A.N. : Oh my goodness, I am so sorry it took me so long to post the next chapter! Unfortunately, work and now college is driving me absolutely up the wall with the amount of things I need to do. Junior year is never fun. I decided this would be a little treat for you all before my midterms, so here's the fifth chapter! My hope is to have the next one out by Halloween at the latest, so keep an eye out for more updates. I'm still writing the next chapters for this story - I anticipate it to cover all seven books somehow, some way. My goal is to try to stay as close to canon as possible with the way this is set up. As I keep mentioning in answer to all of your wonderful reviews - this is not a slash!fic, and there will be no noncanon pairings. People might be out of character, like Lucius and Narcissa for instance, but only as far as they need to be.
I also wanted to thank my loyal readers, reviewers, favoriters, and followers! Your support has been amazing, and I am so sorry once again to have had such a long delay in uploading. Your kind words about this story mean so much to be, and I love reading what you have to say! You guys never fail to make my day. I've been considering making a Tumblr for this story and my other fanfictions, and would like to hear your thoughts on this. If you guys want me to make a Tumblr, I will accept fanart, questions, comments, and other things you may want to include. Just let me know your thoughts, and I will take everything into consideration! I will even take suggestions on set up and what you would like for me to put up on the Tumblr. After all, I want you guys to enjoy this as much as I do, and to be as much of a part of it as possible. You guys deserve to get recognition too - you're all wonderful! :P Alright, enough of my gushing. Please let me know what you think! Can't wait to hear from you all!
The last month before the boys were due to start school went by quickly, and come September first, they were packed, and ready to go after not having slept at all the night before. Dobby and Tripp had bawled like babies when Button found both elves stowed away in the trunks; they were convinced that at least one of the boys was destined to starve without their presence.
Harry and Draco's run-in with Hermione Granger had done more to warn the boys of the dangers of associating with Muggles than anything their parents could them. They were convinced that Muggles, at worst, were like Harry's relatives, and at best would chatter in their ears until they went deaf. And the stories Lucius recounted about exactly what "dentists" did for a living (the boys demanded proof, and were given a book that backed it up), made them think Hermione's parents were professional torturers.
With one last warning to ignore any whispers or glances tossed about due to his presence on the train, the Malfoys took Draco and Harry to King's Cross, and they trooped through the barrier so they'd be allowed to board. Narcissa handed Harry a short note with instructions to give it Professor McGonagall at his sorting.
At the end of the platform, they watched the Weasley boys struggling with their trunks (except Percy, who'd left his "prefect things" for the others to handle). Harry very much wanted to find Ron inside, so long as his stupid sister wasn't going to be around. He thought maybe he'd offer to feed the rat to his owl and then he could tell his father that they owed him a new pet. Lucius saw the excitement on Harry's face and started to say something derisive about the red headed clan, but Narcissa stopped him.
"At least they're Purebloods," she said reasonably. "Be happy he hasn't latched onto a bunch of Muggle-borns." After all, once the truth about "Henry Black" came out that evening, their reputations were going to take a hit with their closest friends, anyway.
The boys found a compartment with people they knew - actually, the people they knew (Pansy and Millicent) found them - and dragged them into the compartment without letting go of their hands once they were seated. Narcissa grinned as Harry and Draco tried to free their hands enough to wave good-bye, but the girls were relentless. Pansy'd staked an early claim on Draco, and Millicent had been over the moon for Harry since he whacked her with the hippogriff during a playdate. Lucius nodded to them both, and then the train was gone.
"I'm so happy you're on the train!" Millicent squealed, and traded holding Harry's hand for wrapping both her arms around one of his. "I didn't think they'd let you go! But... what are you going to do when we get to the school? Won't they just send you home?"
"He's going to Hogwarts, Millie," Draco said, as though she were the dumbest girl who ever lived - even dumber than Ginny Weasley.
"I didn't think they let Squibs attend class," Pansy said with her ugly pug face.
"Don't you call him that!" Millicent had her wand out, threateningly.
Pansy rolled her eyes and sneered.
"What are you going to do with that? You can't even use it yet."
"It's a stick. I can use it to hit you!" Millicent said.
"Or she could throw it and tell the pug to chase it," Harry added.
Pansy stuck her nose in the air.
