Character(s): Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Voldemort (mainly these three)
Pairing(s): None (though there's slight non-sexual Harry/Voldemort if you reallyreally squint)
Summary: Just the inflection of a name, like that which his own provokes.
Notes: Harry isn't so adamant about not Slytherin. HarryVoldemortDumbledore-centric. May edit this someday. Originally posted here.
You would be great in Slytherin, speculates the frayed presumptuous hat that sits upon his head like a repressed thought. It's all here in your mind.
He had never liked wearing hats.
His first reaction is one of defiance – not Slytherin not Slytherin not Slytheri – but who is he to question when he himself has no answers? He thinks back to the redheaded boy from the train, and to the blond, and to his cupboard under the stairs full of spiders and intricate webs and his whole life and maybe it would be hypocritical to be prematurely judgmental of that which he knows not of. Better not to make a mistake so early and those angrylikefire and proudlikeice perceptions weren't necessarily right and maybe he was just sick of having his choices made for him.
Slytherin, he decides, eleven years of forgotten vitality having made him wiser than he yet knows and what could be so wrong with Slytherin?
Just the inflection of a name, like that which his own provokes.
"Slytherin!" calls the hat. Finality hangs in the air, heavy and irrevocable and almost suffocating, and Harry misses the sad senescent look in Albus Dumbledore's eyes.
At first he doesn't understand.
The stench of tradition invades him once he's over the threshold, and the people there greet him with pride and something like appraisal, though there is nothing yet presented on which they may form an opinion. For now, he's just a name with a past, and for now, that is enough for this cold ancient house of asthenic minds and aberrant arrogance.
Perhaps he is the anomaly, here, because if nothing else his mind is certainly not inhibited by tradition and he learned long ago that though the past
past like a cacology
built him, it was essential that he leave it behind in the dust the way it had always left him, for now he had an identity that meant something and he would not waste it.
Excitement manages to push its way through stoic exteriors, and now Harry understands that this is a flaw. No matter. It had been his choice
minemine I will take it I swear
and that made the difference, and he recognises that yes, he will be great here, but not because of a name or a past or a pride without basis or a desire for power without a thirst for reason.
Eleven isn't so young, really.
He is an insatiable student, one like Hogwarts has not seen for some time and Dumbledore notices the inimitable parallels but keeps quiet, attempts to guide this side of a whole like he had once before as he tries to disregard the futility.
Intelligence is not something to be traded, especially not when it comes with knowing eyes and a too perceptive, too objective mind, and the headmaster can only watch and hope that the story doesn't play out again. His one calming thought is that the boy is kind, starving but not greedy and maybe he will grow with the Slytherins rather than away from them.
That's futile too, though, for Harry is trapped within a perpetuity of time and fate, just like Tom, just like him, and of course he will grow apart because that's how he was born and that's how he will stay.
When Harry overcomes Quirrell, a feat seemingly well beyond his few years, Dumbledore is a just little proud and mostly apprehensive.
"He's a Parselmouth. Everyone knows that's the mark of a Dark Wizard. Have you ever heard of a decent one who could talk to snakes? They called Slytherin himself Serpent-tongue."
He hears the whispers. They mostly come from the other houses, because in Slytherin it is a source of pride and they don't know much about his heritage but usually this thing called Parseltongue is hereditary and it makes perfect sense that he's in Slytherin and you could be his descendant, you could really be great, Potter –
He bites his tongue before he can tell them that he will be great, in spite of it all.
The all-too-corporeal memory of Tom Riddle can't help but notice the similarities. Improbable but possible, and he knows better than anyone the intemperance that comes with possibility.
Harry stumbles out of the Chamber of Secrets exhausted and a little more lost than he wants to be.
First he's the (supposed) Heir of Slytherin, now he's godson to escaped convict Sirius Black. He's starting to think the names with the pasts follow him, attracted to him like to a magnet.
No one knows about it though, not this time, and he finds the truth on his own because he's excellent at prying, inquisitive in the way all the teachers love and who would have thought that Lupin would be the most help?
This is the first time he realises that truth is not always better than ignorance, and he should leave people to their perceptions rather than interfere with something so foreign as veracity. It doesn't stop him, though, determined as always to be ahead and above and aware, the way others could never be.
The Slytherins are invidious because Harry had the glory with the name and now he's backing it up based on what seems like chance, and the Goblet of Fire was only supposed to pick three names and he's too young (but he was always older) and the house of cunning and manipulation and greed can only give the illusion of support when he defeats the dragon and survives the lake and heads into the maze with all of their aptitude and none of their amaurotic resentment.
When he doesn't come out the right way, they're furtively, horribly pleased that maybe he's out of the way now, maybe they'll finally have their chance.
Maybes seem to leave too much disappointment in their wake.
Harry dreams about the graveyard and in his nightmares he is Tom, wandering alone in a world that sees only his name and none of who he is, and when he wakes he wonders how, exactly, Lord Voldemort came to be.
He did wrong to wholly disregard his past
don't forget it made you who you are and at least that's something so don't bother to hide from where you're headed
and let himself care about someone.
Losing parents he can't remember is tragic in principle but he has no memories to shape the sorrow. This, this is different and as the body falls behind veil
into some empty nothingness where someday he will go
something inside him breaks forth, the torrent of feeling he'd buried deep but apparently not deep enough, and there is hate and rage and agony and
"Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy? You need to mean them, Potter. You need to really want to cause pain — to enjoy it — righteous anger won't hurt me for long — I'll show you how it is done, shall I? I'll give you a lesson — Crucio!"
this pain is almost better, it's tangible, and Bellatrix I want you dead I promise I mean it just let me up and I'll show you
It comes out of Harry's mouth so quietly, almost whisper-like but there is too much cold strong intent behind it. The hushed utterance of the abject spell so much power in a word but the meaning gives it life contrasts the cataclysmic screams from the body that lies on an indifferent floor.
Tom who is really Voldemort (it used to be the other way around) watches from a distance and wonders what this means. For so many years he has expected the invariable obstinacy of a boy blinded by that sick thing called love but now he is not so sure what to anticipate. He is so rarely at a loss that it makes him angry so he attacks anyway.
Failed, Dumbledore knows. I have failed. He watches Harry writhe on the ground with regret and pity and his face hardens. He can no longer help this boy who can only help himself, who will have to help himself, so he turns and does not look back.
It's not a victory, Voldemort understands this, but as he recedes from Potter's mind there is not the same drive to the same end that was there before. A startling change of events, perhaps, but he knows best how to adapt.
Apostasy, he thinks.
When Albus Dumbledore falls from the tower, it is because he has been on his own for all of time and even the best can't do everything alone.
Vengeance had always been the means, but Dumbledore, wisebutfartoocertain, sees the wand pointed
and finally comprehends the emptiness behind it. Overestimated the soul of a not-so-human boy, again, no more, now, please –
Inevitability has a bitter taste to it.