Pretend there's a disclaimer here.

I know, another one. What can I say? I was in the middle of class, listening to my teacher talking about a twenty-five page paper that's due around midterms, and I started writing. After that, I had a few more ideas and the plotbunny just sort of gained a life of its own. Based on what I've got so far (which really isn't much), this will eventually be slash, and it will deal with Dark! Harry.

As of this point, I don't have any intentions of abandoning any of my stories, no matter how long it's been since they've been updated. I'm going to try to update at least one of my stories every week.

Other than that, enjoy, and feedback is always appreciated.

There is a reference to child abuse in this chapter, so be forewarned.


As he squirmed on the stool, he could feel the eyes of everyone in the hall watching him. Not just because he was one of the many new students, but because his name happened to be Harry Potter, and he was apparently famous in this new world.

He clenched his eyes shut and did his best to wait for whatever was supposed to happen to happen.

Looking back now, everything had happened so fast that it seemed like a blur.

He knew that, on the morning of his eleventh birthday, Vernon had received a letter that had angered him. Vernon receiving mail wasn't a rare thing, but this letter in particular had been delivered by an owl, of all creatures. When Harry had asked about the letter, and the owl that had delivered it, Vernon had locked him in the basement and Harry hadn't been allowed to eat for three days.

And then, one afternoon, about a month after the letter had arrived, everything changed.

Vernon was off at work, and an impossibly large man had come to the house to take Harry away. He'd found Harry in the back garden, and it was only by chance that the man, who'd introduced himself as Hagrid, hadn't heard him speaking to the young black snakes that had taken shelter in the overgrown bushes along the back fence.

The giant had taken him away, telling him that he was something called a wizard, and that he was going to take Harry to get supplies so he could attend a school called Hogwarts. He'd then taken Harry into a marketplace called Diagon Alley. Harry had found himself the victim of stares and whispers from adults and children alike, and he found it incredibly unpleasant. Instead, he chose to hide against Hagrid as best he could, keeping a tight hold on the sleeve of the man's coat.

In the Alley, they'd visited a few places that Harry recognized - a bank with small, shriveled creatures called goblins and a bookshop that Harry had wanted to spend more time in. The other shops, and there were about half a dozen of them, were completely foreign to him.

He'd gone into one shop without Hagrid and spoken with a man called Ollivander. The older man had told him he had a great deal of potential. Harry had tried out a number of wands, but the only one that had reacted positively was an eleven inch holly wand, with a phoenix feather core. Ollivander had reacted oddly to his choice of wand, and had told Harry that his wand was the brother to a Dark Lord's wand. He still wasn't sure what that meant, so until it became important, Harry would just ignore that fact.

The last shop they went to, though, was what was most interesting to Harry. He'd gone in to get fitted for his new school robes and he'd met a blond boy about his age. Their conversation was pleasant enough, despite Harry's general silence, and it seemed that both boys parted as tentative friends. The boy's father had shown up as Harry finished his conversation with the shop owner, a Madame Malkin, and when he was back at Hagrid's side, he couldn't shake the feeling that he'd been cornered by a predator.

All that had happened the day after his eleventh birthday, and once they'd finished shopping and had gone back to Vernon's house on Privet Drive, it was almost eight at night.

By then, Vernon had been home for a few hours, and he'd been furious that Harry hadn't had dinner ready when he'd made it home an hour ago. When he saw that Harry was accompanied by the giant, his anger had only gotten worse, but he'd hidden it very well. Eleven years of getting angry at Harry had taught him a number of tricks. After all, it wouldn't do to have the neighbors asking questions.

No, Vernon had learned well how to hide his tracks. So he'd played nice with Hagrid, even though he made no attempt to hide his disdain for the man.

Hagrid only left after Vernon promised to take Harry to an impossible station in King's Cross. When the door had shut behind the man, Vernon had gone off on Harry - even going so far as to bring out the belt. Harry hadn't been able to move properly for the rest of the week.

Now, though, everything had changed. He was sitting on a hard wooden stool in the center of a large hall and he had an old, oddly-shaped hat on his head. Everyone in the hall was watching his every move, and they were paying such close attention because his name was Harry Potter.

Truth be told, he much rather preferred the familiar struggles of Vernon's house and his cupboard. He fidgeted a bit and clenched his eyes shut tighter, wishing he could just disappear. Wishing that he could find a way back to Privet Drive, that he could just-

I'd rather you not think that, young man. As disheartening as your past has been, you reek of power and I hope you would know better than to squander such potential.

Harry jumped slightly at the sound of a voice in his head. "Hello?" he asked quietly, his voice barely audible. "Is someone there?"

You needn't speak aloud, boy. Merely direct your thoughts to me.

Harry nodded slightly. What are you?

I am the Sorting Hat, boy, and you have taken up quite a bit of time recounting memories that you'd best try to put behind you. You are in our world, and Fate has plans for you. I will try not to leave you unprepared. Given your upbringing, I can think of only one house that would properly prepare you for what lies ahead. And so, it is to be "SLYTHERIN!"

