Why Slytherins are Sexier (Severus' theory)

Disclaimer: Potterverse is JKRs. I write for pleasure not profit. And I don't own the song "Slytherins are Sexier" - but surely you all know that by now.

Ok, this is a 'floating' scene from "A Decoding of the Heart" that I expect to anchor into the end of chapter 1 or near the beginning of chapter 2. Chapter 1 is taking longer than expected because my notes have disappeared, but rather than leave you dangling, I've decided to post this detatched chunk because I could write it without my notes, and because I giggled myself silly doing it. All you need to know is that it's the start-of-term feast, the first after Voldies's defeat, and Hermione is at the High table with the Profs because she's Head Girl. I can't reveal why the topic of the House Sexuality has come up at this point. For reasons that have NOTHING to do with romance, Severus has made a new-academic-year resolution to be more agreeable.

Words in Square brackets indicate that a character is thinking, not speaking out loud. There should be an acute accent on the 'e' of the name salome, but I have to use Notepad at the moment, and it won't do it.

Individual replies to your reviews of 'Decoding'will appear in the next posting - but meanwhile, thanks and congratulations to the many readers who got all the references (you ever-so-cultured things). I must especially thank PL for your expert put-down of Kate-in-CAPS. I haven't petitioned for That Review to be removed because you made her look so delightfully stupid. Since I'm a sadist, I like seeing her humiliation.

Anyone who's clicked in because of the title and hasn't read my other stuff, I'd love you to do so; especially "To Sever the Lining from a cLoud", which is less well-known.


Professor Vector turned to face her colleagues,impressive waterfall of honey-coloured hair splashing about her waist.

'It's true - Slytherins ARE sexier. It's a well established fact.' she declared, to the protests of the other teachers. Hermione was tempted to ask 'how do you know' but refrained. Professor Vector wore a malicious smile.

'But I'm sure Professor Snape could explain that better than I could.'

('Don't count on it,' muttered Minerva under her breath, as the not- obviously-sexier Head of Slytherin shot her a panic-stricken glance).

Suddenly everyone was eying him in a manner reminiscent of vultures appraising a fresh cadavre. Severus took a breath.

[Come on, you can handle this. It's called 'socialising', Severus; Normal People do it every day.]

Hermione noticed that he was clutching his glass of gillywater rather tightly, and that the surface of it trembled a little.

'Oh yes - do explain why we girls are just longing to break off a piece of Crabbe -'[Goyle, she remembered too late, was rather ignominiously dead. Another Sense-of-Humour failure. Ron's right. If there were a comedy exam, I'd get D minus].

'It depends what you mean by sexier' Severus replied, ignoring the gaffe. `No-one claims that the graduating class of Slytherin contains any beautiful individuals - though Malfoy is considered by some to have a certain appeal - but beauty, in its classical sense, is not necessarily linked to sexuality.'

('Just as well,' murmured Professor Vector to Hermione).
Severus took a sip of gillywater and stared at Professor Vector.

'Of course, it would require the magical equivalent of a Don Giovanni or a Carmen to gather enough, er, raw data to prove anything. The best one can do is compare the literarature on the subject produced by each House. That at least shows us what is essential and typical.'

If Severus had hoped that offering an exercise in comparative sexual literature would let him off the hook, he was wrong. Everyone leaned forward in the unspoken assumption that the scale of his reading was in inverse proportion to that of his experience.

'The Houses fall into two c-clear approaches,' he stammered,'The "Nature Knows Best" group and the "Nature Knows Fuck-all" group'.

The shock he produced was rather gratifying, and gave him a shot of confidence.

' It won't surprise you that Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors are of the first variety. To begin with the Hufflepuffs; if parents had a choice, they would all ask for their innocent darlings to be taught about these matters by a Hufflepuff. Hufflepuffs have the longest marriages, the most stable families and a non-existent divorce-rate amongst themselves. Isn't that right Dorothy?'

'Absolutely' beamed Professor Sprout. "Loyalty,realistic expectations and the willingness to work at it - recipe for sustained success.'

'And for being about as sexy as a wet tea towel'

[-Doesn't he know what you can DO with a wet tea towel? Sprout wondered.] She was too kind-hearted to ask him though. The poor dear was making such an effort to be human.

