Title: After All
Author: PissedOffEskimo (Randi Shane)
Rating: R... eventually
Warnings: AU, slash, mentions of child abuse, and later (much later) lots of sex
Disclaimer: Need we go through this every single time? I don't own the characters and, in this case, the plot really isn't all that much mine, either.
Summary: AU; Dumbledore decides that he's had enough of the Dursley's abuse and brings Harry to Hogwarts at age eight.
Author's Note: This is a lsightly overused plot line, which isn't to say that it isn't any good, or that I've run out of more original things to do, just that I wanted to grace you all with a lengthy, slightly light-hearted work for having put you through the brutality that was Call It Love. Now, while the plot may be common, I'm doing a bit of a different take on it... at least, that's my intention - if I fail, feel free to beat me (preferably with something made of leather) This story will focus primarily on Harry's summers and it's going to be long, starting when he's eight and ending just before he graduates. I may even have to break it up and post something else a little shorter while I'm working on it, despite my creed that I'd never work on more than one thing at a time. I mean, why not? I've broken every other fanfic moral I ever placed on myself... Bloody Mpregs, I swore to Hades I couldn't sink any lower, and look where that's gotten me.
Prologue: August 25th 1989
Professor Severus Snape had often had occasion to wish that he could kill the meddling old fool, Albus Dumbledore, and while this was just one such occasion, it was a rather exemplary one. The headmaster was standing outside the Potion Master's dungeon chambers, one hand hanging at his side, the other resting casually on the shoulder of a very short little boy in too-large pajamas who looked as though he wanted nothing more than to hide in the large folds of the elderly man's robes. It wasn't the intimidated look on the child's face that had caught Snape's attention, however, but the bright green eyes behind thick, broken spectacles, the unruly black hair, and the pale lightening bolt shaped scar on the boy's forehead. This was not just any child that Dumbledore was bringing to Snape's door, this was Harry Potter.
Snape hadn't waited for an explanation, he hadn't needed one. There were only so many reasons that the headmaster knocked on your door at one in the morning and none of those were related to a social call. Dumbledore wanted a favor, and Snape had a fairly good idea as to what that favor was.
"Severus, you know I wouldn't ask if there were anyone else."
The boy shrank even further against the old man as Snape sneered down at him again before addressing Dumbledore, "What about Minerva?"
"She has been detained and will, regrettably, not be here until tomorrow morning, at which time she will relieve you of the child."
Snape felt his eye twitch, "Flitwick."
"Is with McGonagall."
"His cabin is hardly large enough for himself."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled brightly, "Now, really, Severus, my boy, aren't you being a bit ridiculous? It is, after all, only one night and Harry will be on his best behavior."
The boy had been looking up at Dumbledore with large eyes the entire exchange, but now his gaze shifted to Snape. When he realized the man was staring back at him, his eyes widened and he nodded once before hiding behind Dumbledore's robes entirely.
The old man sighed heavily and looked down at the now vacant spot beside him, "Come along, child, no one intends you harm here." When the green eyes looked up at him again, he smiled, "Professor Snape merely does not appreciate being woken at this late hour."
The boy bit his lip and looked at Snape again, staring wide eyed at the bedraggled man in his grey night shirt and lose fitting robe, "I'm sorry we woke you, Professor Snape."
Snape sneered, not in the least fooled by the meek voiced facade. Little beast wasn't sorry at all, he was simply behaving himself while Dumbledore was around. However, it did no good to express such opinions in front of the old fool, not when he was standing next to the boy, smiling and pleased at the polite manners.
With a heavy sigh that spoke more than words, Snape stepped aside and allowed Dumbledore to stride in, holding the child's small hand in his own large one; long and wrinkled fingers wrapped around the boy's smooth palm.
Dumbledore walked the boy over to the sofa by the fire, helped him up onto the large cushions, and ran his hands over the unruly hair, as though to tame it, "Harry, my dear sweet boy, tomorrow morning Professor McGonagall will be by to pick you up and she will watch you till I return."
Harry nodded once, obediently, but not before casting a nervous glance over Dumbledore's shoulder at Snape. Albus pet the child's cheek one more time before standing up and heading towards the door. He stopped just inside and gave Snape a forlorn nod, lowering his voice, "I trust you, Severus, with his safety. Do not hold the sin of the father against his child." Without another word, Dumbledore left, closing the door behind him and leaving the two alone in the room.
Snape turned on the child, taking in the little form sitting primly on his sofa. Harry Potter. Child of James Potter, who had been the bane of Snape's existence throughout his school years, and well into his adulthood; the child that Snape owed a life debt to, because he had been unable to save the father's miserable life.
The boy didn't move, nor did he take his eyes off the man in front of him, seemingly afraid to lose eye contact. Potter. He looked very much like his father; thinner and smaller, perhaps, but otherwise the same. The boy's left cheek, the one Dumbledore had caressed, was slightly darker than the other and his eyes were too bright and too prominent.
