Wit of the Raven

Chapter One

Summer, 1986

"Filthy bastard," a very much drunk, and purple-faced uncle Vernon screamed. "We go through the trouble of raising you, feeding you, and . . . and . . ." From here, the detestable man ceased in his ridiculing, and simply began to beat the small, incredibly emaciated boy, who would only stop his whimpering for time enough to shriek in pain at each strike of the belt. At the sound of this, Vernon would mutter about the neighbors, and only hit harder, trying to get him to shut up. This was counter-productive, until the child passed out in pain, and only gasped quietly afterwards. There were small, brown and red footprints leading from the door, the result of a rainy day without shoes. He wouldn't track mud into the house again.

Winter, 1990

The night before the celebration of the birth of Christ. A peaceful prophet, he must be rolling in his grave, thinking that this was how he was celebrated. A marginally larger boy ran out into the street, this time wearing threadbare sneakers, the soles of which were coming apart from the rest of the shoe, chased by the purple faced man, by the 'god given' name of Vernon, who was chasing him with a large cricket bat, and had just dropped his glass, a quarter of the way filled with eggnog. The fat man quickly caught up with the much smaller boy, who had tired out quickly, and began beating him in the middle of the street. The child made nary a noise, except for a sharp hiss of breath as he was hit particularly hard in the arm. The man remonstrated him, in a breathy voice, that, "This'll teach you to steal, FREAK!" Up the stairs, in a large bedroom, a morbidly obese child giggled, and ate another cookie, purloined from 'Santa'.

Summer, 1991

"Boy. Come over here." The same boy went over cautiously, seeing his uncle looking borderline angry, but soon overcame his hesitation. He walked forward, and unflinchingly received a sharp cuff on the head. "BOY! Do you hear that?" Harry listened, and heard silence. He closed his eyes, and concentrated on listening for a noise, any noise . . . and suddenly realized that he wasn't supposed to be listening for noise, but the absence of such. He suddenly remembered what he had forgotten. He gasped. The mail. His elder smiled vindictively, and smacked him again. "Go. Now. Today I shall be lenient, but, on another . . ." The boy quickly ran to the front door, and picked up the mail for which he had been punished. He ran back to the dining room, where his uncle rapped him on the head, hard, and sent the child to his room, to organize said mail.

The child bowed his head, and scampered off. In his room, he sorted the mail into three piles, one for Aunt Petunia, one for Uncle Vernon, and one for bills. "Gas, Marge," he muttered, involuntarily shivering at the last one, "Electricity, Smeltings, Hogwarts. . . hold on." He caught his breath, and tore open the envelope addressed to him, H. Potter. It read:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, and Wizardry

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc, Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards.)

Dear Mr Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1 September. Mr Snape will assist you in the acquisition of aforementioned supplies, and will come to you on July the 31st.

Yours Sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

Some miserable plot by his relative to embarrass him? They wouldn't have the finesse to do that. It must be an outside factor. But who? He didn't have any friends, and Dudley's fellow torturers probably didn't know exactly where he lived, much less how to spell Sincerely. Or School for that matter.

He (presumably H. Potter) felt hope. Just a trickle, but significantly more than any he could remember. Almost like the day of ascension, he thought, I'll be going from hell to heaven. He grinned, and then quickly schooled his expression to one devoid of emotion. He carefully concealed the letter, and walked back out into his nightmare, his life.

Summer 1991, July 31st

Harry stood out on the step, shivering. If the letter was real, then he would exceedingly happy, and if it wasn't . . . He would have a cold. But it was worth it, just for the chance. He shivered.

Several minutes later, an angry Severus Snape was walking up the walkway, thinking, Why me? Couldn't he have simply asked his pet 'skelegrow accident' to do the deed for him? He probably had an ulterior motive, meddling old coot. He was immaculately dressed in a black button-down shirt and pinstriped pants, and didn't seem too out of place in the well-to-do suburban neighborhood.

He was so deep in his thinking that he almost knocked on a child's head, mistaking it for a door knocker. The child looked somewhat terrified, somewhat happy, as Snape walked to him, and utterly terrified as the pale man's hand came dangerously close to his face.

Snape looked down to the child's eyes, Is he six? Seven? No, the cheeks bones are about as high as a first year's . . . perhaps he's nine, he wondered, as he asked the child, "Hello. . . I'm Professor Snape." He sneered, attempting to intimidate the child. The child looked even more terrified, and Snape inwardly smirked. Schadenfreude, his one true love. "Could you get. . . Harry Potter . . ." he all but spat the name, "for me?"

At this, the child scowled at the much larger man, and straightened up, pointing at his chest with his thumb. "I'm Harry Potter." Almost immediately, he looked down and to the side, almost as if he was embarrassed at his outburst.

Snape blinked, hard. Once, twice, and a third time. He looked at the small boy in front of him, did a double take and said, "I believe we should speak to the Headmaster about this." The boy's eyes looked up at the man, and he saw his eyes. Those of Lily. He smiled, faintly at the thought of the kind woman, but then shook his head, to clear it. "Well. . ." he drawled, "Let's be off, Potter."

Harry's eyes lit up, like Christmas lights, full of hope, and he nodded, eagerly. Snape scowled, and let his hand fall loosely down. Surprisingly, he felt a small hand slip up into his own, and a small face smiled up at him, only truly smiling for the first time, right then. He quickly opened his hand, and shook off Potter's. The boy's eyes dimmed and he looked down, morose.

A/N: Okay, this should look familiar. This is a repost. I've edited a lot of stuff since you have last seen this (if you are, in fact seeing this for a second time) but I don't think that this chapter has been edited. I simply don't have the heart for it. I don't like to write abused scenes.

On to other things: My goals have changed since I started this fic the first time. I am now seeing the wasted opportunities here, in JKR's world. And I'm going to nab them. The house system is brutally different. Quidditch will be brutally different. Some characters may not exist. Hogwarts will be significantly larger. Magic may operate differently. Characters will be OoC. Beware. This is very AU.

Another note. I am now taking ideas for ships.

Kudos to wolf550e for the post-update grammar/tech check.