“Blimey Harry, why didn’t you tell us?” Ron exclaimed from Harry’s admission, and then received an aggressive glare and ‘shush’ from Madam Pince.
Harry’s Gryffindor friends reacted a tad differently to the news of Harry being able to talk to snakes. They were sat in their usual spot in the library after their last class and Harry had just explained the strange events of that morning. He had started to explain with a smile but that smile slowly dropped as he saw his friend’s reactions.
“What is it?” Harry asked, biting his lip in worry. “The Slytherin’s didn’t say it was a bad thing…”
“Of course they bloody didn’t-“
“Ron.” Hermione interrupted her friend with a shove of her elbow and then turned to Harry, a concerned line forming on her brow. “It’s not a bad thing Harry. At least, I don’t think it is…” She looked away, looking unsure.
Neville had barely looked at Harry since he'd made his admission.
Harry’s heart was beating fast as the silence prevailed in their group, all of them finding the wood grain in the table very interesting as Harry looked to and from each of his friends to figure out what they were thinking.
Ron finally caved. “It’s dark magic, Harry.” He whispered. “They say…you-know-who was a parcelmouth too.”
Harry’s mouth went dry. Suddenly his new excitement for his skill had disappeared. “Oh.”
“Salazar Slytherin too.” Neville added grimly and Harry thought this couldn’t get worse.
He didn’t want any more association with Slytherin, it was enough he had to suffer the company of those in his awful house.
“That doesn’t mean you’re a dark wizard though, Harry.” Hermione reached out and grabbed Harry’s hand which now felt numb. He flinched a little not expecting the touch but didn’t pull away. “I bet lots of amazing wizards have that skill too. They're probably just not as well-known...”
Harry offered her a meek smile.
“Yeah, you’re not like the other Slytherins at all, Harry.” Ron added, as if trying to convince himself too. “You’re a good wizard, everyone can see that.”
Harry looked down at his transfiguration homework that he had been working on, suddenly he didn’t feel very inspired to continue.
“I’ll look up some books on parceltongue and we can find some examples where it’s been used for good!” Hermione decided, her eyes lit up with excitement of the potential of new research.
Harry offered her a small smile. “Thanks, Hermione.” She was a good friend. He still wasn’t sure they would find anything though.
“Let’s keep this between us, yeah?” Ron said, his voice dropped low as he looked cautiously over his shoulder. “I’m not sure how some people in Hogwarts would react to it, outside of Slytherin that is…”
Harry nodded distractedly. He certainly didn’t want to be more associated with dark wizards, and he wanted nothing in common with the murderer who killed his parents.
“I think I’m going to have an early night...” Harry muttered closing his transfiguration book, he couldn’t study when he was so sick to his stomach. Neville still couldn’t look him in the eye.
Ron and Hermione wished him goodnight as he left the library, he just reached the entrance as he realised, he forgot his quill on the desk in his hast to escape. He turned tail to return to his friends to retrieve it.
He turned into the small corner the group of friends all usually populate, and overheard his name and paused, ducking behind a bookshelf.
He knew it was bad to eavesdrop but couldn’t help himself.
“…I was shocked too.” Hermione said, Harry leaned closer. He held his breath.
“I forget he’s a Slytherin sometimes.” Ron added. “He’s so unlike the others, so kind and loyal, he could easily be a Gryffindor.”
Harry smiled softly, a hopeful feeling rising in his chest.
“But, a…parcelmouth? That’s one of the oldest dark arts…” Ron continues and Harry feels his smile drop and a rock settle in his stomach. “He really is a Slytherin after all…”
Harry clenched his fists as he felt tears build up in his eyes. He decided he didn’t need his spare quill anyway and swiftly left the hiding spot and the library. His head was spinning, and he felt lost.
Of course, he knew he would never actually be a Gryffindor. He’d tried to come to terms with it, with being a Slytherin. But hearing his friends call him his house as if it was an insult, it still hurt Harry’s heart in a way he didn’t understand.
