The weather turned so
unbearably hot and sultry during the first week of classes that even the
dungeon grew steamy. To the students' dismay, the headmaster declared the
lake off-limits after Hagrid discovered that the giant squid was suffering
from a miserable summer cold and needed peace and quiet. But when
Professor Dumbledore came downstairs late one afternoon to see Snape, he
found a dozen wet-haired, grim-faced Slytherins lined up outside their
Marybeth leaned against the wall on the right
of the door, taking care not to let her backside make contact with the
rough stones. The children waiting on the left side appeared to be first
or second years as well. Emanating from Snape's office was a repetitive
cycle of swish, thud, and whimper. Dumbledore looked the children over
and then politely stepped to the back of the queue.
The first year at the end of
the line looked up uncomfortably to see the elderly wizard smiling gently
but curiously at him. The boy shrugged.
"Swimming," he admitted, "in
that dark little harbor beneath the castle where the first year boats
Dumbledore frowned and the child continued.
"Well, sir, it seemed
like a foolish rule to us, especially on such a hot day. The giant squid
obviously can't fit through that hole in the cliff."
The boy turned
petulantly to the Slytherin next to him.
"How were we supposed to know
that merpeople have such an attitude problem?"
They both looked grumpily
at Dumbledore who pointed out,
"Rules can be powerful protection against
The door to Snape's office
opened and he and a freshly-punished Violet emerged. They were both quite
surprised to see their fearless leader standing at the end of the queue. Violet
turned to Snape, wide-eyed.
"What did the headmaster do?"
Snape cuffed her upside the head. "For heaven's
sake, sir," he chided his superior, and as Violet scurried over to
Marybeth, Dumbledore cut to the front of the line.
Before entering Snape's office, he
glanced at the guilty students lining the corridor.
"It seems rather
make them wait," he murmured. So Snape promised the remaining Slytherins,
off for waiting."
He gave Dumbledore a look that asked,
'Satisfied?' and ushered him into the office. The first years cheered as the door
slammed shut but the second years remained uniformly silent. As Violet
and Marybeth walked away, Marybeth shook her head at the youngest students.
just hit them harder," she speculated.
"Dunderheads," Violet agreed.
They were sitting on the ledge
of a huge common room window when Snape entered that evening. Several other
perched on the opposite ledge, waiting for a cross breeze, and it was with great
reluctance and much
lethargy that they dragged themselves down from their perch and queued
up. Snape, they noticed, was wearing one of those expressions only
Dumbledore could put on his face.
"The headmaster has asked me to
inform you," he announced, "that beginning immediately, there will be
an inspection every morning at 7am."
The Slytherins knew better than to
groan but several whimpered involuntarily. Snape seemed
"You needn't dress or tidy up," he assured them.
a headcount. However..."
The Slytherins stiffened at the
cooling of his tone.
"As this is the Headmaster's policy, anyone found
missing will answer to him. . . after I've had a go at you. Similarly,
anyone found guilty of attempting to cover for or in any way facilitate the absence
of another student at inspection will answer directly to the
Headmaster. . . after I've had a go at you. Any questions?"
Malfoy raised his hand. Snape
raised his eyebrow. Malfoy spoke anyway.
"This is just on instruction
days, right, sir?"
Snape actually sighed. "Every
day, Mr. Malfoy," he noted regretfully. He looked them over carefully and
changed his tone again.
"A word of advice," he counseled almost tenderly. "This is not the year to try the patience of those who
responsible for your well-being. Keep that in mind and you will save yourselves a
great deal of distress."
The Slytherins exchanged curious glances. It was an interesting pronouncement, albeit one that
really fit their lifestyle.
Snape dismissed them and as the
students headed back to the windows, Malfoy invited the housemaster to
join them. "We get a breeze sometimes," he pointed out. Snape thanked
him and shook his head.
He paused at the door to watch Violet climb onto
the window ledge. Despite her two-inch growth spurt, she was still far
too small to hop up and had to climb from one piece of furniture to the
next to reach the window. Her efforts reminded Snape of the previous fall
when she'd levitated the common room furniture into the air to form an
indoor flying obstacle course.
That gave him an idea.
He entered the common room at 2pm the
next afternoon to find it inhabited only by the first years, who had no
class at that hour. Since he'd flogged a number of them the day before,
they were only too happy to flee before him as he ordered them out of the
house before getting down to business. An hour later, he stood back to survey his handiwork
with immense satisfaction.
"Severus Snape," he murmured to himself, "you
are a powerful wizard."
