Chapter 1: Unexpected Problem
Severus Snape stalked up the steps to the second floor girl's restroom. Grumbling and hissing, the Head of Slytherin's strides were long and sharp, causing his robes to billow majestically behind him. Several Hufflepuffs shrank back in fear as the Potions Master glided past them and they whimpered softly. But for once, Snape did not notice, nor did he particularly care.
Coming to a halt at the restrooms, he saw Minerva McGonagall standing outside the door, her lip in a thin line and her dark blue eyes flashing from a range of different emotions. "Oh, Severus! I'm glad you're finally here," she exclaimed, motioning for him to come closer.
The younger professor did as he was bade and scowled at his old teacher. "What is it, Minerva, that you would interrupt my work?" It was Saturday, after all, a time when he could catch up on his grading and brewing. A time when he could be rid of all of the insufferable dunderheads that called themselves students.
When McGonagall did not even look cross at Snape for his tone was when the Slytherin was alerted that something serious must have happened. Dread tugged at his heart, but he occluded his mind quickly, forcing himself to remain cool and composed. If it was a terrible situation, then he would need all of his wits about him. He could not afford to go blubbering away like some silly Hufflepuff girl, nor could he charge in there stupidly like a Gryffindor. He had to be completely Slytherin.
"There has been a potion explosion," Minerva answered.
"What?" Severus frowned. "What, in the bathroom?" he could not keep the disgust out of his voice.
"Yes, yes, why else would we be here then?" the Head of Gryffindor huffed in frustration.
"What, they stir it in the loo?" Snape could not help but be outraged. Had he not explicitly lectured to all the little imbeciles about the volatile nature of potions? About how it was an exact art, one that demanded careful attention and perfection? When he caught the twerp that decided to disrespect his trade, they would pay dearly.
"Please, Severus, this is no time to make jokes," McGonagall sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose.
"Who's joking?" Snape hissed, before he pushed aside his resentment to get on with the matter at hand. "What potion was it? Who did this?"
Once again, the Transfigurations professor looked ruffled. "I don't know who did this, or what potion it is, Severus. It could be as harmless as Peper Up Potion, or it could be hazardous. I assume that since it exploded, that something was not done correctly, so I called you. I did not think it would be a good idea to simply try to banish the mess away."
"That was wise," the Potions Master nodded, taking out his wand. "If this is a potion that has gone completely wrong, then mixing magic into the equation may have made things much worse. You will make sure that this room will be unused, yes?"
"No one ever goes in here because of…well, you know," Minerva snorted.
"I had to make sure," Snape turned away, and opened the door.
Steam came out at him in a rush, and a sort of greenish blue smog hung in the air. Before taking a step inside, the Potions Master sniffed the air, hoping to distinguish the potion by smell. But it was not his luck. Although he would never admit it, Severus had absolutely no idea what this potion could be.
Taking a ginger step in, Snape looked around the entire bathroom again. Purple goo clung to the walls, the sinks, the stalls, and the ceiling. It was the worse potions explosion that the professor had seen in years. It was actually worse than any of Mr. Longbottom's attempts to brew in class.
But there, in the center of the room, lay a melted cauldron. It was the standard black iron, looking wholly unremarkable at all. If there had been a stir stick here, Snape did not see it. It had either been completely destroyed, or it was covered under a mound of goop. Either way, the professor doubted that it could be any help.
Looking down at his boots, which were now covered in purple slop, Snape took note that whatever this mess was, that it did not seem to react negatively with clothes. That was good news, he supposed, so he took out his wand and aimed it at a particular pile of mess.
As the spell hit the spot, the purple goo disappeared instantly, as though it had never been there at all. Snorting impatiently, the Potions Master realized that this was just a common, everyday mess that someone had made for him to clean up. He was not anyone's slave, and the thought of cleaning up after ungrateful teenagers really burned the professor. He would make it a priority to find out who did this. They would pay.
But unwilling to let McGonagall in, just in case, Severus began to tedious task of cleaning. The more he cleaned up, the more he became angry, and his anger never lasted long before it turned into fury. Yes, yes he would make the little dunderheads pay, Albus could not stop him. Let the children cry to Albus, he could not help them!
But as he was disposing of the goo, the Potions Master did not see the little creature crawling on the floor coming toward him, drooling merrily. It came over to the furious professor, covered in purple goop and smiles.
Suddenly Severus felt a sharp tugging on the back on his robes. Snapping his head back, he looked down to see a little baby with a lightning bolt scar sitting on his cloak, a first full of black material, giggling.
As though the child were a dangerous animal, Snape pulled his robe out from underneath the child as quickly as he could. The baby merely went up, and then landed on his bum again. The act was similar to a person pulling the tablecloth out from underneath a set table.
With a pounding heart, the professor stared down in shocked horror at the little thing that happened to still be smiling up at him. No, no, no! This could not be happening. This could not be who the professor thought it could be.
But when the child opened his large, green eyes, Severus knew that he was, unfortunately, right. This baby was none other than the infamous Harry Potter.
