"Hurry up, Violet," Millicent teased,
giving the first year in front of her a little shove as the Slytherins
ambled into the Great Hall for dinner. All snakes within earshot
chuckled at the inside joke.
Violet, lost in thought, had indeed
walking slower than usual. Now, in response to Millicent's jest, she
added the final quidditch match to
the wealth of happy memories she'd been replaying in her mind on this
balmy second to the last evening in June.
It had been the best month of her
life, Violet thought as she sat down at the Slytherin table, and judging
from the happy faces around her, others felt the same way. Summer was
upon them, with its warm, sunny days and fragrant, peaceful nights. Exams
were over and the students were looking forward to planning their summer
activities during the last day of classes and then devouring the evening's
wonderful feast and finally discovering who would win the
fiercely-contested house cup, a race way too close to call. Violet had
also overheard several whispered conversations about plans for inter-house
mischief which suggested July and August would be lively indeed.
But the best thing about June was that
Hogwarts and the Daily Prophet had both been Voldemort-free since the
night of Snape's fateful trip to Hogsmeade. As a result, even the
teachers were light-hearted, chatting and laughing
happily at the head table. . . with one glowering exception.
wine, Severus," Dumbledore urged as the claret flowed freely among the
rest of the staff. But the potions master refused.
Snape's face was twisted into the
perpetual frown he'd worn ever since
Dumbledore had posted Rachel Dockman's glowing account of his heroism on
the corridor wall outside the Great Hall. It didn't help that the eyes of
his own bloody Slytherins adored him everywhere he went, subjecting him to
merciless snickers from the other teachers. The happier the rest of
Hogwarts became, the crabbier Snape got, Violet thought, watching him from
her seat as she waited for her meal to appear. He'll probably make us
spend our last potions class developing a plan to train as marathon
runners all summer, she grimaced to herself.
Violet pushed that unhappy thought
away and let her mind wander as she surveyed the joyous students seated
throughout the hall. Ron, Harry, and several of the Gryffindors were
using their wands to sweep napkins back and forth across their table as
they waited for the meal to materialize. Violet's stomach rumbled.
Without thinking, she put the handle of her wand in her mouth and chewed
on it while she watched the Gryffindors. Millicent gave her a sharp
nudge and nodded toward the head table; Snape was glowering at
Violet. The girl quickly jerked the wand out of her mouth and began
on the roast beef that appeared before her. She chewed absently,
eventually turning back to watch the Gryffindors sweep their napkins
around their plates and goblets. She couldn't help smilng as she
Dumbledore's punishment for
insubordination in defense of Slytherin was to sentence him and his
quidditch teammates to sweep the entire dungeon the first Saturday in
June. The irony of the task was not lost on the Gryffindors who were
extremely frustrated by how long it was taking; they'd made other, very
important plans for their Saturday. They were not amused when the
Slytherin team showed up with their hands behind their backs and smiles on
"Come to lend a hand?" Fred drawled.
To his surprise, the Slytherins nodded, pulling out the
racing brooms they'd been hiding.
"Forget it," Harry sighed. "We
already tried that. You can't ride a broom vertically."
left the Gryffindors bruised and bloodied when the brooms they'd been
riding had flipped
horizontal and flung them to the stone floor.
The Slytherins just smiled. Violet
pushed the Gryffindors out of the way as Bletchley took a position in the
middle of the corridor alongside Malfoy, who'd rejoined the team after
Montague's departure. They stood side by side, two arm lengths apart,
Malfoy on the right, Bletchley on the left. Malfoy held his racing broom
vertically in front of him with his right hand. Bletchely held his with
his left hand.
Stretching their free arms towards each other, they took hold
of their free hands. Then Malfoy counted out loud, "One, two,
three!" and they hopped onto their brooms at the same moment.
bucked but the boys held tight to each other's hands and used
their outer legs to hold the brooms firmly in a vertical position. They
kicked off hard with their inside legs and then held on tight as the
brooms sped off furiously down the corridor, sweeping frantically.
"YEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAA!" yelled the two
Slytherins as they streaked along, reining in with a mighty effort the
that lunged and bucked as they flew. In a matter of seconds they had swept
fifty feet of corridor. Upon reaching a corner, they released each
other's hands, swiveled into flying position, and zoomed back to the
"Brilliant!" shouted Fred.