The compartment door opened and two large boys joined them. They looked a cross between confused and embarrassed as they each took a seat on the other side of one of the girls - it was the only space left.
"Father said I was supposed to sit with you," Goyle said.
"So did mine," said Crabbe. "He thought maybe there'd be trouble because of... you know." He jerked his head at Harry.
"I am not a Squib, Greg!" Harry shouted. He'd forgotten the door was open and the people in the compartment across from theirs peeked in at the shout.
"I'm still supposed to sit here," Crabbe shrugged and leaned back in his seat.
Goyle bought enough chocolate frogs for the compartment and they all started to munch them; the girls weren't happy at all that they were no longer alone with Draco and Harry, but there wasn't much they could do about it.
As the four boys were comparing their frog cards ("Why do I always get DumbleSnore?") and trying to find something to talk about that didn't inevitably lead back to Harry's being a Squib and the fact that he was no doubt destined for shame and humiliation at school (everything led to that topic, thanks to Pansy) the door opened again.
They all looked up to find the bushy haired Muggleborn standing there with a distraught young man who was in tears.
"What d'you want Mudb-"
Draco slammed a hand over Pansy's mouth.
"Shut it, Parkinson, her parents are dentists."
Pansy had no idea what that meant, but she stopped the insult.
"What's wrong Hermione?" Harry asked.
"Has anyone seen a toad?" Hermione asked. "Neville's lost one."
"If I'd brought a toad, I'd have lost it, too," Pansy sneered. "No one brings toads anymore!"
"If you'd brought a toad, it would have lost you, I'm sure," Hermione said and flounced out with Neville behind her.
"Why that no good, little Mudb-"
Both Draco and Harry tackled her before she could finish. They spent the rest of the train ride recounting stories of Muggle monsters who pulled out children's teeth and drilled holes in them. They tried to explain braces, but Millicent almost fainted. Crabbe and Goyle decided chocolate was no longer their favorite flavor and thought they might stick to fruit for a while.
When the train stopped, a booming voice called out to those on board, directing all first year students to gather on the platform. Pansy and Millicent, still dragging Draco and Harry by the hand, pulled them into the group where they found an exceptionally large man holding up a lantern.
"All right, you lot, Firs Years wif me. Let's go! Name's Hagrid, by the by."
"He's a savage," Millicent whispered. "Father told me all about him. He lives in a hut and kills wild animals with his teeth." Harry wondered if perhaps he wouldn't be safer walking with Hermione than Millicent. Even a savage wouldn't bother a dentist's daughter.
Hagrid led them to a lake and told them all to get into a bunch of waiting boats. Pansy and Milicent pulled Draco and Harry into a boat with them. Hagrid had one to himself. Crabbe and Goyle were stuck with a couple of twin girls who kept trying to squeeze past them for a better look, and Hermione, Neville (and his toad!), Ron Weasley, and a boy with dreadlocks were up front somewhere. The boats drifted along until they were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the castle they'd soon call home.
Everything else seemed to pass in a blur. They were hurried inside, without much time to look around, and left in a room where ghosts - real live, er dead, ghosts - came to say hello. Then just as they'd started calming their nerves from that encounter, a severe woman in green robes and a tight bun shooed them all into an even bigger room full of people and tables and floating candles. And everyone was staring at them.
The First Years gave a collective gulp and turned their eyes to the top table which was full of teachers.
The teachers' table wasn't quite as organized as usual, in fact, it was in an all-out uproar. They'd managed to pick out the children of the familiar families they knew, and while they knew that Harry Potter was there somewhere amongst the unknowns (his presence had been confirmed by the Hogwart's Express itself), it was the arrival of Draco Malfoy's "brother" causing them distress.
"Surely Lucius doesn't expect that poor child to stay here!" McGonagall said. "Severus, you need to contact him this instant and see what this is about."
"It's the middle of the night on the first day of school. I'm sure Lucius and Narcissa are out enjoying their freedom," Snape said, trying not to smirk at her response.
"But the boy can't stay here!" Even little Flitwick was incensed at the idea of a Squib being subjected to the humiliation of trying to keep up with magical lessons. "How is he supposed to do his work? Without a wand, it's impossible!"
