Forlorn Hope

Venom of Slytherin

16 Venom of Slytherin

The remainder of the meal passed in relative silence and, thankfully, without interruption from a certain Malfoy. Horris sat at the very edge of the table, as close to his father as possible and next to a nameless first-year that wisely chose to ignore the new addition. The rightness of his choice was apparent to him, though that didn't make it any better. He was practical, not stupid, and certainly not about to simply become a bloody Slytherin.

"Horris?"

"Ya?"

"Pansy. Come with me if you wanna know where the dorms are." He nodded and followed, not sure how she'd take a 'thanks'. "You're related right… you and the professor?"

"Ya." Wasn't that obvious?

"Your dad?" Horris nodded; well I'm not the father, now am I? How stupid could you get?

"And you're just now transf-"

"That will be far enough." His father cut her off. "Come Horatius." He had to fight not to let the relief show, "You may leave." Snape added, turning to the un-welcomed escort.

"Thanks." He muttered once the girl was out of earshot, "Where are we going?"

"My office. You need to get your new schedule and then I need to show you to your room."

"My room?"

"I highly doubt sleeping with the likes of Mr.'s Crabbe and Goyle would be an experience you (or anyone) would find enjoyable." Snape answered, not shortening his stride, "Speaking of which, pray tell how this happened…"

"Um, 'This'?"

"The sorting." Snape pressed, becoming annoyed.

"Oh. The Hat always wanted me there…" and the brow goes up…he mused right before the event, "You should have heard it first year, took me forever and a day to make it change its mind. This was easy compared to that…"

"Oh? I take it the Headmaster had forgotten to request that you do not fight the Hat this time?"

"No, he did. Just so we're on the same page though, questioning its sanity and arguing are two very different things."

"And the Hat seemed insane because?"

"Me… in Ravenclaw… Ravenclaw!" Snape nodded slowly,

"Agreed, though I must admit I did not think you would be sorted into Slytherin."

"I take it you approve?"

"That was not the reason, I hope."

"Well, only partly." The brow rose again, "But mostly for strategic advantage." Horris finished his answer, smiling as his decision became more and more appealing. "And how did you manage to get me my own room?"

"So the other houses do not offer this then? Slytherin students often buy out a room… Draco has one, for example. Some say even Slytherins do not trust Slytherins… I will certainly sleep easier knowing you are not in the common dorm."

"Oh, thanks."

"Back to the task at hand, however, I refuse to allow you to take part in that useless Divination class so I suggest you pick an alternative before I pick one for you. Arithmancy or Ancient Runes?"

"No Muggle Studies?" Horris asked hopefully,

"No."

"Ancient Runes." Snape marked something on the paper, smiling slyly. "Do I have to start back on the first level?"

"Runes are not progressive and anything you have missed you will make up this summer. The task ought not to prove too difficult."

"Great…"

"If you need me for anything…" Snape started on a softer tone,

"I'll tell you, as soon as my Gryffindor pride allows."

"I suggest coming to me before the problem becomes a life and death situation, Horatius… I do not wish to catch you playing the hero this year- understood?"

"If I'm given a choice I'll keep that in mind, sir."

"This is not a joke, Horatius If you – WHAT!" He called, hearing the knock on his door.

"S-sorry, sir, it… it's eight."

"Detention… I forgot. Horatius, could you-"

"Just look for a Slytherin to show me the way, right." He didn't wait for him to nod, flashing the young Gryffindor a sympathetic look. He wondered around, not really looking forward to going into the dorms… even if he did have his own room. Unfortunately, he was found by the one Slytherin he hoped to avoid for a few years… give or take.

"Hey, Snape!" he froze momentarily, his brain musing that the blonde wouldn't address his father that way. "Horatius, right?"

"And you are?"

"Malfoy… Draco Malfoy. You lost? The elf just finished your room… right next to mine you know, I'll show ya." They passed through the wall (Serpentis) and went into the common room where Malfoy stopped in front of a plaque with the Snape family crest. "You just say 'open' for now; you can create a password inside when you're alone. Anyway, nice…isn't it?"

"Green." That was the only thing Horris noted, really, really green.

"You get used to it. The Snape stone is emerald, right, or do you use the blue at the manor?"

"Blue." He responded, as soon as he caught what Malfoy was asking.

"Most families use that rather than the stone… still, green is your color."

"Guess so." He said uneasily. Emerald was the stone, he was almost sure that was what Snape had told him… that or opal. Nope, emerald, opal was just the one that the lily was made of on the clasp.

