July 15, 2013: I am currently working on rewriting this story, with the help of LoveSnilyAlways. Many thanks to her!
Chapter One: The Letter
Ron, Harry, and Hermione were standing on Platform 9 ¾ after their fourth year. Harry was dreading going back to his Aunt and Uncles house. He had been ever since breakfast that morning. Looking at the buffet he recalled with dread that this would be his last full meal since the next school year. He'd been so preoccupied with thoughts of the fourth task he hadn't given it much thought. Looking down he stared into Hedwig's wide eyes. Scared of what might happen to his owl, he opened her cage and whispered "Hedwig, go back to Hogwarts, girl." With a soft hoot and a swish of her wings, she did as she was told.
Harry turned back to Ron and Hermione, who were talking softly together. "You guys ready?" he asked.
They both turned and looked at him. Hermione detected instantly that he looked different. Since the third task Harry had looked sad, depressed, thoughtful, and guilty. But now he looked worried.
"Are you alright, Harry?
Harry almost laughed out loud. He thought, Yeah, Hermione, I'm just great. I practically killed Cedric, Voldemort has been resurrected, and who knows how many people are now going to die. All because of me. And now I get to go back to my LOVING Aunt and Uncle's! Yes, I'm just splendid! Not that he said any of this out loud. Instead all he said was, "Yeah, Hermione, I'm fine. Don't worry about me."
Neither seemed to notice Hedwig's empty cage.
They passed though the barrier. The first thing they noticed was the rest of the Weasley's. But then again, a large group of redheads was extremely hard to miss. When Mrs. Weasley noticed Harry, she gave him a long hug that would rival Hagrid's. When she pulled away, she had tears in her eyes. She said in a shaky voice and a smile on her mouth, "You take care of yourself, you got that young man?"
Harry nodded, touched that she would care so much. "Yes Mrs. Weasley."
"You promise?" she asked.
"Of course," Harry replied.
She stood looking at him for a while before pulling him into another, shorter, less bone crushing hug. Harry felt himself relaxing in the tender, motherly embrace. All too soon for Harry, it was over.
She managed another smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, and tilted her head back, pointing with her head someone standing behind her. "You'd better get going. That uncle of yours seems pretty mad."
Harry looked around Mrs. Weasley to a red-faced Uncle Vernon.
"Good idea," Harry replied.
He gave both Ron and Hermione hugs.
"Promise me you'll owl us often," Hermione whispered as they hugged.
"Alright Hermione. I promise." The hug ended. "Bye guys. See you soon!" he said as he walked away.
The closer he got to Uncle Vernon, the more murderous the man began to look. "I see you had the brains not to bring that ruddy owl," he growled as they started walking.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon" Harry said.
The ride home was spent in complete silence. When they got to number four, Privet Drive, Harry got out, and went to the boot to get his trunk. But before he could, Uncle Vernon said in a low and dangerous voice "Oh NO you don't," and grabbed Harry's wrist very hard and virtually dragged Harry inside. Waiting in the kitchen was an EXTREMELY irate looking Aunt Petunia.
"Let me get this right: the man who murdered my sister and her good for nothing husband, and landed YOU on our doorstep, who YOU supposedly killed, is now alive again because of YOU, and NOW YOU have to spend ANOTHER summer with us because of it?" she said in one long breath. "IS THAT CORRECT!"
"Yes, Aunt Petunia" Harry said in a voice barely above a whisper.
"You disgust me, boy," Uncle Vernon spat. With that, he grabbed Harry by the ear, and tossed him into the cupboard under the stairs.
Harry could just barely hear Uncle Vernon say, "Ungrateful brat."
Harry was now all alone in his dark cupboard, with nothing but the thoughts of the third task swirling in his head.
He suddenly remembered something. While he was packing, he put the photo album Hargid had given him at the end of first year under his large baggy shirt. He pulled it out. It was impossible to see in the dark, but it was a relief knowing he had it. It was something they couldn't take away. From his pocket he pulled out his wand, and placed both on one of the shelves. He took off Dudley's old shirt that served as a kind of sweater, and bundled it up like a pillow, and went to sleep.
