Severus Snape and the Muggle
Disclaimer: As I am sure you all must know, JK Rowling owns all of the wizarding characters in this story. It is all thanks to her that that I can use her characters for my own entertainment—and hopefully that of others. I am not making any sort of profit from this little venture into the world of Harry Potter. Erin, of course, is mine.
Harry Potter was back in his own private hell. Or more specifically, he was back at number 4 Privet Drive; the home of his only living relatives, the Dursleys. And those relatives were being even more obnoxious than usual. And that was certainly saying something.
From the moment Uncle Vernon had picked Harry up from Kings Cross Station at the beginning of the summer holidays, Harry could tell that things were not going to be pleasant—or even barely tolerable—for the next eight weeks.
Starting the holidays in the depressed frame of mind he was already in would have guaranteed that Harry would be more than miserable, even without his relatives anti-Harry attitudes, thank you very much.
So the committee of concerned friends that had greeted his arrival at Kings Cross Station with the specific intention of lecturing Uncle Vernon on the "rules" governing Harry's summer break, whilst lifting his heart a little, was the death knell to a break where he may have been left reasonably well alone. Uncle Vernon did not take well to threats, even from wizards. His home was his castle and he would act within that castle as he saw fit, even if some of those actions included the abuse of his nephew.
Harry had received a few hidings over the years, but not that many more, perhaps, than a lot of kids received from an irate parent. It was the mental and verbal abuse that so far in his life had caused the most damage. It had wormed its way deep into his psyche and, though, sensibly he now knew he was not a freak or abnormal, those highly nasty barbs had embedded deeply and over the years they had festered. Every summer, they would be reactivated by the relentless stream of nastiness that spewed from the mouths of his aunt and uncle and his cousin.
This year however, things were going to be different. Harry discovered this unpleasant fact as soon as he and the Dursleys had escaped the station and the platform full of 'freaks' and reached the car. After Harry had stowed his heavy, cumbersome trunk and his owl's empty cage in the boot of the car with no assistance from the two hulking males who stood and watched him, Uncle Vernon, checking to make sure there were no witnesses, gave Harry a back hander across the face that sent him sprawling onto the road, skinning his elbow and his cheek where they made contact with the dirty bitumen.
Dudley had stood there with a malicious smirk on his fat face as his enraged, purple-faced father had straddled Harry's cringing form and pointed a great sausage like finger into his shocked and bleeding face. 'Think you can have your mutant friends threaten me, do you boy? You'll be sorry you organised that little committee for "the protection of Harry Potter", you'll see if you're not. Now get up and get in the ruddy car and if you get any blood anywhere, it'll be all the worse for you.'
Harry had scrabbled around trying to find his glasses which had flown off when Uncle Vernon's meaty hand had made contact with his face. With no assistance from the Dursley's it had taken him a good two minutes to locate them—thankfully intact—and scramble into the back of the car next to Dudley. He had had to ask his aunt to pass some tissues back to him so that he could sop up the oozing blood from both his injuries. This she had done without looking at him, all the time staring out of the windscreen in prune-mouthed disapproval. Unlike Dudley she had shown no pleasure in Harry's treatment at the hands of her husband, but she had done nothing to stop it either.
Now, five days on, things had gotten steadily worse for Harry. He always had a great long list of chores to do on a daily basis during the summer break but this year, Uncle Vernon had invented work that did not really need doing, both inside the house and in the garden. Painting the basement was one such task and it had taken Harry three days to finish. His uncle would inspect the work at intervals over that first weekend, always finding fault and always meting out corporal punishment as a result.
After that first blow in London, the huge man had come to his senses enough to realise that it was best to apply his fists to the parts of Harry's body where the resultant damage would not show. Harry was sure his ribs were bruised at the very least because he found it difficult to take a deep breath without pain slicing through him.
Dudley of course, no stranger to the game of "Flail the Freak", followed his father's lead, and punched Harry on the arms or in the stomach whenever he happened to be near. The one time Harry had retaliated against his much larger cousin, Uncle Vernon had given his nephew his worst beating so far.
When Aunt Petunia unlocked Harry's bedroom door on the fifth morning of the summer in hell, and ordered him to get up in her cold, emotionless voice before stalking off, Harry finished his contemplation of the ceiling and closed his burning eyes in resignation.