Harry’s head was spinning so much he didn’t even realise the group he’d accidently ran in to. Luck wasn’t on his side, as two large forms shoved into him, sending Harry and his books tumbling down onto the floor.
Harry groaned softly from the fall and looked up to grimace as he became face to face with his former dorm-mates. Crabbe and Goyle must’ve been the ones to shove him down, towering over him as Malfoy pushed his way past to sneer at Harry. Harry tried to shuffle back from the boy.
“Look who it is,” Draco spat. He looked positively furious. “Thought you’d be able to tattle to Snape and get away with it Potty?”
Harry felt his heartbeat in his ears thumping loudly. His eyes followed his fellow Slytherin’s carefully watching their next move. Snape said he’d talked to Malfoy and the other boys about the bullying, and with the dorm move and parceltongue revelation he hadn’t had chance to think about how angry they would be at him for telling. Besides, in class the boys has practically pretended he didn't exist. Perhaps he shouldn't have been so naive to think that they would leave him alone.
He gulped, preparing himself. Then tried to push himself up from the floor, only to be shoved back down roughly by Crabbe who pushed down on his shoulder harshly. Harry flinched, there would definitely be a bruise there later.
“Just because you’ve moved dorms doesn’t mean you can escape us, Potter.” Malfoy growled. “It’s all your fault I got in trouble. Snape has given me detention every night for two months. You need to pay."
Harry’s breath became laboured, he felt cornered by the boys. Malfoy towered over him, Crabbe and Goyle on either side of him like guard dogs and he noticed Nott and Zabini there as well, as if they were keeping watch.
Harry looked at his books scattered across the floor and slowly, as if trying not to stir a wild animal, reached for them. He needed to make a quick escape.
Unfortunately, Draco noticed his movements and with a sneer he lifted his black polished boots and stomped harshly on Harry’s movements towards the book.
Harry immediately yelped from pain, trying to release his fingers from Draco’s shoe who only sneered and pressed down harder. Tears began to well in Harry’s eyes.
“You chose the wrong enemy Potter.” He sneered; his face screwed up as he loomed over Harry like a predator to their prey.
“Draco…” Nott called, and Draco’s head turned to meet his gaze, as if someone was coming to catch them. While distracted Harry was able to pull his fingers of his right hand from under his boot and he cradled it to his chest wincing with pain when he tried to wiggle his fingers which had gone red under the pressure.
“What is it?” Malfoy snapped.
“We should go.” Nott continued, casting a quick glance at Zabini too. It was quick but Harry still noticed the strange look between the boys. Nott shrugged, looking at his watch. “Curfew.”
Malfoy narrowed his eyes and Harry thought he was going to argue, but then must have decided against it as he turned back to Harry who was curled against the wall attempting to get away, while cradling his right injured hand to his chest.
“Watch your back, Potty.” Draco jeered, before promptly kicking Harry’s books down the corridor and sweeping away to the Slytherin common room, without a second glance, Crabbe and Goyle following closely behind.
Harry noticed Nott and Zabini lingering and stared back waryily, following their every move. Nott stared at Harry strangely and Zabini looked like he wanted to say something but then closed his mouth and they both walked off, following the directions of the other boys.
Harry let out a shaky breath, his heart beating hard in his chest and fingers throbbing painfully from Draco stomping on them. He was grateful he didn’t share a room with them anymore, but it was a stark reminder that he wasn’t quite safe from them still.
With some difficultly due to his hand, he grabbed his books, and after some time so he hoped he wouldn’t run into the other first years again, he also made his way down the dungeon stairs.
“Do you have another prefect meeting?” Harry asked Lucas as he fell into step beside Harry on the way to the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning.
Harry had tried to leave quietly and independently like the previous day, but Lucas yet again woke at the same time, and they ended up heading to breakfast together. Harry had been careful to hide the bruises that had blackened over his hand from the previous evening, pulling his jumper firmly down.
