Author's Note: Hey guys! Been a while. I've been busy working on my original novel (150,000 words and counting!), but I had this weirdly vivid dream a few nights ago about Severus Snape raising Harry after the death of James and Lily, and honestly, it was just… very cool.
Did I mention Snape looked like Adam Driver in my dream? Because he did. I love you, Alan Rickman, but you were a hair too old to play thirty-one-year-old Snape (because that's how old he was in Harry's first year).
Anyway, I don't know if this story will amount to anything, but I wanted to get it out of my brain so… here you go.
Whenever possible, magical parents in the UK educated their young children at home. Reading, writing, and basic math were all essential to success at Hogwarts, and many parents took on this responsibility themselves. However, this wasn't always possible for a variety of reasons, which meant that sometimes – in the more populated magical areas of England, Ireland, and Scotland – small magical preschools would crop up, and children would venture there day after day for at least a few hours, much like small Muggle children would do in primary.
One such institution was located in the region of Cokeworth, England, and it was a very fine little school that sat just on the edge of a cluster of magical homes. The nearby area of Spinner's End was a mix of Magical and Muggle, but the neighborhood nearest the schoolhouse was all Magical, and they enjoyed a quaint life without much fear of interruption or discovery. Each day, magical parents brought their little ones – usually around a dozen or so – to the schoolhouse, and the lead teacher, Miss Abernathy, would welcome the children in and prepare them for the day's lessons.
For many years, she had done this work solely on her own, being very good with children and rather strict when she needed to be. However, there'd been a bit of a baby boom in the years prior, and now she had more children than she could handle. As a result, she made a hire in the form of one Rosemary Prewitt.
On Rosemary's first day, she stood excitedly at the school's front door and welcomed each student while Miss Abernathy worked to get them situated inside. Each time a new parent came forward, Rosemary eagerly introduced herself as the new assistant teacher. Everyone seemed so kind, and she was incredibly appreciative. This was her first job after graduating from Hogwarts, and after the turmoil of the Wizarding War a few years prior, she was grateful to have a job.
In her hands, she had a list of children's names. When they arrived, she checked off their names and ushered them inside.
It was close to 9 AM – the time lessons were set to start – when she saw there was only one name remaining. Before she could register the name, a little boy came running up, a wild grin on his face.
"Hello, I'm here!" he called out, waving an arm as if she could not see him only a few feet away.
"Oh, good morning!" Rosemary called cheerfully, and she looked for the little boy's parents. However, she saw only the swift turn of a black cloak, and then nothing. Brows furrowed, she cleared away the confused expression (They must have been in a hurry, she thought) and leaned over to the little boy.
"Hello, there. What's your name?"
"My name is Harry!" exclaimed the little boy. "Harry Snape!"
"Harry Snape… Ah, here you are! Hello, Harry. My name is Miss Prewitt, and I'm going to be the new assistant teacher."
"Neat!" said Harry. "I like meeting new people!"
Rosemary laughed and led him inside.
Her first day at the school was a whirlwind. The little children – who ranged in age from five to nine – were accustomed to their routine, but her arrival had made them all very excited, so she and Miss Abernathy had their work cut out for them. They had stories and crafts and math practice, and they spent time playing out on the playground. They played singing and guessing games, and they chased pixies around the small garden out back.
Harry, the little boy who'd come last, was Rosemary's secret favorite.
He was so very friendly, and he always had a smile on his face. He was a cute little bugger, too, with wide green eyes framed in rounded glasses and black hair cut very short and neat. He was dressed in very modest, almost adult-like robes, and even his shoes were small boots instead of sneakers. From a distance, he looked like a little old man, but up close, his bright, shining personality showed off his youth brilliantly.
"Harry, you're such a good reader!" Rosemary praised, and she meant it. Harry was the most advanced reader in his group.
"My daddy reads to me a lot," he said, smiling and holding up the book. "We practice all the time!"
