Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
October 31st, 1981
At the Potter's ruined home in Godric's Hollow, Severus Snape rushed into the house, the door blasted off its hinges and passed James Potter's body with only a quick glance before heading upstairs. He made his way into the nursery and stumbled when he saw Lily's body on the floor. "No," He whispered, dropping down next to her and pulling her into his arms. "No! Oh Lily," Tears streamed down his cheeks as he held her lifeless body in his arms. She had been his best friend once, though he had ruined that with his careless words during their fifth year. He had loved her, though he knew she had only loved him as a friend. It was only recently they had begun speaking again and she had forgiven him. He still couldn't stand her husband, but he could put up with Potter if it meant having his friend back. And now she was gone.
Across the room, Voldemort lay dead on the floor, his red eyes still open and full of shock. Thin and snakelike, he looked rather pathetic now instead of the terrifying wizard he had been.
Severus's dark eyes stayed on the body of Voldemort. It was over, the creature was gone. That maniac had taken so many lives, destroyed so many people. Severus had been a fool to join him and was thankful that Dumbledore had helped him when he had realized his mistake. Severus had been fine with turning spy for the Order, anything to get rid of Voldemort. And when the monster had targeted the Potter's, Severus had made sure to let Dumbledore know immediately so that they could be kept safe. So that Lily would be kept safe.
"Oh Lily, I really did love you," Severus murmured as he slowly rocked her back and forth. "You were the only true friend I ever had, the only one who cared about me. I wanted to protect you," He choked on a sob. He had failed her.
A cry interrupted his thoughts and grief; Severus looked up to see the young Potter watching him, his emerald eyes shiny with tears and a cut in the shape of a lightening bolt on his forehead. He had met the baby once, when he and Lily had run into each other in Diagon Alley and he had once again apologized for calling her a Mudblood in school. She had told him all was forgiven as she gently bounced the child on her hip. The boy had been full of smiles that day and Lily had shamelessly doted on him.
"He's curious about everything," Lily had smiled and shaken her head fondly as her son eagerly reached for the books Severus had just purchased.
"You won't like these, there are no fun pictures in them," Severus had told the toddler solemnly.
Lily had just laughed.
Severus slowly and carefully laid Lily back on the floor and stood up. He walked over to the crib, noticing that except for the cut the child didn't appear to be hurt. Physically, anyway.
Harry blinked up at the tall, black haired man and raised up his pudgy arms. "Up!" He sniffled, his bottom lip trembling.
"Um," Severus was about to tell him no when he glanced at Lily's body and, remembering how besotted she had been with her child, he relented. "Yes, all right," He said gruffly, lifting the child into his arms. It felt a little awkward, he wasn't sure how to hold a child.
Harry put his arms around the tall man's neck and laid his head down on his shoulder. "Mummy," He whispered sadly.
"I know, I'm sorry Potter," Severus said quietly. Even he wasn't so heartless not to feel bad for a boy who had lost both his parents in one night.
"Hawrry," Harry said with another sniffle.
"Harry," Severus acknowledged.
"Owie," Harry sniffed, one pudgy hand going up to his forehead.
Severus examined the cut, pulling out a handkerchief and wetting it with an Aguamenti spell before holding it against the wound.
Severus turned and saw Dumbledore standing in the doorway, his eyes somber watching them. "How is he?" He asked as he knelt down next to Lily's body, taking her hand, his blue eyes full of sadness.
"He has a cut on his forehead but otherwise appears fine," Severus said.
Dumbledore stood up with a sigh. "So much loss in this war," He said softly. He smiled at Harry, who offered a tiny smile back. "Hello Harry, do you remember me?" He asked as he began waving his wand around, running diagnostics.
"Dumdore," Harry said.
Severus's lips twitched at that.
Dumbledore beamed. "That's right! Such a smart boy." He put his wand away and lifted his arms out to take Harry but the child held on to Severus.
