Title: What Might Have Been: Salute
Author: Nightshade sydneylover150
Rating: T for Teen
Disclaimer: I'm a poor child counselor, do you really believe that I would be poor and struggling to pay off loans and rent if I owned these two wonderful characters? Trust me, I wouldn't! ;D
Beta: Thank you to tigerbear1217 for betaeing this story!
A/N: Please read and review. Flames will be laughed at and constructive criticism will be welcomed with open arms.
Warning: Abuse mentioned and implied mandatory reporter knowledge of abuse.
'Dumbledore lied!' That was all Severus Snape could think as he looked down at his youngest godson's small frame. 'He left Henry with those muggles and lied about placing him with his grandparents. He knew that I would disagree with him placing Henry with Petunia and that brut she calls a husband and told me he was placing the child with his grandparents. He knew that I did not know they had been killed in a car accident!'
It had been a long afternoon and evening for Snape, to say the least. First, he had had the potions class where he had almost lost the chance of even knowing his godson (soon to be son, thanks to Lily), then the discussion between Henry and him, the trip to infirmary which had lead to even more revelations, and now finding out that in lieu of her parents death and due to her dying after her husband, Henry was to have been placed in his, Severus Snape's, care not in Petunia's!
"Good day Severus." Poppy stated as she walked towards the pair who had entered her infirmary. Severus noticed the older woman briefly paused before she continued speaking. "What is it that I can do for you today?"
'She must realize how odd it is for me to have a Gryffindor with me.'
"Good day Poppy." Severus returned the greeting. He turned to the little boy who now had his hand in a death grip. "Henry, this is Madam Pomfrey. She is the healer here at Hogwarts, though most of the students refer to her as a nurse, she is a mediwitch, meaning she is like a muggle doctor."
He then turned to Poppy, "Poppy, this is Henry, better known as Harry Potter. I would like you to please check Henry over. Please give him a complete scan. He was having some difficulties in my class."
Poppy nodded catching the emphasis on complete, understanding Severus' implication and started to approach Henry, who somehow managed to surpass his earlier death grip on the older wizard's hand. Severus bent down and whispered in Henry's ear, "It is okay little one. I am right here and I will not leave you, my little snake in the grass."
Henry turned his head and looked into Severus' eyes. "You promise Sev?" The little boy practically whimpered.
"Yes child." Severus stated, as he gazed into the younger wizard's eyes, "Though perhaps not for long if you do not loosen your grip so my circulation can return to my hand."
Henry giggled and let Severus' hand go. Snape could not help but allow the warm feeling in his chest to grow as he heard the little boy's laugh. It was such a joy to see Henry watching him intently as he attempted to return the circulation back to his hand by shaking it. For that reason, the older wizard did not curb his impulse to wrap his arms around the young, small wizard and pick up to put the child on the bed nearest to the pair.
Poppy waved her wand, initiating the complete scan on the child in front of her. She watched as a parchment and quill appeared in front of her and began to magically fill up with Har… Henry's… medical history. She turned around to grab the file sent over by the muggle authorities for the boy, fully expecting for the quill to stop moving long before she turned back thinking that whatever Snape wanted the child to be seen by her for was only something that had begun recently. Needless to say, she was surprised when she turned back to the two wizards, the parchment was still being filled with Henry's history. When the witch looked at the sheet she began to feel faint.
When Severus saw the hearty mediwitch pale, he knew Henry had been severely downplaying how much the Dursley's had neglected him. He watched her quickly pull on a neutral mask, feeling glad that Henry had been too busy playing with his hands and comparing his long fingers with his small ones that he did not see the look on the nurse's face. It was probably better that way.
So it came as no surprise to Severus when Poppy called him into her office to collect the proper potions. Henry just looked like he did not want to let go of the older wizard's hands.
"It is alright Henry. I will be back in a moment with medicine for you. Nothing bad will happen to you while I am gathering the proper potions. Just close your eyes and rest while I go with Madam Pomfrey to her office, is that all right?" Severus softly told his little charge.
