Disclaimer: Don't own, etc.
A/N: This is a reposting. Edited chapters will be marked as such. Unedited chapters will not be posted, as a number of things need to be fixed (namely a missing scene or two that would actually be kind of useful).
Edited chapters are posted four to a post. Formatting as follows:
[date of editing]
Scene breaks (oOoOo) have multiple purposes, including denoting a change in PoV. Hopefully they still exist and are in the right places when this goes up.
The first time Harry Potter sat in the sun with his cousin Dudley he started to scream. When his Aunt Petunia ran to see what was wrong she screamed and pulled Dudley away from him. Eventually he managed to crawl out of the sunlight, and he stared in pain at his burned flesh. His aunt took him to the hospital, grumbling the whole way.
Years later she explained what had happened. She sat him down and told him that he had a very rare disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum. She explained that he would have to cover all of his skin while outside and make sure he didn't get exposed to sunlight. She didn't mention anything about reprimanding Dudley if he intentionally exposed Harry to sunlight. Why would she? She probably enjoyed it when that happened.
Harry learned to stay away from Dudley. He learned to not go outside at all. Aunt Petunia had to explain why he wore the clothes he did so his teachers knew he couldn't be exposed to sunlight. They let him go to the library during recess and lunch, and Harry spent that time reading. He read everything, quickly outstripping his peers, though his homework didn't reflect that.
As the years passed Harry picked up another skill: Running. He learned to run far and fast. When he left the school property he did so at a sprint, and he didn't stop running until he was back at number 4 Privet Drive. Dudley, who never lost his baby fat and looked like nothing more than a human-shaped sack of lard, had trouble catching him. In fact, the only time Harry was caught was when he ran into a trap, which happened at least once every week or two. Still, he survived and he learned.
Don't ask questions. That was the first rule he'd learned at the Dursleys. To that he added his own: Don't volunteer information – ever. He perfected the application of this rule very quickly, and as time progressed he became proficient at obfuscation. That was his world, filled with lies and deception, pain and terror, and a craving for love that he'd battered so far into submission that he'd stopped feeling the twinges of pain when his aunt and uncle hugged his cousin. That was how things stood when his world changed.
The click of the mail slot fell through number 4 Privet Drive, followed closely by the flop of letters hitting the doormat.
"Get the mail Dudley," said Uncle Vernon, not even looking away from his morning paper. He tended to try to get Dudley to pick up the mail, not wanting Harry to touch such important things as bills.
"Make Harry get it."
"Get the mail, Harry."
"Yes, Uncle Vernon." Harry moved away from the stove, turning it off with a practiced flick of his gloved hand, and walked into the entry. It was summer so the sun was well into the sky, and he was covered head to toe, sweltering beneath Dudley's castoff sweatshirt and tent-like pants, a scarf wrapped about his face and head leaving a slit just large enough to frame his glasses.
Honestly, Harry was grateful for the reprieve. Being near the stove made things even worse, and this way he got a small break before having to go back to cooking. That in mind, he crouched to grab the letters on the doormat. There were three: a postcard from Aunt Marge, a brown envelope that looked like a bill, and…
Harry picked up the three letters, his eyes locked on the third.
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
That wouldn't do. Harry never got mail, and this letter was addressed to his cupboard. Oh no, that wouldn't do at all.
Harry took a second to throw his letter into his cupboard before bringing the other two to Uncle Vernon. Acting as though nothing were wrong, Harry went back to cooking breakfast for his relatives, directing his mind firmly away from the letter laying innocently under the scrap of cloth that passed for his pillow.
Harry slept through the height of the summer days, tucked into his lightless cupboard where he could divest himself of the protective layers of clothing he otherwise wore when the sun was in the sky. He always used his clothes to block out the light that seeped through the cracks in the door, and made sure to cover the grate, as his cousin liked to let sunlight in while he was sleeping. Normally he went to sleep as soon as he was allowed to retreat to his cupboard, but not that day. Not when he had a letter addressed to the very cupboard he was currently locked in. Instead he opened the letter and read it by torchlight.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Harry looked at the letter and then pulled out the supplies list. He scanned it, sighed, and tucked both pages into his dictionary, the one book the Dursleys didn't take from him as soon as they found it. After all, what child would read a dictionary?
Harry carefully ripped the envelope, taking a small piece of it, and pulled out the bottle of calligraphy ink he'd gotten from his art teacher, and the small stick of bamboo he'd turned into a quill. He had brushes, but the quill was easier, and his aunt didn't have the intelligence to realize he could write letters with ink and a brush…not that he'd had anyone to write to before this.
Dear Professor McGonagall,
I will require assistance. Please send someone discreet.
Harry scratched his missive out, carefully and quietly. He then rolled the scrap of paper up, and hid it in his sock. If he could find an owl he'd see if it would take the letter.
For the first time Harry fell asleep with a strange feeling in his chest: Hope. He might have a way out of the hell that he lived in. Carried on the wings of owls: Predators of the night.
That night, once the sun was down and it was safe for Harry to be outside, his Aunt sent him to weed the garden. Harry was, for once, grateful to be given the chore, especially when he noticed the owl waiting on a tree branch.
His Aunt never bothered to supervise him anymore, so when he was sure no one was looking out the window to check on him he coaxed the owl down from the tree, and handed the tiny scroll to it.
