Set at the start of Harry's second year. Severus/Harry mentor story, no slash. References to abuse, char. death. R&R!
Harry looked around the busy train station, trying to see his Uncle. Perhaps he had decided not to come; perhaps the shock of finding out Harry was a wizard and Dudley's pig tail had been too much and the Dursleys had decided to abandon him. Hours passed, and sitting on the bench was becoming laborious. The sun beat down harshly, causing the skin on the back of his neck to become crimson under the burning rays. He had not bought a drink on the Hogwarts Express, and he doubted his wizard money would buy him much here. Finally, as dusk was falling, a sharp voice sounded above him.
"He's over here, Vernon!" his Aunt's horse-like face peered down at him.
A hand roughly grabbed his shoulder, and Harry gritted his teeth to stop himself from crying out.
"We've been looking for you, boy. Your ruddy Headmaster chose not to send us a letter telling us when you finished school until this morning, and we weren't going to hurry for the likes of you," he snarled.
"Yes Uncle Vernon," Harry said meekly as he was deposited on the ground.
His Aunt merely glared at him as she lead the way back to the car, where his cousin was sitting stuffing himself with chips.
"Mum, my favorite program is on telly in an hour. I want to watch it! Why did we have to come out here for him anyway?" he whined, spraying Harry with chip crumbs.
"Don't worry pumpkin, we'll make it," she promised.
But a train had just come in, and people were everywhere. They got stuck behind a long line of cars, and by the time they were on the freeway Dudley was in tears. Vernon's moustache was twitching in anger, and as soon as the way was clear he planted his foot on the accelerator.
Harry watched in alarm as the speedometer rose, but he did not say anything. If there was one thing his Uncle hated, it was criticism. He felt his eyes drooping; he had been out in the sun far too long.
He awoke to his Aunt's shriek and a blinding flash of light, and then there was only pain. Something warm dripped through his fringe, and he groaned aloud. He tried to keep his eyes open, but it was so hard.
"Boy! Can you hear me? Keep your eyes open, help is on the way," a voice said urgently, but it sounded far away.
"Wha…what happened?" Harry croaked. His glasses were smashed against his face, and all he could see was darkness.
"You hit another car. You're trapped, between the front and back seat," the voice said calmly.
Harry gasped painfully.
"But my Aunt, and Uncle. Dudley?" he croaked.
The voice seemed to take a long time to answer.
"We're doing what we can for them, but you're our priority. What's your name?"
"Harry. It's Harry," but he could barely focus, the pain was overwhelming.
"Stay awake, come on…" but the voice faded as he spiraled into oblivion.
The quiet of a Potions Laboratory had always appealed to Severus, ever since he was a small boy. A place where no one pointed or laughed, a place where talent was judged, and not appearance. There was a certain beauty to shimmering potions, gleaming cauldrons and glassed ingredients.
Here he could become lost in his work, and ignore everything else. A light tapping on his door disrupted his reverie.
He opened it to reveal the Headmaster of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry; not unexpected, but not exactly welcome either.
"Albus, I expressly asked not to be disturbed this evening. There are many potions that require my 'unique skills' as you dubbed them, and I-" he was cut off when the Headmaster raised his hand.
"As you know, Arabella has been watching Harry since he was a small boy, reporting any oddities. This morning, Arabella watched the Dursleys leave to pick Harry up form the train station. It seems that they have not returned. It is not within their normal behavior," Although his voice was casual, there was a deep-set worry in the old man's eyes.
"So? They took the boy to the cinema, or out to dinner to celebrate his homecoming. Perhaps they stayed out too late and went to a hotel for the night? What these so called guardians of the boy do is of little concern to us, Albus," Severus sneered, flicking a lock of oily hair back.
"You know why I insisted on leaving Harry there, Severus. You are the only member of the Order with whom I have entrusted this information. I fear something has waylaid the family, and that something is wrong. All I ask is that you go to their residence, tomorrow if possible, and find out if Harry is OK," The inference was clear; Albus was not asking.
Severus scowled and trained his eyes on the nearest cauldron as if trying to distance himself from this distasteful task.
"I will go, Headmaster. But I will not speak to the boy. You of all people know why I despise him so," he said softly.
