Author's note: Response to challenges (from Potions and Snitches .net) The challenges are: Bad haircut, pre Philosopher's Stone by Jan AQ--Summary: When Harry wished his hair back it wasn't magic. Well, it was, but it wasn't Harry's... Eight Legged Freaks by Solitare--Summary: Snape is afraid of spiders.

This story can be read two ways. Start to finish (as most stories are lol) Or you can stop at the little warning I included. If you stop there, then you can pretend that this story is cannon (as far as pre HBP, when we don't know about Snape's family).

Oh and the story still needs work (pov issues), but I'm getting restless to post so... comments welcome.

xxxxx

Severus Snape paced in his office, his robes billowing impressively as he turned sharply to stalk in a different direction. If anyone had been present, they most likely would have been cowering in a corner. That was—if Severus didn't hex them first.

This is not possible… it couldn't be.

Earlier that day, he had returned to the manor—his father's manor—not a place he had ever wanted to see again. It was supposed to be simple trip; all he needed to do was find his journal from his school days. He scoffed at the word "journal" because it was not a thing containing frivolous sentimentalities, but rather meticulous notes detailing each and every potions experiment from his last years at Hogwarts. When he'd left the manor four years ago, after the downfall of the Dark Lord, Severus had never intended to return. In his haste, he had forgotten the journal, and despite the fact it contain important information, he decided to move on without it.

That was until Wolfsbane. For months he'd been working on this potion—something to tame a werewolf during the full moon. He was so close to completing the potion, he could feel it at the tip of his wand. But he couldn't get the silver and aconite to balance correctly. He knew he could do it—he'd done it before. That knowledge however, had driven him back to Snape Manor, to retrieve his journal.

Suppressing all thoughts and memories, Severus had ventured back into his childhood "home" and found his journal as quickly as possible. It wasn't until he returned to Hogwarts that he noticed something extra peeking out of the journal's pages…a letter.

The cover was addressed with his name written in a scrawl he'd long since forgotten. Lily. As he read the parchment, he didn't even notice how his hand shook. He'd read the letter over and over again, not able to put together the sentences. Somehow, when he'd come across "Harry" followed by "your son," his mind went blank…and with it, all comprehension. Eventually, he noticed the "might" and evidence of Dumbledore's meddling—something about a charm.

Finally, Severus was able to put together some semblance of a brain and pull himself up off the floor—not that he had remembered falling there in shock, a few minutes earlier. He scoffed at himself for being an emotional idiot and then began pacing in his office.

He contemplated how it could be possible. Well, he knew how… he could even remember the potential night. But that was a long time ago.

He couldn't be a father. Physically… yes, but he hated children. He had never been considered a "people person," and shortly after his first day teaching at Hogwarts (two minutes into his first class); he'd discovered just how horrible the little brats could be. He only tolerated them, barely, in order to have access to the state-of-the-art potions lab at Hogwarts, complete with all the ingredients and supplies he required. That, and he had no worries of returning to Azkaban and he could repay his debt to Albus.

Snape abruptly stopped his pacing. Albus, he was responsible for this "charm," as Lily had called it. Yes, he would go to Albus and let the headmaster sort things out. In no time, he'd be able to get back to brewing. He had precious little time since the term was just starting.

xxxxx

It wasn't until the next day, after a third year exploded her potion, that Severus realized he'd been manipulated. I'm never accepting a lemon drop again. Albus had said a lot of things, talking in circles without really saying anything. But somehow, Snape had left feeling comfortable knowing that Harry Potter was not his son.

"Bollocks," Severus muttered.

A few of the nearest Hufflepuffs giggled.

"Ten points from each of you," Severus shouted to the class. He ignored the gasps, "Get out! Now! Get out of my classroom." Under normal circumstances, his mood would be lightened by the sight of the trembling children tripping over one another in their rush to leave the room. As it were, he needed to make a trip to muggle London.

Little Whinging, Surrey… Number 4 Privet Drive.

xxxxx

Without bothering to cancel classes, nor sparing a thought to the logistics, Severus flooed from the classroom all the way to the Leaky Cauldron. He passed by so many fireplaces that by the time he finally emerged, he toppled to the ground… like an idiot child. At least he didn't sick up. Of course, his iron stomach endured a lot through the years.

