A New Perspective
Harry pushed the eggs and bacon around on his plate. It was the last breakfast before leaving Hogwarts for the summer and probably his last chance for a full meal for the rest of summer. The mere thought of going back to the Dursley's at Privet Drive made him nauseous, thus not able to eat even this last breakfast. With his Godfather dead, Harry was sure they'd treat him even worse than usual, which meant scant food, back breaking chores and frequent beatings.
He glared at Dumbledore, sitting there on his 'throne', like everything was right in the world, after committing a fifteen-year-old to starvation and prison. Anger boiled up within him as he remembered the stern orders to stay inside the property, preferably inside the house at all times. The Order of the Phoenix would be OUTSIDE, watching, to make sure he didn't leave. Sure, Dumbledore said they were there to protect him, but he didn't believe that piece of crap at all. He was pretty sure they were there to keep him inside.
He sighed, and forced away the desire to just run off screaming, and instead his eyes slid to the Potions Master sitting right next to the Headmaster. The man looked smug, as usual. Maybe he was thinking up new ways of torture for next year, or perhaps the Headmaster had plans for more Occlumency lessons? Harry shuddered at the thought and made the terrible mistake of meeting the man's eyes across the room. Instantly there was a spike of pain in his head and the Greasy Git was in his mind.
Harry's simmering anger erupted, and instead of pushing as he'd tried in vain in the Occlumency lessons, he grabbed a figurative hold on the invading tendril - and pulled.
Harry had time to see the surprised look in Snape's eyes before things went all weird for a moment. He blinked. He blinked again, then looked around himself. He was at the head table, next to Dumbledore and Flitwick. He looked down and saw pale, long fingered hands and a black clad chest through a curtain of greasy black hair. He gulped and threw his eyes across the room, towards the Gryffindor table.
There, at the usual spot, right between Ron and Hermione, sat himself. The look of confusion on the boy's face was priceless. Harry couldn't help himself when he realized just what had happened. He'd switched places with Snape! Oh, this was just priceless! The smirk that came over him was definitely worthy of the Snape-body he was currently in.
It didn't take Harry two seconds to decide what to do once he'd realized what had happened. He made a pained groan and made to favor his left arm. "Headmaster, I need to go," he moaned just loud enough for the old man to hear before he pushed back his chair and stood.
"Be careful, come talk to me when you return as usual," Dumbledore whispered back before he returned to his own food.
Harry put his now longer legs to good use as he strode to the staff exit on the side of the Great Hall. He almost laughed when he felt the robe billow out behind him as he made way towards the floo in the antechamber next to the exit. Only teachers were allowed to use the castle's internal floo-system and he found he'd guessed right as he stepped through to the Gryffindor common room. He took the stairs up to the fifth-year-boys-dorm two or three steps at a time.
He tapped out his trunk pass phrase with Snape's wand "Once a Marauder, always a Marauder!" The trunk obediently opened to reveal the controlled chaos inside. Within half a minute he had grabbed the Marauders Map, his photo album and his Invisibility Cloak. If he was going to switch lives with Snape for the summer, he wasn't about to give the bloody git any advantages. The rest of the stuff in the trunk was pretty much junk, well school-work and junk. Snape was more than welcome to the hand-me-downs. He closed the trunk and reactivated the locks. With some luck the poor potions master wouldn't even be able to get into it. He smirked again as he shrunk the album and map and put them into one of the many pockets he found in his new robes. To make sure nobody saw him leave, he donned the cloak before leaving the dorm room.
As he was about to connect the floo to the entrance hall, he realized he somehow knew the password and address to Snape's personal quarters in the dungeons, as well as the fact that Snape's floo could connect to the outside world. "Perfect!" he chuckled triumphantly. Moments later he stepped through into a large sun-lit room, with windows covering one whole wall. It was amazing, not even Dumbledore's office was this open and airy.
He shook his head and turned back towards the floo. He'd better make sure nobody followed him that way, or got in the rooms by the front door. He placed his wand on the mantel and ordered the password changed, then strode towards the door out of the rooms and changed that password too.
Turning around, looking out across the lake and forest, Harry finally allowed himself to relax momentarily. Whatever Snape was doing in his body, he wouldn't be able to get into his quarters and he probably wouldn't make a fuss in the Great Hall. Dumbledore was already expecting him to leave. He had a few minutes to decide what to do, or more accurately; where to go.