"What a good daddy you have," she said, patting his head. "Does your mother read, too?"
Harry shrugged. "My mummy died. I don't remember her. But Daddy says she was very smart."
"Oh," said Rosemary faintly. "I'm – I'm sorry."
"It's okay," said Harry in that dismissive way children often spoke. "Daddy says school is very important, and I should study hard, and then I can be the top student at Hogwarts, too."
"Well, he's very right," Rosemary said with a nod. "It's good to study." She leaned close and squeezed his hand. "But remember to have fun, too, right?"
"Of course!" Harry grinned.
Rosemary laughed. After a while, all the children finished up, and then they played for a few minutes as their parents began to arrive to pick them up. Rosemary stayed close to Harry. She wanted to meet this 'daddy' she had heard about nearly all day. Harry had brought him up so many times. Daddy does this, daddy does that. She wanted to meet his fellow.
However, like that morning, Harry's father was one of the last to show up. When he did, Rosemary found herself quite … surprised.
The wizard in question was young, perhaps in his mid-twenties, and he really looked nothing like Harry. While they both had black hair, the father kept his tied back in a low ponytail, and it looked long enough to reach his shoulders. He was wearing a severe black cloak and matching black robes, as well as a pair of boots. His hands were stained with something purple, and he often cast his dark eyes up at the sun as if he could not fathom why it was there. His skin was quite pale, much in contrast to Harry's, which was rather tan. Their facial features, likewise, were rather dissimilar; this man had a narrow face with a larger nose, and he did not share Harry's green eyes. Instead, his were a dark brown that bordered on black.
Perhaps the starkest difference between them, though, was their dispositions. While Harry was an animated chatter-box ready to burst with unspent energy, this man looked like misanthropy personified.
The strange thing was, as soon as Harry saw him, his face lit up with true, genuine joy. "Daddy!"
The man looked in his direction. "Harry," he greeted calmly, and the little boy jumped up and ran full speed in his father's direction. As if anticipating this, the man held up his hand and arrested Harry's motion with a palm to his face, which stopped Harry in his spot and left him pinwheeling his arms to get to Snape. This made Harry burst into laughter as he fought to reach his father's side. Snape kept him in his spot, hand holding him by his forehead.
Rosemary stared for a few seconds before she hurried forward, hands behind her back in a demure posture. "Mister Snape?"
He was still holding Harry by his head. He looked at her and raised a brow. "Yes?"
"It's a pleasure to meet you! My name is Rosemary Prewitt. I'm the new assistant teacher here at the school." She stuck out her hand.
Snape observed it. He looked back at the hand that was holding Harry, and at last, he released him. Harry barreled forward and crashed right into him, which he reacted to only minimally. He did not accept Rosemary's hand, and she dropped it awkwardly.
"You are the new teacher?" questioned Snape, brows furrowing. "And what, dare I ask, are your qualifications?"
Rosemary balked. "Er, well – "
"Have you been licensed by the Ministry?"
"Well, no. You don't have to be, for this kind of – "
"And what is your experience in teaching small children?"
Rosemary paused, and then she cleared her throat and smiled. "Well, I grew up in a large family, and I was always helping my siblings."
Snape did not look impressed.
"I haven't – actually taught before, this is my first job."
"Your first ever?" asked Snape with a curl of his lip. "And you chose a position in which your success or failure determines the future academic readiness of small children?"
Rosemary's jaw dropped.
"Daddy." Harry tugged on the man's robes. "I like her. She's very nice."
"Teachers do not need to be nice, Harry," Snape said, addressing the child for the first time. "They need to be knowledgeable. They are your educators and mentors, not your friends." He looked back at Rosemary. "Therefore, if they have no knowledge or wisdom to impart, they are useless."
"I can assure you, Mister Snape," Rosemary said testily, "I am perfectly capable of caring for – and teaching – small children."
Snape gave her a superior look. "We will see." He held out his hand without looking at the boy. "Come, Harry."