"It appears he has a wand," Snape said, and indeed, like many of the nervous youngsters, Harry had taken his wand out and was clutching it like a safety blanket.
"This is cruelty of the highest order," Sprout said, distastefully. "Malfoy thinks he can bully the school into keeping a child who has no hope of attending class! It's unheard of! Call the Board of Governors, Albus; tell them what one of their members is doing. It's an abuse of power!"
"Wouldn't've thought Narcissa Malfoy would be so cruel to one of her own," Filch, the caretaker, mumbled behind them. "Thought she liked kids. Thought she took the boy in to protect him, not to make him pay for her dislike of his father." Filch was a Squib himself, and he knew exactly what Henry Black was in for. He'd be a public spectacle with a family like the one he was stuck with.
"Perhaps we should start the Sorting and deal with this later," Snape suggested. "The students are starting to wonder what's going on up here. If the boy can't be sorted, simply send him to Slytherin for the meal, and I'll deal with it."
They didn't like it, but there was nothing much they could do. This was simply something they hadn't planned for. McGonagall took the Hat and scroll from Dumbledore and walked up to the sorting stool on the stage. She sat the hat down, and the whole time it sang its song to extoll the virtues of the different houses, she was dreading the look on Henry Black's face when he realized he'd been skipped over. She even took one last, desperate, look at the list to see if a miracle had occurred and the child's name had appeared, but no. There was no Henry Black there.
And why was Severus Snape suddenly looking so smug?
McGonagall started the Sorting, paying little attention to who was a Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw or Gryffindor or Slytherin. Most of them were fairly obvious, like the Malfoy in green, and she was fairly certain she was to be burdened with another Weasley by the end of the night. The talkative Muggle-born girl was a bit of a shock, since her manner seemed more befitting a Ravenclaw. The Parkinson girl was declared a Slytherin almost as quickly as Malfoy had been, and that was no surprise, either.
The crowd of students yet to be sorted was growing thinner and thinner, and there was poor Henry Black, still waiting expectantly, grinning at Draco Malfoy now and then. It broke her heart, and only the next name on the list was enough to make her pay attention to anything other than that little boy.
"Harry Potter," she called.
The room went dead silent and every eye fixed on the stage.
Harry took a breath and shot a glance at Draco, who gave him a thumbs up. He looked up at the teachers' table and Snape nodded for him to go on, and then Henry Black was shouldering his way through what was left of the crowd.
McGonagall was panicking. What was she supposed to do? Was the boy tired of waiting, and now intended to demand a turn with the Hat? Why did he have to pick now, of all times, to throw a tantrum?
But there was no tantrum. He walked straight up to her and handed her a folded parchment. Unsure what else to do, she took it and unfolded it, and was suddenly very grateful for the parchment stand that kept her from falling over completely.
She looked up at the teachers' table and saw looks of shock and dread on every face - except Snape's. The no good snake was GRINNING! He knew about this!
Dumbledore looked concerned, and started to stand, but she held a hand up to stop him, and collected herself. He was definitely going to need to be sitting down for this one. McGonagall took out her wand, touched it to the boy's head, and removed the glamours as instructed by Narcissa's note. And every mouth in the Great Hall gasped at the same time, so that she wondered if they hadn't gulped in all the air.
"Go ahead and sit down, Mr... Potter..." she said slowly to the now dark haired boy, and she was sure she heard the sound of at least one body hitting the floor (hopefully not Albus) behind her.
Harry did as he was told, and then the Sorting Hat was dropped over his eyes.
Hmmm... I remember a boy with hair like this... Your father couldn't control his either... and I see there's some of your mother's mind in you to go with his bravery.
The Hat was talking to him!
And what's this? A lion raised in a viper's nest... very tricky aren't you, Mr. Potter... very, very tricky, and very, very smart...
But not smarter than me. I've a mind to put you in Hufflepuff, just to teach you a lesson! Sneaking around and trying to confuse things!
"Oh no, please," Harry said. "Mum said she'd feed my robes to a Niffler if they were yellow!"
The Hat laughed.
Then where do you think I should put you?
"Could you put me with my brother? I'd like that."
You think of young Malfoy as your brother, do you... interesting. Very interesting... I certainly sense the snakes' cunning in you...