"Please take this to Professor McGonagall." He whispered. The owl nibbled his finger before taking off, and Harry returned to his chores, turning his mind away from the fleeting hope he'd felt that afternoon in his cupboard. He didn't know if the owl was anything more than a wild creature, and he did most definitely know that there was no point in hoping. Hope, after all, was for people, not freaks.
Vernon Dursley stared in confusion at the tall, pale, thin man in a black suit standing on his doorstep. It was after dinner and the freak was cleaning the kitchen. The sun was down so the freak wasn't wearing anything but its shorts. It was hot, after all, being the middle of summer, and they had no air conditioning.
"Vernon Dursley, I presume?" The man said in a cultured voice. Vernon didn't notice the freak flinching in the other room, and even if he had he wouldn't have cared. Actually, he rather liked when the freak flinched. It meant the thing knew its place, after all.
"And you are?" Vernon asked, suspicious, but not too much. After all, the man wasn't wearing freaky clothes or anything.
"Severus Snape. May I enter?" The question was not one, and Vernon nodded, standing back to let the man pass.
"Who is it dear?" Petunia called from where she was monitoring the freak
"A man. Severus Snape." A dish shattered.
Things became chaotic for a minute. Petunia started screaming something incoherent, and ran into the living room, a wooden spoon in her hand. Vernon was confused; he had no clue why his wife was acting this way. Dudley sat on the stairs, watching the scene with a smirk on his pudgy face and a mars bar in his hands, and the freak kept cleaning the kitchen.
"Get out of my house freak!" Petunia screamed, finally saying something comprehensible. It was, apparently, the wrong thing to say, because the next thing Vernon knew he was frozen on the couch, Petunia next to him, Dudley next to her.
The freak continued to clean the kitchen.
"Potter?" The Snape man asked the freak.
"Sir?" It had learned not to stop cleaning, even when spoken to, long ago.
"May I presume you are the one who sent the letter?" Snape asked.
"Yes, sir." The boy replied. Vernon was incensed. The thing had managed to send a letter to the freaks? How?
"Potter, look at me." Snape said. The boy did, putting his cleaning down so he wouldn't break anything.
For a moment nothing happened. Then the world seemed to explode. The man was angry, the freak was terrified, and Vernon wasn't sure what he was supposed to feel.
Then there was nothing.
Severus didn't know what to think when he met the muggle man.
He got a little worried when he saw a small, scrawny, too thin, too pale boy cleaning the kitchen in nothing but shorts, a few fading bruises on his chest and arms.
He got even more worried when Petunia started screaming at him.
He got downright suspicious when a Potter called him sir.
He skimmed the boy's mind.
Xenoderma Pigmentosum. Big words for a small child's mind. The cupboard under the stairs. The big words were a muggle disease that meant you couldn't be in the sun. Harry, in the sun, getting burned…quickly…too quickly. Well, that's where that came from. Severus wondered why that was the closest to the surface of Potter's mind. He dug deeper.
"Freak!" "Boy!" The Dudley-boy and his gang chasing a heavily clothed Harry again and again. A dog named 'Ripper'. Hand-me-downs. It didn't look like the boy was beaten, much. Sitting in his cupboard, stomach rumbling, listening to the Dursleys eat. Coming out to clean up after them, but not allowed a bite of his own. That had been that night. How many nights? Too many nights.
He saw more. More he didn't want to think about. The boy couldn't stay.
"Get your things." He said, broking no argument. He would have to move quickly to get the boy proper clothing before the sun rose.
The boy complied with nary a sound. That should not have been.
"Forgive me James Potter, but your son is better off with me than here." Severus whispered, obliviating the three muggles on the couch.
~~From: The Personal Diary of Severus Snape~~
What is Minerva thinking, sending me to "assist" the potter BRAT! She KNOWS how I feel about the child! And worse, the Headmaster is away with his grandniece so I can't appeal the decision to him. Well, if she wants me to go she'll have to deal with the consequences. I have a very finicky potion brewing, and it won't be done until seven tonight. I'll go then, and hopefully there will be no more nonsense of sending me after lost little children who couldn't find a map if they were hit over the head with an atlas.
Harry didn't know who the tall, dark stranger was. Well, that wasn't completely true. He knew the man's name, Severus Snape, but that was all. He didn't know why the man was there. Well, that wasn't completely true either. He knew the man was from Hogwarts, as he'd mentioned The Letter of his own accord. That combined with being more afraid of the Dursleys than of strangers meant Harry didn't so much as hesitate when he was told to get his things.
There really wasn't much: Dudley's hand-me-downs, and not many of them, the ink, pseudo-quill, and brushes, the dictionary, and the few assignments he'd managed to save from his relatives' wrath. Everything fit in his school bag with ease, and Harry returned to the living room to see his relatives with glassy looks being instructed to tell anyone who asked that Harry had been picked up by his father's brother to attend his parent's school. This fictitious father's brother had, apparently, just gotten back from rehabilitation after The War, explaining why he hadn't taken Harry in before.
Mr. Snape saw him, and gestured for him to follow. Harry did, unconcerned. He'd been afraid at first, but the man's anger-scent was completely directed at the Dursleys now, not at Harry, so he trotted after the man with no hesitation.
"Don't be afraid."