He was in Snape's body. The body felt strangely comfortable and right even though it was different in all dimensions. He frowned as he ran his hands down his robed chest. He felt strong and the clothes comfortable and non-restrictive, even though they were more snug than he was used to. Even the high collar he'd always thought looked like it was choking the potions Professor, was now comfortable. He could barely get a finger in between the collar and his throat, but still it didn't feel confining at all. He frowned, something more than the body had definitely remained of Snape, he knew things he shouldn't; like the passwords and how to change them.
He looked around the room and knew instantly what was behind the three doors; bedroom, library and private lab. The bedroom was made in somber midnight blues and gold, and had a nice en-suite with a large bath, toilet and sink in black marble with gold fittings. White floors with soft black rugs and towels. On the edge of the tub were a long line of potions bottles containing hair-serums and shampoos. All this he knew without even going in there.
He ran a hand through the not so greasy as flat and heavy hair in amazement as he found he could pretty much browse through Snape's memories at will. Somehow he'd not only breached the Occlumency walls, he was behind them and knew exactly how to maintain and build them now. He closed his eyes and looked at the mindscape. Snape's shield was like hard black stone, only now there was a hole blown in it, from the inside. Snape had made a small hole to get his Legillimency-probe out, and Harry had pulled Snape's conscious mind out through it, leaving all his memories behind.
Harry strangely had no problems accessing his own memories, they materialized as needed. It was as if he'd moved into an already furnished flat, and everything he found there was his to use. There was absolutely no privacy for Snape, he had access to pretty much every little memory. When he looked around, the only thing he couldn't find was the emotions associated with the memories. There was a lifetime of knowledge and memories, but they were dry facts, they felt flat and somewhat unreal. Good thing too, it made it easy to separate what was his and what was Snape's.
Harry grinned as he stepped over to the windows to look outside. The rooms seemed to be somewhere high up in a tower, though Snape's knowledge told him the windows were charmed to show the view and the rooms were actually deep into the dungeons. The feed was live though, and he watched as the students began leaving the castle. He didn't know what Snape would do down in the great hall, so he decided he needed to leave too, before he was caught. Who knew how long this would last? Maybe all it took was another eye-contact moment and he'd be back in his own body. He couldn't risk that, not now that he had freedom within grasp.
Quickly, he browsed Snape's memories and soon found an old manor he'd inherited from his maternal grandfather hidden in a dusty corner. Prince Manor, sure sounded grand. He couldn't find any information on why his Professor had never gone there. Must be something highly emotional, he figured.
In his bedroom, he pulled out a small box hidden in his sock-drawer. In it was a gold ring with a rather gaudy silver and black crest. He put it on, something he thought he'd never done before. He frowned; why had he just thought of the room, the drawer and the ring as HIS? A brief moment of pain, and the ring fit snugly on his finger. The snake on the crest hissed at him. "Greetings, Head of Prince." It said.
He grinned. "Thanks, little snake," he hissed back, amazed he could still use the Parseltongue skills.
He stepped out into the parlor again and grabbed the emergency kit from the top of the table next to the door. It contained the potions, ingredients and tools he most commonly needed in the school's and Dark Lord's service, including a couple sets of robes and his Death Eater mask.
"Ring of Prince, take me home!" he ordered, again in snake-tongue.
The Portkey pulled him away, through wards and all. He was dropped off right in front of a huge white marble Castle, complete with turrets, battlements and a moat. He scratched his head as he watched the wondrous sight. "Why did I decide not to go here, again?" he asked himself as he waited for the drawbridge to lower and let him cross the water.
The ring activated on his finger at his words. "This is Slytherin Castle, the ancestral home of all Parselmages. I could not have taken you here without a command in Parseltongue. If you intended to go to the Prince family Manor, you should state so."
"Then can both Harry Potter and Voldemort come here too?" he asked the ring.
"Yes, with their family rings on their fingers, they can travel here."
"Can you tell if Voldemort has been here?"
"The castle was dormant until we arrived. The wards tell me nobody's been here since Lazarus Slytherin died five hundred and sixty years ago."
"And here I stumble on it by pure chance, wonderful." He stepped up to the gate once the bridge had lowered to reveal it and give him access.
Instinctively, again, he knew what to do. He pulled a small silver knife out of a sheath in his sleeve and cut his palm. With a pool of blood in his hand, he banged it flat against the door. "In the name of Severus Snape and Harry Potter, I claim this castle as Mine!" somehow feeling the need to add both names, as he felt strangely like being both at that moment. Maybe he'd take a new name for the duration. Hmm, Harry Snape? Severus Potter? Salazar Prince? No, none sounded right, somehow.
The enormous gate slid open silently at the slightest push. It opened into a large courtyard. Everything was neat and orderly, as if the place had been abandoned only yesterday.