"Go on Potter, go to Professor Dumbledore," Severus tried to pry the boy's arms from around his neck but the child just held on tighter. He looked at Dumbledore helplessly.
Dumbledore chuckled. "It appears he is happy where he is."
"Is the dark lord really gone?" Severus asked, giving up on trying to get Harry to leave his arms. He looked at the creature lying on the floor. Even with seeing the body, it seemed to good to be true.
"Yes, Voldemort has been destroyed," Dumbledore said, relief in his eyes.
Severus closed his eyes, feeling a sense of alleviation. The monster was truly gone.
"Let's see if we can do something about that cut," Dumbledore said, waving his wand over Harry. The vivid red lightening bolt faded to a faint scar.
"Why did it not heal completely?" Severus asked curiously.
"Because of the way he got it," Dumbledore said. "Surviving a killing curse is not exactly common."
Severus frowned. "What do you think happened here, exactly?" Severus asked, his dark eyes straying to Lily's body. He unconsciously held the boy tighter.
"The Secret Keeper betrayed James and Lily," Dumbledore said somberly. "Voldemort came here and James most likely tried to fight him. From what I can see, Voldemort must have cast the killing curse at Harry and Lily..." Dumbledore paused. "She likely stood in front of her son, protecting him, sacrificing herself for him and causing the curse to rebound on Voldemort."
Severus nodded slowly. Yes, Lily would have done that in a heartbeat.
"The force of curse would have been strong, although Lily took the brunt of it. Her love protected Harry," Dumbledore said quietly. "And now Tom Riddle is gone and we can all begin to heal from his reign of terror."
"There will still be Death Eaters wanting to cause trouble," Severus said numbly. Lily was gone...
"Yes, the Aurors will be on the lookout for them," Dumbledore said. "The death eaters may even go after Harry." He said with some worry.
Severus looked down at the dark haired boy he still held. Harry had fallen asleep, his head resting on his shoulder. "Where will he go?" He asked in concern. "Surely Lily would have left him to someone she trusted."
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "James and Lily left him to Sirius Black, who is now in Azkaban." More sadness entered his eyes, he had thought Sirius was a true friend to James and Lily.
"Good," Severus muttered. He had always known that Black was a dangerous man.
"I believe I can cast some charms to strengthen the protection Lily gave Harry to a blood relative," Dumbledore said thoughtfully.
"Blood relative? You can't mean Petunia," Severus practically sneered her name.
"She is Lily's sister and I believe has a son close to Harry's age," Dumbledore said. "They can be raised like brothers."
Severus hesitated. Petunia had been horrible as a child, it was hard to think of her any other way. Lily hadn't mentioned her in their recent talk so perhaps Petunia had changed. He gave Dumbledore the sleeping bundle in his arms.
Dumbledore smiled down at the sleeping boy. "Don't worry, my dear boy. Everything will be all right."
4 Years Later
"Hello Severus," Dumbledore greeted when Severus entered his office.
"Professor Dumbledore," Severus said as he sat down in the visitors chair. It had been awhile since he had visited Hogwarts. "You sent word that you wanted to speak with me?"
"Yes, I would like to discuss a couple of things with you," Dumbledore said brightly. "First, I would like to offer you the position of Potions Professor. Professor Slughorn is retiring."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "I thought Professor Slughorn would never retire," He drawled. "Word around school was that he would end up like Professor Binns."
Dumbledore chuckled. "Well, he has finally decided he is ready and I want you for the job."
Severus sat thoughtfully for a moment. He had been selling his own potions in an apothecary and had been doing very well for himself, though interacting with customers was not high on his list of favorite things to do. However, interacting with children was not high on his list either. Plus, he had few good memories of Hogwarts, Lily being one and using the Hogwarts lab as he grew in his potion making skills another. On the other hand, this was the place he had also been bullied and almost killed by a werewolf.
