It had been 3 months since the day Harry had the shock of his life during his daily chores, on his 10th birthday no less. Cleaning out the garden was always the worst of the ever-growing list, the hedges pricked him, the mud made him stink and the flies were a constant menace, but for Little Whinging, Surrey, that was about as bad as it got. Finding a snake among the prim hedgerows and perfected flower beds was a rare sight, and even then, these were your typical grass snakes. Perhaps 2 feet long, and not more than a few inches thick, they were nothing special, nor dangerous.
3 months earlier.
"I wish I could be like you.." Harry mumbled sullenly. The snake turned it's head in Harry's direction and glared at his face.
"You are a Speaker, youngling."
The shock was evident on Harry's face. A snake had turned to face him, and spoken at him. Not your everyday occurrence, infact it was unheard of. Harry had never read about speaking snakes in library books, nor heard of them in junior bio class.
"Young one, do not be afraid, you are a Speaker, your will is my command," the snake... hissed. "A speaker has not been talked of for many years, the last was a Slytherin Heir himself. I wonder what you are, youngling... ?"
"Sorry, I must be mad, ignore me, I need to get on with my work. My aunt won't be happy if this isn't done before sundown," Harry whispered, stealing a glance at the kitchen window. Had Aunt Petunia seen this there'd have been hell to pay, not that Harry knew exactly how much. Unbeknownst to Harry, he was a wizard, and talking to snakes a wizard's trait. Yet, as he turned away from the snake, Petunia stormed outside screaming.
"That'll be nothing for you this evening boy! You've been out here hours and it's not yet finished, what have you been up to? You're filthy, get inside, and be careful to stand on the newspaper only! I've just cleaned this kitchen! Be grateful we're nice to you, or you'd find yourself sleeping in the shed!" Hah, thought Harry. I, not you, cleaned the kitchen, and the shed would be far more peaceful than that hellhole of a house. Still, he got up and collected his small shovel. Looking back, there was no snake.
"I knew it was crazy...Talking snakes... These chores are driving me mad, maybe Vernon will send me away, to a hospital... anywere is better than here," Harry muttered, whilst heading in.
Just two days after that chance first meeting, Harry had his crazy illusions cemented firmly in reality after the snake had spoken to him again. Over the few weeks gone, the snake had become a common fixture in the garden, having told Harry mice were constantly at the flower beds, eating seeds, and so he was hunting well. He'd also said that being in the presence of a speaker was an honor, whatever that was, but the snake had said no more on the subject for days now. More often than not, the odd pair would merely talk about the weather, or on occasion the Dursleys and their ways. After explaining the concept of chores, Harry saw the snake's attitude take a puzzling sharp dive, and could only be resolved as anger.
"I don't understand. Chores are chores, these things need doing Aunt Petunia says. Besides, if I don't do them they... they might not let me have any food tonight, and I'm hungry Zak." Zak was Harry's pet name for this common grass snake, after the snake denied having a name already. Zak had no opinion on any name, and so was named after the one kid who had tried to become Harry's friend until Dudley and his gang had ran him off, for good.
"Young Speaker, this is not right. Servant work is for servants, and you are a speaker, this work is unfit for you."
"This is how it's always been! As much as I hate it and them... If I don't do it, I won't be eating tonight, or any other night I don't do my work! You understand?" Harry's temper had errupted. Talking to a snake was sometimes hard work; they didn't understand the concept of relying on someone else for food. When a snake hungered, it hunted and fed. If only it was that simple for me, Harry had thought.
After burning Dudley's breakfast one saturday morning, Harry was sent outside to work without any. Tending to the garden was physical work, and with no food nor energy, difficult and time-consuming. I never see any other people my age doing this, Harry thought. I'm treated horribly by my Aunt, and my Uncle when he's home. Dudley never does any of this. It's so unfair, he silently screamed internally. To make matters worse, Zak had been missing for two days, and it appeared this would be a third. Zak didn't add anything significant to Harry's day, but as odd as a talking snake was, Harry had learnt to accept it and had come to depend on Zak's presence for the one being that did not despise him. Not having that one sane conversation a day was starting to take it's toll on Harry's mood, and he'd very nearly screamed at his Uncle one evening when he was denied use of the bathroom so Dudley could sit in the bath longer. That'd have been a serious punishment, but something the snake had said weeks previous had come rushing back just in time - "Hide your anger with them Harry, they don't care for it, and the effort you expend in hating them could better be used." Zak hadn't expanded on that, even after vigorous questioning as to what exactly he should be spending what little energy he had on. Still, after almost a month of talking to a snake of all things, it appeared working in the garden was going back to old and boring.