The quidditch players paired off and
mounted up. In a mere ten minutes, they
had swept the entire dungeon.
When they'd finished, they gathered
the door to the Slytherin common room and shook hands. "Thanks
awfully," said George with a smirk.
"Now we can spend the day coaching
Ravenclaw after all!" added Fred.
match between Slytherin and
the blue team would determine whether snakes or lions would win the
quidditch cup that year. As the green team watched open-mouthed, the
Gryffindors shouldered their brooms and took off happily down the
corridor, eventually rounding a corner and disappearing from
sight. Violet folded her arms indignantly across her chest.
"Well, that was pretty damn Slytherin
of them!" she observed.
"Wannabes," Bletchley agreed.
The team returned to their common room
and used half a dozen quaffles to take their frustrations out on Malfoy,
who had replaced Bletchley as keeper after Bletchley had usurped
Montague's chaser spot. Malfoy was stepping up magnificently in his new
position. While he had never mastered the long-distance speed necessary
for a good chaser or seeker, he was stupendously fleet-of-broom at the
short sprints it took to zoom between the goals. Better still, he was
fearless of the punishing blows from the quaffle, sparing no body part in
his efforts to block all shots. Each night after practice, he returned to
the common room and let the Slytherins blast him with red orbs as he
dodged tirelessly back and forth, batting the quaffles away from the stone
He would have his work cut out for him
against Ravenclaw, the team with the best chasers in the school. They
were furious that the Slytherin fifth years had outperformed them overall
on the OWLs and were determined to win the final match by the twenty
points necessary to hand Gryffindor the quidditch cup. "Hurry up and
catch that snitch, Violet," Bletchley had instructed her sternly at every
On the day of the final match,
Professor Flitwick brazenly took a seat next to Snape in the stands,
compelling Dumbledore to grab the spot on the other side of the
The Gryffindor quidditch team members
around Hermione, Ron and Harry. "This is going to be brilliant!"
crowed Fred happily.
In the locker room, Bletchley had only
three words for his team.
"Hurry up, Violet!"
As the teams rose into the air, Violet
thought she had never heard the crowds scream more loudly. She tried to
convince herself it was mere joyous exuberance until she deciphered the
specific chant rising heartily from the Gryffindors and Ravenclaws.
"Blood makes the grass grow! Blood
makes the grass grow!"
Oh dear God, Violet thought.
smirked at her and streaked off to join her teammates as the pummeling of
Pow! Smack! Bang! The Ravenclaw
chasers were merciless, firing shot after brutal shot at Malfoy as they
racked up the goals. Bletchley, by far the fastest Slytherin, did his
best to retrieve and retain, but Slytherin managed only one goal attempt
for every 10 of Ravenclaw's. Only Malfoy's Herculean efforts at keeper
prevented the game from becoming a rout. The crowd gasped and "ooh"ed and
flinched happily with every vicious smack of the quaffle against Malfoy's
Cho didn't even bother to seek the
snitch. Harry Potter had obviously helped her perfect a feint; she spent
most of the match diving below the quaffle and spinning around to kick it
nimbly to her chasers. It seemed like no time at all before Ravenclaw had
racked up a 140 point lead. The crowd screamed with excitement.
up, Violet!" yelled Bletchley.
The next shot from Ravenclaw slammed
Malfoy's nose with a sickening crunch so loud it carried all the way to
the stands. "Ohmygosh!" cried Hermione as blood spurted out of
nose in a foot-long stream.
Snape was livid. "Your students can
choke on their own bile
before I brew another convalescious potion for them!" he hissed to
"Steady, Severus," soothed Dumbledire,
laying a restraining hand on
"Hurry up, Violet!" screamed her
teammates in unison.
Violet streaked frantically around the
stadium, trying not to hear the thud of the quaffle against Malfoy's
battered body. Ravenclaw's lead rose to 160 points. One more goal would
give Gryffindor the cup even if Slytherin did catch the tiny golden
Find the snitch, though Violet
desperately. Find the snitch! Find
the snitch! Son of a bitch, find the snitch!
"Oh, no!" She clamped her
hand over her mouth. "Did I say those
last words out loud?"
