Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything what you can recognize from the books. I do however own the plot of this story but I don't have profits because of it unless you count improving my English as a profit.

Summary: Imagine that Harry's first year at Hogwarts had started diferently when a certain Potions Master come to collect him from his relatives. Influenced by the wise ones Harry starts a journey which will end with final destruction of one Tom Marvolo Riddle. A Snape!mentor, not!Weasley!firendly story topped with the Black family craziness.

So read, enjoy and review (because I love to read your criticism and as long as you are logged in or I have your email I'm answering to your questions).


A Year to Remember: Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone

Chapter one: Slytherin versus Slytherin.

Harry's worries about the Dursleys being mad at him because of abandoning them on the island while he went with Hagrid to London and Diagon Alley, thankfully were proven wrong. When he came back to 4 Privet Drive he was only told to go to his room and don't interrupt them.

He did it gladly. As soon as he entered his room and set the cage with his owl on his desk, he opened the cage thinking that he will need to name her soon because he suspected that his owl wouldn't like being called 'Owl' just as much as he didn't wanted to be called 'Boy'. His owl flew out of the cage and settled herself on the top of the cage. She seemed quite content.

"I will let you out in the evening, okay?" he said to his owl and started unpacking his stuff.

After he unpacked all his books and lied them on the bed he scratched his head. He was going to a new school without Dudley therefore he didn't needed to worry that he was going to be better than Dudley, that meant that he could study as much as he wanted. He looked at the books.

The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk.

A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot.

Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling.

A Beginers' Guide to Transfiguration by Emetic Switch.

One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore.

Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Newt Scamander

The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble.

Hogwarts: A History.

All of them seemed fascinating and he really didn't know which one he should pick first. The one about Potions seemed very tempting, after all potion making seemed a lot like cooking and cooking was something which Harry knew very well. Potions shouldn't be a problem for him but it would be good to have a head start. But if he picked Potions book he should also know from which ingredients he could make a potion, that mean that he should also pick the book about Herbs and Fungi. He made up his mind and lied aside the book about potions and herbs then he put the rest of the books in a pile next to his bed and settled himself comfortably on the bed.

He spent the rest of his month like that switching between the books and trying to master the movements of the wand and proper incantations, separately of course. He also talked to his snowy owl, Hedwig, the name he found in history book. On the eve of his departure to school he decided that it was the highest time to ask his uncle for a ride to King's Cross Station.

He made his way downstairs and was about to enter the living-room when he heard a knock on the door.

"Boy! Answer this one!" called his uncle from the living-room.

Harry sighed and he opened the door. In front of him was standing tall and lanky man in black robes which give him appearance of a priest, except the missing collar. His black, shoulder-length hair were greasy and were hanging around his head like curtains. His nose was long and hooked. His eyes were black like Hagrid's but they had none of Hagrid's warmth. They were cold and empty and made Harry think about dark tunnels. The man's thin lips were curled into a snarl.

"Harry Potter?" the man asked coldly.

Harry quickly swallowed the lump which gathered in his throat and said, "It's me. How can I help you, sir?"

"I'm Professor Snape, from Hogwarts. I was sent by headmaster to pick up you and another student from your year and bring both of you to King's Cross Station," said the man sourly. "Are you packed up?"

"Almost," Harry mumbled.

"I will come with you," said professor Snape demandingly. "It might take less time."

Harry nodded and motioned at the man to enter the hall. Then he quickly went upstairs to his room, Snape was tailing after him.

When Harry entered his room he immediately went to the closet, picked up his clothes and threw them into his trunk. He heard Snape pulling the chair away from the desk but he didn't turned to face the man and he put the books which were lying next to his bed in his trunk. He quickly survived the room and spotted his potions and herbology books on the desk. Snape was holding his notes about the potions and was reading them with the look on his face which one could take for curiosity.

Harry quickly turned around and checked if he didn't left something else besides his potions and herbology books behind. He spotted his wand on the bedside table and quickly pocketed it. With Hedwig in her cage he had nothing else to pick besides the missing book.

Quietly he approached the desk and picked up the books. At that Snape lied his notes on the desk with a little grunt. Harry quickly picked them up and put them in his potions book before he turned and lied them on the top of his clothes and closed the lid to his trunk.

"All done?" Snape asked grimly.

Harry nodded.

"Do you plan to say good-bye to your relatives?" Snape asked.

"I doubt that they will realise that I'm gone," Harry answered timidly. "They won't care."

"Fine then. Grab the cage and take a strong grip on my arm," said Snape and he picked up Harry's trunk with his left hand. "We are going to apparate to Canterbury."

Harry nodded and quickly grabbed Hedwig's cage with his right hand before he gripped Snape's right arm. Suddenly everything went black; he was being pressed very hard from all directions; he could not breath, there were iron bands tightening around his chest; his eyeballs were being forced being forced back into his head; his eardrums were pushed deeper into his skull, and then –

He gulped great lungful of air and opened his streaming eyes. He felt as though he had just been forced though a very tight rubber tube.

"What was that?" he gasped out finally.

"Apparition, Side-Along one to be more precise," said Snape in amusement. "One of the means of travelling in our world."

"Feels terrible," Harry admitted.

"It takes some time to get used to it," said Snape. "Since you are talking it means that you composed yourself and we may proceed."

Harry tightened his grip on the cage and let Snape lead the way. They passed through the small park and entered the street in what looked like suburban part of Canterbury. The name of the street read 'Strawberry Lane'. Snape walked to the house under the number 17 and knocked forcefully on the door.

As Harry reached him the door opened and the girl about his height appeared in front of them. She had long bush brown hair pulled back into a very messy bun. Her eyes were brown and kind and upon seeing Snape widened. Her lips curled into a gentle smile showing off her slightly too big front teeth.

"Professor Snape," she said quickly. "I'm Hermione Granger. Nice to meet you," she said and she extended her hand.

Snape shook offered hand with a very pained look on his face, as if he had far more better ideas than being here.

