The feast finished as normal but the whispers had still not died down. The whole room was abuzz about Harry Potter.
Dumbledore rose and signalled for the students to do the same. At once, the children from the other three houses scrambled up from the tables to follow their prefects out, unorganized and loud. The Slytherins, however, rose with poise and filed out of the hall in groups of two. Normally, the Potions Master would have felt a small surge of pride to see his Snakes so much more mature than their peers, but that year his thoughts were too full of the last student to leave the hall, Harry Potter. Snape practically flew down to the dungeons, slamming the door to his private quarters closed before pacing the floor in a rage.
Harry Potter was in Slytherin.
Harry Potter was in Slytherin.
Harry Potter was in Slytherin.
Harry Potter was in his house.
Harry Potter was his to look after.
Harry Potter was his.
It was no good. No matter how he emphasized or phrased it, the sentence just wouldn't stick. It was like something out of an alternate universe. A rather sarcastic, ironic, and sadistic universe.
A Potter was in Slytherin, that hadn't happened in . . . well, ever. For it to be James Potter's son, the poster boy for Gryffindor, just made it all the more unbelievable.
However, the fact still remained that Snape would have to look after the Brat. Snape would be forced to see the boy in more than just Potions. Snape would have to stand up for Potter . . .
. . . not bloody likely.
The onyx-eyed man stared longingly at the drinks cabinet across the room. The firewhiskey was calling to him but he knew he would be denied the pleasure of having any. It wouldn't be good to arrive at his Snakes' common room with alcohol on his breath. It would give a bad impression.
There were people out there, some with children that came to Hogwarts and most of them in his house, who would do anything to either damage him, Dumbledore, or Hogwarts. No, he would just have to go without.
This meant he would have to put up with the Potter brat at close range without as well. Snape would just ignore him; Potter would probably be so arrogant anyway he would never bother with his Head of House. If Snape just avoided the brat they might be able to complete the brat's term at Hogwarts with minimum contact. He would only see him at meals and during Potions and detentions, which he would have done anyway.
The only other time would be when he went to his Snakes common room. Even then he didn't necessarily have to see the boy there.
Snape nodded with resolve: he would ignore Potter as best as he could and maybe survive the year. Despite his resolution, the Potion Master still spent the next five minutes pacing his living room, not wishing to see a reminder of his schoolboy nemesis.
Realizing that all the dawdling wasn't going to stop the inevitable . . . and that his Snakes would be wondering where he was, the Potions Master spun on his heel, out of his private quarters, and down the corridor to the common room like the great big bat he was so often described as.
The door flung open as the head of Slytherin house stormed into the room, his robes billowing behind him, making an intimidating sight. Some of the first years nearly screamed and one girl let out a startled squeak. Even some of the upper years jumped.
Onyx eyes scanned the group of first years, piercing them with a glare. Despite his promise to himself, Snape couldn't help staring at a black mop of untidy hair for a bit longer than the other children. Potter was looking at his feet, not meeting his eyes.
'Arrogant brat! Probably thinks he's too good to listen to what I have to say,' he thought.
"You are all . . ." Snape began, pacing to give the illusion of being everywhere at once and making his robes billow again, ". . . Slytherins."
Another glare, and a few people quietly gulped. Snape saw the platinum-blonde hair of Lucius Malfoy's son, Draco. The kid was smirking arrogantly.
'I'll wipe that off his face soon enough. He'll find that being a Malfoy holds no sway with me,' he thought as he gazed at the boy.
"This means that you are different from the other children in this school. This means that you are the outsiders. Slytherin is a proud, cunning, and noble house with ambition and intelligence. We are survivors. The others however, do not see this and you will be snubbed by everyone else.
"To combat this, you must always stand together and help your fellow classmates no matter who they are. For this reason we have the first rule—Slytherins are one! Defying this rule is the worst thing you can do. Within the House of Slytherin, we protect our own."
Snape took in the first years staring at him with a mixture of fear and awe. Apart from one messy-haired brat, they were all looking at him with rapt attention. The brat however was still gazing at his feet, shuffling his trainers from side to side like the worn footwear was more interesting than what the Potions Master had to say. Snape glared at the boy again, putting his utmost loathing into it, willing Potter to look up. He didn't.
