Title: Care

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or its places. I own only my own story and any characters I choose to add along the way. J.K Rowling is a genius, and I wouldn't dare to try and take anything she has created and say that it was my own.

Chapter III:

Summary: Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall have waited four long years to see their pseudo-godson, Harry Potter, and now that they have him, they'll never give him back. A Snape and McGonagall rescue Harry from the Dursleys story.

AN: I'm really excited by the response to this story, and I hope that everyone keeps enjoying it. Thanks for reading!

"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," Severus stated as they opened the entrance hall doors and stepped into the great antechamber.

Minerva watched Harry's face as they entered the castle. She smiled as his eyes widened and his little mouth fell open as she and Severus made their way up the grand staircase and down the ensuing hall to get them to the main stairwell.

Severus kept a comforting hand running up and down Harry's back as they stepped on a set of moving stairs and climbed up as it turned to meet the next landing.

"It moves," Harry said quietly.

"All of the staircases move in this area Harry," Severus responded as they climbed yet more stairs. "And it's certainly a long walk with many stairs to the Hospital Wing," he puffed slightly as they climbed their third set of consecutive stairs.

Minerva chuckled. "He's just tired out because he rarely has to climb more than two flights of stairs, since he spends so much time in the dungeons during the summer," she told Harry in a stage whisper.

Severus glowered at her and she stuck out her tongue at him, eliciting a laugh from Harry. "Dungeons," Harry whispered, looking at Minerva with wonder.

"There are dungeons and towers and even secret passages at Hogwarts, Harry," she told him. "This is a real castle, and it's better than any story book castle could possibly be."

Harry regarded her with wide eyes and gave her a tiny smile laced with restrained excitement. Minerva smiled back and then turned her head to watch where she was going. Harry continued to stare around as if entranced, his eyes taking in everything and his head turning rapidly so as to miss as little as possible.

They reached the last landing and turned down the hall to the Hospital Wing.

"Who's that little fellow?" a portrait of a rather rotund monk called out at them.

Harry gave a squeak of fright and hid his face in Severus' shoulder. Minerva turned reproachful eyes on the monk. "He is a new ward of the castle, and it would be best if he were left to settle in with as few surprises as is possible," she stated, glaring the monk down.

The portrait looked sufficiently cowed and became immobile. Severus bounced Harry a bit and rubbed his back as they hurried down the hall and through the Hospital Wing doors.

When they entered Harry looked up and became confused. He had never seen so many beds in one place before, and it looked awful clean and white. The lady who came over was dressed in odd robes and was wearing a funny hat, even funnier than the witch's one he saw on a statue on the way up.

"Severus, Minerva, what's going on?" Poppy asked as she bustled down the ward to meet them.

"Poppy, I'd like you to meet Harry Potter," Severus said quietly, nudging Harry a bit so that he looked at Poppy.

"Oh my dear," Poppy said, reaching a tentative hand out to stroke Harry's head.

Harry flinched back slightly, but stilled when Severus rubbed his back and whispered, "It's safe. Poppy is here to help you."

Poppy's eyes widened and she took a moment to take in the scene before her, before she ran a hand through Harry's hair.

"You don't remember Harry, but Poppy helped deliver you the night you were born. Your mummy asked for her specifically," Minerva told him as Poppy dropped her hand and stepped away to dab at her eyes.

"Really?" Harry whispered. He then covered his mouth with his hands.

Severus and Minerva exchanged a look before Severus gently removed Harry's hands from his mouth. "Yes really. Poppy made sure you were healthy, and then she stayed the night to help your mummy take care of you," he told the little boy.

Harry simply stared at him for a moment before he nodded, apparently lost in thought, and took to staring around the room again. Poppy stepped over to Minerva.

"Is everything all right? I was under the impression that Harry was supposed to be living with his relatives," she asked softly, so as not to disturb the quiet conversation Harry and Severus were having at a window Severus had gone to stand by.

"Harry will be staying here. His relatives were less than kind to him," Minerva replied, giving Poppy a significant look. "We'd actually like you to run a diagnostic, and heal his cheek. His 'Uncle' backhanded him this morning when he tried to eat food that he had prepared…it was awful Poppy."

