Title: S is for Slytherin: the master
Rating: PG at most
Pairing: HP/SS and HH/SS
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Beta: Val and Anna
The house elf showed Sirius to the entrance to his godson's private chambers and disappeared with a pop. Frowning at the spot it had vanished from, Sirius sniffed in disgust. Hermione could say what she wanted, but no house elf should be that uppity. Not to mention that it was as ugly as sin.
Creepy little blighter.
He pushed the elf out of his mind and turned back to the door. He wasn't quite sure why Harry rated his own rooms, let alone an entire tower. He figured it probably had something to do with last week's defeat of Voldemort. Not that Harry didn't deserve the best, of course, and it did mean that Sirius didn't have to worry about Harry's dorm mates' staring. Despite the best efforts of the wizarding world's reporters, the news that the treacherous rat had been caught was slow in getting around.
Sirius shrugged and pushed the door open. He took one glance at what was inside, shrieked and stumbled back yelling, "My eyes! My eyes! I'm blind! Oh, Merlin help me!"
Following close in his wake, a small pot of sweet smelling gel sailed through the door and shattered against the opposite wall. Sirius barely noticed, he was too involved in trying to get the image of a naked Snape out of his brain.
That was more than he ever wanted to know about Snape! And who the Hell was stupid enough to let the greasy git do that to them? He scrubbed at his face, moaning piteously. Oh, the inhumanity of it all! What a disgusting sight to be confronted with when he first stepped into… Harry's… rooms… He straightened and spun, just in time to catch a nasty hex directly in the face.
Sirius tumbled backwards, tripped and fell into a chair, all the while cursing Snape's ancestors back to the first slimy bit of Snape sludge to crawl out of the swamp. Then, however, his mental pain was replaced by physical agony as the hex took effect, his face began liquefying and Sirius had other problems on his mind.
"To what do we owe the pleasure of this little visit, Mutt?" the voice of the loathsome snake enquired venomously.
Once Sirius had fumbled his wand out and reversed the spell, he was able to grin back nastily. It looked like a certain greasy git didn't manage to score after all! He took a look at Snape and then, manfully tried to hide his flinch. It looked like the ugly bastard hadn't bothered to cover himself, either!
And Sirius thought a brief glimpse from the back was bad! He fixed his eyes on Snape's disgusting face and resolved not to look down. "I was obviously after Harry, you stinking slug, these are his quarters! How was I supposed to know that your kink was taking your latest floozies into others' rooms to make 'em earn their money?" If only the git would stand still and stop freaking him out, Sirius could finally get good and mad like the situation deserved.
The git's face reddened and Sirius began to smirk in triumph but then the bastard burst out laughing and Sirius had to turn away in horror. Firstly because a Severus Snape overcome by hilarity was a truly disturbing sight to behold and, secondly, because no naked man should laugh in public.
"What the Hell's wrong with you, Snape? Have the fumes from your cauldron finally sent you around the bend?"
"You…" There was another chuckle before Snape finally seemed to get some control of himself. "You are going to eat those words, Black!"
"What the Hell…" Sirius turned to glare, only to catch sight of the git's barely dressed 'friend'. Short, slim, with dark green eyes and long black hair flowing loosely around him, the man was about the same age as Snape (and him he privately admitted, although he'd insist that he looked years younger than the git). He was only wearing a pair of drawstring pants, obviously grabbed in haste as they were too long for him (another thing Sirius didn't want to know about the greasy git), leaving the strange mark on his chest bare for anyone to see. It glinted briefly and Sirius gasped.
Snape frowned and turned to follow Sirius' gaze but didn't seem to get it. That just proved the buggering idiot was just as stupid as he'd always said he thought Sirius to be.
"Merlin, you're a git," Sirius snapped as he scrambled out of the chair.
All amusement was gone from the slimy bastard's face by this time. "I see your lack of intelligence is once more matched only by your vocabulary, Black."
"You're buggering a bloody Master like a common rent-boy from Knockturn Alley and you're calling me an idiot?" Sirius retorted, momentarily forgetting said Master was watching the two of them with a mixture of alarm and amusement. "I can't believe he hasn't fried you yet!"
Snape looked at him in disbelief. "You can recognise a Master?" His voice was heavy with shock.
Sirius rolled his eyes in disgust. "Of course I can, he's got a great shiny bloody Master's mark on his chest, there, hasn't he? You've probably even been pawing at it for the last twenty minutes and you didn't see it? No wonder you're such and eyesore! You probably can't see the mirror well enough to know any better!"
"You know what a Master's mark is?" Snape demanded in that same, sceptical manner.
"To be fair, sssSeverus, Sirius did have the same classical pureblooded education that you did," the Master commented in a familiar voice, regaining both Sirius and Snape's attentions. Sirius was grateful for the distraction because just before he'd looked away, he hadn't been about to help noticing the effect the Master's voice had on Snape. Ick!