"May I?" Malfoy asked, giving Horris a knowing look. This couldn't be good.

"Can you what?" He asked staring as the other advanced.

"See your ear. I know you got it an all, it's best to be sure though… before discussing delicate topics, if you know what I mean." Nope, he didn't.

"Oh, right."

"Ya, quite a shock huh, father thinks I'm Alpha. You excited?"

"About being an Asp?"

"No, about meeting Him… the presentation?"

"What presentation?"

"This weekend, didn't the professor tell you?" Horris glared, managing far better than he expected judging by the blonde's reaction.

"Excuse me." He almost growled, leaving Malfoy to compose himself alone.

He was furious, confused, exhausted and a Snape- not a good combination. Thankfully, people had cleared the halls by now and he wasn't bothered on his way to Snape's office, over-dramatizing his entrance as he burst in- literally. He froze the Gryffindor, forcing a startled expression from his father.

"You, out!" He barked at the Gryffindor, the kid obeying without hesitation (saving his hide in the process). "A word, Father… now." The door banged closed behind him with a thought, startling his father back into the present. "When were you planning to tell me about the weekend?" Several jars exploded, "The Presentation?" His father's confused look turned to one of mild horror, "You did know; I take it?" Keeping his voice down was becoming somewhat easier, though his anger, if anything, was rising. "WELL?"

"Drink, all of it." Severus stated, handing him a vial.

"Calming potion?"

"You need it. Any angrier and people start exploding."

"Happy?" Horris questioned, setting the now-empty flask on the table.

"Silencing charms?"

"Had them the entire time." He was mad, not stupid!

"I forgot." Snape said calmly,

"WHAT!"

"About the Dark Lord. The entire Aspidis situation left my mind with you drinking the potion, then Alex getting attacked by the bear and you-"

"I get it." Horris interrupted, "What the hell do we do about it?"

"That depends, how did you find out?"

"Malfoy. He knows you didn't tell me."

"I will inform Dumbledore of the situation. You go and unpack… and stay away from Draco. I am sor-" He left, not feeling up to listening to an apology. It was the first time the man actually seemed ashamed of… anything, but Horris just needed some air- now.

He could calm down by the lake; there was this one tree… He laid down on a long branch, using the cloak like a blanket while keeping the clasp safe in his hand. He didn't really blame Snape, not for forgetting at least. It was more the idea of him forgetting that bugged him, not the event itself. He had forgotten too. There was something about the manor, about being in the middle of nowhere that gave one the greatest sense of security… or was that just all the wards? He really missed Alex. But he shouldn't think of him, should he? Alex was safely back in America now, living like a Muggle again with his Mum's kin. The deal was supposed to have been simple, Horris takes his identity and Alex gets away from being a Wizard Scot-free. Perhaps they oughtn't have met; their parting was painful enough, growing rather close at the seemingly boring and lifeless house. Now he missed Alex's ability to cut through every layer of bull, telling you straight off exactly what you needed to hear. Alright, so Horris was exaggerating a bit… they were his memories and he could remember him any way he damn well pleased! The boy did have the ability to make him forget his problems though, oh how he needed that now!

"You alright?"

"What you want, Malfoy?"

"Draco." The boy called back, "Your father give you the calming potion?"

"You following me or something?"

"That a 'yes'?"

"What do you care if he did or didn't?"

"We Asps have to look out for each other… Merlin knows no one else will. Besides, I blew up at the professor like that right before I got my venoms. Don't worry, he won't hold it against you or anything- you couldn't help it." That was probably the worst thing Malfoy could have said- that Horris couldn't control himself.

"Leave me alone." Horris mumbled, not feeling any better about it.

"Not before I warn you not to touch anyone but me for the next few days… you might not be able to control who you inject at first, even other Asps will be affected if they haven't got their venoms in yet." Now his head was spinning.

"So I could kill someone by accidentally bumping into them, for Merlin's sake!"

"Doubt it, not even I can kill- not yet at least." Oh, that's reassuring! "So far I have six; healing, a sedative, a handy waking serum, a liquid equivalent of 'Petrificus Totalis', and liquid Unforgivables… all but A.K."

"Nice to know." Horris said sarcastically, staring at his fingers. This day was turning worse by the second. "So you can't be affected by them, right?" Draco nodded.

