Disclaimer: I am a starving college student – I own nothing.Chapter 1: The Volatile Potions Master
Albus you simply cannot be serious." Severus Snape was in no mood
to indulge the headmaster's… interesting sense of humor.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled mischievously as he sat behind his large desk, playing with an unidentifiable object, while his esteemed Potions Master attempted to wear out a patch of his carpet extending from the large window on one side of the office to a mahogany bookcase on the other.
"I will not have that spoilt little brat in my NEWT level class 'Exceeds Expectations' in his potions OWL or no. You know full well that I do not accept any student who does not attain a mark of 'Outstanding' into said class. Aside from the fact that the boy is as insufferable and insolent as his arrogant father, if I were to allow under-qualified students into my NEWT level class I would be putting other students in grave danger."
"Ah, yes, of course, Severus, it is your concern for the safety of your students that makes you hesitant to allow Harry into your class. I assure you, Severus, I would not endanger the students of this school any more than you would. Which is why you will be tutoring Harry personally to get him up to speed over the last few weeks of break. I have no doubt that Harry will excel under your skilled and patient tutelage."
"Albus!" Severus roared, stopping his incessant pacing and placing his hands on the outer edge of the Headmaster's desk, glaring down at his mentor.
"Severus," Albus replied, suddenly stern. "Enough is enough. This feud of yours must come to an end. The two of you will no doubt have to work side by side in the future and you might as well learn to get along now. Mr. Potter has expressed an interest in becoming an Auror and he has my full support. We will need talent and loyalty such as his within the ministry if we mean to win this war."
"Oh? And what next? Are you going to request that I admit Longbottom into my class as well? That would certainly be wonderful, in that event even if the Dark Lord sees fit to allow my continued existence for any length of time my death before Halloween would still most certainly be assured." Snape sneered.
Ignoring this and knowing full well that he had won this argument, Dumbledore gave his extremely irritated friend a small smile. "Harry will arrive tomorrow. You will begin private lessons with him on Monday."
With a distinctly resigned tone, Severus met his mentor's eyes and said: "And what, pray tell, does Potter think about this arrangement." The name was thrown out like a disgusting swear word. "This entire discussion is quite futile if, as I strongly suspect will be the case, the brat simply refuses to comply."
Dumbledore's eyes sparkled. Severus's heart sank. This could not be good. That look was never a good sign. Albus had something else up his sleeve.
Why oh why can't I ever deny this man anything, Snape wondered.
Because he is the only person who has ever shown any sign of faith in you, answered his annoying inner voice.
Wonderful, now I'm talking to myself. Is there any way I'll stay sane through this ordeal? Snape wondered.
Oh, so you think you're sane now, do you? Replied the voice.
Oh, shut up!
Coming out of his reverie, Severus cought the look of pure amusement in the Headmaster's gaze. Severus was convinced old man could read minds.
"Well?" said Snape. "What does that intolerable spoilt child think about this?"
"Why, I don't know Severus, but I'm sure you'll relay his reaction in wonderful detail after you pick him up from his relations' house tomorrow."
Snape gave Albus his best glare. Albus smiled back at him.
* * *
Severus Snape Apparated to the corner of Privett Drive, muttering to himself about Insufferable Gryffindors and Mad Headmasters. Evening was approaching as he made his way along this section of the grid of identical muggle houses with well-kept equally uninspiring front lawns that was Little Whinging. Appalling, Snape thought to himself.
All to soon for his liking, the Potions Master reached his destination. He braced himself as he strode purposefully up the walk to the door marked Number Four, sneer firmly in place on his face, and rapped firmly on the door.
"Get the door boy." Snape heard a gruff voice yell from within the house.
A moment passed, and Snape heard the voice again. "Boy! I said get the door!"
This time, the muffled voice of a woman could be heard. "He's already locked in his room Vernon."
Snape, who was becoming quite impatient, sneered at this. Thinks he's too good to be in the company of his Muggle family, does he? Typical.
Can't really blame him though, can you? They really do seem to be poor excuses for human beings, don't they? Wonderful, his infuriating second voice had returned.
Yes, well, as is Potter.
The door jerked open to reveal a beefy, red-faced man. Disgusting.