"Are you ready for departure, Ms Granger?" Snape asked as he let go of her hand.

"I just need to lock the house up. My parents are at work and they won't be back until late evening," she said quickly before she turned around and dragged her trunk out of the house.

"So you said goodbyes to them already?" Snape queried.

"Just this morning," she answered as she was turning the key in the keyhole.

When she locked the door she dropped the keys into a pot near the door and hid it behind the other pots before she turned around to face them. She opened her mouth to say something but Snape quickly interrupted her.

"You can introduce yourselves as long as you want after we reach the Leaky Cauldron," he muttered. "Granger, grab his arm and hold on it tightly."

The girl grabbed his arm tightly with her left hand, in her right she was holding her trunk and Harry felt a bit stupid about holding Hedwig's cage only so he quickly gestured at her to switch their luggage. The girl smiled at him and took Hedwig's cage and Harry picked up her trunk. Somewhere above their heads Snape snorted.

Harry turned his head to the man and smiled sheepishly, at this Snape raised his left eyebrow as if daring Harry to say something.

"Aren't we supposed to go, Professor?" asked Hermione.

"We should before we attract even more unwanted attention," Snape replied sternly. "Hold on tightly, I would hate to search you across the country just because you didn't hold tight enough."

Harry grabbed Snape's right arm tightly and tightened his grip on Hermione's trunk as Hermione gripped his right arm tightly.

Once again he was sucked through very tight rubber tube but it felt slightly more comfortable than last time. Then he turned to Hermione and said, "Feels terrible, doesn't it?"

Hermione, who was gasping for air, only nodded.

"Inside," Snape ordered. "Rooms six and eight are booked for you. I will bring your stuff after I will talk with bartender."

Leaky Cauldron looked exactly like it did during Harry's last visit though it was slightly less crowded than last time. Harry quickly went upstairs with Hermione tailing behind. They stopped in front of the room with label '6'.

"Do you prefer this one?" he asked her politely.

"Doesn't matter," said Hermione. "We haven't been introduced properly. I'm Hermione Granger, as you heard," she extended her hand.

"Harry Potter. Nice to meet you Hermione," Harry said as he shook her hand.

"Harry Potter?" Hermione gasped.

"Yeah," Harry smiled sheepishly.

"Nice to meet you, Harry," Hermione smiled. "Did you knew that you were a wizard?"

"Not until Hagrid showed up with my letter and brought me to Diagon Alley," Harry answered. "He is Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. How did you meet our…" he paused looking for good word, "chaperone?"

"I didn't meet him, Harry," Hermione answered. "My parents are going to a conference in USA late in the evening and they wrote to Hogwarts asking if someone could pick me up today or tomorrow morning. Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress wrote me that Professor Snape will come and pick me up today after lunch," she explained.

"There was lunch?" Harry asked surprised because due to his reading he completely missed the hour.

"Yes," Hermione answered. "You didn't eat anything?" she asked politely.

"I was too occupied with my potions notes to check the time," Harry admitted and to confirm it his stomach rumbled loudly.

"Potion notes?" asked Hermione curiously and her eyes lit like Christmas were coming earlier than usual.

"I have them in my trunk," Harry replied sheepishly. "I can show them to you if you want later."

Hermione was about to answer when Snape came up the stairs, Harry's and Hermione's trunks were soaring in the air in front of him. In his left hand he was holding Hedwig's cage with Hedwig still inside.

"I hope that you two decided in which room you are staying unless you want to spent the afternoon which you can spend outside at discussing the rooms," he said grimly. "You can wander wherever you want as long as you will remain on Diagon Alley. I expect both of you at dinner downstairs, six o'clock precisely, I won't be tolerating tardiness," he added after he set their trunks on the floor and Hedwig's cage on the top of them and he went to the room number seven and shut the door loudly.

"Charming personality, don't you think?" Harry asked quietly and he picked up Hedwig's cage and his trunk which was lying on the top of Hermione's. "I will meet you downstairs in five minutes and I will bring my potion notes," he added and gave Hermione quick smile.

He went to the room under number eight and settled his trunk at the end of the bed. Then he settled Hedwig's cage on the desk and opened it.

"I will let you outside as long as you promise to come at least shortly after dawn, okay?" he said to Hedwig and opened her cage.

Hedwig hooted in confirmation and flew to the windowsill. Harry chuckled at her eagerness and let her out. Then he went to his trunk and picked up his moneybag and school bag, put his potions notes inside it and left the room.

He meet Hermione at the stairs, she was caring a bag of her own.

"I think that you should eat something before we go explore Diagon Alley," Hermione said.

They quickly consumed two sandwiches each before they went outside. Almost immediately they ended at Flourish and Blotts. Before they entered the shop they exchanged sheepish smiles. Once inside they quickly approached the shelves with the books about Transfiguration.

From all textbooks concerning his new subjects Harry considered Transfiguration as one of the thought subjects and for his own sake he picked up, 'Transfiguration for Dummies' which made Hermione giggle until her eyes fell on a book named 'Wonders of Transfiguration' she picked it up quickly and turned it around to read the price. She sighed heavily and set it aside before she went around Harry and stopped at the shelves with Charms books.

Harry waited till she had her back turned to him while she was flipping through one of the books and picked up 'Wonders of Transfiguration' and turned it around. When he saw the price he almost dropped the book, it cost almost one hundred galleons (except two sickles and three knuts), no wonder that Hermione put it away.

He quickly flipped it open and checked out the index. Most of the stuff was really confusing him but then he looked at Hermione who still had her back turned to him. She had to have her birthday at some point of time and this book would be great present for her.

He turned around to look at the clerk and pointed at the book before he lied his finger on his lips and then pointed at Hermione. The clerk winked at him and then motioned at him to go to Hermione. Harry nodded and lied the book back on the shelf, with the back cover to the front so the clerk didn't missed it before he wandered to Hermione.

"If you want to buy more than five books just tap the book you want with your wand and it will immediately appear at my desk," the clerk called out.

