A/N: As there is no Privet Drive in Surrey, I took the directions from Privet Road, Lindford, Borden GU 35 OYL, UK. There is a Privet Drive in Bristol, but I thought it was too far away. Hampshire is much closer to Surrey. Hooray for Google Maps! If I have anything incorrect, please let me know and I will correct it. Also, I know that Dursley is going through an awful lot of trouble to rid himself of Harry, but consider, in this world, he wouldn't want anything to disrupt his nice, normal life, and disposing of a dead body would do that, even if they never pinpointed him as the culprit. Besides, the cowardly man just doesn't have it in him to kill. Torture, yes, but not kill. Brissygirl has pointed out that I failed to take into account that Great Britain uses the Celsius scale for temperatures. I've changed that. Thank you.
Look What I Found
Vernon chuckled maliciously to himself as he sped through the darkened streets of London. The abomination slept in a cardboard box in the boot of the car, tossed there by the fat man before he started the vehicle and nearly took out his own trash receptacles in his haste to remove the blight from his nice, normal house. In the days leading up to his journey, he'd done as much research as possible to find the most densely wooded, least populated place in London. He'd very nearly given up, and was contemplating drowning the thing when he came across a listing for Lesnes Abbey Woods, an ancient wooded area that surrounded a dilapidated old abbey. Smirking gleefully, he got the full directions and made his plans quietly.
When Petunia had dragged the basket in from the doorstep and read the attached note aloud, Vernon had seen red. He'd bellowed at the woman for a solid forty-five minutes before one snapped word had shut his mouth. She then went on to explain exactly why they were to keep the freak, then tossed him, basket and all, into the boot cupboard under the stairs. They had never wanted children; they were too messy, undisciplined, and took over your life; an inconvenience that neither very selfish being wanted to be saddled with, and they most certainly didn't want a magical freak. But, from the moment Petunia had touched the basket, it created an unbreakable magical contract between her and the headmaster who had left the thing on their doorstep, like a burning pile of shite. However, since Vernon had never so much as placed a finger near the boy when he was dragged into the house, the contract didn't extend to him, so he plotted quietly to rid his wife and himself of the annoyance. He wanted it as far away from his nice, normal house as possible, and took great pains to find the furthest, most promising sparsely populated area. He also ensured that Petunia had no idea what he was doing; he wasn't sure if the magic the old freak had used would harm her, but he was unwilling to take chances.
Grumbling under his breath at the inconvenience of having to travel a whole bloody hour and a half just to get rid of garbage, he turned left onto Liphook Road, following it until he came to Tower Road. Frequently consulting the written directions, and thanking God that there was no real traffic at 12:30 in the morning, he turned left onto Tower, following that until he came to London Road. Turning left yet again and mumbling some more about feeling like a mindless motor racing driver, he was able to maintain a fairly steady pace and speed, watching the roadside for the signs to the next turnoff. When the merge to Portsmouth/A3, via the ramp to London/Guildford came up, he turned and entered, continuing on and humming cheerfully under his breath as he drew closer and closer to his destination. The sign for the M25 ramp flashed by, and he watched until he saw the sign for Heathrow Airport/Chertsey/Gatwick Airport/Leatherhead come into view. Taking the M25 N exit, he continued until he came to the A2 W exit. He turned down it toward London/Bexley Heath, continuing until the first of the roundabouts came up.
Here's where it may get a little dicey, he thought, eyes flicking between the paper with the directions and the windscreen almost constantly. At the first roundabout, he took the second exit toward Gravel Hill/A220. At the next roundabout, it was the first exit and Long Lane. The third roundabout had him taking the third exit to Bedonwell Road, and the last roundabout had him taking the second exit to Nuxley Road. He followed Nuxley left until it turned into Albert Road, which he followed until he saw the signs for Lesnes Abbey Woods. Giving a small, but tired, cheer of accomplishment, he pulled in, dousing his headlamps to prevent any of the caretakers from seeing him as he slowly and quietly pulled further and further back into the woods. The temperature was a brisk one degree Celsius at two in the morning, and Vernon shivered fitfully, turning on the heater. Further and further back he drove, until his vehicle couldn't go any more.