The Mediwitch gasped and looked over at the little boy leaning against Severus and sucking his thumb while Severus pointed at things on the grounds.

"They hit him?" she asked, aghast.

"Hit him, starved him, lied to him, made him sleep in a cupboard…the list is endless, and I'm afraid that your scan will only reveal more horrors," Minerva admitted.

"Merlin," Poppy whispered. "I'm going to kill Albus."

Minerva let out a dark chuckle, "Get in line."

The two witches shared a malevolent look before Poppy seemed to go into nurse mode and bustled off to prepare a bed for Harry.

"Boys, would you please come here," she called.

Severus brought Harry over and placed him gently on the bed. The little boy looked up at the three of them with wary eyes and hugged his knees to his chest.

"Harry, Poppy would like to run some tests on you to see if you have any injuries that need healing," Minerva said as she sat down next to Harry and gently placed a hand on his back. "Can she do that?"

Harry looked at her and then up at Poppy, who was giving him a sad smile, and then at Severus, who looked sad. Severus reached down and ran a hand through Harry's hair. "She won't hurt you, we promise," he assured the little boy.

Harry nodded slowly and looked up at Poppy. She smiled and drew her wand.

"This may feel a bit strange Harry, but I promise that it will not hurt," she said as she began to wave her wand in a complex series of motions.

Small green numbers popped up around Harry's body as she ran her wand over different sections of his thin form. She and Severus began to read the numbers and cast more spells while Minerva rubbed Harry's back comfortingly and whispered praises and assurances in his ear.

"Dear Gods," Poppy murmured as she straightened up and began to read a chart that had appeared at the bottom of Harry's bed. The numbers automatically transferred to the chart, along with the corresponding injuries and issues. She finished scanning the document and handed it mutely to Severus.

Severus looked down the list and had to bite his lip to keep from cursing. Harry had been routinely beaten, judging from the number of healed bruises and lacerations across his back and legs; had been burned on his arms; was severely malnourished; had poor eyesight that wasn't corrected particularly well by the cheap glasses on his nose; had been struck across the face numerous times and had three bones that had been broken. Severus felt his hands balling into fists and took a few deep breaths before he sat down on the bed and passed the chart to Minerva. He took over rubbing Harry's back as Minerva stood up and read.

Harry didn't ask, but he turned a questioning look on Severus. "Poppy's tests showed us how much you have been hurt, Harry," he told him gently.

Harry's eyes widened before he shook his head and scooted away from Severus on the bed. "Not hurt. No one's hurt me. I'm fine. The Dursleys treat me good," Harry said as he curled into a little ball and rocked himself slightly.

Minerva looked up from the chart and stopped pacing to sit down on the bed again. Both she and Severus cautiously moved over to where Harry was rocking. Minerva reached out and put an arm around Harry and pulled him to lean against her. Harry didn't push her away, but also didn't relax into her embrace; he remained tense and curled in on himself.

"Harry, did the Dursleys tell you to say that?" Severus asked softly as he rubbed the little boy's shoulder.

Harry nodded and bit his lip, as if waiting to be struck for the admission. Minerva leaned down and kissed the crown of his head, just above his scar. Harry looked up at her in shock.

"No one will ever hurt you again Harry, and you don't have to lie. We know that they hurt you, and we won't ever let them or anyone do that to you again," she told him seriously, looking him straight in the eye.

Harry's expression grew confused. "I don't have to go back?" he asked quietly, his voice feeble and fearful.

"Never. You never have to go back," Severus assured him.

Harry simply looked at him with a small amount of wonder. "Never," Severus said again.

This time Harry smiled and then laughed as Minerva tickled him. "I get to stay here with you?" Harry asked, his voice a little more confident, though there was still a fear in his eyes that made Severus uneasy.

"Yes," Severus replied, smiling as Harry touched his arm.

"We're very excited to have you here Harry," Minerva told him. Harry gave her a tentative smile.

