Harry Potter and all associated characters and situations are the property of J.K. Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.

CHAPTER 1: The Meeting Begins

28 June 1995
(Four days after Little Hangleton)
The Headmaster's Office

Harry paused at a conveniently placed mirror just across from the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the Headmaster's Office. He was already late, but as the boy was a bit cross with Professor Dumbledore at the moment, he put being presentable ahead of being punctual and so took the time to adjust his green and silver necktie and pat down the few hairs that had slipped out of place. Potter men were known for their famously unruly hair, which was one of many reason why he was glad he no longer carried that name. Satisfied with his appearance, Hadrian Remus Black ("Harry" to his friends, his teachers, and pretty much everyone else in the world except for a tiny handful of particularly officious bureaucrats) turned to the gargoyle and gave the password – "Goo-Goo Clusters," some ghastly-sounding American confection the Headmaster had discovered – and then ascended the stairs.

"Come in, Harry," said Dumbledore from inside the office before Harry even had time to knock. The young Slytherin sighed. He'd never be so uncouth as to say anything, but privately, he'd always thought it rude for the Headmaster to always invite people in before they could actually knock, the wily old man's way of asserting dominance over visitors before they even made it inside his office. Also, it had been four days since the disastrous end of the Triwizard Tournament (they kept the original name in all papers for some silly reason despite the added participants), and only now had the Headmaster finally decided it was time to speak with him again.

"A bit lax," Harry thought, "what with a lunatic snake-man back from the dead and running around loose with an army of inbred Pureblood terrorists and all."

Not that he'd had been looking forward to this meeting. Harry had forgiven Dumbledore years before for his indirect role in placing him with the Dursleys, but the Slytherin was still continually annoyed by the Headmaster's efforts to get him back on good terms with the family he'd simultaneously been thrown out of and proudly walked away from. And thus, Harry was not surprised by the tableau before him when he opened the door.

In the center of the room was Dumbledore who for once wasn't twinkling madly at Harry but was instead looking quite somber. Indeed, today, the Headmaster actually seemed to looked his age. For just a second, Harry felt almost concerned, but then he remembered he had reason to be annoyed with the man and suppressed the charitable influence.

"Bad enough the Dark Lord is back! But for him to use Dumbledore's tournament to achieve it? And with the aid of someone the Headmaster had considered a friend who turned out to be a Death Eater operating right under his nose? Ridiculous! That would never have happened if Dumbledore had been a Slytherin!"

Then, annoyed with his own annoyance, Harry took a second to center himself. "Unbridled emotion is the enemy of cunning and the foe of ambition," Slytherin's memoirs had said, and they were words Harry had tried to live by pretty much since the day he first read them. If he did embroidery, the quote would be hanging over his bed in framed needlepoint. In any case, Voldemort's rise made Harry and Dumbledore into allies whatever their past conflicts.

To Dumbledore's right was an empty chair apparently meant for him. Sitting next to it were two figures Harry was pleased to see: Severus Snape and Sirius Black. Snape, of course, was Harry's Head of House. After a rough introduction, Harry and the Potions Master settled into a truce that eventually blossomed into a relatively warm (for Slytherins, anyway) mentor-apprentice relationship. Lord Black, pale and gaunt, still bore the signs of years of false imprisonment in Azkaban, but that hadn't prevented him from adopting Harry as his Heir to the shock and horror of most of Wizarding Britain. Harry thought his role in successfully springing Sirius out of Azkaban and into a Lordship was one of his proudest moments, exceeded only by the monumental task of getting Snape and Black past their adolescent hatred and into an uneasy alliance. It helped that the three of them had mutual enemies.

Speaking of whom, to the left of the Headmaster's desk sat the Potters – James, Lily, and their son, James Jr. (Jim to his friends, the Boy-Who-Lived to his adoring public, the Supreme Git of the Universe according to the T-shirt Harry had sent to him for his 13th birthday). Ostensibly Harry's identical twin, the two could easily be told apart by Jim's atrocious hair, his relentlessly Gryffindorish attitude towards life, and the small jagged scar on his left temple that resembled the letter V. Harry had a scar of his own, of course, but one which was generally attributed to falling masonry, a lightning bolt having no apparent connection to the Dark Lord. Or so most people thought – Harry's Ancient Runes professor knew perfectly well that the lightning bolt scar couldn't have been a better representation of Sowilo, the Norse rune of power and victory, if somebody carved it deliberately, but being as cunning as any Slytherin herself, she had hoarded that information, knowledge being power after all.

