Snape had sat at the head table during dinners for the past week unable to find a way to approach Harry. He'd tried a couple times but would end up snapping at the poor boy and then sending him away.
How was he supposed to reach a boy that he'd made miserable for a year? How was he supposed to change everything?
Perhaps it was his good luck that Harry Potter had a penchant for landing himself in troublesome situations. It gave him the perfect opportunity to approach the boy. If only that opportunity didn't come at the risk of the child's health and welfare.
Imagine, trying to get past all manner of enchantments and protections when you knew that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was waiting for you around the next bend. Of all the absurd things Snape had seen children do in his tenure at Hogwarts, this took the prize.
Harry Potter needed a refresher course in self-preservation or he wasn't going to live past the age of fourteen. Snape smoothed out his robes and came to a decision, Potter was in need of a reminder all right, he looked at the door of the hospital wing where Harry had been unconscious for quite some time now, and as soon as the child woke up he was in for a surprise. He would learn that his scrawny neck… and green eyes that looked so much like Lily's, were worth more than a Sorcerer's Stone.
Snape went up to the hospital wing, the next morning, waiting until after Dumbledore had left before going in to check on Harry. The boy was sitting up, looking pleased. Snape knew that the older wizard had told the boy just enough for him to piece his ideas together.
"Good morning Mr. Potter," Snape spoke startling the boy.
"G-good morning P-professor," Harry stammered.
Snape pulled up a chair and sat down, as much as he didn't want to, he had promised Lily that he would protect Harry and that Harry would not go back to his relatives.
"I'm going to ask you a question and then I may tell you something. I expect an honest answer; do you understand Mr. Potter?" Snape asked his voice stern.
"Yes, sir," Harry nodded.
"Do your relatives abuse you?" Snape was blunt.
"I…how did you…" Harry's eyebrows furrowed. "What do you care…sir?"
"Who says I care Mr. Potter; perhaps it's merely morbid curiosity. Now, answer the question," Came Snape's sarcastic response.
Harry looked away, not wanting to answer but knowing that he had to. He thought about lying, about telling Snape to go away but like Hermione, he knew that Snape could very well be his last chance.
"Yes, sir they do," Harry finally answered looking down at his hands instead of meeting the professor's dark eyes.
Snape's jaw clenched, the thought of anyone hurting Lily's baby was enough to make him want to hurt someone himself. He took a deep breath and steadied himself; once his emotions were back under control he looked at the boy.
"Very well then…Harry, I shall tell you something. You may not like it but it is true and you will remain quiet until I am done, and when I am done you will be civil. Do I make myself clear?" Snape asked.
Harry nodded, too stunned at hearing his first name come out of the mouth of his most hated professor to say anything. Snape nodded back, more of a curt tilt of the head than an actual gesture of acceptance.
"When I was… a child, I met a girl whom I later discovered was a witch. We both went to Hogwarts and later began dating. When we were in our fifth year we became engaged but halfway through our sixth year our engagement was dissolved."
Snape glared down at the boy, seeming to dare him into saying something. Harry looked back at him confused, not knowing what to say even if he dared. When there was nothing forthcoming Snape took a deep breath.
"The girl married another boy from our year, someone from her house," Snape was interrupted.
"What house was she in?" Harry asked, unable to stop himself.
Snape sighed, "No questions Mr. Potter."
"Sorry sir," Harry blushed.
"The couple was Gryffindor and they were married here. The witch and I became friends again despite her husband's protest. I visited them and one day, she asked me that if anything was to happen to them and the child's godfather, if I would watch over the baby. A week later they were killed."
Snape saw no reason to tell the boy his godfather was in Azkaban prison. He could see the unasked question nearly pouring off of Harry. He didn't want to tell the boy who the girl was but he knew it was important. He knew who she was, was the reason he was in the hospital wing to begin with.
"The witch was Lily Evens who later become Mrs. James Potter," Snape finished.
Harry's mouth dropped open, his eyes showing his shock and disbelief. He shook his head, finding it hard to comprehend what was being said.
"If you loved my mom then why do you hate me?" Harry asked, hating himself for the tears that were pricking his eyes.
"It's not you that I hate," Snape answered, saying no more.
Harry didn't ask any more questions, knowing they wouldn't be appreciated. He looked away, allowing both himself and Snape to get control of their emotions.
"There's more Mr. Potter. Are you ready to listen?"
Harry nodded his head once again and looked over at the wizard. He still didn't understand why Snape was telling him all of this but he was soon to find out.
"As I said, a week after my visit they were killed and I was ready to take the child, you, into my life. I had promised Lily that I would protect you at all costs and I was so willing."
"Then why didn't you sir?" Harry asked, anger finding its way into his voice. "Why was I sent to my aunt and uncle? Why didn't you ever check up on me? Where were you?"
Harry got out of bed and paced. His anger was up and nothing could get it down. Snape let him rant.
"They hate me and always hurt me and no cares! No one came to check up on me! Not even when I did accidental magic! No one cared when my uncle… hurt me! Where were you? I hate you! I hate you more then you hate me! You are a stupid, sodding, greasy git!"
Snape stood up and reached Harry in three strides. He quickly spun the boy around and laid four quick swats to his backside.
SWAT, SWAT, SWAT, SWAT "OW!"
Harry couldn't stop the yelp that came from his lips. He looked up his potions professor, his anger being replaced with embarrassment as he realized what he had said and what Snape had done.
"You will be wise to keep a civil tongue in your head while you still have one," Snape said silkily.