The whistle blew and Violet looked up
to find Madam Hooch and the Slytherin team glaring at her. Sure enough,
Madame Hooch was calling a profanity foul on her.
Ravenclaw would get a penalty shot.
Violet flew over to Bletchley as
Malfoy took a deep breath and prepared to defend the goals. "Kill me
now," she suggested.
"We're thinking draw and quarter in
room," Bletchley replied on behalf of the team. "I get your head."
They watched in silence as the
Ravenclaw chaser fired off his shot. Malfoy sprinted up to deflect it and
took the quaffle right in the forehead with a mighty thwack.
every player and spectator in the stadium.
The Slytherins watched in
horror as Malfoy and his broom began to sink towards the ground in large
swooping motions, not unlike the graceful settling of a feather. When he
was close enough to the earth, Malfoy slipped from his broom and flopped
on his back, his head cocked to one side, his eyes closed.
"Time!" screamed Bletchley,
Madam Hooch signaled the time out, the Slytherins raced down to their
keeper. They surrounded his prone body and peered down at him from their
"All right, Malfoy?"
whispered Bletchley. The
Slytherins held their breath.
Malfoy opened one eye and croaked, "I
think they painted a bludger red."
The Slytherins sighed with
relief. "Let's do that next year!" Violet cried, giggling happily at
Malfoy's joke. The sound infuriated the blonde fifth year who suddenly
grabbed her by the throat.
"Violet!" he shrieked so loudly that
in the stands heard him plainly. "I you don't catch that snitch in the
next sixty seconds, you're never going to see another year!"
In the stands, Dumbledore and Flitwich
turned to Snape, agahst.
"Mentoring," the Slytherin housemaster
murmured, never taking his eyes off the field.
Madam Hooch blew her
whistle to signal the end of the time out and the Slytherins rose into the
Bletchley grabbed the quaffle and drove
furiously for the goal, scoring quickly. Ravenclaw retrieved the red ball
and streaked to the other end of the field where Malfoy lunged sideways to
deflect their shot. He took the quaffle in the stomach so hard another
spurt of blood shot out of his nose. He tossed the quaffle to Bletchely
and suddenly Cho decided that catching the snitch might not be a bad
idea after all. Violet spotted it near the ground and the two girls gave
"Hurry up, Violet!" screamed every
Slytherin in the stands.
Violet reached the snitch first and,
small size to her advantage, she flew around and around it in a tight
circle as Cho reached desperately for it.
"I don't think so, stag
hag," Violet hissed at the Ravenclaw, beating Cho back with her elbow.
As soon as Bletchley scored again, she grabbed the snitch, giving
Slytherin a 270 to 260 victory.
She turned triumphantly to Cho only to
find the Ravenclaw seeker laughing so hard at the petulant reference to
coach Harry Potter's patronus that she could barely stay on her broom.
Cho wasn't the only one laughing. As
the Slytherins crowded onto the field, the students in the stands laughed
and clapped enthusiastically for the victory the green team had surely
"Worth it," the Gryffindor quidditch
team beamed as Malfoy flew
to the ground and practically fell off his broom.
"WORTH IT!" several
Ravenclaw fans shouted in agreement.
"Wasn't that wonderful?" Dumbledore
asked Snape, beaming.
Snape curled his lip at the
headmaster. "I can
feel their characters growing from here," he snarled in reply. Then he
hurried down to the field to lift Violet into the air so she could help
the team carry a black-eyed, bloody-nosed Malfoy
triumphantly around the field...
A crack of thunder startled Violet from
her reverie and she gazed up at the enchanted ceiling, delighted.
"Perfect!" she cried, watching the sky darken as one of those violent,
all-night summer storms approached. How she loved listening to the wind
howl outside Slytherin House as she snuggled beneath her covers at night.
Laughter from her housemates brought
her back to earth and she lowered her gaze to discover that, while she had
been wool-gathering, Crabbe and Goyle had eaten her custard.
As the Slytherins chuckled,
Violet checked the head table to be sure Snape's attention was focused
elsewhere, then quickly fired a spellwad at Crabbe.
"Ow!" cried the
startled fifth year, slapping his neck as if bitten by a bug. Snape
glanced their way and Crabbe immediately pretended to be scratching an
itch. The Slytherins pasted innocent expressions on their faces.
had returned to a private conversation with Flitwick, Malfoy chided
"What do you think you're
doing, little snake?"
