One of my biggest peeves about Harry Potter was the scene in Deathly Hollows where all of Slytherin was thrown under the bus because of one loud-mouthed turn-coat. It was the conclusion of the paper-thin, transparent archetype houses that Rowling had wrote for seven books, where all of Gryffindor was good and righteous and main character material (except Pettigrew, who hadn’t been a Gryffindor for decades) and all of Slytherin was evil and cowardly and conniving and antagonist material (except Regulus Black, except he just happened to turn good at the last second of his life), and all of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were background characters more akin to props than people.
Apparently Rowling justifies Slytherins’ objection to fighting by saying that they would have been fighting their family. That… ok, maybe this is an american thing, what with the war of brothers in our history, but that’s just not good enough to me. That seems like all the more reason for them to fight.
“Potter’s right there, let’s just give him to Lord Voldemort!”
Pansy Parkinson was pointing to the boy who lived, who’d sought a brief refuge in the long final night of conflict between him and the would-be tyrannical facist, and he froze. The Gryffindors stood and whirled around to face the Slytherins, wands drawn as they turned.
Each and every Slytherin had already stepped back twice, save the loud-mouthed young woman who was ready to sell Potter out, leaving her standing alone in the center of four houses of wizards and witches.
“Does anyone else believe we should hand over our own student to the wizard who wishes to finish the murder he could not accomplish 17 years ago?” McGonagal asked, a brow arched.
Pansy looked around to find the rest of her house staring intently at their shoes and the cobbles beneath them. “But- but it’s him or us!” she cried in a strangled voice.
A single Slytherin pushed through the crowd and put a hand on her shoulder- turning her around to face them, a queer magic user who used the terms witch and wizard for themselves on a whim, who’d been found in several parts of the castle and dungeons entangled with both witches and wizards over the years, who was widely considered an embarrassment in Slytherin, not so much for their predilections but more for their libertine attitudes about Muggles and mixed blood magic-folk. “Pansy,” they hissed, “I can assure you that there will be death this night. But it will not be a matter of Potter or us. It will be a matter of Voldemort or us. After seven years, do you really think that Voldemort and the Deatheaters can prevail when they could not kill Potter and his friends in the chamber of prophecies? In a graveyard with no one aware of his whereabouts and no assistance? Potter will live this night, and even if that were not the case, I am sick of being part of this racist, despicable house. I am sick of the people out there in grim masks spouting all sorts of anti-muggle, homophobic, sexist bullshit, assuming not only that I agree with them, but that they are right.”
The witch-wizard released the quivering woman’s shoulder, and she slumped to the ground.
“Alright, you den of serpents,” they said, turning to address the bigots and aspirants they’d dormed with for seven years. “The fuckers out there believe that lineage, or sex, or blood dictate magical power, and they’ve been a blight on our proud house, changing our reputation from ‘those who aspire’ to ‘those who hate.’ Meanwhile, we’ve just spent seven years trying to outdo a muggleborn woman who was born to dentists and is regularly called ‘The Brightest Witch of Her Age.’ I don’t care if you like it, we have empirical proof that magical talent is about intellect and cleverness, not blood or parts.” They whipped their long, ebony wand from a sleeve, “and I for one am tired of being held to such an archaic, offensive standard that would deny my mind and attribute everything I am to what is in my veins or between my legs! So I’m fighting those fuckers!”
The crowd of Slytherins murmured to one another, and looked to them doubtfully.
McGonagal peered at the foul-mouthed agitator, and stepped up to join them, “Are any other Slytherins going to join us in the fight?” she asked imperiously.
The murmured amongst themselves again, but this time one stepped forward, a young fourth year, one eye concealed by her hair, a voice that faltered unaccustomed to being raise, “Professor,” she beseeched, “those are family members out there,” she said. “A lot of us… we can’t go into that. But… we know our potions. Some of us are pretty decent with healing, especially those who often patched up the… trouble makers of our house. Let us see to wounded, we can see what we can do inside, but it’s just… not in a lot of us to level a wand at our parents. …or sisters.”
The woman nodded, “very well,” she turned to Filch, “Escort Ms. Parkinson to the Dungeons, Filch.” She turned back to the assembled Slytherins as the crooked man put a hand on Pansy’s shoulder and steered her to the stairs. “The rest of you, make yourselves useful. We will triage wounded here. Get what will be needed from the potions room, Snape kept more supplies in his office. Those with the stomachs to fight come with me.”
McGonagal strode out of the Great Hall with three houses, and more than a few Slytherins falling in behind her, the queer-witch pushing through the crowd level with McGonagal and Potter, but addressing neither. The older witch placed a hand on their shoulder, though, “While the sentiment is appreciated, as is the convincing of your house mates to aid us, the language…”
“I got ya,” the young wizard-witch nodded, “Sorry, my passions got away from me.”
“Well, such is the liberty of youth,” McGonagal replied, “I wouldn’t say that such a speech would not have come from me at your age…”
The young wizh smiled and doubled their speed as the army neared the bridge, crossing it eagerly as Deatheaters began to ready themselves for the battle to be rejoined.
They can’t remember which side cast first in the second stage of the war, but they remembered every familiar voice, every seen-before boot, every cloak-clad body she’d seen elsewhere. The witchard shouted in gleeful fury as they spun and dodged and threw spells. They, being a Slytherin and famously under-trained in it, were never skilled at the Patronus charm, but they found themselves making a new memory, a memory of standing up to every hateful wretch she’d had to take tea with, had to listen to as they were lectured about the inadequacies of half-bloods, had to bite their tongue to keep from raging against the homophobic slurs of, of blasting handsy “uncles” in the fork for every pinch of their ass, and in the heat let loose an explosive cry of EXPECTO PATRONUM! and marveled as an immense basilisk of silver light, crowned with crest and horns and a wide hood rimmed with spines spreading from it’s neck slithered from the end of their wand, hissing and rasping and sending Deatheaters flying with deft swipes of it’s luminous tail, the King of Snakes sending the servants of the pretender to the throne sprawling.
Inside the Great Hall, Slytherins mixed potions and worked with Madam Pomfrey to administer aid. They rubbed salves in, coaxed people into drinking bitter brews, and bandaged wounds. At first, wounded students could only remember every cup of pumpkin juice they’d drank that’d been hexed by a Slytherin, and hesitate. But little by little, whether due to pain, or shock, or horror, they trusted in the new leaves turning over, and every sip redeemed the house’s reputation that little bit.
The Slytherins, for their part, kept their heads down and focused on the matter at hand, trying to block out the shouts outside the walls. Everyone of them could hear the cries of family and friends all too clearly, even if it was imagined, and shut their eyes as they stirred and cut and poured. Some pleaded that their family be brought in to be healed too, others told the fighters that the people who birthed them could be left to rot like the refuse they’d decided to be.
As the queer-witch fought, they also thought about those vast halls that would lie empty and filled with all sorts of magical goods–not everyone in Slytherin had trust funds, some had ambitions to acquire wealth as well as power.
But most of all, they aspired to topple the hateful upper echelons of Wizarding Society, and repay every injustice they’d ever given.