Infuriated, Snape snapped at the first years, "Any questions?"
The Malfoy boy had the audacity to put his hand up. "When are Quiddich tryouts, sir? My dad says I would make an excellent player and there are spaces on the team."
The Potions Master glared at the platinum blonde, taking his attention off Harry. "Tryouts are next Thursday, on the pitch at four. You may try but first years are not normally allowed on the team."
The blonde smirked, likely figuring such rules were below him. He was a Malfoy after all.
The Potion Master glared again and addressed the rest of the first years. "Any more questions?" His tone made it obvious that there better not be.
"Good," said Snape with a sharp nod of his head. "Prefect Flint will tell you the rest of the rules of the school. Schedules will be handed out tomorrow at breakfast so don't even think about lying in, I expect you there by seven. On your schedules will also be appointed study times and study groups. It is advised you follow these appointed times though they are not compulsory." The onyx eyes scanned the small children once again. A brief flash of green eyes caught his attention.
Ha, finally decided to pay attention, Potter!
"There will be no trouble making in my house. I expect you to behave with decorum and to not embarrass the Slytherin name by getting caught." His voice dropped to a dangerous whisper as he stared directly at the messy head of raven hair, "There will be consequences if you do."
Another minute of glaring to make sure the first years were appropriately scared, and Snape turned, stalking out of the common room.
It was visibly easier to breath. Many people sighed in relief and the first years relaxed.
"Right! You lot!" The eleven year olds jumped and stood straight as Prefect Flint came forward. The fifth year had broad shoulders and a muscular frame and his sharp eyes made sure you knew not to mess with him.
"Name's Flint. You will call me Prefect Flint. I'm captain of the Quiddich team and also in charge of looking after you lot. I will now tell you the rules as Professor Snape stated. Rule 1 is . . . ," and so it continued for the next fifteen minutes.
Harry was getting nervous standing in the middle of the common room with the other first years. He could tell people were staring at him, even the upper years. Keeping his gaze fixed firmly on his much-too-big trainers, he tried to ignore them.
The door slammed open and the boy almost had a heart attack as his head of house swept in. Harry was happy that all eyes turned away from him to the professor but wished to have them back suddenly as he felt the burning glare of the Potions Master. Gulping quietly, he kept his head down and didn't look him in the eye. Adults never liked it when you looked them in the eye, especially if it was a freak like him. He knew that. Uncle Vernon had said so.
Harry practically shivered in fear as the professor opened his mouth and in a dangerous, silky voice began to speak. The boy listened with every fiber of his being to what the man was saying, even as his fear increased. Professor Snape kept glaring at him, burning a hole in his head and it scared him.
He heard the Professor ask if there were any questions and thought it was an odd thing to say. You were never supposed to ask questions. Harry knew that. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had told him. Over and over and over again.
He listened as Malfoy—what was his name?—Draco speak without being told to first by the professor. Harry stiffened; he was sure Draco would get a telling off and a slap round the face. When the Potions professor began answering his question without harming the blonde, Harry realized that Draco must be like his cousin, Dudley. Not a freak like him.
'Of course he isn't, stupid! Why do you think anyone would ever be like you? You know these people are above you, they must all be like Dudley. You're the only freak. Everyone's always said so. Again and again and again,' Harry told himself, sternly.
He listened as the professor went on about study time. He was saying something about going in groups but Harry knew that no one would want to go with him. He was stupid. Even the teachers at school said so.
He didn't want to be stupid; he just never had time to study or someone to explain things to him. That, and Dudley was always ruining his homework or stealing his books and distracting him in class. It didn't help that he was always so tired from either his chores or receiving a punishment the day before. The nightmares didn't help either.
Harry knew that no one would want a stupid person to study with them, they would get tired of having to explain everything to him. Maybe he could study by himself in the library . . . if the librarian let him. The school librarian hadn't after Uncle Vernon told her what a troublemaker and dirty boy Harry was. The public librarian had let him stay though, reading the books in the tucked away corner between two shelves until Uncle Vernon had stopped him going. Harry hoped that that the school librarian was like that. Maybe then he would be able to read his books without bothering anyone. Maybe he could even borrow some to read in the common room.