Stepping closer, Snape saw the slight wince in Potter's
eyes before he quickly hung his head. Snape walked over and stood in front of him,
crossing his arms over his chest. The child didn't move, didn't even twiddle his
hands like so many other annoying brats Snape had taught. "Look at me, Potter."
The head snapped up, lips tight with fear. At closer glance a bruise was horribly vivid along the left side of the face, from the cheek bone up to the temple. It hadn't taken on much color, but Snape could see the tint of bright yellow green in the center. "What happened?"
Potter opened his mouth, but closed it and took a deep breaths before answering, "Uncle Vernon punished me, professor."
Snape scowled as he turned the thought over in his head. The boy's uncle had hit him? He reached a hand out and lifted Potter's chin up, tilting it to catch the bruise in the light.
Well, at least he was being disciplined.
He let go of the boy's face and sat down at his desk to continue his research. Harry watched the man sit down and then turned back to the fire. He'd like to get closer to it, as it was very cold in the dungeons, but Professor Snape didn't seem the sort to chance something like that with, so he sat quietly, instead.
It had been a very strange day all around. He had been woken by Aunt Petunia, as usual, made breakfast, as usual, spilt some orange juice, which he hadn't done in some time, been hit by his uncle, which had never really happened before - it had always been an implied threat, though - and spent the rest of the afternoon in his cupboard, nursing his cheek without the aide of ice.
That night, when everyone had been asleep, he had heard a strange sound, and a funny sort of feeling had run through his veins. Shortly after that, the elder man who had called himself Albus Dumbledore had let him out of the cupboard and told him to be very quite, that they didn't want to wake his aunt and uncle.
They had disappeared, Harry still wasn't really sure how, and appeared again in front of a large, dark castle, that lay under a sea of stars. He'd stared up a moment before looked up at the man with wide eyes. 'Where are we Mr. Dumbledore?'
'Professor, child,' he had picked Harry up and pointed at the castle, 'and that is Hogwarts, Harry, your new home.'
Harry had stared at it as they drew nearer. It felt familiar, like he was indeed coming home. Of course, now he was having second thoughts, now that Professor Snape had greeted him with such open hostility. He wondered if all the professors would hate him.
Snape put his quill down in frustration. Not a sound could be heard from the sofa save the child's breathing and he was beginning to become annoyed by even that. "What are you doing, boy?"
Potter jumped slightly, "Nothing, Professor Snape."
Snape scowled, "Stop it."
"Yes, Professor Snape."
Snape turned around, staring at the boy who stared back, not daring to blink, "How can you stop if you were doing nothing?"
"I… I'm not sure, Professor Snape."
"Can you say more than three words at a time?"
"Yes, Professor Snape?"
Snape scowled and stood, causing the boy to watch him more fretfully. The wizard stood over the child, watching him stew in his own worry for nearly a minute before take a blanket off the arm of the sofa and tossing it on him. "You'll sleep there."
He turned to go to bed, scowling as he closed the door. A Potter was in his dungeons, sleeping on his couch, under his throw blanket.
Curse Dumbledore to Hades and back.
It had taken Snape almost half an hour to remember that Harry Potter was even there. He had woken up at seven, as he did every morning, he had taken a bath and done other various toiletries, he had even made himself a cup of coffee and was sitting down to drink it when something caught his attention from the corner of his eye.
Potter was already awake, sitting up on the couch, none of the pillows appeared to have been disturbed and the blanket had been folded and hung over the arm of the sofa, as it had been before Snape had given it to him. He hadn't moved or spoken the entire time, his hand were folded in his lap and he was watching Snape with large, interested eye.
Severus, who had been about to take his first sip of the coffee, realized how ridiculous he must look holding the cup up to his mouth without drinking. He just wasn't sure exactly how he was going to remedy this. If he set it down, the boy might assume he was going to talk or something equally ridiculous, and if he went ahead and drank, he'd be doing so with an audience, something Severus was not prone to first thing in the morning.
Eventually, he set it down, deciding he'd just have to wait for Minerva to arrive to drink it. Harry didn't speak, but he didn't stop staring, either, he seemed to find Snape interesting or some other childish notion.
He tried, for several minutes, to read through the ingredients that he had isolated as essential from various other recorded researches. He was attempting to create a potion that would make a werewolf virtually harmless during transformation. His own experience with the creatures in no way lended him toward the task, but the money and prestige that such a discovery offered had been enough for him to agree to Albus' request. However, it was somehow hard to concentrate on the task at hand when he could almost feel the bright green eyes boring into the back of his head.
Turning around, he glared at the small child, pleased to at least have eliciting a small gasp. "What is it?"
Harry put his head down and bit his lower lip, but said nothing until Snape stood and once again demanded, "You will explain why you can not seem to keep your eyes to yourself."