Harry who had been flipping through the 'An Anthology of Eighteenth Century Charms' nodded and picked up his wand and tapped the book with it. Hermione smiled and she tapped 'Achievements in Charming' with hers.

They spent their time at going around the shop and tapping every now and then the books they liked and they left Flourish and Blotts poorer for about one hundred eighty galleons, seven sickles and two knuts – Harry, and one hundred twenty galleons, five sickles and one knut – Hermione.

"I think that I used all my allowance for coming year," Hermione snickered. "Though I still have some left, my parents decided to give me some money so I can pick myself birthday present I want. I was thinking about getting an owl," she admitted.

"There is Magical Menagerie somewhere behind Gringotts," Harry replied from behind his stash of books. "When you have your birthday?"

"19th September. When are yours?" Hermione asked.

"31st July. So where we should go now?" he asked. "I should stop at Gringotts and pick up some money because my moneybag contains only two sickles."

"How about I meet you at Fortescue after I will buy the owl and you will return from Gringotts?" Hermione asked.

They split at the stairs to Gringotts where Harry almost walked into the door. At Gringotts, mindful of expensive books he recently bought Harry picked up about two hundred galleons just to be safe for coming year.

He meet Hermione at Fortescue where they consumed big bowls of ice creams. She had bought a large ginger cat with a squashed flat face and bottle brush tail. Three minutes before six o'clock they realised that they were supposed to meet professor Snape at six in Leaky Cauldron and after paying for the ice creams they left hastily. They were almost in front of the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron when they smashed into plump red-headed witch who huffed at them and left them with the books to pick up from the ground. Harry glared after her and snorted, it seemed like being polite to the others wasn't common between the wizards.

They quickly picked up their books and almost run into the Leaky Cauldron. Harry surveyed the room looking for Snape and spotted him at the table in the darkest corner, he had to be the only person who had his hood pulled down so hard that no one could see his face. He quickly gestured at Hermione to follow him and approached the table.

"I thought that I told you that I won't tolerate tardiness," Snape said sourly as Harry sat down at the table and moved a bit to made the room for Hermione.

"We are sorry, sir, but someone walked into us in front of the Leaky Cauldron and we had to pick up our books from the ground," Harry said politely as Hermione sat down next to him.

"You look like you tried to buy Flourish and Blotts but suddenly ran out of money," Snape commented.

"Harry did," Hermione chuckled.

"Don't laugh, Hermione, you were right behind me," Harry said defensively.

"Yeah, right. Remember that you promised me to have a go at your potions notes," she snickered.

"I will give them to you when I will find them under all this books I have there," Harry replied just as vegetable casserole arrived to their table.

"So what subject you are teaching at Hogwarts, professor?" asked Hermione curiously when they started eating.

"Potions," Snape admitted sourly after he swallowed a bite of his casserole. "I hope that you two will be different from the usual dunderheads I happen to teach."

"I thought that it would be easy subject, after all it's about following the recipe," said Hermione.

"Rather using your knowledge about the ingredients," Harry objected. "For me potion making seems much subtler than just following instructions from the book."

"General public will agree with you Granger," Snape admitted pensively. "Of course you can make a good potion by using instructions properly but it won't necessarily will be perfect. Making perfect potion requires extensive knowledge about herbs, fungis, magical animals. You need to know what reacts with what and when and where add a certain ingredient, sometimes it requires going against the book. For being excellent in this subject you need to think outside the box, apply logic, your knowledge and a little bit of intuition."

"So it don't blows into your face," Harry mumbled.

"Indeed," Snape nodded. "You appear to have your mother's brain, Potter to the contrary of what I was expecting," he said and he cocked his head slightly to the right.

"You knew my mother, professor?" Harry asked in shock.

It seemed too good to be true.

"Knew?" Snape chuckled and then he narrowed his eyes as looked around the room before he waved his wand around the table. "I was her friend even before we went to Hogwarts, till I said something I shouldn't and we fell apart. She was incredibly gifted witch, especially in charms but also potions. She could have achieve a lot if she didn't married your father and had you, but then again it was her choice," he admitted sourly. "She remained my friend even after she was sorted to Gryffindor and I was sorted to Slytherin."

"Houses of Hogwarts," said Hermione.

"Two of four," Snape nodded. "Judging by the books you two bought while I feel that I might be giving away two very good students I highly recommend you to not get sorted into Slytherin. Harry Potter and muggle-born witch won't be welcomed there. For your own safety make sure that you end in other house than Slytherin," he added seriously. "What happens here should remain a secret. I have a reputation to uphold and I have reputation of a bastard, for my own safety I have to keep it but if your skills at potion making won't give me an excuse to pick on you, you might consider yourself safe for my general snarky attitude I keep in class. Understood?"

Harry nodded quickly, Hermione's nod was much slower but nevertheless she nodded too.

"If you are going to have troubles at school you are welcome to come to my office, though I would advise being careful around the dungeons. I will help you as long as I will be able to without giving away my reputation," Snape added.

"Why you have the reputation of a bastard to uphold?" asked Hermione curiously.

"Let's say that for some time I was on the wrong side of the fence and even when I ended on the right to survive I had to keep everyone thinking that I'm still where I was before," Snape said grimly.

"You were a spy professor," Hermione said.

Snape nodded before he added, "And good one on that since I'm still talking with you unlike some who weren't as fortunate as I was."


Ever since Dumbledore told him that if he was going to pick up Granger girl from hers parents place he could as well pick up Harry 'Bloody' Potter from his relatives. It was worded as a suggestion but Severus Snape knew Albus Dumbledore too well to not acknowledge it as such. It was an order and the sooner he done it the sooner he was free of Potter brat, at least until first Thursday or Friday of the term depending on the house in which the brat ended.

In a mood which could be only described as irritated as a tickled dragon he apparated to Little Whinging to collect the brat. He knew that Petunia married a wealthy man and he full expected a kid in priced clothes and fat from being pampered.

