Harry and the Different Childhood
When Harry is found at his relatives, beaten and injured, it is more than potions and magic can heal. Snape decides to try something truly extraordinary to give Harry the childhood he deserves. Completely AU.
I do not own any of the characters in this story; they all belong to J.K.Rowling or are a free creation, and I am not earning anything by writing this story. I'm not a native speaker of English; so please excuse any mistakes if you find any.
Thanks to Glenda for correcting my mistakes!
Chapter 1 – Prologue
It was a bright summer day at the end of August, 1985, when the fireplace in Professor Snape's quarters flared. Severus was concentrating on the final preparations for the new school year – his third year as Potions Professor at Hogwarts.
"Severus, I am sorry, but I need you to do me a favour today," he could hear the voice of his mentor, Albus Dumbledore, and went over to the fireplace to kneel down in front of the fire. "Could you please come to my office for a moment?"
Severus groaned inwardly, but answered, "Yes, Albus, I will be there shortly." He put away the parchments he had just been working on, pulled his black robes straight and left his quarters to head for the Headmaster's Office where he was greeted in the headmaster's usual lemon-drop manner. Hoping that the old wizard would come to the point quickly, he sat down and gave him an enquiring look.
Albus sighed and said, "Thank you for coming immediately, my boy. I am very sorry to disturb your preparations, but I really need your help in a certain matter…" he trailed off. Seeing the impatient expression on Severus' face, the Headmaster hurried to continue, "I am sure you know Arabella Figg, don't you, my boy?"
Severus nodded and motioned him to continue, so he went on, "I just got a report from her about Harry."
Severus straightened in his chair. Harry was his second cousin; although he had always hated his cousin James from the time when they had started Hogwarts, Harry was still a small child, about five years old if he had calculated correctly, and he had no reason to hate him. His mentor's voice brought his thoughts back to Hogwarts.
"… which is not too encouraging concerning little Harry. She told me that she has not seen him for a few weeks, and when she saw him the last time his face and arms were full of bruises and welts. When she asked Mrs. Dursley about it, she told her that Harry had fallen down the stairs, but somehow Arabella thinks it cannot be true and believes Harry might be mistreated there. Anyway, I am a bit worried about the boy, therefore I would like you to go over and have a quick check on him."
Severus rubbed his forehead as if to get rid of an approaching headache, sighed and relented. "Alright, I will go and check on the boy. I will report to you immediately after my return." He left the headmaster's office and returned to his quarters, where he changed his clothes into muggle attire before he stepped into the fireplace and shouted, "Arabella Figg's place."
Severus listened impatiently to the cat lady's babbling, before he walked over to the Dursleys' residence. On his knock, a small whale opened the door – a boy who looked about the same age but otherwise nothing like Harry must look at this age. Severus hadn't seen his second cousin now for four years, but as the little one had looked so much like his father, he could very well imagine how Harry looked now.
"I am here to speak to Harry Potter," he stated in a voice he normally used for his students, when they showed up for detentions.
"Ah, err… one moment please," the whale squeaked and screamed for his mother, who appeared and let out a gasp at the sight of Severus.
"You!" she screeched as well.
Severus however countered, "Hello to you too, Petunia. What about letting me into your house for a moment, or do you wish the whole street to listen to our conversation?"
Petunia quickly opened the door fully and grudgingly invited him into the kitchen. "I came to speak with Harry for a moment," Severus repeated, throwing the woman a stern glance.
Petunia was quick to explain that Harry was unavailable at the moment. "Oh, he is not here. He has gone to play with his babysitter, Mrs. Figg for the day."
Severus frowned and held his wand in the hand within seconds. At Petunia's loud gasp, he hissed angrily, "You know as well as I do that this is not true. The boy is not at Mrs. Figg's home, so he must be here, and you have exactly two possibilities: You either show me to his room immediately or you allow that I search every inch of your house. Be assured, it won't take me longer than two minutes to find the boy, no matter where he is."