The professor's eyes darted over to him again and Harry glanced up quickly to be sure about the Head of House's expression.
He was right. Complete and utter loathing.
It was burning in the onyx eyes as Snape glared at him. The professor hated him already. Why? He hadn't done anything?
'Don't be stupid! He probably knows you're a freak. He's probably ashamed and embarrassed about having someone so stupid in his house,' he scolded himself.
Everyone was ashamed to be seen with him, he knew he was a burden and that no one would ever want him. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley had made sure to remind him of that. Had made sure that he knew to be grateful for all they had done for him, feeding and clothing him, despite not wanting to.
'And now Professor Snape has to put up with you without wanting to as well!' thought Harry to himself. 'Just try and stay out of his way, out of sight, and out of trouble, and then maybe he won't punish you too much.'
Even as he thought of it Harry knew it was hopeless. With the hatred he had seen in his Head of House's eyes, he knew Snape would punish him for everything, like the Dursleys had. Like he deserved.
Snape swept out of the room and Harry released a breath he had been holding. The green-eyed boy noticed that quite a few people did the same. Harry stood rigidly again as Prefect Flint stepped in front of them and began reading the rules. He listened intently, determined to not break any of them and get into trouble, even though he knew it was hopeless.
Harry always got into trouble. He deserved to be punished. Uncle Vernon said so.
They were staring at him again, and once again Harry was beginning to feel uncomfortable. They were in the first year's dorm room. Prefect Flint had finished giving them the rules with the final order to not embarrass the Slytherin name and to obey the First Rule, before sending them off to bed to get a good night's sleep and settle in.
So now Harry was walking to his bed, the furthest from the door, where his trunk sat at the end while all eyes followed him.
There were six beds altogether and each of the boys moved to their appointed space. Malfoy, Nott, and Crabbe were on one side of the room, while Goyle, Zabini, and Harry were opposite them. Harry noted that his bed was next to the boy named Blaise's. He hoped that the other, bigger boy wasn't going to be too mean. At least he wasn't staring at him in hatred or suspicion like the other occupants of the room.
Darting glances at them every so often to make sure they weren't coming to harm him, Harry ignored the glares and settled on retrieving his school books and a shirt to sleep in from his trunk. He was glad that the dungeons were so dimly lit or the other boys would have surely seen how battered and worn his clothes were. Harry figured he could try to read a bit of his school books before bed to make sure he wasn't completely behind in class. Uncle Vernon had locked his books in his trunk as soon as he got back from Diagon Ally so he hadn't had a chance to read them yet.
"Oi, Potter," Nott called from across the room, "just what the hell are you doing here?" The black-haired boy didn't answer him and closed his trunk.
"Yeah, what's with being Sorted into Slytherin, Pot-head, think you could waltz in here and take over?" sneered Draco. Still Harry did not respond and climbed into his bed. "Answer me! I'm a Malfoy!" cried the blonde, annoyed at being ignored.
"Forget it, Draco, Scarface's probably too scared to speak, sulking about being Sorted into Slytherin. His parents would hate him, considering they were stupid Gryffindorks. Probably spinning in their graves they are, Potter. You think Pot-head would learn that no one wants him if even his parents died to escape him," said Nott, laughing, and Draco laughed too, which caused Crabbe and Goyle to join in because of their mindless devotion to the young Malfoy.
Harry didn't show it but their comments had hurt. It was one of the only things he could hang onto in the dark times. During the worst of times, after being locked in his cupboard for days or after a particularly harsh beating, thinking that at least if his parents were alive they would want him made him feel less down. He told himself they would say he was smart and hold him. Would they really be disappointed in him, would they really not want him now that he had been Sorted into Slytherin?
The green-eyed boy felt something akin to physical pain in his chest at the thought. He couldn't even remember his parents and now they hated him because he had gone and disappointed them. Just like he disappointed everyone.
Closing the curtains around his bed, Harry let the laughing of the other boys fade into the background as he changed from his robes into his tattered t-shirt and crawled under the covers. He had only been here a day and already his head of house and dorm mates hated him. He also got the feeling that the other professors had been expecting something else from him and were also disappointed about where he had been Sorted.
