Disclaimer: I don't own this. Short, sweet, and to the point. :)
Hello people! I come with a new story! Well, not new, but new to me. I have adopted it from Murgy31, so these first few chapters are hers-- I wanted to keep the entire story together, so I'm uploading them on mine, also. I've made minor changes, just to make it my own, no big deal ;) enjoy!
The smell of French fries, hamburgers, and other such cafeteria foods wafted through the air, enticing the older boys who stood in line, waiting for their turn. The boys who had already gotten their food were sitting out in the room itself, eating at round tables, talking with their closest friends. If someone were to walk through this room, behind the kitchen, they would find a plain door with a large window. Standing at this door, on the other side, staring out into the 'big-kid room' was a small boy.
His black hair was fuzzy, but flat against his head, still baby-hair thin. Wide, startling-green eyes stared at the giant kids with their platters of food and flocks of friends. Someday, he thought, I'll be out there too. But three-year olds did not eat with the big kids, because they could be squashed. Or, at least, that's what the nice ladies who took care of them said.
"Harry? Come on over and eat, dear," one of the nice ladies said, leaning over him and taking his hand, before easily pulling him over to a large table that was close to the ground. The other toddlers were picking at their oatmeal and soft fries, occasionally tossing a handful at a wall, at which point they would be softly reprimanded. Harry never did that, though. It wasn't nice to make a mess for someone to have to clean up.
The matron watched the young, black-haired boy as he scooped up a spoonful of oatmeal, and stuck it into his mouth. A bit dribbled off of his chin, but he didn't seem to notice or care. He was a very strange boy, she reflected. His aunt and uncle had brought him to the orphanage, who stated that his parents had been killed and he had been 'dumped on their doorstep'. Although the matrons had been disapproving, in hindsight he was better off here then with family who didn't even like him.
She remembered how he had been taken to the infirmary first, because of a deep cut on his forehead. It had healed well by now, but the scar it had left was clear. It was in the shape of a lightning bolt, and very unusual. Few cuts had a distinct shape to them, and fewer still healed as a complete scar. And sometimes, the boy would cry out in the night, clutching at the said scar. It was a mystery, and one few adopters wished to deal with.
On top of that, the little boy was mute. He absolutely refused to speak-- the only time he was willingly vocal was during the night, when he had one of his nightmares, and even then it was only two words. 'Mommy' and 'stay'-- and the two words were usually together. Marie, the matron, remembered walking in on one of these nightmares once. She had found the little boy silently screaming, and then he had begun to say it, "Mommy stay, Mommy stay" Over and over again. It had been terrifying.
As far as the matrons knew, the small boy had lost his parents to a careless car accident. But that night Marie had asked the boy to draw a picture of his dream. There was no car in the picture. Instead, Harry had taken a green crayon and had scribbled over the paper, indicating a flash of green. It didn't seem to add up with the story of a car accident, but perhaps that was all the child remembered? Maybe it had been late at night, and it was a green light at a light stop. Sometimes Harry's reactions to the dreams were frightening.
Yet the matrons loved the little boy. He was full of love, even at such a young age. Marie remembered the day she had come into work a week after her husband has passed away from an ongoing fight with cancer. Little Harry, as he was often called, had crawled into her lap, and held her hand, as if he understood how much pain she was in. He had this amazing capacity for comfort and love, and often the matron wished that his parents had survived. They had obviously been wonderful people.
A little tapping on her shoulder pulled Marie away from her thoughts. Harry was standing in front of her, his mouth covered in oatmeal and a smile on his face. "Yes, little one?" Marie asked, reaching out to smooth a lock of hair away from his scar. Harry tugged at her sleeve, and walked away a bit, still holding on. Taking the hint, Marie got up, and followed him.
Harry led her to the door connecting this small room with the larger cafeteria. He pointed out, at all of the older orphans who mulled around. Marie smiled knowingly, and put her hand softly onto his head. "You know you can't go out there, dear, you're too young. I hope you never get the chance to go out there, by then you will be in a nice home with a new parent, or maybe parents. Wouldn't that be nice?" She stopped when she realized she was babbling, and quieted. Harry glanced up at her, and then nodded, smiling again.
Marie laughed, and pulled the small boy back to the other young children. "Let's get you cleaned up, hm?"
"You wished to speak with me, Headmaster?" The dour Potions professor entered the rounded room, feeling slightly apprehensive. Although he had learned over these last two years that Dumbledore was a kind man that he could trust, sometimes he was too kind. Often when he asked for an audience with Snape, it was usually to ask a favor, or else to talk. And Snape wasn't sure which was more unnerving.
