AND THE PRINCE OF SLYTHERIN
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
(Seven 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 one of the Headmaster's best friends, 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 showed the signs of years of false imprisonment in Azkaban, but that didn't stop 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 greatest achievements, 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 waited until Theo had left for Grimmauld Place 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 legal issues 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 Longbottom, 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.