LOVE OF A FATHER
Chapter 8: Morning Manor Mischief
Curiosity in children, is but an appetite for knowledge. The great reason why children abandon themselves wholly to silly pursuits and trifle away their time insipidly is, because they find their curiosity balked, and their inquiries neglected.
Severus was exhausted or so he thought. He fully expected to collapse into bed and fall asleep within minutes. But it was two o'clock in the morning and he just could not sleep, not even two doses of the sleeping potion had helped. Which was very unusual, worryingly so.
The Potions Master had too many things on his mind right now. It only took one word to describe all his woes; Potter.
Today was the day his life would change. No more was his quiet, solitary life in his big, empty manor. The arrival of Harry would throw everything out of schedule, Severus now had an 11 year old boy in the full swings of puberty and the beginning of the 'awkward stage'. What was he going to do with the boy all summer? No 11-year-old would sit still for long and he can't have the boy run wild about the house, no, that wouldn't do at all. He'd have to find something for the boy to do..well, he'd always wanted an assistant in Potions and house elves were far too irritating.
The only downside of making Potter work was that he could only give the boy the most primitive of jobs. Severus doubted Harry could handle anything beyond crushing Flubberworm eggs.
Severus growled in annoyance, there are so many things he'd rather be doing than tend to Harry Potter's needs. His summer was completely demolished, and by Potter of all people. Severus reckoned he wouldn't be getting back to his debate in at least a few days while he get Harry settled.
Damn Albus! Damn Potter! Damn life! Severus snarled in his own head.
Tossing and turning in bed, the Potions Master reflected on his day and the Dursleys' behaviour. So he had been wrong about the Potter boy. The child wasn't spoiled, pampered or waited upon on hand and foot like he'd always imagined. In fact, the boy looked to be neglected; he was skin and bones, harshly underweight, and entirely too small for his age. "You can have him. He's right there. Take him, take him, we don't care. And don't be asking for ransom, we're not paying for him." Did they really mean that? Did they really not care?"Won't have him being more of a freak than he is!" A freak? What kind of uncle called his own nephew a freak? "His freakishness...that wretched boy," Severus shook his head and sat up in bed. His own father's words echoed through this mind.
"Filthy rat...pathetic, disgusting...wretch...freak." Those were the words his father had used to address him for as long as he could remember. More often though it was simply, you or boy. As far as he could tell, Tobias Snape had never called him son and rarely by his name.
It was not the fact that they seemed to love their own son more than their nephew that bothered Severus. It was the fact that they seemed not to care for Potter at all.
But hold on a minute, why was he bothered at all? Why was he worrying about Potter? He did not care about the brat and why should he? First of all, Potter's wellbeing at the Muggle home was no business of his, and second he simply did not care. The boy's father had been a pain in his arse ever since his first day at Hogwarts, and his son had just succeeded him in the family business of making Severus's life hell. Why should he be doing anything for the boy when his family caused him nothing but humiliation and pain? Potter would get no sympathy from Severus Snape, no way.
No, Severus Snape did not care about Harry Potter, the abominable progeny his greatest foe. However, he could not help but wonder.
Somewhere beneath his frozen exterior, Severus felt relief. The professor considered himself experienced in these type of things. For through out the years as Slytherin Head of House, he has seen many cases of abuse varying in severity. There were no immediate signs of abuse on Harry, only that of neglect.
Then a deep, wise voice sounded off in his head. "Abuse come in many different forms." Albus was right of course, neglect was just as bad as physical abuse, and much more scaring in a different term. The results of physical abuse would heal, but emotional abuse and neglect had an affect on the child that casts a shadow of a life time. Severus's own experience with abuse had been unforgeable, he has never forgiven his father for the pain he caused to his mother and himself, both physical and emotional. However signs of physical abuse faded over time, and can be easily concealed. Just because there were no immediate signs, does not mean that it did not exist.
Despite everything, Severus found himself submerged in denial. He had convinced himself that Harry Potter was just as spoiled and pampered as his father., and that there was no way the Boy-Who-Lived, so called hero of the Wizarding world, could have grown up ill-treated. James was an arrogant and half-witted boy with a bravado the size of an elephant's backside, no doubt his offspring would have inherited those foul qualities. The boy was the mirror-image of his father. His every feature; from the tip of his nose to the back of his ears; from his circular glasses to his disheveled, jet black hair, spelled James Potter's son. Everything, that is, except for those eyes. Harry had clearly received Lily's brilliant, emerald green eyes, and as far as Severus was concerned, that was the only good thing about the boy, even though they reminded him of of his mistakes and a history that was best forgotten.
Severus did fall asleep that night.
It was the softest bed he's ever slept on, and the only bed he's ever slept on. But Harry was certain that the only bed he's ever slept on must be the softest, most comfy bed in the entire world.
