September 1st, 1991. Morning.
Harry was all packed and just waiting to leave. He was so impatient that he couldn't even sit in one place, causing him to pace about, muttering under his breath. He was waiting for the Malfoys to arrive.
The floo pinged.
Yes! They're here.
Narcissa walked from the floo without so much as a stumble.
"There you are, Harry dear." Narcissa said. "Are you all packed for Hogwarts?"
Harry barely refrained from rolling his eyes. Narcissa was always a mother-hen.
"Yes, Narcissa. I finished packing last night."
"Good." She said and pulled him into a hug. Harry returned the hug but moved away as soon as he could without being rude. That was when he saw Draco and Lucius come out of the Floo. Harry could tell by looking at Draco that he was walking straight only due to Lucius' presence near him. Or else he would have skipped with excitement.
"Good morning, Lucius. Hello, Draco."
"Good morning, Harry."
"Hi, Ha- ouch… Good Morning, Prince." Draco corrected after a small poke by his Father's cane.
Harry smirked. This was something he was used to. They always had to be formal while greeting for the first time and Draco always forgot.
"Good, all of you are here." They all turned to see the Dark Lord walking in.
"Father." Harry acknowledged with a nod.
"My lord." Draco and Lucius bowed. Narcissa curtsied.
"Harry cannot go to the station via Floo or Portkey. So, I will be taking him there by muggle means." He spat the word muggle.
"Very well, My Lord." Lucius said. "Come Draco, Narcissa. We must leave for the station."
"Harry, acting like a mudblood is going to be difficult. But acting like a mudblood is going to be even more difficult in Slytherin."
"I know, Father. I will be careful. No one touches me and mine and gets away with it."
The cold glint in his eyes would have made the person standing in front of him run far and in the opposite direction if it wasn't the Dark Lord.
"Good. Now let's go."
September 1st,1991. King's Cross Station Platform 9¾
"Have a good term, Harry. I expect the best from you."
"Of course, Father."
"See you soon, Father. I'll write to you."
"Harry…" Harry turned back with a questioning look on his face.
"Dumbledore is hiding something of value at school. I wish to own it. You must bring it for me. Consider this as a test. I will not tell you what it is or where it is. You must do it on your own."
"Yes. I will do it as soon as I can."
"Good." With that the Dark Lord left.
Harry climbed onto the train. That was when he first saw Her. Her uncontrollably wild hair bouncing behind her, her brown eyes flicking around trying to take everything in.
It was clear that she was a mudblood. There was no mistaking her awe at everything magical and her excitement of going to a magical school. He felt something. And thought-
'Can Father be wrong about mudbloods?' The thought was gone as soon as it came, leaving Harry with self-disgust at doubting his father.
At that moment, Harry determined he would hate her. She made him feel. Even worse, she made him doubt his father. But in that moment, Harry also realised one thing, he would not allow anyone else to hurt her. Ever.
In the train, on the way
Harry had found a compartment easily. He couldn't sit with Draco so he was all alone on his own. He did not want to sit with mudbloods or blood-traitors either. Luckily, for him as well as them, no one had bothered him either.
He had been reading for an hour or so when a knock on the door sounded and the compartment door was thrown open. A red-headed boy stood there. He glanced into the compartment and said-
"Oh! You're not him." He sounded disappointed.
"Him- as in Neville Longbottom. Surely you know him. The Chosen One? One destined to kill 'You-Know-Who'." He said the last part in a whisper as if expecting You-Know-Who to come out and kill him for talking about it.
Of course Harry knew. But-
"No, as a matter of fact, I do not know."
"But… everyone in wizarding wor- oh, are you a muggleborn? Hi, I'm Ronald Weasley. You may call me Ron."
Ah. A weasel, as Draco likes to call them. That explains the poor condition of the robes.
"Pleasure. Yes, I'm a mu- muggleborn. Harry, Harry Riddle."
He'd slipped and almost said mudblood. But he had to be polite. Had to wait and bid his time.
"Maybe I'll see you around, yeah?"
Great Hall, Sorting Ceremony.
The Hall was filled with applause. The hat had just finished its song. Now the First Years waited to be called to be sorted.
They had been received by a huge man called Hagrid. 'Dumbledore's pet half-giant' as Lucius had called him. They were taken across the Black Lake by the boats, where they first saw Hogwarts in all her glory. Even Harry had been really impressed though he neither gasped or gaped with his mouth hanging open or even blinked. Hagrid left them with McGonagall at the castle who told them, briefly, about the Hogwarts' houses and their qualities. Then she led them to the Great Hall to be sorted. Harry could hear the mud- Granger as he knew her name to be prattling about how the ceiling was enchanted to look like the sky outside and how it was mentioned in Hogwarts: A History. 'A know-it-all.' He rolled his eyes.
