This story is the product of my own mind (muddled though it may be). The characters are, sadly, not mine. They belong to J. K. Rowling. I just play with them, and bend them to my will occasionally. Occasionally they see fit to take over the story, and then I am at the mercy of their will. Warning: Child Abuse.
A Promise Fulfilled
Professor Snape smiled for the first time in memory… the invisibility potion worked. Finally he could begin to fulfill that long ago promise to his friend.
She's been gone so long… so long. I still feel the empty place her leaving left. That cold, hard empty place that no one and nothing has been able to fill. Now… now maybe I can get some relief.
Walking to Albus' office the start of summer holidays just past, I remember thinking he was setting me up for something… yet again. How that old wizard can get me to do his bidding escapes me. I expect he knows me better than any soul alive, better even than I know myself, for he can get me to do things I would not were I to try to talk myself into them.
Sitting across from Albus, his infernal blue eyes twinkling. TWINKLING! He knows something… After what seemed like an eternity of tortuous small-talk and several offers of tea, each of which I refused, my patience grew thin, 'Out with it old man,' my mind screamed. Yet Albus, being Albus, only says what he wants to say, and says it in his own good time. There is not now , nor has there ever been, a way to rush him.
Finally, it appeared he would reveal the reason for my summons to his chambers. "Severus," he began innocently enough. Ha! Innocent! There is nothing innocent about him. He is a master manipulator, and stunning strategist. He knows how to work his allies, and how to bend the will of most of his foes. "Severus, Harry will begin his education here September first. You are aware, are you not?"
I scowl my most fearsome scowl at the old wizard, and simply respond, "Hmmm".
"Harry, Severus… Harry Potter will be sorted September first."
I quirk an eyebrow menacingly and reply, "And just what concern is that of mine? What the boy does, and where he goes is not my responsibility, nor is it of any interest to me what-so-ever."
"My child, you forget with whom you speak. I know your heart, and I know your promise. It is time to fulfill that promise to Lily."
Oh that man infuriates me. How is it he knows that which I have told no one? My promise… Yes, I made a promise, and not in haste, I might add. I went into it with both eyes open, and mind closed. I never believed I would be called upon to honor it. I never thought… Lily would die. I never….
"Severus… Severus, are you listening to me?" Albus has grown concerned at my silence. "Have you any idea as to how you will take care of Harry?"
I shot to my feet… "Take care of Harry! That was not my promise."
"It's a matter of interpretation, my child. I know Lily's interpretation was that you would take care of the boy, not merely keep him alive. Your interpretation, confirmed ole' childless-bachelor that you are, I am sure was to simply see to it the boy didn't kill himself playing Quidditch, or be killed by Voldemort. I know your mind."
I sat down hard, too hard. Who knew his comfortable-looking chairs were an illusion. Those damn things hard as stone. I stared off into the dancing, warring flames and thought. I puzzled how was I to keep a promise so sorely misconstrued.
I asked Albus how it is that now Harry is coming to Hogwarts he suddenly needs looking after. This is the safest place in the Wizarding World for him. I further inquired as to who had been watching him these last ten years.
Albus advised there had been no need for surveillance of the child all these years as he has been kept by his aunt and uncle, on his mother's side.
My temper rose. I could feel the veins in my neck strain against the pounding of my heart, "His aunt and uncle!?… Lily's sister! Albus, they hated Lily, and they hated magic even more. Who has been checking on Harry all this time?" Damn! He did it again. He caught me in his web, made me show I do care about what happens to the boy.
"Severus, my son." He began, as if speaking to a young child who just discovered fire is hot. "There has been no need for surveillance. There are enchantments, wards, and charms all around not only the relatives' house, but the whole block. No magic can harm him there."
"Albus, surly you are not so big a fool as to believe no harm can come to him there. Voldemort is not his only enemy."
"Severus, your fears are misplaced. He is being looked after."
"Albus, are you blind as well as old!? Those magic charms, wards, enchantments, what-have-you, are only effective against magic and magic people. They won't protect him against Muggle violence. You remember Lily's bruises… the beatings her sister and that fat oaf gave her. Do you expect better for Harry from them?"
I almost smiled. I won. I won. I never win against Albus, but I had struck a nerve. He had forgotten the beatings Petunia (I can barley think that Muggle's name without wanting to vomit) inflicted on poor Lily. Albus' eyes clouded over, and his face paled. Without a word to me he suddenly was at the fire, throwing a pinch of Summoning powder in and calling for Professor Lupin.
"Remus, please, join Severus and me. There is a most urgent task for which I need you."
"Certainly, Albus. What can I do for you? Severus, you look…."
"Careful, Lupin…" I shot him a warning glare.
He smiled, and chuckled, "I was just going to say you look worried."
Albus filled Lupin in on the situation, and asked that he check on Harry immediately. Lupin, to his credit (much as it pains me to admit), Flood to Arabella's house and within… just minutes… was back with a bloody bundle in his arms. Lupin cried.