Cartons of milk
Harry's second year in pre-school
Albus Dumbledore needs a teacher for the pre-school in Little Whinging, Surrey, to cover the raccoon-class which one Harry Potter attends … and whom do you think he will send? Well, I am sure you can already imagine …
Not mine, but J. K. Rowling's … I don't make money out of this, she did …
If it were mine, I wouldn't have killed Severus at the end of 'The deathly hallows' …
Just so I can torture him for a bit longer with my ridiculous ideas …
M – Not suitable for children or teens below the age of 16
At first I do thank you for your reviews on the last chapter, I really do appreciate them …
Uhm … ok … then I have to admit … English is not my language by birth … so … please do not kill me while reading … neither for the bad English I use, nor for what I am writing …
Story contains child abuse.
Child abuse is a really, really serious and evil thing, and whenever you meet someone, child or adult, who shows any signs – whichever - of once being abused, then try to help ... there are too much humans in our world who are or had been mistreated.
what does not mean I am not as evil as I pretend to be ... ^.~ ... believe me - I am ...
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Previously in Cartons of Milk
"He will be able to have breakfast here, seeing that he always is half an hour early and after that he could sleep for a while so he will at least have some well needed rest. I also would like doing a medical check up on the boy tomorrow morning and I would be glad if you could be present then as a witness."
"No problem there." Gwendolyn answered. "Do you have already someone in mind for this?"
"I will do this by myself." He growled. "Seeing that I come from a boarding school, I am adept in drawing up a medical report. And believe me, I do know what I will have to look for."
Cartons of milk
Crayons and eyebrows
Sipping on his morning coffee he ran his hand over his face.
Yes – as much as he had complained about the eleven year old first years at Hogwarts, right now he wished he had them back.
Alone yesterday afternoon. Amelie Benson had started a conversation with him about her family while drawing a picture of her sister, her brother and her parents. And she had told him that her older sister, Annabelle, was very ill and that she every day took the pill because of it, but that she did so secretly so her parents wouldn't be worried.
When Amelie's mother had come in the evening to pick up the girl and to take her home, he hadn't been sure what to do. On one hand he knew that the girl's, Annabelle's, parents maybe should know about their daughter's sexual activities – if the girl even had them and didn't take the pill just because she was precautious. But on the other hand he somehow knew that it wasn't his place to tell them.
Later on, Isabelle's mother had engaged him into a conversation about what kind of lunch she should provide the girl with. He simply had told her that it wasn't important to him as long as the lunch was healthy and definitely not sweets. Mrs. Clayton had not really understood his answer, so it had seemed, as she had asked him again what a healthy lunch would be in his opinion and he had wondered if she had asked Miss Adams the same question, Isabelle was in pre-school for her second year after all, or if she just had wanted to test him. So he simply had told her that a sandwich together with an apple or a pear or any other kind of fruits would suffice.
Warren, David and the Montico sisters had left alone as they lived close to St. Catherine and Eliot had been picked up by his mother too. A rather small and slender woman that was as shy as was the boy.
Potter too had left alone, without being picked up – as always.
Well, he would have a closer look at the boy today, together with Gwendolyn, and packing a cup of yoghurt, an apple and a second sandwich for that child, he grabbed his bag and then left, got into the car and started the engine.
Potter always was half an hour early, and during this time he easily could do this. Gwendolyn had said she would bring a camera, incase they would find anything and he had to admit – he had not thought of that. In the wizarding world, a simple memory would have sufficed. But well – they were not in the wizarding world, they were in the muggle world and here in the muggle world, the Dursleys had guardianship over Potter.
So – if he wanted to do anything to help that boy, then he would have to do it the muggle way, if he liked it or not.
Turning into the Birch Road he frowned upon seeing the steps that led to the entrance of St. Catherine being abandoned and he checked the clock in the car.
No – he was not early. It was half past seven.
Parking the car and turning off the motor he wondered what might have kept the boy. He had not seen him on his way and he should have. Driving the way to St. Catherine was the same route as walking here. So – he should have met the boy if he wasn't here yet.
Getting off the car and closing the door he wondered if maybe Gwendolyn had arrived already, had taken the boy inside and he crossed the road, walking over to the building – just the moment as a small, dark blue, car he couldn't identify came by and parked beside his, his colleague getting off the car and coming over to the building as well.
