Hello to all! Sorry it took so long, I have been swamped by real life. Thank you so much for all the wonderful feedback! I am shocked by how many people are so pleased with my story! Thank you for your continual support. I am going to be super busy for the next month or two, so my updating will be sporadic, but I do plan on finishing this story. Thanks for your patience!
Warnings: light mentions of abuse and torture
Disclaimer: All belongs to the wonderful J.K.R.
Severus Snape had never felt more terrified in his life.
He sprinted through his lord's manor, his heart racing in his chest. The Potions Master turned around the last corner and froze.
Bellatrix Lestrange was still on the floor of the living room, with the Dark Lord hovering over her. He had seen a great deal of blood in his life, but he tensed when he saw all the blood soaked through her ragged clothes.
Severus was kneeling next to her in the next instant, not even acknowledging the Dark Lord in his haste. He quickly cast a diagnostic spell, and was relieved his lord had had enough experience to heal the gash. But despite this, she was still in a very dangerous state.
Quickly, the Slytherin Head of House spelled a heavy dose of blood loss potion into her system. Her breathing eased a bit, and Severus knew she was stable, but he still couldn't fight off his overwhelming panic. He slowly lifted her up, dismayed by how little she weighed. He had never seen her look so fragile.
"How is she, Severus?"
Severus looked up to stare at Lucius, who was standing next to the Dark Lord.
"Stable," Severus murmured. "But she needs to be carefully monitored. Her heartbeat is still weak, and I'm afraid her magic supply is dangerously low with everything that has happened. Her time at Azkaban has left her in a terrible state."
"But she will live, Severus?" Lucius murmured, with concern on his face as he observed his sister-in-law.
Severus eyed the still Dark Lord, who was also waiting expectantly for the answer. While the lord did not show it, the Potions Master knew that he also cared a great deal about Bella's welfare.
"I won't let her die," Severus told them firmly, tightening his grip on her. "I'm taking her to a guest bedroom, my lord," the dark-haired man added as he began to walk away.
The Dark Lord gave him a single nod.
Severus stared down at the unconscious woman in his arms, and his eyes hardened. Whoever had done this would suffer a painful death, even if doing so would ruin his position as a spy in the Order.
Harry observed everything from a dark corridor, feeling strangely concerned for Bellatrix Lestrange. He had heard a few horror stories about her, but with everything that had happened Harry was sure that some of it must have been lies. And Harry wasn't blind to the fact that Severus had looked very worried. The dark-haired boy was certain he had never seen so much emotion on his professor's face before. He wondered absentmindedly what the relationship between Severus and Bellatrix was.
Harry stared at his father, who had suddenly turned away from speaking to Lucius and a man Harry knew to be Barty Crouch. His father's red eyes were unexpectedly fixated on the exact spot Harry was hiding in the shadows.
Harry tensed, but reluctantly stepped out into the light. The three men regarded him seriously. Harry found himself unable to look at his father, still worried over their argument earlier, and instead stared at his godfather.
"What are you doing awake?" The Dark Lord demanded.
"Had another vision," Harry murmured, shrugging.
His father sighed, and both Barty and Lucius watched the exchange with interest.
"Is she going to be okay?" Harry asked quietly, glancing at his father briefly.
"Yes," his father answered confidently.
Harry hesitated, uncertain whether his father was lying to appease him or if he was being truthful.
"Go to bed," the Dark Lord ordered him firmly. "I'll speak to you in the morning."
Harry's eyes flickered to Lucius and Barty before they rested back on his father. He nodded silently and slowly turned away.
Harry glanced over his shoulder, startled to see his father was still watching him intently. Harry stiffened.
"Don't get caught next time you eavesdrop," the lord told him absentmindedly. "It's unbecoming."
The Gryffindor shook his head in disbelief as he climbed the stairs to get back to his bedroom. Most parents would tell him to not eavesdrop at all, but of course his father would tell him to just not get caught.
His father was a Slytherin through and through, without a doubt.