The cryptic comment preceded Mr. Snape grabbing his arm, and twisting. Harry felt as though he was being pulled through the plumbing, and when the sensation ended abruptly he fell to his knees in shock.
"Congratulations, Mister Potter. You have just side-along apparated. Now, please get up so we can go to Gringotts." Mr. Snape was in a bad mood.
Severus took the boy to Diagon Alley by side-along apparation, not really caring if he scared the child. He was a bit too worked up over the muggle's treatment of the boy to be thinking clearly, and he had a bit of a puzzle to chew on besides.
'Ah, Mister Snape. What can we do for you this fine night?'…okay, so a Goblin wouldn't be caught dead saying that, but Severus could dream.
"What?" A surly goblin groused, looking up from his ledger.
"Mister Potter would like the key to his trust vault, and I would like to clear up a small matter of his heritage, as well as the larger matter of his guardianship." Severus said bluntly, wondering who he could foist the boy off on. He didn't want to raise the child himself after all. How could he? The boy looked so much like Potter. So he wasn't spoiled. So what? Besides, Severus definitely was not father material.
"Very well," the goblin grumbled, locking his ledger with a longing look, "key and heritage we can do now, come back tomorrow morning to speak to the Potter solicitor about guardianship."
Thirty minutes later Harry had a pouch of wizarding money, his key, and the knowledge to spend his money wisely, and Severus had confirmed what he already knew: James Potter was an idiot. Honestly, getting your wife pregnant after becoming a vampire's thrall in an effort to curry favor with said race and prevent them from joining the Dark Lord? And then letting said vampire babysit the newborn? How stupid can you get?
Luckily, Harry wasn't a full vampire. He had the dubious pleasure of being a half-blood. He had the sun allergy, though it wouldn't kill him, and if the goblins were right he was allergic to garlic as well. He'd live a long time, and when he got older he'd likely develop a few more specialized powers, either on the physical or the mental-emotional side of the card. In the meantime, Severus needed to get him some proper clothing.
Adam's Specialty Clothes in Noxturn Alley, the badly punned side-street off Knockturn Alley, was a store that catered to non-humans and part-humans. Mr. Kain, the proprietor, was one of the few gainfully employed werewolves, and remained so by staying off the ministry's radar. One of the more popular lines of clothing he carried was Vampiric Daywear: clothes spelled either for summer or winter, which would protect the wearer from the sun without sacrificing mobility or style. They came in sets, including shoes, and styles, including a package for Hogwarts students, though very few of those were stocked, as they were only rarely needed, though not always by vampires.
Severus led Harry into the store and over to the shelves he knew contained various styles of Hogwarts uniforms. He pointed out the samples of everything the child would need and stepped back slightly to watch the boy finger the garments in awe.
"There are a number of private rooms at the back of the shop. Go feed the child before he collapses." The slightly hard voice startled Severus and he turned to glare at his old friend. He and Adam Kain had known each other for years. Adam had helped Severus get over what they called his furry little nightmare, and Severus had helped Adam stay on the good side of both the ministry and the denizens of Noxturn Alley. After all, who better to help you play a dangerous game than a spy?
Severus turned to stare at his old friend. He knew werewolves had keen noses, but knowing the boy was hungry? Unless his stomach was rumbling? Severus remembered seeing a lack of recent food in the boy's thoughts, and mentally slammed his head against a wall. He'd forgotten. And, of course, not even Knockturn Alley had safe blood for sale. Unsafe blood? Sure, but for safe, unpoisoned, untrapped blood he'd have to go to the source, and if a werewolf was telling him to feed the boy, then he probably wouldn't be able to keep anything but blood down.
"Oh, and I hope you don't mind if I burn the boy's clothes. Not even his underwear is worth keeping." Mr. Kain interrupted Severus' thoughts, "I'll give him a discount on replacements to make up for it, but I doubt he'll want to keep the hand-me-downs anyways." With that the man disappeared, though how was a matter for later debate. Severus sighed, hoping the metrosexual werewolf didn't do anything too horribly drastic with the child's wardrobe.
"Harry, come here." Severus said, keeping his voice soft. The child trotted over and followed Severus through the back doors and down a hall to a room containing a couch and a coffee table. He moved fearlessly, but his posture spoke of caution and uncertainty. It was altogether a rather strange impression.
Severus sat on the couch. Harry stood and waited.
"Come child, sit." Severus said, watching the boy carefully. The first emotion he saw was fear. Anger coursed through him, and the fear increased. He fought the anger down.
"That wasn't a request." Faster than he could see, the boy was seated, shaking slightly.
Severus sighed. "Harry, look at me."
Lashes were in the way of complete eye contact, but the basics were there.
"I need you to trust me." He kept his voice steady, and locked his emotions behind a strong occlumency barrier. He really, really wasn't cut out for this.
Fear. Confusion. The child…could he even understand the word trust? Severus needed to take a different track.
"Mister Kain has insisted that you must be hungry." That got a response, but not what Severus would have liked. Instead of a quiet nod, even the fearful one he'd been expecting, Harry leapt to his feet as though he'd been stung, and backed away.
"No, sir. 'm fine sir." Harry broke the eye contact to watch his feet.
"Harry, come here." Severus' patience was running thin. Apparently the child could tell because he walked over immediately, though is body language told Severus he was terrified, confused, and seconds from running like a fury.
