Pretend there's a disclaimer here.

It's been a while, but here's the next chapter. Things are starting to shape up, and we're warming up for some of the more serious action, but the big shiny parts of the story are still kind of far away. Anyway, read on, and enjoy - and feedback is always greatly appreciated!

Chapter 8

"Have a seat, Mister Potter," Dumbledore said, motioning to the bright red armchair on the opposite side of his desk. "And I must insist on your complete honesty," he said as he watched Harry take a seat.

"Alright," Harry said, cautiously doing as told. He barely stopped himself from baring his teeth when he started sinking into the chair, unable to move. Marvolo, I'm sinking into this chair, he said, doing his best not to look around too much. His uncle had never much liked him to look around, and for some reason, Harry found himself reverting to the same sort of behavior around the Headmaster that his uncle had conditioned into him.

Yes, it is rather hideous, isn't it? Marvolo asked. Pay very close attention to everything that happens in this room. Even the smallest details can point out his lies.

There's a shriveled old bird behind him, Harry said, unable to stop staring at the bird.

Marvolo chuckled but didn't say anything.

"You've noticed Fawkes, my boy?" Dumbledore asked with an amused smile.

"What is it?" Harry asked.

"Fawkes is a phoenix. He's getting ready for a molting, of sorts, otherwise he would look much grander," Dumbledore said. "Now, you had a number of professors and portraits worried about you when they couldn't find you. Where were you?"

"I felt like exploring the dungeons today and I ended up getting lost."

"Why did you not ask a portrait for help, then?"

Harry frowned. "I didn't think of it. I don't remember seeing that many portraits in the dungeons, anyway," he said. "I found a room that had a couch and some other things in it and I ended up falling asleep on the couch. I guess I just slept for longer than I'd planned," he said with a slight shrug, not quite meeting the Headmaster's eyes when Dumbledore leaned forward a bit. "After I woke up, I tried to find my way out, and that's when Snape-"

"Professor Snape," Dumbledore corrected.

"Right, that's when he found me," Harry said, pretending like the man hadn't spoken.

Well done, child, Marvolo said before falling silent again. He made sure that Harry was still able to feel his presence, and he seemed to take a great deal of comfort in the fact that the boy relaxed under his warm non-embrace.

Dumbledore said nothing for a moment before he leaned forward. "Are you sure that's everything that happened today?" he asked.

"Why would I not be sure about where I was?" Harry asked, scowling. "Or are you just accusing me of lying?"

The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes dampened slightly. "Do you have any reasons to lie, my boy?" he asked.

Harry's scowl only deepened and he said nothing. He's not going to look in my mind and find anything, is he?

I'm keeping you completely mentally protected, child. You have no need to fear the old man, Marvolo said, sending a wave of confidence to Harry.

"Harry, my boy?"

"We aren't familiar enough for you to use my name so casually, Headmaster," Harry said in a quiet but firm voice. "This is the first time we've spoken, and to be completely honest, I find myself disinclined to repeat this experience. Is there something specific that you wanted to talk about?" he asked.

"You don't like me, my boy?"

Harry scowled again. "I hardly know you well enough to decide whether or not I like you, Headmaster, but I know I've got better things to do than to sit here and be accused of lying," he said. "And I don't particularly appreciate being interrogated, either."

"This is not an interrogation."

Harry smiled suddenly, a cold smile that belonged more to Marvolo than to Harry and, judging by the sudden whispering of one of the numerous portraits in the Headmaster's office, that fact did not go unnoticed. "I sincerely doubt that, Headmaster. Otherwise you would have allowed my Head of House to remain in the room while you questioned me, or you would have given me the opportunity to have someone I trusted in here with me," he said coolly.

"You do not trust your Head of House?" Dumbledore asked.

"I am hardly inclined to trust a man who has been keen to insult my long-dead father every time he catches a glimpse of me," Harry snapped, his eyes narrowing in a manner that was quite similar to the Dark Lord. "He has done nothing to earn my trust, and that is not something that I give out freely."

Reign it in, child. He'll start to get suspicious soon, Marvolo said quietly. Though I am rather impressed.

