Like many other people who grew up reading the Harry Potter series, I first imagined myself as a noble Gryffindor. After all, Gryffindors seemed to win everything, they always seemed to champion the side of good and the three main characters were Gryffindors. However, I grew to realize that J.K. Rowling presented the series with a clear house bias, and once I got older, I realized how those scarlet and gold colors didn’t quite fit me. When I was officially sorted into Slytherin a year ago through the magic of Pottermore, it confirmed my suspicion: Things were looking all silver and green for me. And when my friends—the fellow Potterfans they are, themselves sorted into Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw—identified me as “the most Slytherin person they know,” I realized the Slytherin label comes with plenty of baggage. So here’s my act of unpacking: Here are my six reasons why it’s a tough world out there for us Slytherins.
We just want to be the best (but people keep getting in our way).
Let’s imagine how the houses would work in the world of muggle sports: Gryffindor would be into football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and any other kind of popular, high-impact sport; Hufflepuff would be into pilates and tai-chi; Ravenclaw is too busy for sports, instead taking down foes in the chess and debate clubs; and Slytherin attempts to do all of the above, only better than the other houses. That’s the Slytherin game.
You just wanted a friendly game of tag on the playground, you say? We don’t do friendly. We’ve got our gear on, cleared our schedule for the week and been following you for the last forty-eight hours, waiting to strike. Sorry, you thought this was just a game? Slytherins don’t play games. We go to war.
So to say we’re competitive is an understatement.
But you know what really pisses us off? When we’ve spent all year cramming for our O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, getting the top marks in Transfiguration and Potions, killing Hufflepuffs in Quidditch, and come June the House Cup is in our sights—it’s so close, we can taste the glory, as delicious as that bowl of plum pudding that magically appears in front of us in the Great Hall. But then, out of goddamn nowhere, Gryffindors come out from behind us with some bullshit last-minute points awarded to them for basically having a god complex or a death wish—or both.
We get it. They saved the day. But are we going to just disregard how they put themselves and others in mortal danger and broke every rule in the school to do so? Gryffindors are out here parading around Hogwarts like they own the place, saying, “Yeah, we knocked out a few Death Eaters, nbd.” You know what we’ve knocked out? This goddamn Charms final. Because we want to be the best. Without short-cuts.
We just want ultimate power in the universe.
You know who was a Slytherin? Merlin. Merlin. THE ultimate wizard. OK, so we’ve also got a few bad guys on the list: Voldemort, probably Saruman, definitely Emperor Palpatine and very likely Adolf Hitler. But we’re not all megalomaniacs/fascists/sociopaths. We just want ultimate power and to go through the world totally unopposed. …There’s a diplomatic way to do that, right?
We want to win but won’t do any crazy Gryffindor shit to do it.
So, you’re saying that in order to win this year’s House Cup, we have to go into some secret chamber beneath the school at night and fight a mythological beast with our eyes closed because looking at it will turn us to stone? Oh, and it has fangs full of lethal venom too? Yeah, we’re not about that. We want to be the best, but we’re going to be smart about it.
We’re loyal to our loved ones (acquaintances, strangers, don’t ask any favors).
You’re a family member or close friend who wants us to make an unbreakable vow for you? No problem. You’re the loud neighbor from apartment 7b who wants to borrow our new immersion blender and WiFi service, just until they get their Time Warner Cable situation figured out? About that—I’m sure there’s a lionhearted Gryffindor or friendly Hufflepuff down the hall who’d love to help with that situation.
We’ve already got a plan.
We’re really amused by what you just said about “compromise” and “being part of the team.” That’s really cute. In reality, we’ve already got our own plan. In fact, we’ve had this plan for about ten years now and have been working it in the shadows.
Five-year plan? Nah. We came out of the womb with a to-do list, a hit list and a plot for world domination. Yeah, it sounds bad and maniacal, blah blah blah, but we’re just over here in our corner cubicles trying to get the expense reports done on schedule—so we can ultimately take over the whole goddamned company.
We have to deal with the bad reputation.
Yes, some of it is valid. Our founding father was a pureblood supremacist and one of our most popular alums is a dark wizard with a reputation so bad that wizards were scared to even speak his name. But not all of us are bad. Speaking for the black Slytherins, though, we do have to be real about the pureblood supremacy: That’s fucked up. Leave that problematic thinking to what’s left of the lines of Malfoys and Blacks (excluding Sirius, of course. RIP).
Other than our habitual megalomania and occasional dickishness, we’re not bad people. We’re just passionate, intense and a little bit too competitive, especially when it comes to quidditch. After all, somebody’s got to be the head honcho, right? And Slytherins are up for the job.