The little boy looked skeptical and Severus saw despite the boy's initial trust in him, he was still weary. His eyes were cast down and he was picking at the seam of his uniform shirt. ('I am going to have to break him of that habit before it becomes too engrained,' Severus thought to himself.) Quickly, the older man shrugged off his teaching robe and laid it over the small child's body. Henry looked up at the professor surprised at the man's actions.
"Now you know I have to come back my little snake because I have to retrieve my teaching robe." Severus replied, unconsciously adding the endearment to his growing list of names for Lily's child.
Henry nodded and gave Severus a small smile before he turned his attention towards exploring the professor's teaching robe. The sight of the boy running his hands up and down the fabric caused Severus to have to shake away a smile. Honestly the child was too much like his mother, making the cynical and hard man smile at the simplest things.
The Potion Master went to Poppy's office and quickly entered still checking through the one sided window to make sure Lily's child was still resting in the bed. Thankfully, the boy was doing just that.
Severus turned back towards the mediwitch, "What caused you to react in such a manner Poppy? I have never known you to react to an abuse victim's injuries so obviously before."
"And you would know, would you not Severus?" Poppy answered in a tired voice. "It just surprised me to see the amount of abuse that child has withstood."
She sighed and put her head in her hands briefly before raising her eyes to look at the young potion's master. "The poor child, even after Lily fought her hardest to have a will made to insure that Harry would never be abused by Petunia's family. I do not know how many obstacles she went through so that she could make a will that would contradict her husband's willingness to allow Dumbledore free reign over that child. She did her best to ensure you would get custody of the boy, if I remember correctly, even having her parents as backups until they died that October when the Potters were in hiding."
Severus just stared at the mediwitch. "I was supposed to have custody over Henry? You know this for sure."
"Yes," Poppy nodded staring at the man strangely. "Lily made you his unofficial godfather and since she died last, it was in her power to make you the official godfather and remove that no good Black from the position. I was so angry at you when you refused to take him in, hopefully you realize now, abet too late, the error in your judgment."
The younger Slytherin's mask finally slipped. "Poppy, I was never told I was to be either Henry's unofficial godfather, let alone his official one or his guardian. Lily hinted that she had made me one, but I never received confirmation nor was I told I was to have custody."
"But Dumbledore said…." Poppy started to say and then trailed off. She shook her head. "I should have known. We will talk about this later after we have healed the boy's wounds."
'He was supposed to be in my care. Henry was supposed to be mine to raise.' Severus thought as he walked back to the boy who was supposed to be his. 'Why would the headmaster want to circumvent Lily's wishes? Could he have not known?'
Looking down at the little boy in front of him, who barely looked like he was nine, let alone eleven, Severus realized the answer to his question.
'Control. He wanted complete control over Henry. He wanted a chess piece to help him in his battle. If Dumbledore had followed Lily's will than I would have raised the boy to be an independent thinker and a Slytherin. The headmaster would not want to have his "golden boy" in the house of the man who destroyed Henry's family.'
"Is something wrong Sev?" Henry asked his professor. Severus noticed that the boy was watching him closely. "You look like you have eaten something distasteful."
Professor Snape had to keep himself from smiling at the comment. It had been utterly muggle and something he frequently heard from Lily's parents whenever he ate with them and they had discussed his parents, particularly his father's behavior.
"I have just found out that I was supposed to have custody of you according to your mother's will." Severus answered truthfully. "I still need to verify the information, but I think this is our way of getting you out of your aunt's and uncle's home."
Harry looked down at the floor briefly, before he looked up into his professor's eyes. He watched the emotions flicker through the onyx glaze and he wondered what the older wizard was thinking.
"You were supposed to be my guardian?" The young wizard whispered. His heart tightened in his chest, part of him wanted what his professor to be true, while voices whispered in his mind that the head of Slytherin would not want him any more than Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon did.
"According to Madam Pomfrey, Lily, your mother, wrote a separate will renouncing your father's choice of godfather and named me as your official godfather and guardian." The professor stated in a manner that Harry interpreted as cautious. The boy looked down, not wanting to see the disgust in his slowly-becoming favorite professor's eyes.
A set of long, elegant, but stained fingers curled under Harry's chin and gently forced it upwards until Harry's own green eyes met his professor's black ones. "I would be honored to be your godfather and your guardian. I just want to make sure that the information is correct and the titles are well founded so there is no possible way you can be taken out of my care by the Headmaster or anyone else."