"Thank you. I really want to be in Slytherin, Mr. Hat. Uncle Severus is the Head of House you know."
I did know that - the Hat chuckled - but did you know that your Mum and Dad were in Gryffindor?
Are you afraid that being in Gryffindor will mean your brother and Uncle won't approve of you anymore?
"No. Mum and Father have thought I'd be in Gryffindor for years, but I was hoping..."
Yes! A bit of your biological mother's and father's world is just what you need to balance you out!
You should listen to your Mum and Father then. I think maybe you've already learned what you can from the snakes. They've taught you cunning, but it's with the lion pride you'll find your friends and learn to use that natural bravery I sense in you.
"No, please listen..."
Harry, please trust me. You've excelled at being Henry Black, now you need to learn how to be Harry Potter. Love knows the bounds of no House, dear child.
"GRYFFINDOR!" the Hat shouted.
Harry pulled it off, a little sad and very confused, but the shouting hadn't stopped. The entire room echoed with the angry voices from the teacher's table, and all the students' eyes were wide and staring. Harry didn't know what had happened, but he was fairly certain that it was his fault.
To Professor Minerva McGonagall,
There's no sense or time to berate me for what I am about to tell you, and as I am not there to hear it, there's no point in screaming. The boy standing in front of you is not, as you no doubt believe, a Black or a Squib. He is, in fact, the son of James and Lily Potter; his name is Harry, but I'm sure you know that, too.
To keep this missive short, I'll only say that I removed him from his Aunt's care for his own good. She was abusing the boy to the detriment of his health, and I can provide the proof you'll demand. My husband and I kept the child hidden for his safety. I'm sure you can understand why it would have been dangerous to use his given name among some of our social circle.
All you need to do is remove the glamours from his skin and hair, and you'll see Harry as he really is. If you have any immediate questions, you can direct them at Severus, but understand that he was not privy to the more complex decisions concerning Harry's care. He'll be able to negate your fears about Harry's treatment while with us.
I implore you, please ignore whatever gut-check Gryffindor reaction is brewing in your temper and look at Harry. He's a happy child, which he was not when his Aunt threw him out like a stray cat. And I promise you, if you do anything to upset my son over this - YES, MY SON - I have absolutely no problem with attending a family reunion in Azkaban for what I will do to you in retaliation.
McGonagall stared at the letter in her hands, and then at the young blonde boy in front of her. She knew the others were waiting, both to see what this supposed Squib was doing and to see which unknown boy in the audience was Harry Potter.
Choking down her shock and fury, she did what was best for the boy, kept quiet for now, and tapped her wand to his head, breaking the glamours. The change was immediate and more dramatic than she was prepared for. The slick platinum hair turned black and wild, just as James' had been. His skin turned a darker shade, some of the angles seemed to tilt at his cheeks and chin, and more of James came out in him. The only thing that stayed the same was his stature and those bright green eyes - which she was shocked to realize were identical to Lily Evans'. And right between them was a jagged scar that looked like a lightning bolt cut into his skin.
She shook herself back to her senses and saw that the child was smiling at her, waiting for his chance with the Hat. At the teachers' table, Severus Snape was smiling in a way she'd never seen before, and she felt the fury rise again. He'd gotten one past Dumbledore, and was thoroughly enjoying the revelation! Oh, she had a few words for that young man...
But first, there was Potter to deal with.
Harry hopped up on the stool and she dropped the hat over his eyes - and then Armageddon broke out.
Dumbledore was no fool, contrary to the way he acted most of the time, and as soon as the disguise fell away the last ten years' worth of deceptions came clear in his mind.
"That's Harry Potter?" the old man shouted, scaring several of the younger students. Those who could paled at the sound of power crackling in his voice. Those who couldn't pale looked suddenly sick.
McGonagall didn't know what to do. She didn't want to leave Harry alone on the stage, but as the Deputy Headmistress, she couldn't very well let the Headmaster have a breakdown in the middle of the Sorting! And it seemed that the Hat and the child were having a bit of a discussion themselves, so she went back to the teachers' table and tried to diffuse things before the Great Hall was blown to bits and they lost seven years' worth of students... the school would never recover its reputation after that.
"Albus, sit down. Poppy will kill me if I let your blood pressure blow up."
