So, this is the actual story "Finding Parental Care". It's a good idea to read the Prequel "Loss of Parental Care" before, although it's not necessary.
First of all I need to apologize, it took a while but I first wanted to have a concept for the story: It will have more or less 38 chapters and will be about Harry's entire sixth year.
I would also like to thank the reviewers that commented the Prequel. They made me happy:-)
As I already wrote in the summary, it is canon until the end of the fifth book but summer and the years following are AU.
Some bits and pieces will be taken from the last two books, but there will be changes. You'll catch up, I'm sure. If you have questions, please ask them!
I don't want to tell too much, but the following is important: There will be no Horcruxes (it's a great idea, but limiting) and the new DADA teacher isn't Snape. He's still Potions Professor. Lucius Malfoys wasn't part of the whole thing at the Ministry and therefore wasn't detected a Death Eater.
Everything else as for what happened during the summer, DADA teacher and so on will be explained in later chapters.
This will NOT be a slash-fic.
Story takes place immediately after Snape and Harry ran into each other.
By the way: Do you want Carola Zantura to have an appearance? I didn't mean to include her permanently; however I am open to suggestions. She could have occasional appearances if you want to.
Disclaimer: This is fanfiction: I'm a fan and this is fiction. I have never, do not and will never own anything concerning Harry Potter and that amazing world J.K. Rolling created for us. Characters that do not belong to the Harry-Potter-world are entirely fictional and all resemblance to real people is unintended.
Finding Parental Care
Chapter 1: Another year begins
Professor Severus Snape, the Potions Master of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry couldn't help but feel irritated.
When Miss Zantura had passed him, to be exact, when she nearly ran into him turning swiftly around the corner, he had been annoyed at first but then instantly worried when he had seen her wet cheeks and red eyes, hearing her sniffling. Before he could do or say anything, however, she was already out of sight walking quickly towards the dungeons.
Severus Snape was known to be a cold-hearted man, but his Slytherins were under his protection, a responsibility he took very seriously. So naturally, he had been determined to find the source of his student's pain. Then he had seen Potter, when one was not looking directly into the brat's face one could have confused him with his father, and everything was clear to him. He had even seen the boy's cheeky grin from the side and fury had coursed through him. Like father, like son!
It was to be expected.
The one-sided conversation the Golden Boy had held with him on the other hand wasn't. That was the reason for his irritation. How dare the boy talking to him like this? How dare he? He was tempted to take points, but as unfair he was known to be towards the other houses, especially Gryffindor, since he couldn't recall the exact sentence that had irritated him, couldn't even tell in what way the boy had insulted him to make him so angry, he decided not to take points. With long strides he walked towards the staff room, his robes billowing. His annoyance must have been evident since almost all life of Hogwarts seemed to avoid him and those that couldn't did exactly that as soon as possible, for example the Fat Friar and Nearly-Headless Nick who had floated across the corridors but the moment they saw him, had turned right back into the wall they had just come from.
What bothered him the most was Potter's behaviour in class. No, actually it was the fact, he was in class at all. Harry Potter wasn't supposed to be able to attend his NEWT class. He had checked the grades himself, something he normally didn't do, when he had heard of the brat's Outstanding in his OWL's. Somehow the boy must have managed to cheat, although that would take a wizard far more powerful than the Boy-who-lived, but he must have cheated, the Potions Master didn't exactly know how, but Potter somehow had managed to overcome the rules, since that was his greatest ability.
When he had finally come to terms with the Potter Boy in his NEWT class, a class he usually enjoyed and that seemed now spoiled for the next two years, he almost started to look forward to them. Maybe, the brat had managed Potions in regular class, but Snape only took O-students for a reason. He'd make the boy so miserable until he'd see the uselessness of his actions and quit the class.
However, he was mistaken again: Obviously the brat had studied hard over the summer for all of his questions had been answered swiftly and with confidence except for the one that not even Miss Granger had known since it required experience for the correct answer. Of course, he had ridiculed him anyway, but the Golden Boy didn't react, didn't even glare at him or gave him a cheeky retort. To be honest, the boy had been surprisingly respectful.
