I do not own any of this!

Chapter 1

As a warm wind wafted through the glassless but barred window, into the smallest upstairs room of Number 4, Privet Drive, it's occupant, one Harry Potter, lay on his bed silently, squinting upwards as he twirled his glasses idly between his fingers. Despite the breeze, the boy lay atop the bed, his chest bare, sweating in the stifling heat the first few weeks of the summer holiday had brought.

Due to a fear of re-living the events from all those years ago in his nightmares, Harry Potter was once again wife awake, though he knew it would be several hours before his aunts catcalling shriek would summon him from his bed. He knew this because, as of yet, there was no familiar golden streak on the far wall of his bedroom, caused by the rising sun. It was this, in the absence of any watch or clock, which was the boy's only practical way of telling the time, despite the fact that it only worked when the sky was clear.

Desperate to stop his eyelids closing, Harry once again ran over the few precious minutes he had spent with his godfather. The wonderful dreams of a new home with his parent's old best friend shattered, Harry found it even harder to accept the life he lived with his cruel relatives.

Time passed quickly as Harry allowed his mind to wander, and after what felt like bare minutes Harry was startled by the hard rapping od bony knuckles on the door, and his aunts harsh tone.

'Boy! Up!'

Harry rolled to his feet without hesitation, sighing as he pulled a thin t- shirt over his head, mentally preparing himself for another day. After splashing water on his face and using a finger smeared with toothpaste to clean his teeth, he went down the stairs, unaware that he was dragging his feet as he neared the kitchen.

As Harry began to prepare a breakfast of bacon and eggs while his aunt began making out a shopping list, a fat, squinting boy waddles into the room. Stopping only to give his cousin a hard punch to the kidneys, which Harry knew he could not retaliate too, Dudley sat down at the table, his piggy eyes settling on the TV that sat on the kitchen counter.

For Harry, breakfast was a test of his will power, as he watched his cousin devourer the meal he had laboured over, and tried not to flinch to the slap his aunt gave him for burning the toast.

'Mummy, I'm going to the aqua park today, aren't I?'

Dudley's voice was whiney, and sounded more like a six year olds than a teenagers. Harry clenched his jaw.

'Of course Duiddykins. Its' your birthday soon. You can do whatever you want to.'

Harry rolled his eyes, wondering if his aunt would ever cotton on to the fact that she was being constantly manipulated by her son. Before he could ponder any longer on this thought, he was rounded ion by his aunt.

'As for you,'

She snarled, and Harry had to resist the urge to wipe his face.

'You're uncle wants to see you. He's in his study. Go!'

Harry made a hasty exit; glad to escape the pain promising glared his cousin kept sending him. He entered his uncle's study hesitantly, hoping he wasn't going to be accused of disturbing his uncle.

Vernon Dursley was reading the days newspaper and sipping his coffee when his quiet Saturday morning was interrupted by his freak nephew.

'Aunt Petunia said you wanted to see me.'

Harry kept his head down, even when he felt the stabbing finger at his chest.

'I do, it's nearly you're cousins birthday, and won't have you ruining it. To keep you occupied and out of mischief, today you'll mow the lawn, wash the car, and weed the garden. When you've done that, you can paint all the bamboos with the paint I put out. Don't get any on you're clothes. If I catch you slacking, you know what you'll get.

Vernon's hand went to his belt, his pudgy fingers tracing the outline of the glinting metal buckle. Harry understood perfectly.

'Yes, sir.'

Harry left without looking up, not needing to actually see his uncle to know he was itching for a reason to punish him. He went straight outside, and pulled the old mover out of the shed. He brushed the dust and grit off the machine with his hands, and checked to see that the cable had not frayed. Careful to keep his bare feet and fingers clear of the spinning blades, he began.

As Harry sweated his way up and down the lawn, pushing the heavy machine in front of him, he counted down the days till he could return to school and see his friends again.

As the day wore on, and Harry slowly made his way through his chores, he tried to ignore the growling of his stomach, and the burning across his shoulders as the hot sun burned his already blistered skin. In the afternoon, he was forced to work on a s a wet-haired Dudley devoured several ice-creams on the patio taunting Harry mercilessly as he sweated in the afternoon sun.

A few hours later, and Harry was finished except for the bamboo's and was starting, having first stripped off his shirt in a effort to keep his cloths cleaned as ordered. Until his Uncle came storming out of the house, Harry had thought he was doing rather well. He had painted almost half of the bamboos, with minimal damage to himself and the grass. Evidently he had thought wrong. He was pulled roughly to his feet and shaken. Unable to escape the bruising hold his uncle had on his left arm, Harry could only cower.

'BOY! What do you think you're doing!' His Uncle barked in Harry face, twisting his arm. Harry winced.

'Painting?' Harry knew before he said it that it was the wrong answer. It was always the wrong answer. His Uncle shook him again, seeming even more enraged.

'Painting!' His Uncle's voice was outraged. 'I'll give you painting!'

The half painted bamboo was ripped pout of Harry hand, making him drop the paint-covered brush to the ground. As his uncle raised the bamboo, Harry realised grimly that he should have dropped it when he had been grabbed. As it was he'd given his tormentor the perfect weapon. I won't make that mistake again, he though gloomily, as his uncle hit him across the back with the paint covered bamboo.