"But only after I got them in, before that they affected me just like they would anyone else. A way to hide us I suppose." The blonde paused, suddenly shaking his head. "Come on, it's curfew in a few and Filch would have a field day if he caught us… two for one special on snakes."

"Thanks, Draco." Horris said, opening his room door, cutting the silence they had shared on their way down. Draco? When did Malfoy become Draco? True, it was hard to think of the one person who seemed to want to help you get a grip on the situation as the enemy… especially since he seems like the only one who has gone through all the same crap… most of it anyway.

"Forget it. We Slytherins are the closest of the houses you know- no one else will take care of us so we have to take care of each other… they'd all rip us apart otherwise. That goes double for Asps. Anyway, you need to initiate a password before you go to sleep… we might take care of each other, that doesn't mean we trust each other."

"Survival of the fittest?" Draco nodded.

"Survival of the Asps. Night, Horris."

"Night."

The next day was normal enough, not a sign of venoms. Still, Draco rarely left him, something in which Horris found an odd comfort in. For the first time he had someone who he could talk to without having to explain it all. Draco had felt the Unforgivables (save the killing curse, but Horris couldn't actually share that anyway), he had seen the meetings, had felt the Aspian changes. The boy could actually relate, not that Horris was keen on conducting girl talks with the blonde at the moment. For now he felt content with allowing Draco to help him with the damn Aspian problems.

"Horatius, remain after class."

"Yes sir." Horris watched the others leave around him, stealing a glance at Draco. They both knew Snape would just dismiss him if he had tried to remain, but the blonde shot him a reassuring smirk just the same.

"Are you al-"

"I'm sorry I blew up at you, sir, I really didn't-"

"Hush. Firstly, the incident was my fault. Secondly, as Mr. Malfoy has probably informed you, the incident was out of your control. Lastly, you are already forgiven."

"So are you. I mean…" Horris tried to hastily change how his reply sounded, "I don't blame you…I mean, I-Oh Merlin, that come out wrong. Sorry, sir." Eloquence aside, if anything, Snape looked relieved.

"We have other things to discuss, Horatius, the venoms and the meeting on Saturday for instance."

"They aren't coming in yet; the venoms I mean, Draco said I'd know when they started, and that they'll take a day or so to settle."

"Do not become too close to him," His father warned, "He makes a dangerous foe."

"Or a powerful ally."

"One that will use you… this is not Gryffindor, Horatius. I said not to become attached; I never said anything about associating with the boy. You need his help whether you like it or not, be careful."

"Always."

"You look tired. Are you still having dreams?" Horris nodded. "Why did you not inform me?"

"You were asleep." Horris shrugged off, smiling sadly.

"Wake me next time, understood?"

"Yes, sir, and thank you."

"Run along, you have Transfiguration I believe." Horris arrived a few minutes late, apologizing and saying that he had gotten the floors mixed up. How that worked now when it failed miserably first year he couldn't understand, but stayed quiet all the same.

Half way through, it happened, sending Horris practically flying out of class with Draco following as soon as he could mumble out 'bathroom' and 'need to show him the way'.

"Are you crazy?"

"Scared stiff more like it. You said we can't kill. Damnit!" Horris tried best not to yell out.

"We can't." Horris just pointed to the mouse he was supposed to have changed into a vase. "Asleep. I told you we can-"

"Revive it then… its dead."

"This…is…bad." Draco mumbled after several failed attempts, "Go back to your room, we'll say you got sick or something… just go. I'll take care of it and don't touch anything till you have that under control."

"How-"

"You'll know, trust me… just GO!"

Horris locked himself in his room, absolutely refusing to come out until dinner of the following day, missing all his classes. Everyone was worried, including Draco, who knew full well that Horris couldn't possibly be taking that long to go through them all. Nine. Draco had said six, mentioning nothing of the truth serum or the one that made him turn invisible at will. He had them all well under his control now, for awhile actually, but that was what scared him… really scared him. He could kill with a touch…if only that would work on Voldemort… but that would be too easy.

"Horris, you are coming out or I am calling your father- Dumbledore if that's what it takes!"

"Fine! You can come in, all right?"

"Yes. You all right?"

"No."

"You… you do have them under control, right?" Horris nodded. "So?" The question made Horris avert his eyes, suddenly finding the trunk at the foot of his bed fascinating. "Scared? You scared me too… Hell, I scared myself at first… You'll get over it; just don't let them see your weakness and you'll be fine."

"Easier said than done."

"Practice makes perfect they say… come on, your father wants to see how you're doing."

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