Disclaimer:If I owned Harry Potter, I'd pity the bloke. Sadly, I don't.
Harry groaned as he attempted to sit up - futilely, as his body began to protest vehemently the movement - and took a quick mental check of his condition. He ached all over, like he had the morning after the Death Eaters had nearly cornered them at the Riddle House and he, Ron, and Hermione had had to run for hours to get away, and there was also that distracting - and unfortunately all too familiar - empty feeling around his navel that indicated that he'd again been an idiot and nearly drained his magic reservoir dry.
Fun. Now, what had he done to get in this position? He hadn't done anything stupid since -
Ah, of course. The Horcrux. He'd known it had been far too simple, once they'd finally tracked down Hufflepuff's Cup. Yes, there'd been a great pit of snakes - all very poisonous, not to mention bad-tempered - a head-poundingly complicated logic puzzle even Hermione had been hard-pressed to figure out, and some weird Dark creature that he'd never even heard of that made him refight his greatest battle - oh, how wonderful; The Graveyard, Take Two - but in the end it been far too simple.
And of course, the moment they started getting around to destroying it, the bloody thing self-destructed.
Why Voldemort would rig one-sixth of his immortal life-support system to self-destruct was beyond him, but far be it for the almighty Chosen One to attempt to figure out the most feared Dark Lord since… well, ever. Did that actually mean much? Because really, most witches and wizards didn't remember much about even Grindelwald, and it's hard to fear what you don't know about.
Harry felt a soft hand press on his forehead - Hermione's? - and promptly decided that perhaps "waking up" was in order. He opened his eyes.
A blurred face surrounded by a mess of bushy brown hair swam into view.
"Harry!" she exclaimed, and he whimpered. Not so loud, please. Hermione graciously lowered her voice, handed him his glasses. "I'm so glad you're awake. Ron woke up an hour ago, and I did an hour before that - what did I tell you about protecting me? Anyway, you're still very weak, whatever happened nearly drained us dry - you worst of all."
Harry meanwhile blinked the room into focus, and looked around, startled. Bleach-white sheets and beddings, a slight smell of peroxide… Hogwarts' very own hospital wing. Merlin, he'd been here enough in his six years of schooling, he didn't need to now!
Sighing, he ignored it. Better here than St. Mungo's, where he'd probably end up with press coverage. Bloody reporters still didn't leave him alone.
"Did we get the Horcrux?" he asked instead. "And…" he paused. "Where's Ron?"
Hermione bit her lip. "Ron will be along in a minute, Harry. As for the Horcrux? Well, I'm not sure."
He frowned. "How can you be 'not sure'?" He quoted the words with his fingers, for no other reason than that it would annoy her.
"I'm not sure because I've have to study the remnants of the Cup, Harry," she replied, with the exaggerated patience usually saved for particularly slow children. Then the countenance faded and worry appeared in her eyes. "Listen Harry, we don't know how it happened but somehow, when the Horcrux blew up, it-" She mumbled something he didn't catch.
"It transported us," said Hermione quickly. "Through time."
Harry stared at her, and she flushed slightly. "Hermione, Horcruxes do not inadvertently decide to turn into Time Turners," he informed her slowly.
"That's true," she admitted, "but it happened somehow." The anxiety lit in her eyes again. "Harry, promise me. Promise me you won't-"
But what Hermione wanted him to promise not to do, Harry didn't find out, as at that moment the doors swung open to admit three people. One was obviously Ron with his distinct Weasley-red hair, but the other two….
For the love of… Merlin, this had to be a joke. Harry could recognize Godric Gryffindor anywhere, as there were untold numbers of portraits of him in the common room, and if there was one vaguely familiar man with him Harry figured he could venture a legitimate guess as to who he was.
Salazar Slytherin - a tall, black-haired bloke with stormy grey eyes and, yes, some breed of magical snake twisted around one forearm - fixed Harry with a measuring look and a solid sneer. "A Mudblood, a blood traitor and now… this. A virtual Squib."
Harry blinked in shock, and then narrowed his eyes as indignation caught up with him. "Bugger off you prejudiced arsehole," he hissed.
