39 : Slytherin Matters
Horris leaned back on the rafters below the stands, crossing his arms and surveying the incoming faces as the diced beams of light played on his face. This is where he usually stood, in the far corner of the makeshift platform they used, watching Draco out of sight and mind. He wouldn't be doing that today. Today the spotlight would be on him and him alone. Draco, he saw, was grinning like a Cheshire cat. That alone gave Horris doubts. He couldn't help but feel that this was a mistake, a big one; that by taking back control he would eventually doom them all. There was this feeling at the back of his mind; nagging, prodding him to notice it. It screamed to him of trouble and the danger they'd soon find themselves in. He wasn't afraid of leading them, actually, he was quite content with finally stepping up to take his responsibilities. No, the problem lay in Draco's insecurities, not his. The boy simply couldn't take control, he'd always be looking over his shoulder, waiting for Horris to nod from his alcove before he'd make any decisions. What if Horris wasn't in that alcove? He could count on him to keep everything running smoothly, sure, but Draco wouldn't change anything… he'd take all Horris said and continued it; no more, no less. That's where the nagging feeling came in, telling him that soon, too soon, that would not be enough anymore.
He put his best mask on as the others entered silently, flaunting indifference and control he felt none of. The Asps were all in, standing at the foot of the raised step Horris stood on. Draco was there too, at the center, watching as they came. Behind them, however, other Slytherins were coming, comprised of nearly the entire house. Draco, he could tell, didn't like it one bit. Horris didn't mind as much, knowing that the great majority would find out anyway, probably sooner than one could bat an eye. Beyond that, his house knowing that he had full control of his Asps once more was a good thing, for them as well as him. No, they still treated him as if he'd been their Alpha as well as that of the Asps, but it was more weight he could throw around when needed, and he had to admit, the knowledge would probably soothe them as much as it did his Asps. It was still strange, caring what Slytherins thought and having them worry about you. After all, over half of them asked him if he was alright after they returned from Christmas vacation, they most likely asked Draco about it more, not one caring that Horris was no longer Voldemort's favorite… he was, in a way, but it was obvious his words would no longer hold such an impact on Voldemort as they once had. They respected him, strangely enough for his defiance of the very man every one of them was supposedly destined to join in a few years for some, barely a few months for others. Oddly enough, it was Draco who told him the reason they looked to him the way they did.
All his Asps knew he was not going to follow Voldemort, each and every one of them. He wasn't going to tell them, not until he found Pansy crying, the event outright killing his lingering distrust and dislike of Slytherins altogether. Draco, of course, had it figured out already, the rest of them agreed with Horris' stand. Zack was perchance the most astounding, pledging himself to Horris the instant he made the announcement. Who would have thought the reason he hated him so was because he saw Horris as his ultimate entrapment; an unbreakable chain securing his servitude to the 'Halfblood Hypocrite'… As it turned out, each and every one of them blamed Voldemort for stealing their lives, their innocence. Their knowledge helped Horris, he didn't have to pretend to be for Voldemort all the time now, almost never actually, save for the meetings. The Slytherins were different though, with them there was no unifying link under which they could rally against Voldemort. Some liked his ideas, others didn't want to seem out of place while others just stuck with themselves and didn't hide their feelings. Considering the stereotype, one would think most fell under the first… they didn't. That group, where the members honestly and wholeheartedly agreed with the dark lord, consisted of perhaps five or six members. The rest, a great majority, fell into the unsure and outright negating categories; those were the two groups here today. The six or so hardcore muggle haters never worried Horris. Most of them lacked the brainpower (Vincent, Greg, Jonas) to even figure out what was going on, and the ones that did knew all too well that if they so much as thought about telling anyone their memories would be altered or an Asp's Cruciatus venom might 'accidentally' fire. Somehow, all the 'if you even think that, this is what will happen' was always understood in Slytherin, Horris even figured there was some kind of formula… The worst they could do multiplied by the severity of the crime (or sensitivity of the information) all divided by 3. How one used it Horris didn't know, but there it was and apparently, when one plugged in 'tell any Death Eaters about Aspian affairs without their express permission' the formula spat back 'get stung with their Cruciatus venom (or worse)'. Hey, at least it saved Horris the trouble of threatening anyone…The sun was just setting, dimming the light that fell into the room. The shadows lengthened, giving the naturally depressing room an even thicker air of foreboding and despair. That was just fine by him. Hell, it was perfect, exactly what he felt was instantly reflected in his surroundings which in return reflected his mood, thus each enhancing the others. Self-destructive? Yes. But he didn't exactly have a reason not to do so, now did he?
