An Heir Slithers Once More by treena-ivy-carter

Summary: In a world without hatstalls, how will our young abused hero transform when forced into the Snake Pit. He is brutal. He is strong. He is unforgiving. He is the heir of Serpent Tongue, and will not forgive his enemies for anything. Join Harry Potter in his first year as a Slytherin struggling with a Gryffindor's ideals in a place where they don't fit.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JKR and her various publishers.

Chapter 2: Those Enslaved Once Had a Choice

Monday.

Severus Snape didn't know how it happened that quickly, but by the first morning of the first school day, the day after the Sorting, there were many rumors that Harry Potter was the Heir of Slytherin. He knew there would be rumors of the boy descending into darkness for being sorting into Slytherin's prestigious house, but for the boy himself to be the Heir? Impossible, Snape scoffed.

The first study session with the first years would occur that evening, and then he would assign meeting days for student evaluations and then schedule their follow-up meeting days with him to check for progress. Soon, his thoughts were lost on his mental list of things to schedule and plan for, such as the Peer Group for Students of Troubled Homes. He had to mail the scheduled meeting plans for Sprout to check and then send the modified schedules to the Peers themselves. Pomona Sprout was the head professor of the House Hufflepuff, and Hufflepuff was another house that received a high number of mistreated students.

Many Gryffindors and Ravenclaws might suspect Slytherin to have the highest number of abused children, and they'd be correct, except Hufflepuff received nearly as many. The two houses were polar parallels it seemed. Two paths that rarely diverge or cross, but are the same length and the same thing almost, yet also completely different and separate. Hufflepuffs received the loyal and hardworking with the mistreated either refusing to hate their abuser, remaining completely loyal, and always working for the abuser's love; or the mistreated becomes so loyal to those whom are not abusive towards them that they lean solely on that person or persons. Slytherin, like the Badger house, was also composed of several mistreated students whom either wanted revenge, wanted escape, or wanted power. The Hufflepuffs and Slytherins were polar opposites: the loving versus the hating, the loyal verses the revenger, the hardworking versus the ambitious, the protector verses the poisoner. Yet, though they had their differences, both sought the love of their abuser, but only one gave up and sought a new, better life, as the other had to be taken and forced into a happier, friendlier environment.

It wasn't as if Gryffindor or Ravenclaw did not have their own shares of the Troubled Home kids, it was just significantly less common than in the houses of the Snake or the Badger, both of which seek to hide underground in times of pain. Gryffindors hide behind their own recklessness and bravado, and become brave enough to protect others. Ravenclaws are the polar parallels to the Lions, for they will either have the skies or perish trying like any other falcon or eagle. These were the ones who would bury themselves in their work and books and art, rather than dealing with other humans anymore. Gryffindors, who have also been betrayed by loved ones, will seek new ones, kinder ones and protect them from their own pain. Ravenclaws protect themselves with information and art. Gryffindors seek friendship and nobility, to rise above in glory and war. Ravenclaws, likewise, seek knowledge and wit and facts, to go down in history books as great discoverers and scholars.

It wasn't a stretch to believe that all the houses had their heroes and troubled children and bad eggs and then the rest, but it wasn't as if it was the majority of any house that were abused children.

He began to grade his first batch of papers – how he hated grading. It was almost childish, the hatred. It was always painfully dull, and stupid, and silly. Why don't the imbecilic children know anything? Why can they not write neatly? Why can't they cite their papers properly, or use proper grammar?

Severus could write neatly, cite properly and use correct grammar, and he had been able to since he was younger than eleven. Everyone he knew when he was eleven could do the same as him, in fact they could do better on several occasions, because his handwriting itself was cramped and at times illegible, though it was neat and orderly.

After the first two NEWT classes of the year, he attended dinner solely for the reason of speaking to Professor Sprout about student evaluations.

She had already evaluated Ernest MacMillan and Hannah Abbott, both of whom come from relatively good, middle-class pureblood Wizarding homes. The young blond "Ernie" was, as Pomona described him, arrogant, but loyal. He had befriended a muggleborn called Justin Finch-Fletchley and Hannah. He had apparently read through two of his textbooks, but had to stop to fix Finch-Flethcley's broken music box. Hannah Abbott was shy, her best friend was Susan Bones, and she was already proving to be extremely loyal – she stood up for Susan against a hard-headed Gryffindor pushing her down in the halls to get to class quicker. Said Gryffindor was assigned a week of detention and lost twenty points for harassment.