The image he saw upon knocking on the door startled him, not enough to make it visible, but startled him nevertheless. The kid was small for his age, Severus remembered both Lily and Potter at his age and they certainly were taller than him for about two inches if not three. The boy's posture was also something which made him feel uneasy. He knew all too well this type of hunched shoulders, skinny arms and clothes too big to fit. The look on boy's face made him almost growl, he quickly took in Potter's hair, Potter's face, Lily's nose and eyes but it was the sight of the boy's glasses which made him almost growl. Blessed with sharp eyes Severus never needed glasses but as far as he knew no glasses should be held by tape.

He told the boy that he was bringing him to King's Cross and followed him upstairs. The sight of the room made him cringe. Furniture was mismatched and almost everything looked like it was broken. Of course it might be a result of infamous Potter's temper tantrums but his mind which acknowledge earlier signs told him that it was not Potter's temper which destroyed the furniture in the room.

As the boy went to finish packing Severus sat down at the desk on a rickety chair. He quickly survived the mess on the desk and was intrigued when he spotted notes concerning boil cure potion. They were written in very unique way. The kid made his 'g' like Lily did, the rest of handwriting seemed more like Severus's own scribbling instead of Potter's broad and straight ones. And from what it seemed from brief look at boy's notes they were very accurate.

The boy seemed a little bit shaken by being in his presence. He quickly dismissed it and asked the boy if he wanted to say goodbye to his relatives. His answer only proved what Severus's mind was telling him, the boy was obviously neglected emotionally but now Severus had no time to dwell on it, there would be time for it after they will arrive to Leaky Cauldron for the night.

Picking Granger girl was quick, she was already expecting his arrival so it didn't took long. He was a bit amused when he saw Potter switch his owl's cage with Granger's trunk and he couldn't resist a snort. Even as emotionally neglected as the boy was he seemed to be kind and chivalrous.

After apparating to the front of the Leaky Cauldron he quickly shooed the kids inside and told them to pick their rooms from the two additional ones he booked for the night when he went to talk with Tom. He quickly went upstairs to his room, dismissed the kids for the rest of the afternoon and locked himself up in his room.

Potter he saw today was not the boy he expected to see, that was definite. He was obviously neglected by his relatives, like they never really paid attention to him. The way the boy, despite his resemblance to his father reminded Severus about his own childhood with drunk father and a mother which never gave much of a damn about him made him feel uneasy.

"So much for plans on hating him for his school career," he muttered to himself.

Merlin, if Lily saw her son now she would have rolled in her grave. The boy looked underfeed, overworked and so fragile that Severus had an urge to go back to Little Whinging and strangle his relatives. He vowed himself that he would not care about the boy, would not feel concerned about him, he didn't needed to care or be concerned about the boy as far as his duty of protecting the child from any harm was involved. Up until now.

And to think that it was his mistake which ensured that the kid had no parents … Lily and Potter would never allow such a thing to happen to their son. If he only kept his mouth shut … But then again he was too proud to admit that whole blame was on him, Black was as much responsible for their deaths as Severus was … Except was he? Was Black, who treated Potter like a real brother the real traitor? Capable of a murder Black was, Severus was sure of that, even when he was a student and later when he became an Auror, but it seemed out of character for Black to rat out the man he considered as a brother. But someone had to be a traitor there, someone had to reveal the secret of Potters location to the Dark Lord. If not Black then whom, Lupin? Never had a backbone and the other choice was even more stupid, Pettigrew and if not these three then whom?

It didn't matter now, not really. Black was in Azkaban, Pettigrew was dead and Lupin was Merlin only knows where. Severus of course knew about three attempts of Lupin trying to take the custody of the kid but each time Dumbledore held it off. The boy was to remain under protection of blood wards at the Dursleys and that was Dumbledore's final word.

In so far Severus trusted his mentor blindly but he stopped when he had seen so obvious signs of neglect and instantly he feared for the boy and the world. Severus had seen to where neglect can lead, one Dark Lord was enough … so was a half-blood Death Eater with fucked up life. Harry Potter won't suffer the same fate, Severus won't simply allow it.

"He could be your son," he told himself and he lied back on the bed.

He tried to picture kid's face with his features and shrugged at that thought. He knew that he wasn't attractive and he had been told that he was ugly, not that he cared, but children were children and while he never paid attention to comments about his look he didn't wanted his kid to have his features, especially his nose.

The image of Lily's kid with his features dissolved back into image of Lily's kid looking like his father. As much as he hated to agree with that statement Potter's features looked good on him.

He sighed heavily and went downstairs for a drink. Nothing like a glass of Ogden's finest could put him in a less sour mood lately. He quickly bundled himself in his cloak and threw over the hood to not attract too much attention and settled himself in the darkest corner of the room.

After two refreshing sips of Firewhiskey he relaxed himself enough to spy the other occupants of the room. On the other side of the room he spotted the Greengrass family having a conversation over something which looked like today's special. On their right along with elder lady, who looked like one of Minerva's classmates, was sitting her grandson, son of Alice Longbottom, Severus had no doubt and he mentally groaned at the thought of having her son in his class. Alice while reasonably good in other classes but she was totally rubbish at Potions and only the fact that Slughorn took a liking to her let the girl pass into Advanced Potions and later start working as an Auror. If her son looked as much as his mother therefore there was very strong probability that he was rubbish at Potions too. After making a mental note to bother Augusta Longbottom later about her grandson to test the waters he moved to the other guests.

There were the Davies family in the corner, talking over with the Perks family. Close to them he spotted his fifth year prefect, Grace Delano with her family, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Somewhere between them and the family of red-heads were sitting the Turpins, also happily chatting over something. The last family in the room made Severus hunch himself even more. The Weasleys, bane of his existence, particularly that infernal twins. Currently the oldest child under his wings, Percy, was top student in his year and often made Severus wonder that Dumbledore was right and that they were sorting children too soon, Percy was an epitome of Slytherin, ambitious to a fault and cunning as hell. Next to the infernal duo was sitting a boy who looked like a very excited firstie and a girl which was staring longingly at the door. Suddenly the evil duo excused themselves from the table as well as Percy and they went with their father to Diagon Alley. The matron and two youngsters remained at the table.