"Harry isn't here yet?" Gwendolyn asked and with a frown Snape shook his head, his face getting dark while he unlocked the door and opened it.
After a moment of hesitation he left the door open, placing a piece of wood between the door and the doorframe so it would stay open. The boy this way would be able to enter. Nevertheless he hesitated another moment before he finally went inside and strode along the corridor, entered his classroom – again leaving the door open.
"Maybe he's ill." Gwendolyn said. "It wouldn't be the first time."
"So early in the year?" Snape asked, his face a mask of doubt. "And the day after there had been trouble with his cousin during lunch break? On what occasions has the boy been ill last year? Any patterns?"
"No, not really." Gwendolyn answered after a moment. "At least not that I noticed, and Mel never mentioned anything too, only that Harry often was too ill to come in the first place."
"What kind of illness is it, the boy suffers from anyway?"
"I don't know." Gwendolyn slowly shook her head. "As Harry never was in my class, I do not know him so well. Miss Adams would be able to answer that question. Maybe we should call her?"
"Yes, maybe we should." Snape growled. "I however begin to highly doubt that the boy suffers from an illness in the first place."
"You think that he suffers from the neglect?"
"Indeed." He said, casting a glance through the window every now and then. "I do know the signs of neglect and Potter – Harry – shows all of them, and more than just simple neglect."
"You are different than other teachers I know." The woman said after another moment of silence and with a frown he cast a quick glance at her before turning back towards the window to look over the street Potter would come along – if he would come.
"That might be because I have not been a simple teacher at Hathaway, but the head of a house." He finally answered with a sigh. "I had about seventy students under my care, and as my house was a shunned house within the school, I guess that – over the time – I have developed some sense of over protectiveness over my students."
"A head of a house? For about seventy students?" Gwendolyn gasped. "But that makes you a teacher that easily could act as a headmaster."
"Believe me, I have no intentions becoming a headmaster." Snape huffed. "I am absolutely content with being a teacher and a head of a house."
"You are planning on going back to Hathaway?"
"Of course." Snape finally turned towards Gwendolyn fully, gazed at her with serious dark eyes. "I am here as a replacement for Miss Adams during this term. And honestly, I am no teacher for toddlers anyway. Even the eleven year old first years we have at Hathaway are too young for being taught by me, to be honest. I am no kind or understanding teacher and I proudly can say that I am the most hated teacher at Hathaway."
"Yes, I can see that you are rather good at making yourself unpopular." The blasted woman smiled and he huffed again. "I however do notice that you're doing rather well with the – toddlers – you have under your wing here, and you are protective over them. Something not every teacher is ready to."
"I am used to protect the children under my care, never mind how old they are." Snape growled. "Such is my responsibility and I intend to fulfill it."
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Well, he also had intended to go back to the Dursleys to ask where Potter was, but first, he had known that the other children would come soon and second, he had known that he better did not do anything rash. If he wanted to help that boy, then he better went along the sly way instead of doing anything stupid. He would wait until tomorrow and if Potter weren't here then, then he simply would make a call on Petunia and ask her why her nephew had missed pre-school for two days without being excused.
"Alright, Gabriel." He said, upon looking at the boy's picture. They were supposed to draw a tree with leaves in the colors of the fall. "Now I want you to sign your picture with your name. Do you know which letters you would need for this?"
The boy shook his head, looking up at him with large eyes.
Taking an extra sheet of paper and a crayon he bent down and wrote the boy's name in large letters onto it.
"That's your name." He then explained.
"Are you sure?" Gabriel asked, looking at him suspiciously.
"I am absolutely sure." Snape answered, his eyebrow lifted.
"That looks stupid." The boy said, frowning at the letters. "Why can't I use other signs than them?"
"Which signs would you use if you could chose?" Snape asked, lifting his eyebrow even higher.
Frowning again, the boy took the crayon and with his tongue stuck out between his teeth he drew a circle underneath the letters that were his name. Then a form he couldn't identify, a triangle, a line and another circle. Then he looked up at him expectantly.
