Title: An Old Man's Meddling

Author: Severitus

Rating: erm...Pg-13 I guess..

Review: Please! Otherwise I have no fufillment in life, and it'll be your fault too! : P

Distrubition: Irei (my website), FanFiction.net, and anybody who asks nicely.

Summary: It all starts when Harry misses the train, and his worst enemy has to take him home. Sometimes all it takes is truth to end hatred.....

TimeFrame: Roughly after "Chamber of Secrets." With a few liberties taken, of


Note: At the time I wrote chapters one and two, I'd only read the first two books. Every time I add a new chapter I upload corrected versions of the only chapters. This is the corrected version. In the original, I hadn't known about the carriages and had the students riding back on the boats, and I'd completely forgotten about Dobby. All fixed now. :)

Big Thanks: A HUGE thank-you goes out to Mei-chan, who took the liberty to hunt down all my grammar mishaps and email them to me of her own accord. Thank you /soooo/ much, Mei-Chan!


/ / represents italics.

An Old Man's Meddling

Harry Potter was running late. His robe flared out behind him as he dashed down the dim hallway, struggling to catch up with the fleet white spec fluttering far ahead of him.

"Hedwig! We'll be late!" Harry panted as he rounded a corner. They were supposed to be in the carriages headed for the train station, but Hedwig had deftly escaped his cage and had thus led Harry off onto a wild 'owl' chase. The train waited for no one, and it was that thought that spurred Harry on to greater speed. Rounding a sharp corner at a nearly insane pace, he never even saw the crimson eyed cat that stood directly in his path. Not a moment later and Harry found himself sprawled flat on his face, the cat, Mrs. Norris, hissing at him angrily.

"Stupid cat..." he muttered after the retreating feline. Slowly pushing himself up from the floor, Harry groaned in frustration. Hedwig had disappeared completely from sight, he was going to have to search for her now. And now he'd never make the train in time....He straightened his askew glasses and dusted his knees off, then trudged bitterly down the hallway.

"You had to wait til today to fly off, didn't you?" he muttered under his breath.


Half an hour later Harry found himself trudging down yet another hallway, dragging his feet in bitter resignation. He could only imagine how much trouble he'd be in for missing the train. It might not even matter if the school year was over or not, he'd probably be given detention anyway. He wondered idly if they might even let Filch drag some of the old torture devices out of retirement to use on him.

"I'll be hanging by my thumbs..." he muttered, staring at the marble floor at his feet.

"Oh I hardly think we'll go that far. We might ask you why you're not on the train home, but I doubt torture will be involved." an old, friendly voice said. Harry's gaze flicked upward instantly, and a relieved smile crossed his face. At least it hadn't been Snape who'd found him.

"Hi Professor Dumbledore....Hedwig flew off and I've been chasing after her." Harry said, hanging his head in shame.

"Ah. Don't worry about it Harry, Hedwig showed up in my office a few minutes ago, I came out to see what was going on. I thought that something had stalled the carriages." Dumbledore replied, his kindly face wrinkling in a smile as he watched the utter relief wash over his young student's face.

"Thank you Professor....but I still missed the train."

"I guess you'll have to walk home, then." Dumbledore said, scratching his beard thoughtfully. Harry looked positively mortified.

"...walk....?" Harry managed, unsure whether the old wizard was being serious or joking.

"Relax, Harry, I'm only kidding," he laughed, "I'll have one of the teachers take you home. Now come with me and we'll get Hedwig." Harry nodded dumbly and followed, just now noticing how close they were to the Headmaster's office. He stepped through the heavy wooden doors and made his way into the office, standing obediently before the cluttered desk. Hedwig was perched on the far windowsill, preening her feathers.

"Have a seat, Harry." Dumbledore said, waving one hand toward the chair opposite him while digging around inside his desk for something with the other. Harry sat down obediently, hands folded carefully in his lap. A moment later Dumbledore found what he'd been looking for. It was some sort of small treat that he held out to Hedwig. The owl pounced upon it without hesitation, downing it in one elegant gulp. After realizing that no more treats were to be had, the owl flapped its wings twice and landed on the back of Harry's chair, eyes glancing around the room at everything but Harry. Dumbledore chuckled.

"Well Harry, let's see to getting you home, shall we?" Dumbledore said, then rang a small silver bell that sat atop his desk. A mere instant later and a tiny creature with large round eyes and floppy ears appeared through the doorway, a ridiculous smile plastered on his face. "Yuri," Dumbledore addressed the creature, "Could you please find out for me which teachers will be here for at least the rest of the day, and from among those that will be, could you inquire if they have any pressing engagements?" The creature bobbed up and down, still grinning madly.