Sirius couldn't deal with it, he couldn't deal with it at all. Harry… his Harry… that devil's child was his Harry. He wasn't his Harry though, was he? No, he was Hrnatius Snape or some other such crud. Snape… how could Harry be a Snape? It wasn't possible! Besides, James would never do what they were trying to make him believe he did, not James. Sirius figured Snape had just outright raped Lily, no deal or some other crud (not that the prospect of a 'deal' made this any more acceptable), and used some dark arts to twist James' memory… make the poor guy think it was his fault his kid was actually Snape's!
And the way Harry protected that Death Eater trash, how could he! Didn't he know what that greasy git did to Lily, his mom? Despicable! The boy ought to have pounded the git into the ground as soon as he found out, or asked Sirius to do it, not embrace that devil as his long lost daddy… and to call him Dad of all things! Blech! Still, perhaps his first inclination was not that far off… the git was good at potions, he had to give the greasehead that, who knew what unofficial 'medicinal potions' the bloke dumped down the boy's throat? Harry had, after all, been perfectly fine before all this, knew that Snape was no good and everything!
"Hey, are you alright?"
"Is the sky green?"
"There you go."
"You're still mad at me?"
"No Moony, I'm mad at the situation." He reiterated, not wanting to be left totally alone right now.
"Being mad won't change anything Padfoot, it would be far better if you could just accept Horris for who he is."
"Harry, Moony, not Hornis."
"Horris. You can at least learn the name."
"That is not his name. His name is Harry. Always has, always will be."
"Sirius…" Moony whispered, placing a hand on his shoulder, "you can't love a name."
"I love Harry… that boy was not Harry. Harry would never stand up for the greasy bastard. Harry would never glare or sneer and Harry would never hurt me."
"Sirius, you just don't understand him, that's all. Horris was under a lot of stress when you came and you did call Lily some pretty awful things. It took almost all my self control not to add to what Horris did once I heard about it… and to tell you the truth, he could have fried you to a crisp, did you know that?"
"Snape mentioned something about it…" Sirius grudgingly admitted, "I still say the git is manipulating Harry somehow… potions, spells, some quiet Imperius perhaps?"
"Horris is quite immune to mind controlling means Sirius…"
Remus instantly grew nervous and quiet, almost as if there was a cobra poised to strike staring him straight in the face. Sirius didn't like it, he didn't like it at all. Too many people were keeping things from him and he was having no more of it!
"How… how much do you know about this Siri?"
Siri… now he was sure something was up. The only time Remus ever called him 'Siri' was when McGonagall had taken the map or when they had gotten themselves into truly, truly deep dragon dung.
"I know the git is apparently Harry's father…" Sirius said, eyes fixed on his old friend, "I know Harry seems to like said git and that nothing seems to add up. I know Harry suddenly developed his dear old dad's" Sirius spat the title, "facial expressions and a tremendously short temper, along with seemingly unrealistic abilities and a Slytherin badge… Slytherin Moony, Slytherin!"
"So you don't know."
This was really starting to annoy him
"Ha- Horris… he's an Asp Siri."
