Harry hated Hogwarts. Well, that wasn't entirely true. He held no ill will for the castle, just the people inside of it.
It was his fourth year, and already he just knew if he didn't do something then it would turn out just as crappy as the last three. He didn't want to fight for his life again.
However there was nothing he could do. If he were entered as he feared, then he had no doubt Dumbledore would force him to compete, probably citing that he would lose his magic. And magic was the only defense he had against Vernon and Petunia.
Harry sighed. He didn't want to be put into another death-defying situation, but he also couldn't leave.
His feet caused him to wander to the area where Snape had his private potion ingredients. There was a loud crash, and Harry blinked. He saw Malfoy leave the storage area, and he smirked when he saw Harry.
Harry could see what Malfoy planned when he saw him. He would blame any theft on Harry.
He had enough. Harry drew out his wand and started hexing the blond ferret. Malfoy yelped as one of the hexes split a jar he was holding wide open. The liquid inside turned red hot and splashed all over Harry as the idiot Slytherin threw it at him to protect himself.
Harry cried out in surprise and expected pain as it hit him, drenching him completely. His beloved owl, Hedwig appeared just as the ingredient reacted to the spell and the two vanished without a trace.
Harry woke up in the infirmary, and the first thing he saw was Hedwig, who hooted at him reproachfully.
"I'm fine girl. Just a little dazed...where are my glasses?"
"Your glasses are right here. What in Merlin's name were you doing covered in that muck? It took me an hour to find something to dissolve it from you and your owl that wouldn't cause a major reaction!" scolded Madam Pomphrey.
"It wasn't intentional. I was having a fight with this jerk and he threw it at me as a distraction. The jar broke and I blacked out. Where am I anyway?" he asked. He knew perfectly well where he was, but one look at the fussing Mediwitch and he knew that he wasn't in his own time.
Pomphrey looked several decades too young for starters, and the plaque she had jokingly put on his usual bed was missing. Not to mention it looked closer to the start of the school year when it had been closer to October when he had stumbled across that idiot Malfoy.
All in all that pointed to time travel, though he had no idea what year or day it was.
Dumbledore came in, again looking decades younger than he remembered. That simply proved he wasn't in his own time, because the man didn't automatically go to his curse scar and actually looked him in the eye.
"So our mystery arrival is awake. Do you have a name dear boy?"
Harry thought fast. No way was he letting this senile old goat know that he was fully aware of where he was or that he was from the future. That was just a recipe for disaster!
"Gabriel Barton, sir," he said thinking fast. Gabriel was his favorite character from a TV series which was the only thing that featured magic that Petunia would dare allow in the house...mostly because it involved two nonmagical brothers who hunted people like Harry for a living. (Dudley loved the show because of the violence and bloody nature of it, while Harry enjoyed it because it was so interesting.)
And Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) was his favorite Avenger. He had read and later bought every single comic book he could get his hands on that featured the archer shortly after he finally had a chance third year. Fortunately it was all in his bag that he carried everywhere with him since Ginny's break-in of his trunk second year.
He had bought a specially expanded bag third year so that he would never have to worry about some crazed stalker getting into the things he actually cared about again...and he had once caught Colin sneaking out of his dorm room with something that looked suspiciously like one of his dirty shirts.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled.
"Gabriel Barton? I'm afraid I don't recognize that name."
"I'm a half-blood who's been home schooled sir. I had an...argument...with another person who lived in the area that lead to me getting drenched in some potion ingredient I don't know the name of. He thought I would let him pin the blame for his thieving habits so I 'corrected' him of that mistake. Next thing I know I wake up in here," said Harry.
It was a half-truth, but not a complete lie either.
"Well, it seems that we'll need the name of your parents or guardians so we can contact them."
"My guardians are not very friendly towards outsiders, let alone owls...they barely tolerate my familiar in the house. And my parents were killed when I was a baby. I live in a remote area that isn't exactly conductive towards port keys, brooms or the Knight bus. We barely have floo and my guardians are too cheap to even consider wasting floo powder just to find me."
"Surely they couldn't be that heartless," said Pomphrey.
"I was barely able to get any magical schooling at all. They kept hiring cheap tutors for defense, and my potions work is spotty at best."
"Well I see no reason why a home schooled lad such as yourself couldn't attend Hogwarts for the year...at least until we get a hold of your guardians. There are certain procedures in place for misplaced youths," said Dumbledore jovially.
Harry acted grateful, but inside he was annoyed.
Perhaps now he could drop Divination like he always wanted.
Harry patiently waited to be 'sorted' by the hat a second time, and despite learning the year (he had arrived during the same time his parents had been in fourth year, to his surprise) he had no desire to be a Gryffindor twice. He had argued against Slytherin years ago because of Ron's words, but being honest with himself he preferred the quiet dark dungeon to the loud and brash atmosphere of the lion's den.
It was long past time he quit hiding as the Golden Gryff and acted like the patient serpent he was.
Besides, being around his parents and keeping the truth a secret would have been too hard for his tastes. Better to be enemies than try to befriend them and accidentally reveal their future.
"Slytherin!" said the hat loudly in Dumbledore's quiet office. Seeing the somewhat disappointed look shot his way, Harry found he could care less.
He had discovered, to his open shock, that the potions ingredient had changed his hair color from a raven's black to a more cinnamon brown. His eyes remained the same, but he had gained a bit of a tan and most of his scars, barring the basilisk's bite and the lightning one on his forehead, had simply faded away into nothing.