"Harry Potter is coming to Hogwarts this year, Ronald," said the matron. "It would be good if you befriended him, Ronald. He could use a guidance in wizarding world and you could use a powerful friend."

At that the girl sighed dreamily.

Severus flinched. Molly fucking Weasley, he could expect that. Never a man fond of gossip he heard enough of his aunts talking about Molly Prewett and her love potions. The girl seemed to have a crush on Harry and Severus could bet his own hat on the fact that Molly was already making plans on becoming the mother-in-law of Harry Potter. After all he was a hero of wizarding world and the fact that the Potters were respectable and rich pure-blood family, even with Lily as a Muggle-born a half-blood Potter was still quite a catch.

No, Harry would be better off with a Muggle-born if Severus had something to say about this. Most Muggle-borns he taught were always more appealing that pure-blood and even half-blood witches. For every girl with magical family the boy would be a catch, for Muggle-borns he would be just a normal boy. Making a mental note to drop few valuable hints about which girls were better for the kid to date for the future he took another sip of Firewhiskey and watched Weasley kids leave.

Just as the matron followed them suit Severus glanced at his watch, it was two minutes after six and the kids weren't there. He was about to stand up from the table when he saw Harry running into the room with arms full of books. The boy looked around and as he spotted him he motioned at the girl to follow him.

"I thought that I told you that I won't tolerate tardiness," he said sourly as Harry sat down at the table and moved a bit to made the room for Hermione.

"We are sorry, sir, but someone walked into us in front of the Leaky Cauldron and we had to pick up our books from the ground," Harry said politely as Hermione sat down next to him.

"You look like you tried to buy Flourish and Blotts but suddenly ran out of money," Severus commented feeling a bit amused by that.

"Harry did," Hermione chuckled.

"You were right behind me," Harry said defensively.

"Yeah, right. Remember that you promised me to have a go at your potions notes," she snickered.

"I will give them to you when I will find them under all this books I have there," Harry replied just as vegetable casserole arrived to their table.

"So what subject you are teaching at Hogwarts, professor?" asked Hermione curiously when they dug in into their casseroles.

"Potions," Severus admitted sourly. "I hope that you two will be different from the usual dunderheads I happen to teach."

"I thought that it would be easy subject, after all it's about following the recipe," said Hermione.

"Rather using your knowledge about the ingredients," Harry objected. "For me potion making seems much subtler than just following instructions from the book."

"General public will agree with you Granger," Severus admitted pensively as he chuckled mentally, who knew that Harry would take the potions seriously, his father never did. "Of course you can make a good potion by using instructions properly but it won't necessarily will be perfect. Making perfect potion requires extensive knowledge about herbs, fungis, magical animals. You need to know what reacts with what and when and where add a certain ingredient, sometimes it requires going against the book. For being excellent in this subject you need to think outside the box, apply logic, your knowledge and a little bit of intuition."

"So it don't blows into your face," Harry mumbled.

"Indeed," Severus nodded barely holding a snicker. "You appear to have your mother's brain, Potter to the contrary of what I was expecting," he said and he cocked his head slightly to the right.

"You knew my mother, professor?" Harry asked in shock.

"Knew?" Severus chuckled and then he narrowed his eyes as looked around the room before he waved his wand around the table creating a zone where they could be talking without being overheard. "I was her friend even before we went to Hogwarts, till I said something I shouldn't and we fell apart. She was incredibly gifted witch, especially in charms but also potions. She could have achieve a lot if she didn't married your father and had you, but then again it was her choice," he admitted sourly. "She remained my friend even after she was sorted to Gryffindor and I was sorted to Slytherin."

"Houses of Hogwarts," said Hermione.

"Two of four," Severus nodded. "Judging by the books you two bought while I feel that I might be giving away two very good students I highly recommend you to not get sorted into Slytherin. Harry Potter and muggle-born witch won't be welcomed there. For your own safety make sure that you end in other house than Slytherin," he added seriously. "What happens here should remain a secret. I have a reputation to uphold and I have reputation of a bastard, for my own safety I have to keep it but if your skills at potion making won't give me an excuse to pick on you, you might consider yourself safe for my general snarky attitude I keep in class. Understood?"

Harry nodded quickly, Hermione's nod was much slower but nevertheless she nodded too.

"If you are going to have troubles at school you are welcome to come to my office, though I would advise being careful around the dungeons. I will help you as long as I will be able to without giving away my reputation," he added.

"Why you have the reputation of a bastard to uphold?" asked Hermione curiously.

"Let's say that for some time I was on the wrong side of the fence and even when I ended on the right to survive I had to keep everyone thinking that I'm still where I was before," Severus said grimly.

"You were a spy professor," Hermione said.

Severus nodded before he added, "And good one on that since I'm still talking with you unlike some who weren't as fortunate as I was."

"How bad it was?" Harry asked gently, almost looking fearfully at him.

"Bad," Severus whispered and shuddered at the memories. "I was your age when it had started. When," he paused and took a deep breath, "pardon me for calling him Dark Lord but that's one of the downsides of being his follower. At first our world didn't suspected anything, few murders of Muggle-borns here and there during the first year but when the family of Robertson was murdered in the most terrifying way people began to fear. The Robertsons were purebloods, a stray house-elf reported that a man came to their house and told them to join him and if they won't they will pay for it dearly. By the time Lily and I came to Hogwarts there were ten separate murders in a span of a months. All victims were purebloods and some people begun to fear for their lives. Some did not, though they never claimed to be Death Eaters they were agreeing with the Dark Lord that the Muggle-borns shouldn't be a part of the world. One of the families like that were the Blacks, older members didn't swore their allegiance to the Dark Lord but they welcomed his presence in wizarding world."