"Fine," Dumbledore said, though the twinkle had completely gone out of his eyes. "While you were missing, you weren't registered within any of the school wards, and I need to know how you managed to sneak off school grounds without anyone noticing," he said.

"I never left school grounds. I got lost in the dungeons."

"Then how do you explain your disappearance from the wards?" Dumbledore asked.

Harry smiled again, though this one was much less vicious than his other smile. "I would guess it's magic, Headmaster. The professors have all made comments about this castle being close to sentient, so maybe you should take this issue up with the castle itself."

Dumbledore was silent for a long moment, and Harry wondered if perhaps the man was actually speaking with the castle. Instead, after about five minutes, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and looked over at Harry, the twinkle in his eyes back to full-blast. "I don't know if your aunt and uncle told you this, but I knew your parents."

"Strange. I never got the chance," Harry said coldly, his hackles going up at this line of conversation. "Can I go now?"

"I was truly hoping to talk to you, my boy," Dumbledore said.

"Why? You've got like nine hundred other students to worry about, and I haven't asked for help from any of the Professors."

"No, your grades are rather remarkable," he said. "You are among the top of your class, even when compared to the Ravenclaws."

Harry didn't say anything.

He's going to start pushing now. Don't give anything up, but try not to come across too strong. You need to be able to leave here without being assigned any sort of escort, Marvolo said quietly.

"I must admit to a bit of concern about you, though. Both of your parents were sorted into Gryffindor, and there hasn't been a Potter in Slytherin for close to two centuries."

"I don't see how that really matters," Harry said. "I am not my parents."

"No, my boy, you certainly are not," Dumbledore said. "Your magic also tastes a great deal Darker than the other students your age, and that worries me."

"You often go around tasting your underage students, Headmaster?" Harry asked with a cold smirk.

Dumbledore blushed a bright red. "It isn't a literal thing, my boy," he said. "Every student is monitored to make sure that they are not harmed, and your magic has been getting progressively Darker since your first arrival and Sorting here," he said.

"You're the Headmaster," Harry said. "You should know that every witch and wizard tends to be more oriented one way or another, and it isn't illegal to have a Darker orientation than meets your personal approval. There's a whole book on it in the library, and it's not in the Restricted Section, so it should be common knowledge around the school," he said.

Dumbledore was silent, though the blush was still present on his face.

"Can I go now?" Harry asked again.

The man still remained silent.

"Headmaster, I very much doubt that you take this much interest in the other students here, and I have enough difficulty fitting in already, what with being an orphan and some sort of celebrity and all," Harry said. "I really would appreciate being left alone."

"You're having difficulty with the Slytherins."

Harry shook his head. "They've all been perfectly polite, but my social life is really none of your concern," he said.

"The wellbeing of my students, and that concerns any problems that my students are having, is a major concern of mine, my boy. It is a large part of my responsibilities as the Headmaster of this school," he said.

"Stop calling me that," Harry muttered darkly. "I'm not your boy, and I promise I don't need any of your help. May I please go now, Headmaster? I have homework to finish," he said.

Dumbledore let out a heavy sigh, frowning. "I suppose we're done for now, but I want you to come to me if you've got anything you'd like to talk about, no matter how trivial you think it is. Even if it's just something as small as your scar hurting."

Ask him about that, child, Marvolo said quietly.

"Are you expecting my scar to hurt, Headmaster?" Harry asked.

Dumbledore almost seemed to shrug. "Your scar came from a Dark curse that was meant to be lethal, my boy," he said, ignoring the scowl Harry sent him. "And there are those who believe that Lord Voldemort has not, in fact, died," he said, frowning slightly when Harry's eyes narrowed. "Do you fear the man's name?"

Harry scoffed. "The man tried to kill me, Headmaster," he said, standing up and straightening his robes. "Fear is understandable. Please leave me alone from now on." He didn't wait for Dumbledore's response before leaving the office, though he was well aware of the eyes following him out.

Snape was waiting for him in the hallway outside of Dumbledore's office, and he seemed less than pleased that Harry was unscathed. "Using your influence to get out of trouble. You're exactly like your father, aren't you?"

