Title: Who's Afraid of the Dentists' Daughter?
Setting: Alternate Philosopher's Stone.
Summary: Muggleborn Hermione Granger is sorted into Slytherin, but after a nasty prank goes wrong and gives her red eyes, her classmates become convinced that she's the Dark Lord's heir.
The idea for this originally came from Clell, and was aired on the CaerAzkaban yahoo group. I volunteered to write it. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions, and feel free to make more!
This should be a decent-length fic; chapter one, and we've only made it to Hermione's second day of school…
WHO'S AFRAID OF THE DENTIST'S DAUGHTER?
Eleven year old Hermione Granger's emotions were a conflicted mess. She was torn between feeling excited, nervous, happy, and somewhat near tears. The first three were because she was just beginning at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the first in her family to do so; she'd prepared all she could, reading all the textbooks ahead of time and practicing the spells, and while it had all come awfully naturally to her, she couldn't help the nagging feeling that all the preparation in the world wouldn't help much when she was surrounded by children who had known they were magical all their lives, and had been raised in a magical environment.
The last emotion was thanks to a group of second years who had told her that she wasn't a real witch, and thrown sweets at her until she left their compartment. One of them had even called her a 'mudblood' whatever that was, although Hermione could make a good guess. To be sure, they were only bigots, and Hermione had managed to catch some of the sweets, including a butterscotch (sweets weren't too much harm in moderation, after all) but even so it was rather dispiriting to think that she might be facing a similar reception from her classmates for the next seven years.
She was now waiting for her name to be called, so that the Hat could sort her into the house in which she belonged.
"Granger, Hermione!" Professor McGonagall called. Hermione took a deep breath, and walked sedately to the stool, trying to look as composed as possible.
The Hat settled over her eyes.
'Well, well, what do we have here?' a dry, slightly testy voice asked, one that reminded her vaguely of her great-uncle.
'You're telepathic?' Hermione inquired cautiously, feeling a bit uneasy at having something rifle through her head, no matter what the purpose for it was.
'Hm, yes, although it has a slightly different name in this world. My, aren't you the interesting one. Plenty of intelligence; it blazes off you like a beacon, and a thirst for knowledge. Bravery there, too, although you haven't had much of an opportunity to exercise it so far. You're kind enough to others, although you can be a tad overzealous, not to mention you have a rather vindictive streak when roused. Oh, here we are. Ambition, bucket-loads of it. Ambition, and those rare traits, the intelligence and talent to achieve your ambitions. Hah, and it would do that inbred lot good to have someone like you stirring things up in there.'
Hermione felt a frisson of alarm at the path the Hat's observations were taking.
'Without a doubt, my girl, you belong in –'
"SLYTHERIN!" the Hat bellowed, a little smugly.
Hermione knew an impulse to yell at the Hat to take it back, this wasn't what was supposed to happen! Taking the Hat off she looked across to her new house; the rest of the school was clapping with reasonable enthusiasm, but Slytherin's applause was desultory at best, and even from this distance she could see the sneers on their faces. They'd eat her alive!
All the same, Hermione tilted her chin haughtily and approached the table with the same self-assured air as earlier. She wasn't about to let a bunch of inbred blood purists see her looking shaky or nervous.
She mightn't have wished for Slytherin, but she would make the best of things.
Hermione didn't know it, but her composure in the face of her housemates obvious hostility would, come tomorrow, help lay a foundation for a reputation that eclipsed that of every student to go through Slytherin house in the last fifty years.
And it would all be completely accidental.
Hermione found an empty seat near the head of the Slytherin table, not wanting to sit too close to all the students giving her disdainful looks or glares. She pretended to ignore them all as the other first years were all Sorted, and when food appeared began eating dinner without a glance at her fellow students, hoping desperately that they wouldn't start picking on her.
"Who does she think she is?" Pansy Parkinson hissed, watching Hermione who was unknowingly presenting a contemptuous attitude with her stiff posture and refusal to acknowledge her housemates.
"Granger isn't a wizarding name, is it?" Theodore Nott asked thoughtfully. "I can't think of any Grangers."
"Filthy mudblood," Draco Malfoy sneered dismissively.
Further down the table some of the older students were also discussing the bushy-haired first year.
"I don't know any Grangers," Alice Carrow said in perplexity, "but look at her, she doesn't act like she's muggleborn."
"I haven't seen that kind of general scorn since my grandmother met my cousin's half-blood fiancé and his family," one of her friends agreed in awe. "It's almost up to Lucius Malfoy's level, look. You'd think none of us existed, to look at her."