Once again, he had only dozed fitfully, too frightened to sleep properly because of the dream that had plagued him for the last two weeks. Last night, however, Harry had been so tired that he had finally succumbed to sleep. Despite fighting the temptation with all his might, his mental and physical exhaustion finally overpowered his will. The dream had been waiting to pounce as soon as his conscious mind shut down, like a malevolent beast waiting patiently for its prey to stumble into its clutches.
The dream, as usual, featured a stone amphitheatre with a raised dais in the middle. The dais was topped by a crumbling stone archway, the opening of which was covered by a ragged veil that fluttered infinitesimally in an indiscernible breeze. The silence was eerie.
Suddenly, the chill room was full of furiously duelling people, their wands nothing but blurs as they threw hexes and curses, and tried to dodge the multi hued lights that the wands of their opponents emitted. But the two people fighting on the platform were the ones Harry's eyes were always drawn towards. With his heart in his throat, he again saw the tall, wasted, dark haired man laughing and goading his opponent; he saw him being struck by a curse in the middle of his chest.
And Harry would once again watch, a silent scream depriving him of much needed oxygen as the man slowly, almost balletically fell backwards in a graceful arc, through the ragged veil which then seemed to sigh its approval before falling back into its soft folds.
That was always the point when Harry was able to release the trapped scream; and his anguish was just as heart rending every night he relived the scene as it had been when he had witnessed the real event. Unable to rouse himself from the fresh horror, Harry had screamed for his Godfather; he had screamed until his throat was on fire and his uncle had come stumping in and pummelled his nephew in the stomach and ribs, and then for good measure—and forgetting his self imposed restriction—he had punched Harry in the face. Harry had seen that ham of a hand coming towards him through tear glazed eyes and had managed to move his head slightly, thereby saving himself the agony of a broken nose. His cheek did not fare too well though, and agony sliced through him every time he moved the muscles in his face.
After Uncle Vernon had stormed out and Aunt Petunia, lips again invisible, had firmly closed and relocked the door, Harry had dragged himself painfully from his bed and had spent the remaining hours of darkness sitting on a chair in front of the window, gazing at the night sky and wondering, through the fresh haze of pain that engulfed him, which of the myriad stars was Sirius.
Only after the sky had turned from black to grey had Harry dared to lay down again. But though he had closed his eyes, deep, refreshing sleep had eluded him. Even if he had not been too frightened to sleep, his battered and aching body would have prevented any real rest.
Now, when Harry attempted to sit up after his aunt's unwelcome appearance, he gasped and fell back again, wrapping his arms around his ribcage and taking shallow breaths until the searing pain faded to what he imagined a knife between his ribs might feel like, instead of a broad sword. Harry felt sure that last night's pummelling from his uncle may have resulted in his already bruised ribs breaking, and slouching in the chair most of the night had not helped. His face, too, still throbbed horribly with every movement he made.
Gritting his teeth against the pain—and showing the grit and determination that had been the reason the Sorting Hat had put him into Gryffindor—Harry eventually managed to force himself upright. His first and most pressing need was a painful trip to the bathroom where he attended to his ablutions. Then he carefully descended the stairs and entered the kitchen where his aunt sat at the table, reading one of the more lurid gossip magazines, and drinking a cup of tea.
Petunia eyed her nephew coldly, ready to launch into him for taking so long to appear. But the sight of Harry's pale, strained face with its bruised and swollen cheek, courtesy of Vernon's parting punch, made her curb her tongue and instead, she just indicated with an abrupt movement of her head that he get on with cooking the breakfast.
Harry's muscles had loosened up enough to enable him to have Vernon's breakfast on the table before he appeared dressed and ready for work. He had been unable to face any food himself, and was washing the pan in hot, soapy water when Vernon sat down. Luckily, Vernon's tactic that morning was to pretend Harry was invisible and that was exactly the way Harry preferred it. He was surprised though, that the man could not feel the waves of pure hatred that emanated from him.
When he turned to leave the kitchen, Petunia broke off her conversation with her husband and spoke sharply to Harry. 'I want your sheets washed today, so strip your bed. And I want that disgusting bird's cage cleaned out too. You can smell it down in the entrance hall, filthy creature that it is.'
'Yes, Aunt Petunia,' came the oft recited mantra. Harry got out before Vernon could add his two bobs worth.