"Certainly so, Sir! It will be Yuri's pleasure, Sir!" it said, its long, baggy, stocking hat flopping wildly with each excited shake of its head.

"Thank you, Yuri." Dumbledore said, and the creature took off at a dash. Harry stared after it for a moment, having only met one other of its like. It had been a little creature named Dobby, and he'd been nothing like the happy, neatly dressed creature now bobbing up and down in the room.

"Hogwarts has House Elves?" Harry asked in mild disbelief, Dobby had made his species fate sound like a horrid breed of slavery. Yuri, however, judging by the bright smile on his face and the spring in his step, didn't hardly agree.

"The kitchens are run by House Elves, in case you didn't know." Dumbledore said with a smile. Harry tore his gaze away from the door.

"No, I didn't Professor." Harry replied, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. He'd started thinking about going home again, and the more he thought about it, the more he wished he could stay at Hogwarts. No doubt his Uncle would be furious about him being late, that is, if he even remembered that he was supposed to pick him up at the train station that evening.

"Your eyes are looking elsewhere Harry. Something's troubling you, would you mind indulging an old man's curiosity?" Dumbledore said, his eyes glinting with merriment as well as a hint of concern.

"I suppose..."Harry said quietly, "It's just that...I don't want to go back with the Dursley's, I just wish there was a way I could stay here."

"What about your friends? They aren't here." Dumbledore offered quietly.

"They aren't /there/ either. This place has been more of a home than the Dursley's ever has." Harry said quietly, staring down at his hands. Dumbledore moved to reply, but the door swung open and Yuri came hopping back in, still grinning.

"I asked them for you, Sir." Yuri said happily.

"Go ahead, Yuri." Dumbledore urged.

"Almost half of faculty already gone, sir. Only Professor's Flitwick, McGonagal, Snape, Mr. Hagrid and Mr. Filch remain, Sir. Flitwick is leaving in an hour; McGonagal is giving a lecture on transmogrification down in Diagon Alley tonight; Hagrid is off chasing down some creatures that the 7th years freed from the exotic creatures classroom as a farewell prank; and Filch attacked me with a broom before I could ask. Professor Snape is staying here for holiday, has no plans." the elf finished, nearly out of breath. However, the smile had disappeared only for a moment, and now was once again displayed proudly.

Harry, in the meantime, had sunk lower and lower in the chair as each teacher had

been checked off the list. Despite the elf's final sentence, Harry clung to the faint hope that perhaps...just perhaps, Dumbledore would decide to take him home himself.

"Professor Snape is the only one?" Dumbledore asked, glancing somewhat apologetically at Harry.

"Yes, Sir. He specifically said he was going to do as little as possible this evening, Sir." Yuri said, confusion knitting his face as he caught sight of Harry's crushed expression. Dumbledore sighed and snatched a long quill from atop his desk, and began scribbling something quickly on a piece of gray parchment. He rolled it up a minute later and handed it to Yuri.

"Take this down to Professor Snape, please, and then you may take work off early today. However, I suggest you run away immediately after delivering it to him, he might not like what it says very much." Dumbledore said, and Harry audibly groaned.

"Yes Sir, and thank you Sir!" Yuri said excitedly, clutching the rolled parchment like a long awaited birthday gift. Then the elf was gone, and Harry stared at the floor in silence.

"It'll be fine Harry, I would take you myself, but I promised my grandchildren I'd visit them this evening, I haven't seen them in months." Dumbledore said, looking slightly guilty and very apologetic.

"It's okay sir, it'll probably be a /very/ quick trip home." Harry said, and Dumbledore smiled.

"You're probably right about that. Now why don't you go down and wait in the Great Hall, maybe have a snack or something...I'm sure you wouldn't want to be here when Professor Snape comes barging in the door." Dumbledore said with a wide grin.

"Alright Professor, thank you for finding Hedwig and everything." Harry said, rising from his chair.

"Anytime Harry, my familiars used to always make me chase after them too. Have

a wonderful summer." he said as Harry stood in the doorway.

"Umm...Sir?" Harry asked uncertainly, glancing at the white owl that still sat on the back of the chair.

"Yes, Harry?"

"Could maybe..Hedwig stay here for the summer? It would be....safer for her here." Harry managed, staring at the floor once again.

"Certainly, Harry. She can stay in the owlry with the others. We'll take good care of her."

"Thank you very much, Headmaster." Harry said with a smile.

