Halloween was a time of excitement for the students of Hogwarts. The feast was widely anticipated and the decorations were said to be phenomenal. It was also an important day for the first years since they were finally going to learn levitation in Charms.
Hermione and Ron were paired up together while Harry and Seamus sat behind them. As they practiced, Harry heard Hermione say, "It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the 'gar' nice and long."
Ron looked at her with an annoyed expression on his face, but then carefully enunciated in an imitation of her, "Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa." Unfortunately he was still waving his arms like windmills so the spell didn't take.
"Don't know how you stand her, Ron," Seamus said as he Harry and Ron left the class. Hermione had stayed behind to talk to Professor Flitwick. "She's a right nightmare, she is."
"She can be a bit of a know-it-all sometimes, but she's alright," Ron said.
"Hermione's our friend, Seamus," Harry said firmly.
They didn't see said friend for the rest of the day and began to get even more worried when they noticed she was not at the Halloween feast.
"Parvati said that Hermione's been in the girl's bathroom, crying," Neville informed them.
Harry and Ron looked down regretfully at their plates full of delicious food. "We should go get her," Harry said finally.
"Yeah, come on before I change my mind," Ron grumbled, standing up.
Harry knocked once on the girl's bathroom feeling incredibly awkward. "Hermione, are you in there?"
"Go away, Harry," came a shrill voice from inside.
"Come on out, Hermione. What's wrong?"
"I heard what Seamus called me. I bet you think I'm a 'right nightmare' too."
"Seamus was just being a git, Hermione," Ron said, "we don't think you're a nightmare. You're going to miss the feast if you don't come out. It's really good."
The door burst open. "Honestly, Ron. All you can ever think about is your stomach." Hermione stood with her hands on her hips.
Before Ron could retort, they heard a scream coming from the distance.
"What's going on?" Hermione said.
"Stay here, let me check," Harry said moving forward. He suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. "Ron," he whispered, "what is that?"
Hermione looked petrified while Ron's eyes widened. "I think it's a, a troll!"
"Run!" Harry whispered loudly to them, grabbing Hermione's hand and running down the corridor. When they reached another passageway and could no longer see the troll, they stopped to catch their breath for a moment.
"What is that thing doing in here?" Ron said.
"Look, there's Professor Snape," Hermione said pointing down the hallway.
Snape seemed to be slinking away to the staircase that led to the third floor. Gathering his courage, Harry called, "Professor Snape!"
Snape turned to where they were standing and began walking towards them. "Potter! What are you doing? Professor Dumbledore's express orders were to – "
"Professor, there's a troll back there, close to the girls' bathroom," Hermione said.
"The troll? But Quirrell said – " with a low growl, he started walking to where Hermione had said the troll was. The three exchanged a look, before following Snape. He didn't seem to notice. The troll had just entered the girls' bathroom as they approached.
Hermione shivered. "It's a good thing I wasn't in there," she whispered.
"Stay here," Snape snapped at them and slowly walked in to the bathroom behind the troll.
Immediately, Harry followed behind him. "Harry, he said to stay here," Hermione said. Harry ignored her and crept to the entrance to the bathroom where Snape was sneaking up on the troll. Harry motioned for Ron and Hermione to come closer.
A spell from Snape's wand shot out to hit the troll. The troll roared and turned around to see what had hit him. As soon as it saw Snape, it swung its heavy arm to try to hit Snape. Snape dodged out of the way.
"C'mon!" Harry shouted rushing into the bathroom. The troll had made a mess of the bathroom. He picked up a tap and threw it at the troll. Beside him, Ron and Hermione were throwing pipes and anything else they could find.
"Potter! Get out of here!" Snape shouted, as he made a slashing motion with his wand. A deep cut penetrated itself in the thick skin of the troll and it's attention diverted back to Snape. "Behind me, now!" Snape ordered. The troll looked murderous so they obeyed. Snape made a motion with his wand and the club, which the troll was poised to strike with, floated out of his grasp. The troll stared at it in bewilderment. It began spinning above the troll's head, faster and faster with the troll following it's every movement.
"It's getting dizzy," Hermione whispered.
Just as the troll looked as if it was about to collapse, the club dropped down on the troll's head and it fell. Snape began to turn to them but the troll started to stir again.