He looked nothing like a clone of James Potter with green eyes, which to be honest was an open relief. The last thing he wanted to explain was why he looked like someone he knew to be an only child.
Horace Slughorn was the head of Slytherin during this time, and as a new Snake he took 'Gabriel' to Diagon for supplies.
His wand had been missing when he was found, it had dropped when he had gotten hit with the ingredient, so he would have to get an entirely new one.
Gabriel (he had decided to slip into this new personal to avoid confusion in his own mind) spent the bare minimum for supplies, deciding for a custom wand instead of Ollivander's premade ones.
"Welcome!" said the shopkeeper.
"Hello. I've unfortunately had the bad luck of having my wand lost during a fight and I'm in need of a replacement. So how does this all work?"
"Used to premade ones, eh?"
"Only had the one from Ollivander, and it never really suited me that well."
"Things work a bit different for a custom. I can see by your robes you're a Slytherin?"
"The hat just put me there. I was previously home-schooled," said Gabriel.
"In that case... for ten galleons extra I'll keep from adding the required trace on your wand," said the wand maker with a wink. Ollivander couldn't get away with that option, but a custom wand couldn't have spells already on the core or the wood until after it was made. Otherwise it would mess with the wand itself.
Hence why he could skirt the law by making it optional.
"Deal. Let's get started so I know how much I'm paying."
Gabriel left with a brand new wand, one that didn't have any spells on it and was very unusual. Considering what he spent for it, it had better be a powerhouse compared to Ollivander's work.
Gabriel's first encounter with the Marauders left him sorely disappointed. Every time he asked about Lily or James he had always been told that they were good people and that James had a group of friends called the Marauders.
He hadn't known just how much sugar had been coating that load of bullshit.
James Potter was an outright bully and Sirius wasn't much better. Peter was a sycophant who followed their coat tails and Remus, while not being an enabler, also didn't try to curtail their more vicious pranks.
And Lily... well, Gabriel was left disenchanted by his mother after a few days.
Lily Evans wasn't a more tolerable Hermione, no she was Miss Popularity because of her looks and the fact she dismissed James out of hand. Yes, she was smart and surprisingly good at Charms and more than passable at potions, but compared to Hermione there was no real comparison.
Watching his own mother put down a Slytherin girl a year above her had been rather eye-opening. And watching a young Severus Snape had been rather heartbreaking.
Snape wasn't his mother's friend...he was a follower who was so desperate for attention from his crush that he couldn't see her faults. It didn't help that they lived right next to each other or that Lily had taken pity on him when she found out that he also had magic and no friends.
Gabriel suffered one prank from the Marauders, a rather nasty one that he barely managed to save his beloved owl from, before he decided to do something about their behavior.
The teachers might ignore the outright bullying, but that didn't mean he had to put up with it.
And he started with Snape.
Severus didn't know what to think of the sudden transfer. Just because he shared a hall with the boy didn't mean they would be instant friends. In fact Gabriel seemed to be an outsider who was trying not to join any cliques just yet.
Whereas Severus was a known outcast because of the fact he was the most frequent target of the Marauders.
Severus found Gabriel reading a new potions text rather intently before throwing up his hands in frustration.
"This makes absolutely no sense! Dicing the mandrake root would work better than trying to julienne the bloody thing! Who wrote this nonsense?" he said in frustration.
Curious, Snape looked at the text. He was surprised to find that Gabriel was correct...dicing wouldn't make an effective potion at all, though cutting it into really thin slices might work better. He didn't know what he meant by julienne the root though.
Seeing him reading the book, Gabriel raised an eyebrow.
"You understand potions?" he asked.
"It's my best subject. What did you mean by julienne the root?"
Gabriel brought out a simple cutting board and a sharp knife from his potions kit. He proceeded to cut a rather useless ingredient and cut it into thin strips no bigger than a needle with expert skill. Snape was fascinated.
"I took cooking classes before I came here, and I tend to equate potions with cooking, since it requires equal skill to pull off," he shrugged.
"So this is what you meant?"
"This text makes no sense whatsoever, or whoever wrote it should relearn their art," said Gabriel.
Snape looked at the publisher. The man wasn't a well known potionsmaster, and his work had been laughed at before.
"This was written by someone who barely understands potions, let alone cooking," said Snape.
"Strange, this is the same text my teacher made me study from..." seeing Snape's look he quickly added, "I come from a remote magical village and they don't exactly update their book collection that often."
Seeing a chance to make a friend, since Gabriel hadn't been openly intimidated by the Marauders and hadn't been there that long, Snape asked if he could partner with him during potions. He wanted to see Gabriel's skills for himself.
Gabriel grinned at him, and agreed.
Snape and Gabriel quickly bonded over potions, though it wasn't uncommon for them to get into an open debate over whether cooking was just as detail oriented to potions.
Later that month, Snape would be surprised to discover that the Marauders had only hit him twice instead of the ten pranks they usually put him through each month for daring to be anywhere near Lily Evans.
Lily seemed a mite annoyed that Snape had made an actual friend who didn't seem to fall head over heels with her like every other straight boy in the school her age. Or that Snape had slowly started to drift away from her and towards Gabriel.
And when confronted about it, Snape had seemed surprised that he had been enjoying the company of Gabriel more than he had being around Lily.
At least around Gabriel he wasn't in danger of being hexed, cursed or jinxed by James and Sirius.