"No problem Harry, take care."

"You too, Sir. Bye!" with the last word spoken, Harry slipped out the door and headed off for a last minute snack. After all, it might be the last time he got to eat anything more than bread and butter for a very long time.


Snape charged down the stairs like a great black storm, eyes nearly flashing with matching lightning bolts. He took the stairs two at a time, his cloak flying wildly out behind him. He bitterly ignored the many chattering pictures and paintings that tried to gain his attention, casting all a withering glare. A low growl could be heard deep in his throat, barely audibly between lips twisted in an angry snarl. He held great respect for Albus Dumbledore, even saw him as a sort of father figure in a vague way....yet of all the things to ask! If it had been any other student he wouldn't have been so furio....---wait--no, he'd still be furious, but if it had been anyone but Potter he probably wouldn't have kicked over every table and vase that had been unfortunate enough to lie in his path. The semester was over, FINALLY over, and yet that Potter child still managed to get in one last laugh. 'Well,' Snape thought with a sneer, 'he'll be in for the wildest ride of his life!'

Flinging the doors to the Great Hall open with such unrestrained fury that the proceeding 'boom' echoed thrice off the chamber walls, Severus Snape stalked toward the

only figure present in the room. Potter. And he looked completely and utterly depressed.

Snape smiled at that, and also at the fleeting look of pure terror that crossed the boy's face when he spied the origin of the thunderous slamming of the doors. Snape was behind him in an instant, taking only a moment to savor the frightened gleam in the boy's eyes, before savagely latching onto the scruff of his neck and hauling him roughly to his feet.

"Come." Snape ordered, making no effort to disguise the blind fury in his voice. Harry nodded nervously, and followed the dark whirlwind that was the Potions Master back out of the Hall.

Harry didn't even pay attention to where they were going until they stepped out onto the front law. He'd been so intent on keeping up with his Professor's great strides that he hadn't bothered to wonder about /how/ exactly he was going to get home. His question was answered a moment later when Snape stopped suddenly, a broom having magically appeared in his hand. It wasn't an ordinary broom by any means, it was almost twice as long and thick as a normal broom. To Harry it looked like something Hagrid would have ridden. It may well have belonged to the gamekeeper too, for judging by the sneer Snape was giving it, it most certainly wasn't his own. Harry decided he'd brave a question.

"What kind of broom is that? " he asked as Snape struggled to tighten the bundle

of grasses at the broom's tail. At first the Professor made a scoffing sound low in his throat, but then answered quickly.

"Tandem, designed to carry two people...or Hagrid." he said, then muttered something under his breath about lending the gamekeeper his broom polish so he could at least /look/ like he was trying to take care of the bloody thing. Then the Potions Master gave up on the tail and climbed on the broom toward the front end. "Get on," he barked at Harry, and he immediately complied, climbing awkwardly on toward the rear. He'd barely gotten his grip when they were in the air, sailing insanely fast over the dark landscape below.

Harry had been studying the twinkling landscape below with a despaired, blank

interest when he felt himself starting to slip. They hadn't been in the air more than a few minutes, and something about his position on the broom seemed wrong. He let out a startled gasp as he began to slip sideways, but a hand rocketed back toward him and gripped the front of his shirt in a tight fist. Then he was violently yanked forward.

"Hold on to me, you idiot. You, being such a high-and-mighty Quidditch /Seeker/

should know something about brooms." Snape barked angrily, and Harry latched onto him quickly, brows furrowed in anger. He couldn't just let that one go.

"We don't use tandems in Quidditch, Sir." he muttered, still frowning.

"That's why we have things called /books/, Potter," Snape replied darkly, and Harry just knew that the man was sneering. Harry grumbled and turned his attention back to the ground below. They'd just passed Hogsmeade a few minutes ago, and at their current, insane pace Harry guessed that they'd be to the Dursley's in half an hour. Casting a quick glance up at the back of Snape's head, its long, dark hair whipping wildly, Harry decided it wouldn't be an improvement. As much as he hated Snape, and that was quite a lot, mind you, he had to face the fact that the Dursleys were worse by far. Snape had yelled at him, cut him down, forced him to do hard labor (detention and homework alike), and made life miserable for him whenever he could. However, the Dursleys did all of the above, and locked him in a cupboard, beat him, starved him, and ultimately made him feel like something utterly less than human. Grudgingly, Harry decided that flying on a broomstick with Professor Snape was the lesser of two evils, and therefore returned to dreading the moment they landed on the Dursley's doorstep. Then a thought struck him that instantly turned that dread into outright fear....what would they do when they saw /Snape/ on their doorstep?! If they were so anxious to hide away everything even faintly magical of Harry's last summer, they definitely wouldn't react well to the sight of a full-

blown dark Wizard on their doorstep. Unconsciously, Harry tightened his grip on Professor Snape, and struggled to force his attention once again to the scenery far below.