But sleep was not something that had come very easily to the Boy-Who-Lived since the third task. He was constantly plagued by dreams of the third task and the events that took place after. Voldemort's gruesome body, Wormtail cutting off his hand, the Death Eaters, Moody turning into Crouch, Cedric's dead body…Cedric's dead body… those lifeless eyes.
Harry woke up suddenly, the guilt of what he'd done too much for him. All he could think was 'I killed Cedric, I killed all the people I know are going to die because Voldemort is back…I killed Cedric…I killed Cedric…I killed Cedric…I killed…..' and he fell into another restless sleep.
The next morning, Aunt Petunia was banging loudly on Harry's door for him to wake up. "I'm up, I'm up," he slurred.
He went into the kitchen. "Make breakfast boy. And hurry. My poor Duddleykinns has to eat. They starved you at school, didn't they my Duddleypoo," she said to Dudley.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," Harry replied, and made breakfast. When he was done, he went to go sit down.
"What do you think you're doing, boy?" Uncle Vernon demanded.
"Eating breakfast, Uncle Vernon."
"Oh, no you're not," and with that he whipped out a piece of paper. On it was a lot of chores. A LOT of chores. "Now get to work, boy," he demanded.
The first item on the long list was 'Clean our bedroom and bathroom.' And so Harry did.
Two weeks later, the pattern had changed little for Harry. Get up, make breakfast, do whatever backbreaking chores he could, and maybe get something to eat, if he was lucky. If he was even luckier, which he rarely was, escape the wrath of Uncle Vernon, fall into a restless sleep, get up, and do the whole thing over again.
Meanwhile, Hermione and Ron were getting exceedingly worried. Harry hadn't answered one of their owls. They all returned unopened. Hermione was especially worried because Harry had promised her he would write. She heard some off comments about the Dursleys over the years and she knew something was up. Every year she hoped to Merlin that the Dursleys would finally accept Harry. However, she knew this thought was in vain. Hermione wasn't the brightest witch of her age for no reason and she had enough common sense to know that this year wouldn't be any different from the rest.
Seeing the emotionally scarred Harry emerge from that third task, she knew that enough was enough. Hermione would not let her best friend live with people who didn't give a damn about him any longer. Harry needed to be saved.
There was only one problem. Lack-of-knowledge. The one problem that could make Hermione tear her hair out and go more than a little mad. As far as Hermione knew, Harry's main abuse was that he was unwanted, but what if it was much more? Harry was awfully small and skinny for his age, not to mention his extremely subtle flinches whenever people moved a bit too quickly. Oh sweet Merlin how could she be so ignorant all these years! It just seemed that whenever she took notice of these things, another big issue would arise and her sole concentration would be devoted to it! The philosopher's stone, the Chamber, and everything else these four years have conjured up!
She knew Ron had told his dad about their worries, but there wasn't much he could do about it. She knew that Sirius would want to know what was happening, but he was on the lam, and therefore, he would only be worried needlessly. She finally made up her mind. She would write Dumbledore. He would know what to do.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
I hope I'm not interrupting anything, but I'm really very worried about Harry. He promised he would write me, and he hasn't. Ron and I have both sent him several owls, but they've all come back unopened. I'm scared something might be wrong. Please help, if you can. I don't know what to do.
She also wrote a letter to Ron explaining what was in the letter to Dumbledore, and sent them both with Pig, who was delivering Ron's letter to her.
Several hours later, Pig flew into Dumbledore's office. He was, at the moment, extremely busy. Today was to be his last day at Hogwarts until the end of August. All Order business would be conducted at Headquarters for the rest of the summer. However, seeing Pig definitely caught his interest.
After reading the letter, he too was worried. He knew Hermione was an extremely reasonable girl, and didn't get worried very often. He also knew that Harry was a man of his word, and if he broke his promise to write Hermione, then something must be wrong.
