame it another way, her Gryff morality includes taking care of herself, where Olivia’s often doesn’t.
Olivia Dunham [G/G]/John Scott [G/S]: That’s interesting, right? That Olivia was so drawn to a man of strong convictions that she ignored whatever guidelines might’ve been in place about dating fellow FBI agents. (But then, Gryffindors aren’t bound by other peoples’ rules when the rules conflict with their inner certainties.) She might’ve even forgiven John his other loyalties if he’d been honest with her...but of course he couldn’t be, because his Gryffindor oaths to the CIA took precedence over his relationship. If he’d listened a little more to his Slytherin and given his loyalty to Olivia a little more weight, things might’ve played out differently. It’s their Gryffs that conflict.
Olivia Dunham [G/G] & Charlie Francis [G/G]: “You’re gonna be fine,” he told her at their first meeting. And he knew, Gryff calling to Gryff. Charlie worries that Olivia’s intensity doesn’t have a balancing factor; at least he’s got Sonia to tell him to slow down when things get too deep.
Olivia Dunham [G/G] vs. William Bell [G/R] and DRJ [G/R]: Bell and Jones wanted desperately for Olivia to cleave to their worldview. Olivia was having none of it. When Gryffs conflict: you get passionate (violent) disagreement and implacable enmity. Compare that to Newton and his “cold” motivations.
Walter Bishop [S/R] & Nina Sharp [R/R] & William Bell [G/R] (or W/N/W): Ravenclaws? Rule the world. This trio tried, at least. Lots of interesting balancing factors: Walter’s ambition, William’s drive, Nina’s clear-eyed understanding of what it would take to make things happen. Ultimately, though, both Walter and William succumbed to the most extreme obsessive tendencies of their Primaries.