Harry looked deep into his professor's eyes and for once, he saw an adult he could trust.
"Where are we going Sev?" Henry asked the older wizard as they rushed along the corridor. Severus noticed that the young boy was panting a bit and realized that the pace he had set was too fast for the small child. It was especially a child who had only recently been healed of two broken arm bones and a cold that had been rapidly becoming pneumonia.
"We are going to Professor McGonagall's office. She is the Deputy Headmistress, as well as your head of house. I believe she will also be an ally for us." Severus said as he slowed down so the boy could more easily match his pace.
Henry hesitated both physically and verbally before answering. "How do you know we can trust her to help us sir? I heard one of your older students say that she was the Headmaster's lapdog."
"Would you care to repeat that, Mr. Potter?" Severus asked with a hint of the menace that he had used towards Henry in Potions class prior to his discovery, while he raised his eyebrow.
Henry looked up at his professor now that the older wizard had stopped moving forward to confront his choice of wording. "I am sorry sir, but that is what I heard from one of your older students when we were waiting to get into your class today. I apologize for speaking ill of Professor McGonagall, sir."
Severus looked down at the boy and saw the sincerity that was practically pouring out of the child's eyes. "Apology accepted, Henry. Please do not speak ill of a professor again, no matter who says what."
The Potions Master realized something when he had uttered that sentence, something that needed to be stated due to his godson's history. "However, if a professor or any other adult is harming you, I expect you to come to me right away so I can help you."
"What do you mean sir?" Harry said innocently.
Severus looked down at Lily's son. "If someone on staff, or really anyone in general, touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or causes you the type of pain that received when you were at the Dursleys, I want you to come straight to me. I will always listen to what you have to say and help you figure out if that person's actions were appropriate responses or inappropriate and deserving of punishment."
"Why would you do that, Sev? Aren't teachers supposed to stick together?" Henry asked curiously, his speech pattern slipping into something more child-like. If the two of them were not discussing something so serious, Severus would be tempted to smile. He wondered if he had ever sounded like that back when he spoke with his strong working-class Yorkshire accent.
Severus bent down to his godson's level. "It is a teacher's job to protect their students from harm. If another teacher fails at that duty and harms a child, it is the job of the other teachers to stop that teacher from harming the student or students."
"So it's your duty as a professor to protect me?"
"No, it's my duty as your mother's best friend and, hopefully, your godfather and guardian to protect you. Even if I was not any of those things, I would protect you whenever necessary."
Severus watched as the young boy's face dropped and he looked down. "So all I am is a duty to you then…." The boy responded in a soft, sad voice.
Quickly deciding that this issue must be nipped in the bud, Sever placed two long, potion stained fingers from his left hand under the boy's chin. "You are neither a duty nor an obligation, Henry Servatius, you are a child that I desire and am determined to protect because you are you."
"Then you want me?"
"Of course child. Why would I not want you?"
Henry bit his lower lip, before further worrying it between his teeth. Another habit I will have to strive to break him of before it becomes too engrained.
"Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon said no one would ever want a freak like me." Harry replied in a similar soft voice to what he had been using earlier when the boy believed that he was only a duty to Severus. Glancing up at Severus and after not seeing any condemnation, the boy continued in the soft voice, but had taken on a much more child-like tone to his speech patterns. "I don't understand why you'd want someone as freaky as me."
The little Gryffindor watched as the Head of Slytherin knelt down in front of him so the man could look him directly in the eyes. "Never doubt that I want you Henry. As I would for your mother, I believe I would gladly go to the ends of the world to protect you."
Harry looked into the eyes that appeared to be onyx and realized they were really dark chocolate brown. At least they were when looking at him.
"I believe I understand sir."
Severus looked into the emerald eyes that were being obscured by the black obscenities that Petunia had dug out of the charity bin ('I am taking him to a wizard optician as soon as we are out of Gringotts!') and saw the insecurity that still was hiding in those depths.
"No Henry, I do not believe you do." Severus stated softly as he continued to look at his best friend's child. When Henry started to protest, Severus merely raised a long fingered hand. "However, I truly believe that one day you will."
