Animagus in Hiding - by teddylonglong
It was a foggy Saturday morning in November, when nine year-old Harry Potter was standing in front of the mirror in the Dursleys' bathroom, practising growing his hair. Ever since his aunt Petunia had cut his hair too short a few weeks ago and he had managed to unconsciously let it grow back to its original length overnight, he had chosen quiet times to stand in front of the mirror and try to intentionally change his hair length.
On this Saturday morning, he had a very special idea. In a reoccurring nightmare, in which an evil man killed his mummy with a green flash of light, he knew that his mother must have had curly red hair. 'I'll try to change my hair to look like my mummy's. Maybe if I do that, Aunt Petunia won't complain about it being too unruly and won't try to cut it anymore,' he decided and stared intensely at his face in the mirror.
By the time his cousin stormed into the bathroom without even knocking, Harry's hair had taken on a different colour and had become just a little bit curly.
"Mum!" Dudley shouted and fled the room, causing Petunia to rush upstairs to see what was wrong. "The freak l... looks s... strange," Dudley stuttered, frightfully pointing to the open bathroom door.
"Lily!" Petunia gasped, before she got a grip on herself and said angrily, "How often do we have to tell you not to do any freakish things in our house? Go back to your room; I will tell Uncle Vernon what you did, and he'll punish you later on."
Red-haired Harry fled back into his cupboard, anxiously cowering in a corner, knowing what could be expected when his uncle would come to see him. Suddenly, he had an idea. 'If I can manage to look like my mum, maybe I'll be able to transform myself so that I look like Yoda.'
Yoda was Harry's only friend. He had named him after hearing his classmates talk about Star Wars. There was only one problem with Yoda. He couldn't speak. Harry was sure that he understood everything he told him, and he was always there for him when he returned to his cupboard, sitting on the same spot in a small gap in the shabby, white coloured wall above Harry's mattress. Yoda was a very friendly spider, and he had been there for Harry as long as he could remember.
Harry stared intensely at his friend, concentrating on the spider's features. By the time Vernon looked into the small cupboard a few hours later, there was no small boy anxiously awaiting his arrival. Only two spiders were glancing at him from a gap in the wall, but Vernon chose to ignore them.
"Hi Yoda, I'm Harry," Harry told his friend.
"I know that. I've been watching you for ages. It's cool to be able to talk to you though. How come you ended up being like me?"
"I wanted to be a spider like you to hide from my uncle," Harry replied softly.
During the next few months, Harry didn't have the urge to change back into his human form even once. The Dursleys readily accepted that the freak was gone, the spider taught him how to find something to eat and how to get into the garden for a small walk through a few gaps in the wall, and Harry had the best time of his life in his spider form.
It was on Harry's tenth birthday that Minerva McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor, Head of Gryffindor, Deputy Headmistress and late Lily Potter's mentor, entered the Headmaster's office in a state of extreme agitation.
Refusing the old wizard's offer of a lemon drop, she came straight to the point. "Albus, Arabella Figg just contacted me. She told me that she hasn't seen Harry for more than six months, and in order to check on him, she asked Petunia to send Harry over to her for his birthday. But Petunia apparently told her that Harry wasn't living with her anymore. She told her he suddenly and mysteriously vanished around Halloween last year."
Dumbledore slowly unwrapped a lemon drop and calmingly pointed to one of the glassy devices at one side of his desk. "Harry Potter is safe and sound at his relatives' home. Rest assured, Minerva, that I am closely watching the boy's whereabouts."
"Are you sure, Albus?"
"Of course, my dear," the Headmaster replied, popping the lemon drop into his mouth.
However, exactly a year later, the Headmaster was eagerly awaiting a response from one Harry Potter to the hundreds of invitations to Hogwarts that had been sent out to his address during the last few days. He spoke with his most trusted colleagues at breakfast.
"Harry Potter has not replied to any of his letters. I must assume that he either didn't receive them, which I can hardly imagine, or that he doesn't know how to reply, which is strange, because Petunia should remember how to send an owl from the time when Lily attended Hogwarts. Anyway, I need one of you to go and hand the boy his letter and help him to reply," he said gravely.
"I'll be doin tha," Hagrid, the half giant, offered readily. "I'll also take lil 'arry shoppin to Diagon Alley if tha's all right, Professor Dumbledore, sir."
Everyone gratefully agreed; however, a few hours later, Hagrid returned and informed the teachers, who were just having lunch in the Great Hall, that he couldn't find the boy. "Mrs. Dursley tol me that he upped sticks and left two year ago," he said gravely, wiping a huge tear from his cheek.
"Now now Hagrid, I am sure that Harry is still at Privet Drive, and he is alive," Dumbledore said gently, turning to the Potions Master. "Severus, may I ask you to go and check on the boy? If anyone can find him, even if he is somewhere hidden in the house, it should be you."
