All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I am not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes.
For my wonderful online friend and beta Mushcorn - Happy Birthday!
Eight-year-old Harry Potter listened with apprehension when Mrs. Wright, his school teacher, announced that they were going to have their first swimming class on the following day. 'I don't even have swimming trunks,' he thought, remembering that Aunt Petunia had thrown away Dudley's old ones, as they had no intention to take Harry with them when they went to the beach with Dudley anyway.
"I don't care. A freak doesn't learn how to swim," Petunia merely said, when Harry asked her later the same day.
'What am I going to do?' Harry thought, terrified, when he slowly walked to school in the morning. 'I can only swim in my underpants. Too bad I'm not sick today.' Harry was often sick, almost every second week did he suffer from colds or respiratory infections. On this day, however, he felt absolutely fine. He played with the idea of speaking with the teacher, who usually was very kind and understanding; however, he finally dismissed the thought and decided to just go in his underwear, hoping that everyone would be distracted enough to not notice his unusual attire.
Harry hurriedly fled the boys' changing room, before any of his classmates noticed his strange outfit. He made a bee-line towards the teacher, anxiously eyeing the water in the pool. He had never been in a pool; not even a bath had he experienced at his relatives' house. Only once a week, after cleaning the house on Saturdays, he was allowed to take a shower; however, the water was always either ice-cold or much too hot for his liking, so that he did not enjoy the contact with the water. However, for some reason, he loved water, and he looked forward very much to enter the pool, even if did not know how to swim yet. 'This is huge though,' he thought. 'I wonder…'
"Harry, where are your swimming-trunks?" the teacher queried, eyeing him with disapproval.
"I don't have any," Harry replied in a small voice, shyly averting his eyes to the floor.
"Come with me," the teacher said and quickly pulled him over to the lifeguard, whom she asked if it was possible to borrow swimming trunks.
"I'm sorry, but we only sell them, we don't lend them," the man replied, giving Harry a sympathetic look.
Somehow, the man reminded him of Uncle Vernon, as he was about the same age and was almost as big as his uncle. However, he smiled at him, and Harry liked him immediately.
"Very well then, please give him a pair. I will pay for it when the class is over," the teacher said firmly, motioning Harry to go with the man. "That's all right, sweetie; we have some money for extraordinary expenses at the school," she lied, knowing that there was only so much that she could do to help the poor boy, who was unloved and neglected by his relatives. Since Harry had been in his first class, she had observed the boy and had even asked Child Service to check on the child; however, his uncle had powerful connections, and there was nothing she could do to improve Harry's situation.
Ten minutes later, Harry found himself in the pool in his new swimming trunks that were dark blue with a few green lines - absolutely cool in his opinion. He noticed soon that he enjoyed his swimming class immensely, and not only Harry, but also the teacher and the lifeguard realised that Harry could swim extremely well.
"Harry," the lifeguard addressed him, when the teacher allowed those, who could already swim, to play for a while, "is this really your first visit to a pool? Have you never been swimming before?"
"Never," Harry replied in surprise, "but I love it." He observed, astonished, that the man exchanged a few words with the teacher, who nodded at him, smiling.
"Harry, I'd like to show you some other swimming techniques," the man said to him, and during the rest of the class, while everyone else followed the teacher's instructions, the man taught him every possible swimming style.
Harry had no idea, why the man had singled him out, let alone why the teacher had approved his extra lesson; however, he thoroughly enjoyed himself and was very sad when the teacher announced that the swimming class was over and instructed everyone to go back to the changing rooms.
"Harry is extraordinarily talented," the lifeguard told the teacher, causing Harry to blush profusely. "I would like him to enter our swimming club and train for the third youth league."
The teacher let out a surprised gasp. "The third youth league?" she asked, incredulously.
"Yes. He has the potential of becoming the youngest champion of all times," the … explained, smiling. "I hope that his parents will allow him to train. He will be in the first league in a year at the latest."