"I really wouldn't know, Professor," Harry said irately. "Seeing as both of my parents were murdered when I was still an infant. If you'll excuse me, I've got better things to do than listening to you insult my father. To be honest, though, I'd probably end up agreeing with whatever you've got to say about him."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I've come to understand that my father was nothing like the hero that the Headmaster wants me to think him to be," Harry said coolly, his green eyes narrowing at Snape. "He was still my father, though, so I will ask that you keep your insults to your self."

"Your arrogance, Potter-"

"Is going to get me into trouble, and my cheek may very well end up getting someone killed. Yes, Professor, I know. You've used the same four insults to me all semester, and contrary to what you may think of me, I do listen," Harry said. "No matter how grating your voice," he added, brushing past the Potions Master and heading down to the Slytherin Common Room, ignoring the man's yells for him to come back.

The Common Room, much as it had been before he'd gone off to Slytherin's chambers, was completely empty. Only two other Slytherins had stayed over the winter holidays, both of them upper years, and they'd spent most of their time in the library or in their dorm rooms.

Harry quickly made his way back to his dorm room, frowning when he noticed that there was a small someone sitting on his bed. With Marvolo once again reaching for his wand, Harry carefully made his way over to the bed, wondering who would have thought it necessary to come looking for him.

"Young Master is being alright!" Dixie said with a grin when she noticed Harry approaching her. She got off the bed and walked over to stand in front of him. "After the young Master is being leaving with the Lord Snake, Charlus is being worried about the young Master, and he is being sending Dixie to make sure that young Master is not being hurt!"

Harry grinned. "No, I'm okay," he said. "How's Rosier?"

"He is being sleeping but recovering. Charlus is being asking Dixie to tell young Master that he is grateful for his help," she said.

Harry nodded, falling silent.

An odd, quiet noise just outside Harry's dorm room a few minutes later surprised the both of them, and a second noise a second later seemed like whatever was making the noise was getting closer.

"You should go back to the Manor before you get caught here. I don't know if house elves that don't work here are supposed to see the students."

"The castle is being allowing Dixie inside, but only into the room where young Master is being sleeping," Dixie said as though that explained everything. Perhaps, Harry thought, it explained something, at least about the Slytherins. Unless this was just some kind of anomaly. "Dixie is being going back to the Manor, but if young Master is being needing anything from Dixie, young Master is being calling for her," she said.

Harry nodded.

"Oh! Charlus is being asking Dixie to write a letter that he is being speaking and to be giving that to young Master before Dixie is being coming back to the Manor," she said, pulling a small scroll out of thin air and handing it to Harry.

"Thanks, Dixie," Harry said.

The house elf beamed, her smile lighting her entire face, and bowed to Harry before disappearing with a loud pop.

Harry heard the slight noise again and quickly put the letter into his nightstand, hoping no one would be searching his room to take anything from him anytime soon.

I think this noise is familiar to me, Marvolo said. Open the door and step aside.


We may be hosting one of the Dark Lord's messenger snakes. Or, perhaps, a guardian.

Harry frowned slightly but moved to do as told. Why would he be sending a letter to me now? I've only just left his company.

Yes, but I am willing to wager that any disciples he has who are still students have gone home to spend the holidays with their families, Marvolo said. And with the wards that the Headmaster has put into place in the castle, our kin has no way of knowing if you've been safely returned to your dorm room, or if you've fallen to the manipulations of the Headmaster. If his messenger can't find you, the snake will return to our kin and then he will rain down all hell to get you back. Stop stalling and open the door.

Harry nodded but opened the door.

A small snake quickly made its way inside the room, ignoring Harry as it moved swiftly but cautiously around the room and started tasting the air to make sure that it was safe.

Carefully, so as not to startle the creature, Harry shut the door, locking it, and moved back over to sit on his bed. As he went, he took the chance to look the snake over. It really was quite beautiful - the entire snake was a glossy black color, and as it slowly relaxed, Harry realized that the snake was some kind of cobra. It wasn't that big, just over two feet, and it was no thicker than his forearm.

