A/N: This story is going to be updated about once or twice a week, as it takes me a while to make final edits. There will be one (and only one) instance of spanking, but that will be in a later chapter and can be easily skimmed over. Abuse by the Dursleys will be spoken of a little bit, but not in much detail and it is canon to the books, nothing extra. Takes place just after the Department of Mysteries disaster.
Chapter 1 - A Sip in the Park
The clock was an old Mickey Mouse clock that Dudley had gotten from Disney Land in Paris, during one summer long ago when Harry had been stuck at Mrs. Figg's. It had stopped working a few years ago and had been thrown in the second room of Dudley with all the other broken toys, and it had taken Harry three hours to fix when he was ten.
That was all for naught now though, as Harry had smashed the clock to bits twenty minutes earlier.
The rain pounding against the window in the early summer afternoon, combined with the damned loud clicking of the clock had made Harry's eye twitch, two words beating through his heart with each tick.
Ce-dric. Siri-us. Ced-ric. Siri-us. Ced-ric. Siri-us.
Downstairs he knew Dudley was sitting with his aunt and uncle, watching their regular Thursday television programmes. Probably sharing a huge tub of popcorn as well, as they laughed at the stupid shows. They'd ignored Harry for most of the summer he'd been home, preferring to let him sulk in his room. Uncle Vernon called it sulking; Aunt Petunia called it grieving, though whatever it was, they both demanded he get over it soon and start picking up his weight around the house again.
Harry stared at the clock he'd broken out of anger, anger that had abated only a little. Number two on the list, Harry snorted to himself. The Five Stages of Grief – he'd been circling around anger for quite a while.
Harry sat on his bed staring at a piece of paper that he'd crumpled so many times in his hands that the paper had become soft. Dale Street, in Stockport, England - an address he'd found in one of his Aunt's old boxes up in the attic. He'd spent four hours searching through the boxes one day when he'd first gotten home from Hogwarts, looking for anything that connected him to his real family, to his parents. And all he had in his hand was an address.
Springing up from the bed, Harry stalked over to his wardrobe and pulled out a backpack. Let them laugh downstairs, their little family. He would go to Stockport, and find his. Harry shoved a few changes of clothes into his bag, and pulled his wand out from under the floorboard. The invisibility cloak was packed in his bag as well, and he let Hedwig out of her cage, telling her to fly to the Burrow for the while.
After checking to make sure nothing important was left in his room that could be damaged by the Dursleys, Harry threw on a hoodie and stomped down the stairs. Dudley was, as expected, glued to the television. Uncle Vernon was sitting beside him, still ignoring Harry's existence. Harry walked toward the kitchen, where he knew his Aunt would be cleaning up after Dudley and Uncle Vernon.
She took one look at his bag, and crossed her arms with a nasty look.
"Where do you think you're going, boy?"
"Stockport." Harry replied with an even tone, enjoying the look of surprise on his Aunt's face. Of all answers, he knew she would be expecting that one least.
Petunia scowled and threw the rag she'd been holding in the sink.
"Don't know why you'd want to go to that dump."
"To see where my mum grew up." Harry bit back, keeping his anger in check. Aunt Petunia still was his guardian, so permission to go was somewhat required.
Petunia looked like she was sizing him up, and it had not escaped her notice that Harry was rolling his hand over his left sweater sleeve, where she figured he'd stashed his wand.
"You're to stay in the house. Blood wards or some claptrap like that." It was a weak excuse, and Harry knew that Petunia didn't much care if he left.
"I'm going to the place my mum grew up. I think I'll be safe there." Harry replied, in his most sarcastic voice. Even Snape would have been proud.
"Fine." She turned around to make herself a snack, effectively dismissing her nephew. He shuffled toward the hall door, but stopped when she called him.
"Harry. Don't come back till Monday. We'll be gone the weekend." She didn't bother to look up, nor ask where he'd be staying. The statement merely meant that he was to behave well enough that no further owls were sent their way.
Harry took the bus to London, traveling the muggle way to avoid being noticed on the Knight Bus. Once in London, he wandered around the train station a bit, before finally summoning his courage enough to stroll into Tesco and pick up a six-pack can of beer. He bought some crisps for himself as well, and a prepackaged sandwich for the train ride. The twenty-year old cashier had inspected his ID card rather vigorously, however Harry knew it was perfect. It had taken him a few hours at school to charm the date to make him older, but he was quite proud of the results. No one could argue with the matching lightning bolt scar on the photo, it was definitely Harry's ID.
