Chapter two

The Letter

Fangleton looked at Snape with fear in his yellow eyes because his master was a severe man who did not like his father-son time interrupted. He was usually punished for this but nothing that bad because his son had a delicacy about him that was almost purely innocent. Harry did not like to see any living creature in pain and especially not his only friend. His father was traditional wizard and accustomed to the usual practice of strict discipline in his house. Still, he respected his son's wishes not to see his caretaker in any physical pain for which Fangleton was very thankful as the role of a house elf was a dismal one.

They never got anything without their master's permission, had to wear rag sacks and if they were presented with clothes it was a sign of freedom. Freedom was a gift that most of them never got and those that did suffered. They struggled terribly, knowing nothing else but servitude and ending up right back where they were in the first place. That was nothing compared to the brutality that many of them suffered, things like their wizards putting fire charms to their hands. Or using hot muggle objects like a fire clamp with a hot coal in between the pinchers.

Some of them even have brands on them that burned for an awfully long time and looked painful enough to kill. Harry had seen some elves that were all marked up on literally every inch of their bodies. Their arms, legs and faces, and even their eyes were blind from the painful tattoos over the pupils of their eyes. As well as other various body parts, the cruelest of them using torture curses despite the illegality of that spell. Even in certain private areas to make anyone cringe in agony at the mere sight of the angry red injuries and the black scars.

The red ones were fresh and the black ones were those that had badly healed and were all different shapes and sizes. Some taking up more than half their bodies to boot, some of them on the face even, sometimes they were locked in dark rooms for days. The masters were even considered merciful if all they did was leave little burns or larger ones even on their flesh. For good reason as it got even worse for them if that was possible. Some were whipped some were injured with enchanted objects like magic knives that closed the wound no matter how deep they were.

It also continued stabbing them deeper and deeper like some muggle Chinese torture used to punish prisoners of war. Leaving nothing but a bloody mess on the floor for which they were punished even though they were guiltless. But the bloody mess stained the carpet and so they were beaten further but never died because they were too valuable to waist on death, while they were young at least. Older elves were killed from the torture or even for the offence of growing old, and 'outliving' the usefulness for which the current master kept them about and in the home.

When they were too old to live as far as their employers were concerned they simply used an unforgivable killing curse on them and no one did anything about it. Apparently, the murder of house elves, unlike wizards was acceptable in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic. They were not considered human beings and therefore were expendable. House elves were not even allowed to own any kind of personal property and if they did it was taken away. The only thing they were allowed to own was the sack, and a little book entitled House Elves- Duties of the Dutiful Household Servant.

By a grim looking old miser of a wizard named Bartholomew Plottinger a tiny little brown book bound in leather. On the cover of Fangleton's tattered copy was a black and white photograph of a scraggly-bearded wizard. He was standing hunchbacked and bent with his hand on the wrinkly head of a timid trembling elf. The poor little creature was holding a tray with a glass of fire-whisky in his shaky hands. The man nodded as though he were some benevolent God taking pity on a poor ugly creature that should be thankful for the indentured servitude that they were imprisoned in.

Harry had heard about these punishments and such when he had asked Fangleton to call him by his name rather than the young master Snape. When they were so close and lived with one another more than his parent did. He had been about eight years old and grew tired of the formality between the two of them were so close. Fangleton had come in and kissed him on the head as he did every morning, which his father allowed because he had expected him to become attached to the boy. After all, it was no secret that the servant spent –regrettably as far as his father was concerned- but it cannot be helped.

His work kept him away from the boy, something that had always caused the child great pain. It was always a painful time when his father was not at home and he was only allowed to communicate through letters. There were times when he just wanted to hug his father but could not. A painful issue for a little motherless boy whose only parent was seldom home and he was too young to read the letters his father sent. Severus was a brilliant man and although he was one of the most intelligent people in the world he had not yet mastered the art of dumbing down his speech.