Sending a scowl to any who may have noticed his folly, he apparated to Privet Drive. Unable to apparate directly to the Potter abode… rather Dursley—not that Potter would know the difference. He's probably the king of the house, spoiled rotten by his doting relatives… Severus was forced to walk up the street, passing by the identical houses.

Muttering to himself, Severus hardly noticed that anyone was around until he tripped over a snotty little boy. He pulled up the scrawny child and looked into his rat like face. The boy appeared to be the right age, so Severus snapped, "What's your name?"

"Piers Polkiss," the boy replied.

"Get out of here," Severus ordered, pushing the boy aside. The boy, though, didn't leave; instead he stared up at Severus with a mixture of fear and curiosity. "What's the matter with you? Go!"

"You're wearing a dress," the Polkiss boy replied, then hid is mouth behind his hand to hide the obvious giggle.

One scowl, and the boy was sent running. I hate children. Casting several disillusionment charms, Severus was fairly certain that no one could see him. For good measure, he added on a few muggle-repelling charms as well.

Counting down the houses, Severus soon found himself standing outside the door of number 4. He must have stood there for at least five minutes, before he chided himself for being an emotional dimwit. Taking a deep breath, Severus quietly slipped into the Dursley home.

xxxxx

Everything about the house made his lip turn. As of yet, he hadn't found a spot in the house that didn't have a picture of an overly large blond boy staring back at him. It was repulsive. Said boy was sitting on the couch watching a box with moving pictures—a telly if Severus remembered the word correctly.

Thankfully, that boy was most definitely not his son. On the other hand, the other brat wasn't that much better. Wearing dirty clothes and a pair of broken glasses, obviously the child didn't take care of his belongings. And undoubtedly, that boy was none other than Harry Potter. Merlin, help me, please don't let this whelp be mine.

"Boy, get in here," a squeaky voice pierced through the ear. Severus cringed.

Potter got up from his spot on the floor—hiding behind the couch… what was the boy doing? Making his way into the kitchen, Potter sat on the bucket as his aunt directed. She hadn't said anything, merely pointed, but Potter did as he was told.

"I won't have you looking like a freak," she began, "and I'm tired of sending you to the barber only to have you look as messy as ever."

Paper was laid out all over the floor, making Severus wonder what the woman was going to do. When she pulled out a long pair of shears, he suddenly understood. So did Potter, by the way his eyes went wide. The boy was getting a haircut. About time. Those unruly locks—just like James Potter—were as wild as the boy. Severus could see it, how the boy scowled and covered his hair with his hands. Of course, the brat wouldn't want to obey his guardian. Arrogant brat.

Said brat, opened his mouth and shouted, "No!"

"Move your hands," his aunt ordered, "now, or no supper for you."

Severus watched as the boy weighed his options. He was surprised to see that the woman was actually being stern with the boy. Although, it did make sense; she was Lily's sister after all. Finally, Potter did as he was told and lowered his hands. Defiant to the end, the boy crossed his arms and glared. It was a pathetic display—Severus could see the sorrow behind the overly large green eyes. Is your vanity suffering?

xxxxx

At first, it had been entertaining, watching the Potter brat suffer. Even when the woman got a little excessive—surely she didn't have to cut it all off—it was still entertaining. And when the boy was sent to bed without supper, even though he'd done as he was told, well Severus chalked it up to the fact that Potter had maintained his poor attitude. His mood dampened, though, when he followed Potter to his "room"—not more than a cupboard under the stairs.

He wouldn't think about that. No, he had a job to do. All he needed was a sample of the boy's blood. The paternity potion would clear up everything, charm or not. The blood wouldn't lie. If the boy was his, he'd know. If not, then he could go back to his life and not think of the brat again.

Of course, he'd had to wait, biding his time until the muggles went to bed. Regardless of the disillusionment charm, the cupboard door opening and closing on its own would raise suspicion… if anyone noticed.

The uncle had come home and shortly after they were all at the table eating an enormous amount of food. Never once had the man asked after his nephew. In fact, they all went on as though Potter didn't even exist, which meant this was most likely a common occurrence. Still, it made sense; James Potter had been a horrible troublemaker, why would his son be any different?

