While they stood there waiting Harry was aware about the fact that Malfoy was observing them both closely. It seemed that they had made a lasting impression on the blonde boy. Harry snickered lowly; Malfoy probably was already scheming how to use this new situation to his personal benefit. That was when he noticed how tense Ron was.
“What is the matter?” he asked rising an eyebrow. “What are you worried about?”
“The sorting,” Ron replied with a strained smile.
“You don’t truly believe that we’ll have to wrestle with a troll, do you?” Harry now was curious.
“How…” Ron narrowed his eyes on Harry before he shook his head. “Never mind! No, that is not what I’m worried about. It has more to do with the house I’m going to be sorted into…”
“Ah, so you’re worried what your family would say should you end up in Slytherin,” Harry muttered upon which Ron nodded. “Let me ask you a question, is your name Molly Weasley?”
That question however surprised and confused Ron. “No.”
“Then perhaps Percy Weasley?”
Ron’s confusion grew even more. “No.”
“Ginny Weasley?” Harry asked next with an underlying tone that Ron couldn’t quite decipher, it was as if Harry didn’t like her though he couldn’t come up with a valid reason for why.
“No, what are these questions about?” his irritation was clearly audible.
Now Harry smirked. “You’re right, you’re neither of them but nonetheless it looks to me that you’re trying to live a life THEY want you to live,” here Harry’s face darkened. “You’re Ronald Bilius Weasley and hell this is your life and not theirs. What do you try to accomplish by living their life? Are you someone who wants to work with dragons? Or do you want to be a curse breaker? Potions and spells inventor? No, you’re not. You’re not them and you never will be so don’t try to be someone you’re not.”
“It’s just that they all are special and each of them already accomplished things they are known for…” he started, but Harry quickly interrupted him.
“So you want to stand out, step out of their shadows and be known for your own accomplishments?” Ron again nodded. “Do you think you’ll achieve this by behaving as they expect you to? You only have one life and you don’t get a second chance to do it better should you in the end see that it didn’t work out the way you expected…well, normally,” Harry muttered the last part to himself but it seemed that Ron heard him nonetheless since he threw him a strange look. “Ron, you’re a brilliant strategist and you’re able to accomplish great things but that won’t happen if you don’t step out of the shadows of your family. What if you’re sorted into Slytherin or even Hufflepuff…as long as you yourself are okay with it and you can justify it to yourself, it doesn’t matter what others think about it.”
Ron looked at him in shock and surprise before he started to smile. “You’re right, this is my life and I should do with it what I want,” Ron said visibly calmer now. “Thanks mate, I think I needed that.”
“You’re welcome,” Harry replied inwardly smirking because he was very well aware that Hermione had listened to their conversation and he hoped that she also would think about it and therefore not end up in Gryffindor only because a certain headmaster had been in that house.
It was at that moment that McGonagall returned to the waiting group of first years leading them into the great hall for the sorting ceremony. They all followed her the others in awe over the ceiling of the great hall as well as the floating candles but Harry had his eye somewhere completely else. At first, he let his gaze wander over the sea of students contemplating whom he could gather as an alley and who would probably oppose him. The first ones his gaze fell upon on were the twins; he definitely needed them as his alleys. They were brilliant inventors who were ruthless against those who managed to land on their wrong side. Then he spotted Cedric Diggory. He knew that the Diggorys were a neutral family in the war between Dumbledore and Voldemort and he hoped that they at least would stay neutral towards him. Cedric was a decent boy and he had hated it that he had been killed by Voldemort. His gaze swept over the Slytherin table and had to supress a smirk. Breaking those spawns of the followers from that stupid half-blood would be a pleasure and he could only hope that they would put up a fight because that would mean even more fun for him.
They reached the end of the aisle and Harry redirected his attention towards the head table, where the teachers were sitting. The first one his gaze fell upon was the round figure of Professor Sprout. She didn’t look like it but the woman could be a fierce opponent when pushed. However, Harry doubted that she would ever follow him or even stay neutral for that she was too protective of her students and surely would see a threat in him, it was unfortunate but she fell in the enemy category.
The next three professors Harry knew next to nothing about because he never took Ancient Runes, Arithmancy or Muggle Studies. That was when Hagrid walked in and sat down. Another one who firmly fell into the enemy category not only because of his history with Voldemort but also because he was so deep up Dumbledore’s backside that it was a wonder that he didn’t see the light again. It would be impossible to sway his loyalty.
He heard how Hermione was sorted into Ravenclaw and had to smirk, it seemed that she took his words to heart and did not believe everything that is printed.
