Welcome! Or something.
This is the first of my fics I've ever published, and also my first go at anything like this. Short summary:
It is early summer, 1989. Harry Potter is eight years old, and trying to endure summer at his horrible muggle relatives. In a bout of accidental magic, he is transported far away. Who is to come get him, if not Professor Severus Snape?
This is a guardian-fic, as you might've guessed by now :)) I do hope you enjoy it, and please leave a review! I always enjoy contructive criticism.
WARNING: This story contains some scenes of corporal punishment. I do not condone in this sort of thing, but my version of Snape might have different views. If this offends you, just skip those parts or stop reading. Not a problem, and there are loads of other stories out there for you to read. Thanks!
After the question arose four weeks ago whether or not Sirius Black had committed the crime he was sent to Azkaban for, the Ministry launched a full inquiry, reports Angela Harrison. Due to a recently developed change of Ministry procedures, Black shall in the near future be retrieved from the prison in order to be interrogated under the influence of Veritaserum. A number of the most trusted Aurors will carry out the task, and we are all eagerly awaiting the truth. The Daily Prophet has been unable to receive full information about what actually happened that awful night eight years ago, but it has been confirmed that if Black's statement will turn out as believed, he will be released. Around the country, people are beginning to lose trust in the Ministry, as-
Severus Snape crumpled the paper in his hands, though his face remained placid as ever. Mere moments later, the Prophet was lying among the spitting flames of the Potions Master's hearth, the edges curling as it slowly disintegrated into greyish ash. The taut wizard was sitting rigidly in a wing backed chair, his dark eyes boring furiously into the fire, staring at the spot where the paper had been only minutes before. The possible release of Sirius Black didn't exactly shock him: there had been rumours circulating among the staff at Hogwarts for some time now, even though the Headmaster refused to share his opinion on the matter. The question now, Snape thought, was what would happen with the boy. The Potter whelp. He snorted in contempt. Black's naïve mind would most likely drive him to seek out the child the moment the Dementors let him, probably scaring the boy out of his wits. Not that Severus disagreed: a little fear would be healthy for the son of the arrogant James Potter. Rarely did it enter his mind that Harry was also the son of Lily. The thought that she would have had James' child was so repulsive to the professor that he refrained from thinking too much about the late Lily Evans at all.
Pinching the bridge of his nose, he closed his eyes and quite effectively banned all such thoughts from his mind once again, before rising to head to his lab. He had a potion brewing that would need supervising, and was rather eager to get away from wherever the Headmaster might disturb him. Though, surely, he would be praising and talking cheerfully of the beloved Marauder with some other delusional member of the staff. Shaking his head ever so slightly, the Head of Slytherin House made his way out of his quarters and into the small lab. The only place where he could ever truly feel at ease.
Harry Potter was sitting on a swing in a playground a few houses down from where he lived with his aunt, uncle and cousin. The toes of his worn sneakers made swirly patterns in the sand as he slowly moved back and forth, the chains whimpering every now and again. He was small for eight years, and sat hunched, staring into the ground, as if wanting to appear even smaller. A pair of thin, round glasses sat perched precariously on his small nose, and with his head bowed, he was forced to keep pushing them up to his eyes as they started slipping down. The mop of dark hair on his head was pointing in every imaginable direction, and he'd long given up trying to make it look presentable. That was, at least, the word Aunt Petunia had used. He had never really understood his relatives. They were always so keen to appear perfectly normal, but Harry had always thought their efforts made them seem decidedly abnormal.
Harry heard voices nearby, and his small head snapped up, causing the swing to rock with small screeching noises from the rusty chains, and his slight frame to follow. Closing in on him, just arriving by the gate of the playground, was Dudley and his gang of thick-headed friends. Well, friends mightn't be the correct term, but that's what the lump of a boy saw them as, in any case. It was obvious the only reason they were here was to torment Harry, and the smaller boy felt his heart plummet. He had hoped he'd be safe here, as the others rarely ventured outside this time of the afternoon (this time, meaning tea-time). Tensing his muscles, he eyed them silently as their smirking faces became discernable. Before he knew it, they were right in front of him, Dudley the closest.
