You're waiting in the hall, jumping up and down in excitement. Your stomach turns with worry as you're led out the doors up onto the steps, waiting for your name to be called out. One by one, people around you come up onto the stage and sit on the old stool, the sorting hat perched on their heads. You remember clapping politely as each person is sorted and are seated at their new tables, but you aren't really paying attention. You're too excited about going up there yourself, and you're worried that you won't get Gryffindor like the rest of your family, and you're worried that you will.
Finally, finally, they call your name to go up and sit on the stool like everyone else. The hat is muttering random things about your life, and the room is silent, and you're fidgeting in your seat, waiting for the sorting hat to call out the one word that has more impact on your future than any other.
After a year (or maybe only a minute, you can't tell), the hat is calling out your house, and it's not Gryffindor. It's not Gryffindor, like you hoped and feared, and it's not Ravenclaw like you secretly wished for, and it's not Hufflepuff like you wouldn't have minded. The hat calls out Slytherin, and you're rooted to your spot, not truly believing it.
You can't really remember walking down to the Slytherin table, but you soon realize that it's halfway through the feast, and you're really starving. You dig in, still not believing.
Perhaps it is when you follow the rest of your house down to your new common room that you realize that this is not a bad dream, and you're not going to wake up from it. You try your hardest not to cry, but from the condition of your cheeks, you aren't really doing a good job. There are only 8 new Slytherins this year besides you; 3 girls and 5 boys. They look at you nervously, wondering what was wrong. You shake your head at them and distance yourself, choosing to walk closer to the head boy who is leading the group.
You reach the Slytherin common room and walk up the stairs to your dormitory, finding your luggage all in place. Without bothering to undress or unpack, you collapse on the bed and start to cry, wondering what your parents will think. The older Slytherins sneer at you, but you just pull the curtain surrounding your bed closed. They don't understand just how bad this is to you; after all, your grandfather is Harry Potter, the boy who lived. Your entire family is Gryffindor, and they certainly wouldn't approve. What did people say? That there wasn't a wizard turned bad who wasn't in Slytherin? You think of all the people that you know from- you have to force yourself to think it- your house. The list is depressing; Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange, the whole Malfoy family. You don't want to think about it anymore.
The next morning, you get a letter from your parents, congratulating you on your house, but you can tell most of the words are not true. You don't think that your mother could be proud of raising a child who is in the house of dark wizards. Who could? you think to yourself, sitting alone while you pick at your breakfast.
For the rest of the year, you distance yourself from the rest of your house's members, lying low and going to all of your classes. You do okay; not a genius, not failing. But you can feel the stares. They look at you in interest, perhaps wondering if you are the grandchild of Harry Potter, but as soon as their gazes hit the serpent embroidered in your robes, they turn to glares. Could it really be? Could a close relative of the boy who lived really be a Slytherin? You wish they would forget all of that. Slytherins aren't all bad… Right?
You mail your parents to ask if they want you to come home for the holidays. A few days later you get the reply; a nice no thank you from your mother. While the tone is polite as ever, you aren't stupid; you can read between the lines. After all, some of the relatives will be over, and she wouldn't want to be embarrassed by a Slytherin child. You try not to be disheartened, but you can't help but wonder what the reply would have been were you a Gryffindor, or even a Hufflepuff. You spend your holidays indoors, alone. When Christmas comes, you open the one present from your parents; a set of wizard chess. You're glad your parents didn't forget you, but the chess set just reminds you that you have no one to play it with.
Finally, summer vacation is coming, and you can't wait to get home to your sister. You know she'll care; she's the only one who ever does. Maybe this summer will be a reprieve from the awful year you've had. You get on the train, head into a car full of children you don't know, and settle down for the long ride ahead. You pull into the station, and the whole family is there on the platform. You wonder if you were wrong about your parents' disapproval until you get off the train and come towards them. You greet your sister first, and she says hello cordially, stealing glances at your mother. At first you're confused, but when she looks at you helplessly, you realize. You can tell that the whole reason she's distancing herself from you is because your mother has told her to, and it makes you mad. You stalk past your parents without even a hello, and run to the car, slamming the door. The rest of the ride home is silent, filled only by the hooting of your owl in the backseat.
You get home and run up to your room, only to be stopped by your father. He tries to console you, tell you that he doesn't care if you're Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or even a Squib, and although you can tell he means it, it really doesn't matter. It doesn't change the situation. He may love you still, but he isn't about to brag about you and your house to the neighbors. You push past him and run to your room, slamming the door. You can hear your parents talking in the kitchen, and you wonder what they're going to do with you. By now, you really don't care.
You're not sure what time of night it is when the door opens, only that it's late. Someone walks in, and you're about to shout at them to get out, when you realize who it is. You sigh as he sits down, making an indentation in the bed.
"You know," he says, in that strange accent only he has, "When I was going into Hogwarts, the sorting hat almost put me in Slytherin." You sigh again; you have heard this story so many times, and it wasn't going to help, even now, when suddenly it was so close to your own heart. "No, no, hear me out," he says, patting you on the shoulder. "You see, the sorting hat told me I would do great things in Slytherin. And it was right. You're going to be great one day, you know that? All of this trouble in the beginning is just going to make you greater." He leaves the room, and you realize he's right. You are going to be great one day. The problem is getting to one day.
