I had an idea for Harry being forgotten and ignored in favour of his twin. After I toned it down to a more reasonable level — it was a bit extreme to begin with — I realised that I didn't want to write a Wrong-Boy-Who-Lived story, going through all the Hogwarts years. (There are already so many stories like that out there that are far better than anything I could come up with.) Rather, I simply wanted Harry to have a loving home.
When I read the HP books for the first time, I kept thinking, Where are all the adults? That thought kept running through my mind like a mantra. I realise that JKR wrote the books for young adults and that the main protagonists therefore had to be approximately the same age as her target audience, but the callous negligence shown by the adults at Hogwarts regarding both the emotional and the physical health and well-being of the children in their care appalled me, as did the way that almost the entire wizarding world in Britain seemed to prefer moaning about the evil Dark Lord instead of actually getting up off their collective backsides and doing something about him. Choosing to leave it all in the hands of a child (all right, young adult!) who they treated like dirt half the time, was unforgiveable. Dumbledore knew about the Horcruxes probably from the time Harry got his scar and certainly after Harry showed him the destroyed diary and yet he didn't seem to do very much to track them down and destroy them. It took until Harry's sixth year for Dumbledore to find any, and yet, once they put their minds to it, Harry, Hermione and Ron managed to find all the rest in just a matter of months, with only a few obscure hints to guide them.. So this wrong BWL story isn't about Harry taking care of Voldemort. Nor is this story full of drama. Rather, it's a testimony to Harry gaining a father who refuses to let a child do what the adults should have done in the first place.
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't own it — I wish! Unfortunately, Harry Potter belongs to JKR and not to me; I'm just playing in her sandbox.
» Severus changes his name during the story. However, to make it easier to understand, I'll continue to refer to Severus by the name we all know. The only times his new name will be used is when his introduces herself to new people, or when someone is speaking to him and addresses him by name.
» At the time of writing, it's unclear if Charlus and Dorea Potter are James Potter's parents. In this story, I'm subscribing to the theory that they are, hence the name of the supposed Boy-Who-Lived.
» This story is has been written in full and will be posted at the rate of approximately one chapter a week.
» Thank you to atokkota for her support and feedback.
Severus Snape strode into Albus Dumbledore's office in Hogwarts.
"You wanted to see me, Headmaster?" he asked in his silky voice.
"Ah, yes, Severus. Have a seat. Sherbet Lemon?" he replied, offering the dish of sweets.
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. "Headmaster, I have several potions to brew for the infirmary between now and the start of the school year. If you could please just tell me what you want, so I can get back to my brewing?" he said through gritted teeth. Albus Dumbledore rarely showed any consideration for the plans or wishes of others. At least with most people he pretended to be genial, the benevolent grandfather, but he never cared to do so with Severus. Why bother? Albus Dumbledore owned Severus Snape and both of them knew it.
"Of course. Tomorrow is young Charlie Potter's fifth birthday. I would like you to attend his party with me. His parents will be taking him on holiday at the weekend — I will be accompanying them for the first week — but upon their return at the end of August, his training must start. Simple spells, which require little power, of course. He is, after all, only five. However, the Boy-Who-Lived must be trained."
Severus grimaced and Albus immediately expressed his displeasure. "You swore an oath, Severus," he warned, all signs of amiability gone.
"And I have not refused your orders, Headmaster. However, while my oath compels me to obey, it does not compel me to be gracious about spending time with Potter senior and Black," he replied tersely.
"Now, you really must learn to forgive and forget, Severus," the Headmaster said patronisingly, his blue eyes twinkling.
"Will that be all, Headmaster? I would like to get ahead on my brewing, if I am to spend tomorrow at the Boy-Who-Lived's birthday party."
Severus stood and swept out of the office, his robes billowing behind him. As he made his way back to the dungeons, he was fuming. Forgive and forget? Sirius Black had tried to murder him but had received no punishment, not even a token slap on the wrist. And he was supposed to pretend it had never happened?