The next morning Harry eyed his father anxiously throughout breakfast. His father had told him "good morning" curtly when he walked in, but other than that had remained silent. His father was even more subdued than the night before, and the Gryffindor had a good guess as to why that was. Harry pushed away his still full plate, not feeling up to eating anything.
"Your eating habits are atrocious," his father suddenly spoke up, his eyes not moving from the newspaper in his hands.
Harry started at his words, his eyes wide. "I'm not-"
"You need to eat, Hadrian," his father cut in coolly.
The Gryffindor bit his lip, unsure to be pleased or upset his father was speaking to him. "But I'm not-"
"Eat." Red eyes flickered up momentarily in warning, and his voice left no room for discussion.
Harry did so reluctantly, and he was surprised to find that he actually was hungry. As he ate his breakfast, he stared at his father piercingly.
The man didn't seem angry at him, but he wasn't exactly pleasant either. But the more Harry stared at him, the more certain he was that his father was furious at him because of their argument yesterday. Maybe the man was starting to regret taking him in? Had he realized just how much of a burden he was?
Harry stopped eating, feeling suddenly sick.
"I'm sorry," he blurted out. When his father looked up with an expressionless mask Harry felt even worse. "I-I should have trusted you. I'm a coward and an idiot for believing Dumbledore over you. I understand why you-you hate me, but I can be better I swear it. Please just don't-"
"Hadrian," his father cut in softly, the newspaper left forgotten on the table. "What, pray tell, would possibly give you the idea that I hated you?"
Harry hesitated, confused. "But last night… I was wrong to say the things I did. You should be furious at me, you should hate me." The dark-haired boy paused, shaking. "You should punish me," he whispered, closing his eyes tightly.
And, like he expected, after a pause he heard the Dark Lord murmur the torturing curse. He braced himself, but he was shocked to feel nothing. Slowly he opened his eyes, not quite believing what had happened.
The Dark Lord stepped closer to Harry and gently placed his hands on the boy's shoulders. Harry flinched at the touch, and his father eyed him sadly.
"I do not have it in me to hate you, Hadrian," he whispered. "You are my son. And no matter what you say to me, I will always see you as such."
Emerald eyes flickered in disbelief, and the boy tried to take in everything that had happened. He knew, of course, what the painless unforgivable meant. Dumbledore had told him countless times that you had to feel it, truly mean it, for the curse to work.
"I know what I had to tell you last night was hard to hear," his father continued. "I don't blame you for being upset." He squeezed Harry's shoulders lightly. "In fact, I would be worried if you had not been. I never claimed to be a saint, but I promise that I am not the man Dumbledore has portrayed me as."
Harry stared at his father, astonished by what he was saying. His whole body felt as if a huge weight had been lifted up from on top of him. He smiled slightly at his father. "I know," he admitted. "It was just hard to push away something I had believed my whole life. But I am trying to start over." He hesitated, biting his lip. "You really aren't angry with me?"
"No," the Dark Lord told him firmly, his gaze unwavering.
The Gryffindor had never been so relieved in his life. To know his father still cared was pure elation. He remembered how aggressive the man had been on his behalf when Dumbledore had taunted him and the feeling increased. Then, almost as if his body was acting on its own, he leaped from his seat to embrace the man tightly. The Dark Lord tensed at first, but eventually relaxed and held onto his son firmly.
"Don't ever doubt that you are my son, Hadrian," his father murmured. "You will always be wanted."
Harry's heart soared at those words, and he pushed away the pessimistic part of him that was certain the man was lying. The dark-haired boy pulled back, searching his father's face for sincerity. The lord stared back seriously, but his expression softened as he observed his son.
"I took the liberty of inviting over Draco and his housemates," his father suddenly said, watching him carefully. "I know you have been getting along well with young Mister Malfoy and I had hoped that you would also gain good allies in the other Slytherins."
Harry nodded slowly, having mixed feelings about his father's action. He did really enjoy spending time with his cousin, but he was nervous to meet the other Slytherins. While they had not been as vocal as Draco had been, they certainly contributed to some of his past misery nonetheless. He and Draco had learned to get along mostly because of their relation and the circumstance, but surely Draco's friends didn't know all the details...