'Ah yes,Hufflepuffs....persistent purveyors of the Twee. Hufflepuffs are incapable of separating sexual relations from dreams of a perfect childhood in a perfect family. And their image of a perfect family is animal rather than human - as in, cute-little-squirrels animal rather than dangerous-beasts animal.'

'That is NOT true' protested the cuddly-looking Sprout. Snape crossed his arms.

'An anecdote will serve. Your predecessor, Professor Weedram, had a rather large number of off-spring and a singular inability to get people to look after them when he was working overtime and Mrs Weedram's was away from home - she researched medicinal plants in far-flung places. They refused on principle to use Hogwarts' House-elves, so they had to rely on a rather unsteady supply of babysitters from Hogsmeade. Well, one evening Weedram comes to me, knowing I owe him a favour because I'd, er, shown him up in front of his students -

[-been unjustifiably rude, thought McGonagall]

'And asked me if I'd go over to his cottage and look after his kids because he was going out for his wedding anniversary, and their babysitter had let them down. Well he must have been pretty desperate - I give most children nightmares - but I thought it politic to agree. So there I am, trying to get five Huffle-brats to sleep by reading them a bedtime story - and I do mean *a* story, because they wanted the same bloody one over and over again...'

Hermione found her mouth was twitching. It was the thought of Professor Snape trapped in a Hufflepuff child's bedroom having to charm the kids with his rendering of "Wee Wizard Wizwee" or "Harry's House in the Hollow"(a joke birthday present from Ron to Harry a few years back) that did it.

"Well, I decided that I should expand their minds by choosing a different book. They didn't want any of the ones in the room, no doubt because they'd heard them all a hundred times, but claimed they had more of their books in the living room. Sure enough, there was a shelf stuffed with all manner of large, colourful volumes with very thin spines, none of them arranged very logically, and I found one with charming pictures of bunny-rabbits and badgers on it..."

He paused. Professor Sprout had slowly put her hands to her mouth.

"It was only after I'd been reading to them a good ten minutes that I realised that the tale of Dipsy, Loopsy and the *Unfortunate* Flopsy was not, in fact, a story FOR children but a manual on how to PRODUCE them....."

Hermione found herself giggling. It was only because all the teachers and Blaise Zabini (who, as Head Boy to her Head Girl, was also at High Table) were laughing too, that no-one noticed anything unusal.

Hermione Never Laughed. It was a well-established fact.

When the snickers subsided, a red-faced Professor Sprout admitted that she knew which book he meant. All Hufflepuffs joked about That Book, since they were uniformly subjected to it by their well-meaning parents.

Severus was sufficently encouraged by the response to continue. [One down, three to go. Just keep calm.]

"Now Gryffindors also take this Naturalistic, Isn't This Fun viewpoint..."

McGonagall and Dumbledore appeared respectively guarded and intrigued.

"But it is less obvious. It is more a question of their sexual culture following ideas of Natural Health and, er prowess."

Hagrid looked as if he couldn't see why this would be a problem.

"The sexual culture of Gryffindors is dominated by a single metaphor: Sport. We are not talking about games-playing in the Slytherin,psychologically manipulative sense, but literally atheleticism, competetive sports and even (though it's rarely owned up to) team games."

"Don't be ridiculous" said McGonagall.

Snape smiled slightly. Hermione noticed that the teeth that Sirius had knocked out had been replaced. If she had looked more carefully, she'd have observed that they had all been replaced, and that they appeared averagely unremarkable rather than disgustingly yellow and crooked; but habit inclined most people not to gaze at Snape's mouth for that long.

"The more you deny it Minerva, the more, cf Freud, we shall suspect it's true. Besides, the one, the only piece of sexual literature that has any fame outside Gryffindor House itself is the notorious "Quidditch in Bed".'

"Oh that," groaned Minerva and Hermione simultaneously.

"My point exactly. Two Gryffindor witches recognise the dispiriting- er- shortcomings of the typical Gryffindor male. (Hermione spluttered her pumpkin juice). 'And What condemns your house the most? None of the recognised literature is by women. Why this silence? At least Hufflepuffs - and Ravenclaws for that matter - write in couples. All the texts from Gryffindor are by men, and straight men too; and it is perfectly clear from their writings that they expect the people their refer to as 'our witches' to be Jolly Good Sports and demand nothing."

Dumbledore raised his hand in protest, eyes a-twinkle.