The animosity between Severus Snape and his nemeses, Sirius Black and James Potter, stretched back to the day they first met, when they were eleven years old, and the Hogwarts Express was taking them to their first year of school. His crime? Wanting to be sorted into the House of Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. Potter and Black had teamed up with two others to torment him and had made his schooldays a living hell. None of the staff had stepped in to stop them bullying Severus, even though the odds were an unfair four-to-one, and it had been made very clear to the young boy that he was neither as important nor as worthwhile in the eyes of the staff as his tormentors.
Fourteen years later, relations between them had not improved and Dumbledore, who still favoured his golden Gryffindors, loved to twist the knife into Severus at every possible opportunity. There was no need for Severus to attend the Potter child's birthday party the following day. Meeting him could easily wait until he returned from his holiday, but Dumbledore took great pleasure from the fact that Severus had no choice but to do his bidding and he never passed up the chance to torment the younger man.
Severus Snape had made one terrible mistake in his life. After Black had tried to kill Severus, after Dumbledore had made it blatantly obvious to the frightened boy that his life held no value in Dumbledore's eyes, Severus had become ensnared by the only people who ever made him feel in any way welcome or accepted, the only people who had ever deemed him worthy of even the merest modicum of common courtesy: the Dark Lord, Voldemort, and his Death Eater followers. Severus had realised very quickly what a mistake that had been but when he turned to Dumbledore for help, he had been cruelly repulsed.
It was not until he overheard part of a prophecy and he took it to the Dark Lord that Dumbledore had listened to the desperate young man. The only part of the prophecy that Severus had heard had been: The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...¹
Severus had thought the prophecy had referred to an adult who had been born at the end of July, a powerful wizard with the ability to defeat the Dark Lord, one who was coming to Britain to destroy Voldemort. Even the reference to the vanquisher being born to those who have thrice defied him did not make him think otherwise, as the Dark Lord had been quietly gaining followers and power for a long time. Indeed, the Dark Lord had spent several decades wandering the world, learning Dark magic, and it was entirely possible that an adult wizard from overseas might have parents who had thrice defied Voldemort. Severus had therefore had no qualms about taking what he knew of the prophecy to the Dark Lord, secretly revelling in the flicker of fear he had seen in the vicious madman's eyes.
It had not occurred to Severus that the prophecy might refer to a child who had not yet been born and when he realised that his childhood friend, Lily Evans — now Potter — and her family had been targeted by the Dark Lord as a result of this prophecy, he had approached Dumbledore. The Headmaster, the only person Voldemort had ever feared, had made Severus debase himself. He had literally crawled to the old man, begging him to save Lily. He had understood that Dumbledore would never believe Severus would want him to save the entire Potter family — the bad feelings between James Potter and Severus Snape were too deep and Dumbledore had never believed Severus could possibly have any goodness in him — but, in reality, he wanted the whole family to be saved for Lily's sake. She had been his childhood friend, even before Hogwarts, and although their friendship had ended, Severus still had a fondness for her and simply wanted her to be happy. And so he had shown Dumbledore what he wanted to see, making him believe that he, Severus, was in love with Lily and only wanted her to be saved. Dumbledore despised him even more for that but Severus knew he had no other options.
Severus Snape had been bound with an Unbreakable Vow to work for Dumbledore as his spy, to bring about the downfall of the Dark Lord, to do Dumbledore's bidding. The Potters had hidden behind a special ward: the Fidelius Charm. Only the Secret Keeper could give away their location. Unfortunately, they had trusted the wrong person and had been betrayed, the Secret Keeper leading the Dark Lord right into their home. Their son, Charlus Evan Potter, had supposedly defeated the Dark Lord when he tried to kill the then fifteen month old infant, his killing curse apparently backfiring on the Dark Lord himself. Dumbledore did not believe that the Dark Lord was gone for good and he kept Severus bound to his service, ready for the return of Voldemort.
Dumbledore had wanted to add a second Unbreakable Vow, forcing Severus to protect the Boy-Who-Lived, but Severus had protested. "What if there is an emergency and I have to act to protect the child in a way that contravenes the first oath? I may not always have time to get your permission. Not only would it kill me but it could put the child in danger."
