Summary: To possibly save his life, two years earlier than prepared for, Harry James Potter Snape Dumbledore Riddle has to receive his magical inheritance … but first, he has a few things to learn about his ancestry, starting with his four fathers.
Disclaimer: See prologue
-----Last Chapter:"How do you tell someone they're the child of the Dark
Lord?" Chapter Two: Aunt
Chapter Two: Aunt
The voices were strange, very strange. A different language, Harry realised. Of course – he was in Athens. Stupid. But where in Athens?
Harry opened one eye and wished he hadn't. Wherever he was, it was bright white. He squeezed his eyes shut again for a few moments before trying again.
It was a hospital. Harry blinked. Was he hurt? He slowly sat up. There was a tube sticking out of his arm and a wire linking him to a machine measuring his pulse. He was suddenly struck by a dizzy spell and fell backwards on to the pillows. A nurse – at least, Harry assumed she was a nurse by the uniform – up the other end of the ward spotted him and made her way towards him with a clipboard.
"Um, hello," Harry said weakly. "Uh, d'you speak English?"
The string of words that made no sense to him whatsoever answered his question: no. Harry frowned, trying to work out what she was saying by her facial expressions, but it seemed all she was doing was enquiring how he was feeling.
Harry put a hand to his forehead. "Not very good." As he did so he realised there was a bandage on his hand. What was wrong with him? He didn't remember. As well as feeling dizzy he also felt sick and he had an aching pain all over. "What's wrong with me?"
The nurse just replied in Greek and made gestures, meaning she didn't understand. Harry closed his eyes and groaned. Just his luck, the first time he'd been ill in the summer holidays, to be stuck in a foreign country. He couldn't even ask where his relatives were.
Wait. Something was coming back to him. He'd been unpacking … in the bathroom? Oh, that was right – he was putting the towels on the rails for his aunt. There had been something in the bath … Harry strained his memory. A snake!
And not just any snake – a Runespoor. A three-headed magical snake. If he remembered his copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, one of the Runespoor's heads was extremely venomous.
Had it bitten him? Harry examined the bandage on his wrist before poking it and winced. Yes it had. Great.
Dumbledore - I'm in trouble. I don't know if you know yet
but my family moved to Athens and have taken me with them. I'm in a
(Muggle) hospital with a Runespoor bite and no-one can understand
what I'm saying and I don't know where my family are. Please
help! Harry Potter
I'm in trouble. I don't know if you know yet but my family moved to Athens and have taken me with them. I'm in a (Muggle) hospital with a Runespoor bite and no-one can understand what I'm saying and I don't know where my family are. Please help!
The bite and the bandage was preventing Harry from being able to hold the biro properly – his hand was aching and the bulk meant he was holding the pen rather awkwardly. Harry hoped his handwriting would be legible. If not, he was in even bigger trouble.
As he wrote, Harry could feel the venom taking a hold on his him – as well as dizziness, he kept getting black spots and a sick feeling was rising in the back of his throat. He tried to remember all he could about Runespoors, but as they hadn't covered them in Defence yet it was fruitless. Harry just hoped that he'd be able to fight it long enough for the letter to reach Dumbledore.
That was a point. Harry stopped writing. How was he supposed to get the letter to him? He didn't even know where Hedwig was and he couldn't just get out of bed and look for her. He didn't even think he could get out of bed at all – his legs didn't feel like they could hold him.
For the first time since the tournament, Harry felt real fear grip him. Was he going to die?
Severus' feet hurt. He and Albus had been round and round the same neighbourhoods over and over again. Albus at least was driven by anxiety, but Severus, who thought they were wasting their time charging around after Potter when the boy was perfectly capable of looking after himself, was exhausted.
"Can – we – please – slow – down – or – stop – or – something?" he gasped, leaning against a lamp-post for support and clutching a stitch.
Albus shook his head. "Something is wrong, I can feel it. We can't stop now."
"Tell – you – what," Severus wheezed. "You – find - Potter – and I …" he trailed off. "Isn't – that – the – boy?"
Albus whirled round, obviously thinking he meant Harry, but Severus had spotted a round, blonde teenager largely resembling Dursley Sr sitting on a bench, a Greek phrase book clutched in his hands and a pained frown on his face.
"Severus," Albus said warningly, "don't -"
Dudley squealed as Severus took him by the scruff of the neck. He would have liked to have lifted the boy up into the air and shake him, but it would short of using magic it would probably take both him and Albus, who wasn't really the shaking sort.
"Master Dursley, am I right?" Severus breathed dangerously.
"Severus, put him down!"
"N-n-no!" Dudley stammered.
People were staring. Severus quickly tipped the contents of a vial of Veritaserum down the boy's throat.
"Where's your cousin?"
"I-I d-dunno – M-Mum and Dad t-took him somewhere."
Severus shoved the antidote down him and dropped him. Dudley scrambled away from him and round the corner.
"You know what would have been more enjoyable?" Albus said wearily. "We walk past him making sure he hears us talking about wizards, and see him panic. That way would also mean he draws the attention, not us."
"Albus, you Slytherin!"
"Well, it was almost my House. Speaking of houses, we need to follow him to his. Come on."
It took an Alohomora, twenty minutes of circular interrogation and the Transfiguring of Dudley into every farm animal that came into Severus' head (actually, there had been no need for any more Transfiguration after the first one, but Severus had enjoyed it too much) for Petunia to admit what had happened: Harry had been bitten by some kind of snake, passed out on the kitchen floor and Vernon wouldn't take the boy to hospital unless Petunia agreed that they never see Harry again. Not wanting Harry to die (despite all the harsh treatment over the years – he was her sister's son, after all), Petunia had let them leave him at a hospital a few miles away without giving the hospital staff any information about them.