"I seem to remember - but of course it is a more than a few decades since I snuck into the Restricted section of the library to read a copy, that "Quidditch in Bed" devoted a whole chapter to what it called Equal Scoring."

Snape snorted.

"A very short chapter, addressed to the assumed male reader, about how you can tell what the score is and whether it's a real one...followed by an even shorter chapter entitled 'Your Witch and the Snitch', wherin the authors try very hard to explain the idea that it isn't all about getting the Quaffle through the Hoop.'

He leaned forward, plonking his elbows on the table in a stance that reminded Hermione uncannily of Seamus waxing lyrical about West Ham.

"The thing is Lads" (he launched into the matey bark of the average Gryffindor bloke) "It isn't enough just to find the Golden Snitch, grab it and think you've won the Game. This is where your expert tactics are just beginning..."

At the Gryffindor Table, Harry nudged Ron.

"I don't believe it"
"Wha -?" Ron asked though a mouthful of peas.
"Hermione - she's laughing her head off!"
Ron looked at the High Table in dismay. Hermione always understood his jokes alright, but his efforts were never rewarded with more than an amused grin. He and Harry had decided it was a Boy thing, and she'd just never get it.

"And McGonagall too. Someone's spiked the Pumkin juice, it's the only explanation."

Back at the High Table, Severus had started on the Ravenclaws. Professors Flitwick and Vector joined forces, claiming that their House would be much harder to send up.

"I quite agree with you. The Ravenclaws have produced a far more varied literature, much of which deserves to be described as 'literature'. They are generally seen as the most Romantic of the Houses. They have a fine tradition of Platonic Friendship, not surprisingly, as well as a substantial number of highly intellectual Lesbian texts."

Professor Vector fixed him with a deep blue stare.

"So we're the Dykes' House are we?"

"Of course. I've never met a stupid Lesbian, have you? It's a contradiction in terms."

[Mc Gonagall smiled to herself. Severus really was getting quite good at compliments - and she knew she'd once told him the Hat had spent a full three minutes trying to decide whether to put her in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw].

"Ravenclaws, unlike Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors,regard sexuality not as a natural expression, but as an art; something to be thought through, analysed and intellectually constructed. They pride themselves on being the wittiest lovers, and recognise the important truth that sex begins in the head."

"So why aren't we the sexiest, then?" piped up Flitwick.

Hermione stifled a giggle. The question would have been much more challenging coming from Vector.

"Because with Ravenclaws, sex *remains* in the head. They find the books more satisfying than the real thing. They also experience more intensely than any other House the duality of body and soul. As the intellectuals, they are bound to - which is why there's a nasty under- current of writings containing the most purile, violent, hate-infested smut it was ever anyone's misfortune to see."

Hermione noticed Professor Vector wince slightly, as if from a rather unpleasant memory.

"There's no doubt that Ravenclaw literature does justice to the complexity of human relations, but on the practical level, well - what pass for manuals are rather mystical affairs telling you at what point in its cycle the moon should be and that it's just not on if, according to some very complicated Arithmantical equation you're supposed to check at Gods-know-what point in the proceedings, your birthdays don't match: very fine, very beautiful and very interesting - and sod-all use if you're trying to find the Golden Snitch."

He swigged his gillywater. [Not bad Severus. Nobody looking as if they want to throw up...]

" Whereas the Slytherins...?" prompted Dumbledore.

[Here goes. Now they will throw up.]

"A Language."

He faced a table of puzzled looks.

"Consider the title of the founding text of Slytherin sexuality - by no other than Salazar's sister - 'A Discourse on Love's Expression'."

A derisive laugh floated across the table - Professor Binns was hovering around next to Dumbledore.

" My dear Severus - that's nothing but the onanistic ramblings of a madwoman".

"Precisely why men should read it, Professor Binns - not that you have, otherwise you would know that it is also an intricately-structured and intelligent text."

He turned to Professor Vector and Hermione with a conspiratorial air.

"He dismissed it with just the same words in my Fifth year, when I asked him about suppressed aspects of Slytherin history. Naturally we all rushed out to get a copy."

They couldn't help smiling at him. It wasn't simply the novelty of Sneering Snape turning his irony against himself; they were both thinking, in considerable amazement 'He's on *our* side'.

Shame about the looks.