“Nah.” Lucas shrugged. Harry cast him a confused glance as if to ask why he was up so early. “I guess it’s habit, but I can never sleep in.”
Harry wasn’t sure he believed him but let it slide as they continued their journey to the great hall. Upon entering the grand wooden doors, Harry’s eyes immediately found their way at the Gryffindor table but found it empty of his friends.
He felt his shoulders drop a tad in disappointment and he remembered the conversation he’d overheard the previous night. He didn’t know how to feel about it. He hoped nothing had changed in their friendship. He hoped he hadn’t ruined anything. Like he always did.
“Come on,” Harry felt Lucas push his shoulder gently, he hadn’t even realised he’d stopped walking, gazing so solemnly at the Gryffindor table. “Food’s here.”
With another tug of his jumper to cover his right hand, Harry let himself be guided to the Slytherin table, a place that he’d only really known to be a place of ridicule and embarrassment or loneliness and solitude. It felt strange to suddenly have someone in Slytherin who actually wanted to share Harry’s company over a meal.
He slid into the bench beside Lucas and reached for a glass of pumpkin juice as he watched the older prefect grab some toast and begin to spread on some jam.
“So, are you going to go to the hospital wing for those bruises?” Lucas asked and Harry nearly choked on his pumpkin juice.
“What?” Harry spluttered.
Lucas cast him a knowing glance and moved to spread jam on his other piece of toast.
“How did you…?” Harry muttered, fidgeting with the sleeve of his jumper again.
“I saw your hand this morning.” Lucas replied simply. “It’s pretty obvious when you fidget with your jumper like that too.”
Harry stopped, his hands dropping to his lap, as if scalded.
“Madam Pomphrey will be able to heal it for you-” Lucas continued.
“It’s fine.” Harry mumbled, shuffling a tad away from the older prefect as he reached for some fruit. “I can handle it.”
Harry thought Lucas looked frustrated at Harry as his body seemed to tense up and his normal kindly grin had faded into a deep frown. But the boy didn’t say anything more and dropped the subject, something Harry was most grateful for and allowed himself to relax a little.
That was until he noticed Professor Snape enter the Great Hall.
His black eyes scanned the Hall meticulously, until they landed on Harry and they narrowed as if they had found their target. Harry gulped down the piece of dragon fruit he had been nibbling on and sat up straight as the potions master strode towards them.
Harry cast a quick glance at Lucas to see him hardly bothered by the Professor’s quick advancement, pouring himself some tea from the teapot without a care in the world.
Harry gulped, trying to channel some of Lucas’s worryfree nature. And failing.
“Mr Potter. Mr Moore.” Snape nodded, as he arrived in front of the two Slytherin boys, eyes flittering between them as if inspecting every detail. Harry was glad he’d figured out how to tie his tie, feeling Snape's gaze inspecting every aspect of his appearance. He wished he had thought to comb his hair a bit more and self-consciously reached a hand (-his left, uninjured one-) up to attempt to flatten it.
“Professor Snape.” Lucas greeted, respectfully.
Harry tried to find the words to greet his head of house but didn’t have the chance as the professor spoke first.
“Mr Potter, stay behind after today’s potions class.” He said simply, leaving no room for argument.
“Uh, yes sir.” Harry obediently replied, his heart racing as if waiting for the insult.
But it never came and the potions master simply nodded and swept off to the staff table taking a seat beside Professor Flitwick.
Harry stared at him, confused by the Professor, and felt a ball of anxiety form in his stomach, wondering what Snape wanted to talk to him about. Hopefully the Professor wasn't about to change his mind about the dorm switches, Harry wasn't sure he could go back to the first years anymore. A shiver ran down his spine at the thought, his eyes glancing down at his bruised hand with a grimace.
It was a grim reminder of how unwelcome he was in the first year Slytherin dorms. He couldn't go back.