Sprout was also worried about a half-blood, Zacharias Smith. He was very disloyal and seemed very wary of everyone. She wondered aloud to Severus whether or not he should have gone to Slytherin. Snape, as she was talking, looked over his own House. He had been too busy the night before with the whole stone business to even begin to think about student evaluations, and to determine who needed evaluating first.

His godson, Draco, was sitting between the young Crabbe and Goyle – both of whom, Severus decided to evaluate immediately – and across from Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson and Daphne Greengrass. At the bare end of the table, it was clear who the outcasts were. Millicent Bulstrode sat two seats away from Daphne and was staring apathetically at her food. Diagonal from Millicent was Caeli Moon – a surprise sorting. She was a muggleborn whose grandmother was a squib from a family of traditional Ravenclaws. She was reading a tattered Potions textbook while occasionally taking a bite from her pork. Two seats down from Moon (three down and across from Millicent) sat Harry Potter, who was staring at the ceiling, and his plate remained empty, even though food bowls sat in front of him. At the end of the table, four seats down from Potter and across the table (seven down from Millicent), was Tracey Davis, half-blood, whose family had traditionally been in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.

Blaise Zabini hurried into the hall – Severus had wondered where he had run off to, and had already prepared the detention note – and he sighed as he reluctantly sat next to Harry Potter. Harry Potter, for the first time that dinner, took his eyes off of the complicated enchantments of the sky-ceiling and looked at Blaise questioningly. Blaise pointedly did not look at him, and from what Severus could see, both boys did not speak to one another. A plate appeared in front of Blaise and he hurriedly towered some food on it.

Five minutes after Blaise appeared, the sixth year male Prefect Hydrus LeStrange walked in and sat into his saved seat near the head of the table.

LeStrange locked eyes with his Head of House, but his Occlumency barriers were too strong for Severus to breach without the boy's knowledge and, therefore, his permission. LeStrange pointedly moved his eyes to the side, at the first year boys. He mouthed Potter. Snape scowled to himself. What did Potter do now? A prank, no less, he assumed.

Severus moved his eyes back to the new snakes, specifically on Mr. Potter. He suddenly noticed that Potter was the shortest Slytherin, outside of Draco, but Draco had always been rather small like his mother, whereas Potter's parents had always been tall, muscled and large-boned. Potter was pale, where his parents had a dark, healthy tan. Potter was thin and his robes just drowned his figure, and his shoes were scuffed and worn as if he had had them for several years, and even before then they had been hand-me-downs. Of course, if Severus didn't know better, he could have attributed all of this to subpar finances. He knew that the Dursleys were, of course, getting a pension every month to house the extra child in their care, and it was a rather large pension considering they got one from both the Muggle and Magical governments in the United Kingdom.

Perhaps, Petunia's husband lost his job, and the pension covers all of the household expenses as well? That would certainly explain Potter attacking Draco and Nott. He was angry at their higher-class status, their arrogance, and their frivolous behavior. Obviously, Severus knew that Harry had done it, but the boy was definitely Slytherin enough to make it look like Vincent had at least attacked him as well. He had to admire that amount of cunning in the son of a pair of true-born Gryffindors.

He heard Fillius ask Minerva about the Teacher's Conference three days from now, on the first Thursday of the year, and Severus silenced his own suspicions momentarily.

ƧSƧSƧSƧSƧ

Harry Potter was sure that he was minutes away from a panic attack at all times. Everyone kept staring at him, and pointing. In Charms, when Flitwick had paired them up with their partners for the semester. He was paired with a Ravenclaw called Su Li, who squealed when their names were called in succession. Their first assignment was to ask one another ten questions, and then introduce them to the class.

Su Li – and Harry was still unsure which was supposed to be her first name – warily walked towards Harry's table once he made it clear he was not moving over to her side of the room. She stopped several times and looked around the room and once she reached him, she looked behind her at her fellow Ravenclaws pleadingly. Harry stood and she squealed and reared back. Harry stared at her and pulled out her chair for her.

She looked from him to the offered chair several times before hesitantly sitting down. She nodded once and Harry assumed that was her thanks.

He said, "I am Harry Potter."

"Are you really?" She whispered.

He blinked at her, and pushed his glasses up his nose, "I am."

"Do you have the, you know, the scar?"

Harry cocked his head in confusion. Which scar? I have lots of scars – oh! He flushed once he realized which particular scar she was meaning and moved his hair aside accordingly.

She looked down, "Oh. Then why are you in Slytherin?"

Why are you in Ravenclaw? Harry wanted to snap at her. You're not very smart, are you? But, rather than repeating the spiteful thoughts in his head, he took in a breath, opened his mouth, closed it in defeat, and then shrugged.

