Author's Note:
Each chapter of this fic was written as part of the HBP Challenge at the PanicParables RR Group. Therefore each chapter will be added per month or so. They might be expanded in the meantime, though. -)

I warn you, though, that I exercise every last bit of literary freedom in the challenges though...

January Challenge:
What if Snape had caught Harry when he was hiding under his invisibility cloak? Write a fic where Snape does catch Harry.

Chapter 1
In which Harry runs a lot and learns something startling

So Harry did the only thing he could possibly think of. He ran.

Making a quick about face, Harry sprinted in the opposite direction. As his shoes slapped against the stone walkways, the sound echoing through the hall, Harry could hear the teachers' shouts of surprise behind him. Much too soon for his taste,

If nothing else, Harry was fast. Growing up in a household where the most popular sport is called "Harry Hunting," a game of keep-away between a small undernourished child and a group of bullies, speed was a necessity. As a result, Harry had grown incredibly adept at scaling walls of gardens, hopping short fences, and running. Quickly.

Harry sprinted through the halls, deftly navigating the stone walls and sharp corners. He heard his name, followed by a series of muffled curses, somewhere behind him, along with a crash as one of his pursuers misjudged a corner and ran into a suit of armor. So they knew who he was? No problem. Harry pulled off the cloak, as it was just slowing him down, and sprinted onwards.

Reaching the staircases just as one of them was moving, he sprinted to the end and jumped downwards onto the next one, never missing a beat nor slowing down. Filch cursed above him as he was forced to stop and figure out how to get onto the floor that Harry was now on.

Soon he was on the second floor. He could hear Snape close behind him – the greasy git must've used a secret passage, he was way too close for comfort – and, to his growing horror, voices from ahead:

"Listen! He's just around the corner!"

"Don't worry, Mr Filch, we'll get him."

Making a split-second decision, he ducked to the left... and found himself in the girl's bathroom.

A ghost with silvery tear-tracks running down her face sniffed at him and said, "You're not supposed to be here."

"I know," Harry replied, breathing heavily. "But I'm out past curfew and needed to hide somewhere."

He glanced around quickly, looking for an alternate escape route. The teachers weren't stupid – they'd figure out he was in here soon. With a sigh, he placed his hands on the rim of the sink, gazing down at the faucet. Someone, a long time ago, had scratched a tiny little snake on the copper faucet. It was a rather cute little snake. Without taking his eyes off of it, he whispered, "I need to get out of here."

There was a faint rumble from the castle, and then the floor opened up beneath him and he fell.

Harry landed on a hard stone surface, deep underground. Bending his knees slightly, he absorbed his hard impact and rolled on the balls of his feet to stay upright – a reflex honed to perfection during years of Harry Hunting.

Glancing around, Harry wondered where in Merlin's name the castle had decided to send him. There was no sign of whatever entrance Harry had used to get in. The room was perfectly circular, and had a domed roof. There was a rounded archway before him, leading out into darkness. Otherwise, the walls were bare – discounting two torches that burned smokelessly – and there were no other openings.

Vaguely disconcerted, Harry called out, "Hello? Is anyone in here?"

There was no reply, only the sound of hissing wind off somewhere in the distance. Taking a deep breath, Harry stepped through the opening and walked through the twisting tunnel. The dark passageway terminated in a large room.

The chamber was very long and dimly lit. Glancing up, Harry couldn't see the ceiling for the shadows. Tall stone columns, decorated with large carved snakes, lined the sides of the central walkway. Harry peered around, uneasy with the strange greenish gloomy light that seemed to fill the area and yet seemed to come from nowhere in particular.

The sides of the chamber were shrouded in darkness. For a second, it seemed as though the strange light glistened off of something ... but then, it was gone, and Harry decided it must've been a trick of the light ... right?

"Hello?" he called out, walking forward. His voice reverberated around, echoing from one stone wall to another, bringing his shout right back to him.

"Massssster..." came a hiss from the darkness behind Harry.

Spinning on his heel, Harry fumbled for his wand, which was stuffed haphazardly in his pocket. "Who's there?" he called, pointing his wand at the darkness and willing his hand to stop trembling. "Who are you?"

"Master has returned," the his replied. "I am Slaris, your faithful servant."

Harry could feel the cold sweat that was gathering at his hairline. Clearing his throat, he called back, "Step into the light, where I can see you, Slaris."