For the rest of the summer, you stick close to him. When it comes time for your second year, you feel as if this summer wasn't a total waste of time. In fact, you are almost happy.
In your second year, you decide to make some friends. You start sitting with the other Slytherin second years, and soon you're great friends, especially with one of the girls, Erin. You realize you have almost all of the same classes, and start walking to them together and helping each other with the homework. You find you're laughing more often, and now you have someone to play wizard chess with.
The stares aren't so bad this year. Now, they're just the traditional, 'look at that Slytherin over there' stares, not the added 'is that really a Potter?' With friends to bear them with you, you realize maybe they weren't that awful to begin with.
That Christmas, you don't even bother with sending the letter to your parents. You know what their reply will be. Instead, you spend the holidays with your new friends. You especially enjoy the look on Erin's face when she sees the serpent necklace you got her.
The rest of the year passes quickly, uneventfully. It was a good one; the longing to be in another house dulled, but you can still feel it from time to time. You dread getting on the train home this time, wishing you could stay at Hogwarts.
Now, as you get off the train, you do not greet your family. You just grab your bags and walk away, content to get home. Nobody seems to mind.
Later in the summer, you ask your mother if you can invite Erin over for the weekend. You watch as her face turns red when you tell her she's another Slytherin, and you wonder exactly why it is that she sends you into your room, screeching, immediately. You listen by the door as your father comes, called by the noise, and they start to argue. You can't hear all of it, just faint mumblings. 'can't see why not…' 'you must get over this fact, Maryssa, perhaps this Erin isn't how you think…' You're glad that your father is standing up for you, but what your mother says makes your heart fall even further than before. As their fighting becomes even more heated, their hushed whispers grow into a crescendo until they are shouting. You can hear your mother screaming, and then, 'MY WORST NIGHTMARE! MY OWN CHILD IS BECOMING A TRUE SLYTHERIN!' You fall against the wall, realizing that your fears proved correct. You've thought, over the past two years, but now it is for certain. Your mother hates you, all because of the house you were sorted in.
Despite the massive heat wave outside, the next morning's meal is fridged. You think that your parents suspect you heard their fighting, but neither seem to regret it. The subject of Erin doesn't come up again.
Your third year, your sister comes with you. You're excited for her, you suppose, but by now you don't really care. You just want to see your friends, and tell them all of the problems of your summer. You know you will just laugh at it now, as things never seem so terrible in the one place you really belong.
Unfortunately, you can't help but hear the conversation that goes on in the train station the morning before you depart. Your mother is holding your sister's face in her hands, giving her a stern talk. "Now, honey," she says, "you must be Gryffindor, especially with," here, she looks at you distastefully, "some… recent events. We couldn't have that affecting our reputation, now, could we?" Your sister dutifully shakes her head, no doubt wondering just exactly what your mother means. She is too young to understand the poison my sorting three years ago injected into our family. "You promise you will do your very hardest to get a good house?" your mother asks. Your sister nods her head, and she is ushered onto the train.
Even with your friends near you for the first time in almost three months, you are silent for the whole train ride. They ask you what exactly was wrong, but you don't answer. Every time you try to, the words are stuck in your throat and you have to endure the worried looks your friends, especially Erin, shoot in your direction.
You're in the hall, sitting at your table, when the first years file into the Great Hall. You can see your sister standing there, obviously worried, and the talk your sister and mother had pops into your head. For the first time, you understand that the strain between you and your mother affected not only you. You turn away, unable to look at her.
The names are called one by one, and finally it is your sister's turn. She steps up onto the stage and sits on the stool tentatively. The hat is placed on her head, and after only a second of thought, the hat calls out 'Gryffindor'. You think bitterly of how proud your mother will be, now with a 'decent child.' You push your way up from the table suddenly and stalk to your dorm before the meal even begins. You don't think anyone notices. If they do, they certainly don't care.
The next morning, your sister gets a letter congratulating her on her house as well. Only her letter, a howler of a sort, is much more positive. You can hear it from all the way across the Great Hall. Your mother is so proud. Perhaps she thinks that now she has a child in Gryffindor you will be forgotten. Perhaps she's right. Erin notices your expression and pulls you gently away and into the hall, trying to get your mind off the morning. It's a nice gesture, but doesn't help much.
Your sister is everything you aren't. She's a wonderful student, popular, and even a beater on the Quidditch team. Your mother sends her letters almost every week congratulating her on this achievement or that, whereas you haven't received anything from your parents in months.
Sometime near Christmas, something happens that shakes the whole wizarding community; the great Harry Potter dies. Everyone is grieving. He left a big impact on them all.
