Chapter Six Part Two
Entering the bowels of the Hogwarts dungeons and nearing the Slytherin common room in a singe file line, Harry heard swift footsteps reverberating off the handsome grey stone corridor. Before he could turn to see who was approaching him, however, a firm grip took his arm and jerked him out of line. Expecting to be shoved against the nearby wall, he was stopped a few inches from it as the grip around his arm loosened.
Looking up and reaching for his wand, Harry detected the dark beetle eyes and defining features of Headmaster Snape in the light of the flickering torches. His hooked nose looked as though it might had been used as target practice during a muggle boxing exhibition, his tamed yet greasy hair forming a curtain above his stern brow.
"You listen to me Mr. Potter," his voice settling into something just above a harsh whisper. Harry sensed Snape's eyes scanning his scar, sweeping down to his own emerald eyes, and finally inspecting another scar beneath his chin left by Uncle Vernon - now glistening with the ointment Aunt Narcissa had treated it with before his departure.
Opening his mouth to speak again, Snape's features relaxed as he stood up straight, closing his mouth again as if due to a loss of words.
"You are not what I expected..." he said at last, his monotone revived yet still quiet and laced with a hint of venom.
Harry could now feel his eyes narrowing in bewilderment.
"I was prepared to grant you a certain amount of leniency upon your arrival here, knowing that your past is not..." Headmaster Snape halted his speech yet again, trailing off as he peered into Harry's emerald eyes yet again, the embers of the torches illuminating their hue. Not even Aralias's presence seemed to distract him from his stare.
"But now that you are in my house," Snape bent down again to meet Harry eye to eye," I feel it only fair to give you warning. One single display of your father's childish and insolent behavior and you will be back on the train with a one way ticket before you can say quidditch. Do I make myself clear?"
Harry, giving a thoughtful stare to floor as he slid his tongue over his teeth, looked back up at the Headmaster.
"My father was a fool, I know that by now. No need to remind me Professor Snape."
Without bothering to wait for a dismissal, Harry turned and marched down the corridor towards the Slytherin common room - leaving Snape with an expression that looked as though he had just been slapped by a muggle. Just as he turned to follow the boy, however, he could have sworn he felt his lips twitch into a brief and unfamiliar smile.
Entering the well appointed Slytherin common room, Harry found that Draco had saved a seat next to him in one of the plush leather chairs. Walking towards him with a silent step so as not to disturb Slughorn's speech, he sat down with a quiet sigh.
"What was that about?" he heard Draco whisper.
"I'll talk to you about it later," Harry whispered back. "But, apparently, Snape new my -"
Just then, the common room portrait - which had been left open by Slughorn on account of Harry's absence - swung open to reveal Headmaster Snape.
"Welcome Slytherins," Snape announced with an unusual amount of excitement in his voice as he walked over to the fireplace that Slughorn was standing in front of. "I hope Professor Slughorn here has given you a... warm introduction?"
"Good," Snape concluded before anyone could get out a word. "There are important matters to discuss."
Relegating himself to an ornate wooden chair on the far side of the room, Professor Slughorn put on a half-way believable smile as Snape continued.
"As a former member of Slytherin myself, I am not under any pretense when I say that I understand your current...predicament. The other houses... Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in particular, despise you. Your classmates will claim foul play in everything and anything in which you succeed. Even the other professors may not always give you a fair shake. Well guess...what? Life...isn't fair."
Snape swept his eyes over his first year Slytherins as they looked on with growing curiosity.
"However, since no one else besides Professor Slughorn and myself will look after you," he continued with bitterness layered in his dry tone, "I will do my best to ensure that you are not slandered when praise is due or cheated when awards are earned. I expect the house cup to fall into Slytherin hands once again, but that cannot but achieved if you do not stick together. Do we understand each other?"
Harry looked around at his classmates only to see that they too were looking about at one another. Only Draco maintained eye contact with Professor Snape, absorbing every word spoken.
"Allow me to explain..." Snape continued. "If there is a disagreement between you and another classmate, that disagreement will be resolved in the privacy of Slytherins. The other houses will exacerbate open discord between the likes of us. If another Slytherin is having trouble with an assignment, you will not leave his or her side until they are experts in the matter. If another Slytherin slips up and breaks the rules...Merlin forbid," Snape paused once again to eye each and every one of his Slytherins, "you are expected to step up and clean up after your fellow Slytherin. I do not care if that person is your best friend or worst enemy, we are all allies in the house of Slytherin, is that clear?"
Following suit to the others around him, Harry obeyed what seemed to be law under the cathedral domed ceiling of the Slytherin common room and nodded his head with a smile one his face.
"Excellent," Snape continued. "You will find that in the end if we do not stick together as Slytherins, our once great house will only be a rotted carcass for the vultures of our enemy to feast upon. As many of you may know by now, division within us is not an option. This is a lesson you needn't forget inside or outside of Hogwarts."
Pausing to let his words sink in, Headmaster Snape turned and walked to the portrait, stopping in the doorway to look back at his students.
"The success for you as individuals depends greatly on the unity of this house as a whole. This is not a hypothesis to be tested," he looked directly into Draco's eyes. "I expect each and every one of you to be the first to arrive at breakfast in the morning. Let's have a...marvelous...term."
Turning on his heel again, Snap grabbed his cape and shut the door as he walked out.
*Before I update again, I'll make sure to post an answer to your reviews. Thanks everyone*