She looked away again and her high-pitched voice said, "We should probably do the assignment."

Harry nodded but she didn't notice. She seemed entranced by the desktop at the moment.

They remained in silence for a few moments and Harry looked over at her from the corner of his eye. He sighed and said, "So, are you Muggle-born?"

She turned and glared at him, "No, I am not!"

"Okay, are you pureblood?" His voice remained monotonous and her face grew rather red.

"For your information, I'm a half-blood. My maternal grandfather is Muggle."

Harry nodded and wrote it down on his paper. Quills were very annoying. They didn't work correctly, the ink did what it wanted, half the time the quill didn't write what he said, and when it did, it was illegible.

"Why are you writing that down?" She squeaked at him.

"I'm writing it down for the assignment," he replied quietly.

"Oh," Her face was bordering on purple now.

"What is your favorite color?"

"Purple," That's the color of your face, little Su Li. Have you considered seeing a doctor for that?

The rest of the class continued on that way. At the end of the class Professor Flitwick called for them to go into a circle and introduce their partner.

When the circle reached Su Li and Harry, the room fell ominously silent. Harry looked at Su Li and her face had turned a grayish green. He sighed and began quietly, "Su Li is an eleven year old Ravenclaw who isn't very smart. Her favorite color is purple, she is a half-blood, she dislikes Slytherins, and she thinks Slytherins are automatically evil and should be taken into another room and abracadabraed. She thinks I should have been in Gryffindor, she doesn't like Muggle-borns but she pretends she does, her face can turn a variety of colors, she is suspicious of all Slytherins, and she doesn't like any of the girls in her dorm. She is contemptuous of Professor Flitwick, and she does not like treacle tarts."

The rest of the class stared at Harry Potter and then at Su Li. Su Li's face had turned a rather dark shade of red and she was glaring at Harry, "That is not true at all! You're lying!" She squeaked.

Harry looked at her coolly, "No I am not. I was doing the assignment; you were passing notes with that girl with the ponytail over there." He pointed at Morag McDougal, and her ears turned a dark shade of pink.

"He's lying, Professor! He is!" Su Li squeaked louder, "He's a liar! I don't hate Muggle-borns or halfbreeds! I don't!"

Harry looked pleadingly at the small Professor, "I'm not lying. I'm not. One must not tell lies."

"No, they should not. Mr. Potter, ten points from Slytherin for lying," he said sternly, "Do not do it again."

Harry stared at the minute professor and then bowed his head, mumbling "I'm not a liar."

I am not a liar. I am not a fucking liar.

"What was that, Mr. Potter?"

Harry bit his tongue and his eyes burned as he stared at the ground. A copper taste filled his mouth and when Flitwick hummed and Su Li went on to describe him with fumbling words, he reached up a hand and wiped his mouth. A faint pinkish tinge was attached to the saliva, and his hands shook with his silent rage.

"Harry Potter is eleven years old," Her fingers were moving behind her back, tell-tale signs of her counting the years from his parents' murder to figure out his age, "He is a half-blood. H-his favorite color i-is green. He likes treacle tarts and he has no friends."

She was glancing nervously at Harry as she smiled triumphantly. Flitwick turned away and the witless girl across the room – Morag – began to speak with fumbling words and a childish tone.

Harry stared at her with hooded eyes that burned with a muted rage, begging to lash out like a tiger or a lion. He said with a hissing whisper, "Actually my favorite color is red, like your blood when someone carelessly splatters it on a nice, white wall after bashing your head in for lying."

She squeaked silently and she looked helplessly around her. Suddenly, a flash of blond hair on her left side appeared and Draco hissed into her ear while grabbing her arm in a bruising grip, just loud enough for Harry to overhear, "Snakes don't like lying birds, Li, if you ever mess with one of our kind again – well, birds are a part of a snake's natural diet, you know."

Draco looked from the silent, squeaky, shaking Ravenclaw to Harry. The glare of the candles above shielded his eyes from Draco's interpretation of the dark emotions behind him. Harry's uninterpretable gaze remained on Draco for the rest of class, but the rich boy did not meet his eyes again.

Flitwick finally dismissed them, calling Harry to stay after class. Some foolish souls dared to snicker at this. Su Li was the first out the door, and she was not amongst the mocking. Maybe she does have a bit of a Ravenclaw in her after all.

"Mr. Potter? Come here, please." Flitwick squeaked.

Harry numbly stood and walked towards the podium.

"Are you aware that lying to professors is against the rules of Hogwarts?"

