The Tiniest Wish
Summary: The tiniest wish might have changed so many things.
The Tiniest Wish
The entire Great Hall went silent as the tiny child, with legs almost as spindly as the stool he was trying to climb, finally settled himself on the stool as he was engulfed by the sorting hat. To everyone's surprise, instead of placing him almost immediately as it had Malfoy and some of the other children, the sorting hat hemmed and hawed grumbling one house title after another.
"Gryf—" the hat started to announce but abruptly changed it: "Slyt – for Merlin's sake child, make up your mind. Your housemates would like to eat sometime this century." The hat finished – chastising the boy to the shock of the professors and students both, who had never heard the hat taking on such a tone. Only Severus noticed that the headmaster's bemused frown had broadened into an intrigued smile at the development.
By the time he turned his attention back to the sorting hat and nervously twitching boy, the hat's tone had softened: "You're equally suited to all of them child, and they each have something to offer in return. What is it you want most, boy?" Strangely the hat's voice hardened again at the word boy and seemed to have a drastic effect on the child.
Shuddering, the boy whimpered barely loud enough for Severus to pick up the sound, then murmured so softly that Severus wouldn't have known what was said if he had not been reading the child's lips.
"Please, I don't … I- don't want to be – hurt – or other stuff -- anymore. Where can I stay that I won't have to go back to the Dursley's ever again?"
Even as the sorting hat was explaining that none of the houses could promise that, the shocked potions professor studied the too-small child, whose robes were barely covering overly large trainers and rolled up jeans. Intensely staring at the child, who was balling his fists into his robes anxiously as he realized that he was the center of attention, Severus saw the last person he expected to see reflected of in the child – himself.
Feeling the professor's stare on him, Potter turned his head and cocked it just enough that he saw the man's face as Severus mouthed "Slytherin."
Though the sorting hat pushing against his glasses made it difficult for Harry to appraise the dour-seeming man, what he could see made him feel better when he quietly asked the hat who the man was. He looked big enough, dark enough, and dangerous enough to intimidate even Harry's Uncle Vernon, and if he was the head of the Slytherin house and said that Harry would be safe there - Harry felt like he could trust it.
"Slytherin, then." The hat announced with equanimity, despite the shocked silence throughout the hall.
After meditating on the small gold hourglass hanging as a strange charm on a long dangling chain, Headmaster Dumbledore looked up in surprise to find that the last child had been sorted. Forgetting suddenly the Gryffindor themed speech he had prepared to welcome the chosen one, he mumbled several oddities that even he didn't remember moments later and signaled for the house elves to serve.
Settling back to his own meal, Dumbledore absent-mindedly ate as he reviewed the results of his meditations on the time turner:
If the time turner was correct, in the first year, Potter would seems to settle well into the Slytherin House with the professor's help. Quite unbelievably - and yet the time turner was quite clear on the subject - with Malfoy's assistance, Harry develops a click easily as loyal and tight as the alternate Gryffindor trio that still forms quite surprisingly around Neville.
The headmaster paused on that thought for the briefest of moments. Had he possibly misinterpreted the prophecy? The word mark could mean a variety of things, including viewing a target. Had Tom considered Neville his equal and sought to change the prophecy? He set his musing aside to consider later, though it would bear well if he paid young Neville more attention as well.
Harry doesn't chase Quirrell in his search for the stone, and the defense professor dies from a backlash of Voldemort's rage when they fail to remove the stone from the mirror of erised. Without having direct physical contact with Potter, Voldemort does not learn of the physical protection his mother's sacrifice gave him.
Certainly it was a protection that Neville would not have, but - studying the frail child that had virtually begged not to be sent back to his relatives, Albus found it difficult to believe that young Harry could triumph against the prophecied foe.
Yet, the timeturner's portents suggested that by Harry's second year, he would garner a powerful ally. With his son firmly entrenched in Potter's clique, Lucius Malfoy would develop an odd fascination for the boy that Severus uses to redirect Malfoy's loyalties enough that Lucius pulls strings to enable Severus and Harry to have a private guardianship hearing before three members of the Wizengamot just before the beginning of the second year. The riddle diary is not returned to the school. The beast within the chamber of secrets is not set on the muggleborn students, and no one but Harry's inner circle learns that he's a parsletongue.