He simply could not lower his mind to that of a childlike level; it was –through no fault of his own- utterly impossible. As much as he tried doing that kind of thing felt like a pure insult to his intelligence. He even bemoaned the fact that a little boy seemed to have the average intelligence of a child. Not that this was unusual as little children, even wizarding children were not known to exhibit magical abilities till the age of six. For some reason Snape had conveniently forgotten this little fact where his son was concerned expecting him to be some kind of supernatural protégée.

Harry of course tried to please his father to no end and for the most part succeeded for the simple fact that well…he was him. The boy just had to be around and it seemed to brighten his day but it was still a sad occasion when he went away to Hogwarts for the nine months. This was of course not only hard on the boy but hard on the father as the first three to five years he could neither write nor speak properly. So he could not dictate to the enchanted quill very well and his letters were either illegible or unreadable due to lack of understandability.

Therefore he had to rely on the service of the elf for updates on his boy for all the things he missed. He had missed out on the littlest moments of childhood that people cherished. Everything from Harry's first steps, first words and other important moment, which thanks to the magical movements of pictures he got to witness but did not get to experience due to his schedule. His father never showed it but it broke his heart privately that he did not get to share the smile on Harry's face. Lift him up into his arms and hug him when he ran to him for the first time and other things like that.

That was why when he came home he spoiled the boy. But during the long periods when he was away it was a rather dismal time and he would never see his mother which made it even worse. Still he dreamt of her all the time, she had a sweet voice and she was always holding him close to her. She was beautiful and warm and smiled at him when she held him close to her; he knew she was his mother because she had the same eyes. Those eyes that his father had loved so much in her life and as a small child he had often woke wondering where she was.

One night when he was little he had climbed into bed beside his father who had been awake in bed for the man never slept. Harry had curled up in his arms and laid there in silence, looking pained for some reason or other that the little boy had not understood at the time. But he seemed to hold him closer and then the memories started to fade from his mind. Just like that, they were blurry and fading and they were replaced with warm memories that made Harry feel all fuzzy inside and go to sleep, and when he was young this had happened often.

Harry had learned when he was older that his father had been removing the memories through a process called legilimency. A powerful sort of magic where someone can go into the mind and manipulate it for better or for worse, Harry was not allowed to learn that kind of thing. His father said it was a delicate thing far too delicate for a little boy and when and if he did learn it, that sort of thing was dangerous. To be used only in the most extreme circumstances and even then it was to be used in the direst situations. The human mind was not to be tampered with in any fashion and that kind of magic was a dangerous one.

His father had used it to remove the memories from his boy when he was small up to eight years old. When he was too small to deal with the pain and torment of the nightmares twisting in his mind and his father did not see fit to allow him to come to grips with reality. But when he was eight for some reason, Snape had seen fit to allow the dreams to come. Harry had asked him why and he told him that the dreams were only memories and that he had best learn to deal with them in time.

That and the fact that they were the one memory of his mother he actually had. This had not made Harry feel any better, despite the initial excitement of going to see his mother at night. He still saw the night-terror and remembered the first time he really woke from the nightmare for the first time. He had been just coming up on his eighth holiday with his father and Fangleton when he had felt all the pain and the burn of that too-realistic dream for the first time…

It had been a snowy December day when Harry, that eight year old boy had woken up to the sound of the elf cleaning up the toys scattered all over the floor. He kept the room ship shape and made sure Harry was nice and warm tucking him in on this chilly morning. The boy had been having a nightmare about that flash of light and the woman. He tossed and turned in his bed, his messy black hair fell in his face and he screamed out loud as he remembered the sharp pain of that burning spell. Even though it was only a dream he still felt the pain and screamed in agony.

"No…no..." he moaned, turning his head as the pained wail was torn from his lips.

The next thing he knew the nightmare was swimming around him, like watercolor paints being washed away by so much rain. He felt someone shaking him but the hands felt smaller than his shoulders. Their nails felt like claws getting hooked on the fabric of his robes his green eyes opened suddenly and he was looking at Fangleton. Little Harry then began to cry and then he hugged the elf tightly, causing him to gag from lack of oxygen. He patted him on the back in a feeble gesture of comfort. Harry squeezed him tightly like he was one of his stuffed animals rather than a living breathing creature.