The man glared at Snape, who was wearing a black Muggle suit.
"We don't want any," the mustachioed man said.
"Well than it's quite a happy coincidence that I have not offered anything to you, is it not?" Snape sneered. Fool Muggle.
"What do you want?" rejoined the man who resembled a disgruntled rhinoceros.
"I am here to speak to Harry Potter."
That had done it. Severus watched as the neck-less man's face paled and then turned a deep crimson shade.
"There is no Harry Potter here," the man bellowed.
Snape groaned inwardly. Why, oh why, does that irritating boy insist on making my life a living hell? Now I have to deal with the irritating boy's under-evolved relations, wonderful. Snape was extremely annoyed. And to think, I thought I might enjoy a relaxing summer holiday with nothing but the Dark Lord to be bothered by.
"You are Vernon Dursley, are you not?" the Hogwarts Professor condescended to address the man.
"You and your kind our not welcome here." Vernon made to slam the door in the professor's face.
Snape was quicker than the annoying Muggle and bodily blocked the door from shutting, amused by the reaction that this caused in the pathetic creature that stood before him. Vernon Dursley's face was now a deep shade of purple. Snape pushed the door open more fully.
"Me and my kind are immeasurably more powerful than you, and I, as it happens, am of rather greater intellect than you as well. You will not fare well by impeding me. Consider that fair warning."
Snape, who now held his wand in his hand, pointed it threateningly at Vernon.
"Now remove yourself from my path." Snape said in his deadliest whisper.
Vernon's anger seemed to increase tenfold. Snape could see the veins pulsing in the obstinate man's temples.
"I will not be threatened in my own home! Least of all by people like you." Vernon bellowed.
Less intelligent than Longbottom, Snape mused. And here I had not thought that possible.
"Yes, well, Dursley, apparently your simple mind has yet to wrap itself around this fact, but I have just threatened you. NOW MOVE." Snape roared.
Vernon Dursley's courage seemed to fail at this and he cowered backwards.
Snape entered the house. His gaze traveled from an angered, bony-faced woman to a fat, piggy and frightened child.
"Where is Potter?"
"U-Upstairs." It was the disgustingly fat boy who answered.
Snape made his way up the stairs without bothering to gather any further information. It didn't seem worth the effort. The potions professor opened the first door. It belonged to the adults, no doubt. The next room was also empty, and full of cheaply made muggle toys, mostly plastic: the other boy's room. On the other side of the hallway was a bathroom and what appeared to be a guest room. Adjacent to the fat boy's room was another room, which Snape now made to open. Snape tried the handle but the door did not budge. He knocked on the door.
"Potter, open this door. The Headmaster has sent me to collect you and your belongings." Snape's voice dripped with distaste.
"I can't, sir, it's locked," came the reply.
"Well then unlock it." Snape was thoroughly annoyed at this point. "I'm sure even you could manage such a simple task, Potter."
"I can't. It's locked from the outside."
Snape wondered at this. He didn't know much about Muggle locking devices and hadn't noticed this point. What on earth has the boy done to anger his relations enough to lock him up? Something dangerous and completely irresponsible no doubt.
Snape pointed his wand at the door. "Alohamora." The door sprang open and Snape entered the room.
What he saw was not quite what he had expected. Harry Potter stood in too- large muggle clothing in the middle of a room full of broken toys and old, mostly dilapidated furniture. The room smelled strongly, as if it hadn't been ventilated properly in quite some time.
"Gather your belongings Potter, and open a window, for Merlin's sake. As I am forced to be here I would at least like to be able to breathe properly." The Potions Master's sensitive nose twitched distastefully at the smell of under-washed boy and confined owl.
"I can't open the window Uncle Vernon locked it so that I couldn't send letters with Hedwig. And why are you here anyway Professor?" Potter asked.
Snape made his way to the window. "Alohamora" he said again, and opened the window. He stood there breathing in the fresh air for a moment. Snape then turned to the thin boy and asked "How long have you been locked in here, Potter? And what on earth were your relations thinking locking the door and the window, that is a safety hazard."
"Oh, well, they're afraid of magic." Potter answered him.