He wished he could say Slytherin's expression was priceless, that the hated Hogwarts founder couldn't have looked more taken aback if someone bludgeoned him over the head with a two-by-four (hmm… tempting). But instead, all he got was a slight widening of the eyes and a horrified gasp from a suddenly pale Hermione.
"You are not of the Slytherin family," Slytherin said slowly, scrutinizing him a second time.
Uh oh. Harry did not like the look the founder was giving him, and so cautiously bit back the retort on his lips.
Slytherin's lips twisted into a smirk, and he turned on his heel. "I believe I have business to attend to," he drawled, voiced pitched low in the same way Snape had spoke in class so you had to strain to listen.
Anger built up in his stomach at the reminder of the traitor. Dumbledore had been no saint - they'd learned that the hard way after he'd died - but he hadn't deserved the fate he'd been dealt.
"What business?" Harry yelled after him. "Stoking your ego?"
Whether or not Slytherin had heard - probably he had, as Parseltongue generally carried farther than the same in any human language for some reason Harry'd never bothered to find out - he didn't reply, and a second later the doors shut behind him.
"Well," said Gryffindor finally. "That was interesting. Miss Granger, I do believe you left out some things in your explanation. You did not inform us that your friend here was a Parselmouth."
"She did what she thought best," Ron countered instantly.
"I never said she didn't, Mr. Weasley," Gryffindor rejoined. "In fact, it was probably for the best; or would have been." He shook his head.
Hermione stared at Harry with worry in her eyes. "I was trying to tell him not to when you came in…. He woke up a bit later than expected."
Actually, he'd probably woke up when they expected, but running through his personal inventory of possible injuries took a while and he hadn't "woke up" until he'd ascertained that yes, he was mostly okay.
Aside from being magically drained to the extent a levitation charm would probably make him pass out again, of course. Harry wasn't going to say that though.
Instead, he concentrated on a more informative venture. "Would one of you do me the great pleasure of telling me why, telling Slytherin off for badmouthing my friends is a bad thing?"
"Harry!" Hermione scolded instantly, hitting him lightly over the head. "Be more polite!"
"He was badmouthing us?" asked Ron, sounding outraged. "Right in our faces, all because he thought we wouldn't know?"
"I did it to Malfoy," Harry admitted, arching a brow at Gryffindor's amused expression and Hermione's offended one. "But yes. And as to my question?"
Gryffindor sat down on the bed to Harry's left, while Ron took the unoccupied seat beside of Hermione. "What?" he voiced to the slightly disbelieving look Harry gave him. "You expect me to stand? What's the point when there are seats readily available?"
Harry grinned. "Now there's the Godric Gryffindor never mentioned in the history books. Lazy and incompetent… a regular human being."
"Harry!" Again it was Hermione who scolded, but this time Ron joined in.
Gryffindor on the other hand just mirrored the grin. "You and Salazar should get along just fine. He enjoys being insulting as well."
Harry stopped short and shot Gryffindor a dirty look; Ron snickered and got a glare as well. "Apparently he's rubbed off on you as well." He shook his head irritably. "Anyway - my question?"
Hermione's face fell, and she bit her lip. "Harry… in general, certain abilities - such as Parseltongue - can only be received through genetics. Only witches and wizards of the Slytherin bloodline have the capacity to be Parselmouths." She held up a hand to stall an objection. "You are an exception to the rule."
Harry snorted; there was an understatement if there ever was one. Bloodline abilities aside, he was an exception to the rule "no one survives the Killing Curse" resulting in exceptions to the rules that stated that curse scars did not form mind links or transfer bloodline traits.
At that point Gryffindor took over. "Mr. Potter, families such as Salazar's are quite possessive of their special abilities. Manifestations of the trait outside of the family is often dealt with quite decisively."
"Wonderful," he drawled. "Am I at least given a day or so to dig myself a hole to hide in?"
Gryffindor's grin didn't falter. Was the guy a closet sadist? "You couldn't dig one deep enough. Still, I think your situation will spare you there. Mind you, there are worse fates than death… especially when the Slytherin family is involved."
Harry suddenly had a very bad feeling and a case of dry mouth. He did not like the sound of that.
Author's Note: So here we go - the first part of 4 chapters in which I get my (admittedly belated) revenge on HBP!Harry.
The reason for the high rating is for the future chapters.