AN: This lovely woman known as J K Rowling owns the setting and characters. As sad as it is, that woman isn't me.
Harriet Lily Potter rolled over on her tiny bed in the cupboard under the stairs at Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging Surrey. Squinting at the clock that she had stolen from Dudley that sat on the floor, she made out the time.
4:37 am, on 31 July 1991. She had been eleven years old for four hours and thirty seven minutes. The logical piece of her mind reminded her that she should be asleep, because birthday or not she had chores to do, starting bright and early. And, truth be told, she was exhausted. However, the other, less logical part of her brain, couldn't stop running through what had occurred the previous day at the zoo.
Dudley had wanted to go for his twelfth birthday the previous week. However, they had arrived there to find that the Reptile House was closed for maintenance. So the entire trip was scrapped, and they had gone back the next week.
As such, it was 30 July, 1991 that Harriet had discovered she could talk to snakes. Not only that, but that they seemed to be highly perceptive.
Harriet would never truly realize just how much that hurried, whispered conversation with a certain Brazilian Boa Constrictor would change her fate. The snake's parting words kept echoing through her mind.
"Ssspeaker, though you now live in a cage, thisss will not alwaysss be ssso. When you leave that place, remember that you ssspeak the One True Tongue, and those that Ssspeak are dessstined for greatnesss, if you only have the cunning to achieve it."
One word resonated within her. Cunning. Harriet knew she was smart, although she had to make sure that her grades in primary school didn't reflect that.
"But that's just it, isn't it?" she mused to herself. "For half my life, I've had to keep my grades lower than my idiot cousin. For years now, I've unknowingly been creeping through shadows, letting people see only what they want to. I think I'm pretty good at this Cunning thing. Now I just need to escape this cage…"
Another squinted glance at the clock. 5:04. She needed to start making breakfast in two hours and eleven minutes. But first, she needed sleep.
Harriet Potter smirked faintly to herself as she watch her family drive away from King's Cross. 'It's rather nice to be respected for once, even if it is born of fear. I should thank Hagrid again when I get up to school.'
It was 1 September 1991. Harriet Potter, pushing along a trunk with her rather meager collection of belongings and a bird cage for Hedwig, ventured into the station, seeking Platform 9 ¾. She quickly found Platforms 9 and 10, but there was nothing between them. Resolving that, unless this is just the single most elaborate prank ever pulled, everyone else going to Hogwarts today need to get to this hypothetical platform and as such, there must be a way, Harriet pulled her trolley to the side, out of the main thoroughfare, and watched the space between 9 and 10. Not five minutes later, a rather loud group of redheads came into view. Interestingly, they then proceeded to take turns running through the brick barrier separating Platform 9 from Platform 10.
Almost unconsciously, Harriet raised a single eyebrow at the sight. Nearly a minute later, she blinked, lowered her eyebrow, and followed their lead. She had no idea what sight she expected to see, but whatever it happened to be was nowhere near this.
The cherry red Hogwarts Express sat proudly on a track that wasn't there before, underneath a sign reading "Platform 9 ¾". All around her, kids with trollies similar to her own were saying goodbye to parents and guardians then hefting their trunks onto the train. Somewhere in the back of Harriet's mind, the words of The Wizard of Oz that she had heard one night through the door of her cupboard echoed to the forefront.
"Why yes, Dorothy. I think you're right. We are certainly not in Kansas anymore." Somewhere to her right, Harriet heard a small gasp, followed by footsteps and squeaking trolley wheels. Turning, Harriet saw a girl her own age, and similarly alone, walking up to her.
"Oh thank goodness. Another Muggleborn. I mean, all this magic is so fascinating, but it's good to find someone else that wasn't raised by it, you know? I do hope we could be friends." The bushy, brown haired girl had seeming said it all on one continuous exhale. However, Harriet resisted the urge to comment. 'No sense being rude. I don't exactly know anyone in the magical world either, save Hagrid.' The other girl had caught her breath.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't introduce myself. I'm Hermione Granger." The raven haired girl smiled at her first real friend in the magical world.