You are hit the hardest. Your grandfather meant a lot to you, especially since he supported your being in Slytherin. Nobody notices though. They all turn towards your sister, the picture perfect Gryffindor. She's coddled and comforted, everyone telling her how sorry they are for her loss. It doesn't matter as much to her, though. She wasn't close to him like you were, and yet she still gets all of the attention. You stay in the shadows, grieving on your own.
That year, your sister leaves for Christmas, your parents saying she's only coming for closure. You're not sure what that means, but you ask if you can come, too. They decline, saying you don't really think you need it.
It isn't until after break that you realize what they meant by 'closure'; his funeral. It was a quiet thing, only a few close friends and family, but a reporter had somehow snuck in. It made front page in the Daily Prophet.
Your heart freezes. You can't believe your parents did this to you - actually, you can. This last, terrible act hardens your heart to even your father, who at least had the decency to send an apology letter. You rip it to shreds, and use it to fuel the small fire in the common room that is now the only thing that can make you feel warm inside. You stay in your dormitory as much as you can, avoiding all contact. Finally, at the end of the year, you ask if you can come home with Erin for the summer holidays. She agrees, and you send your owl home to tell your parents. While you don't get a reply, you're sure they don't mind.
That summer is the best of your life. There are no parents to worry you, no disapproving looks. Not only that, but Erin's parents are extremely welcoming, treating you as if you were their own child.
Your forth year is very uneventful. You go around to all of your classes, spend time with your friends, and decide never to speak to your parents again. Even when your father owls you letters and pleads that you come home the next summer, you ignore them, shoving them in the bottom of your bag to collect the ink that leaks from your quills.
Erin invites you over for the summer and you agree, even though feel guilty about it. While the first half of your summer should have been fun, you can't enjoy it. You're too busy wondering if you should have gone home to your father.
Finally, it becomes too much for you. You apologize to Erin, telling her you have to go home. You spend the whole ride their worrying whether you've made the right decision or not. You get to your house and, after waiting outside the door for several minutes, nock.
Your mother answers the door. "Hello, who is this… Oh, it's you." This is a great blow to your courage, but you stand your ground. "I thought you were staying with your… friend for the summer," she says, her tone scathing.
"I was," you say, "but dad told me to come home for the summer, so…" Your mother is taken aback.
"He said what? Oh never mind, we'll deal with this later. With any luck you'll be gone again tomorrow… Oh, you may as well come in so we can get this sorted out…" You can barely keep the tears in, but you refuse to cry in front of your mother. Instead, you turn on your heel and walk off. You obviously aren't wanted there.
You spend the rest of your summer traveling. You don't think you could stand going back to Erin's and having to explain why you're not at your home like you said you would be. You don't think you could tell her your parents don't want you.
Your fifth and sixth years are about the same as your fourth. Your attitude changes and you start not caring about your school work. You may as well live up to your mother's expectations. You are proud of each F that adorns your transcript like one more jewel of defiance. Each summer you go to Erin's. She asks you the first time why you don't go home instead, and your burning rage all but destroys an entire wing of her house before you descend into a fog of misery. It takes more time to wash the floor of your tears than it does to fix the damage you have done to her walls. She doesn't ask you again.
You decide to drop out of Hogwarts as soon as you turn of age. That school has never been a home to you as it has been for so many others, which you regret, but what's done is done. You go off on your own, get a job at a shop in Diagon Alley and buy yourself a house. Soon, you meet someone who's perfect for you; another Slytherin. You are in love, but every day you wonder if a pivotal part of your marriage hinges on your glee that Mother wouldn't approve. Not that it matters; you haven't spoken to a single member of your family since the incident the summer of your 4th year, a very long time ago.
You send a notice to your father, telling him of your engagement. You don't expect him to come, and you're right. It's a small thing with neither of your families in attendance, and it's one of the happiest days of your life.
10 years and 3 children later, you still haven't heard from your parents. You occasionally hear mention of your sister, usually in the Daily Prophet. She's become a very famous auror, it seems, and you're glad she's been able to do something with her life. You learn that she's trying to find you and apologize, but you don't want to hear it. She can't make it up to you, not now. You move away, hoping to never be found.
It's been over 75 years since you left Hogwarts. Your children are long gone, your spouse passed away. You've retired and now live in a small house on a busy street somewhere in London.
You haven't heard about your sister in years, so it surprises you when she appears on your doorstep one day. You invite her in for tea, but you can tell she's very tentative about staying.
"Look," she says, "I'm-"
"Sorry?" you finish. "It's a bit late for that. Anyway, I'm just a Slytherin. What does it matter?" you finish bitterly. She winces.
"I never meant it like that," she tells you.
"It's fine," you say, "it never really was your fault. My life changed from the moment the sorting hat was put on my head. But it doesn't matter. Harry was right, what he said to me." She looks at you, confused, and you realize you've never told anyone about that night. "Look, I forgive you. It doesn't matter." You say it with as much conclusiveness as you can, and she heads for the door, realizing what you want. You look around you, at the pictures of your family on the walls, and the comfortable retirement that your own hard work has afforded you. You wouldn't trade this life for anything. When you're sure she can't hear anymore, you whisper to yourself, "He really was right. Slytherin made me great."