Severus, contrary to popular belief, was not a vampire, did not have experience with vampires (though one of his just-graduated Slytherins had been a quarter-vampire), did not keep vampires as pets, and was not partial to drinking the blood of his students during detentions. Despite all this, despite Harry Potter being the son of James Potter, despite everything that had happened in the past four hours to make him question the sanity of the world, he knew precisely what he needed to do, and how to do it.
As Harry approached Severus flicked the penknife he kept in a pocket of his sleeve into his right hand, making sure the child couldn't see it. With a second motion, following so close on the first as to be indistinguishable, he brought the knife to the join between wrist and left hand, and inscribed a shallow slice, knowing that was where the blood vessels were closest to the surface.
The smell of blood was all it took for the mostly starved half-vampire to loose his fear, and had Severus not been used to flying potions ingredients he would have lost control of the situation. As it was Harry flew at his wrist, and he caught the child, twisting him around so that his back was to Severus' chest. He wrapped his right arm around Harry's waist even as the boy hung desperately to his left, mouth locked over the small cut at the join of wrist and hand.
Had Harry been a full vampire, Severus would have been thrown into a feeding-trance, but he was only half, and still a child so Severus was simply left with a rather strange sensation as Harry sucked blood from his body. For this he was grateful because he knew what happened to starving children who gorged, and he didn't want to find out of the same was true of vampires with blood. So he counted to five, and then took his wrist away, starting back and one and counting to ten in his head.
Harry whimpered, and started to thrash.
"Harry, stop." Severus said, keeping track of the count even as he spoke. It was a useful skill learned the hard way, though none of the potions accidents that led to the skill had been fatal, obviously. The child didn't listen, so he started counting out loud. "Seven, eight, nine, ten." He gave the child his arm back. "One, two, three, four, five." Took it away. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten." Gave it back. "One, two three, four, five."
When he took his wrist away the third time Harry caught on, and his voice joined Severus', though his eyes never left the bloody wrist. Severus was quite sure that the image they created was not one he wanted to ever see second-hand. It was likely too disturbing for words. He didn't even want to see his wrist, blood coating it in a mouth-shaped pseudo-circle around a shallow gash.
After the ninth five-count Harry relaxed, at the eleventh he slowed down, and at the thirteenth Severus knew he had consumed enough, though how he knew was a mystery. He healed the cut, and took a half-dose of blood-replenishing potion.
Harry didn't move. In fact, he'd fallen asleep.
Mr. Kain transfigured the couch and table into a queen-sized bed, complete with sheets and a comforter… without so much as poking his head into the room.
Severus figured it was pointless to fight the inevitable, and let himself settle under the blankets, the body of one Harry Potter held safely in his arms.
So this is what it feels like to have a son. His last thoughts before falling asleep probably had James Potter rolling in his grave, yet somehow Severus couldn't bring himself to care.
~~From the pages of You Wound Me Now Die~~
The belief that werewolves and vampires are locked in an eternal struggle is a myth, though routed in some truth. In the past many magical creatures fought and killed each other on a regular basis. Then wizards started slaughtering everyone and they all decided to put their differences aside. Perhaps when wizards are no longer a threat we'll all go back to killing each other, but for now it seems that relations are not only possible but flourishing.
Now, I use the example of werewolves and vampires to open this chapter for many reasons, but the main one is that all of the initial inter-species interactions I had were between various werewolves and myself. In fact, the first other Creature I met was a werewolf. He was the proprietor of a shop that catered to the specific dress requirements of humanoid Creatures…
Severus rose with the sun, as was his wont, and had a calm breakfast with Adam while Harry continued to sleep, snoring just slightly. After breakfast he helped Adam close the shop for the morning (it was open from mid-afternoon through sunrise), and only when his friend waved him off did he depart the shop and alley for Gringotts.
Entering the bank, Severus looked around and was waved over by one of the many goblins working the counters.
"What do you want?" The goblin groused.
"I was told to return this morning. I wish to speak with the Potter's Solicitor about their will." Severus said politely. It paid to be polite to the goblins even if they were never polite in public.
"Wait here." The goblin hopped off its stool, and Severus allowed himself a quick peek over the counter as he waddled away. Sure enough, the floor on the other side was much higher than where he was standing, and the goblin's chair was perfectly proportioned, not ridiculously tall as most wizards assumed. In fact, Severus remembered a time when Lucius Malfoy had joked with some other pre Death Eaters by mimicking a Goblin climbing stiffly up a stool.
"The solicitor will see you now." The goblin had returned. Severus gave him a half-bow of thanks and walked towards a side door where another goblin was waiting. As he walked he turned his mind away from the memory, though he allowed himself a final thought on precisely how foolish Lucius had looked on many levels.
Severus was led to a room that contained a single oval table and five chairs. There was already a goblin inside, and a scroll lay on the table. It was the Potter's will.
A quick glance at the goblin in the room as his escort closed the door told Snape that he had permission to look at the will, and he unrolled it with hands that were shaking slightly. He refused to admit it, even to himself, but he was a bit nervous. Still, he unrolled the scroll and read it through, nodding in some places and staring in others. At some point, he wasn't sure when, he sat down on one of the chairs, his eyes still tracking across the page. When he got to the end he let the scroll go and stared at it as it re-rolled itself.