He hadn't had the opportunity yet to talk to the rest of the teachers about that issue or lack of it. He'd do it as soon as possible.
With that thought he arrived at the door to the staff room and opened it. In there were already Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, Pomona Sprout and Albus Dumbledore.
"Severus, how nice of you to join us! Please, be seated."
"Thank you, headmaster," the Potions Professor said giving a quick nod with his head. Around others he was always very formal around the man whom he owned so much. With a swift, elegant movement he drew his wand at the same time as he took out of his left pocket a stock of paper that was spelled so small, it fit into his palm. He laid it on the staff table and silently cast the counter to the shrinking spell, a second later the pile of parchment had his original size. Dumbledore raised his eyebrows a little. "I will not remain here for long, Headmaster. I only came here to deliver the paper work you asked me for."
"Thank you, Severus. I will not hold you for long. However, I think you have time to join us for a cup of tea," knowing the young man would never accept the offer, Dumbledore made it deliberately an order. Reluctantly the black-cloaked man nodded and sat down in his favourite chair. With a flick of his wand, Snape conjured himself a cup and thanked Minerva McGonagall for pouring some tea into it.
As soon as he was served, the teachers resumed the conversation they had held before he had entered the room for they knew the intelligent Head of Slytherin would catch up within seconds. And he did. It was about the first lessons this week, to be exact about the year that had been on his mind as well for it contained a certain Boy-who-lived. Since in sixth year the subject that contained "silly wand-waving" were supposed to teach nonverbal spells, it was always interesting for Snape to hear how the students were doing, especially his Slytherins. So he listened quietly to Flitwick and the Deputy Headmistress.
"It still puzzles me that the students think, we cannot hear them whispering the spells," Minerva McGonagall said with an amused smile, the very short Charms Teacher laughed, "Yes that astonishes me as well. However, the level of this year's NEWT's is remarkably high."
The Transfiguration teacher nodded in agreement.
"High?" Snape sneered, "I see that Longbottom must be missing in your NEWT's as well, Filius." The rest of the staff looked at him disapprovingly, not the first time hearing scathing comments about the clumsy boy who wasn't as shy anymore as he once had been.
"For your information, Severus," the Head of Gryffindor looked at him very sternly reminding the Slytherin of a lioness ready to defend her cubs to death, an impression that was not that far off, "Mr. Longbottom did have reasonably good grades, although not having been able to attend my Transfiguration or your Potions class, he is best in his year in Herbology and is doing very well in Charms and Defence Against The Dark Arts. And even if his academic successes weren't as good as they are; one would assume that you'd have come to respect him or at least stop insulting him after what happened at the Ministry of Magic last summer."
"You mean when Potter nearly managed to kill all of his friends for an idiotic stunt." The effect was immediate. Said boy's Head of House stood up, her eyes blazing with anger. Before she could say anything, Dumbledore stood in between the two motioned her to sit down again. With a disapproving look he warned Snape who looked back indifferently still seated.
He and Minerva McGonagall got along very well. One could call them close colleagues or even friends that enjoyed having intelligent conversations and occasional banters. When it came to Potter and his friends, however, more than once out of discussions became disputes. Yet today's reaction was strong and it showed Snape that this was a topic that shouldn't be mentioned unless he wanted to start a fight.
Dumbledore led the conversation in another direction without changing the topic completely: "Harry is now taking your class, isn't he, Minerva?"
She complied but she was still angry, he could tell: "Yes, he is. Currently he is attending Transfiguration, Defence, Herbology, Charms and Potions." Potions had a derisive edge to it, causing Snape to raise he eyebrows. "So the Golden Boy wants to become an auror?" His tone was icy and mocking at the same time. Before the Deputy Headmistress could return, Dumbledore broke off the argument: "A very reasonable career choice, as you very well know, Severus."
Oh, how many time he had already been reminded of Harry Potter's terrible fate. He could not listen do this anymore. He suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. Dumbledore seemed to see right through him, causing the younger man to check his Occlumency shields and wonder for what seemed millionth time if the Headmaster had found another way but Legilimency to read his mind.