With the safety of young Charlie Potter in mind, Dumbledore had accepted this reasoning — although not without making Severus sweat over it first — and had cancelled the first oath. The self-proclaimed Leader of the Light had then made Severus swear a second Unbreakable Vow, which still had him bound in servitude to Dumbledore but which put the protection of the Boy-Who-Lived ahead of anything else, even his service to the older man. It was not as much freedom as Severus would have liked but even that little bit of leeway was more than he had expected.
The following day, a reluctant Severus Snape flooed with Dumbledore to the Potter home. "Albus, welcome!" James cried. "Snivellous," he added rudely, seeing the other man standing behind Dumbledore. "What are you doing here?"
"I asked Severus to come. I want to start training Charlie after your holiday and I thought it would be good if he could first meet Severus in an informal setting."
"Well, come on in, Albus. Charlie is through here," said James, guiding the old man to the room where the party was and completely ignoring Severus.
Severus sighed, rolling his eyes at the other man's juvenile behaviour. Of course, Albus doesn't say a word to Potter about it. His precious Gryffindors can do no wrong, he thought resignedly.
Half an hour into the party, Dumbledore had left but had instructed Severus to, "Stay and enjoy the party, dear boy."
Severus had not dared leave immediately behind Dumbledore, as the old man would take note of how long he had stayed at the party, but to his relief, was ignored by all the other guests. Knowing that he was an unwelcome guest, Severus quietly sneaked out and went looking for the library, intending to read a book to pass the time until he could leave without repercussion. As he searched Potter Manor for the library, he felt a strange pull on his magic and followed it. Arriving in the kitchen, he decided to ask for a cup of tea. The only drink served at the party had been pumpkin juice, a beverage that Severus found nauseatingly sweet.
"How can Gillie help sir?"
Severus looked down at the house elf who had approached him upon his entering the kitchen. "A cup of tea, please," he replied.
The elf looked at him apologetically. "Master and Mistress don't wants hot drinks served in the party in case they spills and hurts the childrens," she explained.
Of course not. Never mind that old Madam Longbottom is probably gagging for a cup of tea as much as I am, he thought. There are charms they can easily use to prevent any spillages and to insulate the cups to ensure the childrens wouldn't be burnt if they touched them. No respect for their guests.
"What if I sat and drank the tea here in the kitchen, Gillie?" he suggested. "I won't be missed from the party, I assure you."
The little elf smiled and nodded and moments later, a cup of tea was sitting on the table in the kitchen for him.
"Thank you, Gillie," he said to the elf appreciatively as he took a sip. "This is delicious."
The elf beamed at him. "You is very welcome, sir."
As Severus sat quietly enjoying his tea, in his peripheral vision, he noticed a movement in the corner of the kitchen. Severus could feel himself being watched and, glancing over surreptitiously, he saw a little boy with a mop of messy black hair and bright green eyes poking his head out of a cupboard. That child can only be a Potter, he thought in astonishment. He's the spitting image of James but he has Lily's eyes. Who on earth is he? He's not the Boy-Who-Lived. That brat is busy being spoiled rotten at the party.
Pretending to be unaware of anything going on around him in the kitchen, he listened in amazement as the house elf slipped over to the little boy and admonished him. "No, Harry No-Name. You must stay in your cupboard, you musts."
Harry NO-NAME? In HIS CUPBOARD? What is going on here? Severus thought in consternation. He was not aware of a second Potter child — in fact, he doubted anyone was — and yet this little boy ducking back inside the cupboard was undoubtedly James and Lily Potter's son.
With a growing alarm, he asked the elf, "Gillie, who is Harry No-Name and why is he in the cupboard?"
The little elf pulled on her ears in distress. Severus could see that she wanted to answer but it was too ingrained in house elves that they must keep their Masters' secrets.
"Gillie, you are a very good elf and I know you keep your Master's secrets," he said gently and Gillie nodded gratefully. "Is Harry No-Name a secret? Has your Master told you not to talk about him?"
"No, sir," she squeaked.
"So can you tell me about him?"
"Harry No-Name is Master Charlie's twin, sir, but Harry No-Name lives with the elveses," Gillie explained quietly.
"Why does Harry live with the elves, Gillie? Why do you call him Harry No-Name?" Severus questioned, trying not to show his horror.