Sirius Black had been James' choice of guardian, along with a note saying Peter Pettigrew had been the secret keeper.
Severus Snape was Lily's.
Less than ten minutes were required to officially make Severus Harry's guardian.
During those ten minutes Severus learned that the goblins disliked Dumbledore as much as he himself disliked dunderheads.
It was as Severus left Gringotts that he realized exactly what he'd done. He'd gone and made himself the child's guardian. He, Severus Snape, was officially the guardian of a child.
He contemplated his eventual fate as he walked back to Adam's and let himself in. Moving as silently as only a spy can, he made his way to the room he'd spent the night in, and saw Harry, still asleep, and learned something new: He learned that cute small children curled up in giant beds look lost and need to be cuddled.
It was as he curled his body around the child's and closed his eyes that Severus realized that he didn't mind being the child's guardian. In fact, he wasn't sure he would have been able to give the boy up if he'd wanted to.
Harry woke up comfortable and warm, curled up… in someone's arms? Full? He shot out of the…bed? What bed? The couch and coffee table? But the back of the couch was facing him! And a man was on the other side of the coffee table.
He'd dreamed of a man. A man? This man! Dreamed that he'd been taken from the Dursleys'… It was real?
He wasn't hungry!
Dreamed of being fed. Fed the one thing that always agreed with him, the thing he'd been tortured with by a sadistic uncle every time he'd gone particularly long with no food. The thing normal people didn't eat. The man he didn't even know had fed him? Blood?
"Harry." The man called him by his name. Not 'boy'. Not 'freak'. I have a name.
"Yes, you do." He'd said that out loud? Apparently he had.
"Would you care to put this on so we can finish shopping?" The man held a robe. It had a hood with something attached to the open face so that it wasn't open but he could see. He also held a pair of long gloves, and tall, soft-soled boots that looked a lot like socks. And underwear. And soft pants. And a soft shirt. In short, he held an entirely new, not second-hand, outfit.
Harry took the clothing with shaking hands, staring at it in wonder. It was all… clean? His size? His clothes? Apparently.
He started to rip off his old clothes but paused when he was down to his shorts, which were so big they covered him from navel to knee and had to be held up with twine. He felt dirty, filthy, and he wanted to get clean.
"Shower?" He asked, looking up, meeting the man's eyes of his own accord for the first time.
"This way kid." A second man came around the corner. This one smelled different, like a person and a wolf, but the wolf was behind the person. How did he know what a wolf smelled like? Did it matter?
Harry handed the clothes back to the first man, not wanting to dirty them any more than he already had, and followed the wolf-man through dark halls, and into a tiled bathroom, the only light artificial.
There was a shower and a bathtub.
He went to the shower, turned it on, and let it warm up. When it was just right he stepped under the soft rain of water, letting Dudley's shorts fall to the floor where he wouldn't step on them getting out.
Harry scrubbed until his skin was raw, lathered his hair multiple times, cleaned every inch of skin with meticulous care, and finally toweled himself dry. Only then did he retrace his steps, a towel wrapped around him, so big it covered him down to the ankles and dragged on the floor.
The man, Mr. Snape, he remembered, was still there, the clothes in a neatly folded pile on the couch next to him.
Harry walked up, not afraid for the first time in his memory, and donned the strange new garb, easily using the towel as a privacy screen, not that Mr. Snape tried to look. He was reading something, a piece of strange paper.
When he was fully dressed Harry looked down at himself in wonder. He could move freely, and he wasn't stifled like in his old clothes. In fact, the cloth felt soft and cool against his skin, and something told him it would stay cool so that he didn't overheat. For the first time he was actually comfortable during the summer. It was a novel experience.
"Welcome to the wizarding world, Mister Potter." The Snape man said when Harry was fully dressed.
"Thank you, sir." Harry replied from behind the protective mesh of his hood.
"I am Professor Severus Snape. I teach potions at Hogwarts. I am also officially your guardian as of two hours ago. I would prefer to explain the rest once we've bought your supplies and gotten you settled at my, now your, house." The man continued.
"Yes, sir." Harry felt like a new person, but he wasn't going to test that feeling too far just yet. First he needed to learn the rules of this new world.
Mr. Kain presented Harry with a package of clothing, everything from undergarments to old-style shoes and casual robes. Also in the package was the standard Hogwarts kit in modified style. He took time to show Harry how to properly don each garment, and then sent the pair off with good-wishes.
Harry was ecstatic. He was out in the sun, and it wasn't hurting him. He wasn't even really tired even though it was the height of the day. He tagged after Severus, and their very first stop was a small sandwich shop where he was allowed to pick anything he wanted from the kid's menu. Of course, eating it proved a bit more difficult, but he eventually got the hang of eating through the flap in the protective mesh, especially as it was designed to permit eating and drinking, though he was glad to have a straw in his milk.
Milk! That was a new thing. He'd never been allowed milk before. He felt so bad when he couldn't finish it too, but by halfway through the meal he was stuffed. Professor Snape just smiled though, and had the leftovers, even the milk, packed away for later.