The Gryffindor froze in horror. His father took in his pale features and frowned.
"How much do they know?" Harry whispered. "The other Slytherins," he added in explanation quietly.
His father sighed, understanding instantly why Harry had gotten so anxious. "They know the main parts," his father told him honestly. "About as much as I know, really. After all, you haven't volunteered many details." Red eyes narrowed in question.
Harry avoided his gaze, feeling suddenly clammy. He stepped away quickly from the man, fighting the urge to run from the hall. He couldn't talk about his past, not right now, and he definitely didn't want the other Slytherins to know anything. He didn't want anyone to know anything!
"May I be excused, sir?" Harry asked in a low voice.
"No. Sit down, Hadrian."
Harry's eyes snapped up in astonishment at his father's response. The man surveyed him coolly before glancing back down at his paper.
"Why must I stay, sir?" Harry asked a bit rebelliously.
"You never finished your breakfast."
The Gryffindor was taken aback at the casual response. However, he sat down silently and watched his father flip through the newspaper.
"While you're still here," his father said, looking up briefly, "I wanted to tell you that Severus is going to give you another occlumency lesson tonight."
"I thought you were going to teach me?" Harry murmured, confused and a little hurt.
"I thought it would be best if Severus did instead," his father stated.
Harry knew it was silly to be disappointed. The lord was busy of course and had better things to spend his time on. In fact, it was probably a good thing his father wasn't going to view all his horrible memories.
"But we will still be talking about it frequently," his father added sternly. "There are many memories we still need to address."
Harry tensed at those words, but bobbed his head in acknowledgement. He knew his father would require him to explain things more thoroughly, but he could only hope that it wasn't anytime soon.
"You better eat up if you want to leave this hall sometime this year," his father added lightly, gesturing to the half-eaten plate.
Harry grimaced, but conceded. Who knew the Dark Lord could be such a stickler for healthy habits!
A few hours later, Harry waited anxiously for the arrival of the Slytherins. He tried to relax on the couch in the main lounging room, but he found himself physically incapable.
The fire flared, and Harry looked at it anxiously. When an impeccably dressed blonde stepped out, he relaxed slightly. Draco Malfoy, however, did not seem very relaxed when he faced his cousin.
"What's the Dark Lord's snake doing here?" Draco hissed, looking more flustered than Harry had ever seen him.
Harry glanced down, bemused. Nagini was curled up at his feet, and Harry realized absentmindedly that most people would be horrified to even see a giant man-eating snake. It was a good thing he inherited the ability to communicate with snakes, or the Gryffindor believed he probably would have been suitably afraid of Nagini as well. But, to be honest, she was nothing more than an over-grown child with a great love for meat.
But Draco's reaction was just too good to be true. Harry grinned mischievously and prodded the sleeping snake lightly. Draco watched the action with wide eyes and shook his head furiously.
But it was too late. Nagini stirred and lifted her mighty head to observe them.
"The blond ferret is here, snakeling," Nagini hissed in excitement.
Harry bit back a laugh at Nagini's words and Draco's pale face. The young prince didn't understand what his cousin found so intimidating about Nagini. Just the other night, this same snake had run around in circles chasing her own tail because she thought it was a rat. And when Harry had told her the story of the bouncing ferret incident from this year, she had literally gone into hysterics. Afterwards, she had been adamant that Harry needed to transfigure Draco into a ferret so she could eat him. Harry had explained it was too advanced magic for him, which had made Nagini grumble to herself for a good hour about the poor education at Hogwarts.
Well, now that the Gryffindor really considered it, Nagini was a bit disturbing with her eating choices. Harry was certain that if the blonde knew what Nagini said about him he would never enter Slytherin Manor again.
"Shall I get Lady Cat or will you?" Nagini questioned seriously.
The image of Professor McGonagall, or Lady Cat according to Nagini, coming here to transfigure Draco into a ferret made Harry snicker. Draco eyed him warily.
