A/N:This is a more canon-like Slytherin!Harry piece, only distantly related to the LTNLW universe — a Harry who went under the Sorting Hat with no House prejudices at all (therefore no Hagrid, Draco, or Ron). I've itched to do this ever since I read PS eight years ago — even though this is just a vignette, written a few months ago.

'Potter, Harry!'

The words echoed throughout the Great Hall. A huddled mass — Hufflepuffs — murmured together, indistinguishable from one another until Cedric Diggory's clear voice cut through.

'Why is it taking so long? Do you think he could end up with us?'

Even little Ernie Macmillan looked incredulous.

At the Ravenclaw table, students were leaning forwards, craning their necks, some of the smaller students actually standing up. At least a half-dozen differing opinions, whispers and exclamations, all rose and clashed together. Penelope Clearwater, Elizabeth Chambers, and Sarah Fawcett all began quarrelling about Harry Potter's appearance, likely abilities, and the chances of his being placed in their House. Cho Chang, Roger Davies, and Edward Carmichael quickly added their voices to the hubbub.

The Slytherins attempted to look disinterested, but could not keep themselves from muttering to each other in hushed voices.

'Shut up,' said Balthazar Dunstan, a fifth-year prefect, and the table went quiet.

The Gryffindors exuded almost palpable excitement and anticipation, but, improbably, they were the best-behaved of the Houses. The younger students trembled in their seats, the elder gave each other amused smirks and jabs, as if Harry Potter's long Sorting was the funniest thing since Fred and George Weasley stuffed a Snargaluff pod over Mrs Norris' head, but not a one spoke.

The teachers watched impassively.

Then, the Hat's brim opened — everyone in the room tensed — and in its high thready voice, it shouted, 'SLYTHERIN!'



'Is it broken?'

Even the Ravenclaws were united in astonishment. Nobody clapped, and Harry Potter, too thin and pale to look anything like a hero, his fragile body lost amidst the billowing black robes, set the Hat on the stool. His hands shook, then steadied, his chin firming, and he glanced back at the Deputy Headmistress.

Minerva McGonagall gave the poor boy an encouraging smile, and nodded towards his new House. She did not know, of course, that it was more than he could ever remember receiving, the first kindness in ten years, and so, in later years, she never quite understood the unwavering devotion of the great Harry Potter. Even she had no idea that Harry Potter was a vague, ethereal creature made of myth and propaganda, and that the living flesh and blood and bone belonged only to an underfed child.

Filius Flitwick hummed to himself, his sharp duelist's glance firm on the nearby Slytherin table, where all decorum had been lost and they were screaming 'we got Potter! we got Potter!' A fair-haired boy sprang up and held his hand out, his narrow, sharp-boned face strangely similar to Potter's, a reflection in a funhouse mirror.

Pomona Sprout's eyes were fixed on her own House. Susan Bones — Madam Bones' niece, isn't it? I do hope she's more tractable. The Macmillan boy and Gwenog Jones' sister, quite a coup there . . . I could have done without the Death Eater spawn — there's Hannah Abbott, the spitting image of her uncle Japheth, isn't she? Finch-Fletchley, hmm, never heard of them, but he seems a good boy. Hopkins, Perks. There hasn't been this small a batch of first-years since 1971 . . . James Potter's year, wasn't it? Merlin, but the boy looks just like him . . . was James ever that small? He looks closer to eight than ten. I would have liked to have him, and Slytherin can't be more unlikely —

Severus Snape, as usual, was lost in the past. Blood suffused his sallow cheeks when the Potter boy strutted up, every inch as arrogant and spoilt and thoroughly repellent as his father, and he waited impatiently for the instant shout of 'GRYFFINDOR!' which had met James Potter almost before the Hat touched his head, and which never came for his son.

When the Hat placed Harry Potter in his own House, in Slytherin, shock drained all colour out of his face, until he sat as white and still as a statue. He had known, they had all known, that the boy would be in Gryffindor, just like his sainted father and grandfather. Anyone with eyes could see that the boy was James Potter given flesh. Yet he, Severus Snape, had heard the Hat's declaration with his own ears, and Harry Potter was walking to the Slytherin table, and in a scene that sent his mind spinning back, the Malfoy boy was leaping up and holding out his hand to a bewildered black-haired halfblood.

He was eleven years old again, and Lily was giving him a nod and a grin before she vanished under the Hat. He could just see her black robes and a few tendrils of dark red hair, not even the pointed chin, and he closed his eyes, clenched his fists, and desperately begged the Hat to put her in Slytherin. Even then, though, he knew, in some dark hidden corner of his mind, that Lily had not the smallest iota of cunning or ambition, that for all her intellect and temper, she was as simple and uncomplicated as a single dancing flame.

In that moment, Lily was alive again, young and vibrant and still his, even as she marched to the Gryffindor table, her back turned and her small straight nose up in the air, Sirius Black on her right. The other Slytherins couldn't stop talking about him, and the trio of Black sisters all crowded together and whispered urgently about the Howler Aunt Walburga was sure to send, and who cared about Black, when Lily was in Gryffindor?

And now, the child — Snape's fingers unclenched. He had sworn to protect it, but he had always thought that would be from a distance, that it would be James Potter again, a living James Potter who would finally pay — but James Potter had had no more of the Slytherin in him than Lily, and how had this happened?

The two heads, Draco Malfoy's fair one and Potter's dark bird-nest, were bent together, Draco whispering to his new friend, while Potter listened with avid attention. A plain, heavy boy gazed at Draco and Potter in nauseating adoration, and a thin stringy dark one occasionally pulled his nose out of a book to add something to the conversation. Suddenly, Snape thought of another mother, ice to Lily's fire, and he wanted to scream and fling curses at the realisation of what he was seeing: a Potter and a Black, and two tagalongs for extra muscle . . . but in his House, every boyish victory going to Slytherin, the Malfoys beaming proudly and James Potter spinning in his grave.

Snape smiled.