"You would have a generous budget for your supplies, as well as for personal projects," Dumbledore continued casually, his blue eyes twinkling. "And use of the Hogwarts potion facilities, equipment and materials."
Severus could feel the temptation to accept grow, Hogwarts did have the finest lab and he would still be able to work on his own projects...
"And as Head of Slytherin, you would have your own personal quarters, which you could decorate anyway you want," Dumbledore continued on happily. "Head of House quarters are quite spacious, you would have your own personal lab there as well."
Severus started. "What? Head of Slytherin?"
"Well, yes. Professor Slughorn is retiring, remember?"
Severus scowled. "That would be more responsibility of the miscreants."
"Students," Dumbledore corrected.
Severus shrugged. "If you say so. I haven't forgotten that although Slughorn was an adequate professor, he also didn't intervene much when I was being bullied."
A sorrowful look crossed over Dumbledore's face. "I am sorry for that Severus. Truly. But you see? This is why you would be an ideal Head of House, you would look out for the Slytherins."
Severus sighed. "I suppose I could give it a try."
Dumbledore beamed. "Wonderful! Now, I just need one more favor."
"Just one?" Severus asked sarcastically.
"Yes, if you could go and take peek at how Harry Potter is being treated, I would very much -"
"Excuse me? Why would you need me to do that?" Severus demanded.
"There have been some...concerns made known to me," Dumbledore said slowly. "About how the Dursley's are treating Harry. I thought since you know Petunia, you could just go and hopefully alleviate these concerns."
"I hated Lily's sister, and the feeling was mutual," Severus said with a smirk, remembering the small pranks he and Lily had played on Petunia. Ahh, memories...
"That was a long time ago," Dumbledore said.
"What exactly are the concerns?"
"I have someone who is able to keep an eye on the Dursley's, from afar mostly. She just has mentioned that he may not be being taken care of the way he should be."
"Not spoiled enough?"
Dumbledore gave him an exasperated look. "Honestly Severus. I wouldn't ask you if I wasn't concerned."
"All right Albus, I will look in on the boy tomorrow."
"Boy! Dudley's toys better be picked up and put away before dinner or else!" Vernon Dursley yelled out from upstairs.
Five year old Harry sighed. He knew what or else meant. He was already sporting a black eye from last night. If only I hadn't dropped the plate, he thought sadly. He hadn't meant to when he had set the table but he had been trying to hurry as Dudley had been complaining that he was starving. His uncle had been furious and had hit him before making him finish setting the table and serve them their food. He had gone without dinner as added punishment and could only hope he would get to eat something today.
Harry dutifully picked up Dudley's toys, of which there were many. Harry would have liked to play with them too but he wasn't allowed. Only good, normal children got toys, he reminded himself. Only good, normal children get a bedroom, food, parents...
"You better not break anything, freak!" Dudley taunted from where he leaned against the doorway, watching as his cousin cleaned up his mess. "Or else my dad will punch your other eye!" He laughed loudly.
Harry did his best to ignore his cousin's cruel taunts as he gathered all the toys in a box and prepared to walk upstairs to put them into Dudley's second bedroom. He had been so focused on the task that he hadn't noticed that Dudley had stepped closer to him as he started to climb the stairs.
"Watch your step, freak," Dudley grinned as he stuck his foot out and Harry went tumbling several steps to the bottom of the stairs. The box he had been holding tipped over and all the toys fell out.
Dudley laughed and then took a deep breath. "Mummy! Daddy! The freak broke my toys!" He yelled.
Harry glared at him as he pushed himself up from the floor. His ankle hurt a lot and he bit his lip to keep from crying out in pain. He glanced at the toys that had fallen and noticed that none of them were broken.
Petunia rushed into the room from the kitchen. "Dudders? What's wrong, dumpling?"
Dudley had managed to squeeze out a few fat tears and pointed at his toys. "Harry dumped them!"
"No I didn't!" Harry protested, his eyes widening in fear as his aunt advanced on him.