It had been a mere two years since that faithful day, when frightened and horrified, Snape had fled to find Dumbledore. It was there that he had begged for forgiveness, and for the life of the woman he loved. Two years since she could not be saved, since Snape had willingly entered into Dumbledore's service. Dumbledore seemed to doubt Snape's ability to cope by himself, and often brought this experience up.
And yet, on the other side of these meetings, Dumbledore sometimes asked Snape for favors. Sometimes these were little things, potions for the Infirmary, or for the private stores. But occasionally they were more pressing.
"Ah, yes, please come in and sit down, Severus. How are you faring?" Dumbledore looked at Snape through the tops of his half-moon spectacles, and motioned for the younger man to have a seat. Snape did, and he couldn't help but feel that he was sealing his own fate as he did so.
"As well as could be expected, Headmaster." He answered stiffly, not caring to elaborate, and hoping to whatever god might be out there that Dumbledore would not press the matter. Thankfully, it seemed like the Headmaster had other issues on his mind. Although, when Snape heard what the other had on his mind after all, he almost wished he had been summoned for a chat.
"Good, good. Well, Severus, I'm sure you are wondering why I've asked you to come. You must understand that there are few others I could ask to participate in this favor I'm about to ask of you, and all of them are currently busy with other tasks." Dumbledore began, pausing to see how Snape would react.
He did not; he simply looked Dumbledore in the eyes, and replied coldly. "And what favor might this be?"
Dumbledore took a small breath, which in anyone else might have been a deep one. "I need you, Severus, to go and have a look at little Harry."
Dead silence met the words, in which Snape's eyes flickered for a minute. He studied the Headmaster. Surely the man couldn't be serious? Surely a three-year old boy at a well-known orphanage did not need to be 'looked at'.
"Pardon? Please tell me that you don't mean Potter?" Snape asked softly. Dumbledore seemed to notice his nervousness and chuckled.
"I do indeed mean Harry Potter. I will say it again; I would not ask if there was someone else for the job, but there is not. I'm sure he is perfectly fine, Severus. You must ask if you may see him, make sure he is well, and then leave. You need not be there long," Dumbledore elaborated.
"You are adamant in this?" Snape asked, his voice a draw.
"Very." Dumbledore agreed. The pair studied each other for a moment more, and then Snape sighed in resignation.
"Very well. But do not ask this of me again, Headmaster." The last words were almost a snarl, and without waiting for a reply, he swept from the room, robes billowing in his favorite way.
"I do not think I will need to, my boy." Dumbledore said softly as he watched the door to his office close. If his plan worked, Severus would return to the orphanage on his own.
The man, adorned in a black wool shirt and a casual pair of muggle jeans, approached the orphanage doors slowly. He had contacted the place earlier, and he knew that he must go in, as they were expecting him. But it was not as easy as that. What was that old man playing at, assigning him to this? He worked every day to put Lily out of his mind, to keep those overwhelming thoughts away-- and now he must face them in the form of her son. It was said that Harry Potter had his mother's eyes, and Snape hoped with all of his might that it was not true.
A motherly looking matron with curly black hair greeted him instantly at the door. She gave him a short 'hello', but did not make a move to bring him to where he would see the child. Instead, she stood there raking her eyes over him, as if judging him. He bore it, although he couldn't help but sneer.
"You'll be nice to him." The matron said suddenly, her words fierce and almost biting. "You'd better be, or I'll make sure you never come back. He's had enough to deal with in his life, and he doesn't understand much but kindness. You'll hurt him horrible if you're cruel to him."
Snape stared at her for a minute, before sneering even more. "I have no intention of being cruel to a three-year old" he replied stiffly, but she seemed to accept it, as she nodded and then led the way.
They came to a small room, in which the matron left Snape to go and fetch the boy. He glanced around, put off by the scattered toys. This really was a child's room, and suddenly he felt very uncomfortable. He had to get this over with, and fast.
The matron came back a few minutes later, holding the hand of a tiny boy who didn't look his age. His black hair was messy, but thin, and his head was turned downward as he stared at the floor. Snape found himself staring, unable to look away. He saw the matron give the boy a small, almost invisible nudge, and he finally looked up.
Snape felt himself freeze; go blank as if some giant magnet had wiped away all feeling. Lily. It was Lily. But, no. Wait. This was Harry. Harry Potter. But, damn it, those eyes. They were so startlingly green, so similar to Lily's. They stared at his own black ones, they were expecting, waiting.
The first thing Harry realized was that this man was tall. He was also a bit scary, with greasy black hair, and a slightly crooked nose. But the man looked almost frightened to see him, him, a little boy! His glittering black eyes were boring into Harry's own, and it was a bit disconcerting. Harry self-consciously brushed a strand of hair over his scar. Wasn't that what everyone saw when they first met him? His horrible scar?
