Title: Paradise Lost

Author: Neko-chan

Fandom: Harry Potter

Disclaimer: JKR owns the Harry Potter franchise. I am writing this story for fun and not profit, and I'm most assuredly not making any money off of it. *laughs* Though, if I had to be honest with myself, it would be rather nice to be able to claim credit for Harry Potter and Kuroshitsuji both... ;)

Rating: T, eventual M

Pairing: Tom Riddle (Lord Voldemort)/Harry Potter

Summary: With one question posed to the Sorting Hat, Harry Potter's life changes completely.

Author's Note: This is written as a present to my sister, brightsun89. She loves long stories—so this will definitely be long—and she loves the Tom Riddle and Harry Potter pairing. I also wanted to take this note to say thank you to my favorite HP authors for keeping my interest in the fandom and for writing such spectacular fanfiction: Lomonaaeren, Aya Macchiato, Mizuni-sama, Moth Gypsy, Caecelia, Epic Solemnity, and jharad17. Furthermore, I just wanted to note that I don't have access to my HP books—currently away at school—so some of the quotes that I'm taking will either be from memory or from the movies, which I do have access to. Finally, the first several chapters will focus on bits and pieces of Harry's first through third years at Hogwarts, but the actual story will begin to take place in year four. Anyway, I hope that you enjoy this story (and reviews are most assuredly appreciated! :D)!

[...] and from the bottom stir
The Hell within him; for within him Hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place: Now conscience wakes despair,
That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.
[…] Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.
John Milton; Paradise Lost, Book IV & Book I


The stool was rough, hard wood against Harry's bottom as he managed to pull himself up to settle upon the top. The eleven year-old boy managed to stifle a surprised flinch as McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat atop his head; he waited, hands curled nervously in his school robes, and had to silence a yelp as a voice began to murmur right next to his ear.

"Hmmm… Difficult. Very difficult… Plenty of courage, I see; not a bad mind, either… There's talent, oh yes, and a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you…?"

"Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin," Harry whispered desperately, remembering the words that Ron had spoken to him on the train—the stories, too, that Hagrid had just begun to tell him about You-Know-Who, of Voldemort, and the evil that had led to his parents' deaths.

There's not a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin.

Ron's words echoed with each of Harry's requests to not be placed in Slytherin; what if he ended up evil, like Voldemort? Or like an arse of that blonde git, Malfoy? He wanted, so very much, to be accepted—to be liked—here at Hogwarts. He wanted to make friends now that he didn't have to worry about Dudley beating them off. He could not only have the chance to have a friend, but he could get a best friend; maybe—just maybe, if things went well—Ron would want to be that friend…?

"Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You could be great, you know. It's all here… in your head. And Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, there's no doubt about that."

It was these words that finally gave Harry pause.

The Sorting Hat was saying great; great, not evil. The Hat, picking up Harry's thought, chuckled softly and waited for Harry to finally speak aloud of the bee that suddenly had begun to buzz about in his bonnet. Surprisingly timid, Harry cautiously asked, "…I've heard a lot of things about Slytherin over the past couple of days… And you want to put me there. …so what's the difference between greatness and becoming evil—of going bad? How do you know that I'll be one and not the other?"

"Intention," the Sorting Hat said, reply simple and austere.

Harry's eyes widened suddenly at the distinction that the Hat was clearly making, that there was a difference. He could be great. It was okay to want to be something more because that didn't make him evil. Intention. Intent was what made the difference. At that realization, that knowledge that the Sorting Hat had given him insight into, there was a stirring of some hidden part of him that hungrily, desperately wanted to rise above what he had been for the past ten years, what the Dursleys had made him into, and it was in that moment that the Sorting Hat roared out, "SLYTHERIN!"

A/N: Apologies for the short chapter. Hopefully the teaser will get people interested~ ;)