"Hi, Hermione. I'm Harriet Potter." The deafening silence coming from Hermione was already unnerving, despite Harriet having met her perhaps sixty seconds prior. The way Hermione's mouth was moving, as if forming silent words, reminded Harriet a great deal of her trip to Diagon Alley. Already, being famous in the magical world was becoming a chore. And Hermione, by her own admission, had learned of the existence of magic less than a year prior. For the first time, Harriet wished she wasn't the Girl-Who-Lived.
She would make that wish eight more times. Before bed that night. She noticed Hermione had found her voice again.
"You're…THE Harriet Potter? The Girl-Who-Lived? The one who killed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? The single most famous witch alive? The most famous person alive in the magical world under the age of one hundred and fifty? I've read all about you. I had no idea you were starting Hogwarts this year. I mean, I should have. I could have just done the math to know when you'd be eleven. Can…can I see your scar?"
Harriet was mildly impressed. 'How does she do that? She must have one hell of a pair of lungs.' She would have been more impressed had the latest rant not been about that apparently legendary night when she was like fifteen months old when her parents had died, and thus got her stuck at the Dursley's. She cleared her throat.
"Listen, Hermione. I don't really remember anything about that night. All I do remember is what is likely my mother screaming before she died. I would prefer to think about it as little as possible. If you would like to be friends, can we please not talk about this?" The bushy haired girl immediately looked contrite.
"I'm sorry, Harriet. I wasn't thinking." The brevity of the statement caught Harriet off guard. She caught herself, and smiled at her friend.
"Thank you, Hermione. Come on, shall we find a compartment?" Hermione nodded, smiling back at the raven haired girl.
Several hours, a missing toad, a quest to find said toad, and a few too many sweets later, Harriet Potter found herself in a compartment with a rather eclectic group. She was in the corner, next to the window. Next to her was Hermione, across was Neville Longbottom, and Blaise Zabini occupied the opposite corner. Current conversation was hopeful Sorting results.
"Neville, it doesn't matter if you don't get into Gryffindor like your parents."
"But, Hermione…" Blaise rolled his eyes.
"As much as it already irks me to say it, Granger has a point, Longbottom. From what I've heard, the Sorting is easy and painless, and it's never wrong." Hermione looked offended, both Neville and Harriet were trying to conceal smiles, to varying degrees of success. Blaise, seeing a way to hopefully diffuse Hermione before she blew up, seeing as he didn't want to end up like Weasley earlier, took it.
"So, Harriet. Where do you think you'll end up?" Harriet had been pondering that self-same question since Hermione had explained the four Houses earlier. The words of a Brazilian Boa Constrictor bubbled up to the surface.
"I would do alright in Ravenclaw, probably. I do like learning. But I imagine I'll end up in Slytherin. A…friend once told me my cunning would take me places. I've always liked snakes, too." Hermione just stared at the dark haired girl, gob smacked. Neville looked slightly worried. Blaise looked intrigued, but not surprised at her answer. Hermione spoke first.
"Slytherin? But, Harriet…" Hermione found herself cut off.
"Hermione, it's the same thing we were saying to Neville when he was worried about landing in Hufflepuff. No one House is better or worse than any other. Regardless of who was in what House in the past. What matters is who you are, and whether or not you can be honest with yourself about it. It's just personality traits. Cunning, Curiosity, Loyalty, or Bravery. Are you Ambitious, Wise, Hard-working, or Noble? What matters is where we belong."
The compartment fell into silence. The other three occupants were staring at Harriet after her short rant. Harriet herself was just trying to not fell self-conscious. Her efforts were largely in vain. Neville was the first to speak, looking contemplative.