How wrong he was. Zak hadn't forgotten about Harry, nor would he give up free mice so easily. Snakes often breed tight-knit communities, and Zak knew more than he was letting on regarding Harry. Zak knew he was no magical snake, but he did know some snakes who were. At a storage factory just outside Little Whinging, the largest snake of the building was a magical Oakland Cobra who'd arrived by mistake from Australia. The Oakland Cobra was over three times longer than Zak, and rarely ventured further than the warehouse and surrounding fields. Other snakes often stayed near the cobra, it was a natural leader. It's magical heritage allowed it to sense humans well before any non-magical snake, and his venom was much more potent to deal with them. Along with hardened scales, much more resistant than your average snake, this cobra was king. Zak knew he was not fit for a speaker's familiar, but the Oakland was, he just had to convince him to leave the warehouse and come to Harry. Speakers were rare, and had he not seen it with his own eyes and heard it himself, even he might not believe one existed here.
8 Days later.
It was during his typical pruning of the flowerbeds that he first heard it. That russle of leaves that announced Zak's usual arrival, but it was too much to hope. Zak had been gone for over a week now, little chance of him returning, Harry thought. He was wrong.
"Young speaker, I have returned."
"Where the hell have you been, I thought you were dead, eaten or stepped on or mowed by nextdoor's grass cuter or..." Harry had just noticed the longer, thicker, dark metallic grey snake infront of Zak, slithering towards him cautiously. This new snake was... Scary. The light glistened on it's scales eerily, it's eyes a deep black that seemed to drill right into you, and it's mouth big enough to wrap around your wrist with fangs sharp enough to maim and injure. Had he not spent a month talking to a snake, Harry would have been running in the opposite direction at this point, chores done or not done. Nothing Petunia could say, nor Vernon could yell, was worth a showdown with... that thing.
"Do not be cautious, young one. Do you really speak our tongue?" The cobra hissed.
Harry steeled himself, and spoke."I am a speaker, yes. So I can talk to all snakes? It's odd that all snakes can talk to a speaker, but that there is very few speakers according to Zak. Who are you?"
"You know by now that we do not name ourselves, I have been told this much by the one you refer as Zak. Zak is a common snake, I am not. Harry, I am a magical snake. I have the ability to bond to a speaker, and you are the only speaker I have ever met. When Zak told you Speakers were rare, he did not say why, and it is time you knew. Only witches and wizards have ever spoken to snakes, at for hundreds of years only one family has shown the ability. You are a Slytherin Harry, and you are a wizard.
Harry was gobsmacked. Not just one, but two talking snakes, one proclaiming to be magical and, he, Harry, servant of the Dursleys, was supposedly a wizard. Well, he'd seen wizards on tv when the Dursleys left him alone, and while the tricks were cool, Harry was always clever enough to work out that they weren't real, and how they were done. He knew magic wasn't real.
"There is no such thing as wizards, I've seen them on tv and they're fakes! What is happening? Why can I talk to snakes?" Harry's temper was rising. He'd have a rough few days with Dudley, a headache from Aunt Petunia's yelling, and was hungry and sweating in the heat of the sun. "Tell me what's happening, or go away! Talking to snakes is stupid, I'm stupid! Is this a joke from the Dursleys? Vernon always calls me a freak, did he do this?" Harry was nothing short of angry. "I won't have anymore of it, I'm not a FREAK!" Harry slammed his clenched fists down to the ground, just infront of the two snakes. He was only kneeling in the mud, it didn't hurt, but the flowerpot Harry was working with before Zak and his companion appeared shattered. Into hundreds of tiny little pieces, instantly.
"That, Harry, was magic. Magic fueled through emotion," The grey hissed.
Ok, first time writing a fanfiction story. Not sure if my writing style suits this type of work, so let me know what you think. Any reviews at all help me, and will give me some motivation to write this story, if there is any interest. I've found FF lacks many stories that deal with parseltongue, and I think it's heavily overlooked in the books and on FF, and this is my attempt to rectify that. This is a short chapter, just to see how it goes. Should expect chapters to be 4000-5000 words after this. Thanks!