Harry looked at the man in disbelief and felt very grateful when the teacher explained that his relatives would probably not be willing to send him to a swimming club, when they had to pay for it. The two adults talked for a few more minutes, and in the end, the lifeguard, who was the trainer of the youth teams at the same time, offered that Harry did not have to pay any membership fees but was allowed to become a member in the swimming club and train twice a week.
"Will your relatives allow you to attend the training, Harry?" the teacher asked kindly. "Do you want me to speak with your aunt?"
"No no, it will be all right," Harry lied, resolving to not tell anyone about the matter. "Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity."
"Harry has new swimming trunks," Dudley shouted as soon as he entered the house.
"They are only borrowed," Harry contradicted vehemently, feeling terrified at the thought that anyone could take away his new possession. "I have to give them back."
"But I want them. They are much nicer than my own," Dudley wailed, hammering his fists on the dining table.
"Show me," Aunt Petunia demanded.
Harry slowly fetched the swimming trunks out of his cupboard, where he had carefully hidden his new treasure and showed them to his aunt.
"Mine," Dudley shouted, grabbing them out of Harry's hand.
"I don't think they're big enough for you," Harry said grimly, staring at the swimming trunks, while Dudley tried them on.
Harry inwardly chuckled, realising that the usually flexible material did not give in for Dudley, so that the fat boy had no chance to wear Harry's new possession.
"They're only large enough for freaks," Dudley hissed, casting the swimming trunks on the floor, from where Harry eagerly picked them up.
From that day onwards, Harry went swimming every Monday and Thursday afternoon, telling his aunt that he was going to the library, the only place where Petunia would let him go and Dudley would certainly not follow him.
As the trainer had predicted, it only took a few months, before Harry could move to the second and then to the first youth league. Although he was by far the youngest member of the group, no one ever harassed him or even called him a freak because he was the top swimmer in spite of his age, and Harry felt very happy. He also noticed that his heath condition had improved greatly. Over the time, he realised that he would not get sick if he attended swimming practice twice a week. If he for some reason could not get away from the Dursleys and missed practice once, he did not feel as well as usual, and if he had to skip practice twice, he could be sure that he would get sick by the end of the week. 'Why is swimming so important for my condition?' he wondered again and again and even asked his teacher and the trainer about the matter, but neither adult could answer his question.
It was two weeks before Harry's eleventh birthday that the European Swimming Competition took place in France, and Harry looked at his trainer in shock, when the man told him that he had been chosen to become a member of the English team. 'The Dursleys will never allow me to go,' he thought, terrified, wondering how he would be able to get away. 'Maybe Mrs. Figg can help me,' he mused. He did not overly like the old lady with the many cats; however, in contrary to the Dursleys, she knew about his swimming activities, and Harry valued it greatly that she had never told his relatives about it.
"I'll see what I can come up with," the old lady promised, gently patting his back. "Do you have money to pay for the travel though?"
"Yes," Harry said, excitedly, before he admitted in a small voice that he had won several trophies and some of them had been doted with a certain amount of money, which his trainer was keeping safe for him, so that no one could take it away.
Harry had no idea if the cat lady actually spoke with the Dursleys; however, luckily, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon suddenly decided to go for a two-week holiday to the seaside with Dudley and instructed Harry to stay at Mrs. Figg's house during that time.
At Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Severus Snape, the Potions Master, Potions professor and Slytherin Head of House, was thoroughly enjoying his summer holidays, glad to have some quiet time for himself, even if he had to brew a seemingly infinite amount of batches with all possible potions for the hospital wing.
It was on July 17 that his newest Potions Quarterly arrived, and he happily let himself sink into his favourite armchair, ready to engross himself in his lecture, when the fireplace flared, and Albus Dumbledore's head appeared in the flames.
"Severus, my dear boy, please join me for lunch in my office," the Headmaster instructed him, and the Floo call ended as sudden as it had begun.
'Ahhh, today of all days,' Severus thought, casting his new potions journal a last longing look, before he stepped into the fireplace, shouting, "Headmaster's office."
With mixed feelings, Severus stared at his colleagues, who were already assembled in Professor Dumbledore's office. On the one hand, he was not in the mood to have chit-chat with the annoying older witches, on the other hand, he was glad that the Headmaster's attention would not be solely fixed on himself.