"Does the young master want his father…" the elf asked him in a sympathetic hiss.

Little Harry nodded and sniffed loudly, causing the elf to smile and he hopped off the bed. Harry however was not ready to let him leave just yet, being a small child at the time he was still shaken by fears of things going bump in the night. He lifted the little boy's head and because he was now bigger than his caretaker he crawled into his arms and sat on his lap. The elf snuggled the crying child and allowed the child to hold him like he was some plushy toy meant for that sort of thing. He wrapped his boney, clawed hands around Harry's arm as he was squeezed tightly to the point of choking.

Fangleton made a gagging noise and scrunched up his wrinkled face as he was covered in the residue of left-over spit. Made to cuddle the child who he was too big to hold and be nuzzled by this otherwise giant creature who he had known since infancy. He squinted in distaste as he did not like to be snuggled in this way, hugs were fine and even a little cuddling but this was too much for him being the traditional elf-servant and not being used to this kind of affection from those who are seen as his superiors. But if the boy wanted a h

When he at last let go of the elf he felt a little better and offered him a charming but weak gap-toothed smile. It brought out the dimples that his father had oft told him belonged to his mother and apart from her eyes, which Harry had also inherited was his favorite part of her. Harry looked at hi face in the mirror and saw that even then he bore the most striking resemblance to his father. This was something he was very proud of at that tender age and grinned with a sorrowful watered-down smile and wiped his snotty nose on the back of his sleeve.

Of course this did not matter as the clothing was enchanted to magically keep itself clean from any sort of mess. And good thing too, because being a small boy he was naturally messy and would have cost his father a fortune in clothing. The sleeve sparkled as though it had been splattered with muggle glittered by a four year old with the artistic skills of an ill-coordinated baby monkey. Just seconds later the slime seemed to pool into a puddle of slimy fluid and then evaporated into thin air. This cheered Harry up a little as gross-out humor and being a typical boy he found this rather amusing.

He always did, but the elf broke his thoughts croaking, "Fangleton will go fetch Master and he will make the young master all better." He then smiled with his scraggly yellow fangs and patted Harry's knee gently.

"Thank you Fundleton," Harry replied, the words slightly slurred by the gap in his teeth, "I'm naw master, call me Harry."

"Fangleton cannot do that young master, or he will be punished." Fangleton said sadly.

Harry had then been shown the book and broke into tears at the thought of his friend being tortured in such a brutal way. His father had come in and held him close assuring him that no harm would come to his friend, but that punishment was sometimes needed. It was also an unspoken law in the wizarding community that house-elves be treated like servants and not equals where their masters were concerned. Word traveled fast and if his father had been found pampering the elves then the others of elven kind would come to expect it and then riots would most certainly ensue.

To appease his child however, he had taken away physical punishments and replaced them with things like a double work-load or missing one meal if it got really bad. Although Fangleton now had nothing to fear he still did not want to displease the master. More so now with the boy getting older and more indoctrinated in the wizarding world, for all Fangleton knew Harry might one day turn on him and see it as okay to hurt him because he was (by society's standards) inferior to the boy he had been made to half raise and it would be all too easy for the man he would become to loathe him in the end.

So, even with a lighter consequence load and an affectionate younger master Fangleton treaded carefully at the end of the day. But in this case his obsidian eyes to glimmer with pride as he took in the sight of his servant bowing with what seemed a hint of a smile on his crinkly face. He reached into his pillow-sack and pulled the manila envelope with green writing on the flap. He held it out to his employer but Snape made no move to take it. Instead he smiled and braced one long-fingered hand on Harry's shoulder, looking down at him with a smile curving the hard lines of his mouth.

"Accepted into what…" Harry asked puzzled.

"Give it to him Fang," His father told him.

Harry was then handed the envelope, which felt that it was packed with far more than one bit of parchment. On the front of it, was green lettering Mr. H. Snape, the last house on Spinner's End. Harry looked at the back of the slip and saw the shield from his toy wand with all four animals on it and everything. Heartbeat quickening as His pulse raced, fingers trembling a little as he heard his father whisper in his ear.

"Hogwarts…"