Good Snake Bad Snake

Hermione, Harry, Severus

Hermione

Hermione was finding Hogwarts endlessly wonderful and wildly disappointing at the same time. She'd been marked as a muggleborn nearly as soon as she stepped onto the train, and it hadn't made things easy for her. She was ever so grateful she'd had prior warning or it could have been even worse.

She'd read through all of the material she had bought with Professor Black of course, but reading could never replace full immersion in any culture, let alone one she hadn't even known the existence of a year ago.

She had also been marked as a know-it-all with 'messy' hair and big teeth, but that was a sting that was a little more familiar. She'd always struggled making friends, but she'd hoped...well she'd hoped she would find someone here. She only really needed one friend, that was all.

Her roommates were alright she supposed, but two of them had already been friends since they were babies and were always in their own little world. And Lavender and Parvati, the two other girls, were two peas in a pod and while Hermione was truly happy for them that they had found one another, they unfortunately didn't really have anything in common with her. Even their opinions on classes and teachers were different. The girls had been excited when she had mentioned that she had been visited by Professor Black, but they had been less than impressed about her fascinating foray into goblin culture and more interested in how handsome he was.

And even Hermione could see that he was handsome; he was positively dreamy. He looked like Prince Charming and carried himself like Mr Darcy. Hermione thought he might be rather shy like him too, but she was more interested right now in his generosity with information that others in this world were rather stingy about, just as he had warned her they would be.

Ronald, one of the boys from their year had said that Professor Black was a Death Eater, which sounded like a biker gang. She had told him so and Dean, another boy from their year had laughed and agreed. He was black like her, and a muggleborn too, and they had a partial alliance because of that, but unfortunately all he cared about right now were football and a new-found discovery of its wizarding equivalent, quidditch.

Hermione resolved to simply try her best. Learning was her priority after all, and when she was lonely she could always turn to the best friend she'd always had, the library.

Hogwarts library was absolutely marvellous, and Hermione was already heartily digging in. She only had seven years to enjoy it after all. She had seen another boy there a lot, but he was wearing green, and Hermione knew enough at this early stage to know that as a muggleborn she should tread carefully there. Nevertheless she found solace in the fact that there was someone else who regularly seeked out the comfort of a good book when they needed to.

Sometimes she saw him watching her, and she hoped he found comfort in this too.

That was almost like friends, wasn't it?

Harry

Harry had been having a wonderful time at Hogwarts, though he still felt like at some point he would wake up and it will have all been a dream. it was like the stories in the books he had pinched from Dudley's second bedroom or read in the public library, where the main character finds out they were royalty. That was exactly what it felt like.

He had enough food to eat, more than enough; and no one even cared if he had bacon for breakfast every day! And he didn't have to pretend to be stupid for Dudley in class either, though he found that hard to remember.

He loved transfiguration; at first when he'd seen Professor McGonagall he'd thought she was scary but as soon as he found out she was a cat, well that explained everything. Cats weren't like other people. You had to treat them politely, and give them space, and then they decided if they liked you or not. It was the same with snakes.

Speaking of snakes, Harry wondered if the Slytherins were really as bad as Ron said they were. He seemed to think there were dark wizards waiting around every corner! It seemed to Harry a little like the fibs Aunty Tuney and Vernon had said about Harry; that he was a troublemaker and a liar and a picky eater, so he would wait to find out if the things Ron said about Slytherins were true.

That Malfoy really was a bully though.

But so was Ron sometimes. Harry had seen two girls crying because of him already, and Neville wasn't far off sometimes. Harry got the feeling that Neville wasn't allowed to cry, like Harry wasn't; though he didn't think it was for the same reason. Harry wasn't supposed to have feelings or make any noise that would disturb his uncle while he was watching the news, but Neville was a pureblood, and somewhat like a prince, from what Hermione had told him. She'd found out that in the library, saying it was like stepping into a different country with a whole new political system that they had to learn. He wasn't really interested of course until she said that the rules were different too, which made Harry nervous, because he didn't want people to think he was a trouble maker just because he didn't know the rules! She also said that wizards don't even give a tosh about the Queen! Harry wasn't sure if that was true. The royal family seemed to be all that Aunt Tuney cared about; she had their portraits in her lounge room and bought a commemorative plate when prince Charles got married.

Harry didn't know what to think. He decided to act like a private eye or a spy like in more of those books he'd stolen from Dudley. He'd accumulate facts, and work out what to think when he had more clues.

Severus

Severus finished brewing the potions for the second round of little Hadrian's nutritional regimen (Hadrian was his given name, and as far as he and Regulus were concerned 'Harry Potter' was a promotional schtick invented by Albus Dumbledore as a relatable boy hero of storybook, and the mythology of the Boy-Who-Lived. As such they'd decided to treat the boy as a human child who had much to learn and needed some steadying influences. And of course it fell to them to do such, as being in Gryffindor was going to get him into rather a lot of bad habits if he was left to it).