Harry can't go to either the Burrow, or the Granger residence, and neither place was safe enough for Harry. He can't come with me. I'm seeing my family, and I'd rather he'd not be all that involved with the Order, anyway. He can't go with Sirius or Remus, as both are currently on missions for me, and would be until the end of the summer. Well Remus anyway, he's coming back to teach. And the only professor here is Severus. . . . At that thought, a smile grew on his lips. Severus. Perfect. Maybe if they spend the summer together, they could work through this mutual loathing they seem to have for each other. Now, the only problem is how to convince Severus. . . .
Severus was in his own private quarters reading a book about potions when he heard a knock at the door. "Enter."
With no hesitation Dumbledore entered. "Ah, Severus, just the man I was looking for," Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye.
"Obviously, otherwise you would not be down here," Severus said dryly without looking up.
"Quite true, quite true," Dumbledore said as he sat down on a black chair across from the black couch Severus was currently spread out on.
The room was sparsely furnished, with only two black chairs, a black couch, a mahogany table in the center, a Slytherin green rug under said furnishings, a fireplace, and several bookshelves, stacked full of very thick books.
"May I assume this isn't a casual visit, Albus?" Severus said, finally looking up.
"Right then. Straight to business. I need a favor."
Severus rolled his eyes. "I should have known."
"I need you to pick up Harry Potter. . ."
"You want me to do what?" he asked in his low, menacing voice.
"And I need you to watch over him the rest of the summer," Dumbledore said as though he hadn't heard the outburst.
"Oh no, no! I refuse to let my summer be ruined by that spoiled brat! I will not 'rescue' him, and I especially will not watch him, of all people!" he vented.
"Are you quite finished, Severus?"
"Oh, I have yet to begin. Let me ask, why on earth does POTTER need 'rescuing?' Exactly how much trouble can he get in over the summer? And why do I have to be the one to rescue him, let alone watch him? What about Weasley, or Granger, or the mutt, or Lupin, or you for that matter?"
"I need you to 'rescue' him because Ms. Granger thinks he might be in trouble. . ."
"You expect me to drop everything because Granger has a hunch?"
"I hardly call reading 'everything,' and yes I do."
Severus digested this for a while. "Well, I suppose since you have my mild curiosity, what kind of trouble has he gotten into now? Granger's excuse better be a good one."
"To be honest, Severus, I don't know what kind of 'trouble' he's gotten into."
Severus ground his teeth. "What do you mean, 'you don't know?'"
"Ms. Granger said that he promised he would write, and he hasn't."
"And you believe her? How do you know its not some prank?"
"Because I trust her."
"You never answered my other question."
"Why can't he go with the Weasleys, Granger, Black, Lupin, or you?"
"Use your head, please, Severus. You are an exceptionally bright man. The Burrow isn't well enough protected to keep out Voldemort" Severus cringed at the sound of the name, but Dumbledore continued on as though he didn't notice, "Granger's parents are muggles, so they definitely can't, Sirius and Remus are doing missions for me, and I am going to be gone most of the summer. The only place where he will be safe is here at Hogwarts, and you are the only staff member still here."
"Do you actually expect that I will agree to spend most of my summer alone with Potter, at Hogwarts?"
"You could always bring him to the manor."
"No Potter will ever step foot into the manor," he growled.
"Then, yes, I do expect you to spend most of you summer alone with Potter at Hogwarts." Albus sighed. "Severus, I have no other choice. With you at Hogwarts is the last place Voldemort," Severus flinched again "would think to look. Even more so at the manor. If you have another option I will gladly hear it."
Severus contemplated exactly what it is that Dumbledore was asking of him: A summer alone with the most spoiled child I know, with the exception of Draco. What is my life coming to? I suppose we could just ignore each other . . .
"Where would he sleep? The dorms are closed during the summer."
"In your guest room."
Snape scowled at that, and continued thinking: Is there another option. . . No I suppose not. If this is just some elaborate stunt that the 'Gryffindor golden trio' has hatched. . .
"Alright Albus. If he is in real trouble, I will collect Potter and bring him here."
"Thank you, Severus."