"Gillie is a good elf, sir. Gillie cannot speak badly of her Masters," she whispered.
"Gillie, are you bound specifically to Master James or to the Potter family?" Severus asked carefully.
"Gillie is bound to the Potter family, sir, but Harry No-Name is not a Potter."
"How is that possible if he is Master Charlie's twin? He is the very image of James Potter."
"Gillie cannot say, sir."
Severus sighed. He could, of course, just ignore the little boy but his magic kept nudging him and he had learned to trust his instincts. "Gillie, is there anyone else who can tell me about Harry? Mr Black or Mr Lupin, perhaps?"
Gillie shook her head frantically. "Not Mr Blacks or Mr Lupins, sir."
"I see. Well, perhaps I could talk to Harry?"
"No, sir," she squeaked in alarm. "Harry No-Name doesn't speak to peoples, sir. Harry No-Name only talks to elveses."
"And all the elves are bound to the Potters," he sighed in frustration.
At that, Gillie looked up hopefully. "There is one elf, sir. If you calls for Dobby he can talk to you."
Severus frowned. He had heard that name before. "Why would the Malfoys' elf talk to me about Harry?" he asked in bewilderment.
"When Master Charlie and Harry No-Name were born, Dappy was bound to Master Charlie and Dobby to Harry No-Name. When Master decided he didn't need so many elveses and sold Dobby, he didn't breaks the bond with Harry No-Name. The bond with the Malfoys didn't takes properly because Dobby is still bound to Harry No-Name. Malfoys don't realise but Dobby can breaks the bond with them at any time, to be with Harry No-Name."
"And because Dobby is bound to Harry personally and not to the Potters, and Harry is not a Potter, Dobby can talk freely," said Severus in understanding.
When Gillie nodded her head, Severus called for the other elf. With a crack, Dobby appeared before him.
"How can Dobby helps?" he asked, bouncing with excitement.
"Wait a moment, Dobby," said Severus. "Gillie, are you able to warn me if anyone is coming towards the kitchen? I'd like to talk to Dobby undisturbed."
"Gillie can do that, sir."
"Thank you. You have been very helpful, Gillie. You're a very good elf." The little elf beamed at his praise and Severus turned to the other elf. "Dobby, I need you to tell me about your Master Harry."
"Master Harry is Master Charlie's twin, sir. When the bad man came to hurt the Potters, Master made a big blast of magic. Dobby felt it. The bad man was destroyed. Master was magically drained and he was unconscious in his cot. Headmaster Whiskers came and heard Master Charlie crying and he didn't notice Dobby's Master."
"Sweet Nimue! Harry is the Boy-Who-Lived, not Charlie?" Severus whispered and Dobby and Gillie both nodded.
"Elveses know this," Dobby said.
"What about his parents?"
"Potters don't remember Dobby's Master Harry," explained Dobby sadly. "They were busy taking care of Master Charlie after the bad man came, and didn't have time for Dobby's Master. They told us elveses to care for Dobby's Master while they made sure Master Charlie was all right. But they forgot all about Dobby's Master and never asked to see him again. Anytime Dobby's Master cried in his cot, they tended to Master Charlie instead and didn't bother about Dobby's Master anymores. Dobby took care of Master from that night. Dobby fed and washed and tended to him. When Master Charlie was moved out of the nursery to a proper bedroom, the nursery was made into a playroom for Master Charlie and there was nowhere for Dobby's Master, so Dobby brought him to the kitchen where the elveses live. Gillie takes care of Master Harry for Dobby now."
This made a lot of sense to Severus. The Unbreakable Vow which Dumbledore had made him swear had not referred to Charlie Potter by name, rather it had bound him to protect and nurture the Boy-Who-Lived. This explained the pull on his magic, drawing him to the kitchen where young Harry lived with the house elves, having been forgotten by his family. Obviously, magic had decreed Harry's living situation untenable — which an appalled Severus agreed with wholeheartedly! — and his oath needed him to take action.
"Dobby, if your bond with the Malfoys has not taken hold, why do you stay there?"