Petunia slapped him. "How dare you lie to me? You ungrateful, horrid child!"
Vernon stomped down the stairs. "What is with all the yelling?" He glanced at the toys, at his wife's angry face and his son's tears. He rounded on Harry, who flinched back from him. "Never learn, do you boy?" He reached out and grabbed the skinny child by the throat. "You always upset everyone! Why couldn't you have gotten yourself killed along with your parents, eh?"
Harry's eyes widened as his uncle squeezed his throat before flinging him to the floor. He gasped for air and before his uncle could grab him again, he ran to his cupboard and squeezed himself as far back into it as he could. His uncle was too big to reach in and grab him.
"Get back out here!" Vernon thundered as he followed the boy to his cupboard. He tried, as usual, to reach in to grab Harry but his wide girth stopped him and he wobbled back out, his face red from exertion. "Fine, you can stay in there for a week then!" He slammed the door shut and locked it.
"What about dinner? I was going to have the boy make it," Petunia complained.
"We'll go out for dinner," Vernon said, ruffling Dudley's hair. "And after that we'll stop at a store and get you a new toy. Would you like that Dudder's?"
Dudley's face was blatantly gloating as he and his parents went to get their coats.
A knock on the door had Vernon grumbling. "Who could that be?" He opened the door and his eyes widened slightly at the tall, dark haired man in black robes standing on his porch. He was dressed so oddly that he must be... "You – you must be one them!" He tried to slam the door shut.
Severus raised an eyebrow and pushed the door open, stepping inside despite not being invited. "Not very polite, are we?" He said coolly, his eyes taking in the walrus looking man, skinny Petunia and child who was all blubber.
"You – I remember you!" Petunia scowled. "You were Lily's horrid friend."
"That's right," Severus said pleasantly. "And apparently you haven't changed a bit Tuney."
Petunia bristled. She had always hated being called Tuney. "What are you doing here?"
"I am here to check on Potter," Severus said, looking around the house. There were pictures on the walls that showed the three Dursley's and several pictures of the huge blond child but none of any other child. A sinking feeling settled in Severus's stomach. "Where is he?"
"He isn't here," Vernon lied. "He's at a friends house."
Severus narrowed his eyes. "Do not lie to me Dursley," He warned, pulling out his wand and pointing at him. "Where is your nephew?"
Dudley, who was hungry and wanted to go get dinner gave an impatient huff. "The freak's in his cupboard. Now can we go to dinner?" He whined to his parents.
"Dudley!" Petunia hissed, pulling her son behind her, not that her bony frame could hide him.
"And why is Potter in a cupboard while the three of you are going out to dinner?" Severus asked, glowering at Dudley. Freak, indeed...
"Listen," Vernon gave a nervous laugh. "The boy is trouble. He requires a firmer hand and more discipline than our Dudley."
"Yes, he is very badly behaved," Petunia added. "We're doing our best, of course but he is such a handful."
"Oh?" Severus gave a thoughtful nod.
"Yeah, he makes a mess, breaks our Dudley's toys and practically takes the food from our mouths!" Vernon added, relaxing as the wizard in his home appeared to be believing him. "Look, he dumped Dudley's toys on the floor!"
"So you put him in a cupboard?"
Dudley snickered. "He lives in the cupboard."
Severus's face darkened. "Show me where he is right now or so help me -" Sparks flew from his wand, reacting to his anger.
Petunia gasped and Dudley gave a yelp, scurrying back behind his mother.
Vernon gulped, his beady eyes on the wand. "He's – he's in the cupboard under the stairs." He said in a shaky voice.
Severus glared at the Dursley's. "Petrificus Totalus!" He smirked as the two adult Dursley's froze and then fell over. He glanced at the younger one. "I suggest you go to your room," He said menacingly.
Dudley let out a squeak and then ran as fast as his chubby legs would get him up the stairs.
TBC: Hope you enjoyed! If you get a chance to review, I'd appreciate it!