"Yes." Harry replied. Flitwick stared him down until Harry said, "Yes, sir."

He was very uncomfortable with the usage of the word, especially since it was a sign of a respect. Flitwick certainly didn't seem very respectable to him. Plus, Harry had never used that word before and it was very foreign on his tongue. He didn't like it, and he set out to avoid using it whenever he could.

"Please do not lie to me again, or I will take points, or I will have to write to your family."

Harry nodded and turned away, briskly walking out of the classroom and then back to his dorm, deciding to skip dinner. He wasn't very hungry after all.

ƧSƧSƧSƧSƧ

Father,

I got sorted into Slytherin, and have already received ten points for knowledge of hexes in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Our teacher is Quirinius Quirrell, the blood-traitor man who used to teach Muggle Studies. He has a dreadful stutter, wears a turban, stinks of garlic, and is terrified of his own shadow. I believe I will need tutoring over the summer if I am ever going to pass my OWLs or my NEWTs. He is just that stupid.

There are five girl Slytherins and six boy Slytherins (including me). The girls were obviously Pansy, Astoria's older sister Daphne, and Millicent Bulstrode. It was just like you said, Father! There is also a half-blood – Tracey Davis – and a mudblood. It is an absolute disgrace for a mudblood to be a Slytherin! Her name is Caeli Moon, and she is really quiet. The boys are Theodore, Crabbe, Goyle, Blaise, and me. And you won't believe who else! Harry Potter got sorted into Slytherin! The Harry Potter! Scar and all!

And, Father, Potter attacked me during the feast. He threw a plate of food at me, knocked Theodore out with a cup and framed Crabbe all in the span of ten seconds! He scares me. He honestly does. On our way to the infirmary, we got lost (I'm sorry) and Potter awoke a hidden snake carving on the wall and ASKED it for directions. And then, Potter convinced a snake guarding the Common Room to let us in. He's a Parselmouth! Harry Potter is a freaking Parselmouth! But that's not all. When we got to the dorms, I went to shower, and when I came back, the room was a mess and Blaise told me Potter was a Parselmouth (but I already knew that by then), and he destroyed one of the snake carving at the base of the wall, because apparently it wouldn't shut up.

He also threatened a Ravenclaw and has probably done even more that I don't know about, yet.

I fear he will kill us all.

What should I do?

I wish you well. Send my regards to Mother. I miss you. I love you.

DM

ƧSƧSƧSƧSƧ

Tuesday.

"Hello, Slytherin House," Severus said as he billowed into the Common Room after dinner.

"Hello, Professor Snape!" The majority of the house chorused.

"I trust you've all been well over the summer holiday?" He asked casually.

A few of the Peers smiled at him sadly, and he returned their glamoured faces with a nod, already planning to collect them that night for their start-of-year potions. Stupid outdated Ministry – there was no way to remove these children from their homes, and the Ministry had no concept of adoption, or safe houses. There was one rundown Wizarding orphanage, but any child who went there, to put it bluntly, stood more of a chance in Azkaban. However, most of his students knew that, and knew that if it all became too much, they were to owl Snape immediately after… after what had to be done, had been done.

Snape moved his eyes over the other students, briefly looking for outstanding auras of pain or anger. He looked over the first years particularly well and counted them, What the… "LeStrange, where is Mr. Potter?"

Prefect LeStrange walked over the first years and started to visibly count them off, "1,2 –"

"He wasn't at dinner," Blaise said, interrupting the counting.

"Flitwick had him stay after class," Draco said.

"Why did Professor Flitwick have him after class? Was he causing a ruckus?" He hissed.

Tracey Davis shook her head along with several of the others. He turned to her and questioned, "Why then? What did he do?"

"Flitwick said he lied –"

"But he didn't," Draco interrupted.

"Can you read minds, Draco?" Severus turned, glaring at his godson.

"No, but – "

"Then maybe he did!"

"But he didn't!" Millicent whispered.

Blaise looked at his housemates briefly before confirming, "No, he seemed genuinely shocked that Su Li said he lied. She couldn't even come up with the answers to the assignment, which was to tell the class five things about their partner for the year."

"Potter gave a speech about her, practically an entire biography," Draco drawled, "And she – "

"The stupid halfblood couldn't come up with anything!" Theodore quipped.

"In fact, she lied about one of the things!" Davis interjected.

"Silence!" Snape yelled over them, and silent they were.

He glared at them all and began to say something when LeStrange walked into the Common Room, escorting the young morose Harry Potter. Snape immediately turned his boiling gaze upon the boy and opened his mouth to yell once more, but instead a simple hissed whisper came out.