Almost precisely one half hour later, Snape slowed the broom to a somewhat reasonable pace, glancing at the streets roughly eighty feet below. Snape had come to the city many times in his youth, he'd been raised in London and wasn't completely unfamiliar with the territory. He rather detested the place now, full of far too many bright lights and hustle and bustle. "Number Four, Privet Drive. Dursley Residence. Is that correct, Potter?" Snape asked, casting an idle, almost bored glance behind him.

"Yes, Sir. The big blue one, on the right." Harry replied, his voice shaking slightly. Snape cast him another cold, questioning glance. He could tell that it wasn't him that the boy was afraid of. He wondered, did the boy sense something nearby worth fearing? Or was he merely afraid of his family's retribution for missing the train?

"What are you frightened of Potter? Other than me, that is." Snape asked coldly, his dark eyebrows tilted downward in an accusatory glance. Potter looked up at him, now shaking slightly.

"You'll see in a minute, Sir." he managed, hoping dearly that Snape would leave it at that. He'd much rather not discuss the Dursleys with Snape. His Professor made a loud 'hrumpf' sound deep in his throat and turned around on the broom, steering them down toward number four, Privet Drive.

They landed on the front lawn, and Snape made the broom disappear with a slight wave of his hand and something mumbled idly under his breath. He stalked up the walkway to the front door, robes flaring and Harry following obediently behind, already steeling his nerves for the forthcoming onslaught. He could pretty much guess what would happen. Dudley would open the door, scream, and get his father. Uncle Vernon would come down and try to intimidate Snape, then drag Harry in by the ears and throw him in the cupboard. Then he'd grab his shotgun from the closet and yell and scream at Snape until he finally left. Of course, knowing Snape, he'd probably yell right back, maybe even turn Vernon into a little spot on the rug. Harry seriously hoped for the latter. Snape cast a mild glance of curiosity at Potter, who had just removed his outer robes in a frenzy, revealing the dark pants and button up shirt beneath, and was now busily folding it beneath his arm. Then Snape rang the doorbell, and the speculation was over. Dudley's face appeared in the doorway, just as predicted.

If Snape had bothered to listen, even once, to his fellow colleagues' monotonous drones of conversation, he would have heard something about the Dursleys. And he would have also known that he had already committed two serious mistakes. Number One:...he'd shown up in such a right and proper neighborhood dressed in his /robes/ of all things, and Number Two: he'd rung the /Dursley's/ doorbell. Snape had assumed he'd find the average muggle family, annoyingly jovial or lost in depression, or both at the same time. He hadn't, however, expected anything even remotely like the Dursleys, and within mere seconds he understood why Potter had indicated he'd find the reason for his fear out for himself.

The hideously large, pork-like face that peered out through the doorway from atop a mountain of flesh before it slammed shut once again was quite unlike anything Severus Snape had ever seen before. But then the loud, shrieking wail of 'Dad!' emitted at the top of the boy's (if indeed it were a child) lungs proved to breech even that assumption. He couldn't help but wonder if Harry had deliberately sent them to the wrong house, but his thoughts were immediately amended.

"That was Dudley, their son. Uncle Vernon will come out next." Harry said softly, and Snape barely had time to ponder the fact that Potter was actually /hiding/ behind him, his left hand twisted tightly in a loose fold of his robe as he peered cautiously around from behind. And then the door sailed open again with a thunderous boom, and Snape had to stall his hand from flying for his wand. The look of pure and utter hatred the man (Uncle Vernon, he surmised) sent his way caused even Snape to balk in surprise, his stern glare faltering into one of shock for a brief moment. Severus Snape furrowed his brows and crossed his arms, studying the new muggle from head to foot. That the man had absolutely no neck, was the first thing he noticed, and the second was that he seemed to be far too large for his skin, for it was stretched and shining across his pink face and tree-trunk arms. Harry slipped further behind him, struggling to hide even further behind his Professor. Vernon took an angry step forward, his broad hands settling sharply on his sides.

"I thought I made it clear to you freaks to stay away from here, we want nothing to do with the lot of you." Vernon said, barely restraining his anger. Snape almost regretted his words of reply, but it was what he had come for, after all.