"What're you doing, freak?" he asked with appreciating snickers from his entourage. Harry didn't respond, but just looked past his cousin, staring intently at a spot a few metres behind the boys.
"Leave me alone," Harry muttered, still refusing to look at the other kids, who were all pretty much twice the size of him.
"Yeah, sure," Dudley smirked.
"Just go, Dudley," Harry grumbled, meeting his eyes now. "I didn't do anything."
"Ooh, he didn't do anything," he mimicked, as his friends laughed. What an idiot, Harry thought. "Your mum not teach you to not muck with people who're better than you?" Harry clenched his hands into fists and rose. Before they could grab him, he turned sharply and began running. Surprise and speed were his only advantages, and he'd clambered over the fence and sped off across the road before Dudley had even realised he'd moved. Usually, when this happened, the others let him be. But apparently, they weren't in that kind of mood that evening. They started running after him, and thought Harry was faster than Dudley (a lot faster), some of his friends might catch up. Panic started to creep its way through his skin and into his flesh, and he felt sweat bead under his fringe. Scratching a bit at his scar, he kept running, not looking where he was going. Eventually, he arrived in an alley, and realised he had nowhere to go. Breathing heavily, he stared with wild eyes around him. He could hear the boys coming closer, and not knowing what to do; he closed his eyes and just wished it was all a dream.
Suddenly, it felt as though something tugged at him from inside. The feeling was followed by the sensation of being pressed through a tube, and when Harry opened his eyes again, the alley had gone. He was standing on a deserted street, with rows and rows of dull, quiet houses along it. He seemed to have arrived at some rundown part of a small street; he could see the livelier and brighter part of it further ahead. The question was: how had he got there? Strange things had happened before, especially when he'd been chased by his cousin, but he'd never been transported far away like this. Since he was little, he'd been convinced it was magic. Unfortunately, telling his relatives this had been a bad idea. They'd been so angry, shouting at him that magic did not exist. Harry wanted to believe differently, he really did, but what proof was there? Apart from the fact that strange things happened to him. After all, he was a rather strange child. At least that was what he'd been told.
After turning around, he realised he was obviously at the end of the street. Deciding it wouldn't do to stay in that horrid place, he started walking towards the people further down the street, the panic easing away. Why he should feel safe in such a place he did not know. All he knew was that he was away from Dudley. From the looks of it, very far away.
Just as Severus was sitting down to have his dinner, there was a knock on his door. There was only one person who would visit at this time, and it would hardly be a social call. Sighing deeply, he flicked his wand and the door swung open, framing Professor Albus Dumbledore, who was dressed in deep blue robes, his twinkling eyes sharp and alert behind the glasses he wore.
"Severus, my boy," he greeted, inviting himself inside and closing the door behind him. "I see I have interrupted your dinner. My apologies."
"What may I do for you?" Snape asked, ignoring the Headmaster's words. Dumbledore twinkled some more before walking into the room and seating himself on the couch.
"I trust you have read the article about Sirius' trial," he said, eyeing his Potions Master carefully.
"I may have seen the headline," Severus nodded.
"I'm glad the truth will finally be known," Dumbledore said with a small, uncharacteristic sigh.
"Headmaster, what is the reason for your visit? I trust you did not call on me simply to discuss the incompetence of Ministry officials."
"Not at all, Severus, not at all," he hurried to assure the irritated man. "As a matter of fact, I only a few minutes ago received some rather alarming news from the dear Mrs Figg." Severus' eyes narrowed considerably.
"What about?" Of course, there was really only one reason why the Squib would contact Dumbledore.
"It seems," he began again, a trace of concern lacing his soft voice, "that Harry has gone missing." At first, Snape was unsure of how to react at this revelation. Of course, he didn't care at all about that stupid child, and if the Wizarding world never had to see him it would be all the better. But still, Harry was the only living link that existed to Lily. Severus had never considered Petunia as Lily's sister. That they could be related was completely unfathomable.