"Abbot, Hannah." The start of the ceremony brought Harry out of his musings
Harry tuned out after that. Only jerking back to reality when-
Harry didn't know why her sorting mattered or why he would care where she went but apparently, he did. So, he paid attention.
"Longbottom, Neville." Murmurs started around the hall. Ah, the Golden Boy. Gryffindor for him.
"GRYFFINDOR." Harry smirked. So obvious.
"Malfoy, Draco." 'He is going to be in Slytherin before you can say Quidditch.'
… not long before his turn now…
'Hello there, little Rid- oh pardon me, Prince'
'Stay out of my head if you know what's good for you'
The hat chuckled.
'There's not much to think about, is there?'
Harry removed the hat and made to move towards Slytherin table. The rest of the Slytherins had received warm and sort of genuine applause but Harry received a cold, aloof but polite one. Harry had expected it. He slid into a seat next to Draco as they waited for sorting to get over.
Weasely went to Gryffindor and Zabini, the last person to be sorted, got into Slytherin.
"Welcome!" Dumbledore exclaimed. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts. I have a few announcements but this is not the time. So, Nitwit! Oddment! Blubber! Tweak!"
'Barmy old codger.' As his father liked to call Dumbledore.
Suddenly, the plates in front of him were filled with food as the Hall descended into whispers- friends catching up after vacation, first years making friends, girls swapping the hottest gossip and so on. He could hear people whispering about him on the Slytherin table.
"… in Slytherin…"
"… let's wait and observe… who knows?"
He smirked. It was expected. Most of them decided they would wait and observe him, if he showed some special talent or not. But there were others who openly sneered at him. Shrugging, he went back to his meal. They would understand soon enough. No one said anything to him at the table, but he knew the same courtesy would not extend to the common room. He'd have to be vigilant.
After the Feast.
"Ahem- just a few more words now we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note that the Forbidden Forest is exactly that- Forbidden. And a few of our older student also ought to know that by now."
His eyes flashed towards the Gryffindor table and suspiciously towards two twin red-headed boys who looked like Weaselys.
"Next, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to anyone not wishing to die a painful death."
So that's where the precious thing is. That was easy. Now only to find out what is in there and how protected it is.
"Now, prefects, if you would please escort your students to the dormitories. Go on. Off you trot."
Harry followed the Slytherin prefect out of the hall and towards the Common Room, in the dungeons. He carefully took in his surroundings. Memorising each twist and turn. It wouldn't do to be lost, after all.
"Serpentine." The prefect said to a stretch of wall in front of him. The wall slid open to reveal a huge comfortable room draped in green and silver and black reminding Harry of the sitting room back at the Manor. As they all filed in, the wall closed, looking like a door on the inside but just a patch of wall outside.
"First years. Welcome to Slytherin House. This room and your dormitories are going to be your home for the next few years. There are a few Slytherin House rules that everyone must follow. I will leave that to Professor Snape." As if his words were a cue, the door slid open to reveal Snape- or Professor Snape as Harry reminded himself.
"First of all, we are Slytherins." Snape started without preamble. "We always stand together. No matter what circumstance. Outside of these walls, we are one. Your differences, prejudices and fights will never leave these walls.
"Next, Do. Not. Get. Caught. If you do, I assure you, it will not be pleasant for you.
"Work hard. If I find anyone slacking off in class, they will have me to answer to."
At this, some of the older students looked wary, and dare Harry say it, a little scared. He did not have to wonder why. He had experienced first-hand what Snape's punishments are for slacking off. Not even being the Dark Lord's son had saved him.
"I should find all First Years here tomorrow at 7, impeccably dressed and awake if you do not want to rush in for breakfast and classes like mindless Gryffindors. Am I clear?" There were a few nods. "Verbally!" Snape barked. "Yes, Sir!" Snape nodded and left.
Slowly, the first years had been left alone after being told where their dorms were. Two people to a dorm. Well that was a relief. Now Harry and Draco could talk freely without being suspected.
Harry looked around. A few older students who were sneering at him before were now sending him completely malicious smirks. No doubt they were going to try something before the week was out. Well, whenever it comes to that.
He walked downstairs to his dorm room, Draco followed soon after.
"Isn't this just great? Hogwarts is beautiful!"
"Yes, she is. I understand now, why Father considered her his true home."
Draco just nodded. They changed into their night clothes and got ready for bed. Harry really wanted to search for the precious thing but one entire day of travelling and being introduced in school takes a toll on everyone. So, he decided to put it off for tomorrow night and went to bed.