Grumbling impatiently, he got out of the car and opened the boot. From the box, two emerald eyes glowed faintly in the moonlight, giving Vernon the willies for a moment. Pity the fumes didn't take care of this for me. Just goes to show just how unnatural the freak really is. Roughly grabbing the sides of the box, the fat man heaved it out of the boot and stomped off into the densest part of the woods. Harry started crying almost immediately, shivering at the cold, since his uncle had deliberately neglected to provide the tiny child with a blanket or covering of any sort. Assorted bruises littered the boy's skin, and his voice was raspy as he weakly let his displeasure be known. Vernon shook the box roughly, silencing the baby almost instantly. Harry knew what would happen should he persist in annoying his uncle, so he sucked on his lip, his stomach aching from lack of food. Finally, after what seemed like hours but was, in fact, only minutes, Vernon stopped walking and dropped the box, jostling the child roughly. Harry's head impacted on the hard ground, and even the meager cushioning the cardboard provided did nothing to stop the pain from lancing through the child's skull. Whimpering cries of pain started, and the fat man beat a hasty retreat, stumbling over exposed roots and small hillocks as he returned to his car. Slamming the boot closed, he got behind the wheel and backed quickly out of the woods, returning home with minutes to spare.
Severus Snape was an insomniac. He'd never been able to sleep since he went into service for the Dark Lord. Dumbledore's demands on his time also allowed for little sleep, so, when he couldn't seem to close his eyes for any appreciable amount of time, he would read any potions book he could get his hands on, making note of the various elixirs he would like to try his hand at, and perhaps change to see what different outcomes could be had. Then, he would find the most out of the way muggle forests and woods to explore. The more ancient a forest was, the more likely it would have ingredients not found in any apothecary, or through any owl order catalogue.
So it was that he found himself in the Lesnes Abbey Woods, one of the most ancient forests in all of Great Britain. He'd been here before, and had found mosses and roots and plants that hadn't seen the light of day in millennia. Tromping through an as-yet unexplored area, he paused for a moment, listening carefully. That's odd, he thought. I'm sure I heard a baby's cry. Shaking his head, he was about to continue when the sound came again. That was a baby's cry. Following the direction of the cries, he scanned the area carefully, looking for anything out of the ordinary.
He didn't see the box, and nearly fell into it as his foot collided with the side. Instantly the whimpering ceased, and Severus' eyes went wide as he looked into the container and spied a small, thin, dark-haired infant, emerald eyes reflecting the light of the full moon. It…it can't be, he thought desperately. I was assured that the child was safe. Kneeling down, he reached into the box and drew Harry out, cradling the baby gently against his chest. Harry started whimpering immediately, tears slowly leaking from his eyes.
"Hush child," the dour man said gently, bouncing the baby in his arms. "You're safe. I'll take you home with me, and we'll see what is to be done with you." Pulling the untraceable portkey from his pocket-a gift from Lucius for helping him with Draco-he activated it and the pair disappeared in a flurry before reappearing in Snape Manor. Instantly, Severus bellowed for his house elves, startling Harry badly. The baby squirmed and fidgeted, trying to get away from the mean sounding man. Snape calmed the boy, patting him gently on the back to reassure him as he whispered soft words of care. Harry settled back down, looking up at the man with wide, trusting emerald eyes, and making Severus Snape curse Albus Dumbledore to the seventh ring of hell for abandoning Lily's precious child.
Lucius looked into the transfigured crib, staring in shock at the condition of the Boy Who Lived. Severus had gently bathed and dressed the child, and the bruises showed vividly against the baby's pale skin. Emerald eyes stared boldly into grey, and thin arms reached for the blond, surprising him for a moment. He reached into the crib and tenderly pulled the babe from the blankets, cuddling him closely to his chest. Harry reached up and grasped Lucius' chin, smiling happily at the elder Malfoy. The blond couldn't help the answering smile that grew across his face, and it was this quietly blissful scene that Severus intruded upon, startling both occupants.
"Why is he here, Severus?" Lucius asked softly, taking the bottle automatically from the Potions Master and feeding Harry, who gleefully grabbed hold of the bottle as he drained the liquid within.
"I was exploring in a secluded wooded area in muggle London, and stumbled over the cardboard box Harry had been left in. I have no idea how he got there, but I can hazard a guess. I met Lily's sister when we were children, and she was a harridan then. I can only assume that she, or her husband, decided that Harry didn't belong in their nice, normal world, and threw him away like yesterday's trash." The anger in Severus' voice was audible, and Harry squirmed, reaching for the dark man. Taking the child from his oldest friend, he smiled down at the infant, dark eyes widening in shock as the baby said his first words since arriving at Snape's manor.
"Thev-thev," Harry murmured, emerald eyes wide on the dour man. A quiet chuckle from Lucius had Snape blushing in embarrassment. Dark eyes rose to grey, the threat clear in them.
"Not one word," the man growled lowly.
"What are you going to do with him, Severus?" Lucius asked quietly. "You are ill-suited to raise a child, and especially Dumbledore's pet." Harry had been put to bed in a converted suite a few hours earlier, and both Severus and Malfoy were sitting in the library.