"What did the snake say, Riddle?" he whispered dangerously.
Harry grinned impishly. He really knew it was a bad idea to bait Draco, but he couldn't resist. "I might have told Nagini about a certain bouncing ferret..."
The look on Draco's face was worth every bit of the payback he would receive later.
"And hypothetically, if you were to be transfigured into say, a ferret, Nagini may be tempted to have an afternoon snack."
When the very proper Slytherin spluttered, Harry couldn't rein in his laughter any longer. Nagini's side comments didn't help either.
But after a few moments, Harry murmured to Nagini to go somewhere else so Draco wouldn't have a heart attack. She complied, but Harry had to promise her a few juicy rats because she couldn't eat a ferret. Draco was relieved when Nagini did slither away, but glared at his cousin immediately after nonetheless.
"So is my glamour holding up?" Harry asked, before Draco could go on a tirade.
The Slytherin nodded and his glare dropped. "I was going to question you about that. It may not be nec-"
The floo flared again, and Draco stopped talking instantly. Harry watched nervously as a beautiful blonde stepped out of the flames, her icy blue eyes scanning the room coolly.
Harry had never really spoken to Daphne Greengrass. She was one of the Slytherins who never bothered with him. Harry had just assumed it was because she saw herself as too superior to even look his way. And, certainly, there was a very good reason she had gained the title "Ice Queen of Slytherin".
But she wasn't looking at him with her usual mask of indifference. She instead stepped towards him with a small smile and offered him her hand. He took it shakily.
"I'm Daphne Greengrass," she said softly.
"Harry Po-Riddle," Harry said uncertainly, stumbling over his last name.
She froze, and her hand fell away from his. Harry stopped, unsure about her reaction. He glanced at Draco, who was watching them seriously.
"You never told them then?" Harry asked quietly. He hadn't been sure how much Draco had explained.
"Wasn't my place," Draco said quietly.
Daphne was still staring at him blankly.
"I didn't realize she would recognize my father by his last name," Harry murmured.
Daphne suddenly found her voice again. "My father is in the inner circle. They all know of the Dark Lord's past name." Despite that her voice was smooth and calm, Harry could tell she was unsettled. "And we also knew that his son was killed thirteen years ago," she added, a hint of disbelief in her voice.
"I'd rather wait for the others, so I don't have to explain it more than once," Harry said heavily, sitting back down on the couch. "If that's okay with you."
She nodded once in agreement.
It was silent for a few minutes, and Harry shifted uneasily. Draco sat down quietly beside him, and Daphne did the same a few moments later. Before any of them could gather their thoughts enough to speak, the floo flared again.
Harry looked up to see a tall, dark-skinned figure step out - Blaise Zabini. Behind him, Pansy Parkinson gracefully came through, flipping her dark hair behind her. She moved out of the way for the last figure, a brown-haired boy Harry knew to be Theodore Nott.
The three of them faced Harry confidently, but he could tell they were unsure on how to address him.
"Come sit everyone," Draco said, waving to the other unoccupied seats.
They did as Draco suggested, but they eyed the lone Gryffindor warily the entire time. It was as if they expected him to lash out at them at any moment. Pansy met his gaze and smiled uncertainly. Harry looked at her in surprise but managed a shaky smile in return.
"So, how have you been, Potter?" Pansy spoke up awkwardly.
"It's Riddle now, actually," Harry corrected her instantly.
Theodore stiffened, and Pansy's eyes widened. Blaise looked between everyone in confusion.
"How?" Pansy gasped.
"I made a bloodline potion with the help of Professor Snape," Harry explained quietly. "I was curious to see who I was related to. And I learned that I had been lied to about my parentage." Harry took a deep, steadying breath. "It said my parents were Tom Riddle and Caroline Riddle, formerly Malfoy."
"Caroline Malfoy?" Blaise gasped, looking from Harry to Draco. "But that would mean..." he trailed off, astonished.
"But that's impossible," Pansy whispered. "The Dark Lord's son was taken and killed along with Caroline."