Next to Dumbledore then was an empty chair where McGonagall normally sat. For all Harry cared she could go and choke on a hairball. The woman called herself Head of the House of Gryffindor but she had never ever cared what had happened to him or to others. That started in the first year when he had told here that the stone had been in danger and she had simply dismissed him. After that, it had continued over the next years of having been dismissed when something had happened or even having openly been attacked by her so no there was no love lost between them.
In the middle then was the man himself, Albus too-many-fucking-names Dumbledore with even more titles than he cared to remember. Oh how naïve he had been to believe even one word that had come out of that man’s mouth. Well, no more!
The next interesting person then was Quirrell. Harry narrowed his eyes on him trying to determine whether it would be a good idea to get rid of him early or not. Sure, he wanted to get rid of Voldemort as soon as possible but that didn’t mean that he would do it the Gryffindor way this time and run into it headlong without so much of a plan. So for now the man was safe from him but it wouldn’t stay that way so much was clear.
At last, there was the man he wanted and at the same time dreaded to see, Professor Severus Tobias Snape. Seeing him sitting there well and alive…he could only stare at him his stomach trying its best to do a backflip. He knew that this was not his Severus, that the man would despise him even if it was only a show for the old fool and he also knew that he was a complete stranger to Severus, while he knew him as well as you could get to know the man. Before Severus had been murdered by Voldemort they had stayed some time together, making plans in trying to defend Hogwarts. Harry had to admit that he had grown to like the Potions Master very much, even more than he wanted to admit. Therefore, it was no wonder that Harry wanted to cheer and cry at the same time when seeing the man sitting there who didn’t know anything about him. In the man’s eyes, he was only a spoiled eleven years old who resembled his childhood tormentor a bit too much. It was as if Severus had sensed that Harry was staring at him and looked up with a sneer, though that was briefly replaced by surprise and confusion before his mask of indifference was put firmly in place again but Harry didn’t miss it.
He was suddenly ripped from his dark thoughts when Ron hit him with his elbow bringing him back to the present.
“What?” he asked lowly but Ron only nodded towards the front where McGonagall was waiting impatiently.
“Mr. Potter, would you please be so gracious and come up here you’re delaying the sorting ceremony,” she said in a clipped tone her expression one of disapproval.
Harry didn’t say anything and only stared at the woman for a moment before he moved up to the stool and sat down. Shortly later, the hat was placed on his head covering his view of the hall.
“Well, what do we have here? Very interesting,” the voice of the hat echoed through Harry’s mind.
“Tell anyone about it and this is the last year you’re sorting,” Harry replied threateningly but the hat’s reaction surprised him, he started to chuckle lowly.
“Don’t you worry; I’m not able to tell anyone what I see in the heads of those I sort. Though I have to admit that you’re very interesting indeed,” the hat again chuckled. “One might think that the headmaster learned his lesson after the first two times but it seems that this would be the last mistake he made.”
“You have no idea just how much the old fool messed it up this time,” Harry replied with a smirk.
“Since I can see everything that’s in your mind I’m very much aware of how much our not so esteemed headmaster screwed up, Master of Death” the hat chuckled again. A word to the wise, give Mr. Longbottom a friend he can rely on and help him gaining some confidence and he’ll be loyal ‘til death.”
“Didn’t you say that you cannot talk about what you saw in the minds of those you sort?” Harry questioned rising an eyebrow.
“And I cannot but I can give out advice to students who are unsure in certain areas based on the knowledge they already have. Stop worrying your secret is safe with me; I’m not overly fond of the headmaster after all. So hopefully he gets a heart attack by sorting you into…SLYTHERIN,” he shouted the last word aloud with amusement clearly audible. “Have fun,” he added before he was lifted of Harry’s head.
The entire hall was so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop. That was until two people started to clap, Malfoy and Ron both smiling. It did take a few moments before more and more were clapping though you could tell that it was only out of politeness.
Harry took a quick look at McGonagall who had blanched and stared at him as if she had never seen him before. After that, Harry looked at Dumbledore who also stared at him though more in disappointment and barely hidden disdain. Harry smirked before he at last looked at Snape. To his surprise, the Potions Master hadn’t a hateful expression but more one of curiosity. Giving him a genuine smile and a dipping of his head in respect, Harry finally walked over to the Slytherin table sitting down right next to Malfoy.
“So Slytherin it is then?” the blond asked with a smile.
“Surprised?” Harry snickered in reply.
“Only mildly after our conversation on the train. Though if I might give you an advise…help Weasley acquire a new set of robes, he otherwise will have an even harder standing here in Slytherin added to being considered a blood traitor by most in the house,” Malfoy said without any spite in his voice much to Harry’s surprise.