Put up the strongest Privacy and Locking Charms you know before you and the snake start speaking. It would not do to allow someone to overhear your conversation, no matter that they won't understand what you're saying, Marvolo said. There was an odd edge in his voice that sounded distinctly like the Dark Lord, and Harry found himself disinclined to disobey the man.

Is someone going to be listening in, do you think?

You were remarkably in control of yourself when you were dealing with both the Headmaster and your Head of House. No doubt the both of them will be interested in learning who taught you that control, Marvolo said. It doesn't help that the Headmaster has been poking at your magic subtly enough to learn that you've been exposed to a great deal of Dark magic, he said quietly, sounding angry. The Headmaster will not be able to so much as taste your magic in the future, I promise you that.

It's alright, Marvolo.

No, child, it isn't, he said. He should not have been able to find that much about you, and I will make sure that you aren't left that vulnerable in the future.

At that statement, Harry perked up a bit. You're going to teach me magic? he asked happily.

To the best of my abilities, child, Marvolo purred, all traces of his anger gone. If anything, he sounded almost pleased at Harry's reaction. But not at the moment, he said. Try not to be rude to your guest.

Harry nodded and looked back at the snake, which was still ignoring him. "Are you lost?" Harry asked quietly as the snake started moving around the room, still tasting the air as it went.

"You are a Speaker!" the snake seemed more pleased than surprised, and it quickly moved onto the bed, stopping just within arm's reach of Harry. "The Snake Lord sent me to find you after he returned you to the chamber of his ancestor."

"How did you get here so quickly?" Harry asked curiously.

"The Snake Lord gave me a gift with his magic, and he allowed me a taste of your magic. It was not difficult for me to find you after tasting it," it said. "Your magic tastes similar to the Snake Lord's magic."

Harry nodded, blushing slightly. "We're kin, or so I've been told," he said. "Do you have a name?"

"I am still quite young. The Snake Lord sent me to ensure you came to no harm, and he requested that I stay with you whenever I could. You are the only one, apart from the Snake Lord, who could provide me with an appropriate name," the snake said. "I am male, though."

"You're a cobra, aren't you?"

"My mother was from somewhere in the African territories before she was captured. The Snake Lord took her from the fool who had hoped to sell my mother as a domesticated pet," the snake hissed angrily, his hood flaring in his anger. "I had only been hatched for a few days, but I remember our journey quite well."

Harry frowned a bit. "Do you know where your mother is?"

"She has been taken back to her territories, though she presented me as a token of her gratitude for the Snake Lord. The Snake Lord has sent me to you in the hopes that I will serve as an adequate guardian for you, if you will have me," he said.

That had Harry smiling. "It would be a privilege," he said. "Slytherin?" he asked, looking up at the empty portrait above the fireplace.

Seconds later, Slytherin moved in and took a seat in the armchair in the painting. "You've returned unharmed, then?"

"Yes, sir," Harry said. "And I think I pissed off my Head of House again, but there was really no way for me not to," he added.

Slytherin smirked slightly. "It is truly a shame that Severus will not allow himself to see just how much you belong in his house."

"He thinks I'm just a carbon copy of my father, who I'm beginning to hate," Harry muttered darkly. "My kin sent a guardian," he said, slipping effortlessly into Parseltongue as he motioned toward the snake.

"He has not lost his good taste, I see. He's sent you a powerful snake," Slytherin said, turning his dark red eyes onto the cobra. "And an African creature as well. You should prepare yourself for an aggressive guardian."

"I will not harm the child," the snake hissed, sounding almost offended.

Slytherin chuckled. "I am well aware of that, little one, but your species is known for becoming incredibly overprotective. I was almost killed by one somewhat similar to you for disagreeing with the man she'd taken as her ward," he said.

"Nagini?" Harry asked curiously.

Slytherin nodded. "Marvolo and I were discussing the possibilities that came with assassinating the sitting Minister of Magic, and when I disagreed with him, she attempted to bite my portrait. Fortunately, Marvolo stopped her from sinking her fangs into my portrait, but I very much doubt she's forgiven me," he said. "Have you named your new companion?"