With a wink, he checked the
head table, then fired a spellwad at Cho Chang that stung her squarely on
the ear. It would have been a perfect shot had not the Weasley twins and
Harry Potter seen him do it. Malfoy,
Bletchley and Violet took return fire as Cho searched the room for her
attacker. Spying the Gryffindor shots, she assumed Harry Potter had been
flirting with her and immediately fired off a shot of her own. It hit
Hermione on the cheek, making Professor McGonagall snort a generous
sip of wine out her nose.
The teachers had seen every
shot, of course. Snape fumed while the others, feeling cheerfully
indulgent on such a jolly evening, struggled to conceal their
amusement. "They're so cute when they think they're getting away with
something!" suggested Professor Sprout, and only the fact that his own
started it prevented Snape from telling the head of Hufflepuff precisely
what he thought of
Gryffindor took fire from both
Ravenclaw and Slytherin until Malfoy grew bored and pulled Crabbe and
Goyle close to whisper a new strategy. Fred spotted the consultation and
nudged George; the two of them watched in delight as the three
Slytherins fired a carefully orchestrated triple volly into the nose of
Stewart Ackerly. They couldn't resist giving the Slytherins a
brief round of applause before yielding to the anxious shushing of their
The Hufflepuffs tried to stay out of it
until the ardent return fire from Ackerly's Ravenclaw buddies caught them
in the crossfire. "Studybugs one, teddybears nothing," whispered Minerva.
"Is that so?" countered an indignant Sprout as
and MacMillan shot Terry Boot right between the eyes. Except for Snape,
the staff were blushing with suppressed mirth.
At that moment, Bletchley fired a shot
Weasley that bounced off his wand and straight into the eyeball of Harry
Potter. The Gryffindor tore off his glasses and clamped a hand over his
eye in agony as several housemates around him gasped
"Bugger!" hissed Malfoy with an
unconscious flinch. "Why couldn't it have hit his glasses?"
At the head table, the staff,
who had of course seen the accident, sobered immediately. Snape
rose furiously to his feet.
All firing ceased. Madam Pomfrey
hurried over to Harry Potter and led him away to the hospital
wing while the rest of the Great Hall watched in trepidation as Snape
down from the head table. He strode quickly over to the Slytherins,
grabbed Violet by the collar and yanked her from the bench.
The little Slytherin squeaked
in protest. She knew perfectly well she had started it but hoped to glean
some mercy from the fact that everyone else had been doing it, too. "I
suppose it would be useless to point out. . ."
would!" her housemaster snapped.
He threw a withering glare at the head
table and marched Violet out of the room. The rest of the teachers,
thoroughly chagrined by where their indulgence had led, could have done
without the disdain of their youngest colleague, and they frowned at his
back as he hauled Violet away. Then Dumbledore, watching him go,
"That young man certainly is an
As the Slytherins watched Snape haul
Violet away, Bletchley breathed a sigh of relief. Millicent
scolded him with mock sternness.
"Aren't you ashamed?"
But Bletchley just grinned and raised
glass. "To Violet's backside," he
toasted. "Better hers than mine."
"Better hers than mine!" echoed an
enthusiastic Slytherin chorus as the green and silver students hoisted their
Beyond the Great Hall, Snape hauled
Violet so rapidly down the
corridors that her toes barely skimmed the stone floor as she scurried to
keep up with him. In retrospect, she decided, the spellwad fight had
probably been a bad idea. Snape had been jumpy and out of sorts all
day. He kept looking out windows and commanding silence from anyone
nearby no matter where he was. Finally, the older Slytherins had paid a
visit to Gryffindor Tower for a scar check. But Harry Potter had assured
them he was feeling just fine, so they'd shrugged off Snape's foul mood
and gotten on with their own joy. If he wanted to miss out on the
happiest day of the year, that was his business. Now, as Snape
hustled her through the dungeon, Violet found herself wishing she'd been a
little less cavalier... or a little more discreet.
When they reached Snape's
office, he yanked Violet completely off her feet, rushed her through the
door, dropped her quickly next to his desk, and then hurried over to his
window to look out over the grounds. His actions surprised the little
Slytherin. This isn't the protocol, she thought indignantly.