"Harriet is right, I think. I mean, unless you're always bringing it up, no one really knows or cares what House you were in a couple years after you graduate. Your OWLs and NEWTs matter a lot more." Blaise sat back in his seat, smirking.
"You have a point, Longbottom. There may be hope for you yet. Now, as enlightening as this conversation is, we should likely change into our school robes, we can't be far now." As he spoke, the four felt the train start to slow down. A few minutes of alternate furiously scrambling and standing outside the compartment looking pointedly anywhere but inside later, the train pulled into Hogsmeade station. Double-checking that she had her wand, Harriet led the group in pulling her trunk onto the platform. Down the street, she saw Hagrid, swinging a lantern. Harriet looked excited, while Neville and Hermione looked slightly worried to see someone that large. Blaise schooled his face into practiced indifference. Harriet saw it, and considered making a Blaise/blasé joke, but decided not to. The half-giant's booming voice reached their ears as they walked forward.
"First years! First years, over here!" Harriet looked at her three friends.
"Well, that's us. Come on, let's get up to the school."
The assembled first years in an antechamber off the Great Hall looked anxious, as a rule. Whispered rumors of the exact nature of the sorting flew around the room. Those rumors silenced themselves as McGonnagall led them into the hall. All eyes locked onto the old hat sitting atop the stool. General anxiety multiplied when the hat began to sing. After the hat quieted down, the Scot Transfiguration professor pulled out her list.
Hannah Abbott, by virtue of her last name, got to go first. The general anxiety quelled to pre-song levels when the rest of the first years saw that all you had to do was put on the hat. Blaise, secretly hating his last name, slinked to the back of the line, knowing he would be last.
The first hiccup of the Sorting was Hermione Granger. She sat on the stool, the hat was placed on her head, the whole room waited. And waited. Then waited some more.
Nearly three minutes of deliberation later, the occupants of the room jumped slightly as the silence was suddenly broken with a shout of "RAVENCLAW!" Harriet and Blaise shared a look of relief.
"I was hoping for Ravenclaw for her." Blaise grunted his agreement.
"Mhm. Much easier for Slytherins to be seen with Ravenclaws than Gryffindors."
Then, of course, Neville was sorted into Gryffindor.
"Well, there goes that friend." Harriet sighed deeply.
"I'm not going to declare the friendship dead yet, Blaise. Besides, it could help to have a friend in the Lions." Blaise frowned thoughtfully.
"Yeah, that it will. We'll have to keep our distance, but the value is there."
"We'll have to keep some distance with Hermione, too. She's a Muggleborn, remember. And from what you've told me about Slytherin House…" Blaise opened his mouth to reply, but it was cut off by McGonnagall calling the next name for Sorting.
"Potter, Harriet!" The Great Hall immediately fell into a deep silence as the petite, black haired girl walked calmly up to the stool. The hat was placed on her head, and the silence of the room somehow deepened.
Five minutes later, some of the students began to whisper again. Five more minutes later, the entire Great Hall was alive with murmured conversations. As another five minutes passed, some of the teachers began to look at her oddly. As the twenty minute mark approached, the Sorting Hat finally made a decision.
"SLYTHERIN!" The table on the far left erupted into raucous cheering, but the other three tables seemed disappointed that the Girl-Who-Lived had not gone into their House. After the Hat was lifted from her head, Harriet walked calmly over to the cheering table, sitting at the end, a distance away from the other students, intending to wait for the final name so Blaise could join her. Instead, the other newly sorted Slytherins shifted down the table to join her. A pale blond boy sat directly across from her, a large boy moving to either side of him. Harriet failed to completely smother her grimace. She shook her head, purposefully letting her dark hair fall over the right side of her face, hiding her famous scar.