"I was taken," Harry agreed solemnly. "But Dumbledore gave me to the Potters." He stopped and took a calming breath, trying to rein in his emotions. His hands were tight fists at his sides. "When the Potters were killed by my father," Harry continued quietly, "he tried to kill me but couldn't because of a curse on the Slytherin bloodline. It was a curse designed so no one in the Slytherin bloodline could kill another in their family for power or gain."
"The Dark Lord never thought of it because he was certain he was the only direct ancestor in existence," Theodore murmured, his eyebrows raised. "Of course, he never imagined you were alive. I'm assuming the Potters altered your appearance?"
Harry nodded. After a brief hesitation he stood up and waved his wand over his body. Slowly the James Potter look-a-like disappeared to be replaced with the son of the Dark Lord.
"You look like a younger version of our lord," Daphne murmured in awe. "Without a doubt, you are his son."
Harry glanced at her and nodded. Slowly he sat back down, feeling a bit uncomfortable with the amazed expressions on the other Slytherins.
"So Dumbledore knew all this time..." Blaise said abruptly, his eyes narrowed.
The other Slytherins waited, having had their own suspicious. Harry nodded weakly.
"And he calls us dark!" Daphne hissed. "That bastard! He trained you to kill your own father and then tortured you for his own sick pleasure!"
The other Slytherins nodded in agreement, looking equally angry.
"How did the Dark Lord take it?" Pansy asked curiously, interrupting Daphne who was continuing to use foul language in regard to Dumbledore.
Harry glanced her way and smiled grimly. "I think Dumbledore will come to regret not killing me in the first place with the way my father has reacted."
The other Slytherins smirked slightly.
"Hopefully we will need a new Headmaster by next year," Draco added viciously.
"So, you're not upset with all of this?" Pansy asked Harry uncertainly.
Harry grinned at her. "To be honest, Parkinson, I've never been happier in my life."
"Pansy," she corrected him, smiling at his response. "After all, you are an honorary Slytherin now."
"Same here," the Italian descendent commented. "It's Blaise, not Zabini."
"Theo," the other boy said seriously. "Theodore is my father."
Harry glanced at the Ice Queen, who was observing him casually. "Daphne will suffice," she said haughtily, but her smile ruined the pureblood mask.
"Well, call me Hadrian then," Harry told them. "But only in private, of course."
They nodded in agreement.
Harry turned to Theo, suddenly in his brotherly protective mode. "Now I heard you have a thing for my best friend..."
Theo went red and eyed the dark-haired boy warily. Harry smirked inwardly. Maybe being around these Slytherins wouldn't be that bad after all.
"So how did your day go?" The Dark Lord asked his son at dinner later that day, after all the Slytherins had gone back home.
Harry stopped cutting his steak and smiled sincerely at his father. "I like them. Pansy is very kind, which is weird seeing since she always insulted me before. Theo reminds me of Hermione, just a bit more carefree. Blaise has a wicked sense of humor, but at the same time he is very dignified about it. And Daphne..." Harry trailed off, uncertain how to sum up the blonde girl. "Well she is certainly much more passionate than she looks."
"Oh?" The Dark Lord raised an eyebrow in interest.
"She wears this mask," Harry said, shrugging. "I always believed she had no feelings. But she was furious about Dumbledore, and although she was much more formal than the other Slytherins she was different than I expected."
The Dark Lord was quiet for a moment. "So do you still miss your old life and your old friends?" he finally asked his son softly.
Harry thought for a few seconds before shaking his head. "Ron and Hermione were basically my only friends. I hardly talked to anyone else. And Ron was always jealous of me. I do miss Hermione, but the Slytherins are getting along with her I guess."
His father looked at Harry curiously. "A Gryffindor muggle-born and the children of my followers?"
"Her and Theo have a bit of a, uh, relationship," Harry said awkwardly.
His father smirked. "Ah, yes, young love." He eyed his son thoughtfully. "Anyone caught your eye yet?"
Harry blushed a vibrant red and shook his head.
For the rest of the dinner he was suddenly very preoccupied with his steak, much to the Dark Lord's amusement.