"You're not mad than Professor?"
"Severus, Henry. Remember you can call me Severus when we are alone."
"I still prefer Sev."
"As did your mother despite all the times she informed me that my name seemed to describe my personality well." Severus stated firmly in spite of the corners of his mouth attempting to curl up into a smile. "But no, I am not angry or mad because of your question."
Henry nodded slowly, mistrust warring with hope and joy in the boy's eyes. It almost broke the heart that Severus had believed was non-existent since Lily's death.
He quickly got up from his kneeling position. Reaching out his hand slowly, Severus gently took the boy's hand into his own.
"Now that we have that fear settled for a moment, I believe it is time for us to meet our ally." Severus stated firmly as he walked just rapidly enough to keep his reputation as the dungeon bat, but slow enough that he was not pulling Henry along behind him.
"And what makes you believe Severus that Lily would ever go against a decision that she made jointly with James about Harry's future." Minerva McGonagall asked her fellow professor. It was well known that Severus Snape hated James Potter and Minerva was sure that this was just some plot to make the boy hate his father.
The comment caused the wizard in question to glare at her and in her desire to meet and best his glare she missed a glare just as fierce coming from the younger wizard.
"Perhaps you should get your eyes checked Minerva since Lily had no part originally in naming her child's godfather. She looked as surprised as the rest of the intelligent people at the Order meeting when James announced Sirius Black as the boy's godfather."
"It is well known that you hate James, Severus. Would it not be the perfect revenge to turn the man's child against him." Minerva continued, ignoring the potion master's comments. Yes, she did know that Lily had not expected nor had been pleased with James' choice of godfather. However, it was the father's right and the witch wanted to make sure that Severus was not plotting to tarnish the image of James Potter in his son's mind.
Severus gave her a look of disgust. "Perhaps, but being the petty man that I am I would have chosen to take out the sins of the father on the son if Henry was anything like the reprobate."
Harry grinned at the comment, causing Minerva to frown. "I do not understand why you are smiling, young man. Your father was a great man and deserves respect. Professor Snape should behave better in your presence."
This time Minerva did catch Harry's glare.
Harry was getting really sick of the women, the witch, in front of him. Who was she to claim that his father was so great? He had heard some of the comments that Madam Pomfrey had made to Severus concerning the same subject. He had heard what the healer had said about his father and why his mother had been so willing to make a separate will. Harry could feel his mother's presence leading him to be close to Sev. He had not realized it before, but he just knew that little voice in his mind was his mum. He just knew it!
"Because that is what Se… Professor Snape would have done! He even tested me to make sure I wasn't like him! And from what Madam Pomfrey said about dad makes him sound like he was no better than my bully of a cousin Dudley!" Harry cried allowed.
The transfiguration teacher leveled her own version of a glare at Severus. "This is why even if Lily did give you custody of Harry that you shouldn't have it. You obviously have it out for the boy, testing him and probably embarrassing him in front of his classmates. Does that make you feel like a man, Severus?"
"Sev was nice to me! He made sure that all my cuts, bruises and broken bones were healed! He made sure that I had something to eat before we came down here! He told me about mom and how she wouldn't want me to be in the Dursley's home…."
"I am sure that Lily would have realized how beneficial it is that you are within her sister's home. Surely you will not let a petty argument that you must have had prior to sway your view of your relatives."
Severus could not stay quiet anymore. "Petty argument, Minerva? The boy had two broken arms bones and an untreated cold that was rapidly becoming pneumonia. His back was covered in infected wounds and his hand has been broke so many times that it has healed wrong and needs to be reset in the near future. How dare you state that this is just a case of me attempting to alter the views of a child! If you do not believe me than go see Poppy to discuss Henry's health!"
"His name is Harry! That is what his parents named him, not Henry! And of course Poppy would back you up, you slimy snakes always back each other up!" Minerva's accent thickened to the point that Severus could barely understand her, he could only imagine how his little snake was having difficulty following the witch's comments and accusations.
