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Serpent's Folly

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Professor Horace Slughorn, Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House, once taught a curious boy.

The boy was brilliant. He excelled at anything he put his mind to… if it caught his interest enough to do so. But he was particularly interested in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Though, he wasn’t a very social person. Quiet, withdrawn, sullen. Slughorn knew the boy came from a bad home—really, no home at all—but he was so very clearly at home among his fellow Serpents.

So when this boy came to ask Slughorn a question—born only of academic curiosity, of course!—Slughorn didn’t think twice about indulging Tom’s strange interest.

It was with much horror he watched as, shortly after Tom left Hogwarts, his ambition drove him down such a terrible path—and Slughorn saw clearly in hindsight how he’d been manipulated. It was all very Slytherin.

Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice…

-

Professor Horace Slughorn, Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House, once taught a curious boy.

The boy was brilliant. He excelled at anything he put his mind to… if it caught his interest enough to do so. He was gifted at Potions, but he was particularly interested in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Though, he wasn’t a very social person. Quiet, withdrawn, sullen. Slughorn knew the boy came from a bad home—quite the unfortunate lineage—and he wasn’t really at ease around anyone except that lovely Gryffindor girl, not even among his fellow Serpents, even though he was so very clearly one of them.

But Slughorn had seen this pattern before, and while he respected the boy’s skill in Potions enough not to actively discourage him, he did nothing to encourage the boy’s talents or interests either. Slughorn turned a blind eye to rumors of bullying and ostracism—if it didn’t happen in front of him, it didn’t concern him. He would not make the same mistake again.

That Gryffindor girl, though, and her boyfriend… son of that famous Potioneer, was he?… now there was some real talent, students who would do him proud.

It was with much horror he watched as, shortly after Severus left Hogwarts, his ambition drove him to join Tom, and Slughorn saw clearly in hindsight how he could have set the boy on a different path. But, poor James and Lily…

-

Professor Horace Slughorn, Potions Master and no longer Head of Slytherin House, once taught a curious boy.

He wasn’t curious in that he was thirsty for knowledge, he was curious in that he was an odd one, singled out for a great destiny. He was merely an average student in most classes, but was particularly good at Defense Against the Dark Arts.

And he had some very close friends. The boy was hotheaded and rash, true, but loyal. Slughorn heard rumor that the boy came from a bad home, but you’d never know it with how at ease he was among Wizards, so clearly at home here at Hogwarts.

Slughorn thought: Maybe this one can be different. Maybe now I can defeat the evils I’ve created—

And he welcomed Harry with calculated kindness.