Severus's shock momentarily overcame his dislike for the boy.
"Do you mean to tell me that you've been locked in here since the beginning of the holidays? That was over a month ago."
"Yeah, well, they let me out twice a day to use the loo," Harry shrugged.
"Oh, well, in that case, all is well." Snape replied, sneer firmly back in place. "Get your things."
Alright, not spoilt by his relations, but insufferable nonetheless.
Snape watched in amusement as Harry lifted a loose floorboard and pulled out an old pillowcase in which he had evidently stashed a few belongings.
"So why did Professor Dumbledore send you here anyway?" Potter asked.
"Like I said. To collect you and your belongings."
"Yes. But why?"
"The Headmaster has decided, much to my horror, that I will be tutoring you in potions to prepare you for my NEWT level class."
Snape watched Harry closely, wanting to savor the look of horror that would no doubt soon appear upon the boy's face.
To Snape's utter shock, the boy smiled slightly as he replaced the floorboard.
Regaining his composure, Severus addressed Potter. "Well, gather the rest of your things, I don't have all evening."
"Can't. They're downstairs locked up in the cupboard."
"They're what?" Snape was angry at this point.
"They're locked up."
"Your books too?"
No wonder Potter's homework is always sub-par.
"Yeah. All of my Hogwarts stuff." Harry shrugged. "Better it than me."
"What of your wand?" Snape made a mental note of the boy's previous comment. He would mention it to Albus.
"That is not safe! What if you were to be attacked? You should always have your wand on you for protection."
Snape didn't like the boy, but if he and the rest of the magical world were ever to be rid of Voldemort they needed Potter alive.
"I thought I was protected here."
"Inside the house you are, but not outside of it."
Potter glanced from the door to the window, then raised a questioning eyebrow at Snape.
Right. Stupid comment.
"Well let's go downstairs and get your things then."
Harry grabbed Hedwig's cage and followed his professor out the door.
When they reached the cupboard, Snape pointed his wand at the door and, for the third time that night, muttered "Alohamora."
Dumbledore must have known how much trouble this was going to be. I am going to have a word with that man.
Oh are you, now?
Yes, as a matter of fact I am.
Maybe so. Doesn't mean you won't continue to do whatever he asks of you though. You know you can't deny the old man anything.
Yes, well, I can and will if he ever comes up with another task as ridiculous as this.
No. You won't. Especially if it's another task such as this. You know you feel guilty about failing Albus with Harry's Occlumency lessons.
I know no such thing. And his name is Potter.
Potter had dragged his trunk out of the cupboard and was now looking curiously at Snape. Annoyed with himself for allowing his mind to wonder, not to mention infuriated with the obnoxious voice lodged in his head, Snape sneered at Harry.
Severus shrunk Potter's trunk and deposited it inside his pocket. They turned toward the door.
Vernon, however, had positioned himself for one last stand.
"Fine. Take the boy," he spat. "But I don't ever want to see his worthless hide around my home or my family again."
Interesting how the most venomous statement this repulsive Muggle has made all night also happens to be the most articulate one he has managed, Snape mused.
"I assure you, Mr. Potter will not be returning to your care." That last word fairly dripped with sarcasm.
Potter looked relieved by this, but Severus noticed a look of pain and regret on his face as they exited to the sound of Vernon's mockery of a farewell to his nephew. "And a good riddance of bad rubbish to that!"
Snape almost felt for the boy. Almost.
As they reached the corner, Potter paused. "Professor, how will we be getting to Hogwarts?"
"We will floo to Hogwarts from Arabella Figg's residence."
"Oh." Here, Harry paused. He seemed to be steeling himself for something.
Snape raised an enquiring eyebrow.
"S-sir," said Potter, "I. I owe you an apology sir." Severus did not know what he had been expecting Potter to say, but that certainly was not it. For the third time that night Snape found himself utterly shocked.
Why on earth is everything happening in threes tonight? Snape wondered.
Potter took a deep breath. "It's not your fault that I didn't practice Occlumency, and I can't blame you for not wanting to teach me after I looked in the Pensieve. I wouldn't have either. I shouldn't have invaded your privacy like that and, and I'm sorry."