Harry pressed his head into the fluffy pillow and snuggled the duvet closer; the squishy, cottony mattress felt like heaven. Harry had only dared to sit on his relatives' bed for a few seconds when he was cleaning them, they were nice, but this was so much better. He could lie here all day and not get bored.
Harry knew it was late, and he should be tired, but sleep was out of the question. Who could sleep when they've had a day like Harry's. It was packed full of confusing emotions and scary happenings. He found himself stuck in this entirely new and hectic situation and Harry was too confused, and excited and agitated to sleep. A thousand questions crisscrossed through his mind, there were so many Harry didn't know which way to turn. Why was he here? Where was here? What kind of magic was he going to learn? When would he start? What was Hogwarts? Where was Hogwarts? What was magic like? Just who was this stranger who was suppose to be a professor of Potions or chemistry or whatever? What was the stranger going to teach him? What happens now? Would he ever go back to Private Drive? Should he be scared? Excited? Nervous? Sad? Happy? Relieved? Not relieved?
One thing was for sure, and it was just about the only thing our intern to the Wizarding world was sure about. Harry knew that he did not know anything, nothing at all.
Would the professor be nicer than Uncle Vernon? He seemed okay, thought Harry. He had seemed quite decent when they were at the Dursleys. The professor had been reassuring and soft when coaxing him out from the corner. But everything changed when they left the little rock in the middle of nowhere. The man had turned cold and biting. It was as if the whole nice thing was just a front to manipulate him away from under the table. The man started yelling at him and calling him names as soon as he got the chance. That was nothing new of course, Harry was used to that. Everybody was acted that way towards him. Perhaps his uncle had been right all along, Harry thought sadly. Maybe he was a freak, an abnormal, horrid little boy. What other reasons did people have to be so mean towards him? Nobody was mean to Dudley, not ever.
When Harry Potter finally drifted off into a deep slumber, dreams filled his mind. Despite the nice, comfy bed, Harry did not sleep well at all. He just had too many things running through his mind, taking over his unconscious brain in the form of endless dreams. Some were good, others were not so pleasant. But Harry dreamed of his mother again that night, she had visited for only a little while; wishing her son a happy birthday, and telling him that everything would turn out okay in the end.
The sun was high on the horizon when Harry woke the next day. The stranger hadn't come and woke him up, Harry figured he'd better not leave the room. The curious boy padded around the room barefoot, first looking out the window, then at the marble counters in the bathroom, then opening and closing the drawers. Stop it Harry, the small boy told himself, you're going to get in trouble. You're not allow to touch things without permission at the Dursleys, what makes you think you're allowed to do that here?
Harry made the bed, washed his face in the sink and changed out of the cotton pajamas into Dudley's old hand-me-downs. Then, he sat down and waited, and waited, yawned, then waited some more.
He was wrong the previous night; he couldn't sit in bed all day and not get bored, no matter how comfy it was. He could spend hours, sometimes days in the cupboard without making a fuss. But this was not his cupboard and this was not even Private Drive. Harry didn't even know if they were still in England or Europe!
There was so much to explore and so much to see. He wanted to look at the giant portraits that hung from the walls, he wanted to touch the fancy railings that sleeked the stairs, Harry wanted seek out the strange sculptures and look at the elegant furniture. He wanted to look out more windows to see where he was, and peek into the many rooms to see what they were. The things he had glimpsed on his way here were nothing he's ever seen before. Everything was so unfamiliar, so new and different and peculiar and strange and and...well just and...
Harry remembered the rule from the previous night. Do not leave this room. It was simple enough, Harry had the same one back at Private Drive. Stay in your cupboard! Uncle Vernon would say, or rather, bellow.
Curiosity is a funny and dangerous thing. It was undeniable and sometimes overpowered one's instincts or that little voice in your head that tells you that whatever you are about to do is a very bad idea.
Oh Harry! You really should know better. The boy thought to himself as he cautiously opened the door to the corridor.
Wandering down the halls Harry glanced warily around the corners and peeped silently into the rooms, taking everything in. Most of the rooms were empty except for a few furnishings. Many of the rooms had lavish curtains and comforters. Others were filled with what looked to be really old and expensive book cases and dressers. One held a round table with fancy chairs surrounding it, another looked like a store room and the 5th room had chests stacked ceiling high. One though was pitch black and Harry decided it was best not to go in.
Along the hall hung realistic paintings of people, scenery and animals, along with several empty frames. They must have been painted by a really talented artist to make them so life like, thought Harry. The funny thing was all the animals and people seem to be painted sleeping, how peculiar.
Harry came to the last room in the hall, he quietly twisted the doorknob and popped his head in. There, in the middle of the large spacious room, was a huge piano. Harry has never seen a piano up close before. Tentatively, he tip-toed into the room and towards the giant instrument. The thing was bigger than his cupboard!