He thought about what Malfoy had said and had to admit that he was right but anyone who would try to attack or worse harmed Ron in any way would quickly find out why this was a particularly bad idea.
“I also thought about that but it would be hard during the school year,” he mused.
“You can always ask Snape for a permission to leave school on a weekend as long as an adult accompanies you,” Malfoy replied amusedly.
“And there lies the problem…I have no magical adult who I trust enough to not relay anything that would occur to that old fool,” Harry muttered lowly.
“Who is your magical guardian?” Malfoy inquired incredulous, upon which Harry gestured with his eyes towards Dumbledore. It took a moment for Malfoy to understand the hint. “Don’t tell me…Dumbledore?” he said shocked.
“Malfoy, my parents are dead and my godfather imprisoned in Azkaban…so that bastard took it upon himself to care for his little poster boy,” Harry hissed.
Malfoy looked at him in shock, surprise and not a small amount of calculation.
“But what about your godmother?”
“Incapacitated at St. Mungo’s for an indefinite amount of time,” Harry retorted but that brought him to an idea he filed away for later contemplation.
Malfoy’s eyes widened hearing that. “Ms. Longbottom?” she was the only one residing in St. Mungo’s that made sense in that context.
“Ms. Longbottom,” Harry nodded in confirmation.
“Don’t you think it quite suspicious that each and every one of those who have an incontrovertible right to claim guardianship over you are incapacitated in some way or another?” Malfoy questioned narrowing his eyes.
“When I understood it correctly the Longbottoms were targeted in revenge but you’re right with Sirius,” he drawled out when he remembered something. When it struck him, he started to laugh heavily and it was not a nice laugh but a very vindictive one. Quite a few stared at him shocked and even a bit frightened only Ron who was just sorted into Slytherin looked at him curiously.
“What makes you laugh like the cat who caught the canary?” he asked while sitting down next to him ignoring the disdain sent his way.
“I remembered something…I’ll tell you once we’re in the dorm. Oh and welcome to Slytherin,” Harry said with a smile.
“Thank you,” Ron replied watching Blaise Zabini walking to their table and sitting down opposite of him.
Now that everyone had been sorted, Dumbledore stood up to let the feast begin. To Harry’s utter surprise Ron filled his plate with a medium amount of food before starting to eat with actual table manners.
It was entirely opposite of how the other Ron had been. That one had filled his plate with so much food that an entire household could have been sated by it before he started to wolf it down with no manners at all. Harry never had said anything about it but he had hated it because it had reminded him too much of his fat pig of a cousin and even Hermione’s complaints hadn’t helped.
Musing how Ron was completely opposite of what he thought he knew of him Harry filled his own plate before he started to eat. He could hear how someone a few seats down the table questioned what a blood-traitor and a filthy half-blood was doing in Slytherin. Harry had to hide a smirk. Oh they would learn their place in the new hierarchy of Slytherin quite quickly or they would have to suffer the consequences. In his closer vicinity, however a complete silence had descended on the table, the only noise being made by the cutlery. The dark looks that were thrown towards them were not missed by Harry though. It surely would become interesting once they were behind the closed doors of the Slytherin common room of that he was sure.
“So about what we talked about earlier, should you want I could ask my parents whether they might accompany you,” Draco spoke up between two bites. “You’re family after all.”
Harry looked at him surprised, not because of the family part, that he had learned from Sirius during his stay at Grimmauld Place in his summer after fourth year, but more because of the offer.
“Are you sure that they want to be seen with us?” Harry rose an eyebrow. “Despite that if we are family why did your parents never try to claim guardianship over me?” he asked more out of curiosity.
Malfoy’s face darkened visibly. “Oh, they tried…how they tried but they were shot down each and every time by our beloved headmaster telling the ministry how they could not entrust your life to the followers of the man you defeated. It didn’t matter to them that my father was cleared of all crimes. To your concerns…I will explain them the situation and I doubt that they would let the opportunity pass to get to know you and your friend better.”
“What are you two talking about?” Ron interrupted them when he heard the your friend part, wondering whom they were talking about since Harry entrusted to him on the train that he considered him his only friend at the moment.
At first, Harry looked a bit confused until he realised where that question came from.
“Sorry Ron, I completely forgot that you hadn’t been here yet when I discussed the topic with Malfoy. I wanted to invite you to a shopping trip since we both need a few things. However, I was a bit put out that we would have to wait until the winter holidays when Malfoy told me that it would not be a problem to get a permission to leave on a weekend in company of an adult. Though I know no one I trust to not relay anything to our esteemed headmaster…long story short he offered to ask whether his parents would accompany us,” Harry summarised what had occurred before Ron was sorted.