"Welcome home, Lord Prince," came a squeaky voice from right at his feet.
He looked down and found an ancient looking house-elf, bowing. Apparently the elf recognized his Lordship even if he had not used it to claim the castle. "Hello there, little fellow. Who are you?"
The elf looked up. "I's Benny, head elf, My Lord!" it squeaked excitedly. "I's so happy Master is Home!"
"I'm happy to be here, Benny. How about you show me around the place? Maybe there's somewhere I can find more information about the castle and previous Masters?"
"I can do that, Master," the elf eagerly nodded before he sped ahead. "Come this way…"
Harry followed the elf around the grand place, at a pace befitting his new Snapely persona. When he sat down two hours later with a cup of tea and some sandwiches, in a cozy study he was in awe of the place. Hogwarts may be bigger, but Slytherin Castle was grander and better furnished in every way.
It felt like a home. In the weirdest way, it felt like it was HIS home, just like the body he was in was rapidly becoming HIS as well. He checked the time. He'd been in Snape's body mere hours, and he already had trouble separating his memories and Snape's memories, even if Snape's personality wasn't even close to his. When he looked into his mindscape, he could see Potter-memories mixing with the original Snape ones in there. Potter-emotions were attaching to the Snape-memories. He couldn't help wonder what would happen when he went back to his own body. Did he even want to return to being The-Boy-Who-Lived? Maybe he'd let Snape live the full experience with Durzkaban, overprotective Headmaster, Ministry smear-campaigns and Voldemort visions. Maybe after a summer like Harry Potter, the guy would also have some identity-issues?
He found a sheet of parchment and a quill in the desk he sat by. He'd better write the Headmaster.
I am sure you know by now what happened this morning. Professor Snape once again invaded my mind, without my permission, and this time I managed to fight him back. Only, instead of pushing him out, we somehow switched minds. I do not know how it happened, I did not do it on purpose, no matter what the Professor says! As far as I'm concerned, this was HIS doing, so HE will just have to endure the situation.
I told you again and again, that I did not want to go back to the Dursleys. You never listened. Go ahead now and send my body back there, if you wish, I do not care. I intend to enjoy my new freedom as an adult and stay away until school starts up again on September 1st. Find us a solution to the problem in the meantime, or I'll be happy to work as your Potions Master for the next year while you work on it.
I am very disappointed that instead of trying to immediately resolve the situation, you ran off. Because of this I had no choice but to send Professor Snape to Privet Drive with your body as it is your blood that charges the wards there.
I demand that you return to Hogwarts immediately, so that we can switch you back to your normal body. Switches like this have been known to happen with occlumency and Legilimency-students from time to time and can easily be rectified.
Harry laughed heartily when he received the letter from the headmaster along with his breakfast the next morning. Professor Snape was indeed enjoying Durzkaban in his stead. "Serves you good, you bastard!" he sneered as he grabbed another piece of toast. He considered the situation, but couldn't make himself care. The man had made every single Potions-class hell, and whenever he could, he'd belittled and insulted him.
No, it would be for the best if he stayed gone. There was so much to learn at Slytherin Castle, and he would not be able to return until he was seventeen if he switched back. He wondered if he'd have to relearn all the Dark Magic and Potions knowledge that he had inherited from Snape. He didn't want to risk losing all that knowledge and the opportunity to learn even more. He decided to stay. He'd seen hundreds of books and scrolls on Parselmagic and thousands more of other ancient arts he'd never even heard of before.
The reply to his Headmaster's demand came easily.
You may be as disappointed as you want, I do not care. I have found a nice place to spend the summer and will not return to Hogwarts until the new term begins, as I previously stated.
Please do make sure Professor Snape survives the experience without getting me expelled or thrown in Azkaban for underage magic or the murder of my relatives. I will not switch back if he does; I will remain where I am.
He gave the letter to Benny to send, and put the issue right out of his mind, even if he knew he would have to revisit the issue later in the summer. Maybe he'd find a solution in the library. He made sure to keep an eye open.
When the next letter came during dinner three weeks later, he was already completely and irrevocably immersed in Dark Magic.
It is difficult for me to write to you and admit that I had been wrong to keep sending you back to your relatives' house.
As of this morning your body and Professor Snape, had to be transferred to St. Mungo's for severe trauma to the body and face. He somehow managed to alert the guard outside before he passed out. From what we can determine, he's been beaten and starved ever since he was placed there. He even now remains unconscious, but the Healers reassure me he will recover.
I am truly sorry I never believed how difficult your situation there was. I will not allow you to return there, no matter the protection against Voldemort.