The Slytherins returned at 4pm. Even
before they opened the door, they noticed the cool, fresh
smell emanating from inside. They glanced curiously at one another,
shrugged, and entered.
After that, they could only stand
inside the door to their common room and gaze about them in awe.
A gigantic cylinder of lake
water stood before them. It was fifteen feet high and more than 60 feet
in diameter, filling the center of their mammoth common room. Several of
their stone pillars rose from its depths. No barrier enclosed the water or held
it in place; it just stood there, rippling gently in the breeze
from their open windows.
On either side of this
monumental cylinder, their furniture floated in the air, climbing upward
piece by piece as if supported by the banister of a gigantic curved
staircase. The water, which was cooling the air of their common room most
refreshingly, looked surprisingly clean, and it didn't take the the Slytherins long to figure out why. It was circulating, flowing out of
the cylinder in the form of a small brook that trickled across their
common room floor as it coursed under the wall and disappeared into the
lake beneath the castle. Another stream flowed in from an opening just a few
feet away. It rose in cascading steps that climbed to the very
ceiling of their common room before tumbling down into the cylinder as a
frothy, bubbly waterfall between two stone pillars.
Malfoy walked up to the water
and slowly, carefully stuck his hand in it. He couldn't help but smile
with delight. Then he peered into the slight murkiness and squinted to
make out the final element of Snape's ingenuity. Several snails, about
three times the size of a golden snitch, were scattered about the bottom
of the cylinder, sucking eagerly at the stone floor of the Slytherin
common room. Malfoy turned back to his housemates with a grin.
"I guess Snape found a way to
get rid of the odor!" he smirked.
Violet was already jumping up and
"I love this house, I love this house, I LOVE THIS HOUSE!" she
cried. Then she raced to her cell and quickly re-emerged dressed only in
her vest and knickers. She hopped on the bottom piece of furniture,
skipped nimbly from one chair to the next, and cannon-balled into the
water with a satisfying splash. Before long, most of Slytherin had joined
The cool water was joyously
refreshing and the students swam happily for several minutes. Then one of
the first years paddled over to the edge of the water and began splashing
frantically, terrified; there was no rigid surface that would allow him to
"We're trapped!" he screamed. "He didn't mean us to get
in! We're going to drown!"
Violet rolled her eyes.
that scared of Snape when I was a first year?" she asked the older
"Everybody's that scared of
Snape the first year," Malfoy insisted.
"I'm still that scared of
Snape," added Crabbe.
Malfoy swam over to the first
year and shoved his head under the water. He held him down for so long
that Millicent felt compelled to ask,
"What are you doing?"
drown him," came Malfoy's casual reply.
After a few more seconds, the first
year flew into the air, hanging there for a moment before floating smoothly beyond the cylinder's edge and settling gently to the common
room floor. He stood there, dripping, a little traumatized, and properly embarrassed to have doubted their head of house's
foresight in providing for his safety.
As the Slytherins jeered at the
youngster's foolishness, Malfoy suddenly rose into the air,
"Wait!" he cried in horror, reaching desperately for a hand from
Crabbe or Goyle, who knew better than to try and help him. "I was just
proving a point!"
The Slytherins watched in delight as
Malfoy rose six feet above the surface of the water and straightened out
rigidly against his will. "Noooooooooooo!" he begged, throwing his hands
over his face. But despite his pleading, he plummeted savagely back into
the water in a stinging belly-flop that flamed his abdomen bright
"Son of a bitch!" he sputtered after flailing his way back to the surface.
The Slytherins roared. Violet, bobbing contentedly alongside Marybeth, raised her wrinkled
fingers and called sweetly,
"Malfoy, could you drown me next? I'm
starting to pucker."
Malfoy shoved her out of his way as he swam over to
Pansy, who was reclining on a sofa near the top of the cylinder because
she didn't want to get her hair wet.
"Pansy!" he barked. "Try to
push a piece of furniture closer to the water."
Pansy pulled and tugged
at a table next to the sofa with no success. Apparently, Snape had
permanently positioned the furniture close enough to jump off of but not
close enough to get splashed. Pansy pulled out her wand.
"I'll try charming," she
"No!" Malfoy shrieked. "Don't charm! You'll break something
and flood the place."
He looked around, hoping to get another idea, and
spied Violet still grinning at his pink belly.
"Violet, I swear, if you
don't wipe that smile off your face..."