The last word was yelled so that everyone in the hall could hear, and as it echoed, silence reigned in the hall.

You've been paying attention, boy. Don't try to play dumb, the Hat said when Harry didn't move. Go off to the Slythering table, and make sure that you are prepared for anything that you may come across. As I said, Fate has plans for you, and not all of what awaits you will be pleasant.

Harry nodded again and stood up. He took the Hat off and set it back on the stool before heading to the Slytherin table.

Still, no one showed any signs of reacting to the sorting. A few of the Slytherins nodded to him, though, as he walked over to their table. Not sure how to respond, Harry just offered them a fleeting smile before making his way to an empty spot at the end of the table, near where the other first year Slytherins were sitting.

When he sat down and looked around, the rest of the hall seemed to come back to life. The stern Professor McGonagall cleared her throat and called out the name of the next child to be sorted. The students who were already seated went back to their conversations, and the hall slowly went back to normal.

As the rest of the Sorting continued, and all throughout dinner, Harry found himself the subject of a number of stares. Most of them didn't bother him, but the Headmaster's repeated stares and the looks from one of the other professors, a man in all black with a hook nose, sallow skin and a sour expression, quickly unnerved him and Harry found himself wondering, as he finished eating the meager portions he'd put on his plate, if he would be able to run far enough away to escape the two men's stares.

In the end, he did nothing more than eat his food and listen to the conversations taking place near him. He didn't engage anyone with more than a nod or a slight smile, though.

Once the meal was over, he stood and, along with the other first year Slytherins, followed the sixth year prefect down to the Slytherin Nest, as he'd learned it was called.

The older Slytherins had already made themselves comfortable in the Common Room, and they all watched with masked amusement as the first years were shown into their rooms.

Harry was sharing a dorm room with the five other first year boys.

As soon as the door shut behind them, the others started talking almost excitedly with each other. Harry himself said nothing, choosing instead to observe as the others talked and started claiming their beds.

Soon, the only bed left was against the far wall, almost in a corner. Harry carefully made his way over to the bed, wondering what could happen.

"Hey, Potter!" one of the boys called suddenly.

Harry was only barely able to stop himself from flinching as he turned to speak to the boy.

It was the blond boy from the clothing shop. He thrust his hand out to Harry, who hesitated for a moment before taking it. "I'm Draco Malfoy," he said.

Harry nodded. "We met in Diagon Alley this summer," he said, reminding himself to speak only in English.

Draco smirked. "Yes. I wanted to welcome you to Slytherin," he said. "You'll fit in well here," he said.

"Thank you," Harry said. He looked around at the other boys, a few of whom had come closer after Draco had introduced himself to Harry.

"Have you met anyone else yet?"

"There was a redheaded boy and a girl with bushy hair on the train who tried to take my picture, but they were both sorted into Gryffindor," Harry said.

Draco frowned. "They're going to be more trouble than they're worth. The Weasleys are blood traitors and the girl was a Mudblood," he said. "You'll find better friends here, I guarantee it," he added.

Harry just stayed silent, not entirely sure how to react.

"This is Blaise Zabini," Draco said, pointing to a tall, dark-skinned boy. The boy nodded to Harry but didn't say anything. Instead, he headed over to his bed and sat down. He picked up a book and started reading it, ignoring the rest of the boys in the room.

"And Theo Nott," Draco said. This time he pointed to a taller boy, with black hair and black eyes. He offered Harry a smirk, and Harry almost immediately found himself thinking that the boy reminded him of one of the rabbits he'd seen in Vernon's backyard. He smiled back at the boy.

"It's nice to meet you, Potter," Theo said. He walked up and held out his hand to Harry, who took it. "You're a bit different than I expected."

Harry frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"You're quieter. More refined," he said. "You've got an interesting accent, as well. I haven't heard it before."

Harry smiled slightly. "Thank you, I think," he said.

Theo just nodded, though he kept watching Harry with an almost excited look in his eyes.

Draco smirked. "And the others are Vince Crabbe and Greg Goyle," he said, pointing to the last two boys. Both of them were large, bulky boys, and they grunted a greeting to Harry before going over to their beds and making themselves comfortable. They traded a few chocolate frogs before opening them up and eating them.

"Where have you been living?" Theo asked. "My father was willing to take you in, and I know the Malfoys would have done the same."

Harry shrugged. "I've been staying with my uncle," he said.

"Your uncle?" Draco asked. "Is he a Squib?"

"No," Harry said.

"A Muggle, then?" Theo asked, his expression closing off. "You've been staying with a Muggle? Why?"

"Hagrid told me that my magical guardian thought it was best for me to stay with my family," Harry said. "That I'd be safer there," he said. As he admitted that, he was unable to stop himself from clenching his hands into fists. The action didn't go unnoticed by either boy, but fortunately, neither of them said anything.

"So how much do you know about our world?" Theo asked.

"Not enough," Harry admitted.