Severus paused there to take a sip of his Firewhiskey before he continued, "Lots of old pureblood families while not being Death Eaters themselves had nothing against their children joining them. The Malfoys, the Carrows, the Lestranges, the Averys, the Crabbes, the Goyles, finally at some point the Blacks which hold longer than the rest of the families, not out of fear but out of curiosity. In a way the Blacks were particularly interesting sort, people often wondered how one family could produce two sons in a span of almost two years who were each other's exact opposites. The older son, Sirius," he barely resisted the urge to spat Black's name, "got himself sorted into Gryffindor to the shock of all Slytherin family, befriended these whom his parents considered as lower than him. Half-blood werewolf, dim-witted son of two squibs and son of blood traitors. The younger one, Regulus was perfect heir of the family, like the rest of the family before him a Slytherin with perfect manners and devotion to the Dark Lord."

"What happened to them?" Harry asked tentatively.

"Azkaban and death respectively," Severus replied sternly. "Regulus while devoted to the Dark Lord learned that being Death Eater meant more than he was ready to give. No one knows how it happened but one day he was proclaimed dead. There was no body but the family tapestry showed him as dead and wizarding family trees never lies. He was barely eighteen when he died and sometimes I feel that I have his blood on my hands," Severus whispered. "I was the one who brought him to the Dark Lord, back then when I was more of a Death Eater than anything else I found it endearing and in personal revenge taking young Black would only piss of his older brother who despite all the riffs between them was fiercely protective of his little brother."

"How the older Black ended in Azkaban?" asked Hermione timidly.

"Officially he ended in Azkaban because of a mass-murder he committed on a man who was his friend and twelve muggles, in the middle of the street, in broad daylight. Unofficial version claims the same but also adds a certain factor into this murder and while I assure you that the day when I will admit it at loud to anyone I find myself not really believing in what had been said. Remember that I was a Death Eater, I know their faces, their voices and I could name every single Death Eater at the time of Dark Lord's demise but I never saw Sirius Black amongst them, in fact he wouldn't be welcomed in Dark Lord's circle. Sure the Dark Lord though that he would be the finest addition, especially after his younger brother turned out to be cold-footed chicken, but Death Eaters wouldn't welcome him with open arms. Black was an Auror, Dark Wizards catcher and he put his share of Death Eaters in Azkaban or six feet underground," Severus said grimly.

"What Black did, other than murdering thirteen people?" Harry asked tentatively.

"He was rumoured to be a Secret Keeper of one of the families which hid themselves from the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord had went after them and murdered the parents, the child had survived by some sort of a miracle," Severus whispered. "But I find it hard to believe it that Black would sold the man who was to him more of a brother than his own brother was to the Dark Lord."

"Whom Black betrayed to the Dark Lord?" asked Hermione weakly.

"Lily and James Potter," Severus whispered and stared at the boy intently.

"My parents?" Harry whispered weakly. "He sold my parents to … him?"

"No one knows for sure, Harry. People who knew your parents knew that Black was the most likely match for Secret Keeper and everybody knew that the Dark Lord wouldn't go after the Potters if the Secret Keeper kept the secret safe," Severus said grimly.

"Peter Pettigrew was the Potters Secret Keeper," came suddenly a voice from under their table. "On this one I can swear my life."

Severus immediately dove under the table and gasped, "Lemeraude!"

"Severus," Lemeruade snorted. "Fancy seeing you here. When I heard that old Dumbles send you to collect Harry Potter I decided to make sure that the kid would make it to the castle safe. I never expected a heart to heart though."

"Get out from under there right now," Severus hissed.

He regained his position and waited for Lemeraude to crawl out from under the table. Lemeruade shook his grey hair and smiled at the kids warmly before he said.

"Hey kiddies. Sevie isn't giving you a hard time?"

"Don't call me Sevie!" Severus hissed angrily. "And pray tell how you managed to get under there?"

"I have my own ways Sevie," Lemeraude chuckled. "Though I never expected you to defend Sirius, you strike me as the type of person who is more likely to spit venom at my unfortunate brother rather than defend him but everyone has their own little perversions."

Brother! Sirius Black! Brother! Regulus! Dead! Fuck! The world around Severus made a spin and he had to grip the edge of the table to not fall under it.

"You are supposed to be dead," Severus muttered the first thing which came to his mind.

"Am I not?" Lemeraude quirked left eyebrow curiously. "I assure you Sev that Regulus Arcturus Black is properly dead, buried and stuff."

"Then who is sitting there with us?" Severus snorted.

"Mufrid Alphard Lemeraude. Hogwarts Professor of Ancient Runes. Associated Head of Ravenclaw's House when Flitwick is unable of doing it himself. Recently turned thirty, broke a thumb in a duel with you and almost killed Quirrel with a rolled up newspaper last week," Lemeraude snickered.

"Regulus," Severus growled in irritation.

"Nope, that would be Mufrid. As I said Regulus Black is dead, in fact had been dead for last twelve years. Once my magic had vanished I had been proclaimed dead and I have no connections to my former family. Except one which I'm going to get out from Azkaban even if I have to break there myself," Lemeruade said and he rolled his eyes.

"You are welcomed to try, should I warn Dumbledore that he is going to need Ancient Runes Professor sometimes soon?" Severus snorted.

"Not yet," Lemeruade muttered. "Azkaban is last resort. I need to find that thrice damned rat."

"Rat?" asked Hermione tentatively.

"You are eleven, aren't you?" Lemeraude asked curiously. "Then you aren't familiar with the meaning of the word Animagus. Animagus is a witch or wizard who possess the ability of changing into an animal at will. Of course it's very complicated and dangerous process, which I'm going to spare from explanation but in essence that's what's the most important."

"What about the rat, Regulus?" Severus growled.

"Peter Pettigrew," Regulus snarled angrily. "How? Don't ask me, I have no idea how that saddest excuse of a wizard managed that. All I know is that he is an Animagus and twice in my life time I saw it in that form."