After several moments the boy lifted his eyes without raising his head, "I… I need to use the bathroom, Professor Snape."
"And I am supposed to assume you are incapable of completing such a simple task on your own?"
"No, Professor Snape."
"Then stop wasting my time."
Harry scooting off the couch, dropping nearly a foot before his feet hit the rug with an inaudible thud and he ran quickly to the door leading into the bathroom, shutting it noiselessly. Seconds later, he came scrambling out.
Snape's eye twitched with annoyance as he watched the child run behind the arm of the sofa and duck down, staring at the half open door in abject fright. "What now?"
Harry shook his head, but said nothing. With an exasperated sigh, Snape walked over and dragged the boy to his feet by his arm. Harry bit his lip nervous, but stood still, "The… the toilet, professor, it… it flushed on its own. I didn't do anything, I swear."
"Of course you didn't." Snape allowed himself to stare at the confused boy with contempt for a few moments before letting go of the arm and walking back to his desk, offering no explanation.
Harry stood where he was left, staring at the back of the intimidating Professor now sitting back at his desk. He wasn't entirely what he had done wrong this time, but he was sure he must have done something. Twisting his fingers together, he bit his lower lip.
He didn't understand it at all. Professor Snape hadn't seemed at all mad that the toilet had gone and flushed on its own, he was upset that Harry had bothered him. Of course, Uncle Vernon would have been upset had Harry interrupted him, but he would have been much more so at an oddly behaving toilet.
Professor Snape sighed heavily, set his quill down, and turned back to look at him again. Harry felt his eyes go wide and he stood very still. He didn't think he liked Professor Snape very much, either.
"Are you capable of doing anything besides staring at me?"
Harry bit his lip a little harder, trying to decide which answer would be least likely to get him in more trouble than he apparently already was. "Yes, Professor Snape."
"Then go about it, so that I may go about my research."
Harry nodded, but then realized that Snape had turned away by then and could not see it. He climbed back onto the couch and folded his hands in his lap, staring at them in disinterest. He almost wished he were back in his cupboard, at least in his cupboard he had tin soldiers; the paint was faded, and some of them were missing arms or weapons, but he could at least pretend.
His stomach gave a loud upset sound and he flushed slightly. He'd forgotten that he hadn't had anything to eat yesterday and he was dead hungry now, but there was no way he was going to ask Professor Snape for anything to eat.
Another, slightly louder grumble and he looked up into the twitching face of the Professor. "I'm sorry."
Snape scowled before turning back to his work, "I very much doubt that."
Harry was just thinking that he'd like to take a nap (he'd not slept well at all the night before, the room was too big and unfamiliar), when a firm knock echoed from the door throughout the room, making him jump slightly at the sudden noise.
Snape mumbled something under his breath as he passed Harry, something that sounded suspiciously like 'finally,' and continued to mumble until he'd opened the door. As soon as it was open a woman stormed in and across the room, swooping down on Harry with such eagerness that he honestly thought about getting up and making a run for it.
As she ran her hands through his tousled hair, he studied her very carefully. She was older, but not as old as the man who had taken him from the Dursleys' the night before, her thin, set lips made her look firm, but her eyes were alight with concern behind her spectacles. She gently ran her over his cheek. He wondered why everyone kept doing that, no one at school had ever taken notice to the bruises Dudley gave him.
After a few moments, she smiled softly, though he got the impression the she didn't do it very often, it seemed stiff and unnatural, but not unkind. "Where are your things, Harry?"
He shook his head, not trusting himself to speak. She seemed to like him very much without him having opened his mouth. Snape spoke from the doorway, "He didn't come with any."
Although Harry very much resented being spoken of like he were purchased goods, he found himself forcing back a smile as the elder woman gave a sour look before turning towards Harry again. "I am Professor McGonagall and I'll be watching over you for the time being."
Harry nodded, but still refused to say anything, especially with Professor Snape still standing at his door, looking thoroughly annoyed. McGonagall pulled at the end of his baggy sleeve, pushing it up so that she could see his hand. "I suppose we'll have to do something about your clothes, but it's early, yet. Are you hungry?"
Harry, who was having trouble holding back a blush at the realization that he was still wearing the long sleeved shirt and sweat pants that he served as his night clothes, nodded minutely, and went back to toying with the torn hem of his shirt. He would have lied, not wanting to be a bother, but his stomach was complaining audibly and there was no masking it.
Snape scowled, sighing dramatically, "I am touched, really, but if you don't mind, I have work to do and I can hardly manage with you and that boy here."
McGonigall stood up and turned around, looking as though she had something she wanted to say, but held back and instead took Harry's hand and pulled him off the sofa, leading him towards the door.
Harry looked back at Snape one last time before the door was loudly closed behind them. He didn't think Professor Snape liked him very much, but, then, he supposed that was okay, because he didn't like Professor very much either.