"That looks – interesting." Snape admitted, forcing himself to not close his eyes in frustration for a moment. "The problem is that no one aside from you would be able to read your name. And so you need to use letters everyone can read and know what they mean."
"Are you sure?" The boy asked innocently again.
"I am sure." Snape affirmed.
"Why?" Gabriel wanted to know.
"Because those letters can be read nearly everywhere all over the world and everyone does know what they mean. With them, people can read entire words and then entire sentences and finally entire stories or books. Everyone has to learn those letters for being able to write and to read them."
"You mean …" The boy slowly began. "You mean … if I can read them … then I can read everything too? Even the paper dad reads in the morning?"
"Yes." Snape nodded, crossing his hands behind his back.
"And the books mum reads in the evening?"
"Yes." Snape again nodded, his face still a mask of calmness.
"And the comics uncle Alvin reads?"
"Even them." Snape nodded a third time, hoping that the boy would not bring up his entire family's reading habit.
"Cool." Gabriel then said. "Can you show me how?"
"That is, what I am trying to do with teaching you those letters." The Potions Master answered, wishing that his students at Hogwarts would be as eager as those blasted toddlers. Maybe he should stay here after all. Those little snots were more eager to learn anything than were the teenagers he normally taught.
"Can you show me before you show Gabriela?" The boy then asked, his eyes large and bright.
"Why would you want to learn those letters before your sister does?" Snape asked, lifting his eyebrow at the boy.
"Because she normally always learns things before I." The boy said. "And can you show me this too?"
"Before me." Snape corrected. "And what exactly are you referring to?"
"Your eyebrow." Gabriel said, climbing up to stand onto the stool and then getting onto his toes, lifting his hand and brushing his fingertips lightly over his eyebrow and for a moment he had to keep himself from snatching the boy's hand away. "That looks funny."
"This, I cannot teach you." He said, nearly growling. "Maybe you will learn it on your own one day. You just have to practice. And you do not stand on the chairs, Gabriel, you could fall and hurt yourself."
"How did you learn it?" The blasted boy wanted to know, not getting off the chair he still was standing at and he sighed, took the little snot under his armpits and simply stood him on his feet on the floor.
"I do not know this." He said. "I just can do it."
"I want to do it too."
"Then just try it, and if you manage, then practice it."
"First you try to write your name on your picture so that I do know that it is yours and then we will see if I can show you how to lift one eyebrow."
"But you know that it's mine." Gabriel said, frowning at him. "You've seen me drawing it."
"Yes, I did." The Potions Master sighed, knowing that maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea, staying here just because those toddlers were eager to learn. He would end up having holes in his stomach from all their questions. "But I am sure that the other children soon will have finished their pictures and then they will get mixed up and in the end I won't be able to tell which one had been yours."
"But Miss Adams always knew which one was mine." The boy said, folding his small arms in front of his chest and Snape nearly had to huff at the gesture.
"That might be, because Miss Adams had written your name at the backside of your pictures?"
The boy nodded his head.
"Well, you are old enough so you can learn how to do this by yourself." Snape said, again lifting his eyebrow at the boy. "You do have to learn this anyway and so you can start with signing your pictures right away."
"Can you write your name?"
"Of course I can."
"And can you write my name too?"
"Yes, I could write your name too."
"But then you can write my name down there like Miss Adams always has done."
"I could, yes." Snape smirked. "But I won't do so. You will do so. Just copy the letters I have written down on this paper and then you have signed your own picture and all by yourself."
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"More than a week had come to pass and the King's ministers had not found the boy they had been sent out searching for and so the King decided to invite each young boy that had been present at the junior hunt to a ball, hoping that this way he would find the boy again. And so word was brought through the valleys surrounding the King's palace, that in two weeks from now on a ball would be held, and that all the young partakers of the junior hunt were invited to the event in the King's palace."
Again the door to the room opened quietly and Gwendolyn slipped in, just like the day before, sitting onto one of the tables and listening to the story he read. With a frown he cast her a quick glance before simply continuing. Well, his dignity already was damaged – that blasted woman already had listened to him yesterday – so what? And at least the little monsters would sleep for an hour. Most of them were already fighting with their dropping eyelids and he could see Gabriel lifting his eyebrows every now and then while laying there, not managing to lift just one of them.