"What about the Potters? What about your brother?" Severus asked quickly.

"Pettigrew was their Secret Keeper," Regulus huffed. "He and Sirius switched, Sior thought that it was great plan, our dearest Dark Lord would go after him while the Potters were supposed to be safe. Of course that plan would work if Pettigrew didn't sold them to the Dark Lord."

"How do you know that?" Severus asked sarcastically.

"Remember the prophecy which you had told to the Dark Lord? The one which made the Dark Lord go after the Potters in the first place?" Regulus asked ironically.

"What?" Harry gasped in shock.

"Did you honestly thought that Dumbledore would keep your dearest Lily and her family safe?" Regulus snorted. "After I regained some of my sense and my magic came back … though it wasn't my magic I admit. Magic transferring rituals are nasty but useful when you get one Death Eater removed."

"Whom?" Severus asked weakly.

"Heard about Paul Garbageworthy?" Regulus snickered. "American folk, quite talented but naive as hell. My magic bound with his allowed me to create new personality and immediate gain of his power. Nasty bugger was unregistered Animagus and while I thought that I will have to dance around a lot to plant myself close to the Potters to keep an eye on them it turned out to be pretty easy. Lily loved cats to the bits and a certain stray won her heart."

"You were their cat?" Severus breathed out.

"In an essence, yes," Regulus confirmed. "I trusted Dumbledore as far as I could throw him and that wasn't very far. He could have saved a lot of people but he didn't and I chose to keep another set of eyes at the most likely targets of the Dark Lord. Proved to be very well spent time."

"Then what had happened in Godric's Hollow that night?" Severus asked harshly.

"I have no bloody idea," Regulus admitted sourly. "Back then, like Sirius and the Potters, I assumed that Lupin was the traitor. We weren't expecting an attack with Fidelius Charm on the house. I was sleeping in their bedroom like any normal cat would. I woke up when I heard Lily's screams but before I could react something had exploded and I was thrown against the wall. I woke up when Hagrid was talking with Sirius. Hagrid left, Sirius went inside the house and broke down when he saw them. He went after Pettigrew as soon as he managed to collect himself."

"And he killed him," Severus muttered.

"No he didn't," Regulus shook his head. "Not that he wanted. Remember I followed him. Sirius cornered Pettigrew in the middle of London, but something, probably pity stopped him from killing Pettigrew immediately. It was Pettigrew's spell which blew up the street right after the nasty bugger cut off his finger and right before he transformed into a rat he was. I tried to follow him but I lost him on the outskirts of London, got a nasty dog chasing after me."

"Assuming that you are telling the truth…" Severus started.

"Do not assume that I'm telling the truth because I'm telling the truth," Regulus snorted.

"Fine," Severus snorted. "But what you are going to get from freeing him?"

"Dead Dark Lord?" Regulus shrugged. "You and I know very well that our dearest master is hiding somewhere and as long as he is hiding our hides aren't safe."

"And what our dearest Dark Lord has to do with your brother?" Severus snorted.

"12 Grimmauld Place, London," Regulus replied quickly.

"Your old house?" Severus asked surprised.

"Wrong. My parents old house, right now the master of that place is my dearest brother," Regulus quipped.

"And what that house has to do with the Dark Lord?" Severus asked patiently.

"There is a piece of the Dark Lord's soul hidden somewhere," Regulus answered simply.

"Piece of the Dark Lord's soul?" Severus breathed out and he quickly took a gulp of Firewhiskey.

"Is there an echo in here or is it just me?" Regulus rolled his eyes. "Yes, piece of the Dark Lord's soul. Are you familiar with the word Horcrux?"

At that Severus chocked on his Firewhiskey and went into coughing fit. Regulus rolled his eyes and swatted his back.

"What's a Horcrux?" asked Hermione tentatively.

"A Horcrux, a horrible crux is a name given to everything in which a living person concealed a part of his or hers soul. It's the darkest of all magic, very, very Dark Arts. The subject of Horcruxes had been banned from all books in our centaury, of course I have school books in mind. You won't find anything about Horcruxes in Hogwarts library, except a small mention in one book which will give you nothing," Regulus said in his professor voice.

"But how one can put his or hers soul inside an object?" Harry asked sceptically.

"By committing a murder. Killing someone tears your soul apart. Of course there is a spell which needs to be cast on an object, I don't know the incantation and frankly I don't plan to learn. The purpose of a Horcrux is protecting given bit of soul and if the person who has a Horcrux is deathly injured he or she cannot die because the piece of the soul which is protected by the Horcrux is still intact. That person will continue to exist even if their own body was destroyed, vide the Dark Lord. We don't know what exactly happened that day your parents had been attacked but we know one thing, the Dark Lord is still alive, certainly in no condition to raise anytime soon but alive indeed," Regulus said gravely.

"Can I interrupt?" Severus asked sceptically. "How did you obtained Dark Lord's Horcrux?"

"By being a Gryffindor," Regulus sighed.

"You were in Slytherin," Severus pointed out.

"Being in Slytherin didn't stopped me from acting like a Gryffindor," Regulus snorted. "The point is that I knew where one of the Horcruxes was hidden and when my time started running low I removed the Horcrux."

"Horcruxes?" Severus breathed out. "As in more than one?" he mumbled.

"Six which I'm aware of," Regulus replied grimly. "Right now what they are and where they are is irrelevant. Though I know what I'm supposed to be looking for but it's not a subject for a crowded bar even with your little spell as a protection circle. But right now we have a bigger problem and you know to what I'm referring."

"From what I know it had been removed from you- know-where," Severus said grimly.

"From the safest place in wizarding world to a castle full of students," Regulus snorted. "I would feel much more safer if the stone was moved into another location. Plus I'm worried about our Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. I don't think that a trip to Albania is something not alarming. You know the rumours," he added gravely.

"You assume too much," Severus shrugged.