"Why weren't you at dinner? The rules specify right over there" and he pointed for effect "that Slytherins are never to miss a meal! Where were you?!"

Potter looked up at him, green eyes wide behind those hideous glasses of him. He immediately looked down at the floor, his cheeks turning a burning red as he stuttered, "I-I went t-to the li-ibrary, I, I forgot. I-I'm sorry. I di'n't mean to."

Severus glared down at him over his nose and almost let his fury overtake him, but LeStrange shook his head once. He turned his fiery endless gaze onto one of his most favored students and drew in a deep breath and said in a strained voice, "You will receive a letter tomorrow morning denoting when your assigned detention is, your two detentions I mean. You were late for the House meeting."

"I'm sorry." He whispered, gazing at his scuffed up shoes. Severus' glare lingered on him for another moment before he turned his gaze away, "Sit down."

Potter immediately fell to his knees and oriented himself into a Indian style position. LeStrange sat next to him without hesitation.

Severus sighed gruffly before turning to address his house, "Where were we? Oh yes, how are classes going for you?"

For some reason, the first years seemed unwilling to participate much after the outburst with Potter.

ƧSƧSƧSƧSƧ

Wednesday.

My son,

I hope you befriend the young Heir before any trash does. What you have told me is rather alarming, but it is not hopeless yet. I promise.

If you need anything at all to get him close to you, ask.

Your mother sends her regards. I wish you well on your task. I miss you. I love you.

LM

PS. It is unfortunate that the DADA Professor is once again an idiot. Ask Professor Snape to tutor you. He should be the DADA Professor; he is certainly good enough at it.

Draco held the letter in his hand Wednesday morning, reading and rereading it again and again. It spontaneously burst into flames and Draco blinked at the accidental magic. He dropped the paper on his plate and it quickly turned to ash. He looked out of the corner at his eye and saw Theodore rip a letter to shreds before dropping the remains into his glass of pumpkin juice. Blaise Zabini remained sitting next to Potter for some reason the next morning, but all of the competent first year Slytherins knew he had shoved the letter in his bag, as he asked Potter on his day and the homework project for History (an essay on one of Erics or Urics). All of the first years were pointedly not mentioning the day before.

Potter remained silent, staring and stoic. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling, but his mouth moved finally and they all heard his carrying whisper, "The clouds are silver." He piercing gaze wandered over the Dining Hall, "The birds flee as the badgers hide. Lightning strikes lions. Left alone is the serpent, and with the rain he remains."

"Hm?"

Harry clarified, "It's going to rain, soon. Do you know if the charms on the ceiling will create inside rain?"

Caeli Moon, the mudblood, looked up and shook her head, fingering each of her fingers several times as she enunciated, "It will imitate sound, color, and clouds, not the feel itself. Otherwise we'd be rather cold due to the wind right now."

"Shut up, mudblood," Pansy hissed – figuratively, not literally. Harry glared at her, and Pansy immediately cowered before his stare. He looked at Moon, winked and said, "Thank you."

She didn't seem to notice that for she had begun to count her fingertips once more. Later, in Transfiguration, she slipped him a second reply.

Rain, like all water/Is unforgivably cold/But the snake endures.

He replied with a smiley face and another reply:

Snakes die enduring/Though it seems the wisest be/Those who fled the storm/Those Green and Gold fight to die/But is it not best to hide?

She replied: Young snakes are naïve/Young lions die at kings' hands/All those left survive.

What are survivors?/A world only gives and takes/Most just seem to die/Those left are not survivors/but merely those chained to life.

The morbid snake lives/His pain is everlasting/Bound to a cruel world.

They're verbal conversation ended there, before it could really begin, but the two continually sent each other more of the Japanese poems. That is the truest a friendship can be in the Snake Pit it seems.

ƧSƧSƧSƧSƧ

Thursday.

Harry Potter reported to his detention one minute early. Severus sat, grading the summer-homework on his desk. "Have a seat on the chair in front of me." He found it annoying to have to clarify for a student where he must sit down when ordered. What exactly was he dealing with in the young Potter sprog? An idiot? Or was there something more? Something more sinister?

Harry Potter diligently sat without looking up at Severus. Severus had noticed earlier that day how several of his newest "Hatchlings" were extremely wary of the Potter boy. In the hallway, Gregory Goyle had bumped into Potter and actually apologized and picked up his things for him, while Potter remained silent and staring. Potter never seemed to speak, unless called upon. He had made no friends unlike the other students. He kept staring at the walls, as if watching something or waiting for something that no one else could see. He was diligent, and followed orders without question seemingly without protest no matter from whom the orders came.