Poppy, who had temporarily disappeared during this conversation, returned to the bed with a small jar of healing balm. She sat down on the edge of the bed and unscrewed the top of the jar.

"Harry, can I put some of this on your cheek? It will heal that bruise and make sure that it doesn't ache any more," she asked as she dipped her fingers into the jar.

"Kay," Harry replied softly. He held very still as Poppy reached out and rubbed the balm into his cheek. He didn't even wince once, but Severus saw his eyes fill with unshed tears as the Mediwitch rubbed her hand over the bruise. A moment later, the color faded from his cheek and Harry let out a tiny sigh and his eyes brightened.

"All better," Poppy stated. "Is there anything else that hurts Harry?"

Harry automatically shook his head and looked away from the adults, fixing his eyes on a point on the far wall. Severus very gently took the boy's chin in his hands and turned his head so that they were eye to eye. "Harry, please don't lie to us. We won't hurt you for telling the truth, ever. If something hurts, you need to tell us so that we can make it better," he softly intoned, nodding at Harry's frightened look.

"My…my arm hurts," Harry said very quietly, before he turned away from Severus and tried to curl up.

Severus looked up briefly at Minerva and found her weeping silently, the chart in her hand and her eyes fixed on the scared little boy.

"Ok," Poppy said softly. "Harry, can you show me where on your arm?"

Harry looked at her, surprised, before he warily lifted the sleeve of his tee shirt to reveal another purpling bruise in the shape of a hand print.

"I'm going to rub more balm on your arm, alright Harry?" Poppy asked.

Harry nodded and let her heal his arm. His fingers found Severus' hand and he squeezed tightly. Severus smiled at this, happy that Harry was at least reaching out, even if it was a rather unconscious gesture.

"Alright. Is there anything else, anything at all, that hurts?" Poppy asked the little boy once she had applied the balm.

Harry shook his head. "Are you sure, Harry?" Minerva asked, running a hand over his head as she discretely dabbed at her eyes.

"M'sure," Harry mumbled. He turned and buried his face in Severus' robes.

The adults looked at each other sadly as Minerva rubbed Harry's back and Severus wrapped his arms around the little boy.

"Thank you Poppy," said Severus. "Could you put a copy of that on file for us, and give me the other one when it's ready? I'd also like to make Pensieve copies of all of our memories of today, so that we have irrefutable evidence for keeping him here."

"Do you think he'd really try to return him?" Poppy gasped.

"I hope not, but if we have to fight, we will," Minerva replied gravely. "He left him there, and he had rather valid reasons at the time. But they're void now. Harry will stay here."

Severus felt Harry nod into his chest and smiled. "I think it's time that we went to see the Headmaster; he'll be starting to wonder where we are."

Minerva gave a brusque nod and stood up. She and Poppy exchanged quiet words while Severus stood and picked Harry up.

"We're going to go see the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Harry. His name is Albus Dumbledore. He wears very colorful robes and has a long white beard," Severus told him as the trio made their way out of the infirmary.

"He'll probably offer you candy," Minerva scoffed as they walked down a turning staircase.

"He actually looks a bit like Merlin, if you consider it," Severus mused after a few quiet minutes had passed and they were walking down the corridor to Dumbledore's office. Minerva laughed quietly as they reached the gargoyle.

"Candy Floss," she stated, rolling her eyes at Severus.

"The Headmaster likes candy a bit too much," Severus told Harry as the gargoyle leapt aside and they stepped onto the moving staircase.

Harry's eyes were huge by the time they got to the top of the stairs and knocked on the great mahogany door. Severus gave him a smile and pulled a silly face, earning a giggle from the little boy as the door swung open.

"Minerva, Severus," Dumbledore said jovially as he spotted Minerva walking through the door. When Severus had fully entered, Dumbledore's smile fell as he spotted the tiny boy cradled in Severus' arms. Silence rang through the office as the two young staff members and the Headmaster glared at each other.

"Would either of you care to explain why you have removed him from his home?" Dumbledore asked, his voice inexplicably grave. There was no twinkle in the old man's eyes now.