Harry shook his head. "I've no idea what to name a snake. The ones I've spoken to before have all had names," he said. "I was hoping that you and Marvolo would be able to help me with that," he added, blushing slightly.

Slytherin nodded, at the same time that Marvolo started chuckling.

You are a rather peculiar child, Marvolo said.

"I had an odd encounter with an African man when I was a young man. I believe his name was Ajani, if that strikes your fancy," Slytherin suggested, looking over at the snake.

"Ajani?" the cobra asked, trying the name out. "I suppose it will do."

Harry grinned but said nothing. "You can spend as many nights here in my bed with me as you'd like, and I can probably sneak some food out of the Great Hall when I go in for meals. Is there anything else you need from me?" he asked.

Ajani was silent for a moment, thinking it over. "I can hunt on my own, though the bed is greatly appreciated. You will tell me if you are threatened, and I will likely join you in some of your classes once your term starts again," he said. "And I understand if you choose otherwise, but I would like to join you when you visit the Snake Lord."

Harry nodded.

"Do you have any rules for me?" Ajani asked.

"Just be careful who sees you and don't bite anyone unless I tell you to," Harry said. "You look like you're venomous."

Slytherin cleared his throat, catching the attention of both boy and snake. "Do not allow anyone to find you, but if you are found, you cannot allow anyone to know of your connection to the boy. Your blood has likely been changed permanently, and anyone who knows the older spells will be able to find out that you have been in the presence of your Snake Lord," he said. "You may bite anyone you see as a threat, but do not kill unless the boy gives you explicit permission," he added.

Ajani nodded slightly.

Harry just looked up at Slytherin, posing a silent question.

"You, child, are of my blood. If you are kin to this Snake Lord, then you are kin to me as well," Slytherin said. He looked back over at Ajani. "If you are able to find the entrance to my personal chambers, I will allow you to take shelter there, but only if you need it. I house a basilisk who will not take kindly to strangers coming inside his territory," he said.

Ajani nodded again. He moved off the bed and once again began investigating the room.

"The other door in here should be the bathroom," Harry said, sending a mild burst of wantless magic toward the door, opening it enough for Ajani to be able to move in and out without difficulty. "Are you worried that someone is going to be hunting me and Ajani?" he asked quietly.

"You are a powerful child, Harry, and you are only going to become more powerful as you grow," Slytherin said, switching back to a quiet English. "Not only that, but your continued association with the Dark Lord will permanently change parts of your magic. I expect that over the summer holidays, when the school is closed and you are spending your time with your kin, you will be practicing magic that will also alter your magic. That will have people yearning for your defeat."

"But I'm still just a kid."

Slytherin smiled slightly. "That changes nothing," he said. "You are powerful, and, as many of the other portraits have told me, the atmosphere of the world is leading to a war," he said. "Just making up your mind about the side that you will fight for, and that is a decision that you are going to have to make, likely before you graduate. That one decision will create men and women who will want you dead."

Harry was silent. "I think I've already kind of made my choice," he said.

"Publicly, or with your actions?" Slytherin asked, seeming genuinely curious.

"I aided him," Harry said, unable to meet the portrait's eyes as he spoke. He settled for watching Ajani disappear into the bathroom. "Our kin."

Slytherin cocked his head slightly to the side, looking not unlike a curious, if deadly, cat.

"One of his disciples sought shelter at my family home when I went to see my grandfather, and I sought the Dark Lord's help in making sure the man didn't die," Harry said quietly. "I helped to make sure that Evan Rosier lived, and he's apparently one of the Dark Lord's most faithful men," he said.

Slytherin smirked, though there was a slightly worried look in his eyes. "If that knowledge becomes public, it will certainly work to serve as your declaration of allegiances," he said before falling silent for a few minutes. "From now on, you must be incredibly careful with yourself."

Harry leaned back a bit on his bed, waiting for the Founder to elaborate.

"Do everything you can to make sure that you aren't made vulnerable from now on. Your dorm mates are the sort of people who can be trusted, but be incredibly careful about what you say when you are in the presence of anyone you do not trust," Slytherin said. "And make sure that you're prepared to defend yourself at any given moment. The people who are already invested in this war will not hold back just because you are a child," he said.

