Disclaimer: I own none of the Harry Potter ideas or characters or plots, or anything else thought up by the amazing author of the series.

Eight

by Lily Elizabeth Snape

Chapter One

………………………………………………..

"Severus, I have some rather surprising news for you," Dumbledore began with a slight frown. Since the final defeat of Voldemort in 1981, he knew I hated to come out of the dungeons. I was so ashamed, although no one knew that save Albus, of course. I had taken to avoiding the headmaster most of all owing to that knowledge.

I sat in his largest leather armchair, the same one I always favored because one could get lost in it. I occupied my eyes looking at artifacts and trinkets around the grand office – anywhere but at the headmaster himself.

"I was at the ministry the other day carrying out Hogwarts business, and I felt a bit nostalgic. I took a stroll down to the records room and requested a look at Harry Potter's birth certificate."

I moved to get up. "Albus, what does this have to do with me? I have an extremely sensitive potion brewing, and it shall be ruined if I don't get back to it!"

"Sit down, my boy. This has everything to do with you. As you know, once a person is imprisoned in Azkaban all their wizarding and legal rights are severed. When I read little Harry's birth certificate, Sirius Black's name no longer read under guardian and godfather, as it did when the child was born. His mother's preference for godfather had replaced the name. Do you know who that might be?" Dumbledore stared intently at me. I felt, rather than saw, it.

"Lily's choice? Lily was close to no one in school, as you well know. I don't pretend I kept up with her social life after matriculation. Really, Albus . . ."

"Can you think of no one she was close to, Severus?"

"Surely you don't mean . . . me, Headmaster?" Had Lily chosen me, of all people?

"None other. Now, it is up to you what you wish to do with the child. Of course I will help you make the necessary arrangements should you so desire. His current guardians have already been contacted and they strongly prefer he return to our world. You may give the matter some thought." The ancient man waved a crinkled, papery hand, indicating I was dismissed.

I took a few steps to the door, then leant on the stone wall, resolute. I could not deny the only friend I'd ever had, not even in death.

"If it was Lily's wish, then I shall care for the child." It was the least I could do; after all, Lily saved me from much pain in their school years, and baby Harry had unwittingly freed me from foul servitude.

Seeming very much like a sprite during a moonlit revel, Albus pranced over and clapped my black-clad shoulder. "Very good, very good. We'll just see to the permanent arrangements, then."

We apparated over to the Ministry and took care of the necessary signatures, magical and written, and then I was left with a muggle address. Grimacing at the revealing cut of the dark muggle suit I wore, I strode determinedly down Privet Drive. I was regretting my foolish, sentimental decision with every step. Since when did Severus Snape rely on emotion to make a decision? 'Since Lily entered the picture,' my mind answered.

After knocking sharply on the door to #4, a simpering housewife appeared on the other side. "You must be Mr. Snape?" she questioned with sickly sweet falseness.

"Professor Snape," I answered snidely. I already loathed this horse-faced creature. She was nothing at all compared to her sister.

"We hadn't expected you so soon," she said, pushing her way out the door and onto the stoop. "I daresay our little Harry isn't ready. Why don't you come back in a week or so? That is what I discussed with Mr. Dumbledore."

"Headmaster Dumbledore," I corrected. "And I will not come back another time. Step aside."

I propelled the words from my mouth with such force and malice, the beast of a woman squeaked in indignation but shrugged out of my way. She led me into the sitting room.

"I'll just put on some tea while little Harry gets packed. Harry dear?" she crooned.

…………………………………………..

She was calling me 'dear'? "Yes, ma'am?" I answered immediately from inside my lair. I liked to think of my cupboard as a little hideaway, a cave perhaps; anything but what it really was. I didn't come out of it, though. I never did unless I was bid to do so.

"Come into the kitchen, sweetums," she called. This was truly odd. She must be putting on for the visitor. But visitors never saw me, especially the day after a punishment. As I closed the door to my cupboard, latching it shut, a tall, thin man with a hard face shouted at me.

"Pack all your things. We'll not be coming back."

I looked back and forth between the man and Aunt Petunia. Who should I obey? I decided that if he was taking me, it had better be him. Aunt Petunia rushed past me.

"We'll just let him say goodbye to this old house in peace. Let's take tea on the patio, shall we?"

She led him away, but he did not seem pleased about it. I wondered what was in store for me. Where was he taking me? Why? He seemed awfully mean; had I done something wrong? These thoughts and many others ran through my head as I packed my spare outfit into my school satchel. I knew I had to leave the school books; they didn't belong to me. I took my rescued toys and my broken pencil . . . and everything else that was mine. I tidied the cupboard as best I could, folded up the cot and the mangled blanket, and locked the door for good.

I swung the satchel over my shoulder, but quickly put it down. That had been a bad idea. I waited in the doorway for a moment, but the man saw me and rushed toward me.

"Time to go," he said, and walked out the front door. I followed without a backward glance.

We took a taxi to King's Cross, and waited to board the train from Platform 7. It was going to Manchester, so I knew it would be a long trip. I had so many questions I wanted to ask, but I daren't. I knew what happened when one spoke without being spoken to. I had to practically run to keep up with the man. He only really looked at me once as we were waiting, and I saw his face twist in hatred. If I could have read his mind, I'm sure he was thinking, 'Worthless freak!' or some such notion.

Once we got on the train, he led me into a compartment. This one wasn't busy like the ones in the underground, and we had the little room to ourselves. I stood in the doorway, wondering where to go. I knew I shouldn't be permitted to sit on the cushions, but I hoped he'd let me sit on the floor. I really didn't want to stand all the way to Manchester.

……………………………………

The miniature James just stood there; Harry looked the spitting image of his wretched father. He was staring at the floor, deep in thought. 'Probably thinking up insults.' I glared at him, determined to take the upper hand.

"Sit," I commanded, and the cheeky little thing had the nerve to sit on the floor! I grabbed him up by the arm and sat him on the bench, cursing my decision to take him in with vigor. He gave a little moan at the gesture, but I paid no attention. The little bugger would learn his place. No wonder Lily's sister was so eager to be rid of him. And I couldn't believe he would go traveling in his worst play clothes. His outfit was obviously used for rugby or some other such nonsense. He must have played the day away prior to my coming; his hair was mussed and his face and hands were dirty. I noticed he pulled his knees up to his chin after a moment. 'Pouting, no doubt. Ah, well, at least he's quiet.'

I closed my eyes and woke when they made the call for Manchester station. I had the feeling he'd been staring at me in my sleep, but as I cast my gaze upon him his eyes were averted to the floor again. I was quite surprised he hadn't slept on the long journey as well. 'Probably fancies himself too old for naps. A big man of eight!'

I jerked my chin and he followed me onto the platform. The next part of the trip was the most unpleasant. I cursed Dumbledore for insisting on Muggle transportation.

"The child will be frightened by wizarding travel. Don't get off on the wrong foot," the headmaster'd chided.

We clambered into the hired car and took increasingly rough roads to Ashton-Under-Lyne until my pathetic childhood home came into view. The cab dropped us at the top of Spinner's End, proclaiming the cobbles would damage his undercarriage. I paid him, neglected the tip, and he sped off with a rude gesture.

I'd originally thought to take the child to Hogwarts, but decided chasing a little scamp all over the colossal castle would be a grand hassle. As we trudged down the hill, I wondered if I'd made another mistake; my stomach was quickly filling with dread and acid as we neared the familiar hovel. 'We can always leave in the morning,' I decided. 'The hell with Dumbledore, we'll just apparate to Hogsmeade.' That made me feel a bit better.

……………………………………………