"Scared Potter?" Malfoy sneered, and Harry snapped. He was done, finished, fed up with playing the innocent little Gryffindor with no common sense and a microscopic amount of intelligence. He rolled his eyes.
"Why yes Malfoy, I'm terrified, can't you see me quaking in my boots? You, a second year child armed with a stick is the scariest thing I've ever seen. Please, please don't fatally injure me in front of three hundred witnesses and two teachers with your mean words and nasty smiles. Whatever shall I do?" The entire hall fell silent and Malfoy gaped. Harry smirked. Lockhart looked entirely bemused, and he thought Snape might be holding back a laugh.
"On the count of three, then." Lockhart said. "One, two, three."
"Serpensortia!" Malfoy cried, and a large and certainly venomous snake poured out from his wand. An eastern brown snake, Harry thought.
"Where am I? Attack!" It cried, and lunged toward him.
"Stop." Harry commanded, deciding to see if he could give Snape an aneurysm. The snake rose to inspect him.
"Yes. I will provide you with food and warmth, and in return you will not bite me." The snake uncoiled, then slithered toward him.
"Don't worry my boy, I'll sort it out!" Lockhart cried. He raised his wand.
"Expelliarmus." Harry hissed, and snatched Lockhart's wand out the air. "You really are a fool." Lockhart looked gobsmacked and he could almost hear Hermione's gasp of horror. He knelt before the snake and it coiled around his arm and up his body.
"Male or female?" He hissed.
"Thank you Malfoy. I'll be keeping her." Malfoy was gaping. "Expelliarmus." Harry said again, and received Malfoy's wand for his trouble. Snape pursed his mouth. Harry threw their wands onto the floor.
"I win." He grinned and hopped off the duelling platform.
"My name's Harry." He told the snake. "What's yours? What do you like to eat?"
"I am Baneofallrodents." Harry was summarily told. "I eat rodents."
"Harry!" Hermione cried. "How could you disarm and insult a teacher?"
"Lockhart is an imbecile, not a teacher." She gaped.
"Harry! You can't say that!"
"I can. I just did." She pouted.
"Heya mate! You're not actually keeping the snake? And why didn't you tell us you could speak parselmouth?" Ron said. Harry rolled his eyes.
"I am a parselmouth, and I speak parseltongue. And you never told us that you spoke idiot, yet you manage to prove it every time you open your mouth." As if to prove him right, Ron frowned, and then gaped as he figured out the insult.
"Is for horses." Out the corner of his eye he could see Hermione giggling.
"Huh?" Harry sighed.
"Don't you worry your pea sized brain. To the common room?" They strode off. It was rather easy to make way through the crowds with a snake wrapped around him. People seemed to be afraid of it, for some reason.
Harry was later summoned to the Headmaster's office, whereupon he was faced with McGonagall, Snape and Dumbledore.
"Harry, Harry, it's good to see you. Are well and keeping up with your studies?"
"Yes, thank you." Harry replied, rather suspicious of why he was there.
"An excellent defeat of young Draco in duelling club I must say." Harry kept silent. "And impressive skills subduing the snake. But I'm afraid I must tell you that you cannot keep it."
"Her." Harry interrupted. "She's female." Snape's mouth twitched.
"Ah yes, very good." Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. "But my point still stands. She's not on the list of permitted pets and so I'm afraid she must go."
"Ding." Harry said. Dumbledore fell silent and frowned at him. "That's my bullshit detector." Harry explained, and McGonagall gasped. "Ron has a rat, Lee has a tarantula, and therefore I can only conclude that the reason you don't want me keeping a snake is because it's a snake, and thus has ominous connotations with Slytherin and everything 'evil." Snape's mouth twitched again.
"Frankly, I suspect that snakes once were on the permitted pets list. A cat for Gryffindors, an owl for Ravenclaws and a toad for Hufflepuffs, and therefire snakes for Slytherin." Dumbledore blinked.
"Five points from Gryffindor for your cheek, Potter." Snape snapped. Harry rather felt that it was because the man was jealous that he couldn't call Dumbledore out on his bullshit, being employed by him and all.
"Hmm, be that as it may, your snake is an Eastern Brown Snake, one of the most venomous in the world, and potentially a danger to students."
"Ding." Harry said again, once more shocking the adults judging by their shocked expressions. "Lee's tarantula is venomous, and I haven't heard a word of complaint against it. And Lee can't even communicate with it. Baneofallrodents has promised not to bite anyone who's not trying to kill me." Dumbledore smiled.
"What did you call it-her?"
"Baneofallrodents. Oh. Sorry. Baneofallrodents." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled again.
"Bane of all rodents? What an unusual name. I suppose you have a point. Very well. You have a week long probationary period, and if it proves to be that you can control her you may keep her."
"Now, my boy, I would like to reaffirm that you will be safe at Hogwarts. Nobody will try to kill you here."
"Ding." Harry said, and noticed McGonagall cover her mouth with her hand and exchange an amused look with Snape. "Enormous three headed dogs. A troll. An insane genocidal lunatic who taught Defence Against the Dark Arts. To mention a few."
"Will that be all, Professor?" He said, pasting on his sweetest and most innocent expression. Snape rolled his eyes and Harry cheered silently in victory.
"Yes Mr Potter. That will be all."
"Arrogant little twerp." Severus muttered once Potter had left.
"I don't know what you mean." Dumbledore said, twinkling away.
"Ding." Minerva said, a sly grin on her face. "Oh my, the power's gone to my head."
Severus swept away and into his office and threw a handful of floo powder on the fire.
"Malfoy Manor." Lucius was sitting in his office and nodded a greeting.
"Ah Severus, I thought I might be hearing from you. I just received a rather interesting owl from Draco. Do come through." Severus stepped into the floo and joined Lucius at his desk.
"You will not believe the conversation I just witnessed." He said, finally allowing his mirth at Potters audacity to show.
"After Draco's letter I'm sure you could tell me that there are pigs with wings and I'd stand and take a look out my window."
"Draco told you about Potter adopting the snake? Being a parselmouth?" Lucius nodded.
"Well Albus was of course having none of it, wanted Potter to have as little 'Dark' influence in his life as possible, and told Potter he couldn't keep the snake, on the grounds that it wasn't on the list of permitted pets. And Potter then goes 'Ding. That's my bullshit detector.'" Severus laughed and Lucius snorted. He filled the other man in on the rest of the conversation.
"Albus did a one eighty when he realised that it was an argument he wasn't going to win. Presumably to continue being seen as the benevolent all-knowing grandfather figure, although I rather suspect that Potter's got him sussed out." Lucius looked thoughtful.
"That suggests the boy is more independent than we previously thought. Sounds like there's a bit of Slytherin inside him. I wonder if we can sway him to our side." Severus privately agreed, which worried him slightly. He'd misjudged the boy greatly. He'd hidden his entire personality, made himself to be the image of a perfect Gryffindor. He'd seen Potter roll his eyes the moment he'd given up. Draco had taunted him, and Potter had found it to be so hilariously stupid that he couldn't help but say something.
"Would you like to know the snake's name?" Severus said with a chuckle, dismissing his current thoughts to dwell on later. Lucius raised a brow. "Bane of all rodents." Lucius smiled.
"Most humorous." He agreed.