"Well, keeping the child out of both Fudge and Scrimgeour's clutches could only be to the good." He mumured softly and waved off Severus's speculative glance. Of course, Severus would have overheard that. Sometimes the man was far to keen, but turned to Harry's benefit...
Severus would finalize Harry's adoption by the beginning of the third year, and Harry moves into the dungeon's with the Potion's professor. Not taking the Hogwart's express back, Harry was going to avoid becoming the target of the Dementors. On Severus's advice he takes a double of potions instead of Divination, so never hears the second prophecy. When Sirius shows up and still attacks Gryffindor tower, the staff realize that he was looking for something else and – with Remus Lupin's help, sort things out about Peter Pettigrew. Sirius Black's cleared but alienates Harry by criticizing his newly adopted father.
Sirius, the poor boy, was another matter; however, and perhaps it would be for the better if Harry were kept apart from his impetuous and sadly unstable godfather. Thankfully, Albus was relieved to note that he would not have to interfere to arrange the matter.
With a nudge from Malfoy Sr. the Wizengamot denies Sirius a custody hearing until he receives counseling and treatment for the residual influence of his stay in Azkaban.
In fact, Albus was quite glad to see that Severus and Lucius seemed to be taking on a great many matters that he would rather avoid taking a direct hand in - allowing him to work behind the scenes.
In fourth year, fearing that the Triwizard cup would be an ideal opportunity to threaten Harry, Severus would station his fifth, sixth, and seventh years at the goblet around the clock. When Harry's name comes out, their memories are used to prove that Harry did not put his own name in and therefore could not legally or magically be held to the magical contract... Sadly, Viktor Krum does not survive the tournament, and when the revived Voldemort, minus Harry's blood protections, calls for the return of his death eaters, Lucius Malfoy goes with the intent of spying for Severus and Harry as well as locating the other Horocruxes.
Would those tip the balance? The time turner suggested it might, but how could one be so certain. A single word or glance could have the most unexpected ripples on time. Glancing back into the time turner, he spun it again, hoping to coax it slightly further, even though he knew that the further ahead he looked, the less certain he could be.
Staring into its depths, he watched Harry's fifth year withmixed curiosity and disbelief. It followed naturally on what he had seen so far, but was so far from the results of what would have happened if Harry had chosen Gryffindor.
Still, the time turner was quite insistant that in his fifth year, with the Dark Lord returned, Narcissa and Draco would move into Hogwarts under Severus's protection, and give Harry the first experience of being welcomed as part of a family. With Narcissa and Draco to offer Harry support, Severus decides it's time to tell Harry of both the prophecy and the horocruxes, as well as the need to study legillimency. Trusting Severus, and with the Malfoys' assistance, he learns quickly and is easily able to recognize the false visions as well as control his interaction through the link with Voldemort, so that Malfoy is able to give up his spying before they set a trap for Voldemort at the ministry. Harry and Voldemort have their first direct confrontation with Voldemort seriously injured by his attempt to both physically and mentally overpower Harry. Harry on the other hand comes away relatively unscathed, suffering only a scar from a cutting curse that Bellatrix Lestrange cast at him.
The impressions from the time-turner grew vague after that, but it seemed to offer such a promising start… if it was handled right.
Still, while the boy survived the confrontation with Voldemort, others had before. Was it enough to suggest that he truly was the prophesied child? Voldemort knew of the protections, and no where in the timeturner's recollections did it show him possessing powers that would tip the balance.
"Ah Well," He sighed mentally; it would be another sleepless night before the pensieve.
Lifting his eyes to watch his potion's master, Albus was relieved to see the man sweeping his eyes across his group of Slytherins… catching their eyes with glances that held a very clear warning – Harry Potter was under his protection. In between his warning glances, Severus shot the boy encouraging glares – if a glare could be considered encouraging – whenever Harry hesitated in reaching for more food or drink.
By the time Dumbledore realized that he had cleared his plate without tasting a single item on it, Severus had laid his napkin on the table and was gesturing to the sated child with a careful head gesture that invited the boy to walk with him.
When the child stumbled over his trainers and fell against Professor Snape, the headmaster watched wryly as the professor shocked the entire staff by bending down to speak with the child for a moment then gently picking the boy up.
Yes, despite the questions it brought, it was a very promising start, indeed.