"Yes Albus, sit," Snape hissed. "Have a lemon drop."
Was the man actually trying to make Dumbledore's heart stop? The mention of the familiar sweet the old man used as an all-purpose cure did nothing to calm him down. It just redirected his rage.
"The Malfoys! Harry Potter has been with the Malfoys for ten years?"
"Apparently," McGonagall said.
"How did you not know about this, Severus? Malfoy's had you tutoring them both for years... YOU KNEW! YOU KNEW THAT CHILD WASN'T A SQUIB!"
"Obviously," Snape said, sounding almost bored.
"How could you keep something like this from me, Severus? I needed to know where that boy was. I needed him protected, not living in the viper's nest!"
"He was protected - well - by both Lucius and myself, and I doubt even you could have gotten past Narcissa," Snape said. He didn't bother to mention the pair of particularly rabid House Elves.
"After you gave me your word, Severus. You swore to protect Lily's son. You promised me-"
"You do not want to put your protection of that boy up against mine, Albus," Snape said in his most deadly rasp. "I'm sure Narcissa mentioned in the letter Minerva's yet to relinquish just how poorly cared for you left him."
"He was with his blood relatives! It was the safest place for him, and still is!"
"Then perhaps you should inquire at St. Mungo's just how much of that precious blood was spilled before the Malfoys arrived. I've seen the report - certified by the physicians. It wasn't pleasant reading."
"Placing him with blood relatives ensures Voldemort can't touch him! Living with Death Eaters does not!"
"It might interest you to know, Headmaster, that not even The Dark Lord himself could have pried that child out of Lucius' hands. And I'm certain of that from first-hand experience."
"What are you talking about?" Dumbledore demanded.
"Something best not discussed here and now. There are far too many people interested in this conversation."
Dumbledore's fury had been a blind one, and he was, in fact, unaware that his raised voice was echoing about the room and that all of the students were straining to understand his words. Thankfully, their volume didn't provide clarity, so all anyone heard was the anger itself.
"Excuse me," a small voice said. McGonagall felt someone tugging on her robes and turned to see Harry standing there with the Sorting Hat in his hand. "I didn't know what to do with the Hat. I'm finished." He handed it to her.
"Thank you, Mr. Blac- I mean Mr. Potter," she said. She hadn't even heard where he'd been placed, and watched with ill-concealed relief as he sat beside the Weasley twins at the Gryffindor table.
Draco was visibly disappointed, as was Potter, but neither argued with their placements. McGonagall went back to the stage, and the Sorting finished quickly without any further excitement, and the feast got under way just as a very late arrival stumbled in, securing a ridiculous purple turban around his head and found his seat at the teachers' table next to Snape.
"Who's that?" Harry asked. The new arrival kept glancing his way and when their eyes met, he felt a familiar stab of pain in his forehead.
"Professor Quirrell," Percy said, grimacing at Ron's lack of table manners. "He's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Stole the job from that dungeon bat, Snape."
"He's not a bat," Harry snapped. Now his head was hurting something awful, and he had to put it down on the table. He wondered if taking the glamours off had done it.
"You all right?" Ron asked. He didn't really want to talk to Harry, but not even someone raised by Malfoys should miss out on the opening feast because they're sick.
"My head hurts," he moaned. "I think Mum's glamours were too strong or something."
"You call her Mum?"
"Of course I do," Harry said, still face down on the table. "What do you call your mother?"
"But she's not really your mother, is she?"
"She is too my mother!" Harry screamed. He grabbed his head again. "Ow."
"Hey, Perce," Fred said. "Maybe you oughtta take the Firstie to Pomfrey, mighty Prefect. Looks like he might not make it through the feast otherwise."
Percy looked longingly at his roast beef, but gave a dignified nod, stood and straightened his robes, then guided Harry out of the Great Hall by his shoulders. Draco Malfoy jumped up from the Slytherin table and went with them, and at the teachers' table, Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape all stood.
"Stay here, Albus," McGonagall said. "You have to close the ceremony."
"Harry's in my House; Draco's in Severus'. We can handle the boys. You stay and play doting grandpa."
Snape tried not to laugh... he really did. McGonagall smacked him on the arm.