All of a sudden, his view fell on the newest edition of the Daily Prophet, which was placed on the Headmaster's desk.
"Harry Potter not only 'Boy Who Lived' but also the youngest European Swim Champion of all times" the main headline screamed in bold letters.
'The youngest European swim champion?' Severus silently repeated to himself. 'That was me... at least until now. How dare Potter take this from me?' He looked at the newspaper in shock, completely unaware of what his colleagues were talking about. He only looked up when he heard his name.
"Severus, would you mind?" the Headmaster addressed him, speaking around a lemon drop.
"Would I what, Albus?" Severus queried, slightly inclining his head in silent apology for his inattentiveness.
"Severus, are you listening at all?" Professor McGonagall threw in, reproachfully. "Albus just said that it would be too dangerous to leave the boy in a Muggle environment, seeing that he has also become famous in the Muggle world. It must be a shock for you. If I remember correctly, you were the youngest champion so far, isn't that right?"
Severus nodded silently, feeling like in a trance.
"And Harry is not even a merman. I wonder how he could beat Severus, apart from the fact that he is born in July and Severus in January, so that it was not difficult to be six months younger than Severus." Dumbledore mused aloud, finally bringing Severus out of his stupor.
'He must be a merman. Otherwise, he would not be able to achieve that,' he thought, suddenly feeling very excited. "Poppy," Severus addressed his best friend, "was Potter a merman? I know for a fact that Lily was not a mermaid. It took me a long time to teach her swimming."
Madam Pomfrey slowly shook her head and remained quiet for a moment, before she said, "Severus, I need to speak with you in private."
"Why don't you use the chamber here?" Dumbledore suggested kindly and with a flick of his wand opened a door at the back of his office.
Severus followed the Healer into the small chamber and quietly closed the door, quirking an eyebrow at his friend.
"Severus, I am sorry," Poppy apologized in a small voice, sounding terrified. "Only now I remembered something." Seeing that Severus looked at her in expectation, she explained, "Shortly after you divorced from Lily, she came to me and asked me if it was possible to magically prolong her pregnancy. Severus, Harry is your son. He probably is a merman like you. I'm so sorry, Severus. Probably Lily cast some Charm at me that made me forget about the matter..."
"Until it became evident that her son was a merman," Severus interrupted her, feeling excited and happy but also horrified at the same time. 'I have a son,' he tried to comprehend the truth, when a sudden thought crossed his mind. "Why does the boy look like Potter then?"
Poppy chuckled. "Don't you remember how good Lily was at Charms? She cast a series of strong charms at the baby, even before he was born. Unfortunately, she didn't tell me which charms she used or how to undo them. I'm sorry, Severus."
"I will go and fetch the boy," Severus announced, once back in the Headmaster's office, leaving it to Poppy to fill his colleagues in about the truth, while he strode towards the apparition point at Hogsmeade.
At the same time, Harry Potter thanked Mrs. Figg profusely for all that she had done to make it possible for him to attend the tournament, before he returned to the Durselys' residence, knowing that his relatives were going to come home the same evening. 'I better get dinner ready before they return,' he thought as he busied himself cleaning the house.
Suddenly, the ringing of the doorbell interrupted his work, and Harry hesitantly went to open the door. A very tall man in completely black attire was standing in front of the door, staring at him.
"I'm sorry, sir, but my aunt and uncle are not here at the moment," Harry stammered, feeling very uncertain in front of the stranger, who seemed miraculously familiar to him, although he was sure that he had never met him before.
"Mr. Potter, I merely came to see you, not necessarily your relatives," the man replied curtly and demanded to be let into the house.
'Why does he know my name, and who is he?' Harry thought frantically, knowing that he wasn't allowed to let anyone into the house, let alone a complete stranger.
The man motioned him to take a seat at the kitchen table, before he began to explain, "I am Professor Severus Snape, and I am your father. I came to take you away from here. I want you to come and live with me."