"It's Henry. You can check his birth certificate if you'd like. Lily told me what she named him, Potter was not even present at the child's birth. Potter just wanted to name him after his father Harold, but Lily has always loved the name Henry. My best friend named her child, not her spouse." Severus said with a glare. "As for Poppy "backing me up," as you put it, of course she would because a diagnosis spell does not lie about the ages at which a child would be hurt. If you weren't so blind you would see how many of your students return from holidays damaged from their time spent with their families. Henry is one of those children!"
"You have no right to speak to me like that Severus Snape, especially not in front of Mr. Potter!" Minerva said with a growl. Turning to Henry, "Mr. Potter, you will return to your common room and stay there. You do not need to fear Professor Snape any longer. His hold over you will be broken later this evening when he is expelled from Hogwarts."
Severus felt the blood leave his face.
"No." Harry said firmly, stepping away from the witch that was in front of him and standing next to his mother's best friend. Carefully, he slid his hand into larger hand of the Potion Master. "I am not leaving. I am going to stay with my godfather."
"Mr. Potter, stop this tomfoolery this instant! You will return to Gryffindor Tower and you will do so this instant!"
"No. I am going to Gringott's with my godfather to read my mother's will." Harry said resolutely, his voice trembling slightly but his eyes were firm and his face was neutral. Sev squeezed his hand reassuringly. "You are not my mother. Aunt Petunia said that you were one of the ones who forced mum to marry Potter any ways and you were one of the one's who left me on the Dursley's porch like an unwanted puppy. "
So the comment about Aunt Petunia telling him this was a lie. He knew that Severus knew it was a lie, but he would know it was a true statement. Plus his mother had given him the knowledge. She must have because the moment he said it, he knew the statement was true.
"You needed to be there, so you would be humble." The Transfiguration professor simply stated.
It was then that Severus realized that it was not Minerva speaking. For all the times she had ignored his own plight with the Marauders, it had been Minerva who had comforted him when she discovered the abuse his father brought upon his mother and him. Minerva had never believed that any child should be abused. He remembered the woman stating earlier that she believed the Dursley's to be the "worst sort of muggles" and how she had been concerned about Harry's welfare.
Severus drew his wand and before Minerva could react, he had cast his spell. "Finite incantum."
The effect was almost instantaneous. Gone was the woman who had just strongly been arguing with Harry and in her place was a teacher who was crying.
"Oh Merlin, what have I allowed to happen." The old witch asked almost to herself as she sunk into a chair behind her.
Severus felt his little snake press up closer against his side and tighten his grasp on Severus' hand. Severus drew the boy in front of him before he swooped the child up into his arms. Harry buried his face in the Potion Master's neck.
Minerva looked up eventually at Severus. "You have my permission to take Harr… Henry off of the grounds, Severus. You may also use my floo to go to Gringotts."
Severus nodded slowly and gravely. "As you wish Minerva."
He quickly grabbed the powder out of the jar on the mantle and after ensuring that his charge was holding on to him tightly, he threw the powder into the fire.
"Gringotts, " he called as he wrapped his arms around Henry and entered the fire.
Harry watched with half-lidded eyes from his makeshift bed on the couch as Severus sat in a chair and stared at the fire in contemplation. The professor was supposed to have been his guardian, even his adopted father, from the beginning. His mother had arranged everything, ensuring that Black would never get him and that the coward Lupin would have no power over him as Potter's friend.
Earlier that day, Severus had filled out the forms his mother had had prepared to adopt Harry. Severus had, after reassuring himself that he had settled the legal issues over his guardianship over Harry, had taken him to get new clothes and an eye exam! Harry was now the proud owner of wizarding contacts that he never had to take out. All in all, it had been a wonderful day.
As sad as he was that he had not grown up happy with his mother's best friend; Harry could not help but look forward to the future with a new kind of hope in his heart. After all, as of tonight he had not only discovered he had a godfather but he had gained a protector and more importantly someone who was essentially a father.
As he clearly watched (the first time in years!) the man sitting in front of the fire, Henry Servatius Snape could not help but think that he wouldn't want it any other way. After all, as his mother had explained in her will, they both need each other to be "rescued" from the darkness inside themselves.
The end… for now
A/N: So I didn't intend for Dumbledore to be evil. He is merely big picture oriented. However, he is implied to be a bit callous isn't he?
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