As Harry entered, the Potter father and son turned to look at him with angry glares as characteristic as they were predictable."Honestly," he thought. "It's not my fault they both kept trusting the wrong people." Lily Potter didn't glare at her eldest son, but Harry avoided eye contact with her nonetheless. The reasons for the gulf between her and Harry were very different from those separating Harry from his former father and brother, but they were perhaps even more insurmountable.

"You're late," said James coolly.

"Am I?" Harry replied cheerfully as he took the empty seat. "Actually, I don't recall being given a specific time to be here. Just instructions to come as soon as possible. I went to see how Theo was doing and then came straightaway."

"That's no excu–!"

"Yes, thank you, Lord Potter," Harry said even more cheerfully and with the smile he usually reserved for people he thought were too thick for subtlety. "Your observations have been noted. I will endeavor to be more punctual in the future." Then, he turned to the Headmaster while his birth-father fumed. "Happily, I'm here now. Headmaster?"

Dumbledore was uncharacteristically silent for several seconds. Harry crooked an eyebrow. Finally, he spoke. "Before we get to that, tell me – how is young Theo doing?"

Harry's smile faltered for a second before reasserting itself. The school's treatment of Theo had been a ... sore topic with him for some time. While that wasn't Dumbledore's fault, he certainly didn't do much to help.

"Theo No-Name is doing as well as can be expected, sir. I don't know if Sirius has told you, but assuming the final legal hurdles can be worked out, he'll be formally adopting him as Theo Black. Which I think is excellent, because frankly, I've always wanted a brother."

Harry fought down the temptation to sneer at Jim with that last dig. After all, he'd been on a campaign for some time now to get all the other Slytherins to sneer less often. Anyway, it was a lie – like Neville, Theo had already been his brother in every way that mattered for years. Of course, there was that brief interval when Harry actually thought that he and Jim ... but no, that was over and there was no sense brooding over it.

Jim snorted. "You snakes deserve each other," he muttered. "You can get matching Dark Marks."

Harry rolled his eyes. Apparently, the other boy was still upset at what happened in the graveyard at Little Hangleton, even though Harry's Slytherin cunning had saved both their lives after Jim's Gryffindor hero complex had once again led them into disaster. Typical, really. Sirius growled audibly in response to Jim's dig, and James tensed in response. Luckily, before the wands came out, Dumbledore snapped.

"Enough! All of you! The time for this dissension is past. The Dark Lord has returned, a fact the Ministry of Magic refuses to acknowledge. Voldemort is drawing his Death Eaters to his side even as we speak. Things ... things have changed."

Dumbledore's voice broke on that last word, surprising everyone present who had always considered the Headmaster a monument of self-control. "As part of that, Jim, you will cease this constant badgering of your brother and of the other Slytherins. While it is true that Slytherin House has always had strong ties to the Dark Lord in the past, I cannot deny what Harry has done to persuade many of his house-mates and even their families to reject Voldemort now. And I will not have those fragile alliances undermined by the bigotries of House Potter that I have tolerated for too long!"

Jim shrank into his seat, as did his father. His outburst over, Dumbledore seemed to deflate as his anger faded. For his part, Harry's eyes widened. He'd never seen Dumbledore talk that way to the Boy-Who-Lived before.

"Now then, before we get to the primary purpose of this meeting, I'd first like to discuss the current attitudes of the DMLE and the Wizengamot towards the announcement of Voldemort's return. We ... we may not have an opportunity to speak of such things later."

Black and Potter Sr. looked at each other coolly before Sirius nodded at his former friend. James turned back to Dumbledore and started his report on the state of the DMLE. Harry leaned back into his chair.

"Things have changed," Dumbledore had said. Harry looked over to the three people who were supposed to have been his family. But somehow, they were never quite up to the job, so he finally gave up on them and went out to find a family of his own. "Some things would never change." As his birth-father's voice droned on in the background, Harry thought about the choices – some his own, most made by others – that had brought him here.

Minor updates on 8/28/2016.

Lots of Authors Notes below. Don't worry. Future chapters won't have nearly this many, and most won't have anything beyond a notice of when the next update will be.