"Do not call him that, Lucius," Snape snarled at his friend. "He is my Lily's son, and he knows me. Tomorrow, you will arrange a visit for me with the Wizarding Child Welfare office. I will put in an official claim to adopt, and I will raise Harry as my own." The Potions Master paused for a moment, thinking. "Before they went into hiding, Lily had given me a sealed envelope. She told me to open it only if she and Potter were no longer able to take care of Harry. I'd completely forgotten about it until now. Dexie." A house elf popped into view, bowing. "There is a letter in my bureau that was given to me by Harry's mother. Fetch it for me, please." Bowing again, the elf popped away, returning moments later with the sealed letter. Severus took it, waiting until the house elf had left before cracking the wax seal.
My Dearest Severus,
If you are reading this, it means that something has happened to James and I, and we cannot take care of our precious baby any longer. Everyone believes that we named Sirius Black as Harry's godfather. This is not true. James and I discussed it at length, and we knew that there would be no way that Sirius could possibly be adult enough to take care of our son. We love him like a brother; however, the Black madness seems to have touched him in small ways, and we cannot in good conscience allow him to raise our child. James approved of my friendship with you, and tried to sway Sirius, as well. We both tried to explain that Slytherins were not all evil incarnate, nor were they all Death Eaters in training. He wouldn't listen, and it was he who pranked you so viciously.
James agreed that you would make a wonderful godfather for our little boy. Even though you had to stay away for our protection, we showed Harry pictures of you, and told him stories of what you were like in school. He grew to love you, and would frequently touch the pictures, calling out to his Sev-Sev. Take good care of him. We both give you our blessing to raise him as your son and heir. The goblins at Gringotts will be waiting for you to come and make the adoption official. You don't need to go to the Ministry; Ragnok will take care of everything for you, and it will all be perfectly legal.
On the blood of the most Noble and Ancient house of Potter, I, James Fleamont Potter, do hereby assign and bequeath to one Severus Tobias Snape all properties, vaults and inheritances belonging to Harry James Potter, to hold in trust until his seventeenth birthday. Additionally, I bequeath to Severus Tobias Snape the villa in Haguenau, France, complete with a potions lab and access to the Foret de Haguenau, where he will find potions ingredients not found in modern wizarding communities today. Many of the ingredients have been cultivated by Potters from centuries ago, and still flourish there today. Additionally, he shall receive a stipend of 50,000 galleons a year, to help with the raising of our son. So mote it be. Now, Snape, all you need to do to make all of this official is swipe a drop of blood over the mark I left at the bottom of this letter, in my own blood. Present this to Ragnok, sign a few forms, and everything will be completed. Dumbledore will never have to know what happened, and he will never be able to interfere. Yes, Snape, we know that the old man was intent on grooming our son to be a human sacrifice for the Greater Good. Raise him to be a proper young pureblood, and be there to help him when he has to make some tough choices.
With much love and great respect,
Lily Rose Potter
James Fleamont Potter
Severus dropped the letter to the floor and buried his face in his hands, shoulders shuddering as he wept for his lost friend. He hadn't realized how much Lily had loved him, nor did he know of Potter's feelings. It was all a little overwhelming; the trust that both of them had for Severus.
Lucius picked the parchment up from the floor, eyes scanning it quickly and eyebrows skating into his hairline in shock. Putting the parchment in his lap, he waited for the storm to pass before he handed his friend a silver dagger and the parchment, eyebrow arched.
"I don't know if I can do this, Lucius," the man whispered, mask gone and fear in his eyes. "I don't know how to be a father. I never had the best of examples, after all. What if I mess it up? What if their faith in me is grossly misplaced? What if he grows to hate me?" Ebon eyes wide with worry, Severus voiced the one thought that terrified him the most. "What if I turn out just like my father?"
"Nonsense Severus," the Malfoy lord said. "Harry's beginnings have been less than auspicious themselves. Besides, I see the way you are with him. It is also obvious, from their own words, that the Potters trusted you implicitly with their most precious possession; their child. They saw something in you that isn't readily perceivable; something that even I have failed to see. You'll take excellent care of him, and between the two of us, we'll make sure that, when the time comes, your son will be able to make the right choices for our world."
"My son," Severus whispered, longing in his voice. He stared at the dagger for a few moments before pricking his thumb and smearing a drop of blood over the mark that James Potter had left on the parchment. "We'll go to Gringotts in the morning." A snorted chuckle escaped the dour man. "I cannot wait to see the look on Albus' face when he's introduced to Hadrian James Snape."
"I would like a front-row seat to that, Severus," the Malfoy patriarch said with a small laugh. "It is sure to be illuminating."