Potter looked up to gage his professor's reaction. Snape's look of surprise had been quickly replaced by his usual sneer. "No, Potter, you most certainly should not have."
Harry looked a bit disappointed, but nodded nonetheless, and started down the street once more.
Snape thought that he and Potter would continue on in silence, but a moment later the boy asked: "How come you defended me tonight?"
"I defended you?"
"You said I wouldn't have to go back to my Aunt and Uncle's house."
Snape was a bit taken aback by this.
"Well surely once the Headmaster hears about their treatment of you he will make other arrangements."
"Oh." Harry seemed disappointed. Now Snape was thoroughly confused. What now? Surely he can't want to go back to his miserable relations? And he said himself that he considered my words to Dursley to be in defense of him.
Harry muttered something under his breath that Snape didn't catch.
"What was that?"
"Oh, just, well, I guess I will have to go back there then."
"What on earth are you on about."
"Well, it's just that Dumbledore's always convinced them to take me back in the past. I mean, he is very persuasive. I guess." Harry never finished his thought.
"Are you telling me, Mr. Potter, that the Headmaster was aware of the manner in which your relations treated you, his Golden Boy, and he sent you back there anyway?"
"Well, he said it was the safest place for me."
"Perfectly safe, clearly." Snape's voice oozed sarcasm. "No muggle should be allowed to treat a wizard in that manner."
I am definitely going to have a word with Albus.
Yes, you are. Snape agreed with himself. For once.
* * *
"Honestly Albus, you simply cannot be serious."
Why, oh why, does this sound so dreadfully familiar?
"I assure you, Severus, I am indeed most serious." Dumbledore's face looked wary; his tone held a distinct note of resignation.
"Why can the boy not be made a ward of Hogwarts? Surely he is as well protected here as he could possibly be at his relations."
"The ministry would not allow it, Severus. If they were to learn of a problem with Harry's guardians he would be made a ward of the ministry. You know as well as I do that that would mean disaster."
Ah. So it was the fool Fudge who was behind this. Even Arthur Weasley would make a better Minister of Magic than that oaf.
"There must be some other way, Albus. Potter might be protected from an attack by the Dark Lord at the home of his mother's relations, but do you not think that his situation there might drive him to the Dark Arts? It would be folly to forget that it was Tom Riddle's father's hatred of magic that turned him into what he is. Potter has enough in common with the Dark Lord as it is, let this situation continue and I fear for the future of the wizarding world."
Dumbledore sighed. He had considered this many times over the years.
"I do not believe that Harry will turn to the Dark Arts. But yes, I do fear it."
Here, Albus paused.
"Severus. If there is anyone who can ensure that Harry does not turn to the dark side, it is you."
Snape glared at the Headmaster.
"I? I am a Death Eater! You cannot possibly expect me to ensure the loyalty of the bloody Boy Who Lived!" Snape spat.
were a Death Eater, Severus. Now you are a spy. You know the consequences
better than anyone, and you keenly understand the forces that would attract a
young person to Voldermort, or, Merlin forbid, to try and rival him. I believe
you are the best person for this job. I will not force you though. If you are
to have any success in this endeavor, it must be because you desire to protect
Harry, not because you wish to please me. The choice is yours."
Severus nodded. He didn't like the boy, but he knew his duty. He would have to try and gain his trust. For Lily.
Why do the Gods never see fit to cease tormenting me? Snape wondered.
I think you know the answer to that perfectly well, Snape answered himself.
"Albus, the boy hates me! Even if I was willing to take on this responsibility, he will most certainly never trust me enough for me to be effective."
"I think you underestimate him, Severus. The boy does feel hate, and to a frightful degree. But I do not believe he hates you. He hates Voldemort, and I fear that Voldemort could turn that hatred and use it against us. But the two of you share much in common as well. Harry has a great capacity for forgiveness, and I have faith that you can gain his trust."
Again, Snape nodded. "I will make the attempt, Headmaster. But I am not as hopeful as you. I do not believe that I will succeed in this."
Albus looked at his younger friend kindly, "Hopefully, this is all so much extra precautions. But I do have faith in you Severus, and I, for one, will rest easier knowing that you are watching out for him."