His bag now a little heavier, Harry bought himself a one-way ticket and walked across the platforms at King's Cross, slipping through the crowds of summer tourists. His legs seemed to be on autopilot, and he waited silently for the train to arrive on platform 7. Harry closed his eyes as loud families gather around him like a waiting storm; his feet subconsciously pointed towards the gate to platform 9 ¾.
The train finally arrived, ten minutes late, and Harry boarded quickly. He scowled at anyone who looked his way, thus ensuring that no one sat near him as the train started the roll out toward the Euston exchange. The ticket to Manchester had been more expensive than he'd thought, and though he'd planned his trip much better than when he'd run away after blowing up Aunt Marge, Harry found himself carefully counting his coins. Perhaps he'd have to take the Knight bus back, as it was much cheaper and faster to boot.
Harry put a pair of headphones in his ears and turned on his cd player, or rather, Dudley's old one. Music filled his ears and he leaned back against the seat. The rain had not lessoned in London, and it beat against the windows of the train. Harry shuddered as he remembered his train ride to Hogwarts during third year. He found himself looking across the aisle, looking for Remus to protect him again, from the dementors he couldn't shake the feel of.
Remus wasn't there. Instead, he saw a watery reflection in the window, and Harry told himself that it wasn't Sirius' face he was seeing. Denial. For a moment Harry wanted to smash the window, smash the non-existent reflection that mocked him. Harry knew that his anger was easy to rise, after spending the past year being goaded by Voldemort, but at least anger was something he could feel.
He closed his eyes and turned up the music, hoping to find something better in Stockport.
The bus from Manchester to Stockport had been filled with annoying teenagers, pumped up with the excitement of going out for the night. It was already six in the evening by the time Harry had arrived, and when the bus had dumped him and his bag in the center of town, the first thing he did was stop for another bite to eat.
Now that he was standing in front of his mother's childhood home, however, Harry wished that he'd never had the tiny bit of dinner. His stomach was churning, and the plain chicken sandwich wasn't sitting too well. The Evans home was a neatly kept row house along a long street, red bricked with white trim around the windows and a tiny little front garden that had an abundance of flowers decorating it. The name on the post box had changed, but Harry imagined that the house had looked similarly inviting when his mother had lived there.
The windows were curtained partially, but Harry could see through the front window where a family was just sitting down to supper. The light that came out was a warm yellow, and upstairs Harry saw that the light had been left on in the front bedroom as well. Idly, he wondered if it had been his mother's room.
Harry was startled out of his thoughts by a cough, and he turned to find that a car had pulled up beside him. Harry kept his posture loose, not wanting to appear to the police that he was guilty of something. They didn't seem to think so, however, from what he could tell by their bored tones.
"On your way then, lad?" The driver eyed him curiously, and Harry took it as a warning not to linger in front of stranger's houses.
"Just walking home." Harry replied, picking up his bag and setting off, giving the officers a friendly wave. His smile fell as he rounded the corner, feeling like a prize idiot. Thursday night in the cold, and he had nowhere to stay. Harry wandered down the street towards the park he'd seen earlier, weaving his way through the trees and avoiding the evening dog walkers. He was following something, a slightly welcoming magic touch that he could feel. Harry had felt something like it before, a small comfort that had been there when he'd faced Voldemort in the graveyard.
Through the path toward the football field, Harry tracked the friendly feeling, finally coming to a stop in a thick setting of trees, covered by menacing looking shrubs around the trunks of the trees. Harry poked at the shrub with his wand, curious as to why it felt right to be there. Finally setting them aside, Harry saw that there was an old carved out tree hollow there, large enough to fit one or two small people. With a small smile, he settled himself into the hollow, a blanket over his legs and the pack of beer by his side.
Using a torch that he'd taken from Privet Drive, Harry inspected the insides of his new shelter, suddenly understanding why it had felt right to end up there. Above the entrance Harry could make out a name scratched in the bark, his mother's name. Something else was written under the bold Lily, but Harry couldn't read it as someone had carved over it. He traced his finger slowly over the writing before sitting down. Harry wrapped himself in the blanket he'd brought, and held his beer up to his mother's name, giving a small toast before he drank as much as he could in a gulp.
One hour later, in the same city, one tired wizard returned to his home to hear a small alarm chiming in an unused bedroom on the upper floor. The alarm was studied, then cursed, and then the wizard left his house, slamming the front door behind him as he took off at a brisk pace.
"You little idiot." The man reached into the hollow of the tree, and grabbed a handful of shirt and blanket. He yanked Harry out and held him up, but Harry was like dead weight in his hands.
"Stand up, Potter."