This threat only made Violet smirk harder so she dove beneath the
surface of the water to hide her happy face from Malfoy. Suddenly the
blonde sixth year grinned.
"Got it!" he declared.
a deep breath and swam quickly to the bottom of the cylinder. Then he
pulled himself along the floor until he could crawl right out of the
water. He stood up on dry ground and threw his arms triumphantly into the
"Ta da!" he cried.
Then he walked back into the cylinder and kicked
his feet to propel himself to the surface.
"So," Millicent asked when he
reappeared beside her, "are we going to invite the other houses over?"
"Don't look at me," Malfoy
insisted. "I've done enough good deeds for Potter to last a lifetime."
"I bet it's hot in Gryffindor
Tower," Violet mused with a little smile.
This thought only increased
their joy, and when Snape passed the entrance to the common room on his
way to dinner thirty minutes later, he was stopped in his tracks by the
sound of Slytherin voices lifted in song.
We love you, Severus
Oh yes we do
We don't love anyone
As much as you.
You are so powerful
Oh, Severus, we love you.
Snape burst through the door
with a murderous fury in his eyes.
"Do you have ANY IDEA," he roared at
his startled students, "what a cane feels like on a WET BACKSIDE?"
The Slytherins could only bob
and blink. Then Violet began to sing again.
"We love Professor Snape," she
articulated conscientiously, and the rest of the Slytherins joined in
immediately, building to a rousing finish of "Professor Snape, we love
you," as their housemaster departed with a groan, rubbing his temples as
They paraded into the Great
Hall cool and refreshed, a supremely irritating sight to the rest of
Hogwarts' nauseous, miserable citizens. While the rest of the students
picked listlessly at their food, the Slytherins devoured the meal with
gusto except for Violet, who stared at the wall, lost in thought. Eventually,
Crabbe gave her a nudge.
"You gonna eat that?" he asked,
pointing to her casserole.
"What else can it do?" she
Her housemates stared curiously at her plate to see what the
casserole had been doing and Violet shook her head.
"Not the food!" she chided. "Lake Slytherin!"
"Lake Slytherin?" Malfoy
grinned at the moniker.
"It can prevent drowning and
punish horseplay. What else do you suppose it can do?"
"What do you want it to
do?" Pansy asked.
"I want to slide down the
waterfall," Violet chirped. "But I can't figure out how to get up."
"Well, you can't go up the
stairs," Crabbe told her, "because we tried."
Just then, Seamus Finnegan
stepped up behind Violet. He'd stopped short on his way down the aisle
upon overhearing their conversation. Now he demanded to know what they were talking about.
"You have a lake in your house?" he gaped.
The Slytherins fell silent,
smiling surreptitiously at one another.
ridiculous, Finnegan," Malfoy drawled. "Slytherin is the name of the lake outside the
castle, didn't you know that?"
His housemates laughed as Seamus returned
to the Gryffindor table and sat down with a thump.
"The Slytherins have a lake in
their common room," he announced.
Several mouths dropped open. Then Ron
punched Harry in the arm.
"Get us in," he
Harry frowned and Ron added,
"You must have something on
Malfoy from this summer that you can use. Some deep dark secret he told
"I have a
better idea," he promised the Gryffindors.
"Dammit, Violet, you're
stepping on my ear!"
Crabbe shouted with pain as the rest of the
Slytherins bobbed around him and Goyle in a semi-circle, watching their
efforts. The boys were trying to boost Violet up the pillar on one side
of the waterfall. Violet kept slapping her palms against the pillar,
hoping they would stick enough to allow her to scurry up like a
spider. Instead, they slipped and slid, and she danced on the boys' heads
and shoulders as she struggled to keep her balance.
An agonized Crabbe jerked his head out
from under her foot and Violet rocked backwards. Crabbe quickly put his
hand against the small of her back and shoved her forward to keep her from
tumbling backwards into the semi-circle of bobbing Slytherins. This sent Violet crashing into the stone pillar. She jerked her upper body
backwards to keep her head from bashing against the hard surface. With just her
stomach pressed against the pillar, she suddenly began to rise rapidly in
a wriggling motion until she was hanging in midair against the pillar, right next to the top
of the waterfall. Apparently the ascension process tickled a bit; she'd giggled all the way up.
"Of course!" Malfoy exclaimed,
nodding at her success. "You have to slither up on your belly."
Violet stepped tentatively onto
the top of the waterfall and found that it supported her
weight. She sat down, pushed off, and plunged twenty feet down to the
surface of the water, screaming all the way. The Slytherins immediately swam over to the pillars to queue up and take turns pressing their
the stone columns.