He had hoped that he would be able to make a new start, maybe even have a friend at Hogwarts. He should have known it wouldn't happen. No one ever wanted to be with friends him.
Harry woke early with a silent scream, the bed covers scrunched up in his mouth and an accidental silencing charm cast around his bed. Strangely, it wasn't the normal nightmare with the green flash and red eyes that had woken him but one of Uncle Vernon coming to the school and punishing him, beating him with his hands while his classmates hexed him with their wands.
The young green-eyed boy was shivering in fright and knew he wouldn't get back to sleep. Getting up silently, he grabbed his robes and toothbrush and headed for the showers. He did not wish for his dorm mates to see his scars. He knew he hid his pale skin and starved complexion well with accidentally applied glamours—not that he knew that was what they were called—but he couldn't hide the marks on his back, legs, and arms. His body was another thing that Harry was ashamed of, like almost everything else.
Hoping that no one would tell him off, the young boy allowed himself the indulgence of using the hot water for five minutes. He was sure someone would punish him for it but the feel of the warm water on his scars and aching muscles was worth it. Finishing quickly with brushing his teeth, using the loo, and attempting to brush his hair, Harry exited the dorm without waking up any of the other boys. Taking some of his school books with him, he tiptoed down to the common room.
He came up short when he saw that the large room was empty and that the fire was reduced to embers. Squinting while moving to the fireplace, Harry read the clock above the mantle place and saw that it was only five thirty. Almost two hours until breakfast.
Relaxing into a green armchair which seemed to swallow the small boy as it molded around him, Harry settled down to read. He had failed to read any of his books last night, going to sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Now he had the perfect opportunity to make sure he wasn't too behind in class.
An hour later Prefect Flint appeared and took a whole ten minutes to see that there was someone else in the room and then scowled at the firsty.
"Hey, Potter!" Harry jumped with surprise and dropped his Hogwarts: A History book in surprise.
"P-P-Prefect F-Flint," he stuttered at the disapproving look on the older boy's face. The small boy turned to pick up his book so he wouldn't have to look at the fifth year's disapproving gaze.
"Since when have you been down here Potter and why are you not you in your dorm? Breakfast isn't for another hour if you're thinking you can get there early and stuff yourself."
"N-No, Prefect F-Flint. I-I've been here since f-five t-thirty. I h-had a n-n-nightmare."
"Well, don't expect any sympathy. Homesickness is common but get over it. You are a Slytherin, you cannot be seen as weak," scolded Flint sharply.
Harry didn't need the older boy to remind him of that. He had known since he was three that showing weakness just meant people hurt you more. He didn't bother to correct the prefect about the homesickness though, and just nodded respectfully.
Flint scowled at him for a moment longer, making Harry feel uncomfortable even though he would never show it, before walking off to attend to the rest of his prefect duties. The small boy relaxed and went back to reading.
The common room steadily filled up and Harry left his seat to hide in a corner as more of the other kids arrived, holding his book in one hand and waiting to go to breakfast. He didn't care that his reading would get him a reputation as a book worm. He figured that he was stupid and probably wouldn't understand the lessons, but he could remember things when reading and preferred it.
The others would think the worst of him anyway and if he was lucky they would forget he existed entirely and leave him alone. That didn't happen often though. Dudley had made sure of that.
Sitting at the end of the breakfast table, away from the others and nibbling on a bit of toast while eating one or two bites of his porridge Harry waited for Professor Snape to hand out the schedules so that he could go and get his books before the other boys. To his dismay, the professor seemed to really hate him and purposely left him till last, skipping him out to attend to the other boys first and even doing the other side of the table before he gave a schedule to Harry.
The boy didn't show his disappointment and accepted the parchment with a polite "thank you, sir" before taking a quick glance at it and leaving to gather his books and leaving his breakfast barely touched.
Snape glared after the arrogant boy, who thought himself too good to sit with his Slytherin year mates and obviously didn't think the food at Hogwarts stood up to his five star standards. The Potion Master had got a little revenge by leaving the boy till last, only leaving him five minutes to get down to the dungeons, grab his books, and run all the way back up to get to the Transfiguration classroom. To his chagrin, the boy had only said "thank you" before running off in an undignified manner.
