A/N: And here we are! I'm actually rewriting this fic from five years ago. It's going to be pretty different (not Severitus, probably no Drarry), though it'll still be "harry spends summer with sneep" because I'm a sucker for those stories. Anyway, it's been a long time coming, so I hope you enjoy it. look forward to copious amounts of cussing from our two favorite emotional train wrecks

Summary: When Petunia finds a forgotten letter from Lily, detailing who is to be Harry's caregiver when nobody else can, the Dursleys are elated to finally be rid of him. So is Harry - until he finds out that Snape is his new guardian.

Year: 5th

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"What the ruddy hell are dementors?"

"They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban," said Aunt Petunia.

Two seconds' ringing silence followed these words and then Aunt Petunia clapped her hand over her mouth as though she had let slip a disgusting swear word. Uncle Vernon was goggling at her. Harry's brain reeled. Mrs. Figg was one thing—but Aunt Petunia?

"How d'you know that?" he asked her, astonished.

Aunt Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to reveal her horsey teeth.

"I heard—that awful Snape boy—telling her about them—years ago," she said jerkily. (pages 31-32 of Order of the Phoenix.)

Harry felt as though he had been punched in the gut. That awful Snape boy. "Snape boy?" he croaked.

Chapter 1

that awful boy

When she was younger, still alive, Lily had loved sunsets. She could stare at the colors for hours, completely transfixed. Sometimes she'd stop in the middle of the road and only begin to move again when someone honked at her. When she was able to escape her sister Petunia and sit with him at the playground late in the afternoon, they would watch the colors together. Red, purples, pinks, blues…

Severus used to love sunsets, too.

Nowadays, he loved summer. There was no need to navigate through a minefield of painful memories brought up by students, no grading to do, hardly any faculty, and best of all—no Potter. He could sleep until eleven or later. He didn't have to grace the Great Hall with his presence only to eat a few bites at most. He could make potions all day, until it was late at night. And then he could begin the process all over again the next day. Unless the Dark Lord called.

He could even finish that Veritaserum that had been sitting on his to-do list for a month. Perhaps this year he'd need it; better yet, perhaps he'd need to feed it to Potter.

No—it was best not to think about Potter. It was summer. Summer was supposed to be his time to relax...unless the Dark Lord called.

The Dark Lord had been calling almost daily.

Just as Albus had predicted after the Triwizard mess, the Dark Lord had been lying low, making plans and gathering troops rather than making himself known to the world. This meant less Death Eater raids—or, really, less excuses to think up as to why he didn't attend once again—and more speeches, more spying, more info-gathering, and, of course, more punishments. The punishments were the Dark Lord's favorite part. He doled out the Cruciatus like a middle aged woman at the supermarket doled out free samples. Without copious amounts nerve regeneration potions, he'd probably be on the brink of peripheral neuropathy.

"Hello, Severus!"

Perhaps he'd prefer the peripheral neuropathy.

Sybil Trelawney hoisted her billowing robes a little higher as she skittered over to him, like a giant insect. Fuck, he thought idly. Hadn't Albus told him she was supposed to be on vacation this month? If he'd known she was still here, he'd have taken the Floo to the Hospital Wing, rather than walking.

"I was gazing at my crystal ball when I saw-"

Escape was the only reasonable option he had. "Pomfrey is expecting these within the next ten minutes," he lied, shifting the crate of Blood-Replenishing potions in his arms. Nasty comments tended to work on Sybil. "Did you have need of something, or did you simply come to waste my afternoon with gibberish?"

Looking vaguely offended, Trelawney shuffled a deck of...cards? Why the hell does she need cards to tell the future? What did cards have to do with Divinations? If anything, Trelawney never ceased to amaze him. "Actually," she said, this time a little brusquely, "the Headmaster wishes for you to see him."

Snape gritted his teeth. He'd just been in to see the Headmaster the night before. Did nobody understand that he preferred to be left alone during the summer? "Let him know that I am occupied."

"But, my dear boy, you're merely standing in the-"

"Occupied. For the next hour. Tell him." Pivoting on his heel, Severus swept down the hallway back into the dungeons. Pomfrey could surely wait a day or two. The students had just left, after all; nobody was likely to have a grievous accident until next term started up.

He was nearly back to his quarters when McGonagall crossed his path. She glared at him and shook her head. "Stop this nonsense and go see Albus," she ordered. He—"

"Needs a favor, I'm sure. Did Trelawney send you?" Snape carefully looked around to make sure she hadn't followed him. She'd done that once. All clear.

McGonagall snorted derisively. "Why she couldn't tell you herself, I haven't a clue. She was talking to a deck of cards."

Offending his fellow colleagues usually got McGonagall to leave him alone. "She's a crazy old bat."

"I may not particularly enjoy her company, Severus, but talking behind another professor's back is no way to behave. Now go see Albus."