"What hospital?" Albus asked patiently. Petunia was watching Dudley clucking on the kitchen floor.
"I wish you'd let me keep him a goat," Severus grumbled as they left the house five minutes later, after dragging directions to the hospital from Petunia.
"I'm not saying Vernon didn't deserve it, Severus, but all the legal matter aside, I have been a goat myself briefly and it is not an experience I would wish on anyone, even a man as – impolite – as him."
"Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted. And I can at least sleep soundly tonight knowing those blasted Dursleys are going to be spending a long time trying to put their son right."
Albus stopped and Severus walked into him. "What did you do to him? I thought you reversed the Transfiguration spell?"
"Almost." Severus chuckled darkly. "Let's just say the family won't be short of eggs for a while."
For a moment Albus' moustache quivered and Severus thought he was trying to restrain himself from shouting at him, but was taken by surprise when Albus burst out laughing.
The wizards' humorous mood didn't last long. Severus hung back as they reached the hospital. So Potter had got a snake bite. Big deal. The Muggles could cure him, couldn't they? But when he mentioned this to Albus, the older wizard shook his head.
"Maybe, but maybe not. And besides, the Dursleys have said they won't have him back now. We need to take him back to Britain and work out what we're going to do."
"You mean what you're going to do," Severus muttered, but not so Albus could hear.
Greek seemed to be one of the many languages Albus had accumulated over the years, and after two minutes' flirting with the receptionist he pushed Severus first towards the stairs. "Ward 22."
It didn't take long to find Harry. Each of the doors had a circle of glass near the top, and it took a glance through each one to tell if the boy was there or not. Severus spotted him through the third door.
"You go in. I'll probably give him a heart attack."
"Oh, for goodness' sake," Albus muttered and strode past Severus into the ward. The door swung back and hit Severus in the face. He cried out and massaged his nose, watching the headmaster.
Albus paused by Harry's bed, before leaning over and resting a hand on his. The boy was asleep and very pale, with Muggle machines clustered round his bed. He stirred a little as Albus spoke softly to him, but didn't wake.
Someone behind Severus spoke in Greek, and he turned to see what was presumably a doctor asking him something.
"I'm with him," Severus stated clearly, pointing at Albus, who was picking up a piece of scrap paper from the bedside table. Feeling it would be a good idea to join him, Severus excused himself just as Albus beckoned to him, and he entered the ward.
"Look at this." Albus' face was white. Severus read his way through the scribbled note.
"That's not good."
"Not good?" Albus hissed. "Is that all you can say? Severus, that's one of the most lethal poisons in existence. We have to get him home."
"Not trying to be insensitive, but is there any point? I mean … no antidote for Runespoor venom has ever been found."
"Then we'll be the first to find one. Contact Poppy and warn her, I'll get Harry out of here."
There was a determined glint Severus had never seen before in Albus' eyes. Feeling it was better not to argue, he did as he was told.
"I don't believe it." Minerva was pacing the dungeon. "I turn my back for five minutes and you lose him?"
"To be fair, my dear, his family took straight off with him once he was off the station. It's not our fault. And anyway, he's back now."
"Oh yes, he's back! With half a pint of venom in his bloodstream!"
"Minerva," Severus said through gritted teeth, "if you want that half-pint of venom out his bloodstream then you're going to have to stop shouting and let me concentrate!"
"Severus, you know as well as I do that there's no anti -"
"Tell that to Albus."
"No antidote has ever been found," Albus said clearly to them both. "That does not mean there isn't one."
"But, Albus …" Minerva said carefully. "The chances …"
"I know they're not good. But I have to try something." Albus' voice cracked and he turned away.
"Severus," Minerva said quietly, "could you leave us for a moment?"
Severus sighed, saw the looks on their faces, nodded and left silently, closing the door softly behind him.
Minerva took a deep breath and addressed her husband.
"This is about Emmie, isn't it?"
"No," Albus replied quietly. "This is about Harry."
"Albus. Look. I know you don't want to lose Harry. Neither do I. But … you have to accept that there is a possibility – strong possibility – a probability – that we may not be able to save him."
"I know." Albus swallowed hard. "I just … I can't let him go without trying everything possible. I can't." He looked down.
Minerva's face softened. "Albus, you don't have to hide from me." She stepped round the cauldron and slid onto his lap, putting her arms around him. Albus closed his eyes and accepted the hug.
"I know I'm probably going to lose him. I'm just trying not to think about it. Because when I worry I can't concentrate."
A single tear ran down his face.
"How long does Runespoor venom take to become fatal?" Stella asked worriedly, staring down at the limp body in the bed.
"About ten days. But I don't know when he got the bite. Damn, I knew there was something else we should have asked the Muggles."
Stella smiled slightly at the self-deprecating tone. "Oh, Severus! You do care."
He scowled. "I do not. I just don't think he'll be in much of a position to defeat the Dark Lord if he's dead. He personally means nothing to me."
Stella continued smiling. "Well, maybe that can change. Just give it time." She paused. "And I don't think you should be talking about the you-know-what around him."
"Albus was going to tell him anyway."
"And you know what he's like. He'll spend all year thinking it can wait a bit longer, and then Harry will find out by himself and be really mad."
"This is assuming we can actually find an antidote in time to administer it."
"I have faith in you and Albus. If anyone can cure Harry you two can. Now go away and get a move on." Stella kissed him on the cheek. "Poppy and I will look after Harry."
Severus muttered something about not being bothered about looking after the boy, but left the Hospital Wing, not missing the knowing look on Stella's face and not being cheered up by it in the least.