Harry found himself being hauled out of the small hollow trunk of the tree by strong arms. They were covered in a thick black material, and for a second he though the police had returned for him. After being yanked to his feet, he was finally able to see the angry silent face in front of him, black eyes glinting with fury in the streetlight. Harry knew he should be afraid, but instead of excuses bubbling up his throat, Harry started giggling.
"Oh shit, it's Snape." He giggled out, even though Snape's grip on his arm turned rather painful.
"Why are you drunk?" Snape demanded, kicking one of the beer cans out from around Harry's feet.
Harry gave him a funny look before slumping a little in Snape's grasp.
"Sirius got me drunk. And Cedric." Harry hiccupped, finally free from the urge to laugh. A flash of something Harry had never seen before flittered across Snape's eyes, but before Harry could verify if it was concern, Snape's body stiffened as he looked past Harry's shoulders. Someone was moving closer to them, and making quite a bit of noise as they did so. Snape summoned Harry's bag from the tree, and with a look of sheer annoyance, marched Harry towards the entrance of the park.
Harry stumbled quite a few times trying to keep pace with Snape, becoming hopelessly lost as Snape led him down a few small alleys and finally stopped at an old black wooden door. Harry saw that the small street was tidy, but run down, and the small row house they stood at looked wholly unremarkable and partially unlived in. Snape opened the door with a key and put his hand on Harry's shoulder to push him forward.
"In." Snape growled at Harry's reluctance.
Harry's drunken haze lifted long enough for him to remember that he hated Snape, no matter how warm the house seemed compared to the cold evening outside.
"No way! You'll try to kill me, like ya did Sirius." Harry slurred loudly, shoving his hand against the doorframe.
"Bellatrix Lestrange killed Black, and if you don't enter the house in the next five seconds Potter, I will hex you and push you in myself."
Harry made to open his mouth again but Snape's black wand was suddenly pointed between his eyes and the hand on his back was as strong as steel. Harry reluctantly entered the house and walked into the tiny entrance hall. He gulped at the narrow dark staircase they passed and barely glanced at the office to his right as he was pushed through a small doorway and ended up in a room surrounded by books. Harry figured this must have originally been the dining room, because a kitchen was at the back of the room, with a wide-open doorframe connecting them.
Snape pushed him into an old lino chair in the kitchen, and Harry picked at the edge of the seat where the corner material was coming loose. Snape was busy filling a large glass with water, and he startled Harry when he clunked the glass down on the chipped Formica kitchen table.
"Drink it, if you wish to retain a mediocrum of functionality tomorrow."
Harry narrowed his eyes at Snape, who was leaning against the faded yellow counter.
"Don't you have a hangover potion? You know, you drink, you forget, no pain." Harry said, waving his hand in explanation. His other hand was wrapped around the glass, but he made no move to sip the water.
"When I drink, I drink to suffer, Potter." Snape answered after a moment's consideration.
Harry thought he saw defiance behind Snape's stony glare, and decided to drink the water. He felt thirsty, and figured that asking for another beer would probably not go over well.
"Explain how you got to the park." Snape asked with a no-nonsense tone, after Harry had swallowed two huge gulps of water.
"I took a bus." Harry shot back defensively. This time he drank the water out of annoyance.
"Why did you take a bus here, Potter?" The emphasis on his last name made Harry flinch.
"Do you know the definition of home?"
Snape stopped and stared at Harry, trying to follow the conversation. "A place where one resides at a particular time." Snape's answer came slowly, and he waited to see what Harry would make of it.
"No, not what I'm looking for," Harry shook his head sadly, nearly smacking it on the table. He looked back up when Snape tapped the table with his finger.
"I wanted to see where mum grew up." Harry said, trying to focus the two blurry Snapes that suddenly appeared in front of him. Something sour went over the face of both of them.
"Mission accomplished, once you're sober you can take a bus back to wherever you came from." Snape sneered, snapping his finger in Harry's face to get the boy's attention.
"I'll jus' leave now then, since I'm such a bother." Harry spat out, before making to stand up. He suddenly found he couldn't though, as Snape had stuck him to the chair with a sticking charm. "What the hell?" Harry grumbled, pulling at his jean legs.
"Sober, Potter. I will not have you drunk and wandering up and down the side of England. Tomorrow your relatives can collect you from the bus." Snape's eyebrows were narrowed, and Harry could see his wand being held loosely in his hand.
Harry started to giggle again. "That's rich."
Snape's eyebrow furrowed more, and he seemed to be calculating something.
"What is your phone number, Potter?" He moved to the side of the kitchen cabinet, where a small muggle phone was plugged into the wall. Harry looked at him like a fish who'd just been stunned.
"How do you know what a phone is?"