"I apologise for my… unfortunate timing." Or fortunate, considering who the poor bloke's partner was. Sirius hastily banished that thought and the images it recalled. "But I was looking for my godson and was told by Albus Dumbledore that he'd been moved to this tower."
There was a softly snarled, "Albus," from Snape's direction.
Sirius ignored it and continued doggedly, "He didn't have time to show me himself," in fact, the old wizard had looked downright frazzled, "But he called up a house elf and it led me here, so I know I'm in the right place."
Snape muttered again, this time unintelligibly and the Master's eyes narrowed suspiciously. Sirius swallowed. Snape's ire was nothing but he really hoped that it wasn't him that this Master was pissed at!
The Master saw Sirius' anxiety, not that Sirius would expect any differently after learning of the trials of Mastery, and his face smoothed. "Don't worry about it, Sirius, it's just a small internal matter. I'll see to it later."
Sirius was devoutly glad that dangerous little smile was not for him.
The Master shook his head and then smirked at Snape. Sirius remembered in time and did not look around to follow his look.
"sssSeverus, perhaps you should fetch some robes."
Snape sighed in a manner that told everyone how put upon he felt. "Very well then," and he strolled back out of the room, in no particular hurry. "It's not like I've got anything the mangy mongrel hasn't seen before," the aggravating arse replied as he disappeared through the door.
That was true. More than one childhood prank had left the little bastard starkers in a public place. He hadn't improved with time either and Sirius still felt as though the sight would burn out his retinas. It was that lily-white skin! Snape needed to get some sun – he glowed!
Sirius noticed the Master was grinning at him and frowned. He knew he looked respectable, or had looked so, because he'd forced Moony to check him over before leaving the Ministry – he now knew how Harry felt with the reporters always hounding him. Of course, Snape's hex might have done more than try to melt his face off but Sirius wasn't about to make more of a fool out of himself by trying to check. Although a discrete 'finite incantatem' might be wise…
The Master chuckled and Sirius shifted uncomfortably. Those green eyes were laughing at him. Maybe he should do the cancellation spell because he remembered Harry's eyes looking just like that when Ron tripped one of his brothers' jokes… "It's not…" He stared. "How?"
"Hello Sirius, yes, I'm fine, thank you. How have you been? Doing well now that Pettigrew's been brought in?" The Master, no, Harry enquired with pointed courtesy and Sirius winced a little, abashed, but, dammit, he thought the shock he'd just been given was more than reason enough for a touch of rudeness. Harry seemed to agree because he paused in his teasing and opened his arms. "Aren't you going to give your favourite godson a hug?"
Automatically, Sirius did as suggested and, as his arms enclosed Harry's bare torso, he felt his eyes bug out. "You were going to let that greasy git bugger you?"
Harry laughed and led him, traumatised, out of the public reception room and through the cursed door into the private lounge room. Snape was, thankfully no where in sight, having most likely picked up his scattered clothing and continued on through the doors to either the bathroom or bedchamber, not that Sirius wanted to think about the git having that kind of access. He was gently guided into a chair where he fervently ignored a certain worse for the wear rug.
Harry was at his side, staring down at him with soothing and tranquil eyes. Sirius couldn't help himself from looking at his godson with an expression of bewilderment and Harry responded, "It's not that bad… so long as one of you know what he's doing…"
That was hardly the twist that Sirius couldn't understand. "But… but… you, him… naked!"
Harry laughed at him. "I'm a big boy, Sirius, not a child, definitely not a virgin and I assure you that it was entirely consensual."
"But… but… male?"
"If it's not about making kids, then sex is sex… I'm… flexible."
Sirius struggled to comprehend. "But… but… Snape?"
"My choices are kind of limited and, after experiencing it for the first time since I became a Master, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like celibacy." He shrugged and summoned a footstool to sit on directly in front of Sirius. "Students are off limits to professors, after all."
Sirius blinked. "Professor?" His Harry was a professor? When the Hell did that happen?
Harry nodded at him happily. "Yeah. It's not exactly my old subject but, to be honest, it's damn frustrating to be teaching kids titchy little defence charms when you're a Master Wardsmith. I realise you have to start somewhere, but dull is dull."
If anything, Sirius was even more confused. What the Hell was a Wardsmith?
"Besides which, I have a unique perspective on history and Binns has been obsolete for at least fifty years now! But you get what I mean when I say that my selection of active libidos is limited? Not that I'd want one of what's offered here. I'm very grateful to have left adolescence far behind me and have no intentions of reliving it even vicariously. Childhood, on the other hand…" Harry grinned and winked but Sirius was too overwhelmed to get the joke.
Professor? Wardsmith? Binns? "Wait!" he exclaimed, "What the bloody Hell are you going on about Harry?" By Merlin's gilded gonads! He couldn't leave this boy alone for a minute. He was worse than Prongs had ever been. "What in Avalon happened to you?" he demanded impatiently for good measure.
