Title: H is for Helga
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Summary: Professor Potter's first history lesson: the books are wrong and Hermione is going to be remembered as the dumbest best friend in history.
Disclaimer: I have no legal rights to any Harry Potter characters; I just like to put them through hell at my leisure.
Challenge: first line challenge – 'screw the best of times; it was most definitely the worst of times'
Notes: This was written for the fourth wave of the HP/SS fest which can be found at kardasi. It is the first of the history lessons to be given and there will be two more lessons before the lecture block is finished. Be warned, Harry's language is less than elegant.
Screw the best of times; it was most definitely the worst of times. There was no other way of putting it. Harry scowled ferociously in Hermione's direction and several of the other Gryffindor girls giggled dizzily. Yes, 'other', because Harry Potter, the bane of Slytherins in general and the Malfoy, Snape and Riddle ones in particular, was currently female. And in period attire complete with a nametag to be certain that Harry was correctly identified (read: utterly humiliated).
And. It. Was. All. Hermione's. Fault!
His scowl became a Snape-worthy glare and, behind him, he could feel said teacher's hidden glee. Damn Snape and damn Hermione too! They could both rot in the seventh level of hell. Surely there was a place reserved for people who put their friends through this crap. And all for a history of magic assignment! Hermione bloody Granger betrayed Harry and turned him into a bloody girl!
Hermione was going to pay. She was right up there with Voldemort and the Dursleys on Harry's 'to-get-revenge-on' list. She couldn't do things the normal way, could she? Nooooo! In her history report on the founders, she had to do it orally, with visual aides, didn't she? And did she rope a girl into playing Helga Hufflepuff? Oh, no, of course not! Not when Harry was already such a close bloody match with what the books said she looked like. Both were short, skinny, black-haired and green-eyed. Like that didn't describe half of England… well, okay, a quarter… well, more than Harry anyway.
It wasn't his fault that he was short! Anyone locked in a cupboard for half of their life would have height issues. And his eyes, they were green, so what? Why couldn't people get over them? They did not glow with power or sparkle like bloody Dumbledore's (who was also on The List for letting Hermione do this to him). They did not prove that he was going to be a wizard on par with the founders; and why the Hell didn't the bloody founders leave any bloody portraits of themselves anyway? Surely one of them would have been a better visual aid than Harry done up in a bloody dress. At the very least, surely it would have proven that Harry did NOT look like Helga bloody Hufflepuff.
No. With his luck, Harry would've ended up being a dead ringer for Slytherin and all that heir crap would've started up again. Harry sighed miserably and tried, discretely, to loosen the corset. The damn thing was turning his internal organs into so much mush.
At that instant, adding insult to injury, Harry happened to see Ron snickering at him. Oh, did he forget to add Ron to The List? Because he was up there, way up there. What to do… what kind of punishment for a boy who did nothing while his girlfriend turned his best friend into a girl and then laughed when said girlfriend made it so that only she could break the spell? Harry was stuck doing this bloody show and tell on the life of Hufflepuff. The least interesting of the founders to boot! Otherwise, Hermione wouldn't turn him back!
If the gods hated him half as much as Snape did, then they were surely getting a laugh out of this! Snape certainly was. Hidden in a shadowy corner near the door, he was getting maximum entertainment value for this spectacle. Harry hated him.
Harry hated Hermione. Hell, he just hated the whole damned world. He wished that somebody would just put him out of his bloody misery.
"Not much is known of Hufflepuff's early life. The first written record of her is dated 998AD when she first became acquainted with the other three founders and they began the task of creating Hogwarts." Hermione was rattling off her speech in her usual lecture voice but none of their friends were yawning this time. No, getting Harry in a dress had pretty much guaranteed they'd all stay awake during her presentation. No wonder she'd gone against every tradition the houses had and not chosen Gryffindor for her topic.