"Missing, headmaster?" he finally said, making sure his face expressed none of his true feelings, and speaking as if they were conversing about a misplaced item.
"Indeed, Severus," Dumbledore nodded. "No one seems to have seen him since he ran into an alley a few houses down from the Dursleys."
"He can't have just disappeared, Albus," Snape exclaimed, rather irritated now. "There are protections on the house, wards you cast yourself!"
"I am aware of the safety measures taken, Severus," Albus said calmly. "The only explanation I can see, is that Harry must have apparated." Oh, of course. The child would have apparated. Because it wasn't possible he'd been abducted by someone. No, Apparating as an eight-year-old, on his own, was a lot likelier. Severus snorted.
"Are you certain?" he asked, his voice sceptic.
"I see no other explanation," Albus repeated.
"Headmaster, did it occur to you that someone may have abducted the child?"
"I would have known."
"Are you sure?" Albus stared intently at the man before him.
"Yes, Severus, I am sure." Running a hand down his tired face, Snape rested his eyes pensively on the old wizard sitting on his sofa.
"And what is being done so locate the boy?" he eventually asked, leaning against the tabletop and crossing his arms across his chest.
"There are traces of magic near the place where he was last seen by a young couple, but it is too raw and inexperienced to lead us anywhere."
"So, in short," Snape started, feeling more and more aggravated by the moment, "Potter has disappeared by magic, and we have no idea where to?" This seemed, to him, a terrible flaw in the Headmaster's 'powerful wards'.
"Oh, I don't know about that." Once again, the man's words seemed to confuse rather than enlighten, and the Potions Master gave an exasperated huff, something he only ever did in the company of Albus Dumbledore.
"Do elaborate," he drawled in feigned disinterest.
"It is obvious, I think, that Harry was quite distressed at the time of Apparition. As you are very well aware, Severus, he would have been transported somewhere where he'd feel safe."
"The child knows no other place than his home in Privet Drive, Albus," Snape pointed out.
"Perhaps not consciously…"
"Exactly what is your point?" His dinner was completely cold by now, but Snape had lost all interest in it. He didn't, however, allow himself to admit that he was concerned for the boy. Merlin, no, not at all. All he did was cause trouble for the rest of the wizarding world.
"I believe he might be in Godric's Hollow. Either there, or at some other place connected with the Potters." Snape pondered this for a moment.
"I doubt he'd be at the place where his family was murdered," he decided after a few moments, and pursed his lips.
"It is also the place where he lived his first year, and where he made history," Dumbledore added.
"I still don't find it particularly likely," Severus stated firmly, absolutely certain he was correct in this assumption.
"And where do you suppose his magic may have transported him?" Albus enquired, looking almost amused. Severus almost shrugged.
"How am I to know? But I seriously doubt he would have some wish in his subconscious to go back to the place where all of this happened." Dumbledore eyed him for a moment.
"Perhaps not. Well, I suppose he might have ventured to his mother's old home."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Yes, I think that's possible," he said, nodding to himself and completely ignoring Snape's comment.
"I must ask you a favour, Severus." At once, Snape knew he would not like it. He knew it would not be at all pleasant for him, he knew he'd fight it, and he knew the Headmaster would eventually persuade him.
"What is it?"
On a low bench by a bus stop sat the small boy, sitting on his hands, looking around with mild interest. There wasn't really anything to do, but he felt surprisingly content. The fact that there was no Dudley or Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia nearby to chase him and make life horrid made things very different. He knew he'd have to go back eventually, but while he was away he was determined to enjoy himself. Somewhere deep down, he started to imagine what it would be like to live with a family who actually liked him. To not have to cook for them every morning, not wash the car every week, not sneak out of his cupboard in the middle of the night for a snack when he wasn't given dinner… Involuntarily, an imagined image of his parents wandered into his head. He didn't even know what they'd looked like, what they'd been like. Harry felt so wretched for not remembering them, even though he knew he was being silly: he'd only been a year old when they'd died, of course he couldn't remember them.