As his uncle continued to lay into his back, Harry stopped struggling, knowing it was futile to resist. Strangely, Harry was able to view times like these with a totally objective eye. The sooner he stopped struggling, the sooner his uncle would stop.

After a few dozen strokes, his Uncle stopped, and pulled his nephew in close, breathing on his face. He was panting with the exertion of beating Harry, his eyes full of rage. Harry shrank back as the bamboo was pressed hard to his face, leaving a smear of white.

'What colour is this, boy?'

'White?' Harry stammered, flinching.

'White, and what colour should it be?'

Realising Dudley had once again been up to his tricks, Harry did not answer, not wanting to chance a guess, knowing it would almost certainly be wrong.

'Green! So why is this bamboo white?'

Again Harry didn't think it was worth answering.

'Because you're a stupid maggot who can't follow instructions and won't get fed until these are all green, that's why! Now get to it!'

Before he even had a chance to mumble the obligatory 'Yes, sir.', Harry was flung onto the grass, where he quickly scrambled to open a pot of green paint and pick up his brush. Cringing under his Uncle's glare, he began to re-paint the poles, praying he was working fast enough for his Uncle.

He heard his Uncle turn away with a grunt, and walk back into the kitchen, sitting down to a good supper Harry knew he would not be getting. Only when he was sure his Uncle would not be coming back out, did the fingers of his left hand creep round his ribs, feeling for the expected wounds on his back. In fact, his back was covered in streaks of white paint, every painted line running parallel to a purple welt engraved in his flesh. Harry winced.

Several hours later, and Harry had nearly finished. Thinking longingly of the lumpy mattress he called a bed, Harry knocked a hand against his pot of paint. He watched in horror as it fell over, splattering paint over the concrete paving to his right. He swore under his breath, and then stiffened, hearing someone behind him. He bent immediately over the spilt paint, desperately using his discarded shirt to wipe up the mess.

'I didn't mean to Uncle Vernon. I'll clean it up.'

Harry cringed, realising that he had given his uncle an excuse to use the bamboo on him again. He gritted his teeth, mentally preparing himself for the pain that was to come. Expecting the roars of his Uncle, h was startled to hear a voice he knew well, but one that he had not been expecting to hear for several months.

'I don't think that will be necessary.' Drawled Professor Severus Snape, Potions Master.

The ice in his voice stilled Harry, stopping the instinctive movement that voice triggered. Not believing he was going to escape punishment from his Uncle, Harry did not move, closing his eyes and trying to work out why the hell Snape, of all people, was standing in the place of his Uncle when punishment was to be doled out. Snape realising that Harry hadn't moved, decided a bit of encouragement was needed.

'Enticing as the sight of you on your knees and showing respect for once is, Potter, I would think you could realise that this is no time to be shrinking away from me like a whipped dog.'

The sarcasm in his voice angered Harry, and he spun round, stepping off the concrete and onto the cool grass. As he stepped out of the shadow of the building, Harry flinched, giving Snape a quick glimpse of his side, and realised that his comment about whipped dogs might have been closer to he mark that he had first thought. Harry was frowning, despite the fact that he was escaping the wrath of his Uncle.

'What are you doing here?'

Looking up, Harry realised that the man who stood before him looked nothing like the greasy potions master he knew. In his place was a man who radiated calm, and who wore the power he possessed wrapped around him like a cloak. His robes were also different. Though black, they were edged with silver, and underneath dark grey slacks, with a lighter shirt, buttoned at the cuffs but open at the neck. Harry stepped back, awed.

'I am here, Potter, because it had been decided that you are to be apprenticed to the Masters. You will spend three years in service to a master, and at the end of it you will be ordained into the mastery. Come.'

Snape turned, taking it for granted that he would be followed without question. He was halted by the sound of Harry voice, strangely determined.

'What if I don't want to.'

Snape could tell it wasn't a question. He turned and stepped in close to Harry, his hand snaking forwards to grip Harry's chin and neck, forcing him to look up. His thumb presses against Harry's scar.

'The mark you bear takes your right to choose. It has been decided by those with more wisdom that yours that you must become a master, and become a master you will. Now follow me.'

Harry looked down, knowing arguing would be useless. He was led through the house, and into the quiet streets. Snape stopped, and took Harry by the hand once more. Whispering a word that Harry could not hear, they disappeared, leaving Harry's old life behind them.

I can tell that's going to need some explanation so here we go.

1. For this fic you're going to have to forget most of the whole Snape/Death Eater thing, as it simply won't make any sense if you don't.

2. Where were the Dursleys? Snape put them in an enchanted sleep or something; it's not really relevant to the story.

3. Why did I make Harry get beaten up by his Uncle? This was just to have Harry in a compromising situation when Snape turned up, not particularly a main part of the story.

I am very sorry it has taken me so long to get anything up, I know I promised to continue with the guardians but I've got wrapped up in this now. Though this is about the third draft of this chapter, I've got about ten chapters written out, and several more in the planning stages. For readers of The Guardians, I will try to do at least one chapter on it over the holidays. I would also appreciate any comments and suggestions. Thanks for any reviews - Pose