"I am a man of mystery." Snape deadpanned. It was a statement and delivery that Harry found ridiculously funny. After he'd stopped laughing, Harry gave Snape the number and tried to burn the image of Snape holding a phone into his mind, as he knew Ron would never believe him.
There was no answer at the number, as Harry knew there wouldn't be, and so he rested his head on the table while Snape filled another glass with water.
"Dun bother. She told me not to come back till Monday." Harry was speaking to his hands, and feeling very tired now.
"What are you talking about now, Potter?" Snape asked with exasperation in his voice.
"Gone way for the weekend. Told me not to come back." The water was pushed into his hands, but he suddenly felt very full. Too full. Snape was eyeing him carefully, but Harry couldn't have lied if he wanted to, and he suspected Snape knew that. All he wanted to do now was sleep anyway, and he didn't care that his hated enemy was in the same house.
"You're fifteen. Go home and wait until they arrive." Snape said, watching for Harry's reaction.
"They never gave me a key." Harry said, as if that fact should be obvious. Snape's face remained blank, so Harry just shrugged. This turned out to be a mistake, because the room started to take on an unusual tilt.
"Ugh. Stop the spinning." Harry complained. He suddenly found himself being roughly pulled up from the chair by a very silent potions master, pushed through the library sitting room, and up a set of rickety wooden stairs. Up on the small second floor Snape dropped Harry's rucksack by a bedroom door before leading him into the bathroom.
Harry started to protest under Snape's grip, partially out of a desire to control his own steps, and partially because he felt like throwing up from the dizziness. Nonetheless, he was shoved into the bathroom before he had the chance to look much at the dim upstairs hallway that they'd walked through.
The bathroom was no less better however, as it was painted in the same dreary parchment colour that the hall had been, and Harry stared at the old cream coloured porcelain of the bath fixtures. Had the toilet been light blue, Harry would have sworn he'd stepped into one of those hideous old interior decorating magazines of his Aunt Petunia's from the 70's. The bathroom cabinet was an old mirror with a shelf behind it, and oddly Harry found the sight of Snape's toothbrush sitting in a cup by the side of the sink to be the most disconcerting item in the room. Snape, his evil death eater professor, brushed his teeth every night, like any normal person. Harry felt unbalanced.
The feeling, and the toothbrush, didn't last very long. Harry barely noticed it being banished to the bedroom, or somewhere outside of the bathroom, before he suddenly was overwhelmed by the scent of frying onions. Looking wildly behind him at Snape, who was standing with a tiny air bubble around his nose and mouth in the doorway, Harry felt his stomach start to recoil at the smell. He tripped to his knees and ignored Snape's disgusted look as everything he'd drank that evening suddenly came back up again. Harry's head was starting to throb, and he didn't know whether he was going to pass out or keep sicking up, and he had suddenly begun to regret ever eating at all that day. It seemed like his stomach held a higher capacity that he ever knew about, and after ten minutes his eyes were tearing and nose was stinging, right along side with his throat.
Snape seemed to think that this was long enough as well, because Harry suddenly found that the smell of onions had disappeared, and that Snape had opened the hallway window. The smell in his own nose was awful though, and in lieu of tissue Harry groped around for some toilet paper to blow his nose with. He knew that Snape was watching him, and Harry ignored the little voice in his head reminding him that this drinking episode was definitely his own fault.
After sitting on the toilet lid and recovering for a moment, Harry jumped when he heard the shower tap start to run water. Snape was still in the doorway, but he had not said a word since Harry had started to clean himself up.
"Into the shower, Potter." Snape's voice was cold and commanding, the same tone that Harry had heard with alarming regularity in detention.
Harry's head snapped up, something he instantly regretted. "I don't want a shower!" The 'with you standing there' was unsaid, but Snape heard it anyway and scoffed.
"I don't care if you want to drown yourself. You smell, and you will take a shower. Leave your undergarments on if you're so prudish."
Snape moved one step closer to Harry and raised his wand, stopping his movement when Harry jumped up and threw his shirt off.
"Fine! Don't know why you of all people would care…" Harry mumbled, trying to undo his shoes and not having much luck. Every time he bent down to take them off, he nearly ended up sprawling flat on his stomach.
"Would you perhaps like to elaborate on that comment, Mr. Potter?" Snape's tone was dangerous and Harry suddenly remembered the man's excellent hearing.
"I'm not that drunk." Harry replied, narrowing his eyes and finally just tugging his shoes off painfully. Still feeling annoyed, he stood up with an undignified sway and pulled his jeans down, leaving his boxer shorts on. With a self-satisfied smirk he smacked his foot on the edge of the bathtub before stepping in and standing under the spray of water, arms holding onto the ceramic tiled walls for dear life. Outside of the shower curtain he could hear Snape moving around, removing something from a package.
