~In fond memory of Alan Rickman, one of the greatest actors of our time~
I wasn't intending to post this story yet, since it's far from finished, but after the sad news yesterday I wanted to do something to commemorate the wonderful actor who brought one of my favourite characters to life so perfectly. This story seemed perfect. I cannot guarantee fast updates but I feel it was appropriate to start posting this now.
I don't have a firm plan for this story, so rating, warnings etc may be altered as plot progresses.
Post-GoF. Includes a lot of OotP, but not the complete timeline, and nothing from HBP or DH. Snape's background is not canonical.
All the World's a Stage
Chapter One: A Reluctant Rescue
Severus Snape was sitting alone in the Headmaster's office. He had returned from a summoning by Voldemort to find a note telling him that Albus was busy setting up Order Headquarters. Since Severus had not yet been informed where these were going to be, he had been forced to wait for his return.
He drummed his fingers on the mahogany desk, bored. No doubt if he returned to his own quarters and began some reading or brewing, Albus would show up. It would be typical of his timing.
A tapping at the window startled Severus, and he stood to let in a handsome barn owl, which dropped a letter with a Ministry of Magic seal onto the desk and flew off again. Knowing Albus would treat any form of communication from the Ministry at this stage as highly urgent, Severus opened the envelope himself.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
We are writing to inform you that legal proceedings have begun to terminate your guardianship of Harry James Potter.
"What?" Severus exclaimed.
He read through the rest of the letter carefully, and then again. And then again. He couldn't believe his eyes. Fudge was stepping way out of line with this one.
With alarm, he noted the date on the letter. It had been written a month ago.
A month ago exactly.
Severus swore and checked his watch. He knew how the system worked. It was just gone three PM. This wasn't good. He had less than two hours, at most! If it wasn't too late already.
"Think, think," he said to himself, wracking his brain. Albus could be anywhere. He didn't know who all the Order members were yet. The only ones he knew about were Minerva, Lupin, Black and the Weasleys.
Minerva would be fastest. Severus positively fled to her office, expecting her to be there, finishing up the end-of-term work—but it was empty. With no hesitation he grabbed the Floo and threw a handful into the fire. "The Burrow!"
He thrust his head in, only to find an empty room. He yelled, but no-one came running.
Damn! He was going to have to try Lupin's. As a werewolf he was out of the question, as was Black for obvious reasons; but hopefully they'd know how to contact someone else.
"Lupin!" Severus yelled from the next fire. "Black! Oh for Merlin's sake; ANYBODY!"
Nothing. They must all be at the Headquarters.
As Severus pulled back out of the fire, heart hammering, he considered his position. He had no alternative—he was going to have to do this himself. There was no time to hope someone would turn up.
He threw the last of the Floo in and shouted, "Ministry of Magic!"
"You have issued the standard one-month notice to the current guardian?" the witch in the Child Protection Office asked, barely looking up from the form.
"Yes," Severus lied.
"You have a copy?"
"It was a verbal notice," Severus said quickly, "but I have this."
Albus really was a genius, Severus thought as he presented her with the note Albus had issued to him—along with several other trusted Order members—many years ago in case of a legal crisis.
I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, hereby relinquish guardianship of Harry James Potter and release him into the care of Severus Snape.
The witch seemed satisfied with this, to Severus' relief. "Well then, all seems to be in order. If you could sign the declaration, then it will be done."
Severus grabbed the quill and scrawled his signature as quickly as he could. It glowed for a moment, signifying the contract was now valid.
"Well then, congratulations," she said, smiling. "You're a father."
The word hit Severus like a tonne of bricks.
What in the world have I got myself into? he thought in horror. His musings were cut short as he spotted Cornelius Fudge entering the office. As Severus had predicted, he made a beeline for the most senior worker. Severus had picked the most junior, knowing she would be the least likely to be aware of the situation.
He mentally apologised for probably getting her fired, and made a hasty yet discreet exit. Halfway down the corridor he heard the Minister for Magic yell in rage.
The next problem was going to be the wards around Privet Drive. Severus hadn't thought about it until he came to sign the documents—but now he realised they weren't going to stand. Albus had, for lack of a better word, loaned custody of the boy to his relatives—that would now be revoked, and the wards were probably down already.
He Apparated there, and almost ran into someone invisible. There was a grunt, a nasty smell of tobacco and whiskey, and Severus grabbed and pulled the Invisibility Cloak off.
"Mundungus Fletcher," he growled. Before Fletcher could speak, Severus snapped, "Tell Albus the wards have collapsed and I've got the boy. Go!"