After dinner, the fat lumps went and sat on the couch watching the telly. The aunt carted out their puddings. Honestly, how could they eat more food? All the while, Severus stood by Potter's door. He could hear the brat whining to himself. It was quiet, but Severus could just barely make out the words—something about how everyone at school would make fun of him. Severus chose not to think about that either.

Finally, when the Dursleys went upstairs and the shuffling of feet turned into snores, Severus made his move. Opening the cupboard door, he was glad to note that the brat was fast asleep. This made things much simpler. He could get the blood sample without waking Potter and could leave Privet Drive never to return… hopefully.

Crouching down, Severus had to crawl in to reach the boy's arm—the tiny brat sure could squish all the way into the back. And then he saw it, out of the corner of his eye… crawling down the side of the wall. Severus' body stiffened and then backed out of the cupboard. He cursed and then rebuked himself for acting like an idiot.

It was just a spider.

He knew it was foolish, idiotic, to be afraid of something so small. He wasn't really afraid of spiders—so he told himself—he used them all the time in potions. Of course, then they were dead… they couldn't move. When they crawled, rather crept, across the walls, his reaction was always the same… fear.

No one knew; his fear of spiders was occluded deep in his mind. If the Dark Lord had tried, he could discover that Severus was a spy well before he found out about this fear. It was a practical thing, Severus had told himself. Weaknesses could be used against him and he would much rather suffer the Cruciatus than be trapped in a pit of spiders.

Pushing his fears aside, he crouched down once again. This time, he cast a lumos before reaching into the cupboard again. It was a hideous sight. There was more than one spider. The ceiling was covered in webs and the spiders hung from them precariously, threatening to fall on the victim below.

Severus reacted out to pull the boy towards him. It was strange how it seemed as though Potter was nestled down with the spiders… as if he was somehow part of their pack. It was unsettling. He briefly wondered if this was Albus' doing, if this was the last defense about keeping the secret from him… No, this boy was not his. He was not a father.

Just before he grabbed the boy by the shoulder, something brushed across his hand. Instinctively, his body tensed and he had to fight the urge to shake his hand. Adrenaline rushed through him, as his heart pounded and his breathing became erratic… even his palms were sweaty. Not that anyone could tell from his stoic demeanor. Slowly, maintaining composure, he pulled his hand back and inspected it.

"Idiot," Severus muttered, "idiot!"

Potter stirred.

Quickly, he snapped back to the present. Without hesitation, he said a mild sleeping charm, ensuring that the boy would remain unconscious. Soon his impatience with himself outweighed his fears. With one swift motion, he reached into the cupboard and pulled the boy out.

Potter was lighter than he expected and, therefore, was pulled a lot closer than he had intended. He might as was well be cradling the child. He ignored the tears streaking the boy's grubby cheeks. Poor baby doesn't want his friends to tease him. One small cut, a vial of blood and Severus was healing the wound. All he had to do now was shove the whelp back into the cupboard and he could be gone. No one would even know I'd been here.

For a moment, his resolve wavered. What if this boy was his child? He snorted at the thought. Up close, he got an even better look at the damage to Potter's hair. The boy wasn't just bald—that would be acceptable. No, his hair was uneven, with random locks of hair having escaped the shears. With the flick of his wand, Severus had the child's hair returned to full flourish. Then, he quickly shoved Potter back into the cupboard, snapped the door shut, and stalked out of the house.

xxxxx

Locked away in his private lab, Severus was inaccessible to the outside world. His floo was off the line and his room heavily warded. The headmaster himself couldn't break his way in, and Severus was sure that Albus had tried. Meddlesome man.

Severus was vaguely aware of the fact that he wasn't in much of a state to brew. It was well past midnight and his nerves were slightly rattled. Potter can't be my son! Of course, he was used to brewing under duress. It wasn't like conditions were cozy when he needed to meet the Dark Lord's demands. So he cleared his mind and focused on the task at hand. I am not a father... Well, he focused as best he could.

Two botched potions and one burnt thumb later… Severus added Potter's blood. Stirring counterclockwise three times, he stood back, arms crossed and waited in case the color changed. No change and the boy was not his. It wasn't until fifteen minutes passed—even though it only required five—that Severus finally relaxed.

Potter was not his.

Thank Merlin! With all of the stress dissipating, Severus was finally able to calm down. As he did, he realized how exhausted he was. Without cleaning up—very atypical for him—Severus went straight to his bedchambers and collapsed into bed.