"Well, as the title tells you, Salome Slytherin's vision of sexuality, like the Ravenclaws, was decidedly cultural. It would be more accurate say she viewed sexuality as several languages, languages that anyone can learn, though some will speak them more eloquently than others, until they become Second Nature, so to speak. She even invented a script for various, um, caresses that many believe to be the basis of Dance Notation in the Muggle world. Unlike the Ravenclaws, she saw the flesh itself as cabable of intelligence: she undid the duality of body and soul."

"Was she a Pagan, then?" asked Hermione.

"Not at all. There were still vestiges of Paganism holding out against Christianity back then, but salome saw both as dispririting. Christianity represses by making sexuality Profane. Paganism does it by
the reverse - making it Sacred - over-controlled in ritualised code. If it wasn't forbidden it was compulsory."

"But wasn't that what Salome was doing?' put in Vector "Encoding everything in her languages?"

" She didn't see language as ordered or transparent, something that could directly transpose feeling into words - or even physical signs. Language was not necessarily rational - it was poetic; that's where Binns gets his idea of the madwoman. She insisted that there was always a gap between desire and expression. The point was to make the expression as beautiful a substitution as possible for the kind of fusion that only Death allows. She wrote about leaving a space - an untouchable, invisible space - for every person's 'therein'."

Mc Gonagall coughed.

"Are all the Slytherin texts by women?"
"All the significant ones are".
"And no doubt you are going to claim that yours is the most liberated, sophisticated House? "

"It's certainly been the most tolerant, like Ravenclaw, of all orientations. Some people believe you are only a true Slytherin if you're bi-sexual. Strategically, I suppose it doubles your chances..."

Nobody laughed.

[Bugger,now they feel sorry for me].

"And how" asked Mc Gonagall, with the air of a cat about to kill its mouse "does this square with all those power-alliances by marriage, the rigid control of witches to ensure their children were indeed of the family - the father's - blood?" (she had avoided the word 'purebloods', but Severus' expression, momentarily pained, then blank, told her he understood too clearly. Minerva mentally kicked herself for letting her habitual pleasure in sparring with Snape get the better of her judgement).

He adopted a light tone.

"We were talking about sex, not marriage, Minerva. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Slytherins, in diametric opposition to the Hufflepuffs, are incapable of *connecting* true sexual relations to the Family. It's like the medieaval pattern of courtly love - which was of course most fascinating for all involved. But to answer you properly - wouldn't it be a mistake to reduce any of our Houses to one, founding tradition? Why should Salazar or Voldemort be seen as more essentially Slytherin than Salome or the the witches who wrote after her? The fact that it was those Slytherin men who supressed the women who challenged them shouldn't put us off. If anything, it shows the strength of the alternative philosophies. Now, suppose that Godric had a sister..."

"That's quite enough, Severus" said Dumbledore, trademark twinkle in place. "We concede. Professor Vector, Severus has gallantly proved your point."

Hermione could have sworn that Dumbledore was looking from Vector to Snape, and Snape to Vector, with an encouraging sort of expression.

"In *general*" observed Professor Vector, with a little shake of her unattainable tresses "He has."

('Meow'whispered Sprout to Mcgonagall).

When the Feast was over, Hermione found herself having to account for her uncharacteristic indulgence in laughter to Harry and Ron. Perhaps because she was not used to regaling people with jokes (though she was fine on sharp putdowns, especially with Slytherins) or perhaps because Gryffindor men came off so badly in Snape's account of each House, she found herself quite unable to recapture for the two young men what she had found so funny. Maybe it was a Girl thing.

"Must have been the way he tells 'em" said Harry.
"Or like, you just had to be there" said Ron, dead pan, putting a comforting arm round Hermione's shoulders.

When Harry went off to say good night to Cho, Hermione felt desperately alone. It was not the first time that she'd realised that, apart from Harry and Ron, she was friendless. Cho seemed to like her, but her focus was on Harry, as his was on her, and it was too late to infiltrate her group of Ravenclaws. She had never been able to take the Gryffindor girls in her own year seriously -or,thinking about what made them giggle, humorously. Ron adored her without making head or tail of her - and without understanding, how could there be communication? They spoke different languages, and she always had the sensation of being suffocated into silence, except when her advice, her brainwaves, were useful. At the High table that evening, even though she had said little, she had felt herself to be part of a conversation of equals.

Not for the first time, she thought - When he speaks to me, I can breathe.



' It was only when I'd been reading to