“Do you really think that this is wise, Malfoy?” Ron addressed Malfoy in doubt this time and he didn’t miss the glances quite a few of the ones surrounding them shot them that agreed with that statement. The only one he noticed didn’t look down at him or even in disdain was the Zabini boy opposite of him, he looked more amused…interesting.
“Weasley, as I just told Potter they will be interested in getting acquainted with you of this I’m sure. I will send them a letter right tomorrow morning,” Malfoy simply stated before returning to his meal making clear that the conversation was over for now.
Once everyone was finished, the main course was vanished and replaced by sweets. Not having any appetite for it, Harry only sipped his water from time to time observing the hall. He saw the twins looking in their direction with a curious expression. To him it seemed that they were not adverse to the thought of him and especially their brother in Slytherin. Another twenty minutes later that course also vanished leaving empty and clean plates behind.
Dumbledore stood up while McGonagall hit her spoon against her chalice to get the attention of the hall.
“Now that we’re watered and fed a few last words before you can leave to your dorms. First, the first years should notice that the Forbidden Forrest is called that for a reason…it is forbidden. A few of the older ones should remember that to,” he added with a glance at the twins. “Then I have to inform you that this year the third floor corridor on the right hand is out of bounds for everyone who doesn’t want to die a very painful death,” this time he glanced towards Harry but he didn’t react in any way, he wouldn’t let himself fall into the traps of the old fool. Dumbledore looked slightly surprised before he continued. “Quidditch try-outs will be held in the second week. Those who want to try for their team shall either inform their head of house or Madame Hooch. Now off you trod, bed time.”
With the last words spoken conversations rose again throughout the hall while the prefects of the houses called out for the first years to follow them. Harry and Ron stood up and followed Markus Flint who was the fifth year Slytherin prefect down into the dungeons of Hogwarts together with the other Slytherins of the first year. After giving them the password and telling them that it would change at the first of each month, he led them in and gathered them in the common room. Harry had to admit that he found the quiet and dark rooms far more soothing than the loud, boisterous and overly bright Gryffindor rooms. Not much later, the door opened again and Snape strode in at a brisk pace, his robes billowing behind him. He walked past them to the centre of the room before turning around sharply.
“Welcome to the noble House of Slytherin,” he said in a voice that was just a tad above a whisper but caught their attention nonetheless. “While you’re members of this house you will show unity in front of the other houses. I warn you that I don’t want to hear any complains about unruly behaviour even if we have a few surprising members,” here he curtly glanced at Harry and Ron. “Any quarrels between you will stay within the walls of the common room, did I make myself clear?” he looked around pleased to see everyone nodding. “Very well, during the first week the prefects will guide you to the great hall at 8 o’clock sharply, whoever is late will have to find the way alone, as well as to the classes during the day. You will do good to memorise the ways as I will not tolerating you being late to your classes, understood?” again everyone nodded. “Good, the prefects will show you your dorms. Good evening.”
With his robes billowing behind him, Snape quickly left the common room and the first years behind. Harry had to admit that while the man had a iron tight grip on his house he treated them much fairer than McGonagall did with her Gryffindors. He could vividly remember the first school day of his former life; he and Ron had been late to the Transfiguration class because they had been hopelessly lost in this huge castle but instead of showing sympathy with them McGonagall had even ridiculed them in front of the entire class.
The sound of the door falling into the lock brought him out of his musing and he just wanted to follow Flint to the dorms when suddenly a girl stood in his way.
“Well…well…what is a filthy half-blood like you and a blood-traitor doing in Slytherin,” she said in a mocking voice attracting the attention of the other Slytherins.
Throwing a quick glance at Ron in case he would try anything stupid, Harry was again surprised to see the relaxed stance of his friend. Looking back at his offender, he smirked.
“Ms. Parkinson, am I correct? You might want to be careful who you insult because you might end up biting off more than you can handle,” he said in a calm tone.
“Am I supposed to be intimidate by you, Potter?” she spat out the last word with venom. “You’re not even worth the dirt under my nails, you and your blood-traitor friend,” with that she spat Harry right into the face before she started to laugh.
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath while whipping the spit out of his face. “I tried to prevent what is about to happen, I really did,” he said with a sigh hearing Ron taking several steps away from him though from the sound of it not in fear, good. “But it seems that certain things simply can’t be circumvented,” with the last word he opened his eyes again glaring at the girl icily his eyes giving of a low glow letting them look like an Avada Kedavra about to be fired off.