"Yes. We all have our skeletons in our closet, my boy. The secret is to let them out once in a while,"
"I have no wish to relieve any of those memories. Now, if you would excuse me, Headmaster. I must get a full night's rest if I am to go to Surrey tomorrow," he waved his hand in a dismissive manner.
"Of course. Severus, remember that Harry is not James. Truthfully, they have very little in common,"
Severus flinched outwardly at that statement.
'Bloody Potters, they're all the same. Spoilt, ignorant brats who never grow up, who never think of consequences. That boy- he is the worst of the lot.'
With a final scowl, Severus diminished the lights in his workroom.
The 'boy' shrieked as the metal rolled above him. He had been trapped in the wreckage for what seemed like an eternity. None of his relatives had spoken a word.
'They're unconscious, that's all,' Harry thought, refusing to believe the worst.
The Dursleys simply could not be dead. They had always been there, even it was only to hurt him or bring him down. Vernon had work tomorrow; Dudley had spoken of boxing class, and Petunia of her garden wilting in the heat. All of those things would still be there tomorrow, and it was inconvincible that the people involved would not.
"There now, we've almost got you out. He's awake," a voice said above him. His body seemed to be floating, the haze of pain becoming more and more distant as time passed.
He snatched phrases from the air;
"He's losing too much blood!"
"Gently now, he could have spinal injuries,"
"I need another sheet over here!"
Confused as they were, Harry tried to block them out. There were brief flashes of light, strange noises as he was lifted into the back of an ambulance. Someone was holding his hand, fingers pressed against his wrist, and something had been placed over his mouth helping him breath.
"Stay awake child, just stay awake,"
Obediently he kept his eyes open, albeit half lidded.
All he could think was 'At least if I die, I will see my parents again,'
The garden beds had been pruned to perfection, the paths were litter free. Every house looked exactly the same as the next, with shiny numbers displaying their only irregularity. Small children played in a park nearby; their squeals of joy unrestrained in the summer air. He moved amongst this paradise of residential living with characteristic scowl in place, his feet unwaveringly bringing him to his destination. The sooner he got this over with, the better after all. Finally he was in front of Potter's house. There was no movement, and no car in the driveway. Severus scowled all the more at the inconvenience. He had deliberately waited until late in the morning to run his errand, leaving the Dursleys ample time to return.
As he moved towards the door, a voice halted him.
"Are you a relative?" A woman next door looked over the fence at him, eyes wide.
Assembling himself into what could be passed as a human being, Severus answered.
"No, I'm afraid I am not. I am one of Potter's teachers. It seems he misplaced some of his possessions," he replied smoothly.
"Oh the Potter boy!" The woman's eyes darkened considerably. "Right spot of trouble that boy is. Petunia's always saying no good will come of him. At least she was. I don't think Petunia will be saying much of anything, anymore," Something about her tone made him stop. She was obviously one of those woman who took tabs on the neighbors simply because they hadn't anything better to do, and weren't educated enough to know better.
"What do you mean?" his voice sounded shaken, even to him.
"Had the police over this morning. Car accident killed the lot of them. Might get some decent neighbors now," she said the last wistfully, and looked over at the empty Dursley residence.
Severus brain seemed to burn the news. Potter, dead? Inconceivable.
"The boy, Harry-" the word sounded so foreign, but he ploughed on relentlessly. "He cannot be dead, I only spoke to him yesterday-"
"He's in the hospital, they said. Unconscious. Always a slippery one, as I said. If you're his teacher, that must mean you teach at St. Brutus', then?"
"What?" Severus said stupidly. He had turned to leave before she interrupted.
"St. Brutus' for incurable criminal boys, that's where Harry goes to school isn't it? Right bully he is,"
"Yes. I must be leaving now. The boy, is he in the local hospital?" Severus asked, resisting the urge to sprint from the house.
"Dunno. Probably," she seemed to have lost interest in him, and turned back to the magazine she had been reading prior to his arrival.
The Dursleys were old gossip by then; bring on the new!
A/N- Yes, I know I shouldn't be starting a new story when I have –looks- 16 unfinished ones, but it was itching to get out of my brain and so here it is. What do you think? Interesting, boring, predicable? Where would you like to see it go? If you review, then I'll know! ;)