If Harry had hoped that his uncle would forget to leave a list of chores for him that day, he was sadly mistaken. Now that the basement was finally finished to Vernon's satisfaction, he had found plenty of jobs for Harry to do outside. When Harry had returned downstairs with his arms full of linen, Petunia had indicated the list on the door of the fridge. Harry read it and groaned. There was enough work here to keep him busy for at least a week, and he was sure Vernon intended him to do it in much less time than that. Even a week would have been pushing it in the physical condition that he was in at the moment.
So, knowing he had no choice, Harry had started off by weeding the flower beds in the back yard, and was painfully turning the soil with the spade when Dudley finally made an appearance. Dudley, unlike Harry was allowed to sleep in as long as he liked, so Harry rarely saw him before midday; a circumstance that Harry could not mourn. As it was now only eleven fifteen when the gargantuan boy lumbered across the lawn towards Harry, a great stack of toast balanced on one hand and the other stuffing a slice in his mouth, Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise, then winced when his cheek objected to even that movement. He continued doggedly with his task, the sun beating down on his unprotected head and neck.
'Put a bit of backbone into it, Potter.' Harry could only understand the sneering words, even though they were spoken through a mouth bulging with toast, because he had become something of an expert at translating Dudley's unique language, as his cousin's mouth was usually packed to exploding point. He made a show of wiping soggy toast crumbs off his face, but Dudley just laughed and held the stack out and waved it under Harry's sunburnt nose.
Harry automatically slapped the hand away and the toast went flying and landed in the dirt. Because of his sore ribs, he was not fast enough to duck Dudley's fist and the next thing Harry knew, he was flying backwards after the fist connected with his stomach with the force of a battering ram.
He was lying there gasping and trying to get his breath back when Aunt Petunia stood over him and informed him that if he was so blasé about wasting perfectly good food, he could go without lunch.
As Harry had had no desire for food for at least two weeks, he was not particularly fussed by this edict, but by two-thirty that afternoon when he was working in the front garden, he was sorry for his rash actions that morning, as no lunch also meant nothing to drink. And he was extremely thirsty. He couldn't even sneak into the house to get a drink as Aunt Petunia had gone out and locked all the doors, telling him that she would be back in a couple of hours. He had tried drinking out of the front tap but the water was hot and would take forever to cool to barely tepid, and he had seen Mrs Fraser over the road looking at him askance through her front window for wasting water during the current restrictions. He reluctantly turned the tap off. He wouldn't put it past the miserable old bat to ring the inspectors. He miserably returned to his task of weeding around the azaleas in the side garden.
Harry didn't know how long he had been weeding, but when he stood to empty the bucket of weeds into the green waste bin, a wave of dizziness assailed him. To steady himself, he grabbed hold of the fence that divided the Dursley property from number 6 and leaned his head on his outstretched arms. He did not see the canary yellow Volkswagen putter into the driveway of number 6; he was too busy trying to stop himself from passing out.
'Are you all right?'
Harry vaguely registered the voice, but it wasn't until he felt a hand on his sweaty back that he shot upright in shock. He moved so quickly, his senses reeled even faster and he had to grab hold of the fence again, or fall over.
Harry heard, 'Here, come and sit down,' and someone was guiding him off the hot concrete onto the cooler lawn and forcing him to sit and put his head down over his crossed legs. Harry floated in and out of a haze, trying desperately to hold onto some semblance of consciousness. He vaguely heard that same voice say something else; he couldn't understand what, and then, someone was kneeling behind him and had their hand on his burning forehead and was gently pulling his head back and pouring something cold into his mouth.
It was a second or two before Harry realised that it was water—cold, delicious water, and then he started to gulp. More ended up down his chin and soaked into his T-shirt, than in his mouth, but the voice said, 'slow down,' and Harry obeyed.
Finally, the flow stopped and Harry opened his eyes. For a moment, he saw white sunbursts as the bright light assailed them. He took his glasses off and attempted to wipe the sweat from around his eyes with an equally sweaty, and decidedly grubby hand.
'Here.' The person poured some of the water over his head and after the initial shock where he caught his breath then grunted as his ribs objected, the cold was bliss. He rubbed his hands over his face—very gingerly over his swollen cheek, then dried it with the bottom of his overlarge T-shirt. He had dropped his glasses but before he could start to fumble around for them, they were placed in his hand. He quickly put them on. Now, he could see his saviour.
