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a little girl who grows up thinking all doors are automatic but actually she’s haunted by a really polite ghost
So a while ago there was this post going around about the houses in Harry Potter and how it makes no sense for Slytherin- the house that’s supposed to be all about personal ambition- to be the house full of people who support an evil overlord, and how it’d make way more sense for Gryffindor to be the one full of zealots who are willing to serve their master to the end. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it, or I would have made this comment there: I realized there’s a very simple in-universe way to explain this.
It’s the Sorting Hat.
It’s said several times that the Sorting Hat’s first priority is that if a student badly wants to be in a certain house, it puts them there. Now consider- what was Salazar Slytherin’s reputation?
Even the Hat itself goes back and forth a bit about whether he intended for his house to be about ambition (which is how the song describes it in the first book) or about bloodlines (which is how it describes it in its new song later). What if Salazar told the Hat to sort to his house based on ambition (probably because Helga Hufflepuff was giving him this look like, “I respect you as a colleague but I swear to Merlin if you get your shitty opinions in my school I will fucking end you" and Godric Gryffindor had this big fake "I will hold her coat while she ends you" smile), but because he was a noted pureblood supremacist, a ton of people assumed that that was what his house was about?
Sirius says it was taken as a granted that all Blacks were to be in Slytherin, and Draco has a similar “well duh” attitude about Malfoys and Slytherin that got him sorted so quickly the Hat barely even touched his head. If it was basing it off the traits it’s supposed to be focusing on, this wouldn’t make any sense- different people, even ones growing up in the same household with very similar circumstances, will have different personalities. Which means that if being in Slytherin is a family tradition, then a lot of them aren’t there because of their personality, they’re there because, well, it’s a family tradition, and they chose to be.
(BTW: see also: Weasleys all being Gryffindors. I wouldn’t be surprised if Percy, for instance, was a bit more of a Slytherin, but put himself in Gryffindor because that’s what his parents expected.)
Somebody like Bellatrix Lestrange is, honestly, pure Gryffindor. She endures a decade and a half of Azkaban on behalf of her lord, respects and loves him above all else, and will put herself in harm’s way in any manner she needs to to aid him. She doesn’t seem to have any particular ambition on her own behalf; it’s all for Voldy. Sure, she’s a horrifically cruel monster, but there’s nothing against that in the Gryffindor charter, and nothing for it in the Slytherin one. But because she has always believed firmly in the (bigoted, racist) ideals of Salazar Slytherin, she asked to be put in his house, so she was.
And that goes a long way to explaining why so many Death Eaters and similar assholes are in Slytherin. It’s not that it’s inherently the asshole house, it’s that the assholes all think it’s the asshole house, so it’s… well, full of assholes who wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Which means there are probably a lot of Slytherins who followed the family tradition, but then, a few years in, abruptly realized, “…My god. Most of these people are terrible. And everyone probably thinks I’m just like them.”
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