With the speed of a striking viper, he wandlessly sent out a wave of magic towards her, knocking her of the feet and sending her skidding to the middle of the room. Quite a few gasps were heard from the other members of Slytherin.
“You know what is quite interesting,” he said wandlessly pinning her to the ground where she had come to a halt. “Me, a boy who has actually two magical parents, you despise but the bastard son of a mere squib and a muggle you bow down to so lowly that you can kiss the ground he walks upon,” he told her with a snicker while walking around her in a wide arc. “A bit hypocritical don’t you think?”
“What in Salazar’s name are you talking about?” she brought out glaring at him menacingly.
“Why, Tom Marvolo Riddle of course. Ah yes…sorry…I forgot,” he took out his wand and did the same thing that Riddle had done in his previous second year. Once he wrote out the name in fiery letters, he gave it a swish so that they rearranged themselves.
“Do you think the Dark Lord is a filthy half-blood? That a mere half-blood could be the heir to one of the greatest men in history, Salazar Slytherin?” she now laughed but it quickly died down upon seeing Harry’s smirk.
“I do not only think that the last part is possible…I know,” his smirk grew even wider. “Because flash news! I am the current heir of Slytherin.”
The silence that now stretched over the common room was palpable.
“What? Never heard of the right of conquest?” Harry asked incredulous.
“As if the son of a mudblood could best the Dark Lord. He is not dead and when he returns you will beg him to kill you, but he won’t you know…he will go on and on until there is nothing more left of you than a whimpering pile of filth that you are,” she said in a smug voice.
“Bad mistake,” From somewhere Zabini muttered and Ron as well as Draco had to admit that the dark skinned boy was right.
“Oh shut the fuck up!” he snapped in parseltongue resulting in a muttering going through the rows of students surrounding them. “Pansy, Pansy, Pansy, I’m very much aware that Voldemort isn’t dead but that will change quite soon because what you fail to see is that there is one thing I hate the most, having a rival,” he stated as if it was the most normal in this world.
“You’re delusional, Potter,” she sneered.
“Ron…what am I supposed to do with her?” he threw up his arms in exasperation. “I mean I don’t know what else to tell that stupid bint…she doesn’t listen.”
“Perhaps you should try it with a bit more…physical convincing then,” Ron replied with a smirk of his own surprising many of the others.
“I probably could but I don’t want to waste any more time on her,” he muttered when an idea occurred to him. “But I have a better idea. Pansy, how would you like it to become my obedient little pet,” he said with a smile that didn’t bode well for the girl.
“Only in your dreams,” she spat out.
“Hmmm, dreams can come real,” Harry crouched down next to her head.
With a flick of his hand he conjured up a pocket mirror and everyone wondered what he wanted to do with it when he hold out his hand over her face or more specifically over her mouth while forcing her to open it with the other hand. A few moments later suddenly a small white glowing orb came flowing out of her mouth while at the same time her body went limp. Guiding the orb, he pushed it into the conjured mirror with a smile.
“What have you done you filthy son of a mudblood whore? Where am I?” suddenly an extremely furious Pansy Parkinson screeched though to the shock and surprise of everyone bar Harry the body that laid on the floor hadn’t moved.
“What I have done my dear Pansy many probably would refer to as the darkest kind of magic in existence, I created a Horcrux,” he said while looking into the mirror where the ghostly image of Pansy’s face was hovering with a confused expression. “Ah yes, you have no idea what a Horcrux is because it is even for someone like you too dark. A Horcrux is a splinter of a soul, stored in an inanimate object and created in order to gain something akin of immortality. Though in your case I simply stored your complete soul. Yes, yes, I know…to create a Horcrux you first need to murder someone and afterwards perform a certain ritual I will not explain in detail but I never was one for mere technicalities. Oh that reminds me,” here he tapped the forehead of Pansy’s body with his index finger reanimating it in the process. “Not that someone gets the wrong impression.”
“What can I do for my master?” the reanimated body asked going onto all four and placing its forehead on the floor inches away from Harry’s feet.
While everyone else stared at Harry with various degrees of fear, disbelieve and even curiosity Ron started to laugh uproariously.
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting,” he quoted between bouts of laugher.
“A skilful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting,” Harry added.
“Would someone please be gracious enough and explain me how Potter did that?” someone inquired that looked like a fifth year whose name Harry didn’t know.
“What, didn’t I mention it? I’m actually a Necromancer of the first order,” he stated as if it was something entirely normal.