"Dobby can't stay with Potters and Dobby thinks it isn't safe for nasty Malfoys to know about Master Harry, so Dobby hasn't told them about his real bond."
"Very good. That's very wise of you, Dobby. Gillie, Dobby, I would like to meet Harry, please."
The elves looked at each other uneasily and Severus explained. "I know you've been taking very good care of him but he hasn't been seen by a human in nearly four years. I want to do a quick health check on him, just in case there's anything that elf magic can't help with."
"Master Harry has bad magic in him. Elveses can't fix it," said Dobby sadly.
"Bad magic?" asked Severus in puzzlement.
"In his scar," Gillie explained.
"What scar?" Severus asked.
"The one the bad man gave him that night," said Dobby quietly.
"Will you bring Master Harry to me, Dobby?" Severus said to the little elf.
Dobby nodded and he and Gillie went to coax Harry out of the cupboard. The Potters never entered the kitchen and the little boy did not remember ever seeing a human before. The man was so big! He frightened little Harry.
Seeing this, Severus sat down on the floor, so that he would be on the same level when the child was standing between the two elves, instead of looming over the apprehensive little boy. "Hello, Harry," he said kindly. "My name is Severus."
Harry eeped with fright and tried to hide behind Dobby. Severus was appalled to see that the boy was barefoot and dressed in a pillowcase, just like the house elves.
"It's all right, Harry. I just want to talk to you," said Severus as gently as he could.
Dobby encouraged the boy to step forward. "Harry-Elf doesn't talk to the Masters," he whispered.
Severus' eyes opened wide. The boy thought he was an elf? Of course, he has no reason to think otherwise, Severus realised. He's probably never even seen himself in a mirror to know that he's different. He took out his wand and showed it to mop haired little tyke. "Do you know what this is, Harry? It's called a wand and I can do magic with it. Look." Severus used the wand to shoot bubbles around. He popped one and Harry giggled when it made a little pinging noise.
"Did you like that?" Severus asked with a smile and Harry nodded his head enthusiastically. "Let me make more bubbles for you and you can pop as many of them as you like."
While Harry was busy popping bubbles, Severus surreptitiously ran a quick diagnostic check on him. Reading the results, he frowned.
"Is Master Harry all right, sir?" asked Dobby anxiously, seeing the frown.
"Yes, he's fine, Dobby," Severus sighed. "I had hoped to find a Notice-Me-Not or Confundus charm on him. Something — anything! — to explain why his parents have forgotten about him. I don't think there's a charm on them; too many people have forgotten all about Harry. It has to be something do with him, only I can't see anything."
"Dobby couldn't find anything like that either," said the elf.
Severus nodded and did another diagnostic, this time looking for the Dark magic that the elf had mentioned earlier. Sure enough there was a large concentration of Dark magic on the boy's forehead. By this time, Harry had finished popping all the bubbles and was sitting on the floor next to Severus, giggling happily.
"Did you enjoy that, Harry?" he asked. "I'm glad. Perhaps I'll come and visit you another time and give you more bubbles to play with?"
Harry nodded enthusiastically again and Severus carefully stretched out a hand to stroke Harry's hair. Pleased to see that the little boy did not flinch away, Severus casually brushed aside the hair from his forehead and, sure enough, there was an angry, red scar. Harry cuddled into Severus' embrace and closed his eyes. Severus could not resist and lifted Harry onto his lap, letting the boy sleep in his arms. Surprisingly, when Harry's forehead brushed against Severus' left forearm as he moved the little boy into a comfortable position, Severus felt a tingle in his Dark Mark. Something is very wrong here. I need to fix this, he thought, his uneasiness over the entire situation increasing.
"Why is Harry dressed in a pillowcase?"
"Potters don't give clothes to Harry No-Name. Elveses can't take clothes," Gillie explained.
Severus sighed. House elves were not allowed to own clothes. It was a symbol of their servitude. Giving clothes to an elf signified that the elf was being freed, something the house elves regarded as a deep disgrace. To bond with and serve their families was too deeply ingrained into their very being and elves who had been freed usually lost the will to live. Very few free elves survived for more than a few years without bonding with a new Master.
"Gillie, when the Potters go on holiday in a few days' time, what will happen to Harry? He won't be left alone here, will he?"