"As well as the widely known antipathy of Salazar Slytherin for muggles and the traits all four founders admired, It is common knowledge that Slytherin was a widower with an infant son when he started Hogwarts, that Gryffindor greatly admired muggle swords-smithery and had a dangerous habit of enchanting their merchandise, that Ravenclaw liked puzzles and that Hufflepuff was one of the first women to push for equality of the sexes to include quidditch. But the private lives of all four founders are largely unknown. The problem is larger than the fact that there are no portraits of the four. None of them left any of their own writings to be found after their deaths. Historians have pieced what we know from secondary sources. Gryffindor's sword and Hogwarts' very layout are evidence to the conclusions I have stated about Godric and Rowena…"
Hermione very wisely avoided the issue of Slytherin's… well, issue. Pity she wasn't wise enough to have avoided provoking Harry Potter. She would pay. Hadn't she learned from all the times Malfoy, Snape, and Voldemort had tried to get one over him? Harry always came out on top. His eyes began to narrow but the damned corset distracted him from further death glares.
"The fact that Ginny is Harry's reserve on our team shows Helga's influence. This only proves that, to learn more of an enigmatic woman's life, we need to search for the clues. Obviously she was a progressive woman; one that did a lot to ensure that the written laws were absolutely equal between the sexes. Another fact about Hufflepuff was that she was unmarried in a time where women were married off at obscenely young ages. If we look at the traditional alliances of the houses, we can speculate that she and Godric were close, while Salazar was Rowena's partner. Were these pairings more personal, as well as professional? We will probably never know, but if we consider their specialities; Godric as an enchanter of inanimate artefacts and Helga was a ward-maker and curse-breaker, you can see it is not magical affinities that drew them together. Now, I have found a spell that should show us Helga's actual appearance. It's called the akin appearance curse due to the fact that it caused the creator to look like his grandmother during his wedding.
What?! Harry hadn't heard anything about this before. Even Snape was surprised. So this was not something Hermione had gotten faculty approval for.
"It can only work with the features present, so the closer the original face, the more accurate the reproduction is. This is why we have Harry here, assisting me. According to the most reliable descriptions I could find in the library, Harry is the closest I could get, with a minor adjustment of course."
She smiled as she said the last and if Harry didn't have a sinking feeling in his stomach, he would have snapped then. As it was, the laughter of their classmates was completely unheard by Harry as he realised that Hermione was about to cast an unknown curse on him, a big difference from the gender-bender hex that would've been a snap to break if she hadn't locked the bloody thing. Harry took a step away from her and Snape came into his line of sight. Even he looked uncertain, no doubt wondering if the promise of more Potter torture was worth the consequences if the spell went wrong. Harry's panic must've decided him because the sadistic prick settled back, silent and watchful, without a word.
Harry frantically glanced at Binns, but the ghost wasn't doing anything. He seemed to have turned the tables on them and decided to nap through the presentation. Did ghosts sleep? How did he wake one up? Why the hell wasn't Binns keeping an eye on his class?
Hermione pulled out her wand and a time-turner, at this Harry's reluctance solidified. He could not stand for this. Unfortunately for him, his costume tripped him up and Snape was too busy staring at him to notice what Hermione was doing.
Frantically, he struggled to untangle himself from his skirts. Did no one remember that curses never reacted normally when he was involved? Never! If someone went back through his life and checked it out, they'd find that he either didn't get hit or responded strangely. How else did they all think he'd survived the third task last year? A hex or even a jinx, okay, he was as vulnerable as the next boy, but a curse? One only had to think 'Avada Kedavra' and 'Harry Potter' in one thought to realise why it was a bad idea. For a smart witch, Hermione was being very dumb.
"Using this time-turner, we will reach back through time and impose Helga's visage on Harry for the hour the time-turner would normally take us back for. Ron? Have you got Colin's camera ready? We want to document this properly."
Harry opened his mouth to protest, Ron nodded and then it was too late for any arguing.
"Helga Hufflepuff, resem-recal-recrea!" Hermione tapped the time-turner with her wand and then pointed it at Harry. He couldn't dodge; the dress made him too slow and the wave of white light shot and hit him.