At Severus' smirk, Petunia suddenly burst into tears. Pointing to the cupboard under the stairs, she sobbed. "I knew they would know, but Vernon, he… he… he hates him so much. Just go and look, and take him away from here." Petunia was caught in a sobbing fit.
Severus was at the cupboard's door in an instant. His 'Alohomora' broke all the locks in an instant. He quickly opened the door, waiting for a child to climb out. But no, nothing happened. 'What the h…,' he thought and carefully climbed into the small place, where he let out a gasp.
Huddled under a baby blanket, which Severus recognized as the one he had given Lily and James when Harry was born, was a very small child. It didn't move and Severus couldn't even hear a sound. Was it even alive?
Severus crawled over to the much-too-small baby mattress, where he could now hear the child's unnaturally loud breathing. He carefully took the child into his arms. The boy let out a small whimper when Severus moved him, obviously in pain. Putting a hand to his neck, Severus let out a sigh. The child felt very hot to the touch and his pulse was much too weak. Severus frowned. His small cousin seemed to be in a very bad condition. He quickly cast a Lumos Charm and saw that the boy's arms and legs were hanging from the body at strange angles and were full of bruises and welts. The child's cheeks were flushed, and dried blood covered the child's pale skin everywhere.
Hearing the boy's laboured breathing, Severus feared that a broken rib was puncturing the child's lung. He quickly checked on the small boy by waving his wand at him, confirming his assumption. Holding the unconscious boy as close and firmly as possible, he apparated away immediately and ran all the way from the apparition border up to the castle as fast as he could. Severus tried to move as evenly as possible in order not to harm the boy further. He hurried straight into the Hospital Wing and shouted for Madam Pomfrey, who fortunately came out of her office the second she heard him.
"What…" Whatever she intended to say was interrupted by her loud gasp. Hurrying over to the child Severus had put on the bed nearest to her office, she summarized his bad condition and threw a confused look at Severus.
"Who is this child?" she asked carefully, confused why the stern professor brought such a small child to her.
Severus smirked. "This, dear Poppy, is Harry Potter, who seems to have been battered by his own uncle."
Poppy rushed back to her office, fetched several potion phials, and turned to the child. "Severus, please fetch a bucket with lukewarm water and a clean cloth and start cleaning him. I don't think we have much time to spare." She waved her wand over Harry a few times, until she held three pages of notes in her hand to assess the child's condition.
"Oh my…" she mumbled to herself. "We must heal the broken ribs first as they are puncturing a lung.
While Severus cleaned the child up, Poppy started to heal the broken bones. Both of them worked intently on the child for about three hours before they had finished everything that could be done at the moment. Then they both sat down on two chairs Severus had pulled up next to the bed. Finally, Severus called a house elf to fetch the Headmaster and to bring tea for himself and the Healer, who obviously was shattered. Both of them looked sadly at the child until the Headmaster entered the Hospital Wing.
Poppy sighed and started to give Dumbledore a summary of what they had done for the child during the last three hours. Then she sighed again and said, "I am sorry, Albus, but his condition is still very bad. He is suffering from a bad infection, he has a dangerously high temperature, his eyes are probably irreparably damaged, and one of the bruises on his foot is so infected that I don't know if we will be able to save the foot. Apart from this, he is still unconscious. Maybe he will be able to see a bit, but not very well. He probably will survive, but I'm not sure yet; the only thing we can do now is wait." She slowly trailed off, and tears started to well in her eyes.
The Headmaster sunk down into a chair, mumbling to himself, "I placed him there, because I thought he would be safe with his relatives. Oh my…, what have I done to the poor boy?" He unconsciously pulled a lemon drop out of his robes pocket, popping it into his mouth.
Severus put a hand on the Headmaster's shoulder and said softly, "You couldn't have known, Albus." He sat back into his chair, losing himself in his thoughts.
As much as he had disliked James, he had always been good friends with Lily. 'Maybe I should have protested when Albus gave the baby to his relatives. But at that time I was a Death Eater, so it would have endangered the child even more,' he thought, trying to remember why he hadn't tried to convince the Headmaster to let him take Harry in.