As Draco got into bed, Harry decided to sneak out under the disillusionment charm. He wordlessly cast it on himself and snuck he was walking around the dimly lit castle he reflected on his very first day at lessons.
The day had been pretty uneventful. They had Transfiguration first thing. Harry was impressed with McGonagall when she had come to pick him up at the orphanage but sitting through her lesson sealed it for him. She was a talented witch and a formidable opponent. She was not a witch to cross. She also was not blatantly partial to any student. If only she wasn't such a firm light believer! Harry sighed. It will not be possible to get McGonagall on the dark side. They had begun with basics- transfiguring toothpick into a matchstick. Harry had been the only one in class to do it successfully, earing 5 points and a rare smile, though Draco claimed he had been well on verge of doing it too.
They had charms too. Flitwick was nice enough, though a little too excited. Shame they wouldn't begin with wand work.
Looking around Harry realised he had reached his destination and decided to snoop around.
Outside the door, he started checking for wards alerting Dumbledore if someone tries to open the door. He didn't find any. He pressed an ear to the door to see if he could hear something. Sure enough, he heared growling. 'Growling? Who is growling in there?'
He tried to open the door. No result. He waved a hand unlocking it nonverbally. The door clicked open and Harry peeked inside. He quickly shut the door whispering "Colloportus".
Turning he walked swiftly towards the dorms thinking of nothing till he was in his bed.
"Why the hell does Dumbledore think it is a good idea to keep a bloody Cerberus in a school full of students?"
A month later
Harry had decided that if the first obstacle was a Cerberus then, it would get even more difficult as each stage passed. So, he couldn't go down without finding out a bit more. He wasn't, after all, a Gryffindor. But he hadn't made any progress. It was impossible to know what was beneath the trapdoor without climbing down himself or asking any teacher. Not that he didn't try. It seemed Father had strictly forbidden Severus from telling him anything worth knowing.
A month had passed since he last went there and only a few interesting things had happened.
Next day after visiting third floor corridor
Harry was walking down the potions lab for their first potions lessons, with Gryffindors of all people. Why Dumbledore thought it would be productive to put Slytherins' and Gryffindors' together for anything let alone potions was beyond the reasoning of Harry.
'Oh, hello Ron. Whatever happened to me being Harry?'
'You getting into Slytherin is what happened. I didn't take you to be a dark wizard. What with you being a muggle- Do they treat you right in there, mate?'
Harry blinked. The sudden change in tone from accusing to concerned took Harry off guard and so he took a moment to answer.
'Oh yeah. It's alright. They haven't done anything.' The 'yet' remained unsaid but understood.
Finnegan's cauldron had melted in that lecture causing Snape to take more 5 points off Gryffindor when he had already taken 5 points off from Longbottom for being unable to answer questions and Granger for being a Know-it-all. Harry hadn't seen Weasley after that.
Other thing that had happened was Weasley falling off his broom and breaking his wrist in the first flying lesson. It had been hilarious to watch, though many might disagree.
The older Slytherins' had also slowly started insulting him indirectly- covering their noses, asking in a staged whisper 'what is that foul smell?'- whenever he was in the room. It was starting to grate his nerves but none of them had openly insulted or confronted him. He could wait.
He was watching them to figure out who would best suit his order and who would be better off as a Death Eater. Till date he had a tentative list. All students in his year would of course be his followers but from older students, Marcus Flint, Adrian Pucey, Terrence Higgs, Megan Jones, Laura Madley, Miles Bletchley, the two Slytherin beaters Bole and Derrick were fit to be called his. They were few of the most powerful and sneaky ones. Their roots were also firmly dark. He would now have to start extending his search to other houses. Starting with Ravenclaw who at least looked at Slytherins without judgement, then Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors.
A few days later.
Harry was fed up. The Slytherins were really getting on his nerves. On top of it the mudblood had taken to following him around and asking him if he was okay. She felt he was being mistreated in Slytherin and them being from the same background that she could help him. The first few days of school he had ignored her perfectly ok but now it was impossible. She even always sat next to him in the library quoting Hogwarts: A History always. There was only so much he could take.
Right now, he was in the library looking for some clues to subdue a Cerberus. The mudblood usually came here around this time. Where was-
"Hi Harry." Ah. There she is. Right on time.
"I told you to call me Hermione."
"And I never told you to call me Harry but here we are."
"Why do you have to be so rude to me all the time?"
""Why do you have to be so rude to me all the time?"" He mocked her. "Why don't you go sit with other mudbloods and leave me alone, huh, how do you not know that know-it-all?"