"What is your favorite colour?"

"Red." Potter replied quietly.

"Why?"

Potter finally looked up at him, surprised.

"Why is your favorite colour red? And don't lie." Severus repeated, scratching a T onto one of his papers.

"I never lie, sir," Potter replied slowly, "Red is vibrant and it's bright. It has many shades such as burgundy or wine. My favorite is amaranth."

Severus finally locked eyes with, "Do you frequently speak in haikus? Is that intentional or something on your part?"

Potter blushed – Severus couldn't think of a condition that caused someone to turn red so quickly, but there must be one. He almost smiled, and the twitch in his lips was almost obvious, "Five, seven, then five syllables make a haiku. My words are tankas. Usually no one tends to notice, but today makes two."

"Is that intentional?"

"Only sometimes, sir," Potter replied, finally back to his nearly monosyllabic speech.

"Who else noticed?" Severus asked, writing a particularly spiteful comment on a Hufflepuff's paper that was then labeled D.

"Caeli Moon noticed. That girl with the blonde pigtails might have too, I guess."

"Please stop that immediately."

"Sorry, Professor," the boy's voice was once again quiet and strained, as if he was always afraid or tired.

"Stop that!" Severus said exasperatedly.

Potter looked him in the eye, terrified, "S-sir?"

"Sorry, Potter. Sometimes you just speak in tankas and haikus and sometimes you just talk in five syllable stretches."

"Oh, I am sorry – " He said. Severus glared,

"Oh, sorry again."

"I apologize?" His brows furrowed and he said very slowly, "I'm sorry." Suddenly he smiled beamingly and looked up at the professor. Almost immediately his smile fell and looked back down at the table.

"So is it really intentional?" Severus asked to clarify, mentally noting everything they were both saying.

"Sometimes, like this morning. I was talking about the rain, and that girl noticed, and that other girl noticed that she noticed. I'm sorry, sir. Sometimes it is really just, well, an accident. Sometimes it's not. I'm sorry."

"It's fine, stop apologizing. It is giving me a headache."

"I'm sor – "

"Potter!"

He ducked his head. Severus stared at him a second, "Clean those cauldrons over there. Don't use magic to clean them. Your supplies are in the cupboard over there under the bezoars."

Once again Potter moved diligently and worked without complaint. At 9, Severus dismissed him and told him that his student evaluation meeting with Snape was scheduled for that Friday eve. Severus watched him leave.

Earlier that day, the sixth year LeStrange came to him in his second year Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw potions class and asked if Potter could have a room separate from the other first years.

"LeStrange, is there an emergency that requires you to interrupt my class?"

"Not at the moment," and before Snape could force the prefect to leave, the boy continued, "But it could potentially turn into one."

His eyebrows raised and he waved a wand at the board and the homework wrote itself upon the blackboard. "Continue working and, if you feel your incompetency may result in a fatal concoction, ask a Ravenclaw to Vanish your potion for you and begin your essay due next Thursday."

The professor and prefect headed into the teacher's office, where he nodded for the prefect to explain.

LeStrange began quickly, and his black-rimmed blue eyes shone with a fear Severus had never seen in them. When he was done and dismissed, Severus sat down at his desk and allowed his shields to drop just for a moment, just to feel an emotion he hadn't felt in almost a decade – terror. And now, with what he knew then, his worry only grew.

Severus knew that right after lunch that Friday he would have his first double class with the first year Slytherins and Gryffindors, and he wondered what stance he should take with the young Harry Potter then.

Potter showed up to every meal today.

That evening he went to the staff meeting and listened. The first staff meeting of the year was usually about the first years.

Pomona gushed about her lot: several loyal little half-blood or Muggle-born loyal little pawns, except she barely said a word about young Zacharias. Lovely badgers, never willing to ferret out someone who does not belong…

According to Flitwick, several of his new Ravenclaws had "great promise." Hermione Granger, though somehow not a Ravenclaw, seemed to be the smartest thing since Mordred the Mage or Rowena Ravenclaw herself. Severus hadn't had her yet, but since everyone was gushing over her, he pegged her as a bigheaded busybody know-it-all. Morag McDougal, half-blood, seemed very stressed out. Michael Corner, half-blood, was very homesick. Padma Patil was visited by her identical Gryffindor twin, Parvati, in the middle of the night. Terry Boot, half-blood, is allergic to treacle tarts and was not aware of this before the Feast. Mandy Brocklehurst, Muggle-born, Morag McDougal, pureblood, and Lisa Turpin, Muggle-born, are fast friends. Anthony Goldstein is rather full of himself. Su Li was lied about in Charms class by Harry Potter. Wait, what? This?