"If Harry survives, I will take him in, Albus, just to let you know. As much as I have always hated my cousin, it is not Harry's fault and he is still my second cousin," he told the Headmaster firmly.
Dumbledore gave him a short nod, his blue eyes full of tears.
A week later, Harry's condition was still unchanged. Severus spent much time at his bedside, thinking about what the small child had to endure in spite of being only five years old.
At the Welcoming Feast, Minerva McGonagall worriedly eyed her young colleague; he looked as if he hadn't slept in days, although he seemed to hide it well. She, however, knew him too well to be misled. Was he ill?
"Severus," she addressed the professor behind the headmaster's back, "What is wrong with you? Are you ill?"
Severus slightly shook his head and whispered back, "Can we meet in Albus' office tonight after curfew? I would like to discuss something with the two of you."
Minerva agreed immediately, and Albus said, "That we will do, my dear boy."
Severus now tried to keep his thoughts at Hogwarts. Specifically, he thought about what he had to tell his new first years. The first House meeting took place directly after dinner. He didn't notice that Minerva was still watching him closely.
Later in the evening, Severus strolled through the empty halls of Hogwarts, his black robes billowing behind him. In the Headmaster's office Minerva and Albus were waiting for him. He refused the offered lemon drop with a glare in the headmaster's direction. Tonight, he didn't come to the office just for fun.
"I have to discuss something with you," Severus told the Headmaster sternly. "It is a very serious discussion, so please listen to me until I finish. I have thought about a plan, which involves going back four years into the past in order to save the lives of Lily and James and give Harry a second chance for a childhood."
In fact, Severus had thought about doing that for Lily for quite a while. He had known Lily from when they were children, and she had always been the only true friend he had possessed. However, the thought of a time travel had somehow seemed too unrealistic, especially as Severus didn't have an idea how to save his friend's life. If he just warned Lily and James about Peter betraying them, Voldemort would search and probably find a different way to kill them. Maybe he would even succeed in killing Harry at that time. Moreover, Severus didn't think that Albus would allow him easily to travel into the past in order to change the future.
However, with Albus feeling so guilty about Harry's bad condition, Severus was sure that the Headmaster wouldn't object to the idea now. While he was sitting at Harry's bedside during the last two weeks, he had a lot of time to think about the matter and had finally found a satisfying and relatively fool proof solution to the problem. He had also had enough time to consider a way to travel into the past and back.
Ignoring Minerva's gasp Severus continued to explain, "Last week, I have started researching Floo powder. I want to invent Floo powder, which can take me to the past and back to the future again. As soon as I have managed to invent this, I want to go back to the past." As shortly but precisely as possible, he explained to the two stunned professors what he intended to do.
"However," he continued, "I need help. I need someone to go with me; someone the Potters and my younger self know well. I don't intend to speak with the Potters in the past, but you never know exactly what will happen. Therefore, considering this point, I have thought about maybe asking Remus Lupin to accompany me; however, his condition might be a problem. That's all I have thought about so far. What do you think?"
The room remained silent for a few minutes, until Minerva spoke first. "Would it help, if I went with you?"
Severus' head shot up and he threw Minerva an astonished glance.
"You?" Albus asked, and the twinkle in his eyes had stopped for the moment.
"As eloquent as ever, Albus; Frankly speaking I had not thought about you going with me at all, but, YES, Minerva, it would help greatly, and I would appreciate your help very much."
Severus turned to Albus, "Headmaster, would it be possible for you to give us a letter for your younger self and ask him to let us stay at Hogwarts during the time we will be in the past? He would also have to know that he has to invite Minerva's younger self in order for her to know that her older self is running around in the castle as well as the young Remus Lupin in case we need his help. And we will need my younger self too."
Albus chuckled and said, "Of course, my dear boy, I will arrange everything with my younger self, and I am sure he will help you as much as he can. Under these circumstances, it might be a good idea to have Minerva with you, as she is the one person in the world I have and will always have the most confidence in. My younger self will believe any story she tells."