(Go cannon!! I don't want to read anymore…) xxxxx (This is your warning, stop here)

That morning, Severus had to hurry off to his class. It was the first time that he was nearly late. He opened the door with a bang and stalked into the classroom. He liked the startled look from the little Gryffindor second years and decided to make a dramatic entrance more often.

Severus made it through the whole day without wasting a thought on the Potter boy. The child was not his, and that was all that mattered. At lunch in the Great Hall, Severus could tell that the headmaster was itching to question him… boring into him with twinkling eyes. But no questions came.

That evening, Severus slipped back into his lab, carrying the journal with him. It was time to get to work on the Wolfsbane potion. He scowled at the mess he'd made the night before, the only evidence that the "Potter incident" had ever occurred. Wasting no time, he started clearing off his workbench. He nearly banished the cauldron's contents when he noticed the powered kohate in the dish beside it—the indicator.

He had forgotten to add the indicator! The results of the paternity potion meant nothing without the indicator. Instantly, his mind evaluated the potion's contents, assessing its overall stability. He had forty-eight hours before the potion broke down and became ineffective. Lifting the dish of powered kohate, Severus dumped the contents into the potion.

Swallowing, his panic returned. He couldn't take his eyes away from the potion. Time seemed to slow down to a cruel dawdling pace. The red seemed to fade a bit, turning slightly purple. Severus tried to ignore it, trying to convince himself that it was a trick of the eye. Severus knew better.

When all trace of red disappeared, leaving nothing but blue, Severus hit the cauldron with a blasting curse. It was so strong that the cauldron hit the opposite wall and shattered into a million pieces.

That did nothing to sooth Severus' anger. Several more innocent objects fell victim to blasting curses until he tossed the wand aside and used his own hands. Severus was livid, his whole body seething in rage.

Now he'd have to take care of a child—a snotty, germ-ridden brat that would no doubt get into trouble at every possible occasion. And of course the boy would be a complete idiot, as children were—crying and sniveling at the drop of a hat.

Severus sighed. This was his brat; he'd have to go get Potter—no Snape—that was the first thing to do; his boy wouldn't carry the Potter name. His boy… that was strange. How could he be a father? Not that it mattered now. The boy was his child, and he'd have to go and get him.

xxxxx

Rushing through the halls, Severus once again didn't plan ahead for the trip to go and collect his son. Somehow Dumbledore must have discovered Severus' intentions, because he just "happened" to be wandering by as the Potions Master made it to ground level.

"Severus, my boy," Albus greeted, clapping a hand on the man's shoulder.

Severus tensed and then brushed the old man off. "You knew, didn't you?" he accused. "You knew all along that Potter was my son." Albus didn't respond. "Did you know that they keep him in a cupboard?"

"Severus, I—"

All at once, Severus realized that he was being handled. It was like an epiphany; Albus was going to try and keep him from his son. "No," he shouted. "Harry is my son and I will raise him myself." Albus opened his mouth to respond, but Severus ignored him. He stalked out of the castle so fast, he was almost jogging.

xxxxx

This time, when he stepped up to Number Four Privet drive, he didn't bother with disillusionment charms. In fact, he didn't even pause. The front door had been locked, but it did nothing to avert a blasting charm. On second thought, he realized that alohamora would have worked just as well, but it was too late now.

The first thing he saw was a purple-faced fat man rushing towards him with his fists clenched. "What are you doing in my house?!" he yelled. The man must have come straight from supper; he still had a napkin tucked into his shirt.

Severus glared.

The man cowered back—rightfully so. How stupid could this muggle be? Your front door has just been blasted down and you come to me with what? Fists? The muggle should learn to have some fear… this man was supposed to be protecting the savior of the wizarding world.

"Y-you," the man sputtered. Severus smirked. "Y-you're one of those—those freaks! Get out of my house!"

Severus tutted, waving his wand as if to reprimand. He could teach this man a lesson… but he didn't have time for that. Or rather, this muggle was a waste of his time.

"I have come for my son," Severus announced. Not bothering to listen to the fat man's reply, Severus walked over to the cupboard. Opening the door, he was met with wide green eyes filled with curiosity.