"He even lied about lying!" Flitwick squeaked indigently. Oh c'mon, every child does that! What do you expect, a Hufflepuff?

"What if the girl was lying?" Severus asked suddenly, interjecting into the conversation the first time that evening, "Have you considered that? Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, the Slytherin wasn't lying for once? He sounds like he gave a very thorough representation of who she was, and she gave you what five things? He's eleven, that he has no friends? Anyone, even Sybil, could see that! Did he tell you how his favorite color is actually red? How his absolute favorite is Amaranth? Did he? Or did he just stop talking?" He took a breath, "He does that, you know. He just stops talking. Or he starts stuttering, or speaking in haiku. Do you know what a haiku is?"

Albus stared at him for a moment before saying, "A Haiku is a Japanese poem style where there are three lines: one with 5 on, one with 7 on, and another with five on. On is traditionally translated to syllable, but that isn't exactly what an on is. Does he use metaphor?"

"Occasionally – amaranth; immortality" He said something that made Pomona gasp and Albus look rather grave.

Albus walked forward and clasped Severus' arm, "We'll worry about that later, Severus. Does anyone have anything else about Harry Potter?"

Minerva cleared her throat and began, "Mr. Potter is very inattentive and seems to focus more on staring at the wall than paying attention. However, he was the third in my Slytherin-Hufflepuff class to perfectly perform the transfiguration of the match to needle, and was the first to be able to transfigure it back. He is very quiet and when I commended him for his achievement he looked me as if I was Sybil Trelawney!" Sybil had skipped the meeting as per usual.

"Thank you Minerva. Anything from Gryffindor or Slytherin?"

"Gryffindor has received several promising students. Ron Weasley seems particularly strong at chess but weak in classes…"

The meeting was adjourned soon after their reports. Dumbledore hid away in his office to think.

ƧSƧSƧSƧSƧ

Wednesday Evening, During the House Meeting…

Harry Potter was organizing his things. It was bothering him and Vernon would flip if the room was a mess. Even if he was no longer at the Dursleys, he couldn't afford to test Snape and his House Rules any more than he already had. His bed was made, his clothes were folded fastidiously in color coordinating sections and then into shirts, trousers, cloaks, and robes as well as the school-mandated ties. His Slytherin House watch had beeped at him for dinner when he headed to the library for a book (specifically one on poetry, symbolism and the impending insanity of poets), but he ignored it and it fell silent and hadn't squeaked since.

Harry was scrubbing the floor when the door opened and a familiar voice drawled, "So where's the body you're covering up?"

Harry jumped and turned to stare at LeStrange. He shrugged and continued to scrub the floor.

"You don't need to do that. House elves clean the floor. I mean, it's not against the House rules to let the elves clean the floor only. Professor Snape doesn't expect us to be that precocious or attentive."

Harry ignored him. LeStrange sighed and sat next to him.

"You know, you're late for a House meeting – "

"What?" Harry asked, finally satisfied with the room.

"Didn't your watch tell you?"

"No."

"Well, it should've. May I see?" He held out his hand and Harry stared at it suspiciously, "I promise I won't hurt you. Families, good families, don't hurt each other. I promise." Hydrus looked at him pitifully for a moment, but his expression faded at Harry's slight glare.

Harry stared at him and replied acerbically, "Only freaks deserve to be hurt."

"No one deserves to be hurt by their family. Ever. May I see your watch?" LeStrange asked again.

Harry offered his left arm, and LeStrange tapped it with his wand. He chuckled, "Accidental silencer, nice."

Harry did not reply.

"What's with the cleaning streak, little Snake?"

"It was on the House Rules plaque that the room had to be clean. It wasn't."

"Why wasn't it clean?"

Harry reddened and looked away, "It wouldn't shut up."

"What wouldn't shut up?"

"The snake, the one on the wall by that bed; it was talking just for the sake of hearing its voice and it was grating on my nerves. I asked it to be quiet because no one else would. It, it provoked me. I argued with it. It wouldn't shut up. I scratched it until it shut up. Am – " Harry looked up at LeStrange from under his black fringe, "Am I in trouble?"

LeStrange moved his gaze over to the wall, "It was talking?"

"Yes."

"May I do something?"

Harry nodded.

LeStrange flourished his wand and whispered, "Serpensortia."