"Okay, Daddy." Harry took his hand and waved at Rosemary. "Good-bye, Miss Prewitt! See you tomorrow!"
Rosemary stuttered a good-bye and then watched as Snape led Harry away. They vanished a moment later. Huffing, Rosemary stomped into the schoolhouse.
"Met Mister Snape, did you?" asked Abernathy, chuckling.
"Oh, he's awful!" Rosemary folded her arms and sat down with a pout. "How could a sweet boy like Harry live with a rude git like him? And with no mother! Poor child."
"They do seem an odd pair," Abernathy acknowledged, "but I think Harry is fine."
Rosemary made a face and looked out the window to the spot the pair had disappeared from.
"I hope so," she murmured. "I can't imagine living with a man like that."
Severus Snape appeared in a whirlwind of color at the end of their small neighborhood street, Harry's hand still in his. The boy was chattering non-stop about his day. "And then Miss Abernathy brought in a pygmy puff, and we played with it, and I named it Susan."
Snape didn't reply. They continued walking.
"Daddy, what would you do if I brought home a pygmy puff as a pet?"
"I would feed it to the Venomous Tentacula."
Harry gasped dramatically. "No, you wouldn't!"
"I most certainly would."
They rounded a corner. The street was lined with modest homes belonging to magical families. Theirs was at the end.
"Would you ever feed me to a Venomous Tentacula?"
"I don't believe you, Daddy."
Snape briefly lifted Harry up into the air so he wouldn't trek through a mud puddle, and then he put him back down.
"You're probably right," Snape conceded once they were at their front door. "You would make for a poor meal."
They opened the door and went inside.
Their home was a modest grey-stone house neatly tucked into the furthest corner of the village. Inside, there was an open living room lined with shelves brimming with books. There was a square kitchen table far off to the side with only two chairs and hanging over it was a steel candle holder. There was a soft, simple couch, a plush chair that didn't match, and a blue rug littered with toys, some of which were moving of their own accord. There was also a pair of boxed up board games off to the side, and beyond that, a long, low table that contained a small tank with a grindylow inside.
Beyond the living room was a narrow kitchen that ran the length of the house, and Harry ran in there, rummaging around for a snack until Snape brought out an apple and set a knife to cutting it up. He handed it off to Harry, who took it back into the living room and crashed into the rug before he turned on the magical radio and listened to a silly children's program.
When it was over, he put up his plate and ran to his bedroom, which was attached to the living room on the front side of the house. Harry's bedroom was small but well-organized, with yet more books and toys. He had a trunk at the foot of his bed and a small closet, and his twin-sized bed was in the corner and made up with clean white sheets and a hand-knitted blanket. There was a small lantern next to his bed because he didn't like the dark, and it sat next to a framed photo of his parents the summer before they left for Hogwarts. He liked the photo very much.
After a few minutes, he and Snape went outside and wandered the garden, picking various ingredients and putting them in baskets. The garden behind their house was quite magnificent, but it served a larger purpose than beauty. It was where Snape grew the ingredients for his potions; he had yet more in the large greenhouse.
Harry continued to talk as they wandered, only stopping when Snape tapped his head and directed his attention to a plant.
"This here," Snape told him, "is toxic to swallow. Do you remember the word 'toxic'?"
"It means it will hurt you," said Harry wisely.
"Yes. But that doesn't mean it can't be useful. It just means you can't eat it. Do you understand?"
Snape stood, and they continued on. After a while, Harry got tired, and Snape picked him up and carried him the rest of the way. Harry laid his cheek against the rough material of his father's robes and let himself grow drowsy under the calming soundtrack of the garden. Snape walked on, one arm around Harry and the other holding the basket of herbs.
"Will you read the Quidditch book tonight?"
Snape made a face. "There are so many more useful books to read. Quidditch is for brutes."
"But I like Quidditch, Daddy. Please."