Reality went pear-shaped.
When Harry regained consciousness, it was several hours later at least. He knew this because his previously empty bladder was now full; he hadn't even opened his eyes. He didn't want to, he knew where he was. Once again, he was an inmate of the hospital wing and it was all Hermione's fault! At least Madame Pomphrey should have made her undo the gender-bender.
He groaned and it was still an uncomfortably feminine voice that he heard. He groaned again and then cursed aloud, "I'm going to bloody-well kill her!"
"Who?" It was a lovely voice, smooth, deep and beautifully cultured. Harry didn't think he knew anyone with a voice like that who would visit his hospital bed.
Spurred by curiosity, he pried his eyelids open and then blinked fuzzily. His vision on cleared a little but he still saw nothing more than a dark shape lit by the illumination of a single point of light. He struggled free of the bedclothes and fumbled blindly where the bedside table should have been.
"What are you looking for?" that same wonderful voice inquired solicitously.
"Yeah, eye-glasses, spectacles, you know, glasses."
"Oh! I'm afraid they were damaged when you… fell."
Harry blinked blankly. "Didn't Madam Pomphrey or Hermione cast an oculus reparo on them?"
"No, but that will fix them will it? Give me a moment."
There was a rustling then a murmur of the spell. The dread that Harry had felt when Hermione had announced her intentions to cast a curse came back in a flood. His glasses… it was such a small oversight but one that meant something was very wrong.
Large hands placed the spectacles in his and then gently helped him put them on when his own hands trembled too badly.
The face came into focus, tanned skin, a rather large nose and intelligent but friendly black eyes all framed by long, silky dark hair. Harry jerked back and the man frowned.
"Don't worry, Child, I do not molest pretty young girls that I find unconscious in my gardens. In fact, I don't molest girls at all." He gave Harry a rather self-mocking smile and added teasingly, "I like pretty boys…"
Anxious to reassure the kind man that the thought hadn't crossed his mind, Harry replied with the first thing that came to mind. "So do I!" Harry couldn't believe he had just said that! "I mean I like men… Oh!" He was making a fool of himself. The stranger seemed amused by it at least, another thing he had in common with another man of Harry's acquaintance. Harry horrified himself by blushing but it was not because as soon as he was able, he was going to undo Hermione's bloody hex so that he would be male and, thus, attractive to this man. "No!" He definitely didn't want to think that! "I mean, you just look a lot like my potions teacher." In fact, if Snape had ever left his dungeons long enough to get a tan, grew his hair another foot or so and maybe washed it too, they would have passed for twins. As it was, they could have been very similar looking brothers.
The man winked. "Ah, you're lucky to be taught by such a handsome fellow then."
Harry had never thought so before but it appeared that he'd need to rethink a few things. Snape was still a bloody git though.
"Anyway, as I said before, I found you in my garden yesterday morning with traces of a temporal portal still discernable. I am afraid you are a long way from home, Child. Oh, excuse me; my name is Salazar, Salazar Slytherin."
Harry felt he had the right to be a little shocked. He was a thousand years in the past with a man that rivalled Voldemort for the title of history's greatest dark wizard. He would not have expected the kindness. Well that and the evidence that Voldemort was not Slytherin's only heir. Absently, Harry wondered if Snape knew about this as he responded automatically, "And I'm H…"
"Helga Hufflepuff," Slytherin interrupted, holding up the nametag Harry had been forced to put on when this whole mess had started.
Taken aback by this new development, Harry hastily thought about being stuck as a girl, then he thought about being transported into the past and then he thought about the case of mistaken identity. Then he thought some more and really hoped he was wrong.
Salazar Slytherin was watching him closely.
Harry was going to kill Hermione.
Imagine the son of your childhood tormentor, the current bane of your existence. He's short, scrawny and impossibly scruffy. He is annoyingly earnest and righteous and has the habit of trying to get himself killed through his various misadventures. He wastes what little native intelligence and talent he possesses and it's questionable whether he'll graduate or get himself killed first.