A very attractive woman who looked to be in her late twenties was kneeling beside Harry. She smiled. 'Hi there.'
Harry made to scramble to his feet but the woman put a restraining hand on his knee. 'Stay still for another couple of minutes, or you'll fall flat on your face.' She smiled again as she peered into Harry's tired, dark rimmed eyes. He saw her eyes narrow as they focused on his grazed and swollen cheek. He turned his head away from her and as he gaze roved about in an embarrassed attempt to avoid looking at the woman, he saw the car parked next door.
Harry's brow creased in confusion. The Hansons, a couple in their fifties lived at number 6 and they drove a metallic blue Ford Escort as far as Harry knew. They were the only neighbours who ever smiled or said hello to Harry when they saw him and this fact alone made them persona non grata as far as the Dursleys were concerned.
Gathering his Gryffindor courage, Harry turned to look at his rescuer. 'Umm, thanks a lot for the water. I didn't realise I had been out in the sun for so long.'
'You should have been wearing a hat and sunscreen. But even with those aids, it's still not a good idea to be out in the hottest part of the day.' She grinned. 'Mad dogs and Englishmen, you know.' And at Harry's obvious confusion, she added, 'Noel Coward.'
'Oh.' Harry felt stupid. He had heard the saying, of course. It was just that he had not expected to have it tossed at him in the middle of the Dursley's lawn by a beautiful redhead that he didn't know from Adam. Or Eve, for that matter.
Harry made a move to get up. When the woman looked like she might forestall him again, he said quickly, 'I think I'll be OK now,' and he scrambled to his feet. Unfortunately, he could not suppress a gasp of pain as the twisting movement to get to his knees before pushing to his feet made his sore ribs object strenuously again.
The woman, who was now standing beside him, looked concerned. 'Are you sure you're all right?'
'I'm fine,' and when that sounded a bit abrupt, Harry quickly added. 'Thanks again.'
'Would you like me to help you inside?'
Harry's face went even redder under his sunburnt skin. 'Um…well…the thing is, my aunt has gone out and she's locked the doors. She didn't think I'd be home till much later.'
'So you decided to weed the garden in thirty degree heat instead of sitting and waiting on the front porch.'
Harry looked away, embarrassed and uneasy. If the Dursleys found out he was being questioned by…by whom? Who was this woman? 'It needed doing,' he mumbled inanely. And then, because curiosity had gotten the better of him and he needed to change the subject, he asked, 'Are you staying with the Hansons?'
The woman smiled. If she knew he was changing the subject, she let it slide. 'Not with the Hansons, no. They're in Australia, staying with their son. They've been gone for about two months now and should be away for at least another four. I'm their daughter, Erin and I'm house sitting for them.' She held out her hand and Harry automatically shook it. 'And if Mrs Dursley is your aunt, you must be Harry.'
Harry goggled at her and she laughed. 'My mum and dad told me all about the neighbours before they left. You're the only one I haven't met.'
'Oh,' said Harry, and he felt like a total pillock. He wanted to know what the Hansons had told their daughter about the neighbours, but he was too afraid to ask.
'Look,' said Erin. 'It's too hot to stay out here and I was looking forward to a cold glass of coke after a terribly stressful day's shopping.' She took Harry's arm in a firm grip and began to guide him across the lawn towards number 6. 'You can't get inside your house, so you can keep me company until your aunt gets home. Harry moved like an automaton. He didn't have the strength to resist the determined woman guiding him along.
Before he knew it, Harry was standing next to the yellow "beetle" and was being loaded up with shopping bags that Erin was dragging out of the car. "Shopping is thirsty work even inside an air-conditioned mall,' she prattled on and when she ushered him into the cool entrance hall of number 6, he nearly sagged with relief. It was so good to be out of the sun. His skin was already tightening up painfully.