Looking about panicked, Snape tried to see if there was anyone there to help him, but of course there was not. He had told Minerva to make sure no one came in. "Why is it always you?" Snape glared down at the baby.
Little Harry merely smiled up at the Potions Master and clapped his hands excitedly. What nerve! The boy was still cheeky even as infant! "Brat!" Snape hissed, but it only furthered the child's glee.
Clearing the mess in record time, Severus opened the window to allow the smog to clear out, and cleaned his robes. The only thing he had left to do was take care of that Potter brat. A horrible image of him flushing the baby down the toilet crossed the professor's mind, but he shook it off instantly. Despite what he would tell others, he really did not want to physically harm children…just mentally, as it was fun to watch them squirm.
But this was a different situation entirely. Snape had never been good with children, and he was even worse with kids under the age of eleven. He had ever only handled one small child before, and that had been Draco Malfoy years ago now. What was he going to do with a baby? A Potter baby at that!
Walking up to little Harry as though he might attack, Snape leaned over and cautiously picked up the little bugger. The Boy-Who-Lived-To-Give-Heart-Failure-To-Others grinned a big toothless smile at the Potions Master before he giggled again. Drool flowed from the little mouth and managed to get onto the professor's hand.
Glowering at the baby, who giggled again, the professor walked over to the sink and set the child down. "You are in big trouble, you little brat," he hissed. "When we get you back to your normal self, you're going to be scrubbing cauldrons and writing lines for me until school gets out!" he threatened. "And then you'll pick it up after summer. Oh, and don't think that you're doing your house any favors either, because you're going to lose at least one hundred points, if I have my say!"
The speech was met only with a yawn and a sleepy smile. Sneering, Severus washed his hands before cleaning the goo covered baby. What was happening here? How was it that he got stuck cleaning Harry Potter? Where had it all gone wrong?
"Is everything alright now? Or are you all thinking up another way to get rid of me?" came the sulky whine of Moaning Myrtle.
Grinding his teeth together, the professor had to stop himself from screaming. It was just not his day, was it? "No, Myrtle," he barked. "For the last bloody time, no one's trying to get rid of you, so just go back into your bloody toilet!" he was careful not to let the ghost see the baby. The last thing he needed was for the whole school to know that Harry Potter, the brilliant Gryffindor, had managed to turn himself into a baby. He knew his Slytherins would be all over this opportunity. And perhaps rightly so.
Myrtle huffed and pouted. "You know, Professor Snape, I feel obligated to believe you, because if the Headmaster wanted me gone, then he would have let you get rid of me years ago." The ghost came rushing down to face the professor. "You'd be so much better looking if you smiled," she suggested innocently.
"GET AWAY!" Snape thundered. This was the last straw. Why was he still even here? Why had he let Dumbledore talk him into teaching? He could probably have his very own potions shop in Diagon Alley, away from stupid children, obnoxious co-workers, and flirtatious ghosts.
The Potions Master watched in slight satisfaction as the ghost's face crumbled and she began to cry. Snape's joy was short lived, however, when the wailing began. Wasn't she supposed to be Moaning Myrtle, not Wails-Excessively Myrtle?
Myrtle soon realized that Snape was not going to offer any sort of apology and soon dashed back into her toilet. As he watch on, the professor had to clench his jaw again when he turned back to stare at the child, who was dozing off. "Bloody Merlin," he growled as he picked up the baby. But when little Potter opened his eyes, and smiled tiredly at Severus, the wizard froze. Those eyes…
Clearing his throat awkwardly, the Potions Master found himself settling the child securely into his arms, trying to cover him up as best as he could. After all, the little brat was stark naked! But the Headmaster could deal with all this.
Plan firmly set in place, Snape began to walk out of the room. He stopped when he remembered that he would need a sample of the potion to experiment with for future reference. Perhaps then he could figure out just what Potter had been trying to brew. And why in the girl's bathroom!
Minerva was not in the hall when Severus emerged, which was just as good with him. So, as quickly, and as carefully, as he could, the professor flew to the Headmaster's office, making sure his bundle was out of sight. No students ever really stared at him when he stalked down the halls, at least not his front. They usually leap out of his way, which was always nice.
Coming to the gargoyles, after passing only a handful of students, Severus barked the password of "Mango Smoothie," which was, unfortunately, the Headmaster's new favorite drink at the moment thanks to an outing the old wizard had had out in a Muggle neighborhood, and quickly ascended the stairs. He did not want Potter to make a mess of his robes, especially while naked!
Without waiting for the old wizard to acknowledge him, Severus stormed through the door. "Headmaster," he called.
Sitting at his desk, a smoothie in one hand and a quill in the other, Dumbledore looked up and smiled. "Severus, my boy! Come in, come in."
The Potions Master fought to urge to groan, but there were more important things at hand then picking a fight with Albus about his new fetish. "We have a problem," he cut straight to the point. And before Dumbledore could speak, Severus brushed back his cloak to reveal the sleeping baby in his arms.