He remained pensive for a short moment, before he added, "Severus, nobody knows about this, so I must insist that you do not tell anyone about what I am going to tell you now, but Minerva is my wife. We have been married for about twenty years now." His eyes had returned to their normal twinkling selves.
Minerva could not hide a blush, and Severus smirked. "Oh, well, this is indeed a surprise. However, I'm very glad for you both as I've always imagined the two of you being a well fitting couple."
"Very well," Severus added and stood up from his chair. "Thank you for listening, understanding, and for your cooperation; I really appreciate it. I will have to invent the floo powder first, so I think it will be a few days, maybe weeks, until we can go. We should have another discussion in a few days, and maybe all of us can think a bit about everything, for example how long we should stay in the past and so on."
When the two older professors nodded their agreement, Severus bade them good night and left the Headmaster's office. On his way back to the dungeons, he went by the Hospital Wing in order to spend a few hours with Harry thinking about his plan as he had done every night during the last week.
Harry was shifting from a deep coma to a very slight unconscious state and was nearly ready to just fall into a deep sleep when he registered the presence of another person and a faint smell of herbs, which stirred something that was deep within his consciousness.
Severus was sitting on a chair next to the child's bed, lost in deep thoughts. However, suddenly he noticed that something had changed. Throwing a glance at Harry, he noticed that the boy was slightly moving his limbs. Was he conscious? Severus decided to talk to him, but what should he tell the child? He wouldn't even know who he was.
Harry heard a quiet, silky voice, speaking to him. It was so nice and calming and it told about Lily and James. Who were Lily and James? Oh, he remembered, they were his parents, but they had died when he was a baby. Wait; why was someone talking about his parents? Did that mean that he was dead now too? Had Uncle Vernon beat him so much that he finally could be together with his parents? Just the thought of his uncle sent him into a panic attack. He woke up and noticed that he couldn't breathe. But then again, the quiet, silky voice was there, and someone placed a cool hand on his burning forehead.
"Calm down, Harry; everything is alright; you are safe here," he heard the voice say, while the cool hand still rested on his forehead, and the slight smell of herbs surrounded him.
Harry slowly tried to open his eyes, but he could hardly see anything; everything he could see was black, until he finally could make out a face directly in front of his own. "Harry," the voice said again and continued, "you won't remember me, but I am your second cousin Severus; I am your father's cousin. You are safe here, and your Uncle Vernon is not here; everything is alright."
"Am I dead?" Harry croaked, wondering why he couldn't see properly.
Severus held his hand out to stop him and said, "Don't talk yet. Let me go and get you a glass of water; all right? Wait for a moment."
Harry could make out a tall black figure moving away from him, and before he was able to store all information, the figure came back again and held out something for him. "Drink it, Harry, it's water, and you'll feel better afterwards," he said and held the glass for Harry to prevent him drinking too greedily.
"Am I dead?" Harry repeated the question, noticing that the water indeed had helped and it was easier to talk now.
The silky voice, which felt so calming to Harry, could be heard again, when the man – what did he say was his name, cousin Sevus – explained, "No, Harry, you're not dead. However, your uncle hurt you very much. By chance, I found you and brought you here to Hogwarts, the school I am teaching at. Our Healer, Madam Pomfrey, healed you as far as she could."
Noticing Harry's confused look, Severus added, "You will never have to go back to the Dursleys, and if you want to you can stay with me in the future."
Harry looked down at his hands, which he could hardly see, trying to hide how much they were shaking, when he whispered, "But… but… I am only a freak and a burden, and nobody wants me."
Fortunately, Harry couldn't see the angry expression in Severus' face, when Severus said in a soft but firm voice, "Harry, you are neither a freak nor a burden, and I want you to live with me. However, you are still very ill and you'll have to stay here in the Hospital wing for a few more days or possibly weeks."
Harry gave Severus a small smile, but it did not reach his eyes; everything just hurt so much. Severus noticed the pain written clearly in his eyes and asked, "Harry, you're in pain, aren't you? Can you tell me where it hurts?"
Harry fidgeted in his bed and blushed. Nobody had asked him such a question before. What was he supposed to say? He cleared his throat and said, "I'm fine, sir."