"A what?" Sirius regarded him blankly,
"An Asp, Aspidite… look, this is something either Horris or Severus must tell you, not I." Remus sighed, massaging his temples and looking suddenly decades older. "I cannot keep acting as everyone's confidant Siri… I swear it's gonna kill me…" Sirius barely heard him mumble, quite sure he had not been meant to hear the last whisper.
"What I can tell you, Siri, is that Horris is most definitely Severus' son. The fact has in no way been fabricated or tampered with, no matter how much you may wish it were. I was the one who told him actually… it was in that journal we found; you remember it Padfoot?"
Sirius nodded vaguely, the trip to their volt seemingly years in the past.
"I can also tell you that Horris loves him, and strange as it may sound, Severus loves Horris as well. I've never seen him act as he does now, after Horris came into his life. Even I am amazed at what a father figure Severus makes after so short a time, from the at times overwhelming protectiveness to the pure pride that radiates from him. If you can believe it, he's even taken to bargaining with McGonagall and enlisting my help to make the boy happy. They've been through hell and back this year, I won't lie to you Siri, but the only reason either of them have pulled through was because of the other. Even you must admit, the man has changed…
"That still doesn't explain why he reacted that way." Sirius managed finally, knocking his troubled mind back onto the 'Why is Harry acting so much like Snape' track.
"I suppose it has something to do with the fact that Voldemort threatened to hurt Severus at their last meeting. The situation did make him a bit overprotective if you must know, he probably thought you were a true threat at the time… you really didn't come at the best of times Siri…"
"His 'last meeting'? Remmy, why do you sound as if Harry suddenly has tea with Voldemort every Sunday at three?"Horris shot Draco a glare as the blonde made every effort to get out of the spotlight as soon as possible. He'd already said he was going to do it for Merlin's sake… did the blonde have to be so pushy about it? It wasn't as if Horris was going to back out if Draco took too long! Making sure the blonde squarely felt the glare, Horris stepped into the center of the platform, fixing several rambunctious members who were presently whistling and clapping their rears off with an equally potent look. Needless to say, the act shut them up instantly. It wasn't that he had a big problem with their enthusiasm, but if they weren't at least reasonably quiet the wards would let the sounds past and they might get interrupted mid-meeting.
"Now that you are all quiet," he said firmly to the small mob at his feet, "perhaps we can get this over with. Now, each and every one of you knows what I am here to say so my saying it is no more than a formality at this point. You all know why this little game of tag Draco and I have been having was necessary and I expect you all to keep appearances up when the time calls for it. You have done so in the past, do not make me rethink your mental abilities now. Voldemort made us all resilient, smart, powerful and strong willed…" he smirked, "I am sure all of you want to show him what a terrible mistake that was."
A large whoop followed his words, many smirks appearing on the Aspian faces.
"And he will feel that mistake, for we will prove the unmaking of our maker…" He added, tipping his head to Zack whom he had indirectly quoted.
"That being said," he continued, "I formally retake leadership and control. I suggest all of you be sure to thank Draco for doing a fine job of keeping everything running smoothly during my little vacation, you all may soon be called upon to follow him again. If that happens, show him the respect you have bestowed upon me; give him aid when needed and receive his aid and guidance as if it were given from me."
He didn't know why he said it, a sudden silence flowing over the Asps, but he knew it needed to be said, ordered even. They recovered quickly, cheering as Horris' seriousness melted into a grin, slapping Draco squarely on the back. The blonde smiled too, looking as if the light slap had banished a gigantic weight from his shoulders
"Glad to be Beta again?"
"Good, then you get the distinct pleasure of dismissing them."
"Just do it Draco." Horris reiterated, giving him a look. "You may not have to make the big decisions and lead them, but you're still Beta and that means you still have to order them around every so often."
"Wait… so how does that change from what I've been doing till now?"
"Honestly, not much. You do get a bit more slack though…" Horris replied, a teasing smirk on his face. Perhaps he'd get to train Draco into a leader after all…