Now imagine that same brat of a boy turned into a girl. It is a look that he would wear quite well if it weren't for the sulky expression and the birds nest thatch of hair that no real girl would ever countenance. Then imagine him in a rather elegant dress that kept tangling between feet that were all too clumsy on the ground. Finally, imagine him, complete with dress, forced to stand in front of his peers, vulnerable to their ridicule, while one of his hangers-on rhapsodised about how much he looked like a woman. It was a beautiful sight. It had almost had Severus Snape rolling on the floor in hysterical hilarity.
It had made working with these miscreants worthwhile. It had made the humiliation of his childhood bearable. It had, in fact, made his entire decade. Unfortunately, Albus was going to have his head for it.
Severus had been enjoying himself. It was a pity he had not reacted faster to Granger's little surprise so that he could continue to do so. Pity, because when he had ignored his misgivings he had let her do possibly the most foolish thing he had ever witnessed of her, and she was one of Harry Potter's little co-conspirators. In his defence, according to his fellow professors, Granger was normally a reliable student that could be trusted not to foul anything up too badly. She had also turned Harry Potter into a female and then orchestrated today's farce and for that, Severus would have given her a lot of leeway.
Would have, he really meant that he already had, because, unbeknownst to Potter, he had caught the miserable brat's two little followers in flagrant dishabille on Valentine's Day. Granger, showing some rather Slytherin qualities herself, had bargained with him – the utter humiliation of the bane of his existence in exchange for overlooking her little misdemeanour. Suspension or better yet, expulsion for Granger and Weasley, or humiliation for Potter. It had been a difficult decision to make, but one that he had not regretted.
For the first few seconds after the spell took effect, the class was frozen in shock. For that matter, Severus, himself, was reluctant to believe the evidence of his own eyes. A handful of seconds after that, Granger's face paling in panic held the little monsters' attention. Then the brainless mob seemed to realise for themselves that Potter was not meant to vanish. It was only Severus' glare that held them back from rioting. He stepped forward and was about to dismiss the lot of them when, exactly twenty-one seconds after he had vanished, Harry Potter reappeared.
A very different Harry Potter at that, but undeniably Potter for all of the changes. A couple of inches taller, a few feet more hair and a lot more power with a master's control of it, this Potter was an entirely different proposition from the fifteen year-old boy that had just disappeared. What had returned to them was a mature, if androgenous, man and Snape found that he approved of the changes.
Or he would when he could think about them. While Severus had briefly been distracted, Potter had efficiently examined the class and then fixed his gaze on Granger. Apparently those green eyes were harder to meet now because Granger had looked away after only a moment. And Potter was smiling too, that smile had always made Severus wary and that was before it had gained that… edge.
"Hermione? Am I back in the nineties now?"
And if that was not a telling question, then Severus would eat his cauldron.
Granger blinked. Evidently she had understood the import of the question as well. Just as evidently, she had missed all of the danger signals that Severus was receiving because she looked up and said, "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry. I don't know what… eep!"
Idiot girl. It was only Severus' quick reflexes that had caught Potter before the boy… man had finished his lunge. They struggled briefly while the class gaped like fish. Luckily, for all that Potter had matured and filled out, and he had done so quite nicely from what Severus could tell as he held the man, Severus was still the larger and, physically, the stronger of the two. Potter seemed to realise it too because, showing unheard of common sense, he gave in and stopped fighting Severus.
Watched avidly by his classmates, the new and improved Potter leaned back against Severus' chest and addressed Hermione very calmly for someone being restrained by the dreaded potions master. If Severus hadn't known better, he'd almost say that the man didn't mind it at all.
Conversationally, Potter addressed the girl, "Hermione, you are going to pay for this and I've had twenty-one years to think up some good ways of doing it."
"T… twenty-one?!" There were shocked exclamations around the room.