"No, sir. Potters is taking elf Dappy and elf Pipsy with them. Gillie is staying behind to care for the Manor. Gillie will be looking after Harry No-Name."
"Gillie, Dobby, what would you think of me taking Harry away from Potter Manor and raising him as my son?" Severus asked.
"Harry No-Name is not a Potter," Gillie repeated.
"So you won't object if I take him away and give him a home?" Severus asked, just to be sure.
"Gillie thinks it will be very good for Harry No-Name to have a father and a home," the little elf replied decisively.
"Very good. There is nothing I can do to help Harry today. There are too many people around and I have preparations to make. When the Potters have gone on holiday, Dobby, I will summon you and I will ask you to bring Master Harry to me. You, of course, will be welcome to stay with us, since you are bonded to Master Harry."
Dobby began to bounce around in excitement. "Dobby will be very pleased. Sir is a great wizard to be taking my Master and giving him a home."
Severus smiled at the hyper little elf. "Dobby, you must go back to the Malfoys until then. You must act as you always do and make sure they do not suspect anything untoward."
"Dobby will not do anything to harm his Master, sir. What should Dobby call sir?"
"My name is Severus Snape. You may call me Master Snape."
Dobby stopped mid-bounce. "You is friend of the bad Malfoys!" he yelped.
"No, Dobby," Severus hastened to reassure him. "I'm not a friend of the Malfoys. I pretend to be their friend, like you pretend to be their elf. Once I take Master Harry away, I will no longer do that. I give you my word. I promise I won't do anything to hurt Harry. Will you trust me with him? Remember, you will also be with us and can protect him from me if you think it necessary."
Dobby looked at the Dark wizard for a long minute, as though assessing his sincerity. Eventually, he nodded. "Dobby will trust Master Snape."
"Thank you, Dobby," Severus replied. "Now, you must go back to Malfoy Manor until I call for you and I must go back to the party before I'm missed." Dobby popped away and Gillie levitated the sleeping boy back to his cupboard. Severus clambered up off the floor and looked down at Gillie. "I'm sorry to be taking Harry away from you, Gillie. I know you care for him."
"Yes, Master Snape. Gillie cares for Harry No-Name. Gillie will miss Harry No-Name but Gillie is pleased Harry No-name will be gettings a proper home. Harry No-Name can't stays in the cupboard."
"I don't know if you're ever permitted to leave Potter Manor for any reason but you would be welcome to visit Harry if you can."
Gillie's large eyes filled with tears. "Thank yous, Master Snape," she said sincerely.
Severus nodded at her and then made his way back to the party. As he slipped in, Sirius Black finally noticed him.
"I thought you had left, Snivellous," he said belligerently. Severus was glad to see distaste on the faces of some of the other guests at Sirius' obnoxious behaviour. He noticed that, as always, James' and Sirius' best friend, Remus Lupin, just stood aside and watched, without trying to restrain Potter or Black. Remus was a werewolf and, given the prejudice against werewolves in wizarding Britain, was so grateful to have any friends at all, and was so scared they might turn against him, that he never had the courage to speak up against the odious pair.
"As you may recall, Black, Dumbledore ordered me to stay. However, I will gladly take my leave now," Severus sneered.
"Where have you been? Why have you been wandering around my home?" demanded James.
Severus rolled his eyes. "I went outside for some fresh air," he lied. "I did not think I would be missed. Ladies and gentlemen, I bid you farewell." Severus bowed graciously in the direction of the other guests and then walked back out into the entrance hall, James Potter very obviously following him to make sure he actually left. Rolling his eyes at the boorishness of his nemesis, Severus took a pouch out of his pocket and extracted a pinch of floo powder, not for a moment believing that he would be permitted to use the Potters' supply as their other guests would. It was regarded as polite manners to provide floo powder for guests' use when leaving your home but James Potter did not deem Severus worthy of any sort of courtesy or politeness.
"Incendio," Severus intoned at the fireplace and when it lit up, he threw the floo powder in. "Headmaster's office, Hogwarts," he announced and, stepping into the fireplace, was whisked away.
¹ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37.