"Wingardium Leviosa," Ron said with a swish and a flick and the club began to hover into the air again for a moment before following heavily on the troll's head once again, completely knocking it out. He met Hermione's eyes and grinned.
Snape turned to them and, Harry wished he could be facing the troll without a wand. "What do you think you were doing, Potter! Did I not tell you to stay where you were? Are you deaf, or do you simply refuse to show your teachers any respect," Snape spat.
Harry backed down at the vitriol in Snape's voice before gathering up his courage and arguing, "It was going to hit you! I couldn't just let it do that!"
"I had the situation under control, Potter. I did not need you to 'save' me."
"What is going on here?" Their argument was interrupted by the arrival of Professor McGonagall, followed by Professor Quirrell. "Is that the troll?" she said, clutching her chest as she took in the sight of the troll with the club on its stomach.
"I managed to take care of it, Minerva," Snape said dismissively. "Unfortunately your Golden Boy and his friends decided to play hero and got involved."
McGonagall looked up from the troll and stared at a sight even more shocking: Harry and Snape standing in front of her, both with identical glares on their face. "Where is Albus when you need him," she muttered. She turned to the three offenders, "What are you three doing here when you are supposed to be in your common room?"
"It's my fault, Professor," Hermione said, "I didn't go to the feast and Harry and Ron came to get me. We didn't know about the troll until we saw it coming this way. We ran and found Professor Snape and he came here…" she trailed off.
"And they decided to throw things at a fully grown mountain troll," Snape added sarcastically.
"But why were they here with you, Severus?" McGonagall asked Snape in an undertone, unaware that Harry could hear her. "Shouldn't it have been better to have sent them back to their common room?"
Snape's voice was barely audible. "I did not want to let them roam the corridors unsupervised with…" Snape eyes darted to Quirrell.
"And taking on a mountain troll by yourself? Honestly, Severus."
"We still have company, Minerva," Snape scowled and nodded towards Harry, Ron and Hermione.
McGonagall turned to them. "I suggest the three of you head back to your Gryffindor Tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses."
"Yes, Professor," they said and quickly walked away before Snape decided to take any house points.
"He was really angry, wasn't he?" Hermione said as they sat eating their dinner in front of the fire.
"Did you see the way he took down the troll? That was totally wicked!" Ron said, "And did you notice my Wingardium Leviosa?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes Ron, what would we have done without your Wingardium Leviosa. Snape really doesn't seem to like you does he, Harry?"
Harry, who had been staring into the fire, jerked up at the sound of his name. "What?" he said.
Hermione patiently repeated her question. Harry and Ron exchanged looks. "Hermione, there's something I need to tell you," Harry began.
"Albus, I witnessed something very odd today," McGonagall told Dumbledore later that evening over a cup of tea in his office.
Dumbledore looked at her questioningly and she continued. "Harry Potter and Severus Snape standing next to each other with the exact same expression on their face."
Dumbledore chuckled, "I do admit I find it amusing rather than odd that that Harry would try to imitate Severus's rather unflattering facial expressions."
"That isn't what I found odd, Albus," McGonagall said impatiently, "When you look at them together, standing next to each other, Harry looks almost like Severus. There's a look about him that is just like Severus, though it's not obvious at first."
Dumbledore calmly continued to sip his tea. "You know something about this, don't you Albus?" McGonagall said.
"The reason Harry and Severus may look similar is because Severus is Harry's father," Dumbeldore said, putting his teacup down.
Minerva McGonagall choked on her tea. "Oh, dear," Dumbledore said standing up and patting her on the back.
"Honestly, Albus," Minerva said through coughs, "you shouldn't joke about such things."
"I wasn't joking."
"What are you talking about, Albus?" Minerva said in a hushed voice.
"Nearly twelve years ago, Lily Evans came to me and told that she was pregnant with Severus Snape's son. Severus had just become a Death Eater and I thought it prudent that the child be passed off as James Potter's to protect him."
Minerva thought she would have a heart attack if there were any more shocks today. "Does Severus know?" she asked.
"No, he doesn't. I believe Harry should know by now."