Severus sneered over Potter's head. Imbeciles. It had been obvious from the moment he reappeared that the brat was not a child anymore. What did they think had happened? He disappeared and reappeared to and from nowhere and the changes that happened between were a coincidence? Bah! Potter had evidently evolved a brain and grown up, though not enough that Severus was not tempted to rest his chin on the brat's head while he watched the show. Would that the rest of these cretins followed suit.
As was only to be expected, they seemed too interested in staring to think. Potter, on the other hand, seemed to be thinking furiously and whatever was running through his mind was angering him further. Severus could feel the man tensing and he tightened his hold in case Potter became homicidal again. He glanced over o the other students. "Go on, get out. Go to your next class and not a word of this or I'll have you all testing Longbottom's potions for the rest of the year." The threat got them moving but would not keep them subdued forever. Weasley and Granger remained and no sooner than the door had closed behind Finnigan, then Potter exploded again.
"Yes Hermione! Twenty-one years, Hermione! In the past, Hermione!" The words were scathing and Granger seemed to shrink back into her hair under their onslaught.
Potter had learned to use his voice as a weapon in those years and Severus was as interested in seeing him use it as he was in hearing what happened to the brat.
"You sent me to the bloody past, Hermione! Was it not enough that you made me a girl? Obviously not! Forcing me into a dress? Nope! Making me stand in front of the class like that? Of course not! You. Had. To. Curse. Me!"
The way the last few words were bitten off suddenly made Severus understand why he had been uneasy as soon as the spell had been mentioned. Potter and possibly life threatening curses… there was a reason Severus had not mixed the two in the five years he had taught Potter. And it was not that he had not been tempted.
"And guess what, Hermione! You sent me to the past! Your wonderful CURSE sent me back a thousand years! To the Dark Ages! AS A GIRL!!"
Severus could not help himself, he snorted but Potter's furiously hissed, "Shut up Snape!" made him restrain the laughter trying to break free. But really, who would not laugh about this knowing Potter and his ability to get through such misadventures practically unscathed. This one would really have tested his luck too. Still, here he was whole and apparently the better for it.
"As a girl, Hermione!" he repeated, "I was a girl and stuck that way until I found a way to break your bloody lock!
Granger had locked the change? And Potter had broken it? Severus wondered if he should be impressed and with who. Locking a spell was almost impossible to do; the more complicated the spell you wanted to lock, the harder it was to do so. Breaking a correctly cast lock was beyond impossible, it was unheard of.
"I didn't regain consciousness for over a day after I got there! Girl, Dark Ages, defenceless, is any of this sounding any alarms for you? Because it certainly hit me hard when I realised one of my best friends had sent me back to a time and place where women were property and I could have been raped and killed. Such a cheerful thought, don't you think?"
Granger was about to fall over and even Weasley was starting to catch on. Happy that he seemed to have gotten his point across, Potter stopped belabouring the issue and calmed down a little.
"However, I was lucky. I landed in the garden of a wizard who did not take advantage of me while I was unaware."
That was an interesting stipulation. Severus wondered if Potter was aware he had made it and, if he had, it had been intentional.
"Not what I expected of Salazar Slytherin. Where were the dungeons? Where were the cauldrons of bubbling evil? Not that he couldn't be a right git when he was of a mind to be, much like Snape here."
That was unexpected. Very interesting too. Severus wondered what first hand knowledge of Slytherin was going to do when it got out.
"In fact, history seems to be wrong on a great many counts where the founders are concerned. Slytherin didn't hate muggles. He hated Christianity, which is quite a big difference when you think about it. Irrational bigotry on one hand, versus quite a logical fear of fanatical superstition on the other. It's unfortunate for all concerned that generations of pureblood elitists who've been sorted into Slytherin don't get the distinction."
Severus never thought it would happen. He agreed with Potter. Ragnarok was coming.
"Oh, and Hermione? There was nothing between Salazar and Rowena. It was Godric that panted after her. Hell, that's why this place is such a maze; we all knew she wanted to be able to lose him in five minutes or less. Randy bugger that he was."