"Y-yes, sir," Harry stammered out.
Snape ushered Harry back to bed and sat back down in his seat.
"To answer your question Mr. Potter, I didn't keep you as promised because it was too dangerous a time. Yes, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was gone, but there were still Death Eaters willing to do his bidding. The headmaster felt it best if you were placed with your relatives."
Harry looked down at his hands feeling even more mortified at hearing the answer to his questions. On the other hand… "Would you have kept me sir?" He asked quietly.
"If I could have I would have, which brings me to why I am telling you all of this. You shouldn't have to go back to your relatives. Your mum left a note stating that she wanted you with me. I still have proof of that note. If you'd like you can come with me," Snape informed the stunned boy. "However there will be rules and consequences; one of them being spankings. With that said you will be punished for endangering your life and that of your friends."
Harry turned a nice shade of red and wiggled on the bed. His backside stung a bit from the four swats already. He didn't know what he wanted. All year long Snape had made his life miserable! Then again if his mum trusted the wizard… then so should he… right?
"I'd like to go with you sir." Harry stated, stunning both himself and Snape.
"Alright then Harry, I will make it happen, until then come with me," Snape led the way to Madam Pomfrey's private office which he'd had the forethought to ask to use before talking with Harry.
Snape shut the door and put a silencing charm up so that Harry wouldn't be more embarrassed than necessary. He pulled out a chair and sat down, pulling Harry to stand before him.
He gently held the boy's chin in his head and forced the child to look at him. "While a spanking may not feel good for a little while, I will never hurt you the way your relatives have. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," Harry whispered, having no choice but to trust the older wizard.
Snape guided the boy over his lap and quickly bared him. He heard Harry gasp but nothing more came. He could see a tremor make its way down the boy's back. He didn't make Harry wait long.
Snape raised his hand and brought it down with a loud crack. Harry let out another gasp, sucking air quickly through his teeth, more a reaction to the surprise of the sound than any pain he may have felt, but he made no other noise. Snape waited until the boy's upturned backside was a slight pink before starting to lecture.
"You" SWAT "do not" SWAT "put yourself" SWAT "in danger." SWAT "Should" SWAT "there ever be" SWAT "a next time" SWAT "you will" SWAT "find" SWAT "an adult" SWAT "immediately." SWAT
Snape tipped Harry forward and aimed the last of the swats on the sensitive under curve.
SWAT "Do" SWAT "you" SWAT "understand?" SWAT
"Y-yes sir," Harry cried his backside now a deep shade of red.
Snape laid on one final swat and then started to rub comforting circles on the boy's back. There were no words spoken as Snape was not much of a talker; he simply let the motion of the circles comfort the weeping boy.
When Harry's cries had finally subsided Snape gently pulled his pants back up and stood the boy in front of him.
"You must trust that we adults have your best interest at heart." Snape said, looking Harry in the eyes. "Trust that I have your best interest in mind."
"I will sir," Harry promised.
"Back to bed with you," Snape ushered the boy back to his room.
When Harry was lying down, on his stomach of course, Snape bid him goodbye and made his way slowly to the headmaster's office. Under normal circumstances Snape would have walked up the moving stairs but this time he waited until the stairs stopped.
He knocked on the door and waited until he heard the headmaster admit him.
"Severus, my boy, what can I do for you today?" The headmaster smiled.
"I've been to see H…Mr. Potter," Snape started.
"And how is the child?" Dumbledore inquired.
"He was resting on his stomach when I left him," Snape replied honestly.
Dumbledore's eyebrows wrinkled but he didn't say anything. He motioned for Snape to sit.
"I want the boy Albus," Snape informed the headmaster as he sat down.
"My boy that's simply not…" The older wizard started.
"It is possible," Snape hissed. "I listened to you once and it was mistake. Those…people you left the boy with are abusing him Albus and you don't even see it!"
Dumbledore flinched but said nothing. Snape continued to rant for another full minute before running out of steam. He collapsed back in his seat, his breathing harsh.
"Severus if Voldemort is back then your services will once again be needed. What should happen to the boy then?" Dumbledore inquired.
"You will not lose your spy if that is your fear. I will make the necessary arrangements in case anything should happen." Snape's voice was cold. "Rest assured Headmaster, I will be taking custody of Mr. Potter though, if you fight me…"
Snape's voice trailed off. There was no need for him to finish. Dumbledore didn't flinch this time knowing his Potions Professor wasn't threatening him but stating a fact. If he, Albus Dumbledore, fought Snape on taking Harry then both Snape and Harry would disappear.
"Very well Severus, I will make it happen," Dumbledore finally conceded.
"Good day Headmaster," Snape stalked out of the older wizard's office, his black robes billowing behind him.
Snape was slightly stunned to find that he'd spent over an hour with the headmaster. He made his way back down in time to watch Harry greet his friends. He watched as they smiled and hugged.
After they'd left he quickly made his way to change his robes and set off for the feast. He put on a smirk when it looked as though the Slytherin's were to be rewarded the house cup and then scowled when it was instead awarded to the Gryffindors; his eyes shown with pride though when he glanced down at Harry.
The next day, after saying goodbye to his friends, Harry followed Snape down to his private quarters in the dungeon. While Harry went to his room to put his things away Snape pulled out a picture of Lily.
"I told you he wouldn't go back Lily." Snape whispered as he gave a small sigh, feeling lighter for the first time in years.
He put her picture away and made his way out of his room to find Harry. They would make a life together one way or the other. After all there were still promises broken, and promises kept.