Severus Snape jumped up from his seat, unconsciously letting his fork clatter down on the plate. "How can you expect me to go and check on a Potter?" he spat, glaring at the Headmaster in disbelief.
"He must be somewhere in the house. If you can't find him, you could transform into your snake form and perhaps access parts of the house, in which you wouldn't be able to proceed in your human form," Dumbledore replied matter-of-factly. "Please Severus. Go now."
"Yes Headmaster," Snape replied and angrily strode out of the Great Hall and down to the Apparition point in Hogsmeade, quietly muttering to himself.
At Privet Drive...
Arriving at Privet Drive, Severus decided to cast an invisibility charm on himself that would make him invisible to Muggles, having no intention of being forced to speak with Lily's horrible sister, whom he remembered only too well from his childhood.
To his immense relief, the house seemed to be empty. 'Thank God,' he thought and thoroughly skimmed the house for the son of his former best friend and his greatest enemy to no avail. After checking all the rooms, looking into all the cupboards and even into the cellar, he finally transformed into his snake form and once again meticulously searched the whole house.
'I don't have a clue,' he thought when he finished his second round with the small cupboard under the stairs. 'If Albus really thinks the boy is somewhere here in the house, he has to come and search for himself.' With that, he slowly slithered back into the hall, where he swiftly transformed back into his human form and apparated straight back to Hogsmeade.
Harry was just taking a walk around the cupboard when a tall man, completely dressed in black with a strange silver shimmer surrounding his body, entered the room. The man looked around as if he was searching for something but finally left. Harry quickly hid on the shelf to prevent being stamped on by the man. 'He smells good,' he thought, sensing the aroma of insects and herbs coming from the man's hands. A little later, a black garden snake with a wonderful green pattern on its back entered the cupboard through the door, which the man had left slightly ajar. 'The same smell as before,' Harry thought and hesitantly climbed onto the snake's back to enjoy the smell for a little while.
However, the snake quickly slithered back into the hall and to Harry's shock changed into the tall man he had seen earlier. Harry found himself sitting on the back of the man's dark robes. 'Oh no; where is he going to take me?' he thought, horrified, and quickly hid in one of the side pockets of the man's robes.
Severus Snape returned to his private quarters, laid his robes over a chair in the living room, unaware of the small spider with green eyes that slowly climbed out of his robe pocket, span its way down to the floor and made its way into the bookshelf, from where it watched the professor kneel down in front of the fireplace.
"Albus, I'm sorry, but I couldn't find Potter," he told the Headmaster. "I searched the whole house twice, in my human form and in my Animagus form. I couldn't even sense his magic; I only could feel some kind of magic in a small cupboard under the stairs, but considering the children's paintings at the wall in the cupboard, that must have been where Potter lived, which explains the small amount of magic still residing in the room."
"Thank you, Severus," the Headmaster said gravely. "I will go and speak with Petunia Dursley and check the house once more."
Suddenly, Severus could hear through the Floo network that an alarm went off in the Headmaster's office. "Albus, what happened?" he asked curiously.
"Oh no," the Headmaster said in desperation. "The wards around Privet Drive are beginning to fail. Harry must have left his aunt's home for good." He paused for an instant, before he added, "Yes Severus, he is not at Privet Drive anymore. You didn't take him away, Severus, did you?"
The Potions Master rolled his eyes. "Albus, I just told you that I couldn't find him, didn't I? Maybe that explains why the house seemed deserted."
"Perhaps he left just before you arrived," Dumbledore said gravely. "Severus, we must find him. He needs to start his education on the first of September."
"Very well; if there is anything you need me to do, contact me," Severus replied, trying to keep his annoyance at the thought of searching for the spoilt brat at bay and ended the Floo connection.
He let himself sink into his favourite arm chair and called Cicero, his house-elf, who brought him a cup of his favourite tea. "Oh Lily, how in the world am I supposed to keep your son safe if I don't even know where he is? How could you make me swear an oath to keep him safe only to get yourself killed a week later? I wonder what happened to the brat though," he pondered aloud.
Harry made himself comfortable in a small gap between the shelf and an old tome and observed the professor with interest. 'Where am I here?' he mused, 'and who is that man? He told the other man something that he couldn't find Potter. Does he mean me? Did he come to my cupboard to search for me? Oh right, they talked about Aunt Petunia. But why would someone come to look for me? I'm already eleven, and until now no one ever came for me.'
In surprise, he followed the man's soliloquy about the promise he had made to Lily. 'Was that my mum?' he wondered. 'The man said something about a promise he made on behalf of me? I have no idea what all this is about. Who are these people and where am I?'
Suddenly, a thought entered his mind. 'I could change back into my human form and ask the man.' However, knowing that he wasn't supposed to be a burden to anyone, to let himself being seen by anyone and to ask questions, he quickly dismissed the idea and decided to make himself at home in the shelf for the time being. 'It's just a pity that I couldn't bring Yoda,' he mused. 'He will miss me.'