If he wasn't sure she'd have thrown a fit, he'd have said something worse. "I'm occupied, Minerva," he repeated, trying to walk around her. She blocked his way.

"Doing what? Skulking around the school? Please, Severus."

Annoyed, Severus whirled around—again—and stalked away in the opposite direction of his much longed-for quarters. He continued walking until he reached the gargoyle guarding the Headmaster's office and stopped, scowling at it. The day he immediately guessed one of Dumbledore's ridiculous passwords was the day he stopped slipping Trelawney laxatives during staff meetings. "Ice Mice."

"Incorrect."

Of course Albus had changed it. "Let me in."

"No password, no entry."

He was beginning to develop a headache. "You know who I am. I was here last night," he tried.

"No password, no entry."

There was nothing else for it. "Jelly Slugs," he said. Nothing happened. "Lemon Drops. Cockroach Cluster. Blood Pops. Acid Pops. Fizzing Whizzbees. Sugar quill?"

"No password, no entry."

I'm going to blow up the damn thing if it says that again. "These passwords are impossible," he grumbled. How many candies were there in the world? He couldn't very well go through all of them, could he? Trust Albus Dumbledore to pick a password that only his students could guess. Maybe it's a Muggle candy this time. "Oreos, Chocolate Frogs, Fudge Flies, M&M's, Humbug, Cockroach—no, I already said that one...Licorice Wand?"

The gargoyle reluctantly dragged itself away from the staircase, clearing his path.

Finally! Severus stormed up the stairs and burst through the door. "I'm here. What do you want?"

"Severus, my boy," Albus greeted, looking far too pleased to see him. "Sit down. Would you care for a—"

"No, thank you," he snarled, casting the chairs in the room a baleful look and hefting the crate of potions higher into his arms. "I need to deliver these by tonight, Headmaster, so if you could make this quick…"

"I insist that you try one, Severus. They're really quite tasty."

Someday, just to see the old man's reaction, he was going to have to take him up on the offer of his lemon drops. Hopefully Dumbledore wouldn't go into cardiac arrest. "Sweets aren't going to make my day any better; brewing will. And I can't brew until you tell me what you want and let me leave."

Albus clasped his hands together in front of his face and fixed Snape with a steely gaze, all hints of humor vanished. "You haven't been eating much lately, Severus."

This is what he sent two professors to tell him? Merlin. "I've been eating fine, Headmaster," Severus said stiffly. "Was there something else you needed?"

"If you allow yourself to show signs of stress, the Dark Lord is sure to notice," the Headmaster continued, dismissing his comments. "I cannot afford to lose my spy. I'm sure you understand this."

Severus understood that better than anyone else in the world. "I'm well aware, Headmaster."

Locking eyes, Albus not-so-gently prodded Snape's heavily guarded Occlumency shields before slipping out and turning his gaze toward Fawkes. "Now, my dear boy," he said cheerily, "onto business. What do you know about blood wards?"

Blood wards? "Like Potter's?" he queried.

"Exactly. Because Petunia Dursley is related to Lily by blood, Harry will be safe in her house as long as he thinks of it as his home."

But…? "Headmaster," he began, but was cut off.

"It appears there's been a...malfunction, Severus," Albus stated delicately. "The blood wards are no longer as strong as they once were. I believe it may have something to do with the blood exchanged between Harry and Voldemort."

His Mark twinged at the sound of the Dark Lord's name; he resisted the urge to scratch at it. He still had scabs around the area from absentmindedly itching it last week. The Dark Lord hadn't been very pleased.

Less pleased than usual, at any rate.

"The blood wards have not fallen, then?" he asked, needing further clarification. If the wards were still up, was there truly a problem?

"They have not, but it may be only a matter of time before they collapse entirely. This means young Harry will need a place to stay for the summer. I fear we'll be needing to move him to Grimmauld Place sooner than expected. Alas, his stay with his relatives will be cut short, causing further disruption of the wards, but it cannot be helped."

What a mess. Situations like these always seemed to arise around the Potter brat. "Why are you telling me this?" he asked, feeling exhausted all of a sudden. "Where do I come into it?"

"To ensure your cover stays in place, you'll need to tell Voldemort about our plans to relocate Harry," Dumbledore said gravely, gingerly leaning back in his seat.

"I'm to give away vital information? Are you mad?" Severus shook his head. "Offering Potter like a piece of meat wasn't quite what I had in mind when I went back to the Dark Lord, Headmaster."

Albus frowned. "If you can find another way to secure your position, we can use that. But I have not heard any suggestions from you, my boy."

Sometimes Severus got the strangest feeling that Albus wasn't at all concerned with Potter's safety. He was getting that feeling now, and it was even stronger than usual. "I'll think of something," he said smoothly.

"Until Saturday, then," Albus smiled. "Bring me any suggestions you have by then. Have a good evening, Severus."

He was going to spend next Saturday locked in his supply closet.