Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This story was inspired by a fic search by Psykojinx. I took the search like a challenge and ended up with this.
Summary: People often become who others expect them to be. When Harry was sorted into Slytherin, he realized he was alone, friendless, and apparently meant to be evil.
When Harry was sorted into Slytherin, the entire Great Hall burst not into applause, but into whispers. He felt this sense of betrayal in the pit of his stomach when he heard Ron Weasley loudly declaring, "I met him on the train. He was such a freak."
Even more audibly than that, he heard people whispering about the Harry Potter and how he was sure to be a dark wizard now, and you just never knew with types like him. His parents would be ashamed, wouldn't they?
He walked to his table, expecting at least some nods of welcome, but instead he wasn't greeted at all. It took him several minutes to find a seat; suddenly the benches were too full for him to have a place.
When the feast began and the others all spoke around him, he glanced at the staff's table, hoping for some modest show of approval there. Professor McGonagall's lips were pursed tightly as she conversed with a disapproved looking Dumbledore. Harry's eyes scanned the table and happened to catch Hagrid's.
Hagrid looked down immediately.
A few moments later, Harry made eye contact with a menacing looking professor and hissed as his scar pained him, no one explained to him that the man was his Head of House and bound to protect him.
Apparently, Harry realized that night, being sorted into Slytherin meant he was to be evil.
"I'd rather die than hang out with a slimy Slytherin like you, Potter!" Ron Weasley declared loudly when Harry ran into him in the hallways the next day and asked him if he had liked the feast.
Harry had suspected that Ron wasn't going to want to be his friend after the night before, but he had also hoped that Ron was simply saying what he expected everyone wanted to hear from him that night - that he wasn't friends with the boy they all abhorred.
Harry opened his mouth to respond, but found he couldn't. (What could he possibly say?)
Then, when he noticed Ron's fingers flexing around his wand - a lot of good that would do him with less than a day's education - he realized that Ronald Weasley wasn't going to be his friend. And if he made trouble for Weasley, like he had made trouble for Dudley once, he might end up with no friends at all.
Harry said nothing.
Weasley still told everyone in Gryffindor not to be friends with Potter, nasty Death Eater in training that he was.
That first semester, Harry quickly learned that he was not the only one in Slytherin without friends. The Slytherins may not have all been evil Death Eaters in training, but a fair amount of them were, and that meant they did not have friends. They had allies and enemies and associates, but not friends.
Harry knew that, but he also knew that most of the first years and even some of the upper years, though they would deny it, did have people they could count on. Perhaps not friends, but people they played Exploding Snap with and tossed candy from their care packages to and considered equals.
Harry did not have that.
Harry tried to talk to Hagrid once, but he was never invited to his hut and never tried for an invitation after what was easily the most awkward conversation he'd had in months.
With Malfoy, Harry had long since burned his bridges and Malfoy had, like Weasley, poisoned the rest against him. Slytherins, unfortunately, were more conniving than Gryffindors. Not more brutal, but more subtle about it at least.
After his trunk went missing, after he was cursed both mentally and physically, and after he was sent to the Hospital Wing not once, but four separate times in the first month, Harry stopped trying to make friends.
By his second term, Harry barely spoke.
Professor Quirrell disappeared mysteriously at the end of term. Harry thought nothing of it.
Harry was to be their golden child, so he figured, when he learned that he could speak to snakes, it was something best kept quiet. They had already shunned him, but he knew that somehow, things could always get worse.
They nearly did, for a week or so, when Professor Lockhart began teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. It was odd, how people resented the embarrassing attention Lockhart was giving Harry, odd how it seemed to spur all the old nasty talk about him, but it did.
Harry figured it was because, in a strange way, he had reached a truce with the people around him. They would ignore he existed and only curse him once a month or so. And he wouldn't report them or bother them.
It wasn't perfect, but it was better than Dudley.
The end of Harry's second year, he was studying in the library, a place that was normally a safe haven for him, when a bushy-haired Gryffindor walked in. Hermione Granger.
She had, supposedly, saved the entire school through her research. He had seen her from time to time, studying, but had never talked to her. Neither of them seemed to have friends and neither of them, by that point, were willing to show their desire for friends.
"Granger," he said, when she walked by his table.