After lunch they went to a travel store, and Harry spend a good half-hour exploring the different trunks. There were multi-compartment trunks, school trunks, featherlight trunks, room-trunks, so many different kinds of trunks. Harry had absolutely no clue what to chose. Severus finally got irritated and grabbed a 'student's smart-trunk', pointing out the multiple compartments for clothes, books, a potions kit, a writing kit, and pet supplies, and told Harry it was now his trunk.
Everything needed for potions class was acquired with a minimum of fuss, the Apothecary being Severus' domain. The bookstore, on the other hand, took almost two hours. Harry could, for the first time in his life, get whatever he pleased, and he went a little crazy. He picked up his school texts, then he disappeared, and it took Severus over an hour to find him…hidden behind the man-height stacks of books he wanted. The next forty-five minutes was an argument about how many books Harry could actually buy (books were the only thing Harry ever argued with an authority figure over), though Severus finally managed to end it by informing Harry of the library at Spinner's End, and capping extra-curriculars at ten.
Three stores, a snowy owl, red, green, blue, purple, black, and color-changing ink, five quills, twenty rolls of parchment and one-hundred-and-seven wands later Harry threw up his hands with an inhuman growl, stalked past a confounded Ollivander, and disappeared into the shelves of the wand shop. Less than a minute after that he returned with a wand in his hands.
"This one." He said quietly. He'd felt one that called to him even more than the one he'd picked, but he'd also felt something stirring, something he didn't like, and this one felt so much calmer.
"Thirteen inches, birch, and…unicorn hair? An interesting combination, Mister Potter."
"Yes, yes, how much?" Severus cut the man off.
They handed the money over, and left, each shuddering in relief when they made their escape.
Finally, Snape took Harry back to his house on Spinner's End. It wasn't the house of his childhood anymore. He'd spent years worth of summers fixing it up and adding lots of nice security features like hidden doors and a ward-matrix. He quickly added Harry to the full ward matrix instead of the partials he added visitors to. Then he took Harry upstairs, showing him how to work the bookcase-door, and showed him to his room.
Harry's room was directly across the hall from Severus', and oh so very amazing. The walls were painted a light, sky blue, and the floor had a dark green carpet over some of it, the rest a nice dark wood. The bed looked sturdy if a bit worn, and the desk had a few chips in it, but everything looked loved instead of used, and Harry simply gaped in awe.
Eventually Severus took over and unpacked Harry's clothes into the armoire across from the desk. By the time he got to the books Harry had snapped out of his trance and they put them on the bookshelves together. Hedwig's cage was hung from a hook that extended about a foot and a half from the wall next to the window, and the supplies they'd gotten went into a trunk beneath the hook. Lastly, they put a quill and a bottle of ink on the desk, leaving everything else in the school trunk, and retreated to the den to converse.
"I'll never have to go back to the Dursleys'?" Harry asked as he settled into a squishy chair and took control of a conversation for the first time in his life.
"Correct." Severus replied.
"And you're my guardian, which means you're like a parent." Harry continued.
"Indeed." Severus started to wonder about the questions.
"Why you?" Harry jumped the conversation to a pseudo-new topic.
"It was in your parent's will. Your mother wished me to take you should your parents and godfather be incapable." Severus replied carefully, trying to figure out how to gain control of the conversation.
"Why did the Dursleys' have me then?" Harry sounded confused, a bit lost, and more than a bit hurt.
"I don't know child." Severus said truthfully.
"Did you know my mum wanted you to take me?" Harry had no clue why he was pushing this man, but something inside him was rising like a storm, and he was clueless to stop it.
"No," Severus sounded, and was, remorseful, "and, honestly, I'm not sure I would have taken you had I known. Your father and I were bitter enemies, and until last night I had no clue your relatives were…less than fawning." Why had he said that of all things?
"Can I call you dad?"
~~From the pages of You Wound Me, Now Die~~
It took me many years to realize why my father and I bonded as quickly as we did. Of course, I didn't question it at the time, and even if I had I don't think I would have changed anything, especially given how fragile I was. Still, I feel it necessary to speak of now, for the edification of all.
Though I did not realize it at the time, my father was also my Thrall. The thrall-bond is quite complex, and yet very simple to induce. It is most often used to effect the Turning of a new High Vampire, but functioned just as well to give me someone I could trust enough to heal the emotional wounds of my life with the Dursleys.
Perhaps, before I go any further, I should explain the thrall-bond. It is a bond between vampire and human, magical or non, that allows each to know the location and physical/emotional status of the other at all times. It also enhances trust between the two and prevents the human from harming the vampire. The human initiates the bond by willingly feeding the vampire, specifically by cutting the join between left hand and wrist and feeding the vampire via that incision, though after that any act of feeding will strengthen the bond.
The specific location of the cut is important, and is how willing donors keep from becoming thralls. A vampire feeding from a willing donor will usually bite the left or right wrist a little above the join, and if a donor must initiate a feeding they will avoid that specific location, usually playing it safe by cutting the right wrist.
Of course, humans don't know any of this unless they dance in Vampiric circles, which is how my dad ended up accidentally initiating such a bond, not that I'm complaining.
Harry spent the first night in his new room getting up and checking the door to make sure it was unlocked. He hadn't thought he was disturbing Mr. Snape (he knew he'd asked if he could call him dad, but he was too afraid to actually do so) until, a little after midnight, he saw the knob turn from his bed and watched fearfully as the door started to open. However, it stopped almost as soon as it had started, leaving a slight crack between door and frame.