"Of course Rowena wasn't much better. If she wasn't such a delicate…" there was a world of scorn there, "Lady, she could have bloody well gotten up and lent the rest of us a hand with the dirty work."
Severus blinked at Potter's wording. Surely not…
"If she hadn't made such a bloody fuss about her fragile health then maybe Godric wouldn't have felt the need for his collection for sharp things every time someone looked at her cross-eyed. Oh, and Hermione? There was never a chance of anything happening between her and Salazar. She would've expected hearts and flowers and Salazar preferred his bed partners with a little more common sense and a lot less melodrama."
"He was with Hufflepuff then?" Weasley interrupted stupidly.
Severus swore that he could feel Potter shaking with amusement. That intrigued him even more with the new Potter as, from what he could see, none of it was shown on the other man's face. It looked like he was taking the Weasley brat seriously. Potter shook his head quite soberly and Severus knew he was playing with the two teens. If he hadn't been, then his voice would not have been so bland when he informed them, "Slytherin liked boys."
The Gryffindors gasped in shock and Severus sneered scornfully. Innocent Gryffindor idiots. Two of them at least, the one in his arms was not very Gryffindor anymore. It made Severus very interested as to the way Potter had discovered that information, not to mention that Potter had not really answered the question, either. Curious that. Severus considered the facts and formed a very… intriguing conclusion. Releasing Potter, he turned the man around an arched an eyebrow before asking deviously, "What about Helga then, Potter, what gossip would you spread about the fourth founder?"
Potter merely looked at him blankly, which annoyed Severus. He had always enjoyed getting under the brat's skin and he was not about to give up one of his few pleasures in life now that said brat had apparently gained a drop of maturity. Potter-baiting had apparently become more intellectually challenging. Severus found himself strangely excited.
"Well, Potter? No rumours to tarnish her reputation as you are for the other three? Even your precious Gryffindor is not safe from you so why is Hufflepuff exempt? Perhaps there is more to this than you are willing to tell us?"
The green glare was impressive now but Severus knew something that, considering his current silence, the man would prefer he did not and he was too Slytherin not to take advantage of it. He wondered absently if Slytherin had ever found out for himself how much fun harassing Potter could be and rather thought he had. If even a fraction of his reputation was accurate then Slytherin had no doubt left Potter with many interesting tales to tell of their association.
"Oh let me guess then, Potter… annoyingly outspoken, loved quidditch… I would not be surprised if she liked girls. That would not have been comfortable for her back in those times."
Potter stared at him stonily before something seemed to occur to him. He smiled that dangerous smile and Severus could only smirk wider. It had been some time since he had been able spar verbally with an equal so… frankly, as it were. The other teachers were depressingly straight-laced. His smirk faltered when the other man stepped towards him.
"Do you believe in karma, Snape?" He didn't give Severus the time to answer, instead he forged ahead without pause. "I do and do you know what? You have it in spades. I know your weaknesssss." The sibilant was a long, drawn out hiss.
No! Severus refused to even consider that the brat might be telling the truth.
The man leaned even closer, rising to his toes so that his mouth almost touched his ear. Then the infernal brat began hissing in parseltongue.
How did he know that..?
The hissing did not stop and, despite his better judgement, Severus was listening.
How did he know that?
He could feel his eyes glazing over but still the man continued his serpentine monologue.
How did he know that!
Harry stopped and Severus stumbled back a step. There were spots of colour burning on his cheeks. He could feel them, but he was helpless to do anything about them. Dazed, he staggered from the classroom and collapsed against the wall, out of sight of the three inside. Once he no longer had to concentrate to keep standing, he found his ability to think returning.
Behind him, he heard the three speaking. He strained his ears and shamelessly eavesdropped.
"Harry, what did you say to him?" Weasley sounded shocked. Well he should and he hadn't understood what Harry was saying.