Both Theo and Draco frowned, and it looked like Theo was about to say something, but the door opened before he could speak again.

The professor in all black, the man who'd been glaring daggers at him during dinner, walked in. He looked around the room, a sneer forming when he saw Harry standing next to Draco. "I am Professor Snape," he said in a nasally voice. "I am the Head of Slytherin House, and I am also the Potions professor here," he said. "Before I start, do you have any questions?"

No one said anything.

"Good," Snape said. "Now, tomorrow morning, you will all receive your schedules. I expect you to show up promptly for each class, and I do not want to hear that any of you are slacking off in your studies. The other professors will come to me if any of you are acting out," he said.

"Do we get to choose any of our classes?" Blaise asked, looking up from his book.

"Not until your second year," Snape said. "If your grades allow it, some of the professors may recommend certain classes to you. You will have to work hard to get those recommendations." He looked around the room. "There is a rivalry between our house and the Gryffindors. Only a few instances have escalated into outright physical violence. If any of the Gryffindors lash out at you and you require help, you can come to me and I'll keep the issue private if you'd like."

Harry frowned slightly. Maybe he would be able to ask the Professor for help. He just didn't know how to go about asking for it, and he had no intention of cornering himself with a man who didn't seem to like him.

"If you decide to participate in the rivalry, I can only advise you not to get caught," Snape said as he looked around the room. He pinned another glare on Harry before looking away. "If you've got any questions, ask one of the upper years to come find me."

None of the boys moved or said anything, and Snape seemed to approve of that. He nodded to them and left the room, closing it quietly behind himself.

When he was gone, Draco muttered something under his breath before heading over to the bed that he'd claimed for himself. He quickly changed into a pair of silk pajamas and pulled the drapes around his bed shut.

Most of the other boys followed suit a few minutes later, and soon, all but two of the beds were occupied with the drapes drawn shut.

Theo, though, stayed close to Harry. "You aren't going to traipse around like some uneducated Mudblood. I won't have it," he said quietly, inspecting Harry closely.

"Will you teach me, then?" Harry asked. He eyed Theo warily but didn't move from his spot. He didn't appreciate the inspection, but a voice in the back of his head told him that moving now would signify his weakness.

"I suppose I should," Theo said. "We'll start in the morning," he said as he moved over to his bed, which, by chance, was the one next to Harry's bed. He set his wand on the nightstand and pulled a pair of pajamas out of his trunk. "And by the time I'm done, you're going to act like you've been raised with my family," he said.

Harry just nodded, watching as Theo changed.

"Aren't you going to change?" Theo asked as he pulled on a pair of sweatpants.

Harry flushed red and looked down at his clothes. "I don't have anything else. Just these and my school robes," he said, his voice barely audible. "My uncle didn't like to spend too much money on me," he added when Theo scowled at his answer.

"You're about my size. You can have these for now," Theo said, handing a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt to Harry. "And you can wear some of my extra clothes tomorrow, too. I'll Owl my mother and have her send some clothes for you."

"Thank you," Harry said, his face getting redder.

Theo nodded. He watched for a moment as Harry started to change. He opened his mouth to say something when he noticed the medley of bruises on Harry's arms and back, and the marks on his back that looked like he'd been belted, but when he saw the tears falling from behind Harry's glasses, he chose to stay silent.

Harry felt Theo's eyes on him as he quickly changed and he turned his back on the boy, momentarily forgetting the lash marks on his back. When the feeling of being watched intensified, he couldn't stop the tears from welling up in his eyes. Hopefully he wouldn't lose who he hoped would be his first friend because of this.

Theo was silent for a moment after Harry finished changing. "You're not going back to your uncle. Not if this is what he does to you," he said, pointing to one particularly severe bruise on Harry's left arm.

"I don't think I have a choice," he said, tugging on the hem of his shirt in a failed attempt to hide the bruise from sight.

Theo smirked. "My father is a powerful man, and if I tell him that you're in trouble and you need a safe place to go, he'll start working to make sure that happens as soon as he gets my letter. He'll probably put in the forms to adopt you," he said.

Harry stayed silent for a moment. "But it's only because of my name, isn't it?" he asked, feeling a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as the memories of the stares and whispers came back to him.

"No," Theo said quietly. "Not entirely, anyway. This is the sort of thing that lands people in Azkaban for life. I could write him in the morning and let him know to start the process, if you'd like?" he asked.

"I guess," Harry said quietly. "Thank you for the clothes."

Theo nodded. "Good night," he said.

Harry offered him a small smile. "You too," he said.

An odd, almost comfortable silence settled between them before the boys decided to go to their beds. Theo pulled his drapes all the way shut, and it took a moment, but Harry folllowed suit.

He made himself comfortable on the bed, which was softer by far than his half-rotted cot in Vernon's basement. It didn't take him long to fall asleep, and soon he dreaming of hiding in a large, underground chamber, speaking with a snake far larger than the garden snakes in Vernon's backyard.