Snape didn't answer, and Harry wrapped his arms tight around his neck. "Please, please, please, Daddy, please – "
"Harry," said Snape sharply, and Harry stopped and pouted. "If you say 'please,' one more time, I will leave you next to a Muggle highway."
"You would not."
"A busy Muggle highway."
"Nuh-unh." Harry leaned on him again.
Snape walked back to the outside table and set the basket of herbs there. Then he took Harry inside and put him down, leaving the little boy to cling to him as he walked around the house, putting things up and setting the rooms in order. After that, he made Harry take a bath ("Eughhhh, I hate baths!") and change into his pajamas.
"The hippogriff ones! The hippogriff ones!"
"I don't know where they are, Harry."
"They're under the bed."
"Why are they under the bed?"
Harry wisely chose not to answer, but Snape did recover the pajamas, and he decided they were clean enough, at least, so he let Harry wear them. The little boy ran and bounced into his bed, and once he was there, he looked up at Snape with giddy eagerness.
Snape sighed and sat down with a book in hand.
"Quidditch Through the Ages," he started. "Chapter One."
Harry grinned widely.
Fifteen minutes later, Harry began fading off to sleep. "Good-night, Daddy," he murmured, turning and tucking into his bed.
"Good-night," said Snape, closing the book and standing. He set it on the shelf, and then he turned back to Harry, taking off the boy's glasses and folding them before he set them aside. He turned off the lights, pushed the lantern a little closer to Harry's bed, and then he left, picking up dirty clothes along the way and depositing them in a hamper.
Once the house was quiet, Snape went into the kitchen and emptied out Harry's lunchbag from that day. He cleaned it with a spell, and then he set about preparing a new lunch for tomorrow. He made a tuna-fish sandwich with mayonnaise, which he found disgusting but Harry loved, and he cut it into neat triangles before putting it in a small baggie. Then he added orange slices, half a cookie, and a small thermos of juice to the bag. He closed it up and set it on the counter next to Harry's school bag. He also set out Harry's clothes for in the morning, and he made a mental note to head to Diagon Alley soon to get the boy some new socks.
Once that was done, he went back into the potions workshop at the back of the house and continued working. He supplied a local apothecary with numerous potions, and it brought him a steady income, but sometimes the demand simply outstripped his ability, and he had to work late.
After about an hour, he heard a shuffling and he looked up to see Harry standing in the doorway. He kept out of the workshop, because he wasn't allowed in, but he stood on the very edge of the threshold and whimpered.
"I had a bad dream, Daddy."
Snape sighed. "Dreams cannot hurt you, Harry. Go back to bed."
Harry's face crumpled. "But it was really scary. There was a green light, and it hurt."
Snape's brows furrowed. He hesitated. It was just a dream. It was natural Harry would have some recollection of what happened…
Damn it. He had a lot of work to do to get the order filled.
Sighing, he shifted and gestured to Harry, who hurried across the room and climbed into his lap. Snape maneuvered him into a comfortable position against his chest, and Harry curled there as Snape went on working around him.
Harry nuzzled his cheek into the front of Snape's robes. Snape glanced down at him, his hands steadily working on the table to grind bat wings into a fine powder.
"You are a burden," Snape told him.
"What's a burden…?" asked Harry sleepily.
"A thing all children are."
"A good thing?"
"No. A troublesome thing."
"Is that why you're gonna feed me to a Venomous Tentacula?"
Harry shifted his head so that his chin was on Snape's front, and his eyes looked up adoringly at him.
"Fibber," he murmured.
"How do you know I'm fibbing?"
"Because you love me."
Snape raised a brow at him, and then he shifted in his seat, pulling one side of his cloak further around Harry and continuing to work with his free hand. Harry smiled and put his cheek against Snape's robes once more.
He was asleep by the time Snape finally responded.
"Love is very much a burden, child."
He pulled the sleeping boy a little closer and worked late into the night.