Severus could feel the amusement that Harry felt and, for once, felt no anger because of it. Damned brat, he was softening him up.
"Not something I'll repeat to your virgin ears, Ron," Harry remarked archly.
Damned right. If he had even tried, Severus would make sure that he never walked again. Of an age with him or no, Harry wasn't too big for Severus to administer a good hiding too.
"Harry!" Granger sounded scandalised. Hypocrite. After what Severus had caught her and Weasley doing on Valentine's Day, she really didn't have a leg to stand on. "He's a professor!"
"So was I, Hermione, and, with luck, I will be one again shortly. If I remember right, we just lost this year's defence teacher. Dumbeldore'll probably be glad to give me the job."
As Severus suspected that Albus had been keeping the spot open for Harry anyway, the old fool would no doubt be ecstatic.
"What?" Granger's voice was even shriller than usual.
Harry's was becoming impatient. "Do I have to spell it out for you? You sent me back in time. I was found unconscious with a nametag!"
Severus could almost see comprehension rolling slowly over the two as Harry spelt it out for them.
"It was five years before I could break the spell Hermione. I spent the first couple of them under the protection of Salazar Slytherin! Being a parselmouth definitely gained his attention and it let me finish an apprenticeship. I got the reputation of being hardworking because I achieved mastery before I was twenty. I got the reputation of being loyal because I loath traitors and because I stuck by Salazar's side despite his reputation. Even then it was pretty bad. He enjoyed it though, he was like Snape in that…"
Harry sounded quite fond of both Severus and Salazar, a thought that dumbfounded Severus almost as much as the whispered Parseltongue.
"Do you get it yet? A female acquaintance of Salazar Slytherin known for her loyalty and work ethic, who am I?"
"Yes, 'oh'. And that reminds me, Hermione…" There was a sudden flare of light from within the room and then two shrieks of dismay before Harry, quite a bit more cheerful, spoke again, "Just be grateful that this one is merely timed and not locked. Now I'm off to see Dumbledore. Have fun seeing life from the other side."
He walked out the door, the shouts of Granger and Weasley muffled when he shut and locked it. Then he regarded Severus thoughtfully. "No one will believe it you know," he said eventually
Severus surprised himself by laughing. When he recovered his composure, he smirked at the man. "Enough will," he promised evilly, "Should I choose to convince them. After all, it is Harry Potter we're talking about and it's more than obvious that something happened to you." He gestured mockingly at the grown man.
Harry smiled back in challenge. "Are you willing to risk it, ssssSeverus?" he almost hissed, deliberately reminding Severus of what he could do to him simply by being what he was, a parselmouth. "I knew you had to at least understand it and there's too much of Salazar in you for spoken parseltongue not to drive you wild."
The truth of that statement infuriated Severus but excited him too. The implications…
"If I want, I have you by the balls!"
That stopped Severus cold and he narrowed his eyes at the brat. "Did you play with Salazar like this?"
A rueful expression settled over Harry's face. "For a small while. It was fun and he wouldn't retaliate by actually hurting me."
Severus sneered. "And when he learned you were not a fragile female but an impertinent brat of a boy?"
It was Harry's turn to battle burning cheeks and embarrassment but, for all that, there was no resentment in the man. In fact, the brat seemed remarkably comfortable with the implications. "True, but that was then, this is now."
"You do realise that this means war?"
Harry's challenging smile became a triumphant smirk all too reminiscent of his Gryffindor beginnings but his eyes were gleaming in emerald anticipation. "I wouldn't have it any other way, ssssSeverus," he hissed in parseltongue.
Despite himself, Severus had to take a deep, steadying breath. "Let the games begin then."
Harry laughed and began to saunter off, down the corridor. "I'll be seeing you around then, ssssSeverus."
Severus watched him and his graceful stalk until they disappeared around the corner. Thank god the brat was not a student here anymore. He did not think he could bear it. Severus smiled to himself contentedly and glided off stiffly towards his dungeons. Oh yes, let the games begin.