He wanted to reassure me. Harry gasped in his mind a few minutes later when he finally worked out why Mr. Snape had done something so silly. He couldn't understand it, but a few minutes later it didn't matter because he'd fallen asleep.
"Um, Mr. Snape?" Harry spent most of breakfast working up the courage to get to this point. He had an intense urge to trust the man, but his life so far had taught him not to trust anyone, and especially not to trust adults.
"Yes, Harry?" Mr. Snape looked up from the letter he was writing over breakfast.
"Um, can you, that is, maybe, if it's okay with you-"
"Harry." Mr. Snape cut off his babbling, his voice just barely tinged with irritation. "Do you know what prevarication is?"
"The noun form of prevaricate: To speak or act in an evasive way." Harry replied immediately.
"You are prevaricating, Harry. Cease doing so." Mr. Snape said, his voice mildly forceful.
"Yes sir." Harry stared at his hands. There he'd gone and lost his chance to ask, and all because he was a stupid, cowardly freak. How could he have been so stupid? His aunt and uncle hated when he did that. Granted, they never gave him anything he asked for anyways, but when he hesitated the punishment was worse-
"I believe you were attempting to ask me a question." Mr. Snape's voice sounded like he was forcing it to be neutral, as though he really wanted to snap but couldn't.
Harry looked up, astonished. He could still ask? He hadn't completely blown it?
"Oh, right, um-" he took a deep breath. "Canyoutakedownmydoorplease?"
"Good." Mr. Snape said calmly. "Now say it slowly, and do please enunciate."
Good? The word rang in Harry's head and he felt light, lighter than he ever had before.
"Can you take down my door, please." Harry repeated, slowing his voice so that the words didn't come out in a jumble.
"Certainly." Mr. Snape said calmly. "We will do so after lunch. This morning we are going shopping for heavy drapes for your room. I'll just get an extra for across your door."
Harry stared. Never in his wildest dreams had he expected the answer to be yes. He had even wondered why he was bothering to ask, and now he was not only going to get drapes so the sun wouldn't burn him, but he was also going to have the door taken down!
Inside, that voice pushing him to trust Mr. Snape got louder. Harry wanted to listen to the voice. He really did. As the day progressed he watched Mr. Snape, saw how the man never even raised his voice, and slowly, slowly he started listening to the inner voice.
Over the next few days they had a stream of visitors. First was a bustling woman who was introduced as Madame Pomfrey, the school nurse. She gave Harry a complete checkup and left Mr. Snape with a scroll over three feet long with instructions for his health.
Next was a kind woman, all smiles and cuddles, named Professor Sprout. She was followed by a short man, shorter than Harry, named Professor Flitwick. Finally, on the fourth day at the house, Harry met Professor McGonagall.
The next day all three professors and the mediwitch came at the same time, and Mr. Snape sat down with them to talk. Harry paid close attention as they spoke, but didn't say anything unless he was asked a direct question. For once he was happy to let adults do the work.
"Harry! Our guest is here!" Severus' voice filtered through the heavy, purple-black curtain that blocked the entrance to Harry's room. They'd gotten two sets of curtains, both of the same shimmering fabric, one for the window and one for the door. Harry had helped put both curtains up, and was overjoyed when Mr. Snape took the door away and stored it somewhere (Harry hadn't bothered following).
Then they'd had a rather long conversation about Harry, vampirism, xeroderma pigmentosum, and what Harry wanted to tell the rest of the world. They'd decided they needed an outside opinion, and two days ago Lorcan d'Eath, the part-vampire singer, had come over for dinner. Now they were hosting a more – challenging – guest.
Harry rose from his chair, and threw his favorite robes, a middling-deep green with tiny silver serpent decals on the sleeve-hems, (his father refused to tell him why the robes amused him so much), over the pants, shirt, slipper-boots, and gloves he was already wearing. The hood of his robes settled on his head, and he put out the moon-globe on his desk, a quartz crystal spelled to let off about as much light as a full moon, before stepping from his room and pacing silently down the stairs.
Headmaster Dumbledore was a tall, thin, old man with a long white beard, dressed in purple robes with yellow moons, his dunce cap of similar design. He also wore magic, purposeful flails that started investigating Harry as soon as he entered the room. Now, Harry wasn't horribly good at feeling magic, but he could tell when someone was pushing on his mind with it, and he really, really didn't like it – so he leapt across an intervening chair and hid behind his father.
"Harry?" The Headmaster asked. Harry flinched and growled. Mr. d'Eath had told him a lot about courtesy in the magical world, and here was one of the preeminent wizards being rude.
"The only person who has permission to call me by my given name is my father." Harry growled out, staying well hidden behind said person.
"My sincerest apologies, my boy…" The Headmaster started, and Harry could see his eyes twinkling from where he was peeking out. He also felt Severus twitch.
"I am not your boy. Do not address me as such." Harry had gained confidence quickly after being removed from his… previous house. Mr. d'Eath had explained that too. Apparently it wasn't in the vampiric nature to be submissive to anyone unless the other was proven to be the superior force or there was a bond of affection between the two. The fact that being called 'boy' in any form still tended to cause what his father called 'flashbacks' didn't help.
The Headmaster sighed. "What should I call you then, my…" He managed to catch himself before repeating his mistake.