"How is he doing in class?" Although Dumbledore's question was directed at Professor McGonagall, his eyes didn't leave Snape's immediately.
"I hoped you would ask, Albus. He's doing extraordinarily well, he must have studied quite a lot during the summer for he's well prepared and answered even the more difficult questions with ease. Not that he would ever choose to voluntarily make a sound in class safe for spells. When he's directly spoken to, one can recognize he was everything but lazy this summer."
That would be a first, the Potions Professor thought without voicing it aloud since it had been his observation as well. He heard the confirming comments of the others, all saying how well Potter had done in his first lessons without displaying his knowledge openly. What she added surprised him: "He's a little more subdued than usual, not in a bad way, he still laughs along with his friends during the breaks and he eats normally, but although having been a very polite young man before, these days he seems to avoid every kind of direct conflict. He doesn't even answer to Mr. Malfoy's verbal assaults anymore as long as they are directed at him personally and not his friends. He behaves very maturely which isn't a surprise concerning whom he lost right before the holidays." Snape bit back the scathing comment reminding the Transfiguration teacher whose fault it was Black had appeared at the Ministry in the first place. Well, I guess guilt does tend to cause maturity," he had to admit.
Dumbledore looked at her thoughtfully, his blue eyes lost a little of their normal sparkle. He cleared his throat: "Speaking of Harry, I was thinking about that defence group the children had formed last year. I wonder if we could let them continue, frequently even, for example once a week. It will be under occasional supervision by a teacher, but since more than one Prefect is in the "DA", as they call it for short, I am tended to let them continue without constant surveillance by a teacher."
There was silence for a moment, Minerva's lips were a thin line, it was clear that this idea didn't have her approval: "I don't know, Albus. Potter isn't a teacher; he wouldn't know what to do if something went wrong. It was an extremely stupid and dangerous stunt they pulled last year. They could have terribly hurt since this is a Defence Club not some Cooking Class, never to mention they could have all been expelled by Dolores Umbridge."
"For once I agree completely with Minerva concerning Potter, Headmaster. His little rebellion was stupid, immature and you should never allow this Club" he spat the word, "to continue. I am astonished he even dared to ask you for that, his behaviour towards you at the end of the term and general manners throughout all year were outrageous."
"He did not ask me for anything, Severus," the younger man recognized the deep sorrow in his mentor's voice causing him to be even more furious with the spoilt brat, "I merely thought that since Harry and everybody that gets close to him is in constant danger they should learn to defend themselves. Besides, the lessons last year seemed to have improved the children's performances, no DA member had a grade in Defence against the Dark Arts below an E, although Harry was the only one with an Outstanding."
Minerva McGonagall looked at her old friend thoughtfully: "Well, you are right. I do not feel well, however, to leave them all by themselves. How about this: For the first few weeks, the lessons will be attended by one of us all the time, later, when it seems well-instructed and safe, a teacher checks on them at the beginning and end of each lesson. Since I am Head of House of most of the members, I will do this, unless I am preoccupied, then I will ask either Pomona, Filius or Severus."
"An excellent suggestion, Minerva! Is everybody in agreement with this?" Snape looked rather exasperated, but he said nothing only nodded very lightly.
"Speaking of Defence," Dumbledore said causing Snape to suppress a moan. After Miss Umbridge, the Potions Master refused to think of her as a Professor, had left the castle to the great relief of all inhabitants safe Mr. Filch, they had been one teacher short once again. As always he had applied for Defence Against The Dark Arts, not that he would prefer that subject in any way to Potions, but it pained him to watch the amount of incompetence that had walked in and out of the castle ever since he started here. Especially these days the children needed to be prepared. The headmaster must have thought the same when he organized the new Defence teacher, however Snape could have done without the solution: Alastor Moody, this time not a Death Eater in disguise, taught Defence these days. Except for some of his Slytherins the children took the news remarkably well. He could console the disappointed ones: Alastor Moody would most likely only teach until November, for not only was he needed for Order business – not as if Snape would tell this the children – but Dumbledore had been looking for a replacement, a specific person but not even the Deputy Headmistress had been informed who it was.