"Draco Malfoy. It has already been brought to my attention that your father is on the Board of Governors. In addition, your ideology regarding blood purity, which I assume is the exact same as your father's, would normally prevent you from interacting with me like this, considering I'm a Half-Blood. Now, unless you're about to surprise me, which I doubt, why are you here?" Reactions were varied, but nearly all were amusing to the young witch. Draco looked furious at being dismissed like he was unimportant. Crabbe and Goyle looked confused. A ways to Harriet's left, Pansy Parkinson matched Draco's anger. Daphne Greengrass, sitting across from Pansy, pretended not to hear, but smiled inwardly at the slight to Malfoy, who had nothing to endear himself to her.
Draco sputtered, trying in vain to return the favor. However, while Harriet knew a bit about Draco thanks to Blaise, Draco knew next to nothing about her, save for the fact that she was the Girl-Who-Lived. And that difference of knowledge seemed to anger him as much as the slight against him. Harriet saw an opening, and took it.
"You know, Draco, if you were capable of actual conversation, just now would have been a great opportunity. I'm surprised, really, that you're sitting here. How did you convince the Sorting Hat to put you into Slytherin, since you so obviously lack any sort of intelligence to speak of, much less actual cunning?" The reactions were less varied, as nearly everyone who was listening grew angry. Draco and Pansy turned red, Pansy slipping towards maroon. Crabbe and Goyle glared. Daphne quickly turned away, and turned her guffaws into a coughing fit. Harriet noticed Daphne's reaction, and filed it away for later while she looked up past Draco, and smiled slightly at Blaise, who had finally been sorted and was making his way over. Blaise, being the last to be sorted, had just enough time for a nod towards the fuming Draco as he sat next to Harriet before Dumbledore stood and drew all attention to him.
Later that evening, Harriet was the back of the line following the Prefect to the first year girl's dorms. She sighed to herself. 'I escaped my cage. And yet, I'm still living in a dungeon. Joy.' Moments later, the five first year girls entered their room, and the Girl-Who-Lived rolled her eyes. Their trunks had already been placed at the feet of the admittedly comfortable looking four poster beds. Sorted by last name. Which wedged her between the far wall and Pansy Parkinson, who had done less to endear herself to Harriet than Draco Malfoy. She schooled her face into subtle confidence as she walked to the back of the room, pausing slightly to quickly send a smirk and a wink to Daphne. To Harriet's surprise, Daphne returned the smirk, while the girl next to her, Davis if she remembered correctly, returned the wink with a slight smile. Pointedly ignoring Pansy's glare, Harriet fell onto her bed, stretching out on it for the first time in years. In her mind, she ran over the information Blaise had given her earlier about life in the Snake Pit and the basics of Slytherin politics.
'Davis…she was sitting next to Daphne at dinner. She looked…worried. Then quite relieved when Greengrass also went to Slytherin. So, why would Greengrass need to take Davis under her wing? And what about Slytherin would worry her…blood. It has to be blood. Blaise hadn't known her family like he had all of the others.' Harriet grinned as the pieces fell into place in her mind.
'It fits far too well to be false. Slytherin has two half-blood first years. And with both her and Greengrass behind me, not to mention Blaise, I might just be able to get year leader sooner than I had hoped. It's already obvious that Malfoy is my only competition. Crabbe, Goyle, and Parkinson are all following him. I know Blaise is behind me. And I think I can assume that Greengrass would much rather throw her lot in with me than Malfoy. Davis will follow Greengrass.' Harriet finished the math in her head.
'Which leaves Miss Bulstrode over there, and Mister Nott. Parkinson, unfortunately, has already started on Bulstrode. She's far more direct than me; short term, Parkinson will win there. So…it all comes down to Nott. I'll talk to Blaise about him tomorrow. Blaise will probably have to do most of the recruiting for him, too. But, if Nott sides with me…then it's just me versus Draco Malfoy. And Draco barely has enough brains to dress himself in the mornings. I won our first round without any real effort. I have the information advantage, thanks to Blaise and Malfoy's inability to shut up. He's terrible at thinking on his feet, too. All he does his bribe and threaten to get what he wants.' Harriet Potter slid off her bed, intent on a bath now that the other four girls were mostly done with the shared bathroom. No one saw her victorious smile as she sank into her bath. But no one needed to, yet. There were still unknown variables in her plan, and at least one major wildcard bearing the name Theodore Nott. But Harriet couldn't shake the feeling of victory.