Harry stared at the man. 'It's true,' he thought with a mixture of disbelief and readiness to believe in his luck. 'My whole life I have been hoping for this instant to become true.' "You are my father?" he asked, his voice laced with a small hint of suspicion. "But my relatives told me that my parents are dead."
"Harry, I have only known of our relationship for about an hour, but we'll be able to proof the matter by doing a blood test later on. However, you are a half wizard half merman, just like myself, and this combination is very rare. I've never known anyone else..."
"I'm sorry, Sir," Harry quickly interrupted him. "I'm none of these; I'm just Harry, a freak, who can swim well, nothing else."
The professor smirked. "Did you ever have to learn how to swim like your friends, and have you never done anything..." He paused for a moment as if in search for the correct word, before he continued, "strange?"
'Hmm, that's true,' Harry thought, eying the half wizard in front of him, curiously.
"Very well then," the professor spoke up again, "will you come with me to Hogwarts?"
"Hogwarts?" Harry queried, quirking an eyebrow in a very Snape-ish manner.
"Did the Dursleys never tell you about Hogwarts?" Snape gave him a sharp look.
"No sir," Harry replied, inefficiently searching his mind for any information about Hogwarts, before he listened with interest, when the professor explained that he was supposed to attend Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry from September onwards.
Harry remained thoughtful for a moment, thinking, 'I'd love to go and learn magic, and it would be great go get away from the Dursleys' and from all the fuss the swimming club makes about the tournament. I'm going to miss the swimming club though.' Noticing that the professor was watching him, seemingly impatiently, he hesitantly asked, "I'm sorry, sir, but will I still be able to go swimming?"
"Of course, child," the older half-merman replied surprisingly gently. "As a merman, even if only a half-merman, you must go swimming at least once a week. Otherwise you'll become ill. I doubt that you'll be able to join your former swimming group though. Maybe in the holidays, but not during the school year."
"That's all right," Harry replied in a small voice. "On the one hand, I really liked being there, and everyone was very kind and helped me a lot, but on the other hand, everyone knows me because of being the champion. We had to attend several parties and so on, and journalists came to ask us about it and such, and I really don't like so much attention. It'll be great to go somewhere, where no one knows me, and where everyone is a freak like me."
Harry did not notice that the professor cast him a pitying look and eagerly ran to his cupboard to fetch his swimming trunks and a baby blanket, his own belongings apart from some trophies and money, which he had deposited at the trainer's place.
"Are you ready?" the professor queried, taking a step forward, so that he came to stand right next to Harry. When Harry nodded, he motioned him to firmly grip his arm. "We're going to apparate."
'To what?' Harry wondered, when he suddenly felt a strange pull behind his navel, before the world began to turn around. An instant later, he found himself still standing next to the professor, however, in a completely different environment.
"Hogwarts is over there," Snape told the boy as he led him in the direction of the castle.
During the following weeks until the end of the holidays, Snape showed his son Hogwarts, introduced him to his colleagues, took him to the Ministry of Magic to accept him as his son and introduced him to the fine art of brewing potions. Once a week, the two half-wizards went for a swim in the lake and visited the merpeople living at the bottom of the lake.
Harry liked the merpeople immediately. They were very friendly and immediately recognised him as one of their own, even though he only was a half-merman.
"Harry Potter-Snape?" one of them said, when Snape introduced his son at their first visit. "You're the boy who lived and also the European swimming champion. You made us merpeople very proud by winning this title for the first time, after your father did us the favour many years ago."
"Do they always make such a fuss?" he asked his father on the way back to the castle, causing Severus to chuckle.
"Yes," he replied, sighing. "They're bored. Not much happens at the bottom of the lake, especially not during the holidays. When school begins again, the Giant Squid keeps them updated about what happens at the school, and they also listen in to the students' conversations, but even then they always fuss about me when I visit them. I'm glad that I have you with me now, because their attention becomes diverted to you," he added, grinning.
Harry rolled his eyes. 'I hope at least the students won't know anything about me,' he thought. 'I really don't like being singled out.' In fact, he couldn't wait for the students to come to Hogwarts. Since he was the only child at the moment, again all the adults' attention was concentrated on him, and he was looking forward to be just a normal member of a larger group for once.