"Lily told me of a plan to write a letter to Harry explaining his true parentage, to be delivered on his eleventh birthday."
"But shouldn't we tell Severus?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "It is best for these things to resolve themselves in their own time. I believe that Harry has a plan to gain his father's affections."
"His affections?" McGonagall said, scandalized, "This is not a time for you to stop your meddling, Albus. This could end very badly, for both of them."
"That remains to seen, Minerva," Dumbledore said evasively, petting Fawkes. "Now tell me, how were our three young Gryffindors involved in today's incident?"
Quidditch season started in November. Harry was very excited to see his first Quidditch match which was Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Ron had been explaining the rules to him but he felt that he'd understand them better after actually seeing a match for himself. Hermione's book, Quidditch Through the Ages, was actually very helpful when it was not being read aloud in Hermione's bossy voice.
The day before the match, they were sitting outside, huddling by the small fire Hermione had conjured in a jam jar when Snape crossed the yard.
"Potter! What do you have there?"
Harry showed him Quidditch through the Ages. He sneered. "How extraordinarily like your father you are. Library books are not to be taken outside the school. Give it to me. Five points from Gryffindor."
"What about my mother, sir," Harry said quietly as he handed the book over, "am I anything like her?"
Something flashed in Snape's eyes. "I wouldn't know, Potter."
Harry stared after him and he strode away. If Snape didn't even acknowledge that he had known Lily, how was he going to accept that Harry was his son?
The Quidditch match was even better than Harry had expected, especially because Gryffindor won. The look on Malfoy's face was priceless. When they reached the entrance to Gryffindor Tower still animatedly discussing the match, Harry said to his friends, "You guys go on. I'm going to get my book back from Snape."
"Better you than me," they said immediately.
Harry made his way down to the staffroom. As he reached the stairs closest to where the staffroom was, he heard a whisper behind him and felt a small jolt of pain in his scar. "Ahh!" he exclaimed pausing before the first step. There was a small wisp behind him, and a small push of air, and before Harry knew it, he was falling, falling before everything went black.
"Potter! Potter! Wake up!"
Harry stirred slightly.
"Potter, can you hear me? Open your eyes."
Harry slowly managed to raise one eyelid. A black figure knelt in front of him. "Da – " he managed.
Black arms swooped him up and Harry nestled into the black chest, breathing in the scent deeply before losing consciousness once more.
Harry was an unfamiliar bed when he woke up. He looked around for his glasses and managed to spot them on a small table beside his bed.
"Oh good, you're up," said a brisk voice. Harry saw that the voice belonged to the matron, Madam Pomfrey.
Harry immediately lifted the covers of the bed and was just about to swing his feet over when Madam Pomfrey came over to where he was sitting and pulled his legs back onto the bed. "Oh no you don't, young man. You have a concussion and you're going to have to stay here overnight. Now stay still while I call Professor Dumbledore."
Sighing, Harry settled himself back into the bed. He didn't have to wait long until Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape arrived at his bedside.
"I'm glad to see you're doing better, Harry," Dumbledore said, smiling at him.
"Yes, sir. Sir, may I ask how I got here?"
"You may. Professor Snape found you unconscious outside the staffroom and brought you to the hospital wing."
So it hadn't been a dream. Snape really had carried him. The man in question looked rather uncomfortable.
"Harry, can you please tell us what happened?" Professor Dumbledore asked.
Harry nodded, then winced. "I was on my way to the staffroom to get my book back from Professor Snape. I stopped by the stairs because I heard a noise." He paused here, wondering if he should tell them about his scar.
"And then, Harry?" Dumbledore encouraged.
"I – I felt something push me. Not a person, it was just… a push and I fell. That's all I remember."
"Dark magic, Albus?" McGonagall whispered.
"Harry, from now on it might be prudent to travel with your friends to classes and such," Dumbledore said.
"Why Professor? Do you think someone might deliberately be trying to hurt me?" Harry said.
"Yes," Snape said bluntly.
"Severus!" McGonagall scolded.
"There's no point in hiding it, Minerva. The boy's not an idiot," Snape said.
That was as close to a compliment as he would probably ever get from Snape, Harry thought drily. "Ron, Hermione!" Harry exclaimed as his friends rushed towards him, Madam Pomfrey behind them.