"As you all know, Alastor will stay here until the end of October, in a few hours I will know if the replacement is available."
"When are you going to present us that mysterious person, Albus?" Her tone made clear that Professor McGonagall was everything but amused by the secret-mongering of the headmaster.
"As soon as it is settled, Minerva." He said gently but firmly. "Do not fret however, if the desired person comes to Hogwarts it will be an asset to the staff." His tone was final, Snape took the opportunity to leave.
"If there is nothing else, headmaster, I am going back to my office."
Dumbledore sighed, he didn't like the fact the young man was alone so much, but since he had nothing more to say, he shook his head.
"Afternoon at 4 o'clock in my office, Severus. Then I will, hopefully, be able to tell you about the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher," Snape nodded reluctantly knowing he wouldn't like whoever it was.
He wished the teachers a good morning and left the staff room.
Walking back to the dungeons he noticed that his irritation was gone only lingering as silent exasperation. The fact no distressed teenagers or troublesome poltergeists crossed his path were also quite helpful for his mood.
His mind wandered while he walked through the labyrinth that was the dungeons.
Harry Potter was no longer troubling him; his thoughts lingered on that mysterious Defence teacher whom the headmaster would talk about very soon. He dearly hoped that person would comply since Professor Dumbledore seemed to be very anxious about it. Snape was less concerned over the individual's acceptance than his competence.
'It can't be worse than last year', he thought exasperate. Last year had been his worst at Hogwarts, not only under constant surveillance by the toad, the dreadful Occlumency lessons with the brat, but what had exhausted him the most had been the occasional summons by the Dark Lord. He could barely suppress a shudder, when he thought of his first meeting with his former master the summer before. It had taken him hours, interrogations under the influence of Cruciatus, Legilimency and Veritaserum at once to convince the monster of his alliance, or better servitude. By now his rank was back in the Inner Circle which was good since it gave him lots of information but he hated every second of it. Besides, Voldemort's surprisingly high opinion of him did come with dangers: Bellatrix Lestrange did not trust him, not in the least. After the fiasco at the Ministry she was in disgrace, something she couldn't bare well and she was ready to do practically anything to regain her beloved master's favour.
It was ridiculous, really. He had the monster's favour and didn't want it. She craved for it but wasn't allowed to have it.
This summer had been hard, nearly everyday he had been summoned and the ordered potions always had to be ready, or else. He had even been forced to go to Dumbledore, telling him he wouldn't be able to hand in his lesson plans in time. The headmaster had been very worried that day since the Potions Master's hands had trembled lightly. The older man knew that when the stoic man acted like this, anybody else would have been on the ground crying. Snape of course had been allowed to take his time and given that the Dark Lord would only summon him on weekends or special occasions after the new term started, he'd had the opportunity to complete his paperwork in the first week.
He didn't know what to expect from the new term. The war had started; still the children came here to learn. It was difficult to keep a balance, on one hand not to close the students off of reality and on the other to provide them with a certain feeling of safety. It didn't help of course that every week word came out of new murders, sometimes even the casualties were related to one of the students.
He said the password for his chambers, went in and put up privacy wards. He sighed. It was very unlikely not to be summoned tonight since the Dark Lord was anxious to hear about Harry Potter. Every Death Eater with a child at Hogwarts had received the order to gain information about the brat, he of course had to comply, too.
At least the Ministry had come to terms with reality. The idiot Fudge had been sacked three weeks into the holidays, for him Laurence Skawn (author note: as you can see: not canon!) gained the position. His opinion of the man was divided. He was a middle-aged man, rather tall, strongly built and a man of action. He had been head of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes and therefore knew how to organize in the middle of fiascos. He had also attended to the more tactical aspects of Auror training and did receive top grades at those tests. It wasn't as if the man lacked in intelligence, but the new minister made him feel uneasy. There was potential danger in the man's actions since he was known to judge rather harshly. Before his thought went too pessimistic, he left the chambers again walking towards his laboratory: Preparing potions always had calming effect on him.
Next Chapter: Harry's Summer
TBC or leave it be?