The other wizard's smile waned and twisted until it was a rather irritated curl of his lips. "Hermione, in all of her wisdom, decided to use me as her experimental subject for Binns' class."
Even without elaborating further, Harry's expression told Sirius that, regardless of how long ago it had happened, and for Harry it seemed to have been a while, his godson was not forgiving or forgetting. "I think I detect a wee grudge," he commented wryly, calmer and patient now that his questions were being answered… although he now had to wonder how Harry had gotten himself in that situation in the unarguably most boring and awareness-draining class in Hogwarts' history.
"Once again, Black, you state the obvious. If the chip on Potter's shoulder was any larger, he'd have been crushed under its weight long since."
Sirius looked past Harry's shoulder to see that Snape had reappeared, mercifully covered by a thick robe. His lip curled at the wizard who sneered back while he lurked near the far wall.
"Actually," Harry said with a quick warning glance over his shoulder at Snape. "I've gotten it out of my system already. I'm all good now, just ask Mr Granger and Ms Weasley."
Sirius didn't get it for a moment and then it clicked. His eyes widened. Merlin, the kid had a marauder's twisted mind, alright, and Lily's temper as well. "What in the world did they do to deserve that?" he asked, almost proudly.
Snape snickered and Harry rolled his eyes. "Ignore him," the youngest wizard sighed, "For some gods forsaken reason, he finds it all funny."
"What?" Sirius was sick of being ignorant. What did the git know that he didn't?
Harry sighed, brushed some stray hairs behind and ear and then calmly proceeded to turn Sirius' world up on its ear or would have, had Sirius been able to believe him which the animagus couldn't quite bring himself to do. Although Harry had gotten himself into some bloody unlikely scrapes over the years, this was too much even for him. Sirius regarded him seriously and sought for words.
It wasn't like you could call the Master-who-defeated-the-murdering-monster a lunatic, godson or no.
Maybe Snape had drugged him after all. His eyes flicked at the Slytherin where he lurked. In Sirius' experience, hormones might explain many things but not even they were cause enough to let Snape bugger him and Sirius was a latent nymphomaniac who had been forced into fourteen years of celibacy. Sirius was unable to explain the Mark or Harry's sudden ability to trounce Voldemort but he really couldn't be certain it was a genuine Master's Mark, could he? He'd just assumed and how stupid was that? The last Master had died over a hundred and eighty years ago and so no one alive had the ability to tell for certain.
Yes, if Sirius considered all of that, Harry's story was almost certainly a cover up of some sort, probably initiated by Snape at Sirius' expense. Honestly, he berated himself, how stupid could he get? Like his godson would be mentally deficit enough to think of Snape as a shaggable prospect! The so-called Master probably wasn't even Harry-
Sirius flinched and rubbed his sore head while he stared at the Harry look-alike angrily. "Look whoever you are-"
The other wizard brandished is knuckles at threatened to rap him upside the head a second time. "Sirius, get a grip."
"Oh come on, how do you expect me to believe that story? What proof do you have that any of it's true?" Sirius was the master of the outrageous fabrication. It'd take more than this to pull one over on him.
Green eyes regarded him, unimpressed, as light played on an insignia-marred breastbone.
"It could be faked," the animagus insisted stubbornly.
Hah! What kind of Master would roll his eyes like that? It only proved that he didn't have a Master's control which meant that he wasn't a Master.
Or that it was Harry and he was getting exasperated with his godfather…
Sirius was confusing himself.
"You're being paranoid," the Harry/Harry-look-alike said with forced patience. "The world is not out to get you, Padfoot."
Well, he did know Sirius' other name… but still... "Snape is," he argued uncertainly.
The git in question snorted in disgust. "Potter, it may amuse you to debate with your flea-ridden dogfather, but I would rather have the cruciatus cast upon me. May I suggest," he paused as he pulled his wand from his sleeve and summoned a rather innocuous, if thick, old book. He tossed it to his co-conspirator-that-might-possibly-be-Harry and finished with a, "That you show your unwelcome guest exactly how you went from the insipid and annoying brat that he so adored to the trained and almost intelligent Master that I would really appreciate being able to isolate for five bloody minutes so that I could finally cash in on the sex you keep promising me!" He stalked out the room, slamming the door behind him.
Not even the unsavoury implications in that statement could stop a small part of Sirius from chortling madly to itself and Sirius mourned a lost opportunity to mock the Slimy Slytherin, unfortunately he currently had other priorities. Luckily for all concerned the next Gryffindor versus Slytherin war did not break out mere days after Harry had finally ended the last one because that small part was buried very deeply and Sirius' concern for his godson was at the fore.
The possible-Harry, however, was seemingly unaffected by Snape's obviously dangerous instability. He was frowning thoughtfully at Sirius while he tapped the book absently. Sirius, however, was sick of patiently humouring him and tried to rise from his chair. If they wouldn't give him a straight answer, then he'd make them.