During the following days, Harry slowly became used to the tall man's company. He had found out that his name was Severus, and that the man was a brilliant actor. 'He behaves as if he was very mean and says unfriendly things to people like Uncle Vernon, but if he thinks to himself when he's sitting in the arm chair over there, he always explains why he said this or that, and he is always right and in fact very cool,' he thought after observing Severus and two women called Minerva and Poppy have tea together sometimes in the evening.
Of course, he remembered that it wasn't all right to listen in when adults were talking. However, they were sitting on the group of chairs and sofas that occupied the centre of the oval shaped room, which was surrounded by bookshelves. The huge shelves were only interrupted by the fireplace, a few windows and a door leading into a small corridor. From his position on the bookshelf, he just couldn't help hearing every single word. And to his surprise, half of the adults' conversations turned out to be about himself.
'This is so strange,' he thought. 'Why are they so interested in me, and what do they want from me? No one has ever taken interest in me. Maybe the Dursleys have reported me to the police because of doing freaky things, and they're looking for me now because of that,' he suddenly realised. 'But no, they seem very nice, and I saw the man doing something freaky too. He called a pen from over there and it flew through the air to him. Maybe they're all freaks just like me,' he thought in excitement. 'Too bad that I can't ask anyone.'
Severus had yet to notice the spider with the emerald eyes on his bookshelf. Not that he paid much attention to the spiders as thousands of them lived in the castle. He more or less enjoyed the calm before the storm that was going to descend on the place in form of several hundred students in a few weeks' time. He usually spent the morning in his office, preparing the lesson plans for the upcoming school year, and enjoyed the afternoon in his private lab, brewing batches of potions for Madam Pomfrey.
Whenever he managed to finish his brewing in time, he grudgingly attended dinner in the Great Hall, knowing that the Headmaster was very insistent that he and his colleagues show up for this meal every day.
Unfortunately, the Headmaster was not in a good mood to say the least. According to the old wizard, the disappearance of Harry Potter just before the important sorting ritual at Hogwarts could only be equated as the beginning of the demise of the magical world. Dumbledore frantically searched for the boy all over the wizarding world to no avail. During the last few days of August, the Headmaster was hardly ever present in the castle, and in the evenings, the four Heads of House and Madam Pomfrey made it a habit to join Severus in his living room for tea, apparently knowing that the only way to include their youngest colleague into their gatherings was to intrude into the privacy of his quarters.
"Is there still no sign of Harry Potter?" Professor Sprout queried on the last evening before the first of September.
"Unfortunately not," McGonagall replied sadly. "It's very disappointing. Lily was like a daughter to me and little Harry like a grandson. I often babysat him when he was a baby. I was really looking forward to finally have him attend Hogwarts. Albus is sure that the boy is alive and unharmed; however, he has no idea about his whereabouts. He is devastated."
"He is not only devastated, Minerva. He is on the verge of a heart attack," Madam Pomfrey spoke up in concern.
"I wonder if the boy knew that he was a wizard and was supposed to attend Hogwarts from tomorrow onwards, before he vanished," Professor Flitwick said in his high-pitched, child-like voice, causing the spider in the bookshelf to frown.
'I am a wizard?' he mused. He already knew that Hogwarts was the name of the school, in which he seemed to have ended up. 'Maybe I should change back into my human form and tell them that I'm Harry Potter. I don't know why, but apparently they really want me here.'
He still couldn't make up his mind but slowly moved towards the edge of the shelf, and the small movement caught the Potions Master's attention. He looked straight into the spider's green eyes and unconsciously let out a small gasp, causing his colleagues to follow his gaze.
"Lily's eyes," the professor whispered in a hardly audible voice, but loud enough for his colleagues and Harry to understand.
"Severus, you are imagining things," Professor Sprout sighed, rolling her eyes. "There are spiders with green eyes, even if they might be rare."
"With dark green eyes yes, but not with this kind of emerald eyes," Severus replied firmly without taking his gaze off the spider.
Harry returned the look, knowing that the man everyone called Severus was very gentle and would not harm him. 'Are you Harry?' his voice suddenly penetrated Harry's mind, and he carefully tried to nod his spider head. Severus gently held his hand in front of the shelf, inviting the green-eyed spider to step on it, and to everyone's surprise, Harry accepted the invitation. 'I like his smell,' he thought as he calmly sat on the man's hand.
"Are you really Harry Potter?" Severus asked once more, causing Harry to nod again, while everyone else let out simultaneous gasps.
"If I put you on the floor, will you be able to change back into your human form?" Severus queried, causing Harry to stare at him without an idea how he could tell the man that he hadn't tried to change back yet.
"Well, give it a try," the professor said and placed him on the floor, apparently understanding his uncertainty.