Kicking a stone out from beneath him, he sighed a bit, and looked around. It was getting darker as the sun descended behind the houses, and children around him were being called inside by their parents. The action made his stomach hurt, and he watched with envy in his eyes as a young girl was hoisted up on her father's shoulders and carried giggling inside, the door shutting behind them. A shiver rushed through his body as the sunshine disappeared behind a large tree and he was left sitting in the shade on an almost empty street. Now, he didn't feel comfortable at all. But still he did not want to go back to the Dursleys. In fact, after these few hours of freedom, he wanted to never go back there ever again. The feeling was so powerful; he had to bite his lip. A movement far to his left caught his eye, and he turned his head in that direction.
Far away, he could see a man, walking briskly along the hot, dusty tarmac towards him. Harry looked in the other direction, and as there was no one there, concluded the man must be heading for him. Had he trespassed, maybe? Was he not allowed on that street? Feeling exceedingly nervous now, the boy chewed his lower lip furiously, and felt his palms sweat under his thighs. As the man drew closer, Harry could see he had longish black hair, hanging like curtains around his angular, pale face. His eyes were hard and dark, and he was dressed in black from head to toe. It seemed strange to Harry that he'd wear such a long dark cloak in the middle of the summer, but he couldn't bring himself to be frightened of the man.
When the man was only about twenty metres away, he made eye contact with the boy. Harry stared intently, and the man didn't lower his gaze either as he kept his pace up. Before Harry could do much else, he was standing a mere few feet away from him. Towering over the boy, his hair fell forward into his face.
"Hello," Harry said in a small voice, mentally berating himself for sounding like such a child. He didn't want to appear scared to this stranger. What if had come to take him? The tall man didn't say anything, but still stared at Harry as if he were examining some highly interesting object. "Erm…"
"How very eloquent," the man sneered in a voice that made Harry hunch into an even smaller form. Harry didn't know what eloquent meant, but didn't say so.
"What's your name?" The man appeared to be completely taken aback by this simple question.
"My name?" Harry nodded. Even though the man was a bit scary, after all, and did look a bit like a giant bat, he was interesting, and Harry's curious side won over the rest of him. "I really don't believe that is of importance," the man said silkily, "and you should be answering questions for me, Mr Potter." Harry's mouth fell open when his name was uttered.
"How do you know my name?" he breathed in disbelief, feeling rather uneasy. The man's eyes darkened.
"I thought I made it perfectly clear that I would be asking the questions here," he snapped, and Harry flinched slightly.
"Sorry, sir," Harry hurried to say, deciding that he'd better just treat this person with respect until he knew who he was. And what he wanted.
"What are you doing here?" he was asked, the man having completely ignored Harry's apology. Harry wasn't sure how to answer. The way the question was said made him think the man already knew Harry was far away from home. But should he really be giving him any details? What if he actually was some crazy bloke who'd come to take him?
"Oh for Merlin's sake, Potter," the man growled. Merlin? Harry was confused. "How did you end up here?"
"I dunno…" The boy answered honestly. Because he didn't really. It had just sort of happened. Not that he wasn't grateful. At least he could do just about whatever he fancied here.
"Were you feeling unsafe, or scared?" he asked, and then continued, speaking more to himself than to the boy; "Accidental magic sometimes-"
"Accidental what?" Harry said, completely forgetting that it was very rude to interrupt someone speaking. The man seemed to know this as well, as his hard eyes flashed in annoyance.
"Do not interrupt me," he said firmly. Harry bobbed his head up and down and bit his lower lip to refrain from saying anything else. Suddenly, a frown appeared on the face in front of Harry, and he was immediately worried that he'd upset the man. "Accidental magic," he repeated.
"Yes, magic," he snapped, feeling very fed up with the boy's insolence.
"Magic doesn't exist," Harry said quietly, but rather firmly. This was what the Dursleys had told him his entire life. Magic did not exist. It wasn't real. It felt odd to hear a grown man talk so casually about it.
"What are you talking about, Potter?"