She looked like she would cry. Instead-
Harry reeled back when she slapped him, clearly not expecting it.
"You filthy hypocrite! You call me a mudblood when you're as much a mudblood as I am. You think just because you got into Slytherin you become a pureblood? I just wanted to help you." And she stormed away.
Harry stood there rooted on the spot, still recovering from the shock. As he started coming back to his senses, he started becoming angry.
How dare she! She was nothing but a filthy little mudblood. And he was the Dark Lord's son. She would pay. One day she would pay dearly for what she has done.
And this was exactly why he was in a foul mood when he returned to the common room. Draco saw him and wisely kept his mouth shut. But wise was not a word that would describe the 5 older students who approached him.
"Why if it isn't our Slytherin mudblood."
"Of course it is. Why would it stink otherwise?"
Harry's anger tipped over the edge and he let go of the control on his magic.
One moment the 5 Slytherins had him cornered and were insulting him and in the next moment they were on the floor twitching and screaming and pleading for mercy. But mercy was exactly what Harry did not feel like giving them so he let them suffer. He stopped only when he heard a pleading in his year.
"Prince, stop. Please stop. See, look at them, they have already suffered. Think. You don't want to reveal everything, do you?"
It would seem Draco had abandoned his cowardice of not coming forward.
"That is exactly what I plan on doing, Draco. They think they can trample me or have you not heard them speak for the last few days? I'll just have to tell them who I really am."
"Don't you think that is risky?" They were speaking normally but Harry had erected a privacy ward as soon as he took his power under control again. Some of the other students were helping those five but rest of them were just looking at him fearfully. Harry, now, had calmed down enough to think rationally.
"You are right, Draco. But look, now they will leave me alone."
Snape chose that moment to glide in It seemed someone slipped away to call their head of house. Snape took one look around and asked,
"What happened here? I want the truth. The complete truth."
"Sir, these 5 boys started it." It was Daphne Greengrass. "They were insulting Riddle there and then suddenly they were twitching and screaming. Then Malfoy went over, said something and Riddle calmed down."
"I see. Come on, you five. I'll deal with you." Snape then turned to Harry, "Mr. Riddle, I expect you in my office at 5. Is that clear?"
At 5, Snape's office
"Come in, Harry."
Harry relaxed a little at Severus calling him by his first name. That meant he was not in a lot of trouble. He walked in and waited to be acknowledged.
"Sit down, Harry. I heard what happened in the common room from the 5 students. I've never seen you lose your cool like that. Care to explain what happened?"
"Sev- I had a bad day. And then they came onto me insulting me, my father-"
"Your Father- how?"
"By saying I'm a Mudblood, they implied that father is a muggle. Isn't that an insult to him?" Harry scowled there. "So, I just lost control on my magic." He didn't say he was sorry. Because he was not. He would do it over and over again if the situation called for it.
"Very well. I trust you know what you are going to do?"
"I do, sir."
"But I have to give you detention. Every Saturday 10 am."
"Yes, sir. I will be there."
No one knew what Snape told those five boys and what those boys told the rest of the Slytherins. But one thing was clear. The dynamics of the house changed rapidly after that incident.
Harry, since the incident, was hailed the prince of Slytherin, within the house only though. Harry was treated with utmost respect.
The seating in the Great Hall changed too. Where the first years used to sit at the end of the table, now they sat in the middle with Harry right in the centre. It went unnoticed by the rest of the students but Dumbledore noticed it right away. He decided to keep a closer eye on Harry. He did not want a second Voldemort on his hand, after all.
Harry was bored. All the lessons taught him everything he already knew. There was nothing new and so he was bored.
'- no one can stand her.' Harry heard Weasley's voice telling Finnegan. 'She's a nightmare, honestly. Bloody know-' he stopped as someone bumped into him. Harry saw it was Granger and she was crying.
"Well, then you should have listened to professor Flitwick. I just corrected your wording." She screamed.
"Go boss your friends. Oops, my bad, you haven't got any." Weasley taunted.
Harry was on his feet wand drawn. "Apologise." He said, his voice deadly calm and cold. He noticed Granger look towards him in surprise and suspicion. He didn't care. Weasley looked defiant and ready to protest but Harry's eyes flashed and he gripped his wand firmly
"So- Sorry." Weasley stuttered and ran away.
As soon as he was gone, Granger turned on him. "Why do you care? After all I'm but a filthy mudblood. You don't need to protect me when you are just as mean as he is."
Again, Harry stood transfixed but this time wondering about something she said.
Why do you care?
Indeed, why did he care?