He missed deft fingers flipping deliberately through the book.
He barely heard the whispered, "Show from Helga's perspective, initia!"
He didn't miss the bands of power that tied him down before he could follow through on his intention to rise.
Then an open book was shoved into his face and his anger was thwarted by the initiation of a complex and illegal spell as Sirius unconsciously looked at the page right in front of him.
He traced the wards surrounding him with his eyes. To his inner sight, they were an intricate weave of pulsing power that was merely part of a greater whole. Each thread in the weave was a complicated line of spellwork and each, fed by the strengths and essences of four Masters, showed only the hand of one in their design. They were a culmination of sixteen years of refining a Masterwork. They incorporated everything. Every contingency he could imagine was accounted for and he had to hope it was enough. If it wasn't, then the sacrifices of the Slytherin, Gryffindor , Ravenclaw and, yes, even the Potter bloodlines would be for nothing. Still, admiring his handy-work was not the reason he was there.
Harry Potter, a.k.a. Helga Hufflepuff, though, thankfully, he was no longer female even if he did have to keep up appearances, turned his attention back to the purpose of his visit. It was battered and tatty and he thought it kind of stank. It was Godric-grotty-Gryffindor's old bloody hat. He wasn't surprised by this turn of events, how could he be? But really, Godric could have cleaned the bubotubor pus off it first.
He grimaced and cast a quick scouring charm, wondering what in Hell the others had been thinking to not have done it themselves. Then, thinking of where the hat had been and would be in the future, he cast a deodorising charm and locked both.
Not satisfied with the measures, but less unsatisfied than he had been, he began this last portion of this making. The delicate web of Godric's enchantments was soft and warm to Harry's senses. They showed a subtlety Harry would expect from a man that would gain legendary status but was almost at odds with the entirely unsubtle personality he knew. Gryffindor was a paradox, but, then, so were Salazar and Rowena. If there was one thing that Harry had learned from his time here, it was that the four legends, and he had to include is alias in this, were only human.
Lightly, he brushed his fingers against the brim, receiving more detailed impressions of the work Godric had done. It was not aware, not yet, the final spells had yet to be laid. It would still be simple to weave the wards between the enchantments. It was quick work, he had already envisioned what he needed to do and it was the work of minutes to create the necessary spell matrix and then link it to the greater ones of Hogwarts' wards. With a satisfied grunt, he let his hand fall back to his side and rolled his shoulders to loosen the tightness there. Well, that hadn't been the trauma he'd thought it would be… not after he'd gotten rid of the pus anyway.
Harry started violently and spun around to find Salazar Slytherin watching him from the arched entrance to the workroom all four founding Masters shared. He glared at the tall wizard. "Don't do that and, yes, I am finished."
"Good…" Salazar's ebony eyes regarded Harry thoughtfully and Harry's eyes narrowed in suspicion. Long familiarity with the other wizard had taught him enough to know when that particular expression on Salazar's face was aimed at Harry, Harry tended to receive unpleasant surprises such as being told that Salazar had volunteered Harry to teach all of their twenty-seven students how to duel with Godric.
Harry began to grind his teeth. He was still resentful about that, hence the reason Salazar had found himself sleeping alone for three months afterwards, arrangement be damned.
The Master in question shifted his gaze from Harry to the hat. For a moment, Harry saw a flicker of silver glinting in ebony irises as Salazar scanned his efforts. Not that he would find any flaws.
"Do you regret it?"
The question was an unexpected one and Harry was jarred out of his pique. "Huh? Regret?" He glanced at the hat, taken aback. Supporting Godric in creating the sorting hat had never been about choice to him. "I regret not insisting that Godric give the bloody thing a good scrub before he started working on it."
He hated it when Salazar glared at him like that. It made him feel like he was eleven and back in Potions all over again.
"What's there to bloody-well regret?" he demanded impatiently. "We're not going to be here forever." Some of them would depart sooner than others, especially if they did not stop glaring at him like that. "Those who come after us won't be a part of the wards like we are. We need a way to create a connection between the students and the wards that would serve much as the Master-apprentice bond would." Harry had never realised exactly how foolish students of magic could be until he became a teacher. After seeing, not one, but four students loose control of their magic for one moronic reason after another, he had never been more aware of the justification behind the enthrallment involved in apprenticeship. And here he and the other three were, trying to teach, en mass, without that protection.
The wards around Hogwarts could serve as a lightning rod when aware of the need so why not create the link at the same time the students were sorted? Get it all out of the way with at the start of things. It was efficient.
Even if he had come to doubt the wisdom of sorting students at all.
He sighed. He hated this time-travelling crap. Damn the paradoxes, damn Hermione and damn time for good measure.
"I have a gift for you," Salazar said, suddenly changing the subject.