"About bloody time someone got through to the old man," Harry blurted out, when he read the letter. Feeling a touch of sympathy for Snape's fate, he then he went back to his dinner. He didn't think much about his old life, he was too busy with his new one.
A whole new way of doing Magic had revealed itself to him on the pages of the ancient scrolls. Parsel Magic was Dark, dangerous and wandless, he loved it. The more ancient magic he learned and the more he practiced from the memories from his new body, the more he changed. Any snake animagus form came easily once he tried it.
The man who two weeks before start of term decided it was time to do the ritual to remove his Dark Mark, was no longer Harry Potter or a copy of Severus Snape. No, he was a Dark Mage who believed himself even stronger than the Dark Lord, thus theoretically able to overcome the magic binding him to Voldemort. Of the ignorant young boy, there wasn't much left.
He certainly had no intention of ever switching back to his weak young body again. Not after finding out what it was like to be healthy and strong. He'd even improved upon the body with the help of some pretty powerful Parsel healing spells. His complexion was now a healthy tan, his nose straight and his teeth even and white. With his long, well washed hair in a ponytail, and with some new clothes, they wouldn't even recognize the body as once belonging to Snape.
The last letter from the headmaster had arrived that morning. It made him finally stop hesitating. Whatever the result of the dangerous ritual, he'd be free from all bindings set upon him.
Professor Snape was able to claim your inheritance from Sirius Black, so he has been staying at Grimmauld Place since he was released from St. Mungo's a month ago. The Weasleys and Ms. Granger wanted to move in with him, but we decided against it, since we have not told anyone what happened between the two of you. Professor Snape feared he'd be unable to fool your closest friends if they were to meet him face to face.
We told The Order that "Professor Snape" has been away on a mission to find some rare potions ingredients for the Dark Lord, thus nobody in the Order was told the truth either.
We await your arrival at Grimmauld Place any time next week for the switch back to normal.
Harry sneered at the thought of even returning, but decided it was time to face his past, and put it to rest before he moved on to his next task. He wouldn't be telling Dumbledore or his Order that he intended to replace the previous Dark Lord.
He had discovered early on that Dark that didn't necessarily mean Evil. A real Dark Lord was needed in the Wizarding World to keep the balance and keep the Dark from running amok and becoming equal to Evil, as had happened with Voldemort. To Harry, Snape was an anomaly. A Dark Wizard didn't belong with the Light. But what choice did a non-Evil Dark Wizard have in the current times? Neutrality?
Snape had evaded the temptation of Evil, even though he'd been tethered to it with the Dark Mark. Snape was the Order's spy against Voldemort, but the Harry version would not be spying, he'd be all out fighting. He'd be fighting for his own cause. Hopefully, he could get the boy-Snape on his side once the man had gotten over the fact that he wouldn't get his old body back after all.
Two days after his final decision, Harry put the finishing touches on the Bond Breaking Ritual he'd created out of several similar older rituals. He was by then certain that it would break his connections to Voldemort. The Mark had been burning on and off all summer, but never managed to do him much damage once he'd started practicing Parsel healing. He'd numbed the area and forgot about it. The most peculiar to Harry, had been the mind-connection to Voldemort he'd had before the switch; it had transferred to the new body. Thus, he'd figured it was some kind of soul-bond, and those could also be broken with a Parsel ritual if it was made by a Parsel Mage. Voldemort was a Parsel Mage.
Satisfied everything was ready; Harry slid off his ceremonial robe and stepped into the circle made out of Parsel Runes. With a wave of his hand, all light was banished and the ritual could begin. It was done entirely in darkness, as were all Dark Parsel rituals. To do the Dark version of this ritual would also mean for Harry to renounce all Light Magic. He would never be able to cast a purely Light spell again, and he'd never be able to return to his old body as long as it was Light.
Voldemort fought his every command, but in the end the Serpent Prince stood victorious. The air of the small ritual room was alive with the Dark Power he'd stolen from Voldemort during the struggle. It was glorious! Laughing in pure joy, he held out his arms, palms up, and drew the Power inside of him. It was as if the dark room was set ablaze with sunlight when the Power filled his eyes and enhanced them.
Overwhelmed, he fell to his knees. "Darkness, hear my plea! I will forever be thy servant, thy champion, thy Lord!"
"So mote it be!" a dark gravelly voice echoed around him.
He knew instantly that in his delirium he'd gone one step too far. Then the comfortable darkness surrounded him like a blanket, he laughed again; this time accepting the Power as his own, making him the true Dark Lord.