Severus snorted and told him sternly, "Harry, I know that you are not fine at all, and I can only help you when you tell me exactly what hurts. But if you don't want to talk about it, I will get Madam Pomfrey for you. She'll check on you and be able to help you, all right?"
Harry threw him an unsure glance, and Severus said calmingly, "Everything is alright; Pomfrey is nice, she is the one who saved your life by healing you. However, when she asks you questions, you have to answer them in order for her to help you properly."
Harry gave him a small nod and asked in a small voice, "Will you stay with me, cousin Sevus?"
Severus smirked and corrected Harry softly, before he gave him an affirmative answer and went to fetch Poppy. On the way, he worried a bit about what Harry's reaction might be when he saw her using a wand, but then he remembered Harry's eyes being quite bad and dismissed the thought immediately.
Harry noticed quickly that Madam Pomfrey was very nice and really wanted to help him. Therefore, he was very forthcoming and was rewarded with several potions and a dreamless sleep potion as dessert. As soon as Harry was asleep, Severus hurried down to the dungeons to get a few hours of sleep, to continue his research on floo powder, and to start brewing the other potion he had invented a few weeks ago.
It took Severus four weeks to develop the powder he needed for travelling to the past and returning. The other potion was nearly ready too; it would only take three more days. One evening at dinner, he asked Albus and Minerva for a meeting at the Headmaster's office after curfew.
When the three professors met, he told the others, "Please watch the fireplace; a rat should be arriving through the Floo at about 10:30, although it is very difficult to predict the exact time."
The rat was one minute late and Severus sneered, "All right; there should be one more rat arriving in a few minutes."
Everyone stared into the fireplace, which indeed flared green after a few minutes, and a second rat arrived.
Albus' eyes were twinkling merrily. "Do I get it correctly, when I assume that you found the method for your travel, my boy?" he asked gently, and Severus gave him a relieved nod.
The three talked and planned for a few hours, and Minerva and Severus decided to travel on Saturday morning in order to give them leeway for their return over the whole weekend.
During the following days, Severus spent every evening with Harry in the Hospital wing. As he could not be 100 percent sure if he would be back safely during the weekend, he had decided on several precautions concerning Harry. One of them was to tell Harry about Magic. It took a few hours for Harry to understand that magic was real and that they were indeed wizards.
"Harry, I wanted to talk with you about something," Severus began to speak calmly, sitting down on the edge of the child's bed this time. Seeing that Harry was listening he continued, "I don't know if you have noticed that Madam Pomfrey is always using her wand when she checks on you."
"Her wand? What is a wand?" Harry asked apprehensively.
Severus put a hand on the boy's shoulder and explained, "Harry, you and I are wizards and Madam Pomfrey is a witch. We can all do magic with the help of a wand."
Shocked he noticed that Harry flinched back fiercely from his touch the instant Severus used the word 'magic'. "You know that magic is real, Harry, don't you? Have you never done any strange things other children couldn't do?" he asked softly, trying not to upset the boy any more.
"Magic doesn't exist, and it's bad, and only freaks like I do strange things," Harry mumbled in such a small voice that Severus could hardly understand his words. But he took in the boys' shaking hands, which he was trying to hide under his bed covers.
"Harry, please listen well to me. Magic exists and it's wonderful. Only due to Madam Pomfrey's magic you have recovered as much as you have by now. Magic is very good and helpful. And you are a very good boy. You're not a freak. Did your uncle tell you that?"
Harry gave Severus an anxious glance along with a small nod. "Your uncle is not a good man, Harry. Please believe me when I tell you that you're a precious little boy and that I'm sure you will become a very good and powerful wizard when you're big."
Severus once more put his hand onto Harry's shoulder, gladly noticing that the boy only flinched slightly but then finally even leaned into the touch.
On the next day, Severus introduced Albus Dumbledore to Harry and told him that he too was a good friend of his parents as well as the Headmaster of this school, and that Harry would be safe with him.