Harry regarded him suspiciously. The other Master never did anything without an ulterior motive. This was Slytherin, after all. "Should I be afraid?" he inquired dryly, remembering what Salazar had given Rowena on her last name-day.
Salazar smirked, no doubt recalling the same thing. "It is a book," he admitted coolly with a glint in his dark eyes, "But not one that records the deepest desires of those who touch it for the edification of others."
Thank Merlin. Harry already knew too much about his fellow founders and could have done without learning that Rowena Ravenclaw had dreams of world domination while at the same time desperately wanting to see both Salazar and Godric deal with skirts day in, day out. While the thought of forcing the two into the damned dresses females wore in this godsforsaken era appealed like crazy, Harry refused to even contemplate the idea of the world ruled by Rowena. She was not the delicate little doll she liked to make people think she was.
No," Salazar continued to explain, "This is more useful in a practical sense, if not as amusing. However, it should prove to be just as enlightening." His eyes were hypnotic as they bored into Harry's. Fortunately, Harry was just as skilled at that trick as his former Master and was able to listen to Salazar's words rather than be overcome by his charismatic persuasion.
Long fingered hands offered him a book. After a second's hesitation, he cautiously took it. Carefully, he examined the blank cover, all the while probing at the enchantments woven into the bound pages. They felt almost familiar for some reason…
"I call it the Book of the Ages," Salazar told him.
Harry looked up in surprise. His erstwhile lover sounded strange and, when Harry looked, he found the older Master's expression just as atypical. Salazar almost looked… mournful, which was impossible because even if Salazar had lost something precious to him, which Harry knew he hadn't, the older wizard would hardly allow it to be seen on his face.
"Salazar?" he prodded, a tremor of anxiety running though him.
"Historians rarely record the unvarnished truth. I thought perhaps that you could make use of a tome that was unflavoured by any opinions of a scribe."
Harry looked at the unassuming book again. Its utterly ordinary appearance was at odds with the intricate layering of spells within it. Harry didn't doubt it could do what Salazar implied, however it was hardly a gift conceived of in the spur of the moment. "This would have taken weeks, months…"
"Years," Salazar finished, confirming Harry's suspicions. "I began it the morning after your trials."
"When?" Harry asked lightly, trying to give himself time to figure out what it was that he was missing. "I remember that morning, you were definitely not thinking about books then."
Salazar smirked slightly but refused to be sidetracked. "As we built the school, so did I create the book. What happens on these grounds, all that happens, will be in there. Good, bad and everything in between, from the moment we four activated the wards that you designed until the second that they fall."
Which would not be for a very long time, not with their magical legacies poured into the school's existence. Salazar must have linked the book to the ward matrix before it was activated… only a Master, and Harry's Master at that, could have done it. Harry gave a soft chuckle. It was the ultimate version of 'Hogwarts, a history'.
Cupping Harry's cheek, Salazar's eyes burned into his own. "You will trust in this before whatever other chronicles your time might have produced. You will remember that nothing is simple or straightforward. What appears thus is deceptive and conceals hidden depths. You will remember that other accounts are written by men and women who will colour their words with their own opinions. No word or idea should be accepted blindly. You will remember to question everything you learn. You will…"
"Continue as I have. I am a Master trained by Salazar Slytherin and marked for the ordeals of an adept, not an apprentice. Even were I so simple as to turn my back on all you have taught me, I am not so foolish as to sink into complacency. It is not in me, by nature or learning, to follow blindly and to accept without questioning… not even so fine a gift as this." Harry smoothed his hand over the cover a last time and then offered it back. Salazar's game, whatever it had been, had soured his mood.
Salazar smiled cruelly as Harry pressed the book into his hands. "A Master, truly," he intoned clearly, grasping both book and Harry's hands.
Harry wrenched free and drew himself up to his full height. He was the shorter by more than a little but he was no mere novice to be intimidated by outer appearances. "Yes," he snapped fiercely, "A Master! As I have been for these six and ten years past and well do you know it, my former Master!"
"So I do," Salazar said softly, challenging demeanour melting away. The icy expression was replaced by a tender smile.
Caught by the unknown sweetness, Harry did not move when the other Master swept down upon him and capture him in an embrace. The thin but warm lips on his own were familiar as was the strong frame Harry was pressed against. Long-fingered hands found their way into his robes so that warm skin could meet warm skin in a way that was comforting. Only the finality of it was jarring to him. He did not need to be told that this was the last time for the two of them. This was not a kiss of arousal but one of farewell. Despite it, or because of it, Harry allowed the kiss to end naturally.
"Why now?" he whispered quietly into Salazar's chest, "Have you finally tired of me?"
"No, my Helga, my Harry. Never that."