"Severus," he hesitantly addressed his father on the last day of the holidays, when they were in the Potions Master's private lab brewing a potion together, "where do you think I'm going to be sorted?"
His father cast him a surprised look. "Of course I hope that it'll be Slytherin; however, your mother was a Gryffindor. Wherever it is, I expect that you're going to behave and study well. I don't want to hear any complaints," he said sternly, even if Harry had the impression as if a small smile was playing on his lips.
"I'll do my best," he promised, carefully cutting a frog egg into small slices. 'I just hope that no one will remember what I did as a baby and leave me in peace,' he thought, as he remembered what his father had told him the previous evening, making sure that Harry knew who he was before officially entering Hogwarts as a student.
In the morning, Severus apparated Harry to King's Cross and showed him how to get onto platform nine and three quarters. "This is so amazing," Harry whispered, looking at the Hogwarts Express in awe.
"Very well, enjoy the trip," his father replied and, seeing that the first Slytherin students entered the platform, apparated away.
Harry quickly boarded the train and took a seat next to the window in a still empty compartment, where he busied himself reading his Transfiguration book. A few minutes later, a very nervous looking boy entered the compartment, asking shyly, "Hello, may I sit here?"
"Of course," Harry replied, waving his hand over the empty seats. "Nice to meet you. I'm Harry, and I'm a first year."
"I'm Neville, Neville Longbottom," the boy introduced himself. "Where do you think you're going to be sorted?"
Before Harry could even think of an adequate reply, a girl stepped through the open door and said, "I hope I'll get sorted into Gryffindor, although Ravenclaw is much more likely. But I absolutely adore Professor McGonagall." Looking at Harry, she said, "Oh my, you're Harry Potter! I am Hermione Granger. I am Muggleborn by the way."
"Harry Potter?" Neville asked, curiously looking at Harry.
Harry let out a sigh. "Hermione, I also lived in the Muggle world until six weeks ago. I've only known that I'm a wizard for that long."
"Hermione, if you're Muggle born, how come that you know Harry Potter?" Neville asked, trying to catch his toad that was just about to leave the compartment.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "First of all, I know that he became the youngest European swim champion last month, and secondly, I have read 'Hogwarts: A History' several times and know that he is the Boy who lived," Hermione replied firmly. "It's my absolute favourite book. I almost know it by heart."
"European swim champion?" Neville queried, looking at Harry in surprise.
'So much about not being known,' Harry thought, feeling very annoyed, although he had to admit that the two other first years were very nice. 'I'd love to become friends with students like the two of them.'
Soon two more boys, a couple of two red-haired twins, entered the compartment, and once again the conversation revolved around Harry, until he finally said, "I'm sorry, but could we please stop talking about me? I really don't like speaking about the past, and I hope that I can make a completely new beginning at Hogwarts."
The four others told him that they understood and changed the topic. Instead, Hermione began to ask the twins questions over questions about Hogwarts and was especially thrilled upon hearing that the twins were both Gryffindors. By the time the Hogwarts Express pulled into Hogsmeade, Harry had the impression as if he had already found four friends.
Unfortunately, the Sorting Hat was not impressed by Harry's, Neville's and Hermione's begging and put Hermione into Ravenclaw, Neville into Hufflepuff and Harry into Slytherin.
Harry sighed inwardly as he trailed towards the Slytherin table, trying to ignore the whispering at all House tables that had begun the instant when the Hat had shouted "Slytherin." Word parts like 'champion' and 'boy who lived' penetrated his ears. He slipped into the empty seat next to Draco Malfoy, whom he had already met once during the holidays, since he was his father's godchild.
"A Potter, let alone the Boy who lived, in Slytherin?" someone asked, and Harry felt everyone look at him.
"His name is Potter-Snape. He is Snape's son," Draco helpfully supplied, causing Harry to shot him a grateful look.