A large boa appeared from the end of his wand, "§Amigo! You're okay!§"

Harry almost smiled, "§Hello, amigo. Did you make it to Brazil?§"

Ah, no. I made it to a cargo ship, but the monkeys noticed and called the zoo.§"

I'm sorry.§"

Not your fault, amigo§." The boa returned casually.

"Evanesco!"

The snake dissolved in a black smoke. Harry's eyes widened and he turned to LeStrange, enraged, "Why did you do that? He did nothing to you!"

LeStrange's dark blue eyes were wide and his arm was extended and his wand was pointed towards where the boa had rested. His hand was shaking and his face pale.

"Why? He was my friend, how could you do that?!" Harry's voice was rising in octave and in volume, "He was just a snake, how could you?! Murderer!"

His eyes were wide and watery, childish behind his spectacles. His glasses were slipping down his nose and the tears were slipping down his face, "How could you? How could you?" The room was heating up and Harry could feel his wand (holly, 11 3/4 inches, phoenix feather, very powerful, curious, very curious) burning in his pockets and blood filled images filled his mind.

LeStrange was breathing deeply and dropped his wand, "I'm sorry."

"How could you?" Harry cried, "He was my friend. Why?" The tears in his voice were as obvious as the streaks on his cheeks, "How could you?"

"I am sorry, you know, but you must not do that again, my lor – Potter. If anyone saw you do that, what I did is only the beginning of what they would do to you. If you ever do that in front any non-Slytherin they would torture you and kill you."

"What?" Harry whispered, rage momentarily stunted, "Why?"

"Because people who talk to snakes," LeStrange breathed in deeply, remaining in his kneeling position across from Potter, "People are scared of those kinds of people. They are scared because people like you are very special and very powerful. They are scared because sometimes they can't understand you. No one else knows Parseltongue, except you and a few others who are feared by the rest of the Wizarding World."

"Parseltongue?" The word was thick and rested heavily on Harry's tongue, just like Voldemort's name did.

"Snake language, and you are a Parselmouth, a snake speaker. People are terrified of Parselmouths."

"How can I be speaking another language and not notice?" Harry whispered, wiping away his tears.

"Well you know English so well that you speak it without thinking. That is how Parseltongue works, too."

"Oh." Harry tempered his magic with simple promises of brutal revenge for his one and only friend. He worked on breathing and calming his face.

"I can tell you more later, I promise, but we have to go to the House meeting now. I can dry your face for you. Arefacio."

"Thanks."

"You're welcome, now let's go."

As they walked down the hall, Harry opened his mouth, "LeStrange?"

"Yeah?"

"Why did you kill him?" His voice was monotonous once more. His face was black and his hair was slightly ruffled. The only remaining signs of his distress were in the darkness of his eyes.

LeStrange was silent.

His voice was breathy and whispery. It was barely a question as he said, "Was it because it was the easiest thing to do then?"

LeStrange remained silent.

"Or was it because you wanted to hurt me, since you were just as scared of me as they'd be?"

"Of course not." Harry was impressed. LeStrange's voice easily hid how his hands were still shaking by his side.

They walked in silence after that and before they entered the Common Room Harry replied in seventeen ominous syllables, "You keep thinking that LeStrange, and you will never atone for your sins."

AN. I do actually believe Hermione would have been in Gryffindor anyway, even in a universe without hat stalls. All the people in the canon Ravenclaw had seemed like idiots to me except Luna, and Hermione had always been extremely brave. You have to be brave to be different, you have to be brave to fight for the rights of others, you have to be brave to be hated, and you have to be brave to stand up for what is right. To me, Hermione was the bravest in the book (though Neville was up there on my bravery list; at least second or third). Harry had been the most reckless – I love canon Harry, I do, but he was an idiot (going to a teacher? C'mon we all know Minerva was a death eater – google the phrase "Minerva McGonagall was a death eater", and you shall be convinced). I do not like all of those fics where when kids are resorted, a bunch of them go to different houses. The only few I might give are Seamus Finnegan, Crabbe/Goyle, Hermione and Harry. A few of those fics are well written, but those are the only few I could really imagine being in different houses are those few, but for the sanctity of all that is Potterverse I will keep the Sorting the same except for Harry's placing.

The reason my snakes are not surprised at a human speaking to them, if anyone was wondering, it is because in the canon books, snakes were not very surprised either. All these fanfictions where the snakes are all like, "Oh a speaker? How are you a speaker?" seem a bit odd to me. I mean, there is nothing wrong with those stories, and I like a fair amount of them; but, in my stories, it isn't like that. In fact, the only reason the snake guarding the "Slytherin Nest" connected Harry to Slytherin at all was because she was a carving created by Slytherin himself.