At eight o'clock, the door to
the common room opened and Snape appeared, followed by a majority of the
teaching staff. They were dressed in an array of bathing costumes that
could only be described as laughable. One quick glare from Snape
prevented any snickering.
"Out!" was all he had to say.
The Slytherins fled to their
cells. For the duration of the heatwave, 8 to 9pm was Adult Swim in the
Slytherin common room.
The snakes steeled themselves
for a long hot day of classes with an early swim the next morning. When
Malfoy, Millicent, Tracey and Warrington reported to Snape's 6th year
N.E.W.T. class, which they shared with four students from each of the other
houses, the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were already wilting
from the heat.
The students pulled out their
parchments containing the recipe for strintia, a cleansing potion for
unclogging the tips of wands which the Slytherins had barely had time to
look up the night before due to their lengthy swimming sessions.
As the hour wore on, the
Gryffindors worked frantically in spite of the heat. Their flushed faces
matched the scarlet in their ties and they wiped perspiration from their
brows constantly to keep it from dripping into their cauldrons. Snape
watched them with a puzzled air from atop his stool behind his desk. An
hour was plenty of time to prepare the potion; there was no need for the
harried efforts of McGonagall's cubs. But it was too bloody hot to
torment them, so Snape sat quietly on his stool until class was nearly
"Time," he called when only
five minutes were left. The Slytherins, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs
proceeded neatly to his desk, sample flasks in hand. Each flask contained
a few ounces of clear magenta strintia. But the Gryffindors just stood by
their cauldrons with their hands behind their backs and small, polite
smiles on their faces.
Snape rose ominously and made his way
slowly to Harry's station. He gazed into the boy's cauldron and raised
one eyebrow, his lip curling into something the Slytherins couldn't
decipher as a sneer or a smile. Harry's cauldron, like that of every
Gryffindor, contained a brew with three distinct sections: a magenta pool
of strintia (for unclogging), a cyan pool of focula (for spell sharpening
and beam straightening), and a yellow pool of gridget (for increased
Harry's red face dripped with sweat and
he pushed the spiky hair that was plastered all over his head out of his
eyes as he waited hopefully for Snape's reaction. A stone-faced Snape
checked Hermione's cauldron, then Ron's and finally Neville's before
returning to the front of the room to announce, "The Slytherins would be
most pleased if the Gryffindors would join them at the old Slythering hole
tonight at 7pm." Harry and his housemates whooped for joy as Snape sent a
withering glare towards his own students. "As for you," he spat acidly,
"ten points from Slytherin. . . for subjecting me to an end run!"
Violet let the Gryffindors in
and they gawked most satisfactorily at Snape's creation but found the
Slytherins themselves to be an odd sight. They were bobbing in the water
in one continuous line, each student holding onto the shoulders of the
student next to him. The first snake in line was hanging onto a beater
club that was held at the other end by Pansy as she lounged on a couch
near the surface of the water.
"What are you doing?" Ron asked
as the Gryffindors climbed up the furniture and prepared to jump
in. "Cooling off," Malfoy replied peevishly. Then he shrugged and
confessed, "We can't swim. That's why we didn't invite anybody over. We
were going to wait until next week, after Snape gives us lessons this
The Gryffindors roared. They
dove happily into the water and began splashing the Slytherins
mercilessly, rejoicing in the snakes' inability to swim away or let go and
splash back. "Stop!" Malfoy demanded. "Stop or we'll tell Snape!"
"Tell Snape?" Ron
repeated. The Gryffindors exchanged delighted looks. Then they swam en
masse over to the Slytherins and grabbed a snake apiece, shoving the
rival's head under water. Some doubled up due to the reduced number of
"How long should we keep them
down?" Harry asked Ron with a grin. The redhead was just about to reply
when the Slytherins suddenly flew out of the water, hovered briefly over
their lake, then floated off to the side and settled gently to the floor
of their common room. The Gryffindors were still gaping at this spectacle
when they rose abruptly into the air, several of them shouting in
"Have a nice fall, point
suckers!" Malfoy called as the belly flops commenced. The Slytherins
roared appreciatively and were still laughing and clapping when the last
of the pink-bellied Gryffindors resurfaced after splashdown. Then they
walked back into the water and swam quickly to the surface.
"Anything else we should
know?" Harry asked Malfoy sourly.
"I'm not sure," the blonde
snake admitted. "After that, we started behaving ourselves."
An Obedient House