"Hello Po…Harry." Snape finally spoke, his voice a whisper. He had tried to say 'Potter' but it hadn't come out. Sure, the boy had that same head of jet black hair, that same sharp face, but he had Lily's eyes, and that seemed to block out every bit of Potter on the boy.
Harry just stared at the man. He wanted to say hi back, but when he opened his mouth, he found that he couldn't force the words out. He never could. It was the same every time. Was the man going to leave now, because Harry couldn't speak with him? But no, suddenly a sneer was on the man's face.
When Harry opened his mouth to speak, Snape remembered himself then. He sneered at the boy's lack of words, and looked at the matron, who had been standing watching the exchange silently.
"Is your orphanage so incompetent that it cannot teach its wards to speak?" He asked, his voice drawn. He saw Harry flinch out of the corner of his eye, but ignored it, instead focusing on the angry glare he was now receiving from the matron.
"I was told that you knew about the boy's past. Is your employer so incompetent that he did not inform you that Little Harry is mute?" She answered back, her words more biting than Snape would have thought possible in the gentle looking woman. He felt taken aback-- the Potter boy was mute?
It must be after-effect of the curse that failed to kill him. Snape mused, ignoring the matron to look once again at Harry. The boy was hanging his head again, and Snape could see that his hand was clinging to the matron's. "Have you at least taught him sign-language?" Snape asked suddenly, not looking at the matron, although he was listening for her reply.
"Well, no. We thought that he was much too young to learn such a complicated thing." She replied. Snape made a skeptical noise in the back of his throat.
"If he was able to talk, he would be by now, correct? Well, then this is just another form of communication. Does anybody here know it?" Snape asked, all traces of a sneer gone from his voice. When he saw the matron shake her head, he frowned. "I think I've seen enough for now. I must go and speak with my…employer. Other than being unable to communicate, he seems happy and healthy. Keep him that way, if you will." Snape began to leave the room, and yet he felt like something was unsaid.
He turned slightly as he rested his hand on the door handle, and glanced at Harry again. "I may return to teach him," he said quietly, then he left the room, unable to take the green eyes staring into his any longer.
"You did not inform me that the boy is mute, Headmaster!" Snape snarled, having returned to Hogwarts to see Dumbledore immediately. This was his greeting as he entered the office. Dumbledore looked up, although he didn't seem surprised at Snape's return, nor his words.
"I did not think it was very important, and I knew you would find out when you went to see him. Is there another problem?" The Headmaster asked, putting down a sheet of parchment he had been reading.
"The boy does not even know sign-language. He cannot communicate." Snape replied, his voice losing only a little bit of its bite. He sat down in the chair opposite Dumbledore, and met the man's eyes.
"I'm afraid that there is little we can do about that. It is up to the orphanage to teach him such things. I have looked into this, I assure you. It seems fine to stay out of it for now," Dumbledore replied evenly.
"Well, why is he mute? Is it because of the curse that failed to kill him, or something else?" Snape demanded.
"No one is certain, Severus. Nobody can see any internal injuries, and I have reports from the orphanage that he does sometimes speak, usually in a midst of a nightmare. So I believe it must be a mental thing. Perhaps it will wear off as he ages," Dumbledore informed the younger man.
"Perhaps. And what if it does not wear off? The orphanage has no one there to teach him, Dumbledore. He will come here when he is eleven, with no way to communicate. How will he perform spells? There are ways it is possible if he knows sign language, but if he cannot communicate at all…" Snape allowed the sentence to hang, and to his satisfaction, Dumbledore seemed thoughtful.
"There is nothing I can think of to do, except for one thing. I believe you know what I am speaking of?" Dumbledore allowed his glasses to fall down his nose slightly, and his eyes glittered at Snape. The latter sighed and nodded.
He had already told the matron that he might return. He had gone expecting to hate the boy on sight, but he couldn't seem to put the little boy with his mother's eyes out of his head. Besides, he needed some way to communicate besides on paper, and perhaps if Snape did this one thing, he could feel as if he had repaid Lily…at least somewhat.
Harry needed this. Lily would have wanted it. With a bit of satisfaction Snape remembered that James had not known such a thing. If the pair was still alive, and Harry was still mute, he may have had the chance to teach him then too. With a slight smirk on his face, Snape nodded to Dumbledore.
"I will teach him what he needs to know, Headmaster." He saw Dumbledore smile, and his smirk fell.
"I thought you might, my boy," The older man said softly.
"Manipulating old coot," Snape muttered, causing Dumbledore to chuckle.
What on earth had he just agreed to do?
Again, not written by me. Stay tuned-- I'll be writing my own chapters coming up soon! Hang in there! :)