Harry fell onto the floor ungracefully for the fifth time that night. He rubbed his head furiously as he forced himself back up.
"Maybe we should end the session for tonight," Severus said in a low voice. "You seem distracted."
"No, no," Harry protested, horrified by his offer. "I need to get this down!"
Harry had been trying unsuccessfully for the last hour to push the Potions Master out of his mind, but his stone wall crumbled at any bit of pressure. The Gryffindor was thoroughly frustrated. He couldn't understand what he was doing wrong. According to the occlumency books he has read, this approach should be working well.
"Hadrian, you're exhausted," Severus stated, using the boy's given name as Harry had demanded in the start of the lesson.
Harry shook his head stubbornly. He knew that the man was going to report to his father after the session. He couldn't let Severus tell his father of his failures. He already looked weak, he couldn't add to it.
"Very well," Severus sighed. "Be ready. Legilimens!"
The pressure came instantly. Harry closed his eyes firmly and tried to force the presence out of his mind. For a moment the pressure lessened, and Harry wondered if his defenses were working, but then everything came crashing down.
He was staring at Remus Lupin as he changed into a werewolf... He was being screamed at by his uncle... He was writing lines for Lucius... He was begging his father not to hate him...
Severus pulled out of his mind abruptly, and Harry collapsed on the ground once again. He closed his eyes tightly, not wanting to see the look on his professor's face. That last memory was the most embarrassing for Snape to see.
"Hadrian," the man murmured. "Come sit."
Harry slowly opened his eyes, and was startled to see the Slytherin Head of House watching him with concern. The dark-haired boy hesitantly stood up and took a seat next to his professor.
"Is that what has been distracting you then?"
Harry shook his head, but Severus could tell he was lying.
"Maybe I should speak to the Dark Lord-"
"No!" Harry protested, jumping to his feet. "I'm fine!"
The Potions Master frowned, eyeing him with displeasure.
Harry sat down, avoiding his gaze. He knew that if his professor informed his father about his difficulties in occlumency his father would be very disappointed.
"Very well," Severus said softly. "I shall remain quiet. But know that your worries are unfounded."
Harry head snapped up. He didn't process the professor's last words because he was shocked the man was not going to report all of this back to the Dark Lord.
"I do think we should try a new approach, however," the Potions Master added. "Do you remember reading about redirection?"
Harry frowned, his eyebrows lowering in confusion. "Yes, but it an advanced technique," he said.
"I want you to study it more thoroughly in preparation for our next lesson on Tuesday night."
"But that's three days away!"
The Potions Master nodded. "Yes, I have some other things to take care of," he said vaguely. "Now be on your way. You have some studying to do."
Harry scowled at being dismissed like an impudent child, but turned to leave anyways. Before he opened the door, he looked back over at his professor curiously. He had wondered about a certain person all day.
"Is Lady Lestrange going to be okay?" he asked softly, watching his professor closely for a reaction to his words.
The Slytherin Head of House narrowed his eyes, but nodded his head slowly. "She should wake up in a few days, and then we will have a better outlook on the situation."
"I see," Harry murmured thoughtfully. "I heard she lost her husband in Azkaban?" he inquired after a moment of consideration.
Severus stared at his student with a blank mask. "Yes," he said evenly. "Now off to bed before I give you a detention."
Harry left the room without another word, but he couldn't help but think that there was something more going on between Severus Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange.
Bit of a filler chapter... The Slytherin/Harry interaction wasn't quite how I wanted it, but it was bound to be awkward no matter how I did it. So I just pushed through the "getting to know you" stage and soon they will be quite the dynamic, interesting group. I hope all the characters weren't too OoC. Don't you love the beginning scene with Sev? There are definitely some bottled up emotions concerning Bella!
Next Chapter: Bellatrix wakes up, only to see one Severus Snape! Also, Harry spends more time with the guys in the Slytherin gang. Also, more occlumency! And of course, lots and lots of the Dark Lord!
Thanks for your support, happy reading! :)