'My human form,' Harry thought, trying to remember how he had looked that day with his red, curly hair and his green eyes. An instant later, he found himself standing in the middle of the room in his human form, feverishly trying to hide behind the professor as everyone looked at him with amazement and interest.
"Hello Harry. There is no need to hide," Professor McGonagall said in a soft voice and gently pulled Harry onto the sofa next to her. "My, your red hair suits you very well, sweetie. Now, can you tell us how you ended up as a spider and in Professor Snape's quarters?" she asked, giving Harry an encouraging look.
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered, noticing that his voice was a bit hoarse, probably because he hadn't used it for such a long time. "I didn't mean to hide..." He gratefully accepted the pumpkin juice Madam Pomfrey placed in front of him and slowly explained to the teachers what had happened, before he shyly averted his eyes to the floor.
"Well, congratulations, Mr. Potter. You're probably the first student, who has made his way into Hogwarts in form of a spider," Severus sneered, causing Harry to throw him an anxious look. "Very well then, are you ready to become a student here from tomorrow onwards?" the professor asked, throwing him a sharp look.
"I'd love to become a student here if that's all right," Harry replied hesitantly.
"Yes Harry, that is all right, and I believe that we'll have a lot to speak about tomorrow morning. For now, I suggest that you either remain here in Professor Snape's quarters or come with me and spend the night in my guest room. It's very late considering that you're going to have an exciting day tomorrow," McGonagall said softly.
"Harry, you can come with me if you want," Professor Sprout offered gently, smiling at the red-haired boy.
Harry threw the Potions Master a questioning look. "May I perhaps stay with you, sir?" he asked in a small voice, causing everyone to look at him in surprise.
"Very well," Severus agreed, smirking. "Do you prefer the bookshelf in your spider form or the bed in my guest room?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at the child.
"I don't want to be a burden, sir. Everything is fine with me," Harry replied softly, wiping any possible sneer from the Potions Master's face.
Severus exchanged a quick look of apparent shock with his colleagues and motioned Harry to follow him into his guest room. He took a tissue from the night table and transfigured it into soft, green pyjamas that exactly matched Harry's eyes.
"Thank you so much, sir," Harry said gratefully as the professor pressed the soft pyjamas into his hands.
"You're welcome, Harry. The bathroom is behind the green door. Maybe you should take a shower after residing in the dusty bookshelf for a month."
"Thank you sir," Harry replied and gratefully accepted the offer.
As soon as he returned to his room, dressed in his freshly conjured pyjamas, and hesitantly eyed the comfortable looking bed, Severus re-entered the room.
"Is there any problem, Mr. Potter?"
"Um..." 'Am I really supposed to sleep in such a big and comfy looking bed?' Harry wondered in disbelief.
"Why don't you get into bed, and we'll speak about everything in the morning," Severus suggested, causing Harry to anxiously sit on the edge of the bed.
"Is anything wrong?" Severus asked, motioning for Harry to lie down, waiting until Harry complied, before he gently tucked him in. "Good night, Mr. Potter. My bedroom is the one behind the dark blue door, just in case you need me during the night."
"Thank you, sir," Harry replied softly and slowly closed his eyes, feeling happier and more cared for than he could remember ever having felt before.
Harry and Severus spent the following day talking about the magical world, about Hogwarts, Harry's shape shifting and Animagus abilities and Harry's mother. They walked to Hogsmeade and after a visit to the Gringotts branch, so that Harry could gain access to his vaults, they bought clothes, school books, potions equipment and everything else he was going to need for the upcoming school year.
"Thank you so much for doing all this for me," Harry said gratefully as they sat down in the Three Broomsticks to have a sandwich and a butterbeer for lunch.
"No problem, Harry," Severus replied softly, thinking in amazement how Harry was the spitting image of Lily. "I'm glad that I found you right in time. In fact, you were supposed to take the Hogwarts Express this morning, which all of the students are currently riding. However, since we had to buy your school supplies, you missed this event and will have to wait a year to experience it. I will take you to the station in the evening though, so that you can ride the boats to the castle together with your classmates. Now, if you're finished eating, I suggest that we return to Hogwarts, since the Headmaster is eager to meet you."
"All right, sir," Harry said readily and tried his best to keep up with the Potions Master's fast pace as they returned to the castle.
A few hours, a conversation with the Headmaster, more talks and a short introduction to Potions from Professor Snape and a boat ride later, Harry was excitedly listening as the Sorting Hat talked in his head, before it finally shouted "Slytherin" into the Hall.
With a relieved sigh, Harry handed the Hat back to Professor McGonagall, casting a quick smile to the Potions Master as he made his way to the Slytherin table in anticipation of meeting children, who were as freakish and magical as himself and perhaps would even be willing to become friends with him.
Thanks to my husband for beta-ing!
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.