With mention of his true name, one never spoke between them, Harry knew. "No…"
"Yes," Salazar insisted and stepped back so that their eyes could meet. "Twenty-one years ago on this very eve, you appeared in my garden. Now, on the same date, with so much between us now, you have completed the last task required of Helga Hufflepuff in the founding. In the morn, Rowena and I shall finish this final making and the founding shall be at and end. Hogwarts has been build and its essence shaped by we four. What it shall become, is now out of our hands. Your duty is done. It is time for you to return to your own time."
"How do you know?" Harry demanded, torn. The future beckoned, but it was a weak call. Years had passed since Harry had seriously thought about returning and he was a very different person. What place did he have there as a man and a Master?"
"How do you not?" Salazar stroked his cheek, traced his jaw and trailed his fingers down Harry's throat until they came to rest over the talisman that was Harry's deliverance to the future. "I shall miss you, my Helga-Harry." His lips twisted into a smirk. "I shall miss the touch of your nubile body and the hiss of your serpent's tongue. I shall miss knowing that I can have you anywhere, anytime, I please."
"Your ego, as always, underwhelms me," Harry retorted sharply, irritation replacing uncertainty… as Salazar no doubt intended. He embraced his ire eagerly. "You're deluding yourself it you think I'm blind to your many faults, Master, and don't think I didn't know about your little menagerie hidden in the caverns beneath the lake. Everything I have done is by my own will, not because you have manipulated me!"
"Even coming to my bed?" was the sly rejoinder.
Harry's eyes narrowed at the provoking reminder. "But who had the lassst laugh there, sssSalazar?" he hissed furiously. Twenty-one years of exposure to each other had given the one the ability to hide how parseltongue still affected him and the other the skill to see through the masks of the first. Harry bared his teeth victoriously.
"And that is how you should return, my Helga-Harry, in triumph." The admiring look in Salazar's eyes was frankly displayed and Harry's smile warmed.
"I'd settle for an unobtrusive arrival and the opportunity to go on without having to explain why I don't need another two and a half years of school."
"I have faith in your ingenuity."
Harry snorted wryly. "You're the one that taught me how to lie, so I hope so."
"Here, the very stones of the castle shall fill its pages with their stories. Stories you will need to know." Salazar pressed the book back into Harry's hands.
Harry looked at the book. "I'll take it with a grain of salt," he promised.
Salazar looked confused. "Salt?"
"Never mind." Harry frowned. He hesitated at just taking the book with him, if it wasn't here, how could it record those stories, but he was reluctant to just leave it lying around. The hat caught his eye.
Well, if it worked for Godric, it'd work for Harry and it took only a minute to ensure that Harry's younger self wouldn't be brained at his sorting. Salazar watched him hide the book thoughtfully and Harry resolved to clean the hat out, first chance he got, after he returned.
"So," he said finally.
"So," Salazar agreed calmly.
Harry paused uncomfortably and then a thought struck him. He smirked at Salazar. "I guess this means you're going to explain it all to Rowena and Godric. I'm sure they'd both want to know where I vanished to and they probably deserve the whole story at that. They might be a little upset about the secret though."
Salazar looked as though the idea of telling either of their fellows anything approaching the truth had never occurred to him.
"It's only fair," Harry remonstrated sternly.
Salazar didn't seem to care.
Harry repeated his request in parseltongue.
Salazar folded like a wet tissue.
Harry grinned brightly at him and dug out his talisman. Before he could change his mind, he triggered it. His last words as the magic took hold of him were not unnecessary farewells or anything of that sort. What needed to be known between them was, all that remained to be said was, "And lock my tower up for me, would you sssSalazar? I don't want those sticky-fingered bratsss getting in!"
When Sirius came out of the book, his first thoughts were, 'Bloody awesome!' but after giving himself a mental hiding and reminding his suddenly defective brain that Harry could die, he was more appropriately outraged.
His next thought was 'twenty-one years? No bloody wonder he wasn't a virgin anymore!'
His last thought before he temporarily lost all ability to think was, 'Helga Hufflepuff? His little Harry was Helga bloody Hufflepuff?' Sirius blinked, speechless.
Severus Snape smirked as he watched the encounter using Harry's book. "Congratulations, Harry," he murmured to himself, "You've done what I've dreamed of since I was ten. You struck the mutt dumb!" Able to stomach the world from the mutt's perspective for only so long, Severus changed the settings of the viewing so that he was a bodiless watcher instead of a brainless moron. Unlike the idiot Black, Severus knew enough about the book from Harry that he could direct it himself and he quickly skimmed over the following heart to heart.
What sentimental drivel.
When the flea-ridden menace had recovered, Severus had been pleased to find that Harry had not released his Master's control of self even in front of Black. Severus paid more attention to what they had spoken of after that. He had no interest in Black's idea of conversation, he simply wished to ensure that Black had not convinced Harry to go back on his word. Potter or not, Harry, the thrice be-damned parselmouth was his to bed and no house-elf, Azkaban escapee or deranged headmaster was going to stop it!