"She has to have come from a high-status pureblood clan for sure," Davidus Avery agreed, "but who is she?"
The seventh years all looked at each other and agreed to find out.
The first years, meanwhile, were still discussing the indignity of having a mudblood in their grade, and such an impudent one.
"We'll make her regret coming into our house," Blaise Zabini agreed with a nasty smirk.
"We can start tonight," Tracy Davis agreed with a grin, "wait until she's asleep and then…"
Daphne Greengrass just rolled her eyes and tried to tune out the conversation. So a muggleborn had been Sorted into their house, honestly, you'd think someone had just insulted their bloodline or something. She felt a bit sorry for the other girl; it wasn't her fault Slytherin was the last bastion of rabid blood purists. Daphne herself didn't like muggleborns all that much, but someone had to do all the jobs purebloods were too rich and important to do; if all the muggleborns were wiped out then who would sell them robes or shoes, or run all those nice little cafes and restaurants? It was all very well to say that the elves could do it all, but in practice that wouldn't work out at all, house elves were useless for that sort of thing. Daphne was quite happy to have muggleborns being productive members of society if it meant they were labouring away making her the latest season's cut in robes.
Hermione was feeling a bit less apprehensive as she finished her meal. So far everyone had left her alone. Perhaps things wouldn't be so bad, after all.
"First years!" a tall thin girl with pale hair called commandingly. "Follow me!"
Along with the other first years Hermione followed the prefect down into the dungeons and into the Slytherin common room.
The girl waited until all of the new students were inside the common room and then turned on them with a glare.
"My name is Veneficus Rookwood, and I am one of the two sixth year prefects for Slytherin," she announced. Up close, Hermione could see that her eyes were almost as colorless as her hair. It made her look somewhat frightening. "As such, it is my responsibility to look out for your health and wellbeing, to negotiate within-house disputes, and deal with you when you disgrace the house in one way or another. Anything I feel is outside my capability to deal with, or outside my responsibilities, will be taken either to your head of house, Professor Snape, or if the problem is severe enough the headmaster." Her pale-eyed glare swept over them. "I am not merciful, I am not biased. I will deliver justice as I see fit and I will not be swayed by connections or personal ties, nor grudges. You have all been warned. That said, if you do have an issue that you need help dealing with, you can trust me to assist you."
That said, she folded her arms and glared at a tall boy standing over near the edge of the room.
"Now, it's time for all of you to get to bed," the boy said smoothly. "Girl's dormitories are up and to the right, boys dormitories down and to the left. First years girls are on the first floor up, first year boys the first floor down. Shoo."
As the first years obediently scattered, not wanting to try their luck, Hermione heard a voice saying indignantly, "They can't tell me to shoo! I'm a Malfoy!" and someone else saying "Draco, shut up."
As Hermione prepared for bed, she hoped that things went well tomorrow.
"Is she asleep?" Pansy Parkinson hissed across at Tracy.
"I think so," Tracy replied in a loud whisper, crouching a bit to stare at the sleeping girl. Hermione's eyes were shut, and her breathing was slow and deep.
Giggling, the other girls in the dorm helped Pansy and Tracy sprinkle powdered asphodel among the girl's sheets, while Daphne sat and watched. The asphodel would cause intense itching, but only a pale rash would develop, so that it wouldn't be obvious to anyone that something was wrong.
Grinning to each other, the girls crept back to their beds and went to sleep, looking forward to seeing the uppity mudblood get her deserts.
Hermione drifted into wakefulness a while before she was supposed to get up, pulled there by insistent feelings of discomfort. Blinking into awareness, she realised two things: one, she itched like anything, and two, her eyes ached and stung horribly.
Feeling decidedly unwell, Hermione slipped out of the four-poster and padded into the bathrooms.
Now in the light, she examined her skin. There was a very pale, pink oatmeal rash across her skin, only just visible, which presumably explained the itching.
Rubbing at her eyes, Hermione turned to one of the mirrors above the sink.
And very nearly screamed.
Her irises, instead of being a light, caramel brown, had turned a deep bloody red. It gave her a distinctly demonic appearance. Hermione peered closer at her reflection, watching the crimson eyes blink back at her.
Frowning, Hermione scratched absently at her arm, wondering what had caused her condition. She was clearly reacting to something, but how...
She paused as she felt something slightly gritty beneath her fingers. Examining her fingertips, she saw that there was a coarse dark green powder trapped beneath her fingernails.
Hermione scowled in realisation at her rash. Someone had slipped some kind of itching powder in her bed while she was sleeping!