"Your nephew missed his train due to certain...circumstances. I am merely here to drop him off, nothing more." Snape said, and Vernon's eyes instantly flicked to Harry, who had finally emerged from hiding once Snape had finished speaking. Snape, despite his first impression of the family, had expected the man to soften at least somewhat at the sight of his kin, if anything at all. However, Vernon's face turned an even angrier red and his lips curled back in a snarl.

"So....you haven't blown yourself up yet, whelp?" Vernon said, clearly disappointed, "I was hoping never to see your sorry face around here ever again, brat, especially after that daring escape of yours last summer!" Vernon barked, and leapt violently forward, latching one huge hand fiercely into Harry's hair, and then dragged him violently inside. Snape watched with his mouth hanging wide open as a woman inside the house (his aunt, presumably) opened the door to a tiny cupboard beneath the stairs, and Vernon tossed his prisoner inside, then locking the door without a second word or glance. The fat boy, who had been sitting on the stairs, now jumped up in excitement and began pouncing up and down on the stairs.

Vernon whirled back around, eyes twinkling with a twisted satisfaction that Snape himself was all too familiar with, though currently he found it quite disturbing. 'He almost makes /me/ look like a nice guy.' he thought, then straightened when Vernon refocused his attention on the door.

"You still there? Well, I can't say that I thank you for bringing him back, 'cause I don't. We'd all have been much better off if you'd just dropped him in a lake on your way here. But since you're still there, I have something I wanna ask you about...." Snape raised one eyebrow slightly, his expression not even twitching. Anything /this/ man would possibly ask for was definitely something any sensible man would never agree too. And Snape considered himself quite sensible, thank you very much.

"Go on..." Snape said warily, eyebrow still raised. Vernon stood there for a moment, scratching his stubbly chin as he looked Snape up and down, then his mouth turned up in a slight half smile, suddenly friendly.

"Well, we haven't been properly introduced have we? That darling tyke on the stairway is my son, Dudley, of which I'm quite proud, I might add; and that beautiful woman over there is my wife Petunia. I'm Vernon Dursley." he said, thrusting out one meaty palm. Snape was loathe to take it, but grudgingly complied.

"Professor Severus Snape," he said grimly, now discreetly wiping his palm off on his robes.

"Well /Professor/ Snape, seeming as we've so kindly watched after young Harry all these years, we've been wondering if we could get some...eh.../compensation/ for said...eh...care. It's expensive to raise a child y'know." Vernon said, his tone very businesslike and slightly nervous. Snape's eyes widened in shock. The Dursleys wanted to be /paid/ to take care of their nephew?! And the students claimed that /he/ was the monster...they'd obviously never met Vernon Dursley.

"....pardon?" Snape said, forcing his tone to be calm, "you wish to be...paid...to take care of your own nephew?" he continued, unable to prevent his gaze from becoming condescending. Thankfully, Dursley didn't notice. Mrs. Dursley was now standing behind her husband, craning her birdlike neck out the door, and it was she who spoke next.

"Well, we certainly never asked for him to be dropped on our doorstep, and we most /certainly/ never asked for a freak in the family. We had enough of that when my sister was around, it's only sensible that we should receive something for our trouble," she said, acting as if they were discussing nothing more than an old, rusty car sitting on the lawn.

"/You're/ Lily's sister?!" Snape asked as the realization struck him. This woman was /nothing/ like Lily, neither in looks or attitude. He remembered Lily as being friendly and caring, a genuine humanitarian if he'd ever met one, while the woman before him belonged nowhere but on the front cover of 'Wenches Weekly.'

"Loathe as I am to admit it, yes," the woman replied, obviously confused by Snape's shock at the revelation.

"So what about it? Think we can work something out?" Vernon asked, eyes alight with greed. Inwardly Snape grimaced with revulsion, the man was...disgusting. Straightening his robes, Snape fixed his face into its usual unreadable mask and stared down at Vernon.

"I'd have to talk to Headmaster Dumbledore, all decisions of such nature are up to him. I'm merely the...messenger, so to speak." Snape replied coolly.

"So you'll talk to him?" Mrs. Dursley asked eagerly, the shine in her own eyes matching her husband's.

"Yes. Now if you'll excuse me, I must return to the school. Good evening." Snape said, casting one blank gaze at the quiet cupboard beneath the stairs and then bowing his head slightly, before turning and stalking off. He hadn't lied completely, he thought, he truly was going to speak to Dumbledore, just not about the Dursley's 'payment.' He had something else in mind...oh yes indeed....

---End Chapter 1----