AN 1:

Some Lily&James Bashing (YMMV)
AU with multiple departure points (though still generally hewing to basic HP canon, at least through Fourth Year)

AN 2: My goal with this fic is to take the generic Slytherin Harry/WBWL story and subvert its traditional elements. Of course, in order to subvert those tropes, one first has to establish them, so year one basically follows the standard arc for a Slytherin Harry/WBWL story with a few deviations, leading up to some BIG deviations at the end. Year Two diverges pretty significantly from canon, and by Year Three, I don't anticipate following the canon plot at all beyond the basic plot point of Sirius getting out of jail. The novel break-down (for people who don't want to read 1 million+ words at one go) is as follows:

Chapter 1: Prologue. What you're reading now, a flashfoward set at the end of Harry's Fourth Year before we go back to the beginning.

Chapter 2: Halloween 1981 and the tale of how Sirius ended up in Azkaban despite living Potters.

Chapters 3-34: Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin (Harry's first year).

Chapters 35-82: ... and the Secret Enemy (Harry's second year).

Chapters 83-138: ... and the Death Eater Menace (Harry's third year)

Chapters 139-ongoing: ... and the Resurrection Game (Harry's fourth year which will begin 9/1/2020)

AN 3: Harry is relatively OC compared to canon, which, I think, is inevitable for a Slytherin Harry story. This is Harry if he learned on his 11th birthday that his parents had faked their death and dumped him with the Dursleys for contrived reasons that imply they love the WBWL more than him. The result is a Harry who's basically canon-Harry plus a certain amount of bitterness and a monomanical obsession with proving himself superior to his brother. He is also much smarter than canon-Harry for reasons that will be revealed later. Also, for what it's worth, Jim Potter is basically canon-Harry if he'd had two loving parents and had grown up with the privileges and responsibilities of being the Boy-Who-Lived as well as being terribly spoiled by his father and godfather (who isn't who you think it is). While he may not acquit himself well either in this chapter or the first few chapters of Year One, he is not the gibbering idiot who normally plays the role of WBWL and will undergo significant character development starting with the end of Year 1.

AN 4: I freely confess that I can't write like an 11-year-old worth a damn and at a certain point I just gave up and handwaved it away with a magical explanation for why children this young were so well-spoken. For one thing, there is a good bit of humor as well as drama in this work, and frankly, 11-year-olds aren't generally very witty. If 11-year-olds who frequently talk like well-educated and occasionally smart-ass 14-year-olds is a complete deal-breaker for you, you should probably move along.

AN 5: Harry is the hero if this story, albeit a more reluctant one than canon. He acknowledges that he has a strong Gryffindor instinct with which he grapples from time to time. This will not be a "Dark Harry tortures everyone to death while laughing maniacally" story.

AN 6: The firstborn child of a Wizengamot Lord is deemed the Heir Presumptive as soon as he or she demonstrates accidental magic. The Heir Presumptive is elevated to Heir Apparent upon passing a certain number of OWLs or otherwise demonstrating competency as a wizard. These two statuses confer certain legal benefits on the Heir which can protect the Heir even against mistreatment by his parents (benefits which Harry will use to protect himself from a father who would much rather have the second son as his heir). For example, while James Potter desires to disinherit Harry in favor of Jim, he lost the legal right to do so the second Harry's Hogwarts letter was generated. I am aware that these terms have different meanings for Muggle nobility, but this is what they mean for wizards. Please do not leave me angry reviews or messages because I say Heir Presumptive when you think it should be Heir Apparent.

AN 7: No romantic pairings among minor children before Year 4 at the earliest. No slash for Harry, but there will likely be at least one gay character, possibly more, among Harry's peer group. Deal with it.

AN 8: The first few chapters were me finding my way as a writer and, admittedly, are a little rough. I've edited Chapter 1 and may come back and edit some later chapters when time permits. That said, I feel that I found my "voice" sometime around the Halloween 1991 arc (Chapters 11-14). If you read that far and still hate it, you probably won't like it any better by Chapter 50 or Chapter 100.

AN 9 (8/28/16): I have edited chapters 1-7. There aren't any significant changes to the plot but I think I did make some improvements to the dialogue, streamlined a lot of clunky plot exposition, and made James and Jim /slig-htly/ less awful.

AN 10 (3/22/18): Minor changes, mainly to address a conflict regarding Bathsheba Babbling's schooling and a mistake I made due to not knowing the difference between embroidery and crochet.

AN 11 (7/21/20): Minor changes, mainly to correct a date inconsistency and to note where the fourth book begins.