Erin unburdened Harry of his load and placed the bags at the foot of the stairs. Then she gently pushed him towards a shut door at the end of the hallway. 'That's the downstairs bathroom. Go and have a cool wash. The towel and face washer are fresh.' She waved her hand around airily. 'This is a mirror image of your aunt and uncles house so I'm sure you'll find the kitchen.' Her beautiful smile lit her face again. 'Take your time.' The woman was a force to be reckoned with and at the moment Harry had neither the will, nor the inclination to argue with her. He gazed after her as she headed for the kitchen, liking the way the filmy green top floated around her and the short white skirt allowed two shapely calves to be displayed to advantage as she walked away from him.
Harry shook his head bemusedly as he opened the bathroom door. Maybe he was hallucinating and he would find himself in the Dursley's fussy downstairs bathroom. But after dashing cool water over his hot face, the bathroom retained its pristine white tiles and fittings and its sunny yellow walls; a nice fresh change from aunt Petunia's apricot floral wallpaper and the fussy mirror with bits of dried flora stuck to it hanging above the hand basin, and the bowls of little soaps and coloured cotton wool balls occupying the glass shelf below the mirror. Aunt Petunia loved knick knacks, and there was crap everywhere you looked in the house Harry had to call home every summer. He found he liked the minimalist décor of number 6 a lot better.
Five minutes later, Harry entered the kitchen. His quick glimpse of the living room as he walked past showed him that like the bathroom, the walls were painted rather than wallpapered, the floor was polished timber instead of shag pile carpet and the furniture was light and comfortable looking rather than bulky and floral. Best of all, of course, was the fact that Dudley's beach ball head wasn't staring at him from every square inch of wall. The dining alcove and the kitchen reflected the same light airiness as the rest of the house.
His very attractive saviour was standing at the kitchen bench constructing a huge sandwich. It was a few seconds before she realised that Harry was there and he had time to study her unobserved. She was slender and petite, maybe an inch or two shorter than he was (somehow, over the school year he had grown about five inches) and her skin had a healthy golden tan. Her hair was a beautiful golden red—lighter than the Weasley red—and it was caught back in a high pony tail that fell to her shoulder blades. Earlier he had seen that her eyes were green, not the deep emerald green of his own eyes but a lighter green that reminded Harry of the colour of the water in the lake at Hogwarts, just below the surface where the sun penetrated—a sort of a misty, dappled green. In short, she was one of the prettiest women Harry had ever met. In fact, she reminded him of a more mature Ginny Weasley in a lot of ways.
Erin looked up at that moment and smiled widely at Harry. He saw that she wasn't really like Ginny, except for the fact that they were both petite. Ginny's skin was paler and her eyes were brown. Erin had more freckles and of course her hair was lighter.
'I thought you might be hungry,' she said in a matter of fact voice. And for the first time in many days, Harry found he did actually feel hungry. Two tall glasses of Coke sat fizzing on the table, blocks of ice bobbing on the surface of the black liquid. His hostess indicated that Harry sit down and then she joined him and placed the delicious looking sandwich in front of him. 'You need fattening up.' She grinned. 'You just need a bit of meat on your bones and the girls will be beating down your door. Or are they doing that already?'
Harry thought his head would explode, he was so embarrassed. Erin looked a little chagrined. 'Sorry, Harry. I always start talking before I put my brain into gear. I didn't mean to embarrass you.'
Harry's didn't want her to be embarrassed on his account. His mouth quirked at the corner in a half smile. 'That's OK. You didn't embarrass me,' he lied.
She beamed at him and indicated that he start his sandwich. He had never tasted anything quite so delicious. She watched with satisfaction as he quickly polished off the first half of the huge dagwood that was made up of multi-grained bread and generous amounts of ham and cheese, tomato and lettuce. When he finished, he reached for his drink and drained half the contents. He rarely had soft drink and he found the cola delicious and refreshing.
He had just put his glass back on the table when a sleek, small cat jumped up onto the chair next to him. Harry smiled and reached across and stroked her head. When she gently butted his hand, he transferred his attention to under her chin where he scratched until she began to purr loudly and contentedly. She was very pretty with pumpkin coloured eyes, and she was jet black. She also had a luxurious bottlebrush tail that Crookshanks would be envious of.
'This is Pumpkin, Harry. And you've just made yourself a friend for life. She just loves to have her chin scratched but it has to be done just so…and it looks like you have the magic touch.' Harry's hand jerked at the mention of the word 'magic' but Pumpkin quickly distracted him by planting herself on his lap and settling in for the long haul, kneading herself a comfortable spot with her front paws.