Fortunately for Black's continued existence, he seemed to have the sense to leave that well enough alone… for the moment at any rate.
"So how did you beat Voldemort?" Severus was a little surprised to hear that Black actually had the backbone to use the Dark Lord's name.
Harry shrugged dismissively. "He was a Slytherin." If Severus didn't know that the blasted brat had every reason to be so blasé about it, he'd have hexed the brat for his attitude when giving voice to that remark.
"I thought that heir of Slytherin stuff was nonsense because none of you had kids."
Oooh, look, Black could think! Severus learned something new every day.
"Salazar had two brothers, four sisters and uncounted cousins. Trust me, the bloodline did not need his help to be continued." They both looked to the door Snape had stalked out of. "No, no help at all."
Snape smirked smugly at the thought that was obviously running through the recorded Harry's and Black's minds.
"Okay, but what's that got to do with it?"
"The truer to type they're bred, the greater a Slytherin's weakness to Parseltongue."
Severus glared, Black did not need to know that!
Typical mutt, completely oblivious.
"The more Slytherin they are, the more snake-speak turns them on. Look at Severus, I can reduce him to a puddle of orgasmic goo with just a few words."
There was silence as they both pondered that image for a moment. Severus instead pondered revenge. Perhaps he could later use the book to find out the weakness his predecessor used on the arrogant little git.
Harry recovered from his musings first. "And Severus isn't actually a parselmouth."
"Exactly. Essentially, I went up to Voldemort and conned him into becoming my apprentice in parseltongue. When his brain kicked in again and he woke up to what he'd done, he demanded to be freed so I had to begin his trials. Voldemort had power and will, but I have to say, he never really had any self-control."
Severus could vouch for that.
"He failed the first trial, that of discipline."
And Severus was still gloating over that fact.
"I weep for his misfortune."
"Your sympathy underwhelms me."
"Good… so what then?"
"Well, he became my thrall and the war ended then and there. The thralls of my thrall could hardly go against me."
And Severus was aware of that as well. It made deflating the brat's ego that much more difficult.
"That would explain why Pettigrew turned himself in then. You didn't give him a choice."
"Oh, I gave him a choice, me or the Ministry."
Which was really no choice at all. Severus fondly remembered that little confrontation, at least one of the Marauders had gotten their comeuppance, even if it was only the rat. It wasn't as satisfying as the memory of the Dark Lord realising that he'd just enslaved himself to Harry Potter without arguing though.
"What about the others?"
"Still thinking about it. I can't trust the Ministry to handle it properly, after all."
Only a moron could.
So Black was one step up from a Moron. And people usually got stupider with age…
"That would explain your butt ugly house-elf then."
Ahh, That was another good memory for Severus. After all, the man-who-won could hardly be seen with a human thrall.
"Voldie wasn't much to look at before I transformed him."
That was stating the obvious.
"That only follows then. He actually does what he's told?"
"He has no choice. I am his Master."
"He must hate having to serve you."
"Not as much as you'd think, the magic takes care of that. It's Severus who has the most trouble."
Severus scowled at the reminder. He had to do something about the odious little worm when he had the chance.
Ah, Black, his animalistic grunts never changed.
"Severus used to be his thrall and now Voldie's Severus' by default because of our little arrangement."
Not that anything had come of that little arrangement yet… which might explain why the bloody house-elf kept disrupting them. The malformed piece of excrement was trying to prevent the magically binding consummation. Severus was going to poison the little rotter.
Unfortunately, no, the brat wasn't kidding.
"That's why the git's so upset, isn't it? Every time he gets you alone, the little critter finds a way to interrupt you."
Give the mutt a prize…
"Like brining me in today."
"Is Dumbledore in on it?"
For the old fool's sake, he'd better not be.
"Not to my knowledge."
"He's the one that called the elf to bring me here."
And Severus was going to make him regret that.
"Nothing to do with it. Albus is merely reaping what he has sown."
"I don't understand."
"He's got the DADA job."
Severus grinned in vicious satisfaction at the reminder. Oh yes, now the senile old coot would know Severus' pain. Severus had insured it with only a few innocuous comments to his little Slytherins.
"Can he do that?"
Not for much longer, Severus wagered.
"I didn't give him a choice." No, Harry hadn't. He had in fact staged a rather marvellous coup. It was worthy of a Slytherin. "Severus was the one that actually gave me the idea. As of the day that Voldemort became my elf, the governors agree with me that the curriculum here needs to be reviewed and the teaching staff needs to be shaken up and I, with my Master's credentials and my first hand knowledge of the founders' intentions, will be in charge of the reorganisation. The first thing I did was let Binns go and the second was to set Albus to breaking the 'curse'. That took two more off the List."