"Not helpful, Severus. You know how he is," she whispered as they made their way to the hospital.
"Yes, and I also know what causes Harry's headaches," he said. "He only gets them when exposed to the Dark Mark or a Dark artifact. It used to break the glamour when he was little so his scar bled through."
"He grabbed my arm once when he was five and the same thing happened," he said, leaving out the parts about Lucius. The Malfoys had never publicly admitted to being Death Eaters, and he wasn't about to oust them.
"But what would have caused such a reaction here?"
"I don't know, but this is not a good thing," Severus said.
They entered the hospital ward, told Percy to go back to the feast, and found Harry sitting on a bed while Poppy tried to shoo Draco away.
"Absolutely not!" she said. "You are not allowed in here. Only family can visit in the hospital ward!"
"But he's my brother!" Draco insisted.
"It's far too early in the year for pranks, Mr. Malfoy. I am not letting you accost a sick child!"
"It's all right, Poppy," McGonagall said. "He's telling the truth."
"It would appear that nothing about Mr. Potter is as simple as it should be. Draco won't do him any damage."
"Then I guess you can go in, young man," Poppy said, and Draco dashed past her.
Snape slid around her as well and pulled a chair up beside the bed. He picked up a potions bottle from the side table and held it out for Harry to drink. Harry made a face, but drank the potion and lay back in bed. Snape took his glasses, set them on the table and smoothed his hair down as best he could while Draco sat there looking worried.
"What on earth?" Poppy asked McGonagall. "Severus caring for James' son? I would have thought him more likely to terrorize the child. And what's this about him being Draco Malfoy's brother?"
"Lucius Malfoy has been raising Harry for ten years," McGonagall said. "Under the name "Henry Black". They glamoured him to look like the family, and sent a note with him for the Sorting. Albus is livid."
"I thought I heard shouting earlier... no wonder Peeves is in such a good mood. He brought me flowers." She nodded to a bedpan full of weeds and thorns that sat on top of the trash bin.
A few minutes later, Snape returned to them and pulled the curtain shut behind him.
"Is he all right?" McGonagall asked.
"He's fine," Snape said. "Both of them are asleep; I moved Draco to the neighboring bed. Harry took the potions you had set out, so I doubt he'll wake before tomorrow. If Draco wakes before curfew, send him to me, otherwise, let him stay. Harry's liable to have a nightmare from the headache and his brother can calm him down much easier than strangers; he's used to them."
Poppy nodded and went to check on the boys herself.
"Did he say what caused it?" McGonagall asked.
"He doesn't know. Harry said he was eating dinner, looking around the room, and pain shot through his head. He thought it was an after effect of Narcissa's glamours being broken. He's never had them off for so long."
"Is that possible?"
"Not if you've ever seen this reaction before," Snape said. "But he insists he didn't touch anything other than his utensils and the only people he spoke to were the Weasley boys-"
"You're not suggesting that one of them..."
"No, Minerva, I'm not. He's met them before, in Diagon Alley. There was no reaction then. I truly don't know what it was. For now, we should probably let them sleep, and hope this was nothing but a reaction to the day's excitement. He's been very anxious about coming into his true identity."
"You should have told someone, Severus."
"And what, risk Dumbledore sending him back to Petunia? I know her Minerva, her behavior would not have improved."
"But we could have found someone else. Molly Weasley would have taken Lily's child in a heartbeat. They certainly could have used the stipend for his care."
"You would have endangered a household full of children by placing him there?"
"No, I guess we wouldn't have... but the Malfoys?"
"Narcissa claimed him as family," Snape said. "And Lucius wasn't suicidal enough to argue - or try and harm him. And I've seen them regularly since they were five years old: he was raised as a copy of Draco. They didn't hurt him, if anything, they spoiled him rotten. And the boy's got talent, Minerva. You'll see it for yourself in class. That would have been lost if he'd been left to rot with his Aunt and Uncle. Lucius fostered it; he taught him how to be strong and cunning."
"You mean he tried to turn him into a Slytherin."
"You wouldn't say that if you'd ever seen his bedroom," Snape said. "Draco got Slytherin things. Harry was given Gryffindor. He knew exactly who he was and where he came from, and he had the intelligence to know he needed to keep it a secret until the right time. Believe me, as someone who was unfortunate enough to try and enter the Manor after the protections were strengthened, someone who entered as a friend, and someone who was not yet keyed for entry... no one was getting near Harry while in Lucius' care."