'She's beautiful,' said Harry, grinning at the cat. 'Pumpkin's a perfect name for her with those orange eyes.'
'My exact sentiments when I first saw her. It could be nothing else but Pumpkin.' Harry laughed. He kept his eyes on the cat for a few seconds before glancing up through his messy, still slightly sweaty fringe. He was curious.
'Umm…your mum and Dad have lived here for about eight years. I don't remember seeing you before, though.'
Erin took a sip of her drink. 'That's because when Mum and Dad moved here from Essex, I decided I'd head out to Australia to stay with my older brother and his wife and kids for a while. I met my husband over there and settled down for what I thought was forever.' She shrugged. 'Forever turned out to be less than three years. I stayed there for a while longer because of my job, but I was getting home sick for England.
'I've been back for six months now and when Mum and Dad decided to finally bite the bullet and go for the promised long visit, I said I would house sit while they were away.'
Harry looked down at his plate. The rest of his sandwich was waiting patiently to be eaten, but Harry was no longer hungry. He started rolling some crumbs together under his finger. Pumpkin butted his other hand and he automatically started scratching under her chin again.
'I'm sorry about your marriage,' Harry mumbled and Erin smiled and reached over and squeezed his hand.
'Thanks, Harry. That's really nice of you but I'm totally over it now.' She saw Harry wince slightly when she squeezed his hand. Instead of relinquishing it when his face reddened with embarrassment, she turned it over and forced his fingers open. She had put pressure on a broken blister that had developed on the palm of his hand from all his digging that morning. Erin winced in sympathy.
'Ouch. That looks sore. Finish your sandwich and I'll get something to put on it.'
'No, really its fine,' protested Harry but Erin ignored him and jumped up from her chair. She crossed the kitchen to forage in the high cupboard over the stove top. Harry sighed but he took another bite of his sandwich as per her instructions. He had to admit that even though he was embarrassed by the unsolicited attention, it was quite nice to be made a fuss off for a change.
Erin came back and placed two tubes of ointment on the table. 'When you've finished eating, we'll attend to your war wounds. That includes your sunburn.'
Harry took another small bite of the sandwich and chewed mechanically. If the truth were known, he was feeling really full all of a sudden. He supposed his stomach had shrunk because he had hardly eaten anything at all lately.
Harry eyed the two tubes of ointment warily. How was he going to get out of this without hurting his new friend's feelings. He picked up his drink and gulped the remainder down.
Erin plonked herself down in Pumpkin's vacated chair and she pulled it closer to Harry. Without preamble, she peeled his hand off the wet glass he was now clutching and tried to turn it over. Harry resisted and Erin looked at him and laughed teasingly. 'Oh, come on Harry. Be a brave boy. I'm not going to hurt you.'
Harry flushed even redder than his sunburn. He felt about four years old. 'That's not the problem,' he said, more than a little peeved that she would think he was scared. 'Of course I'm not scared you'll hurt me.' He twisted his hand out of her grip and quickly tickled the top of Pumpkin's head to cover his abrupt rejection of her help. Erin looked at him questioningly.
'It's just…well it's just that I'm allergic to a lot of things and I have to be really careful about anything that I might want to use.' He looked up at her through his messy fringe. 'But it's really cool of you to try to help me. I really appreciate it,' he hurriedly tacked on.
'Umm, that's a pretty lame story, Harry,' said Erin, eyeing him sceptically. But she smiled to take any sting out of her words. 'My experience of boys of all ages is that they will do or say anything to avoid being fussed over or coddled.'
Harry looked miserably at the remains of his sandwich. 'No, really. I promise you that I would use the cream if I could.'
Erin reached over and took up one of the two tubes. 'OK Harry, I believe you. But this stuff for your sunburn should be OK to use. It's practically pure aloe vera and I've never heard of anyone being allergic to aloe vera. It's really mild and gentle and natural. And it works wonders for the pain of sunburn.' Erin twisted the small tube in her hands and Harry watched her movements with a frown on his face.
'Why weren't you wearing a hat Harry? And why didn't you use sun screen?' She ducked her head so that she could see Harry's eyes, hidden beneath his fringe. 'And how did you get that bruise on your face?'