She scratched angrily, trying to restrain tears of disappointment and frustration. She'd hoped so much that things would go well at her new school, and already they were picking on her. She had never fit in among other children, but when she found out that she was a witch had hoped that, perhaps, she had finally found somewhere she could belong.
With a dispirited sigh, Hermione decided that she should probably go to the hospital wing.
As Hermione was about to go back into the dorm she could hear suppressed giggles. It didn't help her temper. Steeling herself, she stepped back into the room.
"Feeling itchy, mudblood?"
Hermione looked up and sent the other girl the deadliest glare she could muster.
When the girls woke up, the muggleborn girl wasn't in their dormitory. Seeing that Pansy was still asleep, Tracy bounced onto her bed and shook her shoulder.
"Wha?" Pansy grumbled.
"The mudblood girl's gone," Tracy informed her, and looked around at her classmates. "Anyone know where?"
"Probably to the bathroom," Daphne said, bored. "That's what I'd do if I woke up itching."
The first years grinned at each other and waited.
After only a couple of minutes they heard footsteps in the bathroom, and giggled in anticipation.
"Feeling itchy, mudblood?" Pansy sneered as the other girl stepped into the room.
Blood red eyes looked up, and fixed her with a look that spelt pain.
Pansy recoiled in horror, while the others gasped or shrieked.
"You," said the red-eyed girl, in measured tones that nonetheless betrayed anger, "are an immature, spoiled little girl." She swept out of the dormitory.
Pansy felt like she was going to faint. Only one person had red eyes, and Pansy had heard stories of him from her parents.
"Did you see her eyes?" someone gasped.
"Just like the Dark Lord's!" Tracy affirmed fearfully. "No one else has eyes like that! Oh Merlin, no wonder she acted all stuck up! She must be his heir!"
"His heir?" Daphne repeated in disbelief. The heck?
"Of course!" Pansy gave a sickly nod, it all made horrible sense. "She must have been born before the Dark Lord's downfall, and placed somewhere Dumbledore and the Ministry couldn't find her, so that when she was old enough the Dark Lord could train her!"
"I know glamour spells fade if you get too emotional," Verity Lovelace offered nervously. "She must have had one on to cover her eyes, but it failed when she realised we'd put asphodel in her bed."
Pansy and Tracy stared at each other in renewed horror.
"We put asphodel in her bed!"
Daphne sat, torn between incredulity and laughter as her housemates rapidly spun a ridiculous story to explain the muggleborn girl's red eyes, believing every word they came up with, growing more and more fearful with every embellishment they made.
She shook her head, trying desperately not to giggle. One of her aunts was a healer, and Daphne had been with her when she'd been called off to treat an asphodel allergy. Asphodel allergies were pretty rare, and so most people had never heard of them or seen the usual reaction, but it included nausea and in severe cases, bright red eyes.
"We're going to die!" one of her dorm mates wailed.
Daphne hurriedly drew her curtains and buried her face in her pillow before she could spoil everything by laughing.
This was way too good to tell them the truth.
Hermione meanwhile had left by dungeons completely, and approached the first portrait she saw.
"Excuse me –"
"Merlin's beard!" yelled the portrait, recoiling.
"Engelbert!" A woman from another portrait stepped in the frame, dressed in early Victorian garb. "Watch your language! This is a school!" She turned to look at Hermione, and her eyes widened.
"Oh my!" She was shocked, but only for a moment, "I assume you're looking for the hospital wing, my dear?"
"Yes, please," Hermione confirmed.
The portrait rattled off a long string of directions, and had Hermione repeat them back to her. Hermione thanked her and went on her way.
After three staircases, eighteen corridors and two doors, Hermione was feeling extremely ill, and was ready to faint as she stepped into the hospital wing.
"Hello?" she called wearily.
A sturdy middle-aged woman appeared in a doorway, and gave a small gasp as she saw Hermione's eyes.
"Goodness me, child. Come now, lie down," she bustled Hermione into a bed with practiced efficiency, "that's a nasty reaction you have there. You're muggleborn, I assume?" she added, taking a closer, swift look at the just-visible rash across Hermione's arm.
Hermione summoned up a tiny spark of fire.
"What does that have to do with anything?" she managed to snap.
"Asphodel allergy," the matron said briskly, lighting up the end of her wand and shining it in Hermione's eyes for a close examination. "Most definitely. Quite rare, but asphodel's a common enough ingredient in potions that most wizard-born children display a reaction at a fairly young age. Stay here."