Instantly standing up from his desk, Dumbledore ran around, and motioned for Severus to take a seat. The Slytherin sat down, careful not to jar the baby. After all, it would not do to wake the little brat and have him screaming in his ear, now would it? Myrtle had already given him a headache.
The Headmaster raised an eyebrow at his subordinate's gentle manner, but went to looking the baby over. "Who is this?" he asked softly.
"Who do you think?" Snape spat, but quietly. Although his manner was more gentle, that did not mean his tongue was. "It's Potter!"
"Harry?" Albus was taken aback. "What happened?"
"A potions explosion on the second floor. Minerva called for me to clean it up and make sure it was not dangerous," he paused a moment to sneer down at the child, who was cradled securely in his arms. "But it appeared that it was, in a way. I found Potter there."
"Was there anyone else?" the Headmaster asked in alarm.
"No, just Moaning Myrtle," Severus's face darkened at the thought. "But she did not see Potter, I made sure of that."
"And the potion? Is everything all cleared away?"
"Yes, I took care of that," Snape acknowledged. "I did save a sample, just in case. But Albus, I would appreciate it if you would get a bottle of aging potion," he drawled. "I have no wish to hold this brat any longer than necessary."
Standing still for a moment, as though still trying to absorb the information, Dumbledore jumped after a moment. "Oh! Yes, of course. A moment if you please, Severus."
While Dumbledore looked through his private stores, Snape took the chance to inspect the little whelp in his arms. It was small, vulnerable, disgusting, and so very Potter like. Even at this age, Severus decided that he did not like this child. Who could like such a nasty, squishy pink thing? Why did anyone want to be parents?
When the Headmaster came back, Snape ripped the vial away from the old wizard and tried to wake the baby. "Wake up little dunderhead," Severus coaxed softly, ignoring the Headmaster's stern frown. "Wake up and take your potion so I can punish you properly."
Green eyes fluttered open, and again, for some odd reason, the child smiled up at Severus. Taken back by the look of complete trust and utter adoration, Snape resolved just to shove the potion into the child's mouth to make him drink. The professor could not afford to start getting soft. He was not a gentle man, he was not.
After drinking the required sip, little Harry's face screwed up into a look of disgust, and for a moment, Severus began to fear that the brat would start crying. It was the first stroke of luck all day when the child did not. Instead, Harry opted to turn over and snuggled closer to Snape's chest instead. There was a moment of silence.
"That's adorable!" Dumbledore's exclamation brought Snape out of his shock.
"It most certainly is not adorable!" he spat. "Potter didn't change back!" he cried helplessly.
"Well, it's obvious that whatever potion he has gotten into was not the standard age reversing potion," Albus stated unnecessarily. "I suppose we'll have to wait until he changes back to normal on his own."
"What!" Severus stopped himself short before he stood up. He did not want to wake the baby…because then that would make the child scream, no doubt. "What if he never changes back?"
"Then I suppose we'll have to find someone to care for him," the Headmaster shrugged.
Severus narrowed his eyes at the old wizard, as all of his warning signs flared to life. "You're taking all of this rather calmly, Albus," he remarked. "Why is that?"
"Because I realize that there is nothing we can do about it right now," the Headmaster said wisely. "Why worry? I'm sure things will sort themselves out eventually. Smoothie?"
"No, I don't want your bloody smoothie!" Severus hissed. "What I want to know is who's going to take care of Potter."
Instantly, Snape knew he had done something wrong when Albus's eyes began to twinkle fiercely. "Why, Severus, are you volunteering?"
"No!" he all but shouted. "No, I most certainly am not!"
The old wizard sat down at his desk and smiled looking down at Harry, and then up at Severus again. The Potions Master began to feel another tug of anxiety creeping into his chest. Why did those damn blue eyes always have to twinkle like that? It really did make them so much harder to read!
"Well then, my dear boy, I suppose that you are not volunteering, but I am ordering you to look after Harry until he turns back into a normal fifteen-year-old."
"What!" Snape was horrified. "But…But he might not change back! I don't want to look after the brat! I'm not good with small children, Albus. I'm not even good with children at all. I don't even like children!"
The Headmaster chuckled a little too merrily for Snape's comfort, and the Potions Master was severely tempted to hex the old fool. "Don't worry so much, Severus."
"Don't worry? Don't worry! Potter's an infant and he won't change back! Of course I'm going to worry, and you should too," he admonished angrily. "I refuse to do this."
"You made a promise to me," Dumbledore's entire manner changed in an instant into a serious countenance. "You said that you would watch over Harry after his parents died. And I'm holding you to that."
"But Albus!" Severus cried in dismay. "I can't do this! What about Minerva? She's the brat's Head of House, shouldn't he be her problem?"
"I'm afraid that most of the staff members are getting on in age, my boy," Albus looked a bit too feeble at that moment to be believable. "We cannot look after a baby. But you are the youngest staff member. You could do it!"
Sitting in horrified silence, Severus began to shake his head. "Absolutely not!"