"I wasn't sure if you were done talking to Mr. Potter, Headmaster," Madam Pomfrey said apologetically.
"We were finished, Poppy," Dumbledore said, "I look forward to seeing you in the Great Hall for breakfast tomorrow, Harry. Good evening Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger."
Ron fell into a chair next to Harry's bed. "He knows my name," he said with a dreamy look on his face. Harry and Hermione laughed.
"So what happened, Harry?" Hermione asked.
Harry told them the details, adding that his scar had hurt.
"Your scar?" Hermione said frowning, "You mean you got a sudden headache?"
"No, it was definitely my scar," Harry said firmly. "It's happened to me once before when Snape looked at me during the start of term feast."
"And he brought you to the hospital wing. Do you think he makes your scar hurt?" Ron said.
Harry shook his head. "It didn't feel like him."
"Who could it be then?" Ron said.
"I don't know."
Dumbledore closely regarded the young man sitting opposite him. Severus had just finished telling him about how he had found Harry at the bottom of the stairs. He hesitated as he thought about what Potter had said next.
"And then?" he prompted at the man's hesitation.
"He – I think he mistook me for James Potter. He called me Dad," Severus said contemptuously. He had noticed that Potter mentioned his mother in his presence many times. Had the boy seen any emotion from him at her mention? Surely he couldn't have. Severus was very careful.
"I see," Dumbledore said, his suspicions confirmed. Harry did indeed know. "Severus, perhaps if you gave the boy a chance, you would see that he is as desperate for a family as you were at his age."
"And what about his relations? Or is Potter too good for his Muggle relatives."
Dumbledore gave him a disappointed look. "You knew Petunia. Surely you recall her feelings for Lily."
Severus had nothing to say to this.
"All I ask is that you look at the boy as his own person, instead of having your judgment clouded by the memory of James Potter."
Severus stood up. "I have papers to grade. Goodnight, Albus." With a swish of his robes, he strode out the room.
The next morning Harry woke up in the hospital wing, and reached for his glasses. As he groped for them, he knocked down something on the table that fell with a large thunk onto the floor. Quickly putting on his glasses, he saw that it was Quidditch Through the Ages. He flipped through the book, smiling at the thought that Snape must have put it there after he had gone to sleep.
After finally getting discharges from the hospital wing, promising Madam Pomfrey he would let her know if he experienced any headaches, he went down to the dungeons. He didn't think anyone ever willingly went to Professor Snape's office, even to ask him a Potions question. Summoning up his Gryffindor courage, he knocked quietly on the door twice.
"Enter," came a voice from inside.
Harry felt like bolting. If he ran, Snape might never know he had been here, he thought desperately.
"Enter," the voice came louder.
Taking a deep breath, he inched open the door. Snape was reading a book while a potion stirred itself in a cauldron on his desk.
"Er, Professor?" Harry said when Snape didn't seem to notice him.
Snape looked up. "Potter! What are you doing here? Office hours are on weekdays only." His lip curled.
"I'm sorry for disturbing you, sir. I just wanted to thank you for taking me to the hospital wing, and for giving me my book back," Harry said in a rush, holding up the book.
"After all the trouble you went for it, Potter, you might as well have it," Snape muttered.
"Professor, do you know who might have wanted to kill me?" Harry asked directly, hoping for a straightforward answer from Snape.
Snape paused. "No, Potter, I do not," he said finally, "But do not let your guard down."
"Does it have anything to do with the three-headed dog on the third floor," Harry asked, deciding to take a big chance.
Snape looked absolutely furious. "Potter if you have been on the third floor I – "
"I haven't, sir. Really," Harry protested. Snape was looking murderous. "I heard Professor Quirrell talking about it."
"Loose-tongued fool," Harry thought he heard Snape mutter. "Students are not supposed to know about the third floor, Potter. I suggest you forget about it."
Harry nodded. "Yes, sir." With that he left the Potions Master and went with Ron and Hermione to Hagrid's hut where Hagrid proceeded to let slip the name Nicholas Flamel.
A/N: The next chapter, which will be out next week, will diverge from canon, though the story will largely follow the events of canon. Thank you for reading.