Chapter 2

Wand and 'pet' acquired, Harry was finally equipped for school.

You need a name, Nameless One, Harry observed as Vlad spoke to Ollivander. Is there one you desire?

No, Speaker, the dark snake hissed, I have given no thought to such a matter.

Harry nodded slightly, considering his small, relatively unassuming companion. Then I shall call you 'Dae', he informed the creature. It means 'Shadow' in the Higher-Fae tongue.

Small black eyes glittered as the snake raised his head, tongue flickering out briefly, as though tasting the name. It is a good name, the newly christened Dae approved.

Harry smiled.

xxxx

The next several days passed quickly as Harry read his school books and went over anything he failed to understand with his various tutors. His main difficulties were with history—Ebisu-sensei, the Japanese vampire who taught him history, had only brushed over each of the various goblin rebellions, as they had been quashed with relative ease by the wizards' more offensive magics.

The text Harry had been given for history detailed the rebellions in excruciating detail, not just the main dates and more notable names, but close to every wizard and goblin involved.

After glancing through the text, Ebisu-sensei had rather disgustedly taken the matter to Vlad, who had agreed that Harry would not be expected to do more than simply pass that class, as even that would take a remarkable exercise in rote memorization.

Relieved, Harry turned his attention to Potions, which he had long ago found he enjoyed immensely.

Master Acharn—one of the Higher Fae—was undeniably pleased with Harry's interest, and was the half-vampire's tutor in both the magical art and the Higher Fae language.

Harry was disappointed to note he could make the first-year potions in his sleep-like trance state, and his amused Sire ordered the books for the next six years, as well, forbidding him to actually read those books until after he had gone through everything for all his classes.

The homely (and extremely strict) Lady Janice Darrow, the witch who taught him Charms, ran through the entire first-year book with him, finding he was, if not precisely an expert, at least competent in the area. She then told him he was to read a Charms Theory book she had acquired and demanded he be perfect (by her standards) with each of the spells by the time the school year ended.

That left Master Gohalhn, a Transfiguration Master who was just as strict as Lady Darrow, had drilled the theory into his head until he could (and, if Vlad was to be trusted, had) recite while in his sleep-trance. The basics were simple, and Harry was in possession of more than enough magical power to transfigure even the most stubborn of materials. Still, he had not been permitted to actually attempt to transfigure without a wand of his own.

By the time school actually started, Harry was certain he'd be so far ahead of his classes (excepting, perhaps, History) that he would likely be able to skip at least one year in all of them, if Hogwarts followed the non-magical school's practices.

Vladimir was pleasantly amused by his son's abilities, but did point out that Harry would be expected to complete the Muggle courses as well.

Harry sighed and added those texts to his pile of things to go over—and was rather pleasantly surprised when his father added that Harry could complete those courses over the summer with his tutors, if he preferred.

xxxx

When the day finally came, the train ride was uneventful.

Children were always less likely to resist their instincts than most teens and adults, and his fellow eleven-year-olds avoided him—and the older students held no interest in a first-year.

Do to this instinctive avoidance, Harry also managed to get a boat to himself and it wasn't until the actual Sorting that there was anything resembling a problem.

The small circle of open space around him was quickly noticed by the teacher who came to lead them to the great hall, but she did not comment on it. Instead, she introduced herself as 'Professor McGonagall' and ordered them to follow her.

When she finally called his name, it was the wrong one.

"Forgive the correction," he spoke for the first time since leaving his father's side that afternoon, "but my name was changed to Tepes when Count Vlad Tepes the Third adopted me."

From the widening of her eyes and the subtle wash of fluttered puzzlement and fearful shock that filtered through the room, there were those who recognized the name.

Still, the professor showed a remarkable amount of control when she simply nodded, "Forgive me, Mr. Tepes. I will see to it that it is corrected in the records."

Harry inclined his head and sat on the stool, allowing the indignity of having a mind-reading hat placed on his head.

There was a slight pause before the hat whispered in his ear.

"I can't see your mind, Mr. Tepes."

Perhaps we could come to an agreement, then.

"You are capable of directing thoughts so I can read them. How… interesting."

I would prefer to be placed in Slytherin, Reader.

There was a pause, then a sense of acquiescence.

"Slytherin!"

Harry rose smoothly, placing the hat in McGonagall's hands as he stepped past her, ignoring the silent shock that rang around him. Quite calmly, he made his way to the Slytherin table—the table at which the greatest number of people had recognized his name—and sat, placing his left hand next to his plate for a moment to allow Dae to settle on the table.

The small serpent uncoiled from around his wrist and slid onto the table, re-coiling himself next to Harry's plate with a hissed thanks.

Harry offered a slight nod, then turned his attention to the people still staring at him. "I believe the Sorting remains unfinished."

That was enough to get attention—some attention, anyway—off of him and back towards the Sorting where it belonged.

Harry hid a smirk as he examined those who still had calculating, weighing, or downright shocked gazes resting on him, noticing that every one of them glanced at—and mostly dismissed, past innate prejudice—the tiny serpent on the table.

Dae would be a valuable ally in this place.

xxxx

* In case anyone cares, 'Dae' is pronounced 'Die-ay', and is two syllables.

This story is being continued, if slowly. I have come down with mono and have been spending a great deal of time sleeping when not doing what I can around the house. That, sadly, leaves little energy for writing, though I do when I can.