On Friday evening, Severus again sat down on the edge of Harry's bed. He carefully took Harry's small hand into his larger one, glad that the child didn't even flinch this time but instead positioned him so that he was a bit nearer to Severus. "Hello Harry, today I've good news," Severus told the boy. "I went to the Ministry of Magic and to your relatives today and gained the guardianship over you. Therefore, you can always stay here at Hogwarts with me and grow up as my son."
Harry's brilliant green eyes were twinkling merrily. "Thank you, Uncle Sevus. But are you sure that you really want me to live with you? I'm such a burden and I cost a fortune," he replied, obviously feeling very unsure.
Severus pulled Harry into a slight hug. "No, Harry, you're not a burden at all. Your uncle is very bad to tell you such things. I really want you to live with me, Harry.
Finally, Severus told the child that Minerva, the nice elder lady he had met the other day, who had conjured the stuffed dragon for him, which Harry was cuddling busily, would travel together with him to the past the next morning in order to try to save his parents' lives.
"However, we will try to be back tomorrow or the day after, and by then you will already know if we have succeeded. Please Harry," he continued, "don't speak to anyone except Albus about this, because he is the only one who knows about it and it should stay like this. Moreover, don't worry if I am not back tomorrow evening; maybe I will only be back the day after. However, Albus will come to visit you in the evening, and with him you may talk about anything you wish. Now try to sleep, my boy."
As soon as Harry was asleep, he headed back to the dungeons to confirm once more that everything he would need in the past was neatly stored in his trunk. Several Healing Potions, a few phials with his new Polyjuice potion, one package of Albus' latest type of lemon drops for Albus' younger self, one photo of the sick and battered Harry as well as copies of several newspaper clippings from four years ago. Remus had provided the news clippings after Albus had talked to him about the intended journey, and Remus had also given Severus a letter to his younger self, in which he explained everything to the four years younger Remus, asking for his cooperation.
This letter, however – as well as Albus' letter to the younger Headmaster Severus put into one of the many pockets of his robes he would be wearing the next day. He also put a Calming Draught, two Stomach Potions and two Headache Potions into another pocket as he didn't know how long this Floo travel would take and how they would feel afterwards. Finally, he fetched his Floo powder for coming back to the future and put one phial into his robes. Just to be on the safe side, although he always used unbreakable phials, he put another one into his trunk. The only thing Severus had to do when he was in the past was to add Elfin Hair, 1 mm for each day, and to mix it into the powder. The Floo powder they would use tomorrow was already waiting on the table. After putting a few robes and underwear into his trunk, he shut it, shrank it, and put it into another of his robes' pockets. Then he decided to sleep for a few hours and went to bed.
Before breakfast on Saturday morning, he once again paid Harry a short visit and reminded him to stay calm, whatever happened, as he would come back for him in any case. Harry gave him a sad, but trusting smile and slightly hugged him back, only flinching back a little when Severus pulled him into a hug, not letting the boy know how awkward he felt hugging someone.
After breakfast, Minerva and Severus joined Albus in his office to use his fireplace only to travel to the same fireplace in a different time. After a short glance at Minerva's face, Severus handed her the calming draught, asking, "Do you want it now or later, Minerva?"
Minerva blushed a little, took the phial and said, "Thank you, Severus," before she downed the potion and gave the empty phial to her husband to keep.
Albus handed both of them a silver necklace with a phoenix pendant and told them it was a Portkey which would take them to his office at Hogwarts at any time. The Headmaster gave each of them a hug and Minerva a kiss on the cheek, before he said, "Now, get into the fireplace together, please. You have to stay together, and I will throw the Floo powder for you. I've your spare Floo powder hidden at a safe place, and if you're not back by Christmas, I'll come after you to get you back."
Severus stepped into the fireplace and took Minerva, who joined him immediately, into his arms in order to be able to travel together. Albus threw the floo powder in and shouted, "Headmaster's office, Hogwarts!"
The world began to spin… and spin… and everything turned around and around – it was horrible and just didn't want to end. Severus said calmingly, "Close your eyes, Minerva, and try not to vomit your potion; I don't have any more calming draughts with me."
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