To his amazement, the crook did as he was told.
Harry had been in his room, trying to devise a new way of listening to the news, when he heard a crack from outside. He leapt to his feet, his wand drawn; he recognised the sound of someone Apparating.
Before he could get to the window, he heard another crack, and a pounding on the front door, followed by muffled shouting. His aunt screamed, and then footfalls thundered up the stairs.
"Impedi—" he tried to shout as the door crashed open.
The intruder disarmed him mid-incantation with a snarl. "You stupid boy! Do you want to be expelled?"
"Snape!" Harry gasped. "Wh-what are you doing here?"
"Saving your worthless hide, you imbecile. Where's your trunk?" Snape's eyes fell on it open by Harry's desk. "Accio Potter's belongings!" Harry's things started zooming out of the cupboard, off the floor and out from under the floorboards; Snape directed them into his trunk and then, with a flick of his wand, it snapped closed. With another flick, it had shrunk to the size of a bar of soap. Snape pocketed it, and then grabbed Harry's arm. "Come on then Potter, if you value your life."
Harry hurried after him. "Is Voldemort—"
"Don't say his name!"
"Not as far as I am aware, but the wards around your home have fallen and it is only a matter of time before he finds out." Snape half-dragged Harry out of the house. All three Dursleys were standing in the drive, looking pale and confused. Snape shoved what looked like an empty potions vial into their hands.
"All three of you hold onto that. Now!"
In fear, they obeyed, and Snape barked out, "Asphodel!" It was obviously a password-activated Portkey, for they all vanished.
"They've been sent to a safe house. You, on the other hand, are coming with me. Take this."
One nauseating ride later and Harry collapsed onto tarmac. Snape pulled him up by his clothes and set him on his feet.
They were standing on the pavement of a quiet road lined with largish old houses—Tudor, Harry thought, though he had never been an expert on architecture. Without pause, Snape led them through a gate and began striding up a gravel path. As they drew near the black old door, Harry noticed the plaque: Silverweed House.
"Put your hand here," Snape hissed quietly.
Harry placed his hand on the door in the place he had pointed out. Snape muttered a spell, and the wood suddenly felt warm under Harry's palm; a moment later the sensation passed, and it was cold again. Snape unlocked the door and pushed Harry inside.
"You will stay here," he said after steering Harry into a living-room. "Don't touch anything. I have to find and speak with the Headmaster but I will be back as soon as possible to explain the situation." He was halfway to the fireplace when he remembered Harry's trunk, and restored it to normal. "Try and stay out of trouble until I return."
Harry had a feeling the safest thing to do was say, "Yes, sir."
Snape grabbed the Floo, threw it in the fire and said, "Headmaster's office, Hogwarts!"
Once he was alone, Harry sat gingerly down on the sofa and looked around, wondering whose house it was. Snape's, maybe; though he didn't know why he had been brought here. He could understand being moved if it was no longer safe at Privet Drive—but why was he separate from the Dursleys? He wasn't complaining about that, but Snape was hardly an improvement.
Maybe he was just waiting it out until the wards, as Snape had called them, had been redone. Though that still didn't explain the separation …
If it was Snape's place, Harry thought, it actually wasn't that bad—much nicer than the dungeons. The walls were pristine cream with dark wooden panelling. A large diamond-paned window kept the room well lit, and a roaring fire in the grate made the place feel strangely welcoming. The sofa and chairs were cream with bronze cushions, and a large bronze rug was rather threadbare. The curtains were cream with a green and bronze pattern on them. Several pot plants Harry vaguely recognised from Herbology stood around the place, along with a magnificent grandfather clock and, on the coffee table, a stray copy of Practical Potioneer. The most curious artefact, however, was the ordinary Muggle television.
Harry was just wondering whether "Don't touch" applied to turning the telly on and looking through the channels, when an owl appeared outside the window, rapping on it impatiently. Harry hurried to let it in, and it dropped an envelope on top of the potions magazine before flying out again.
He wouldn't have even thought about opening it, had he not seen that the envelope was addressed to Severus Snape and Harry Potter.
Curious to see why anyone would write one letter to both of them, he slit it open and skimmed the first page. His eyes widened.
Declaration: I, Professor Severus Snape, do pledge to adopt Harry James Potter from this day forth (2/7/95) until the end of my life. I understand that this means being fully responsible for the child until they become of age, and that I have all the duty of a blood parent. I agree to raise the child as is best for them and subject to terms (see other side). I realise that any breaking of this contract will mean the possible confiscation of my child by the Ministry of Magic.
Signed, Severus Snape