She returned from her office a moment later with a large vial.
"Drink this," she commanded Hermione. As the girl did so, she explained, "the potion is designed to desensitise you to asphodel so that you will no longer react to it. You should be fine to work with it in class and able to take most potions, although I'd still avoid anything with a particularly high concentration of the stuff, particularly fresh. I'll make a note of it in your file. Your name?"
"Hermione Granger," Hermione said sleepily.
"Very well,. You just go to sleep, Miss Granger, and let the potion do its work while I inform your Head of House that you'll be missing some classes today. Which house are you in?"
"Slytherin." The agonising pain in her eyes was beginning to ease, and Hermione felt marginally less ill. "Thank you, ma'am."
The briskness melted into something softer.
"That's alright, child. I'll have a word with Professor Snape about your housemates, too; after all these years at Hogwarts I can tell when someone's been made the target of a nasty prank."
Hermione drifted off, grateful that the healer was so kind and hoping that she could convince the intimidating professor to make the other Slytherins leave her alone.
"Severus," Poppy caught the dour man on his way down to breakfast, "I need to have a word with you."
Severus Snape sighed in irritation.
"Don't tell me. The muggleborn girl's turned up in the hospital wing already."
Poppy nodded grimly, and the man's lip curled. He might not be overly fond of the muggleborn students himself, but he did ensure that nothing worse than verbal confrontations went on in his house.
"I see. I'll make sure they understand this behaviour isn't tolerated."
He swept off, robes billowing, to terrify the new first years into obedience.
Poppy sighed. She didn't exactly agree with his methods, but then some of his students were such nasty little bigots that nothing else worked. She had been at the school five years before Severus was made Slytherin's head of house, and in those five years there wasn't a muggleborn Slytherin who wasn't seriously injured several times; since Severus had taken over, it had happened only once.
Whatever else he did, he got results.
The Slytherin first years assembled hastily in the common room, wondering what was happening. The austere female fifth year prefect from the previous night was present, and Professor Snape was standing there with an exceedingly nasty glint in his eyes.
"Good morning," he drawled, very softly, his voice cutting through the noise like a sharp blade through silk. The children went quiet.
Most of them knew that Severus Snape had been a Death Eater once; it was the kind of fact that stopped people from dealing with him too lightly. And right now, with that expression on his face, he looked like a Death Eater.
His gaze swept over them, leaving them feeling exposed and apprehensive.
"The House of Slytherin," Snape continued, "is the house for those of ambition, of cunning, and of brilliance. It is the house for those who cannot fit in to any other house, because their drive to succeed marks them out for greatness; because to fail at their goals is inconceivable. It is a house of raw talent and shrewdness and subterfuge, and there is not a member of this house who does not have the potential to achieve distinction."
Cold coal-black eyes void of emotion swept over them. He'd given this speech so many times now over the years, in one form or another, that he knew exactly when to pause menacingly or lay particular emphasis on a word. Every damn year, he had to give them a speech telling them to leave the muggleborns and halfbloods alone. Sometimes Severus almost wished he could just nail of the little bastards to the wall, or something equally unpleasant, and leave the blood and the nails there as a reminder to future students. That sort of punishment would quickly become lengendary, and maybe, just maybe he wouldn't have to give the blasted speech so bloody often.
"In Slytherin it is vital to tread carefully in your dealings with others, because you never know whether or not you are dealing with a future Minister for Magic – or the next Dark Lord."
The first-year girls quailed as they realised what the point of the former Death Eater's speech must be. He had to know about the Dark Lord's heir, and somehow had found out about how the lot of them had treated her!
"So why is it," their head of house asked, very, gently, "that I was informed that this morning one of you was admitted to the hospital wing, the apparent victim of her housemates?"
Pansy and Tracy exchanged aghast, shamed looks.
"We didn't know, sir," Verity spoke up fearfully, "we really didn't know, I swear. I promise we'll leave Granger alone from now on, really!"
Severus looked at her suspiciously. The boys were showing the usual reactions – some cowed expressions, 'why can't I pick on the mudbloods?' type indignation and confusion, the odd glimmer of understanding, resentment, obedience – but the girls all had expressions of fear, earnest agreement, remorse, and on Davis and Parkinson, a peculiar kind of terror.
Something was clearly going on there, but now wasn't the time to investigate.
"It had best not happen again," he warned, allowing an edge of threat to creep into his voice. "I will be… displeased if it continues to be an issue."
One more cold, contemptuous glance, and with a short "you all had best hurry to breakfast," he swept from the room in his most intimidating manner.