The young boy was just the same as as any other eleven year old and often forgot to take his medicine, and so Minerva had made the rather brilliant decision to call in Percival Weasley to deliver them to him at every meal and stand over him while he took it before he was distracted by bacon.

The young prefect channeled his mother, which was of course pointed out by his younger brothers, and which of course he found completely mortifying, but there he was. It was effective, and despite such a disruption at every meal as the Weasley clan entertained their whole table with their nonsense over it all, the boy was finally putting on weight and he had lost that concerning pallor to his skin. His cheeks were rosy as they should be, and his eyes were clear. His hair was beginning to look less dull, though Severus knew it would always be hopelessly messy unless Hadrian used his grandfather's ridiculous potion 'Sleekeazy's', which had been initially invented to tame the famously untameable Potter locks.

Hadrian also seemed to be better able to think in class and follow instructions, which meant he was less than likely to be a dunderhead; though admittedly that had never stopped his father.

Severus admitted that he would have dismissed him as a troublemaker in his classes just like the unruly Weasley boy who seemed to have adopted him, but the other Heads and Regulus had reminded him more than once that hungry children were impacted in their behaviour, their ability to listen, and their memories were also affected.

And then there was the fact that the child was almost afraid to be seen excelling in class. Both of his parents had been inarguably brilliant; James Potter had been a brat and hadn't needed to apply himself at all to coast along through school with O's and E's, only ever taking quidditch seriously, and many had been quite shocked when he hadn't followed his dreams to join the national league and had instead become an auror. The fact that he easily passed the notoriously difficult entry exam to the training academy after taking it on a whim showed just how capable he really was, and the injustice of it galled Severus to this day.

Lily of course had been both brilliant and had the same muggle middle class work ethic that the young Miss Granger was showing this year, which meant that she had excelled in absolutely every class, even the ones she hadn't favoured, but once she was out of school had a hard time finding work due to her blood status.

Of course Albus could have helped had he wanted to, but he'd thought nothing of allowing Lily's brilliance to languish in the life of a housewife and mother, a career that certainly shouldn't have been quite as hazardous as it had turned out to be.

Regulus had of course hired someone to look into the boy's previous records at his old schools and there was a pattern in his grades; and judging by the way Petunia and her horrible husband treated their son, it could be concluded that Harry had always been actively discouraged from gaining grades that were better than his cousin's poor showing, or if he gained any positive attention from their teachers at all. There were also very telling absences from school in the early days that had come after he'd received a better report card than his cousin. Of course in later years he'd clearly worked to keep his own grades below what they rightfully should have been. Some of his teachers noticed the discrepancy, but their interest had always dimmed and the disappeared entirely, showing that either the muggle system had frightfully plentiful holes, or that there had been magical tampering, which was gravely concerning. Of course it was likely a case of both.

That the cousin was clearly dyslexic seemed to have been missed somewhere on top of all the rest, and Regulus, again proving how truly caring and thorough he was, had put some wheels in motion to see if that child was actually safe with such monsters as his parents. Time would tell, and perhaps that boy too would be saved from Lily's hateful sister. How anyone so bitter and cruel could have come from the same childhood that had created Lily was anyone's guess.

The fact that having young Dudley Dursley taken away by social services was the ultimate revenge on the abusive muggles was secondary in Regulus' mind, but Severus was finding it a delicious notion. They of course had to wait to move on that front until Harry was out of danger or that horrible beast of a man would in all likelihood kill the boy.

Regulus had no doubt revolutionised Lily's child's life. Apparently he'd only ever had his eyes checked once in eleven years despite the wonders of public welfare, and with his new top of the line magical spectacles he no longer squinted and seemed much more engaged with his surroundings; though something in his manner did make Severus wonder if he was also magic sensitive. He seemed to simply shut down when the classroom got too unruly, or the potion fumes were too thick, and also inevitably when Mr Longbottom blew up his cauldron.

Of course that was only in the lab, however Filus and Minerva reported that he also grew overstimulated when they'd had a double practical lesson; the more powerful the charm or spell the children were practicing, the greater the likelihood that Harry would feel poorly sometime in the second half of the lesson. Quirrelous' classroom reportedly left him headachy and irritable no matter whether the lesson was theory or practical.

Sighing and brushing problems that weren't his aside, he stood and poured the potion into vials, labelling each one before packaging them and cleaning his lab before locking up and taking them up to Minerva. She could worry about the children. His own calcified heart wasn't any good to anyone.