'Bloody brat,' thought the onyx eyed man, sweeping out of the hall himself to prepare for his first lesson of the term. Third year Slytherins and Gryffindors. "Oh what joy!"
The small boy panted as he ran through the halls, chasing the last of the first year Gryffindors that he was sharing Transfiguration with. He was sure that his other Slytherins would be ashamed of him arriving after Gryffindors but the professor hadn't given him enough time to get down to the dungeons and get his stuff before coming back to the classroom on time and he was just glad he wasn't too late
Slowing down to walk through the door a minute after Harry saw the last Gryffindor, one with violent red hair, disappear through it, the green eyed boy had to suppress a scream and try not to jump as something large and furry came sailing towards him only to turn into a stern lipped professor in long maroon robes less than a foot away from him.
"Mr. Potter, I do not allow tardiness. I presume you have an excuse?" quipped Professor McGonagall.
He could have told her about Snape but he knew she wouldn't listen. Adults rarely listened to what you had to say and then they normally only said you were wrong. Shaking his head, not daring to look the Animagus in the eye, the green eyed boy gave a polite "no, ma'am."
McGonagall looked at Harry expectantly, obviously still expecting him to try and excuse himself for being late. When nothing was forthcoming, she huffed and shook herself much like a cat would.
"I will let you off this time Mr. Potter, seeing as it is your first day and it is easy to get lost. Please go and take your seat." She gestured to the last free seat in the classroom, near the board, in the corner and away from everyone else. Harry was happy for that. If he was close he might understand if she wrote down any instructions and the position of the desk would mean he wouldn't have to look at anyone.
Running to his seat, almost tripping on his robes, the messy haired boy ignored the snickering of the Gryffindors and the smirks of the Slytherins in favor of trying to make himself comfortable. It was hard to do that in the hard seat with the scars on his back stretched painfully and he was still hurting awfully from Uncle Vernon's "going away" present. The small boy paid no attention to his aching body though, and instead concentrated fully on the professor as she began to lecture, pacing up and down the room while she did so.
"Transfiguration is the magic of changing one object to another . . ."
Harry smiled secretly to himself as he made his way back down to the common room after the last lesson of the day. They had only had a half day as it was the first day of the new term and the green eyed boy was deliriously happy. He hadn't got in trouble the whole day after he was late for Transfiguration. He had even got some points for Slytherin in Herbology as he already knew a lot about plants from taking care of Aunt Petunia's garden. The black haired boy was absurdly proud about that even if his other year mates thought it was lame.
So far, each lesson had been interesting even if they hadn't done much practical work and Harry had taken notes on all of the lectures. The teachers were another matter altogether though.
Professor McGonagall, who had smiled at him before the Sorting, had been in a sour mood all day. It could have been because of anything but Harry got the impression that she was disappointed in him and didn't want to acknowledge his existence. He wouldn't have minded this normally but it did mean that no one stopped the rest of the boys behind him from sending spit balls, and sometimes even hexes in his direction.
Even when some of the hexes had drastically altered his appearance for a short time the professor had simply pursed her lips and carried on teaching without telling off the perpetrators. Harry was rather disappointed in this, but he knew not to expect the teachers to be on his side.
Professor Flitwick, who taught Charms, had been nice enough. Harry had sat at the back that lesson to make sure he couldn't be an easy target and none of the other kids had tried anything. The lesson had been interesting and kind of funny. The only letdown had been when the tiny professor had gotten excited over his name and fallen off his chair. Professor Flitwick had tried to get him into the lesson as much as possible and kept mentioning his name until he got the message that Harry would rather be invisible and left him alone. The green eyed boy was thankful for that.
Professor Sprout had been an odd woman but was much more interested in her plants than Harry so the lesson had been the best so far. In History, the small boy wasn't even sure if the ghost of Professor Binns noticed that anyone was even in the room. Harry got a sneaking suspicion that he always talked about the goblin revolutions in that monotone voice whether or not there were people there to hear him.
It was so good to be at a school where there was something interesting to learn and no Dudley to ruin it. Harry's only regret was that he hadn't managed to ask anyone where the library was yet. He was sure with a bit of exploring he would find it though, and decided to skip lunch to do so.