As soon as he left, Veneficus unfolded her arms and stepped forward.
"You lot," she said harshly. "I don't want to see one iota of action taken against this girl again, or I'll deal with you. As it is, the lot of you are in disgrace. Understand?"
One of the first years burst into tears.
"We didn't know she was the Dark Lord's daughter!" she wailed. "We only found out this morning when she got so angry that her eyes turned red! I'm sorry!"
Every pair of eyes in the common room stared at her.
Veneficus turned to stare at all the other first year girls, who weren't much better off than the crying one. She didn't see Daphne Greengrass, who had slipped down to sit behind the couch and was struggling to hold in her laughter.
"The Dark Lord's daughter?" she repeated. "You're sure?"
Pansy Parkinson nodded miserably.
"You didn't see her. I thought she was going to crucio the lot of us."
Veneficus stood still for a moment, then turned to the other first years.
"Treat her with respect and circumspection," she commanded. "The rest of the house needs to know of this."
And she followed Professor Snape's path out of the Slytherin common area to spread the news.
Daphne had to clap both hands over her mouth to stop the uncontrollable laughter that wanted out.
Merlin, was she going to have fun with this.
Hermione joined classes that afternoon. Her allergic reaction was more or less entirely gone, although she felt more tired than usual. She made her way down to the dungeons, where Potions would have just started.
Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself and entered.
Heads swivelled in her direction, and Hermione scowled at them, uncomfortable with the stares.
"Miss Granger, take a seat," said her head of house, a thread of impatience in his tone. He was an unpleasant-looking man, up close – not simply in physical characteristics, but more in his expression, and air of faintly menacing contempt – with a hooked nose, greasy hair, and black eyes that glinted worryingly.
Hermione looked around for an empty seat. There was one next to Pansy, who wore a bright, fixed smile that was clearly fake; a quiet dark-haired girl was looking at Hermione hopefully, and there was an empty seat next to her as well.
Hermione however was not about to walk willingly into another prank, so instead she sat on the other side of the room, next to a small, black-haired Gryffindor boy – Harry Potter.
Harry looked at Hermione curiously while the redheaded boy on the other side of him glared at her.
Hermione ignored the glare and stared at their cauldron.
"What are we brewing?"
"What do you mean, we?" the other boy snapped. Ron Weasley, Hermione remembered.
Her nose went in the air.
"Well, I've joined your group, so logic therefore suggests that I'll be helping with your potion."
Her tone suggested that this was incredibly obvious. Weasley reddened.
Harry was staring at Ron in confused puzzlement, as though he couldn't understand what had gotten into the other boy.
"So, Harry Potter," Hermione decided to just ignore Weasley, "what potion are we brewing, and do we have instructions?"
Harry nodded his head at the front of the room.
"Everything's on the board."
Hermione read what was on the board, and frowned. It was… one of the potions from the book, yes, the more advanced section, but there were small things missing, like stirring after every third newt eye…
Hermione glanced at the professor in sudden suspicion. The man was prowling around the room, like a large predatory cat, checking the progress of their potions. He had to be testing them, to see who had read and been paying attention to the textbook.
Hermione frowned some more, and turned to her two partners in sudden decision.
"Right," she said briskly, "Harry, you chop the valerian root, Weasley, you peel the newts eyes; I'm going to get the base fluid started."
"Who put you in charge?" Weasley snapped, as Harry obediently pulled some valerian root towards him.
"Do you wish to pass this, or not?" Hermione snapped back. She didn't know what his problem was, but he was being stupid. "Judging by the progress you've made so far, the two of you clearly have no idea what you're doing. So shut up and listen to what I tell you to do."
Harry nudged the other boy. Scowling like a thundercloud, Weasley reluctantly began peeling newts eyes, making disgusted faces, while Hermione got started on the potion base.
She continued to instruct them for the rest of the lesson. The rest of the first year Slytherins and Gryffindors sent her glances every now and then, and Hermione once looked up to see Professor Snape regarding her with almost a curious expression.
Near the end of the lesson, a Gryffindor boy's cauldron melted, and everyone had to climb up on the benches and desks out of the potions' way.
Hermione efficiently sat perched on the very edge of the desk and continued to stir until the potions was the correct colour.
After berating the hapless Gryffindor boy nearly to tears, Professor Snape dismissed them all.
As Hermione was collecting her things, the teacher strolled over and peered slightly into her cauldron.
"Excellent work, Miss Granger. Twenty points to Slytherin."
Hermione couldn't help the flustered, hopeful beam she sent his way.