Severus Snape wanted to hate Harriet Potter. He certainly had plenty of reasons to. After all, she was living proof that Lily Evans hadn't chosen him, but instead had chosen James bloody Potter. Harriet had her eyes, but his, untamable hair. Harriet's face was, in Snape's mind, an unholy mix of the girl's parents. And then she had arrived, and had been sorted into Slytherin, his house, so not only did he have more contact with her, but Snape found himself responsible for the girl.
Snape morosely picked at his breakfast. It was only two weeks into term, but Harriet Potter had yet to stop surprising him. The young Potter heiress had certainly inherited Lily's mind. The first day of class, he had called her out, hoping to find a young, Slytherin James. Instead, without much in the way of hesitation, Harriet had been able to adequately answer all of his questions. And, as the days went by, proof came in that Harriet Potter had taken to Slytherin like a niffler to gold. She had met and befriended the Zabini boy on the train, apparently, given their closeness since even the welcoming feast and that Harriet hadn't been blindsided at all by the inner workings of his house.
Harriet Potter was a true Slytherin, more at home in the dungeons than even his godson, and it drove Severus Snape up a tree. Because he was too busy being proud of the girl to hate her properly.
He glanced up the Slytherin table, finding the subject of his ire at her now customary spot at the far end of the table. She sat with her back to the wall, facing the hall. To her right, the Zabini boy read the Daily Prophet, munching on toast. Across the table from them, Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis had just arrived for breakfast.
Snape secretly wondered how exactly that alliance had come about. He resolved to watch them, closely. As they grew, he knew those four, if their alliance held true could do nearly anything. After yesterday's flying lesson fiasco, he knew Harriet, backed by the other three, could rule Slytherin house by her fifth year. Already, most of the older students saw her as year leader, despite his godson's vocal protests otherwise. And deep in his heart, Snape hated the fact that he couldn't bring himself to actually hate the girl.
Harriet Potter, walking back to the dungeons from the Charms class the first year Slytherins shared with the 'Puffs, smiled to herself. Today, 13 October, was a big day. At least, in secret. She finally had a contact amongst the badgers. One Ernie MacMillan, to be precise. The 'Puffs had been a hard nut to crack, admittedly. But Harriet was eternally grateful that Longbottom had indeed followed his parents into Gryffindor, as without him, finding a reliable contact with the lions would have been nigh to impossible.
The third day of school, Blaise had mentioned the benefits of an information network. But even Harriet knew that a known informant was a useless informant. The needed secrecy, then, made progress slow. Blaise had expected to need to do everything. But, the next day, Harriet had a plan.
Harriet, over the next week, befriended Daphne Greengrass. Then, Blaise covertly met with Daphne, and between the two of them, could keep tabs on the majority of Slytherin.
Meanwhile, Harriet noticed that Tracey Davis was quite the bright one, and already tended to spend a good amount of time in the library. So Harriet set her up to meet Hermione Granger, who was already making a name for herself as the brightest witch of the age. At the urging of Daphne, Tracey was kept out of the loop about the planned information network. Harriet just left them alone, allowing the bond to develop naturally.
Harriet had planned for Longbottom to eventually become their Gryffindor contact, but perhaps months down the road. Then, of course, he received the Remembrall. The following flying lesson provided a golden opportunity to hit two birds with one stone. She got to knock Malfoy down another peg, and prove to Longbottom that their bond from the train hadn't been forgotten because of the sorting. And all it took was a case of deliciously easy pickpocketing, followed by a short conversation with Longbottom. A couple weeks later, Neville met with Blaise, and agreed to keep tabs on the Gryffindors.