Snape would open his door and then follow behind as the guilty student
marched straight to his desk. The wrongdoer would then turn to face him
and Snape would deliver some bitingly insightful remark that proved just
how foolish the Slytherin's behavior had been. The young snake would
ponder that for a few moments while Snape picked up his cane and commanded
simply, "Turn," and then "Bend."
But now he left Violet standing
there, anxiously waiting as he stared outside, surveying the
surrounding area. She watched him for a few moments before turning
her attention to the rest of the office. The candles were lit; they
always were in the
dungeon but they were particularly necessary tonight because of the
overcast skies. Violet took in Snape's books, Snape's furniture, Snape's
teaching materials. He kept his office intentionally creepy and like all
the Slytherins, she loved it here. Except for their common room, this
stone chamber, which inspired dread among the rest of the student body,
was their favorite spot in all of Hogwarts.
She thought about the other Slytherins,
happily finishing their meal in the Great Hall. Soon they would depart
and come down to the dungeon, and she wouldn't put it past them to lurk
nearby and wait for the moment she would emerge from Snape's office,
freshly disgraced and ripe for the taunting.
She took hold of the green and silver
tie that hung around her neck, running the silk between her fingers. Then
she held her hands out in front of her with the fingers splayed and
studied her grubby fingernails. Finally she looked below the spaces
between her fingers to her stubby little legs below. I haven't grown
inch, she thought, and without realizing it, she murmured aloud, "I'm
gonna be the smallest Slytherin forever."
me! Violet though as she turned away from his angry glare. If
this is inconvenient for you, I'd be happy to leave. She knew
better than to say such a thing out loud and instead, she lowered her gaze
humbly to the floor in front of her and said as deferentially as possible,
"Perhaps this isn't the best time for you, sir."
Snape hurried over from the
window, snatched up his cane and grabbed a startled Violet by the back of
her collar. He hoisted her over his desk and delivered all six strokes in
Ow, ow, OW, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU
DOING? shouted Violet in her head. She was tempted to bellow
at this onslaught which hurt far more than Snape's usual, reasonably-paced
delivery. But he was already finished with her and had left her bent over
his desk to return to his view of the grounds.
Violet climbed off the desk and folded
her arms indignantly across her chest. Again with the bloody
window? she fumed. It was all she could do not to tap her
She waited for Snape to ask her
if she had anything to say, which usually came next. Since Snape was
quite fair with his Slytherins, punishing them only when they deserved
it, this was generally the point at which a
student would apologize for his or her misconduct. But if one had
something else to say, one could say it, so long as one was polite, and
Violet seriously considered telling him what she thought of his
But Snape just stared out the window.
Fine, Violet thought.
do the thing properly, see if I care. She waited impatiently for him
dismiss her so she could get the heck out of there before the Slytherins
got back. But Snape didn't make a sound. Violet waited some more and was
just about to clear her throat when he finally turned to look at her. She
looked back expectantly, waiting to hear the usual dismissal. But Snape
"You may go."
Instead, he said,
Suddenly, Violet was afraid.
Snape put the cane down, took
out his wand, and extinguished the candles with a discreet wave, plunging
the office into darkness. In the gloomy light from outside, Violet saw
him wave the wand again to change the perspective of the window from a
tower view to the actual ground-level perspective of the high dungeon
stared intently across the lawn and Violet was so frightened she wanted to
cry. Instead, she walked to Snape's left side and clutched his free hand
with both of hers.
"Be still," he whispered.
They waited and
watched. Outside, the air was heavy with the approaching
storm. Nothing moved. Not a breath stirred; the birds were silent.
A minute passed, and then another. As
she stood quietly beside Snape,
staring out the window at the still, silent grounds, Violet wondered why
she didn't hear noise from inside the castle carrying through the
corridors. Where was the chaotic chorus of voices from the Great
Hall? Where was the noisy chatter of Slytherins returning to their common
room? Surely some sound should reverberate through the halls to break
through this lasting silence.
A dementor floated by the window and
Snape clamped a hand over her
mouth. Then he snatched up the child and tore out of his office, racing
as fast as he could back to the Great Hall.
The Smallest Slytherin