Harry nodded, making sure he heard and understood everything that the man was telling him. "Will the Snake Lord teach me ways to protect myself?" he asked.

Slytherin smirked. "No doubt he is making plans as we speak," he said.

He has never allowed something as valuable as you to remain unprotected, child, Marvolo said. I may be limited, but I will do everything I can to protect you until you are once again behind the walls of his haven.

Harry smiled slightly.

"You must also take great care to ensure that no one finds out about your ability to Speak to snakes," Slytherin said. He paused, looking like he was having some sort of internal argument with himself. "It is a gift that only my children possess, but it is a Dark talent. There are those who would take your ability as a sign that you're an enemy and they might take whatever chance they can to kill you because of it," he said.

"That's why Marvolo hasn't let me tell anyone about it?" he asked.

Slytherin nodded.

Harry frowned, saying nothing as he watched Ajani come out of the bathroom.

"This room is safe. For the moment, at least," the cobra said, once again moving onto the bed next to Harry. "Before you try it, I would ask that you don't pick me up without first telling me what you're doing. I have no intention of biting you, but I cannot guarantee I won't react out of instinct," he said.

Harry smiled slightly but nodded.

Someone knocked on the door and Harry fell abruptly silent. He glanced up at Slytherin, who nodded to Harry and sent him a small smile before disappearing from the painting.

"Ajani, hide," Harry said, looking back at his bed, only to frown when he realized that the cobra had disappeared from sight. He looked around the room, making sure that nothing looked too out of place before wandlessly canceling the protective charms he'd cast over the room as he walked over to the door.

Lisette was on the other side, looking almost pleased with herself. She smirked down at Harry when she noticed the suspicious look on his face. "You look like you want help with your History of Magic homework," she said.

"Do I?"

"Snape's on his way back here, and my little birdies tell me he's pissed at you," she said, leaning against the doorframe. "The best way to keep him away from you is to make sure that you're not alone, and that you're doing something productive. I also know for a fact that our charming Head of House likes me just slightly more than he likes you," she said. "Not by much, but it'll be enough to keep him away from you for the moment."

"I'm at the top of my class in History of Magic," Harry said. "And I could write the essay in class and Binns would have no idea," he added.

Lisette grinned. "Transfigurations, then? Or maybe Defense Against the Dark Arts? Either way, I can show you a few tricks, if you'd like," she said. At Harry's skeptical look, she held up a small piece of parchment between her left index and middle fingers. "I've got a request to make sure that you are not left alone in the Common Room when Severus is around," she said. "You can read it if you'd like," she said.

He shook his head. "No thanks, I think I believe you," Harry said. He went back to his bed and opened his trunk, pulling out his schoolbag and taking out a parchment notebook and some of his books. "What tricks can you show me?" he asked.

"Just a few little ones that will help you torment that Weasley brat that kept tormenting you during your first term," she said with a knowing smile. "You don't need to stay in your uniform during holidays, you know."

Harry just shrugged as he pulled off his boots and set his school robe on top of his trunk. "I went exploring the dungeons earlier and these are the warmest clothes I have right now," he said.

Lisette nodded, a knowing look in her eyes. "Did you find the passage that takes you off school grounds?" she asked. "You come up in the middle of the Forbidden Forest, dead in centaur territory."

"But they aren't friendly with the students, are they?" he asked.

"Not even a little bit," she said. "Do you have your wand?"

"It's in my sock, yeah," Harry said.

She laughed quietly. "Alright, here's the first rule you need to know from me. Don't tell anyone where you keep your wand, even if it's only a temporary spot. It gives them an advantage that you can't afford."

Harry frowned slightly. "Why can't I afford it?"

She offered him a wry smile as they headed out into the Common Room. "It's something that no one can afford. This world isn't friendly right now and no one needs to know where you keep your wand or how you use your magic. Now, I'm going to ask you again. Do you have your wand?"

This time, Harry just smirked up at her, not saying a thing.