Yes, it had been a joy to behold. The wonderful brat had thoroughly bamboozled the board, getting everything he wanted and giving nothing away. And he was still managing to keep his part in history a secret. Severus was frankly amazed… the sheer brilliance of the manner in which Harry was juggling his many secret agendas without giving himself away was almost as arousing to the Slytherin as the brat's parseltongue was. And the elegance of the brat's revenge was simply beautiful.
It would be a Hell of a lot more beautiful, if Severus could only pin the brat down for a little while, ten minutes, an hour, a day. Severus wasn't that picky.
Severus smirked to himself.
"Of who I need to punish for certain infractions."
"Oh. I'm not on it, am I?"
"No. Do you want to be?"
Severus thought that was a pity. It would have been interesting to see what Harry came up with to even the score. Perhaps Black would answer foolishly. The Dark Lord was no longer a concern, Severus could risk optimism now.
"Wise. Anyway, I set Albus to teaching defence and the little buggers are running him ragged."
Severus smirked, children had such a pack mentality… and no one could prove a thing.
"Be careful that they don't kill him."
"I'm keeping an eye on him."
So was Severus and every time it looked like things were quietly calming down, his little Slytherins always seemed to be around to hear him make some comment or another. Tsk, tsk, he should probably think about teaching them not to eavesdrop.
"You must be pretty busy then, you're basically the headmaster yourself."
"Oh no. That's the beauty of it. Albus is still the one that has to run the day to day stuff, which means he gets all of the paperwork." Harry was smirking a vindictive little smirk. Severus thought it quite becoming.
"Worthy of a Maurauder?"
"Still must be busy though."
"A little. I have to create my own classes from scratch while helping the other professors update theirs, see which new classes we could use and what old ones should be scrapped. It's like the good old days, actually, only last time I had to fight it out with Salazar, Rowena and Godric."
And now no one dared argue with the almighty Harry Potter. Severus had better be sure that he kept an eye on the little fool. One never knew what strange notions he might decide to implement.
"Want a hand?"
What? Severus frowned at Black's thoughtful figure. He had better not be suggesting what Severus thought he was suggesting! Hagrid had enough pets for the entire castle, they did not need Black as well!
"That's what an apprentice does, right? Helps his Master with his work?"
"I could take some of your classes for you. Handle detentions and so on as well. You could also have me stop the kids from killing Dumbldore."
"Are you asking to be my apprentice, Sirius?"
Merlin, please no!
"I always wanted to gain Mastery, but there were no Masters left to take apprentices."
"Do you know what you're asking?"
This was Black! Of course he had no idea!
"I trust you."
"You don't need to do this."
No, he definitely did not!
"I want to."
Severus ground his teeth and reminded himself that it was not really Sirius Black, it was just a memory of him and strangling him would accomplish nothing.
"There're loads of other options for you."
Yes! Exactly! Get eaten by his pet werewolf! Move to Iraq and be shot by warring muggles! Go to the Amazon and get lost in the jungle! Or even head to Australia and join the bloody life guards! Severus didn't care what Black did just as long as he didn't stay!
"I'm an ex-fugitive Azkaban escapee. That sort of limits the more attractive options."
Black could always go back to Azkaban. Severus was sure the dementors wouldn't object.
"You could get lumped with me in the group of Masters who are forced to undergo Ordeals."
Severus doubted that. First Black had to attain Mastery, which he frankly thought impossible for the mutt. Then he had to survive the intervening years before his Ordeals, which he wouldn't because Severus was going to strangle him.
"I'm not as unlucky as you are."
Or as Severus apparently was as this ludicrous situation no doubt proved.
"Besides, a Master of shape changing might be able to figure out how to cure lycanthropy."
Severus damned the wretched idiot for thinking of an argument that Harry was sure to listen to. Bloody Lupin…
Harry looked disturbingly thoughtful. "That's true. Moony would kill you though."
Now there was an idea.
"I can handle him."
"Severus would chuck a fit."
Oh how nice, Harry had finally thought of him. They would need to be taught, though, that he would go a lot further than throwing a tantrum. Homicide was not out of the question.
In fact homicide looked very attractive.
"I wasn't saying that as though it would be a good thing," Harry remarked.
"He could order you around for as long as you were my apprentice."
That was not something Severus had considered and he took a moment to do so. What an intriguing notion… but still not worth having the mutt around and sharing Harry's quarters full-time for what would undoubtedly be a very long time. Nothing was worth that Hell.
"I'll have to learn fast."
"You could fail and join Voldie."
Sirius Black, the house-elf. Now that was an interesting idea. Suddenly so many possibilities came to mind but it was unlikely. Unfortunately, Severus had to admit that Black was capable of at least passing the first trial so he'd have been stuck with the mutt for nothing.
"At least I'll be pretty."
More delusions. Black had obviously received long term damage from his sojourn in Azkaban.
"You couldn't be worse," Harry retorted dryly.
Harry had better say no.
"Are you sure?"
"NO!!" Severus Snape's scream of mental anguish and sexual frustration threw him from the Book of Ages.