"I saw Quirrel at Knockturn Alley," Regulus muttered. "Then he spent some time around the Gringotts. I'm not liking his presence here, Severus. There is something wrong about him, I don't like it."

"You aren't the first one in the line for his job, you know," Severus snorted.

"You know that you are Dumbledore's latest resort when it comes to that post and he won't appoint you on DADA post until he really has no other choice. As for me I wouldn't care less about that position as long as the teacher is competent but I don't feel good with Quirrel teaching again, especially DADA. He reeks with …" Regulus started.

"Garlic?" Severus supplied.

"To the hell with garlic," Regulus snorted. "It's something more. You weren't around him since he came back. I was," he gave small shudder. "You will feel it when you get very near him."

"Feel what?" Severus asked curiously.

"Your Dark Mark," Regulus said grimly. "I felt mine, not a burn, but a tingle, an itch. I think that Quirrel was in contact with our dear old master and I don't think that he is the same man who left Hogwarts year ago. It also explains why he wanted DADA post."

"Shit," Severus muttered.

"Shit, indeed, a deep one on that," Regulus agreed. "We have a member of the faculty with dubious past experience from last year, possibly in contact with the Dark Lord, Philosopher Stone inside the castle and always hopeful about everyone's good intentions Headmaster. It looks like a hellish year."

"Don't forget about children of Death Eater's," Severus muttered. "Draco Malfoy, Gregory Goyle, Vincent Crabbe, Theodor Nott."

"You are dealing with them, they aren't going to end under my care for next two years assuming that Goyle and Crabbe are smarter than they fathers, which they aren't since inbreeding caught up with them ages ago. Draco and Theodor might take Ancient Runes, the other two are too stupid," Regulus snorted.

"Stop talking," Severus snorted. "Malfoy, Nott, Goyle, Crabbe, Parkinson, Bulstrode. The worst first year in Slytherin since I started teaching."

"If they weren't sorted then why you, Professor, assume that they will end there?" Hermione asked.

"A hunch," Severus replied. "Plus the fact that they all come from old Slytherin pure-blood families. They were raised as Slytherins and if they don't end in Slytherin I owe him," he waved at Regulus, "a bottle of Firewhiskey and some money."

"Oldest game between the faculty at the end of each school year when Minerva takes the names of coming first years and everybody bets where the kids are going to end," Regulus explained. "We have almost all of you covered and sorted."

"And he is keeping the list," Severus muttered. "He always does."

"Would it be blunt if we asked where you think we will end?" asked Hermione curiously.

"Blunt it would be and suggestive as hell," Severus replied.

"You just don't want to lose," Regulus stuck his tongue at him. "For Hermione from eleven votes there is four for Gryffindor, three equally for Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff and one for Slytherin. For Harry, five for Gryffindor, thee for Hufflepuff, two for Slytherin and one for Ravenclaw."

"Who bet other Slytherin?" Severus asked suspiciously. "You bet almost whole year for Slytherin, that I know."

"Sinistra," Regulus snickered. "I just love losing my money on this bet. Only once I gained something from that bet."

"Weasley kid?" Severus asked.

"Hufflepuff if I ever saw one," Regulus replied. "Nine for Hufflepuff and two Gryffindors."

"Longbottom?" Severus continued prodding.

"Ten Hufflepuffs and one Gryffindor," Regulus answered.

"MacMilan?"

"Ten Hufflepuffs and one Slytherin."

"Bones?"

"Eleven Hufflepuffs."

"Abbot?"

"Five Gryffindors, five Ravenclaws and one Hufflepuff.

"You and your odds," Severus snorted. "He always loses," he said to the kids." Keep in mind what I told you before and don't pity his money. He is Master of Rummy and Canasta at Hogwarts and even after all these years some people think that they can win a game with him."

"Says the man who made Minerva lose a game of chess," Regulus snorted.

"She was asking for this," Severus said defensively. "Plus you played my chess, Gryffindor never wins."

"That's why whenever I play with you I want to play with Slytherin. You never let me," Regulus muttered. "Though I think that deflating Minnie's ego had worked."

"We need to organise Poker Night sometime this year," Severus sighed. "Or Bridge."

"More reason to lose hard earned salary," Regulus snorted.

"Because you suck at them," Severus snorted.

"I suck when I'm playing against you. When I play Bridge in a pair with you we always get wealthier than separately," Regulus pointed out. "Don't look surprised, teachers are allowed to have free time," he said to the kids.

"You play bridge?" asked Hermione curiously.

"Quite well, I'm only loosing when I'm playing against him," Regulus pointed at Severus. "Are you playing yourself?"

"Decently," Hermione said. "My parents taught me how to play because they were missing the fourth when they were playing with our neighbour."

"Harry?" Regulus asked.

"Never played," Harry shook his head. "Any card games."

"Easily fixed," Regulus replied. "Between me and Severus we will train you into masters of all card games."

"I need a needle," Severus snorted in amusement.

"What for?" Regulus asked curiously.

"To burst your ego," Severus replied simply. "So are you coming back to Hogwarts tonight?"

"Nope," Regulus shook his head. "Officially I needed to put a new shipment of books for the library about Ancient Runes and I suggested that I might help you with keeping an eye on the students during train ride. Unofficially the shipment is in my pocket since the early morning and I'm waiting for Quirrel to make a wrong step and I'm going to keep you company anyway."

"You took some of your money from Gringotts?" Severus teased.

"Stuff yourself," Regulus snorted. "I'm leaving. I'll be back at six in the morning," he said and he went upstairs.

About a minute later a big, shaggy black cat with dark eyes made its way downstairs.

"That was very enlightening conversation," Severus muttered more to himself than to the kids. "I trust you that you will keep what you learned today between yourselves."

Harry and Hermione nodded solemnly.


Awaiting criticism - like always. I'm replying as long as you leave me your email or you log in while reviewing. Bring my ego down ;)

Next chapter: Plot thickens and Severus learns more about the Blacks than he ever wanted to know while Harry and Hermione made a new friend and anticipate sorting.