Harry noticed soon that he could get along well with his Slytherin classmates. However, due to being their Head of House's son, being the swimming champion, a fact that most Muggle born students knew, and just being Harry Potter, he felt himself always being standing in the spotlight. Apparently, the girls found him very cute, and as much as he tried to hide between Draco and Blaise, who were always at his side, he was surrounded by girls, not only of his own House.
If Harry hoped that the girls' enthusiasm would decline after some time, he should soon learn that this was not the case.
On a Sunday in early October, when Severus and Harry once again left the castle to visit the merpeople like every Sunday afternoon, Severus asked him, "Harry, I have the impression as if something was bothering you. Is everything all right?"
Harry let out a long sigh, wondering if he should tell his father about the headache that he always got in Professor Quirrell's presence. However, he dismissed the thought and said, "I'm always the centre of attention, whatever I do. They never leave me in peace. I really like Hogwarts, and I want to study as much as possible, but this is so annoying..." He slowly trailed off.
Severus carefully laid his arm around Harry's shoulders and stopped walking as they reached the spot at the lake that could not be seen from the castle, from which they usually entered the lake. "Harry, believe me I can only understand too well. Let me tell you something. I had the same problem. I was the youngest swimming champion, and of course all the Muggle born students knew about this, while the others despised me because of being a Slytherin. Shortly after finishing Hogwarts then, I became the youngest Potions Master of Britain, so that many people were acquainted with my name. Therefore, after divorcing from your mother, I decided to make a completely new beginning and attended a Muggle university studying Chemistry; however, not in Britain, where I was famous even in the Muggle world, but in West Bengal, a part of India."
"Wow," Harry said, eyeing his father in surprise.
Severus smirked. "Very eloquent, son. Yes, it was very agreeable. However, due to some circumstances here in Britain, I needed Professor Dumbledore's help and was forced to teach here at Hogwarts. Now however, I believe that if I wanted to leave, it would be possible." He let out a long sigh, before he continued, "Harry, I still have one very good friend there. We studied together, and we learned soon that both of us were wizards. Anyway, he recently wrote me a letter telling me that he was going to open a school for magical studies in Calcutta, which is where I lived before, from the next school year onwards. He asked me if I wanted to become the Potions and Merpeople professor at his school."
"And? Are you going to accept the post, sir?" Harry asked, excitedly.
Severus quirked an eyebrow. "In fact, I hadn't even properly considered the matter; however, if you prefer to study incognito without anyone knowing you, I suggest moving to the Calcutta School for Magic. However, you would need to learn Bengali, but I can teach you over the next months. The school year in India commences in April, so that we'd still have almost six months before classes begin."
During the following three weeks of October, Severus and Harry frequently spoke about the matter, and by the end of the month, they decided that Severus should follow Professor Das' invitation to the new school.
Harry spent the remaining weeks until the Christmas holidays studying Bengali with Severus' help, and when they left Hogwarts and moved to Calcutta on the first day of the winter holidays, he knew that he would somehow manage to get along, even if he still had much to learn. 'Thank Merlin it's still three months before the school year begins,' he thought, when they waited in front of the international Floo port at Heathrow for the Floo to Delhi, from where they would still have to Floo to Calcutta. When they finally reached their destination and waited for Professor Das to meet them at the Floo port, Harry felt utterly exhausted and wanted nothing more than to go swimming.
"It's very hot here," he whispered to Severus.
"Yes Harry, it's always hot here, but the air is more humid than in Britain; therefore, living here is much more agreeable for us merpeople," Severus replied, smiling.
"Severus and Harry, suvo sandhya – good evening," suddenly a male voice greeted them.
Severus turned around and enthusiastically greeted the man in Bengali that was too fast for Harry to understand. Finally, he turned to Harry. "Harry, this is Professor Das. Headmaster, this is my son, Harry Snape."
Professor Das eyed Harry with interest and finally asked, "You look just like Harry Potter. Do you know him? He must be a great wizard."
"Harry Potter janina," Harry replied, innocently denying knowing Harry Potter. 'Dad was right. I really prefer to live incognito,' he thought with a smile playing on his lips.