Harry turned the water off after standing under for a few minutes, and nearly had his head taken off by a towel when he opened the shower curtain again. Snape had tossed it at him, but Harry had just stared dumbly at the towel soared through the air and smacked him in the face. Stunned, Harry had wrestled with the towel as if it were a lethifold, finally realizing that he was to dry himself with it after threatening disembodiment and receiving no response from the cotton material.
"Intriguing." Snape remarked dryly, regarding Harry as he shivered in the towel and his wet boxers. "I shall inform the Dark Lord that he merely needs to purchase bath linens to render you incapacitated. Brush your teeth after, and then come next door to the door that's open."
With that, he left the room, and Harry saw a brand new toothbrush sitting in a second cup on the sink.
After ten minutes of washing and stalling, Harry slouched through the bedroom door to find Snape digging through his bag, apparently looking for something.
"Hey, tha's mine." Harry slurred, dropping his shoes at the foot of the bed.
"Have you any idea how to pack for yourself, Potter?" Snape asked, not bothering to acknowledge what Harry had said.
"I sleep in my clothes." Harry said, still too tipsy to look very indignant. Snape merely shook his head, giving Harry his best Potter-You-Are-An-Idiot look. He then stood up and flung open the wardrobe in the corner, flipping through clothes that were hanging up before pulling out a thigh length shirt and throwing it at Harry.
"Wear that." Snape gave him a pointed look.
"Don't watch me change."
"You have nothing I want to see, Potter. And believe me, you're drunk. You won't remember in the morning."
Harry met his professor's gaze and could swear there was amusement in the eyes. As it turned out, he had needed the help after almost falling on his arse trying to change his boxers. At the end of his patience, Snape had pulled the nightshirt over Harry's head himself, muttering under his breath about how long it would take him to strangle Harry with it.
"Why'd you make me throw up?" Harry mumbled, climbing ungracefully into the bed that was against the wall.
Snape cast a drying spell on the towel and Harry's wet boxers, before draping them over the desk chair that was on the other side of the small room. He turned to look at Harry, who was reluctant to lie flat on his back and so was sitting propped up with his head on an uncomfortable angle against the headboard. Harry's eyes were struggling to stay open, and he was mumbling under his breath.
"Choking on your vomit in the middle of the night is an undignified way to die, Potter. I'm certain you can be much more creative than that." Snape pulled the cover from the bed up and draped it lightly over Harry, conjuring a bucket as well to sit on the floor beside the bed.
"Ha ha. Why do you care?" Harry muttered, not quite aware of what he was saying. "Ish not like you're my dad, anyway. Hah. Harry Snaaaaaape. No, Harry Ssssssssnape. Like a snake. Did anyone call you Snake as a kid?"
"Potter," Snape said, his tone strict, "If I were your father, you would have been spun over my knee as soon as I'd brought you home tonight."
Harry's eyes widened in shock at the meaning, and his mind raced with a flurry of thoughts as he tried to convince himself that no, his professor could not spank him.
"I'm not a child!" Harry sputtered, making a move to flee the bed. His body was sluggish though and he struggled to sit up fully.
"Your behaviour is atrocious, regardless of your age." Snape responded, putting a firm hand on Harry's shoulder, and pushing him all the way back to a lying position on the bed. When his head hit the pillow Harry was overwhelmed by a feeling of motion sickness, and for a few seconds panic flicked across his face as he fought the urge to throw up again. Instead, he held onto the mattress like it was a lifeline and passed out.
Snape shook his head and straightened up again, removing the glasses from Harry's face and placing them on the nightstand. He closed the curtains in the room and looked around, remembering all the nights he'd stayed awake in that very room, avoiding the effects of alcohol on others. Tomorrow they would have a long talk whether Potter wanted to or not.
Snape paused as he went to walk by the bed again, placing his hand on one of Harry's and murmuring a low incantation in a melodious voice. His wand pulsed against his palm, and after a few minutes he let go of Harry. The wards were set; the boy would be invisible to most vermin who dared visit Spinner's End.
From the doorway, Potter looked rather young and lost as he curled up to his side and whimpered in his sleep. Snape cast a quick spell over him to make sure that if he did get sick in the night, Snape would hear the alarm. No sense in letting the brat do away with himself, as the lecture the headmaster would give him would be far too long and riddled with guilty statements to strike at his conscious.
Flicking off the light, Snape walked next door to the bathroom to survey the mess the boy had left there.