Chance Meeting at The Ink Pot - by teddylonglong
A.N. The beginning might be a bit similar to my story "Encounter with the Devil in the Toyshop" (which I posted under Healer Pomfrey), but the story will develop in a completely different way!
Warning: This will become very AU in the future!
Severus sighed deeply as he left Flourish and Blotts. 'I don't need the book tomorrow; I need it NOW. Maybe I should try the secret room at The Ink Pot. They could have it,' he mused as he hurried through the Leaky Cauldron to Muggle London and strode around the corner to the bookshop he visited when his favourite bookshop couldn't provide the book he wanted. The Ink Pot was a huge Muggle bookshop, but unbeknownst to the Muggles it held a secret chamber that was full with magical books, and the magical part was as well assorted as the Muggle part.
Severus entered the bookshop, sighing in relief as he left the street noise behind him. With the same measure as he despised the street traffic outside, he enjoyed the quiet of the bookshop. It was nearly as soothing as spending time in a Potions lab, his favourite place in the world; well maybe not as soothing. Severus strode towards the secret door that was placed between the travel section and the children's section of the bookshop, noticing in annoyance that a woman was deep engrossed in a dispute with one of her two sons right in front of the hidden door.
"No, I don't want a book!" the fat boy shouted, causing his mother to sigh in annoyance.
"Oh Duddeykins, reading is so nice, and I'm sure Father Christmas would bring you a whole pile of books," the mother said in a soft voice, causing the boy to jump up and down with both feet, shouting at his mother again.
"Father Christmas will bring me anything I want, and I don't want books!"
"I'd be so happy if Father Christmas brought me a book," the other boy, who was timidly standing aside, spoke up in a hardly audible voice.
The woman let out a snort. "As if Father Christmas would bring anything for bad boys like you. Father Christmas doesn't bring presents for freaks! You should know that by now."
"Yes Aunt Petunia," the small boy said quietly, sadly averting his eyes to the floor.
It was only a tenth of a second, during which Severus could see the boy's eyes, but it sufficed. He recognised them immediately. 'Lily!' He knew that this was Lily's child. 'Oh right, Petunia,' he remembered, 'her horrible sister, who always harassed both of us because of being magical.'
"Now Duddykins, let's have a look if we can find anything interesting for you," Petunia said soothingly, before she hissed at the other boy, "Stay out of the way, you're enough of a burden just by being alive, you ungrateful little urchin."
Severus had heard enough to completely shake off the thought of the boy's father with the same messy black hair. Instead, memories of his own father began to push themselves to the front of his mind, but he pushed them aside and decided to try something to communicate with the boy. It was worth a shot. 'Harry, can you hear me? Don't say anything, just nod your head if you hear me,' he telepathically transmitted to the boy without further ado.
Seconds later, Harry nodded his head, just a little bit, before he glanced around with a frightened expression on his small face. His eyes lingered on Severus for a few seconds, before he turned back.
'Yes, it was me who spoke with you. Don't be afraid, child. I know who you are. I was your mother's best friend. Stay where you are for a few minutes and hold your aunt back for some reason if she wants to leave. I'm going to buy a book for you, and I'll insert a parchment that will enable you to contact me. I'll just leave through the hidden door in front of you and I'll be back soon. Do you understand me?' he thought to the boy, who once more nodded slightly.
Severus strode through the secret door into the magical room. It only took him a minute to find the book he needed so urgently. 'Thank God,' he thought and turned to the children's shelf, skimming the shelf for the booklet he wanted to give Harry. Quickly confirming that he was alone in the room, he pointed his wand at the booklet, charming it to look like a normal Muggle book called 'The Little Prince' to Muggles. Only the man at the checkout would be able to recognise the book from the label that displayed the price. He pulled a parchment out of his robe pocket and attached it inside the book just behind the front cover, before he laid a charm on the booklet together with the parchment that would prevent anyone taking it from Harry.
With that he strode back to the Muggle part of the shop, registering from the corner of his eyes that the Dursleys hadn't moved yet, and paid for the books, before he asked the owner of the bookshop, "Can you please wrap this booklet as a present and hand it to Harry Potter, the small boy with the messy black hair and the beautiful green eyes over there?"
"Yes of course, I'll do that, Mr. Snape," the old man replied gently.
"Oh, and please don't let his aunt know my name," Severus remembered to instruct the owner of the bookshop. 'Harry,' he once more thought to the boy, 'since I don't want your aunt to recognise me, I'm leaving the book for you here with the owner of the bookshop. He'll give it to you when you leave. I attached a parchment inside the book. If you write on it, I'll be able to read it and to reply to you. No one will be able to take the book away from you or remove the parchment. Do you understand me?'
Harry turned around to face Severus and nodded anxiously, just as Petunia gave up convincing Dudley to add a book to his long list for Father Christmas and hurried to pay for the gardening book she had chosen earlier.
The owner of the bookshop leaned over and said gently, "A customer left a book as a present for one Harry Potter. Might that be you?" He looked straight at Harry, who stepped nearer and shyly looked at the man.
"Yes sir, that's me. Thank you very much," he said softly, happily taking the book from the man's hand.
"Why would anyone give that little bother a present?" Petunia sneered and without waiting for an answer paid for her book.
"He is a gentleman. I know him well, because he is a frequent customer," the old man said in his soft voice, glancing over to Severus, who was hiding behind a bookshelf. "Have fun reading, young man," he added gently, and Harry noticed in amazement that his eyes were twinkling with joy.
Severus watched Harry and his relatives leave the bookshop, and a small smile crept on his face. 'Well Lily, maybe I'll be able to keep my oath of keeping your child safe in spite of the Headmaster's instructions to stay away from him.' With that he left as well and turned around a corner before apparating back to the Apparition border of Hogwarts, pondering if he should tell Minerva about the matter or keep it to himself.
Harry trailed along behind his aunt and Dudley to where his uncle was supposed to pick them up, happily cuddling his book closely. 'I have a book,' he thought in disbelief, 'my own book, just for me, and no one can take it from me. That's too good to be real. But who was the man? He felt so... soothing. I don't know why, but I sensed it when he walked nearby. There was something. I don't know what it was though. Something about him felt familiar. I'll try to contact him later on. He must know me, because he knew my name. Oh, and he said he was my Mum's best friend,' he suddenly remembered.
Petunia shot him a menacing glare, not used to the fact that her nephew was walking along the street with a huge smile on his face. "You ungrateful urchin," she hissed. "Aren't you ashamed? Begging in the bookshop until people take pity and buy you a book. Show it to me," she demanded, trying to take the booklet from Harry.
However, as soon as she took the book into her hands, it jumped back to Harry, who watched the book's movement in absolute amazement.
"The Little Prince," Dudley deciphered the title. "Mum, that sounds interesting. I want the book. Take it away from the freak," he began to whine, causing Petunia to take pity on her son.
"Give the book to Dudley. He earns it more than you," she ordered the smaller boy.
"No; the man bought it for me," Harry replied in a small voice.
"Don't you dare..." Petunia began to threaten him, just when Dudley jumped onto Harry trying to grab the book. However, as soon as he touched the cover, the book fought back and jolted Dudley, causing him to land on his bum.
Harry couldn't help chuckling at the wonderful present he had received. 'As soon as I'm back in my cupboard I have to write a message to the kind man,' he resolved, and no one, not even his uncle, would be able to wipe the smile from his face on that day, the happiest day since that fateful Halloween five years ago.
Thanks to my husband for correcting my mistakes. Nevertheless, there might be mistakes left; as you know I'm not a native speaker of English.
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.