Disclaimer: Unprofitable fanwork. Credit for some characters unfleshed-out in canon to the good (as well as the delightfully evil and even the breathtakingly dramatic) people of the Hex Files. Heading prompts originally from 20souls, I think, except for the last. All other character and world credit to Rowling. Dunderheads starts with a DUH, people…
As of soon, this fic is part of a series I'm calling the truth is what I see it is. For the purposes of this series, the HP books are to be considered Harry's biography or autobiography. It may or may not have been (ghost)written by Rita Skeeter, but JKR's math and plot holes suggest that Hermione wasn't on the research or editing teams. Therefore this story is:
VARIABLY COMPLIANT WITH LATER BOOKS, including the timeline of who was at school when. Also, I have placed Spinner's end in Nelson, Lancashire. More on both these points in notes at the end of the chapter if you care to read them. :)
About that Rantypants Brewery Swot with the Nose:
twenty things Slytherin knows about him
and one Gryffindor never will.
It was unfortunate that the scraggly, scrawny storm-scarecrow's name came at the late middle of the alphabet. If only he'd been the first one on the stool, or even the last. Then the six minutes of scowling, jolting silence that looked like someone having a flaming row more or less inside their own head (which it was), followed by the alarming wisps of actual flame and smoke that started flickering around the screamless brim could have been stirring, dramatic. If only the pause had been dramatic, instead of an annoying delay of the meal everyone had been waiting all summer for. Then it might have gone some way to mitigate, instead of underlining, the things that had happened on the train.
"Oh, Seth," the titchy redhead with the luminous eyes grabbed his wrist to mourn as he passed the Gryffindor table, looking like he'd just won a very annoying battle whose memory was annoying him in his moment of triumph by still being annoying. "You said you wanted Ravenclaw!"
Shrugging rattily robed shoulders gamely at her, he told her, his unmitigated Lanky as thick as the groundskeeper's Yorkshire, that he had tried reason but it had just kept on being insulting. "An' doan' call me tha' here."
Luke Malfoy (don't call him that to his face; he has a way with the hall statues and the prefects) welcomed him to the table with a warm smile, and made an example of him as soon as they hit the common room.
This was for a) looking violent on his first day so that it couldn't take anyone by surprise later, b) getting Slytherin on the bad side of the teachers by attacking a school relic, c) failing utterly to understand Slytherin, as evidenced by obviously having done damage to said school relic with his own hands and in public, d) talking to mudbloods, e) having no name worth mentioning and a blood-traitor mother and therefore f) being a knutless upstart who couldn't contribute anything to the house, g) looking like a disgrace, and finally, h) sounding like one.
Seth—Severus Severus SEVERUS he was Severus to everybody now—stared up at him through hooded, swollen eyes, and through the crushing disappointment and betrayal and the sheer horrific strangeness of having his body altered by a hex for the first time, a clinical voice, his own and not his own, cold and detached and not for the first time, passed through his mind. He's got the house under his thumb and I won't fall for that smile again and nobody's going to help me.
Just like home, then.
1. As stated, this story is variably compliant with later books. Frex, my basic character and backstory conceptions were formed before we knew how old Narcissa was, and I'm keeping them. If both Narcissa and Lucius were both five years older than Severus, one has to do a lot of tap-dancing to come up with a nonsleazy explanation for why Professor Snape and Mrs. Malfoy were so close she'd trust a homely halfblood climber with a bad attitude who works for a living with the life of her son the daddy's boy using an emotional appeal (for pity's sake (haha)).
If they weren't close, it would have been easier for her to bargain, or to give him something to get out of it (for pity's SAKE!).
Rowling seems to like the childhood sweetheart model a lot, but a five-year gap with an older husband was considered pretty much ideal for arranged marriages. This is useful for various reasons including fertility maximization and giving the husband an experience advantage to help him keep the reigns and not be shamed by being outclassed by his wife.
I don't just mean that the Malfoys are totally and obviously new money and touchy about it; it's a known phenomenon that girls trend about seven years above boys in terms of emotional maturity.
2. The author whitehound has made a good case for putting Spinner's end in Manchester, but I have it in Nelson, Lancashire. Although this former textile mill town didn't have any serial killers running around it during the '60s, to the best of my knowledge, it also doesn't seem to have been nearly as bright and cheerful and busy and successful as Manchester was at that time. It also has the advantage of being near the beautiful Bowland forest, great for gathering plants and a potential attractor for summer homes. That's important because I don't believe Lily could have lived up North for years and escaped without Harry noticing something about her voice, when Hagrid's was so clearly differentiated and Gryffindor doesn't seem to make Seamus feel a need to iron out his accent.
3. I've explained about the Seth-among-muggles thing in my story Album of the SangReal. I think I've put that up here. Of not, it's definitely on AO3.