"Mister Potter will suffice." Mr. Snape spoke up for the first time.
"Very well, Mister Potter, I'm going to have to insist you come with me now, and return to your relative's house. I'm sure they miss you very much. Professor Snape may have thought he was doing the right thing, but you are legally their ward, and must be returned to them." The Headmaster said, his eyes twinkling madly.
Harry gripped the back of Severus' cloak, but said nothing, and refused to move.
"I'm sorry Headmaster, but that's where you are wrong." Mr. Snape said, his voice quiet, and soft like silk. Harry already recognized that voice. His father had used it when they'd gone to the Ministry for a man named Sirius Black's hearing. He'd used it on a few of his students when they'd met in Diagon Alley one morning. It was his 'I win, I know it, and soon you'll know it' voice.
"The Dursleys were not Harry's legal guardians. The stipend they received from you was not official. No Ministry representatives or Child Services employees ever checked in on them. They signed no documents. I, on the other hand, have already signed the pre-written guardianship papers that Lily requested prior to her death. Sirius Black has already signed them as well, in his capacity as Harry's godfather. There were no blood wards on Number 4 Privet Drive, as such wards require positive interaction to maintain, and if you attempt to take my son from me I will have you brought to trial and sentenced as a kidnapper." Harry liked it when his father spoke like that. He also remembered the scene with the Black man.
"You WHAT? No! No way am I going to let you be Harry's guardian!" The man had so much hate washing off him that Harry wanted to run. He was terrified.
"Black, calm down or you will destroy any chance you have of getting to know your godson." His father was calm…somehow.
"Are you threatening me?" The man roared.
"No, but you are scaring him." The man looked at Harry, who was hiding behind his father, who had one hand on his arm, keeping him from bolting, and froze.
"You will sign the papers. You will go get treatment for overexposure to dementors. When you are capable of being rational you will contact me, and we will discuss life, liberty, and the pursuit of keeping Harry out of the clutches of megalomaniac wizards long enough for him to learn to defend himself. You do not get a choice in the matter."
The Black man had signed the papers and allowed himself to be taken to the hospital.
Harry and Mr. Snape had gone home.
"I'm going to have to ask Mister Potter to disrobe then, to make sure he is not being mistreated." The Headmaster said, trying to regain lost ground, and grievously insulting both Harry and Severus in the process.
"Do you want to kill him?" Severus snapped. "My son has xeroderma pigmentosum." The Headmaster looked lost. "The sun will kill him."
"He's a vampire?" Somehow the shock of that connection made the Headmaster speak without thinking.
"No, he has xerodermia pigmentosum. It's a recessive genetic disorder in which the ability of the body to repair damage done by sunlight is missing. (1) Potter and Lily were both carriers." Severus said, his voice irked.
"Well then, he must see Poppy so she can fix it." The Headmaster brightened considerably.
"She's already been by. Magic can't fix it, nor can muggle medicine." Severus was starting to enjoy this.
"She's…already been by?" The twinkle and shine faded to a bare whisper of their former glory.
"That is what I said, headmaster." Severus grinned. One little push, and he would win this little battle.
"Severus, may I speak with you?" The Headmaster asked, ready to pull his trump card.
"I believe I know what you wish to speak of, and there's really no point." Severus smiled and rolled up his left sleeve. His arm was completely bare.
Harry had seen the Dark Mark on the third day, and he'd thrown an unholy fit. The Dark Order may have been for life, but apparently being the parent of a vampire-wizard with no training and copious amounts of magic had its perks. Harry had no clue that it was impossible to remove the Dark Mark, and had, therefore, removed it, completely, and with a lot of pain on Severus' part.
"How?" Oh, yes. Severus was free. Free of Voldemort. Free of Dumbledore, except in a professor-headmaster quality, free of spying and manipulation, and most especially free to raise his son how he saw fit.
Harry watched the Headmaster leave, eyes tracking each movement with caution. When he was sure the man was gone he turned to his father.
"You okay?" He asked.
"Indeed. And you?" His father's hand came to rest on his shoulder, and Harry leaned into the embrace.
"I don't like him." Harry said, shuddering slightly.
"We can find you a different school." His father's voice was heavy with concern.
"No. For now I'll go to Hogwarts. If he becomes a problem we'll revisit the possibility." Harry smiled up at his father's blank look. He loved using big words. The stunned expressions he could elicit from adults were just too good.
It was as he was falling asleep that night, tucked into his warm, comfortable bed that Harry realized something: At some point during the Headmaster's visit he'd stopped thinking of his guardian as Mr. Snape and started thinking of him as Severus, and even, occasionally, as Father.
~~From the pages of You Wound Me Now Die~~
Courtesy is very important to non-humans. It is the glue that keeps them from killing each other, and as such a great emphasis is put on protocol and behavior. Humans, as a general rule, are not expected to be aware of courteous behavior, however some behaviors are universally rude. As such, I find it pathetic that my first memory of Albus Dumbledore, who was then hailed as a wizard of great power and esteem, is of him being downright rude.
(1) Not entirely correct, though if you replace 'sunlight' with 'ultraviolet' light, add 'autosomal' before 'recessive', and add a bit about 'DNA' you get closer. Unfortunately Dumbles a muggle scientist is not.