"Magic isn't real," he tried to explain, feeling very much as though he was talking to a child now, rather than the other way around.
"Magic isn't… What do you know of your parents?" The sudden change of subject took Harry completely by surprise, and he raised his eyebrows.
"My mum and dad?"
"They would be your parents, yes," the man said in an impatient voice.
"Not much… They died in a car crash because my dad was drunk and-"
"What? That's what Uncle Vernon told me," he added, feeling confused.
"Potter…" To Harry's surprise the man hesitantly sat down beside him, turning his head to the right to look at Harry. "Potter, your parents were wizards." Harry stared openly.
"W-what?" His green eyes widened considerably as he stared innocently into the colder eyes of the man beside him.
"Wizards," he repeated. "Your… father was a wizard, and your mother a witch."
"Don't call her a witch," Harry frowned.
"It's not an insult, you foolish boy," the man growled. Harry scowled at the man, and kicked another stone out from under the bench. "I knew her." He snapped his head up and met the stranger's gaze again.
"You knew my mum?" The man nodded. "What was she like?" Harry had forgotten not to ask questions: he simply couldn't help himself.
"Exceptional," the man said quietly, and Harry thought he looked different all of a sudden. Softer. But the look was gone in a flash, and the man shook his head slightly. "Mr Potter, my name is Professor Snape." So the man was a professor. Harry wasn't entirely sure what that entailed, but it did sound impressive. "I work at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Harry gasped. There was a school, too? A school that taught magic? He had many a time imagined things like that, but never dared utter the words in fear of vexing his relatives.
"Did my parents go there?" he asked in a small voice. Snape seemed a bit displeased at the question, but, luckily, he answered:
"Yes, they did. And so will you."
"But I'm not a wizard," Harry informed him solemnly.
"Yes, you are." Silence for a moment.
"No, sir, I'm not."
"Potter, how do you think you ended up here if not by magic?" Snape said, impatient once again. Harry really didn't have an answer for that. "And I am certain you have experienced other seemingly strange things in the past few years. Things you couldn't explain." This was true. Harry had disappeared in similar ways before, but not as far as this time. And once when Aunt Petunia had cut his hair very short, it had grown out to its original length over night. She'd been so angry… Maybe he did have magic after all… But would his aunt and uncle allow him to go to this school, this Hogwarts? Strange name…
"Potter…" He was snatched out of his thoughts by Snape's voice.
"What about them?"
"Don't interrupt," Snape said forcefully, yet again reminding the boy of how to behave himself.
"Your relatives, do they treat you badly?" Harry bit his lip. He'd never really thought about it. Of course, he knew he was treated… differently. Uncle Vernon was always so proud of Dudley, but always so displeased with Harry. They often forgot to give Harry food, accidentally pushed him down the stairs and locked him outside in the cold. They'd told him he was worth nothing, that he was a freak and ungrateful for believing they would take care of him until the blessed day of his eighteenth birthday, when out he'd go.
"Not really…" Snape gripped the boy's arm, and Harry cowered.
"Do not lie to me," he hissed before letting go. "Try again." Harry suddenly had to blink back tears. This man, Professor Snape, seemed to… care. To want to know. Before he could help it, his head rolled over and landed on Snape's shoulder and his chest heaved with a quiet sob. Snape stiffened at the unanticipated action. At first, he wanted to shrug the child off him, and cuff him for his silliness. But something in the boy's demeanour told him that was the last thing he ought to do. It was obvious he'd been mistreated, and Severus silently cursed the headmaster for letting the whelp live with those wretched muggles.
"Potter…" The boy instantly sat up, swiped at his nose with his hand and blinked away a few tears.
"Sorry…" he said gruffly, for what seemed like the hundredth time in the last few minutes.
"Stand up," Snape ordered him as he rose himself.
"Just do as you're told." The still sniffling Harry Potter stood up, and Snape took his arm.
"What are you-" Before he could finish his sentence, he was sucked into that strange, tight tube of existence again, leaving the calm and pleasant muggle street behind.