"Of course, Master,"came the reply.

And then, something was moving. Something huge, colossal. He caught glimpses of sleek, shining dark scales, glinting in the oddly tinted half-light. And then...

... then he was staring into the eyes of the biggest snake he had ever set eyes on.
"Greetings, Master," Slaris hissed. "Here I am."

Finding that his mouth was just a bit dry, Harry swallowed twice and cleared his throat. "Um, hi, Slaris," he replied, hoping he sounded much braver than he felt. "Er, why can I understand you?"

Slaris made a strange noise that sounded like a coughing hiss. "Master can understand me because he is the Master." it replied, obviously amused.

"I, uh, don't understand."

"Master is the Heir, of course," Slaris replied with another hissed chuckle.

Really not liking the direction of this conversation, Harry tried to plan his next question diplomatically as possible. He felt like he had when Hagrid had come to rescue him from the Dursleys, feeling like the person had obviously got the wrong person but unsure of how to express this. Unfortunately, Slaris was more prone to eating him than Hagrid was. "And do you know who's Heir I am, Slaris?" he asked.

The huge scaly head gave a nod. "Of course, Master. Slaris remembers the first Master well. Slaris keeps her promise to first Master. Only listens to true blood heirs. If Slaris begins to forget, Slaris only looks to great picture of Master."

As she said this Slaris nodded her head at the wall directly to Harry's right. Curiosity piqued at who exactly he was supposedly the Heir of, Harry pointed his wall at the darkness, and quietly incanted, "Lumos."

And in the soft white light from his wand, an astonished Harry saw for the first time the one man from whom he was descended, carved into the stone wall in all his glory. He looked just like he did on the Hogwarts: A History page that Hermione had insisted that he look at.

"Salazar Slytherin," he breathed.

Slaris was nodding her head. "Yes, the first Master. You are the Heir. That is why you understand me – you speak the snake tongue. None but the Blood Heir can do so."

Harry was blinking at the statue, only half-aware of what Slaris was saying. "I'm the Heir of Slytherin?" he asked incredulously. "There must be some mistake – I'm a Gryffindor–"

"Blood is never wrong," Slaris hissed, sounding uncannily like Draco Malfoy. "Snake Speak is a blood gift to the Blood Heir. None but the Blood Heirs can use it." Suddenly, she looked uncomfortable... for a snake. "Master should keep secret. House of Slytherin has been defamed, Master must restore the former glory."

Harry turned to stare at Slaris. His brain seemed to be operating in a fog, interpreting the information, but unable to reply. But his mental comparison of Slaris to Draco Malfoy snapped him out of it.

Eyes wide, Harry gasped. "Slaris! I need to get back to the Gryffindor Common Room – the teachers are looking for me for being out of bounds after curfew!"

Slaris nodded to the great statue, now once more enshrouded in darkness. "Tell the statue, Master. It will send you." With a parting hiss, she disappeared once more into the darkness.

Feeling quite alone, Harry stepped up to the great statue. "Erm, greetings Lord Slytherin," he began self-consciously. "Erm, I'm your Heir apparently, and I'm in a bit of trouble. I need to get back to bed in the Gryffindor first year dorms so –"

And before he could say another word, the floor opened up beneath him, and he dropped onto his bed in Gryffindor tower.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he climbed under the covers and lay his head down onto the pillow. Suddenly, the door burst open, and light flooded the boys' dorm. Snape's tall figure was siloutted in the doorway. Squinting hard, Harry could barely make out his snarling face. "Potter," he began in a growl.

"Severus Snape! What on Earth are you doing?" came Professor McGonogall's voice from somewhere behind him. She joined him in the doorway, wearing a night-gown and sleeping cap.

"Minerva, Potter was out of bounds after curfew -"

McGonogall stared at Snape as though he had grown a second head. "What are you going on about, Severus? Potter is in his bed, not out of bounds. I am alerted whenever someone enters through the portrait hole after midnight, and so far, you have been the only person to do so," she stated matter-of-factly, sounding uncannily like Hermione.

"But I saw him -"

McGonogall harrumphed. "Unless he's discovered a new way into the Gryffindor Common Room, other than through the portrait hole, Harry is innocent," she said in a voice that brooked no argument.

Snape left with a snarl. McGonogall peered into the room, and gave Harry a small smile when she caught his eye. Then she closed the door, and the room was once more plunged into darkness.