'I fell over,' said Harry, way too quickly to be convincing. He pushed himself up from the chair, forgetting Pumpkin for a second and tipping her unceremoniously onto the floor. She looked at him reproachfully before stalking off in high dudgeon. 'Thanks for the sandwich and the drink Miss Hanson. You've been great, but I'd better get home. My aunt should be back by now.' Before Erin could respond, Harry was walking (rather stiffly, as his muscles had started to seize up again now that he had been sitting for a while) down the hall to the front door. Erin followed him.
When Harry pulled the door open, she put her hand on his arm to stop him hurrying off. 'It's been really great meeting you, Harry.' She put the tube of aloe vera in his hand and closed his fingers over it. 'Take this with you and try it on a tiny bit of skin on your arm first. If you don't have a reaction, slather it on after your shower. It really works.' Harry nodded his thanks and stuffed the tube into a capacious pocket of Dudley's old cargo pants.
He had taken two steps when Erin said, 'Oh and Harry…' Harry looked back. 'Please, call me Erin.'
Harry smiled, some of his tension melting away. He nodded his head in acknowledgement but he was surprised to see the smile fade from Erin's face and a coolness enter her eyes that he had not seen before. She was looking past Harry. He spun around. Dudley and two of his bullying, toe rag cronies, Piers and Malcolm were standing at the end of the little pathway that led to the Hanson's front door. All three had lascivious smirks on their gormless faces. Harry groaned inwardly. Great, he thought. Just what I need. Dudley will tell his mum and dad I'm friendly with the new neighbour and I'll really be in for it.
Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had been livid when the older Hansons had obviously not believed their story that Harry was a juvenile delinquent who could not be trusted, and had continued to be nice to him. To add insult to injury, it was quite apparent that it was Dudley that they believed to be the delinquent. This opinion had put the pleasant couple forever beyond Vernon and Petunia's forgiveness, a circumstance for which the Hansons cared not one whit.
'Good afternoon Ms Hanson,' said Dudley in his smarmiest voice. 'I see you've met my cousin.'
Determined not to play the horrible boy's game, Erin answered sweetly. 'Good afternoon, Dudley…boys. Yes, Harry and I met this afternoon. I must say, he was working like a navvy, so I thought I would offer him a drink. Your mother seems to inadvertently have locked him out of the house.' Harry closed his eyes and groaned softly. Erin could not know that Harry would be lucky to survive the night when word of this conversation got back to Uncle Vernon—and it would.
Erin continued, blithely unaware of Harry's dilemma. 'I was surprised you weren't helping Harry, Dudley? The work could have been done in half the time and then maybe Harry could have joined you and your friends on this fine summer's afternoon and had some fun. You look like you've been enjoying yourself.'
Dudley's smile had slipped a little but he hitched it back into place quickly. 'Harry was being punished Miss, and Mum locked him out of the house while she went shopping because he can't be trusted not to steal stuff. You know he goes to "St Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal boys".'
Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously as he glared at Dudley and his fists clenched at his sides. How dare Dudley make a fool of him in front of Erin. What if she believed him? Would he ever be able to have a friend in the muggle world without Dudley spoiling everything? The anger welled up uncontrollably and when he took a step towards the three bigger boys, his fury and frustration seemed to erupt out of him with a force that made the three bullies stagger back several steps, their hair and clothes blowing wildly around them and the bushes lining the driveway behind them swaying frantically as if in the path of a violent gale. Dudley's two bodyguards looked around, their gormless faces as shocked as Erin's was at the sudden change in the atmosphere. But Dudley was backing away from his cousin, his face slack with sudden fear. He pointed a shaking finger at Harry who was now standing as if turned to stone, his face pale under the sunburn.
'I…I'll tell Dad," he stuttered.
When Erin came back to the moment and tried to put her hand on Harry's arm to let him know she did not believe a word Dudley had uttered, he pulled away, said a curt, 'Thanks again Miss Hanson,' without looking at her then stalked quickly past Dudley and his cohorts in crime. Erin followed his progress with worried eyes.
Hi All. I hope you have this first chapter of Severus Snape and the Muggle. You might wonder why it is titled thus, when our esteemed Potions Master had yet to make an appearance, other than in Harry's less than complimentary thoughts.
Fear not. Dear Severus will eventually feature prominently in this work of fiction.
I would love to hear from you all, so feel free to leave a review. They feed my soul.