Chapter 3 : On the Misfortunes of Others
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The news that I had indeed been placed in the Most Noble and Superior House of Slytherin brought about a marked change in Father's attitude toward his two sons, and his wife. Mother never lost an opportunity to remind him of the accuracy of her past predictions concerning the true nature of Sirius and myself, and from that moment on Father submitted meekly to her every wish and demand. Starting that first summer, when company came, Sirius remained locked in his room, while I sat at table with our honored guests. When a member of the visiting party expressed curiosity at this arrangement, Father informed them briefly that Sirius was being punished due to his complete inability to submit to the Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, after which he launched into a sufficiently lengthy speech praising my virtues as a true, honorable, and obedient member of the family.
To my dismay and utter incomprehension, Sirius seemed completely unaffected by this sudden change in Father's attitude. Father's disapproval alone was enough to depress anyone, let alone the disapproval of both parents. Was my brother completely devoid of emotion? Most likely the answer was yes, if his actions at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were anything to judge by.
At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Sirius was, if anything, more determined than usual to desecrate the Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Neither Mother's frequent Howlers nor the seemingly endless string of detentions seemed to deter him from his unspoken resolution to commit at least three pranks per week. Surprisingly, I found myself the target of only a minuscule percentage of these abominations. The vast majority, I soon discovered, centered around a third year Slytherin known to most as Severus Snape.
In a vain and selfish way, I was glad of this - glad to escape the unwanted attentions of my loathsome brother, glad that for once it was someone other than myself on the receiving end of his pranks. On the other hand, I truly could not see what characteristic Severus Snape possessed that would render him so utterly detestable. I must admit that his appearance left much to be desired, but one could not expect everyone to reflect the hygenical standards of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, and surely even Sirius would not diminish himself to the level of judging people solely on their image - after all, he counted Peter Pettigrew among his close friends. The only plausible explanation was that Severus Snape must radiate the virtues of the Most Noble and Superior House of Slytherin so strongly that Sirius, in his crusade against such virtues, would not rest until he believed Snape completely defeated and humiliated.
Conversely, the vast majority of the female population of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry did not concern themselves with the personality traits of either Snape or my brother. They fawned over Sirius in his pathetic attempts to resemble a teenage supermodel, while laughing themselves silly at Snape's apparent unawareness of the existence of hair cleansing potions. I was shocked and disgusted at the shallowness of their thinking - judging males on their appearance alone, while completely overlooking Snape's academic brilliance and pureblooded virtue, and my brother's lack of both. Sirius, however, seemed to enjoy their attentions immensely. Perhaps he attacked Snape solely for the purpose of their amusement - he was certainly cruel and unsympathetic enough to do so. The more I contemplated this, the more credible it seemed. After all, what possible virtues could Snape have that would not be possessed in greater quantities by a true member of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black such as myself?
For the first time, I was truly angry at Sirius on another's behalf. I did not, however, dare to act on these feelings, being too grateful that I myself was, if only temporarily, out of his line of fire. Too grateful was I also of my father's newfound affection - if one could truly call it affection - to risk losing it by bringing even one detention upon myself. I therefore put all the energy of my being into achieving the highest marks possible in each and every one of my numerous classes. However, I did not forget my rightful indignation at the numerous injustices perpetrated by my brother against Severus Snape. How could I, when unwillingly subjected to the viewing of such events on an alarmingly regular basis?
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