His gaze automatically went over to the mattress Potter normally would lay on, covered with a plain white blanket with the inscription "St. Catherine, pre-school', and the fact that the mat was empty somehow bothered him more than he dared to admit.
"Of course the two stepbrothers prepared for the ball and again fine clothes were brought to the house, a barber was called and plans were made while the two boys picked on Arthemius, told him every now and then that they would go to the ball while he would have to stay behind to cook, to cut firewood and to clean the house as well as to clean their clothes. And again Arthemius was very sad about this, but he accepted it, because he knew that he couldn't change it anyway. He would be in deep trouble, if he would dare to ask if he could go to the ball too and so he just shrugged it off, doing his best to please his stepfather and his stepbrothers, hoping that maybe one day they would love him too."
Again most of the children were asleep meanwhile and the rest of them was about to fall asleep, holding the cartons of milk in their small hands while one of those cartons still stood on the tablet he had placed on the table underneath the window, the carton of milk that would belong to Potter if the boy were present, while Gwendolyn had placed her elbows atop her knees and her chin into her hands, listening intently. Hopefully she would not ask him to lend her the book, because the moving pictures definitely would be nothing he would be able to explain to the woman. And neither were the one or other comments that were made in the foreword.
"The day of the ball drew near and again Arthemius was left behind, in the back yard this time, pegging out the laundry. A small girl came along, standing there on the garden fence for a while, watching him with some kind of sad eyes, a girl that had no socks on her feet, and after a while Arthemius simply pulled a pair of old socks he had gotten from his stepbrothers out of the laundry basked and went over to the girl. Here. He simply said. I don't need them but you have none. He was just about to turn and to go back to the laundry, but then the girl spoke up."
Well, it was his third day here as a pre-school teacher, and it was his third day reading those children a story, but still he was astound over the fact of how quickly they fell asleep. Surely the morning couldn't be so tiring for them? Admittedly, they were small children, yes, and admittedly, they were here to learn, even if they were learning by playing. But they were children! And didn't children have an inexhaustible amount of energy? Well, as it seemed – they could be gotten exhausted. And he hadn't even done anything to them yet!
Only two boys still were fighting sleep yet. Gabriel was one of them, still trying to move only one eyebrow, using his small fingers to hold the other one in place and Snape nearly snorted at the sight, and David was the other one, the boy looking rather sad and as if nearly crying, strangely reminding him at Potter. Potter too would be laying there, crying, if he were here today. But he wasn't, the lonely carton of milk that stood on the table beneath the window was proof to that and David seemed to loyally take over Potter's role, as it seemed, fulfilling the other boy's troubled appearance.
"You have been at the junior's hunt, the girl said and Arthemius nodded at her." He continued reading. "Why are you not at the ball the King holds tonight? The girl then asked. I'm not allowed to, the boy answered, looking aside, nearly ashamed. And besides, I don't have anything to wear for the ball. Oh, but that can be remedied. The girl smiled, watching him with the same sad eyes as had the man a few days ago, and then she simply lifted her hand. A moment later everything went bright for a second and when the light was gone, the boy was dressed in discrete but nevertheless very good looking clothes. He looked down at himself, startled, but then he smiled at the girl, remembering the mouse that had become the man and then a horse. I shall bring you to the King's palace tonight, the girl said, but you must remember – you must leave the ball shortly before midnight and come to the stables to get me so I can bring you home, because that is, when the spell will end. Your clothes will be back to the old rags you are wearing now and I will be back to the poor little girl I am now. Do you understand this? The boy smiled and nodded. Yes, I understand, he said. The girl then turned on the spot and a moment later there stood a horse, a white mare that looked so pretty and wonderful that for a moment the boy gasped before he climbed onto the back of the mare and rode towards the King's palace."
Just like the day before he quietly closed the book and started to label the cartons of milk, placing them on the table he had put them at the days before. At first the children had been upset upon waking up and not finding their milk, but he had showed them where the cartons were, had given them their respective drinks and now they were quite used to waking up without them.
Again his gaze went to the lonesome carton of milk that still stood on the tablet atop the table beneath the window, Potter's carton of milk, and the sight of it made him worry about the brat, even if he never would admit that to himself openly.