McGonagall was astonished.
"And I've seen Lucius risk more than his life for that boy," Snape continued. "I won't discuss it here, but he was willing to put his entire family in the fire for him. Whatever his original motives, Harry's not just a means to an end. If you need proof, try threatening him while Draco's still in the room. You can use the time it takes you to pick yourself off the floor to consider your errors in judgment... now, if you'll excuse me, I'm sure there's quite a bit of murmuring going on amongst my snakes and I need to try and contain it. As it is, I'm sure the Owlery will be empty by morning what with so many students wanting to write home about this, and I'd be prepared for that abhorrent Skeeter woman to try and find a way on campus by first light."
Snape didn't actually wait for an answer, but swept out of the room and disappeared toward the dungeons. His prefects knew their job, and between Marcus Flint and Savita Jhadav, they'd gotten all the first years into the Common Room and managed to keep them from killing each other or breaking one of the windows and releasing the Black Lake into the dungeons.
They had not, however, managed to rescue Pansy Parkinson from the formidable Millicent Bullstrode. The former had the latter pinned to the floor with an arm behind her back while the latter had her freed hand wrapped in the former's hair and was pulling for all she was worth.
Snape cleared his throat and the room turned to him. Except Pansy and Millicent.
"An explanation, please."
"Sorry sir," Flint said. "We've pulled most of them apart. This is the last pair." He jolted Pansy, Jhadav took Bullstrode, and the girls snapped apart, rubbing their stung backsides.
"Last pair?" Snape asked. "Am I to assume, then, that there more altercations of this sort before I arrived?"
"Yes sir," Jhadav caught a firstie by the collar as she tried to attack someone else. "Several."
Jhadav wasn't large, unlike many of her housemates, but tall and willowy, and fast as anything. She was also uncharacteristically disheveled with her robes out of sorts and her hair sticking out in too many directions. Flint looked like he'd just completed a marathon Quidditch game of no less than three days length. Both seemed on the verge of collapse.
"Most of the older students knew better, and just went to write letters home, but the Firsties lost it," Flint said.
"And what, may I ask, started the melee?"
"Potter," several voices answered at once.
"I see," Snape said. "Then perhaps we need to go over the House rules - one of the most important being that we do not raise our hands in violence against other members of our House. We stand united and do not let the others see us waver. I'd expect this kind of behavior from Gryffindors, but you are Slytherins!"
"Gryffindors like Potter," Pansy sneered.
"You shut up!" Millicent took a swing at her, but Jhadav caught her.
"Am I going to have to start this year off by explaining to the rest of the House how the First Years left us so points deficient that we'll be lucky to catch up with Hufflepuff by the end of term? Because I will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior. ANSWER ME!"
"No, sir," they all said.
"Good, now go to bed. All of you! You can owl your parents in the morning, but you are all to be in bed with lights out in five minutes. MOVE!"
First years scattered, racing for their dormitory stairs.
"And as for you two..." Flint and Jhadav flinched. "... not bad. Though next time, don't hesitate to put them in a body bind if necessary. Now go to bed; you look exhausted. You can blame me if your year-mates ask about the early bedtime... or your somewhat frazzled appearance."
"Thank you, sir," they said, weaving a bit, and headed for their rooms.
"Can't have the underlings thinking their Prefects were beaten down by a bunch of Firsties," he called after them.
Snape got up and headed to his own quarters, pausing only to examine the pile of Pansy Parkinson's hair Millicent had apparently ripped out in the middle of the Common Room before the fight broke up. He sat down at his desk and took out parchment and a quill.
'Dear Lucius,' he started. If Draco wasn't going to write the man about the night's activity, Snape certainly was. No way was he cleaning up this mess on his own.
Alrighty, that's the end of that chapter! Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Again, I would love to hear what you think about the chapter, and also my idea of a Tumblr. If you managed to miss it in my Author's Note at the top, you can scroll up again and read what I am contemplating putting up there. I also plan on making it as interactive as possible for you guys if you want me to make the Tumblr page. Can't wait to hear from you all! R&R!