She looked around and then turned to him upon realizing who had spoken. "Potter," she said, and her voice was boiling with disapproval.
He had wanted to tell her thank you for finding out it was a basilisk in the chamber and for stopping all those people from getting hurt, but at her tone, he stopped. "Never mind."
She walked away, scanning the binding of the books on the shelves. Under her breath, he heard her mutter, "Freak."
"Mudblood," he shot back.
He had learned some things from his two years in Slytherin, even without friends.
If he had met up with Sirius Black his third year, he probably would've been able to kill him.
After all, he'd been practicing the spells all summer.
About a week after his name was entered into the Goblet of Fire, Harry realized that the unspoken hold-fire agreement he'd reached with his classmates was gone.
When he went to Madame Pomfrey seven times in a week and she didn't press for any details - like she had back in his first year, nearly crying in frustration when he had refused to tell her - Harry realized he was on his own.
Sometimes, at night, Harry cried.
When Harry met Lord Voldemort at the end of his fourth year, he was woefully unprepared for what it meant to be in the presence of true evil.
He had learned to duel though, in the cover of the night and the space of the secret passages he had discovered back in his second year. When he first landed in the graveyard, he attacked the figure walking towards him instantly.
He was dreadfully alone and wished, suddenly, that he hadn't been miles ahead of everyone in the competition, that he'd goofed off and hadn't studied every spare moment he'd had. Then maybe someone else would be here.
Harry was certain none of this was a part of the competition.
He got off another spell before he was disarmed, tied to a gravestone, and forced to be an ingredient in the Dark Lord's rebirth.
He'd overheard stories in Slytherin, but he was still taken aback at the sight of the man. Voldemort knew everything Harry had been trying to learn, and for that, Harry nearly respected him.
When Lord Voldemort declared they were to duel, Harry pushed his respect to the back of his mind and fired off a spell before bowing. As the Dark Lord lectured him about dueling etiquette - as though there was dueling etiquette among Slytherins - Harry fired another.
Then the Dark Lord began to duel back and before Harry could think that he was going to die, their wands connected.
When he declared the cup had been made into a portkey, no one believed him. The three true champions of the Triwizard Tournament glared at him as he was dragged to the Headmaster's office.
Dumbledore made him tell his story three separate times before he was allowed to go to the Hospital Wing for the long cut on his arm.
He was woozy as he collapsed on the bed in the Hospital Wing and told himself it was only from the blood loss.
It seemed Dumbledore had believed him, Harry figured, based on the announcement in the Daily Prophet. (Headmaster's crazy ramblings. Political agenda or senility? More on page two.)
It was a different fact that made Harry get through the next year though. The fact that his parents had, that night in the graveyard, said they believed in him too.
The drugs that Harry picked up the summer in Surrey after fourth year may have made the transition from loner to hated pariah a little easier too.
Harry was used to being attacked, whether it be blatant, brutal attacks or subtle barbs. He was also used to fighting back now. He had enough knowledge of the Dark Arts to rival any wanna be Death Eater, and he knew what lines he could cross and which could only be crossed once.
But when Harry was attacked viciously and violently by a mob of both Gryffindors and Slytherins, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, when a newspaper article came out declaring him to be vying for the position of supreme Dark Lord, he couldn't hold his own, even with some Azkaban worthy hexes.
By the time they got him to the Hospital Wing, he was near death. The staff managed to save his life, expel only a fourth of the perpetrators, and call it a day.
Late at night, Harry did not just study the Dark Arts now. He practiced them with regularity. At first, way back when, he had told himself that in order to beat the Dark Arts, he had to understand them. He wanted to beat the bad guy and save the day. (Getting even may have crossed his mind once or twice as well.)
He guessed that was still true. It wasn't as though he wanted to support a prejudiced cause that inspired nonsensical violence. He wouldn't hesitate to hurt one of the dark.
But he wouldn't exactly hesitate to kill some of the light either.
Harry changed his shirt in front of a mirror. It was true that spell damage could be reversed, if treated quickly. But Harry had gone to the hospital wing only for the most serious of the injuries his classmates had caused, the ones he simply could not handle on his own.
His back was lined with scars.
Once upon a time, a scrawny boy walked into a magical school and hoped for it to be a better place than the one he had left behind.
His parents would be ashamed, wouldn't they?