"He will be back tomorrow." Gwendolyn said, her gaze following his and he turned to look at her. "Or the day after tomorrow at the latest. He normally is just missing one or two days."
"And you think that this sets me at ease?" He asked. "The fact that I can do nothing, while I know that something in that household is quite wrong, is just unsettling. And honestly, I did not like the smug expression on Dudley Dursley's face today during the lunch break."
"Hmm." The woman made. "But have you noticed that he avoided you throughout the entire break? That he had kept an eye on you?"
"Indeed." Snape snorted. "What however is nothing to worry about. All the students at Hathaway do."
"If you handle them all the way you have handled the Dursley boy yesterday – yes, then I can imagine that they do. Honestly, Severus, grabbing the boy on the scuff of his neck, it was quite a sight, I have to admit, and I have enjoyed it."
"I wonder that Petunia Dursley has not come running to Headmistress Davenport with this." Snape huffed.
"Oh, Miss Davenport would not have been on her side if she had, and Mrs. Dursley knows this." Gwendolyn answered. "It wouldn't be the first time after all that Mrs. Dursley tries to complain about something. Mel once reprimanded Dudley after he had shoved Harry from the swings, shortly after Harry came to St. Catherin, and she had run to the headmistress. Miss Davenport only said that she did not like the older children shoving the younger children around during the lunch break and that she would have had a word with Dudley too."
"Let me guess, the next day Potter had been missing." Snape growled darkly.
"Hmm …" Gwendolyn made, thinking. "Actually – yes."
"So, you begin to see the pattern …"
A touch on his elbow made him stop and looking to his left – to look into the sleepy eyes of David Arlington who looked quite shaken and frightened, cradling the teddy bear he used for his naps close to him.
"What is it, David?" He asked, keeping his voice quiet and calm.
"Bad dream." The boy sniffled, shifting the teddy bear a bit so he could reach out with one arm, as if he wanted to be picked up and Snape – after a moment of shock in which he gaped at the child and after heaving a sigh – obliged and pulled the boy onto his lap, startled about the fact that the normally so shy boy had come to him for comfort after a nightmare.
David however struggled on his lap for a moment until he was comfortable and then leaned his head against his – Snape's – chest, and fell asleep again.
"Not – a – word!" Snape growled darkly the moment he looked up into Gwendolyn's dark blue eyes that held a lot of amusement.
"I didn't say anything." The woman chuckled. "I won't say anything. Not a word."
"I do know this innocent look." He growled. Nevertheless he looked down at the sleeping child and with a frown he lifted his hand and shoved the hem of the boy's shirt aside a bit, revealing a bruise on the boy's shoulder that had been slightly visible under the shirt upon the boy bending his neck when leaning his head against the man's chest.
"Gwendolyn." He growled darkly, his eyes not leaving the bruise while he lightly ran his hand over the colorful spot.
The woman bent forwards, looking at the bruise, and the startled gasp told him enough, told him that she had not known, that probably she never before had seen a bruise such as this, caused by child abuse instead of the children just playing around and falling.
Reaching his hand around the boy and lifting the shirt from the boy's back, he gritted his teeth upon more bruises being revealed on the boy's back and sides. At least he didn't have to wonder any longer what could have caused the boy's shyness. He also didn't have to wonder any longer why Mrs. Arlington had divorced.
And still the boy was visiting his father on the weekends.
"What do we do?" Gwendolyn asked, startled, her voice unsure.
"I will have to report this to the headmistress and I will have a word with Mrs. Arlington when she picks the boy up this evening."
"Do you think we can do something?" Gwendolyn asked, her voice nearly scared.
"That depends." The Potions Master growled. "If Mrs. Arlington is ready to cooperate and to work with us, then we will be able to, yes. If not, then it will be a hard task. At first I guess I will have to talk to her."
"At least David's father isn't living with the family anymore." Gwendolyn sighed.
"That might be, but still the boy is visiting his father at the weekends." Snape said, frowning at her. "Are there other children in the family?"
"No." The woman shook her head. "David is their only child. How can someone do this to such a small child?"
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To be continued
Next time in Cartons of milk
A new day, new things to worry about and new things to teach the children.
Added author's note
thank you for reading - and yes, I would appreciate it if you took the time to review this chapter too … thank you …