"Gather up your things," Severus ordered. "You're coming with me." He was a bit irked when the boy didn't question him first, but went straight to obey. Not that he wanted a disobedient child, but Harry should have some sense of self-preservation. He couldn't trust everyone. No matter, Severus would teach him. Severus would raise his son into a strong and capable man. His son wouldn't be some sort of dimwit.

Said boy emerged from the cupboard with an armload of grungy clothes. "Is that everything?" Severus asked. "You won't be returning."

"This is all I have," Harry replied, looking up to make eye contact with the man.

Severus looked away. "Don't you have a bag to carry your things?"

"Yep," Harry walked to the kitchen, lugging his clothes, dropping a sock and a small pair of pants. Once again Severus wondered how he was going to take care of a small child. He'd need a house elf, that was for sure and some tutors. Of course, he'd need to spend some time with the child as well…

"Aunt Petunia, can I have a bag?"

Looking up from Harry for the first time since entering the kitchen, Severus noticed the boy's relatives. The man had dragged his family into the farthest corner. He stood in front of them, effectively creating a shield with his wide body.

"Take whatever you need," Severus directed.

Harry found a plastic bag and began stuffing his meager possessions into it.

"You need to put on the shoes," Severus added, as Harry tried to stuff those into the bag as well.

Nodding, Harry sat down to do as he was told. When it got to the laces, he pulled them tight, tangled them, and then tucked them into his shoe.

Groaning, Severus got down to his knees and tied his son's laces. Before he stood up, he met his son's eyes. Harry looked so surprised and pleased—as if he was living a dream.

"Come, we're going home."

When Harry smiled, his whole face lit up.

xxxxx

To get back to Hogwarts, Severus decided to take the Knight Bus. He pulled Harry up the stairs to the gallery at the top. He had no inclination towards sitting on a bed and preferred the bench seating that was only found at the top. He allowed Harry to sit nearest the window and then sat down beside him. The small boy looked so tiny, still carrying the plastic bag on his lap. Severus realized that five year old boys were supposed to be small, but he still found it unnerving.

"Before we get to Hogwarts," Severus said formally, "you need to understand a couple of things. First, there will be no coddling. You are no longer a Potter, you are a Snape. That means you are expected to obey..." Severus trailed off. His son, staring out the window, didn't appear to be listening anyway. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Severus fought the urge to be angry. "Second," Severus said, speaking louder, more firmly, "you will call me Father—not some—"

Harry turned sharply, looking up with wide eyes. "You're my Daddy?" He sounded so excited, happy… hopeful. Severus didn't know how to respond.

Before he could, he was distracted as something crawled onto his son's hand. Severus had to fight the urge to jump out of his seat… once again his palms got sweaty. Harry followed Severus' gaze and looked down at his hand.

"This is my friend!" Harry said, holding up his hand for Severus to get a better look.

Severus leaned back into his seat. His right hand instinctively curled around his wand. He could banish the spider from here… but how would Harry react. That doesn't matter, Severus scolded himself. But somehow, Severus knew that was wrong. For some reason, it did matter…

"Did you take the spider with you?" Severus asked—his voice stern, but not threatening.

Harry nodded.

"You took him from his family?" Severus tried to maintain eye contact with his son, all the while keeping the corner of his eye fixed on the spider.

Harry lowered his head; Severus could see the boy felt guilty. "Never mind that," Severus took out his wand and banished the spider with a flick.

Harry gaped at his hand. "Did you—did you send him back?" Severus tipped his head. Let the boy interpret that as he wants. "Wow!" Harry exclaimed, practically bouncing in his seat. "That was like—like… magic." Harry whispered the last word, as if it were some dirty secret.

"From now on," Severus lectured, "you will leave spiders where they are. Leave them with their families."

"You took me from my family," Harry countered, his tone defiant and sulky.

"No, Harry," Severus reprimanded. "You're my family."

xxxxx

A little sidenote, if you're interested. Kohate (the indicator that I made up) comes from KOH (potassium hydroxide or something) that I forgot back when I was doing titration experiments in chemistry. So the color didn't change...

Also, if you read my other fics... I am really trying to update them. I'm just having a hard time writing them... hard to explain. Also, I'm heading into dead week... then finals... then spring break (yippy! so you should get updates soon)

Edited 3/15... fraternity potion changed to paternity... lol I never noticed the mistake... Correction thanks to deessedumer!