After Neville agreed, Harriet told Tracey about the plan. Two weeks later, Tracey had a stream of information from Ravenclaw, via Hermione.
Then, yesterday, Neville surprised everyone. He casually name dropped Ernie MacMillan as a solid contact for them in Hufflepuff in a conversation with Blaise. And with one conversation over class work in Charms, the network was complete, at least for the moment. Harriet wanted to find a different contact in Hufflepuff for the sake of compartmentalization, a sentiment that Blaise heartily agreed with. The four Slytherins had, to that same end, worked out their own system as well. Blaise, armed with a strong proclivity to keep his mouth shut, was the only one who knew everything, in addition to working with Longbottom directly. Tracey continued to man the library sessions with Hermione. Daphne, as of today, worked with Ernie in Charms, as well as keeping her ears open in Slytherin. Blaise passed the pertinent bits forward to Harriet, who had fully assumed the leadership role.
The older Slytherins, especially those with their own intelligence networks, watched the rise of the Girl-Who-Lived with interest, and more than a little respect. In six weeks, a first year had built an information ring that included all four houses. And, simultaneously, had toppled the Malfoy heir as year leader, although Draco seemed to be the last one to know that fact. And she had done it all with pure, Slytherin tactics. Not only was she not using her fame, she seemed to actively ignore it. And that fact just impressed them more.
Harriet Potter had never really liked Halloween. At the festive feast, she sat at the corner of the Slytherin table farthest away from the teachers, glumly picking at her food. Secretly, she wanted something to happen to cut the whole thing short.
She got her wish. Long before dessert made its appearance, Professor Quirrell burst through the doors of the Great Hall, panting.
"Troll! Troll in the dungeons!" The entire hall went deathly quiet. "Just thought everyone should know." After the second, much quieter statement, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher passed out, right in the middle of the hall. For all intents and purposes, it seemed as though his consciousness was singlehandedly keeping pandemonium at bay, as chaos erupted the moment he collapsed. Dumbledore stood, and issued a clap of thunder from his wand. Harriet found herself wanting to learn that spell.
"Prefects, please lead your Houses to their Common rooms, the feast shall resume there. Professors, convene in the Entrance Hall." As the students stood and made to follow their various Prefects, Harriet found herself confused. She grabbed Blaise's sleeve, pulling him to the back of the Slytherin throng.
"Wait, if there is a Troll in the dungeons, why, exactly, are we being sent to the dungeons?" Blaise found her reasoning to be valid, but had no argument or counter argument.
"A good point. Unfortunately, it seems our only choice is to follow the Headmaster's commands."
Harriet frowned, but followed the rest of her House. As the approached the dungeons, she saw little that would indicate a troll had ever been there. As their trek through the dungeons to the Slytherin common room continued, the less evidence she saw. Her frown deepened, but she just filed the information for later.
'Something odd is going on here. My scar hurts whenever I look at the back of Professor Quirrell's head, and now there is a strange Troll, somehow in the school. I need to get to the bottom of this. But to do that, I need better information.' A plan formed, and Harriet's face broke into a small smile. As they entered the Common Room, Harriet grabbed Blaise's arm, and whispered into his ear. The dark boy nodded, and continued to walk to his dorm, a similar smile on his face.
AN: So yeah, this is my crack at Slytherin!Harry. Of course, it's my first run at Fem!Harry as well, but that second bit won't be too important until later books. Anyway, why make Harriet this way? I know that, had I been thrust into the circumstances she had, I would have fought tooth and nail. And if open war didn't work, then subversion would be in order. Canon Harry had a good head on his shoulders. I just shifted Harriet down a couple notches down the sliding scale of idealism and cynicism.
In other news, as some who may have check my quite barren profile may have noticed, this is my first foray into the public arena with my writing. Reviews and critiques of all kinds and flavors are appreciated.