Harry ran his hands along the beautiful instrument, transfixed. He bit his lip and looked towards the door. Just one little touch, no one would know.
"What do you think you are doing!" A voice came barking from the doorway. Harry gasped and jumped a foot in the air. He immediately snatched his hand away and took a few steps back.
"Did I not tell you specifically NOT to leave that room?" Severus shouted angrily as he stalked into the room.
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times like a fish out of water, too scared to say anything.
"Answer the question!" Severus made his way towards Harry and stood towering over him only inches away.
"Y...yes, sir," Harry answered fearfully, still backing away from Severus.
"Then what do you think you are doing in here?" Severus was mad. Oh, he was more than mad, he was livid. The piano was family heirloom, it had belonged to the Prince's for generations. Eileen Snape, Severus's mother loved the piano and used to play it for him, right up to her untimely passing.
How dare the boy lay his unworthy hands on his piano, his mother's piano! The disobedient, disrespectful little devil. How dare the boy mock him by deliberately disregarding his rules, when they were so simple and straight forward. Leave the room, how difficult was it not to leave a room? Why he ought to turn the boy over his knees for a sound smacking.
"I wasn't trying nothing, honest," Harry cried.
Severus ignored him. "Not only were you out of your room, but you're in here! Messing with my things? Who told you you could touch that! Come here!" Severus fumed and dragged Harry away from the piano.
"I...I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Harry pleaded and tried to pull away.
"Sneaking about, up to no good!" Severus accused harshly, pulling Harry to face him in a firm grip.
"Please, sir. I was just curious." Harry cringed and drew into himself, trying to look as small as possible.
"Curious? That is a pathetic excuse for an excuse," Severus shouted jarringly, his temper rapidly getting the better of him. "I forbid you to leave your room. I gave you specific and exact orders NOT to do anything until I send for you. And what do you do? You wander abound the halls, peeking and sneaking around, poking your nose into my things and my business. You come in here and fiddle with things you are not suppose to fiddle with!"
Harry's heart began to pound rapidly, Vernon wouldn't hit him unless he was drunk, but this man might, and he looked might mad right now.
"Do you know what that is Potter?" Severus questioned, jabbing a finger at his precious belonging. "That is the original Alma-Tadema Steinway grand and at least a hundred year old! Your family could see all their possessions and still not cover half the cost. That is a Prince family heirloom, it belongs to me, what gave you the idea that you can lay your hands on what is mine?"
Without warning Severus flipped the boy around and raised his hand.
Tears immediately sprang to Harry's eyes. He was in trouble again, why couldn't he ever stay out of trouble? He didn't mean to do anything wrong.
He should have never came with the strange man, Harry had thought he was nicer than Uncle Vernon. He seemed okay the day before, when his voice was gentle and reassuring. Harry just wanted to get away from his relatives, away from his stupid life at Private Drive, with his stupid cupboard, and his stupid cousin, and his stupid everything. Besides, Harry really wanted to learn magic, and this seemed like the chance of a lifetime. Maybe if he learned magic, he'd be able to find his father. Right now though, Harry wondered if he made the right choice, maybe he shouldn't have come. But then again, it was not as though he had any choice, the man seemed determined to take him. He'd threatened to use magic on Uncle Vernon, there was little doubt the man would have forced him to come even if he chose not to.
Right at this moment, Harry was more worried about his punishment than anything else. He could outrun Uncle Vernon. But here, Harry doubt he'd get very far if he tried to make a dash for it.
Harry cringed and squeezed his eyes shut, fully expecting the beating to hurt something awful.
However, he felt nothing but three firm swats.
That was it? That stung a bit, but it didn't really hurt. Harry thought, maybe the man wasn't so bad after all. The realization came too late though, just the thought of a beating brought tears to his eyes.
"Don't you dare disobey me again Potter, I will not be so lenient next time!" Severus shouted harshly, holding Harry just below the armpits.
"No...no, sir," Harry stuttered, eyes fixed on the polished wooden floor.
"You keep your fingers off my property. Clear?" Severus snapped at Harry.
"Yes, sir," Harry sniffed, and tried to blink the tears away.
The older wizard rolled his eyes. Spoiled brat probably never been disciplined in his life for him to be crying over a few swats. He's got a lot to learn about the rules in this house. But Harry wasn't spoiled, Severus had seen that for himself just the day before. But he would need much more than a minute glimpse of Harry's life to trash a life long of beliefs.
"Stop that!" He scolded. If there was one thing he hated dealing with was a sniveling child.
Harry sniffed and quickly wiped the tears away. No crying, apparently that was a rule in this house too.
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, this was going to be a long month.
"Are you hungry?" He asked moodily.