Lisette nodded. "Better. Any chance you still have a fang on you?"

"That's just entirely inappropriate. I'm an underage child and you should know better," Harry said with a mischievous grin, finding some degree of comfort in the slight weight of the fang on his chest, hidden under his shirt.

"Much better," Lisette said, chuckling as they made themselves comfortable on the couch closest to the fireplace. "Now, what would you like to do to the Weasley boy when the term starts again?" she asked.

"What are you willing to teach me?"

She never had the chance to answer that question, as Severus walked into the Common Room from the door connected to his office. "Potter, what the hell is wrong with you?"

"Nothing that I can think of at the moment, sir," Harry said, narrowing his eyes.

"Professor, I'm giving Harry some pointers in Charms," Lisette said, interrupting anything that either of them could have said.

Snape sent a pointed glare in her direction. "Then perhaps you should go into your rooms for the moment," he said.

It was clear to the three of them that it wasn't really a request, but Lisette just smiled placidly. Harry chose to edge away from her a bit, not liking the suddenly completely calm look in her eyes. Snape, however, seemed to ignore the look in the young woman's eyes.

"You can return to your tutoring session once Potter and I have finished our conversation," Snape said.

"Right, I'm sure I could, but I've never been good at following your orders. I'm afraid I take after my father in that regard." She smiled coldly. "As I recall, you and my father have had a few run-ins before. No doubt you remember him? His reputation does tend to precede him," she said, her tone mild. "I'm a touch saner than my father, but he and I are cut from the same block."

Harry had to bite her tongue at the shocked look on Snape's face, and he found himself wishing for a camera, or some way to preserve this memory forever.

"See, my father likes to take it slow with his victims," Lisette said, her smile taking on a less than sane look. "And when he's done he likes to show me his memories, so he can give me pointers about how to handle myself. He always tells me that he never wants to risk his baby girl getting hurt." She laughed quietly. "He's wanted my godmother to teach me some of what she knows as well. I'm sure you've met Bellatrix before?"

"Get to the point, Miss Rookwood," Snape said, though he was clearly less than comfortable at the moment.

"I'd be more than willing to teach Harry here some of what my father's taught me, and I'm becoming increasingly more confident that you would be my living mannequin," she said. "My godmother made sure that before I came here I was able to manipulate the free will of anyone who decided that I would be easy prey, sir, and she's had me practice those spells every time I go home."

"Miss Rookwood, you should be aware that threatening your Head of House is-"

"Oh, this isn't a threat, Professor," Lisette said quietly. "You'll know when I threaten you because I'll have you backed against a wall with my wand to your throat. Or something else equally as vital to, well, we'll call it your manhood." She watched as the true meaning sank into the Professor's mind. "Now, I believe I was giving Harry a few pointers for his Charms classes," she added. When the Professor said nothing, she smiled coldly up at him. "Goodbye, Professor."

After a few minutes, Snape walked away, looking close to furious.

"That was bloody brilliant," Harry said, watching Snape's retreat and only speaking once Snape was out of earshot.

Lisette didn't say anything. She poked the tip of her wand in Harry's side, giving him a mild shock and catching his full attention.

"Ow! Shit, what was that for?" Harry asked, rubbing his side and trying to edge further away from her.

She wasn't having it, choosing instead to wrap an arm around his shoulders and pull him back to her side. "Now, pay close attention, my darling little firstie," she said with a crazed grin. "If you do one of my spells wrong, you could risk losing your thumbs and we really can't have something like that. Not with one so precious as you," she said. When Harry just nodded, not saying anything, she pressed a kiss to his cheek. "Summon me a rat and I'll show you what you can do to Weasley that is untraceable and only slightly illegal."

Harry nodded again, still not saying anything.

"I think I like her," Ajani said from somewhere in the room.

Harry glanced around the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the cobra. He didn't catch one, but he wasn't really expecting to see the snake with the shadows. The Common Room hadn't been kept fully lit during the term.

"Don't make me feel neglected here, Harry," Lisette said.

"I'm listening," Harry said quietly, looking back over at the young woman. "I'm ready. Teach me."