Title: If You Are Prepared (1/?)

Author: Cybele

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling and a bunch of corporations own these characters. I just love them. I wouldn't even consider trying to make money on this story. And I am quite sure no one would pay, anyway.

Rated: R, for language and innuendo.

Pairing: SS/HP

Summary: Dumbledore has a plan to keep Harry and Severus safe. Pre-slash. SS/HP

A/N: POV of Snape in this chapter. This is me trying to make sense of Dumbledore's ominous words in GoF. This will likely be the back story of a much more gruelling angsty fic I am trying to write. Please tell me what you think. I can take it.

Chapter 1: Dumbledore's Plan

"If you are prepared," he said.

Prepared? No. Horrified. Shocked. Somehow livid with rage at the foolish boy watching dumbly from the bed. I find myself trying to blame him for all that has happened. Prepared, I definitely am not. But I move my head in what I believe to be an affirmative way and swiftly leave the room. I am only vaguely aware of a scroungy, flee-ridden mutt bearing its teeth at me as I walk passed it. I pat its head absently and begin walking toward the dungeons, mentally composing my last will and testament, which somehow has become a catalogue of rare and deadly potions when I hear my name being barked. I turn to see my sworn enemy, turned brother-in-arms, standing where the mangy beast had been. It occurs to me, somehow, that I had completely ignored a creature which one could easily mistake as a death omen, and I laugh. Sirius Black looks puzzled. But doesn't he always?

"Dumbledore may trust you, but I don't. If you so much as breathe in Harry's general direction, I will kill you."

My mind goes to work right away, creating a flood of scathing retorts that manage to get soaked up by the dry spongy material in my mouth that I'm sure was once my tongue. I give the man a dismissive wave of the hand and seek my sanctuary in the dark, cold, damp, yet strangely comforting, dungeon. It is here that my mind becomes alive once more and some order mechanism kicks in, letting me think coherently.

*"If you so much as breathe…"*

Right, so Dumbledore has evidently not told the boy's Godfather about his oh, so brilliant plan to keep me and the Child Superstar from harm. I think how ironic it will be when I accidentally poison the little bugger and Black accidentally rips a few gaping holes into my body. I shrug off the thought. If I have to choose between death by Voldemort and death by Black, I will choose Black. He isn't clever enough to be cruel. I pick up a stack of parchment and begin punishing a class of third year Gryffindors for being. I immediately feel a calming wave of general bitterness wash over me and wonder only vaguely what sort of monster I had been in my previous life to deserve being reincarnated so close to hell.


At the first sight of the Muggle neighbourhood I'm reminded of one of the reasons I became a Death Eater so long ago. I feel nauseous and I can scarcely keep myself from taking out my wand and casting a growth spell on their perfectly cut grass. I hurry up the stone walk way, amusing myself in imagining the look on the Muggles' faces were they ever to see *my* garden. I knock three times on the oak door.

Disgusting. My stomach lurches at the sight of this obese idiot before me, and (Merlin help me) I nearly laugh watching the boys face scrunch up in terror, his mouth opened stupidly in a silent scream. I bring myself to my full height and torture him with my most menacing glare, normally reserved for Neville Longbottom. He turns and waddles down a hallway, disappearing behind a door. I can hear him squeaking something about Vampires and I begin to wonder if I have the right house. Not even Potter's family could be so dim.

I see an older version of the fat boy stalking toward me, every step causing dangerous vibrations through the room, and the wall hangings shiver with dread. But I don't. I toy with the idea of turning his moustache into a muzzle and immediately regret not doing so when he begins to bumble.

"W-what, who…"

I muster up enough English polity to say, "Hello. I'm here for Harry Potter."

I am impressed by my own capacity to hide my utter disdain. I watch in wonder as something like fear falls over him. His purple face goes white, and then climbs the colour spectrum, finally ending with a lovely shade of blue-violet. He babbles something like "g-g-godfather," and I cork up an eyebrow. Under normal circumstances, I might turn a man into a slug for mistaking me for Sirius Black. Indeed. I force myself to remember that the Muggle cannot possibly grasp the absurdity of his blunder. I grit my teeth and say, "I'm his professor," *and not an ignorant, raging psychopath.* "You should have received an owl from Headmaster Dumbledore, announcing my arrival."

Dumbledore had told me that the Muggle family might be "a bit uncomfortable" by my presence. Who isn't? I expect discomfort wherever I go. Normally, it pleases me a great deal to have such an effect. The man's face fades back to purple and then becomes crimson and trembles with rage. Leave it to Dumbledore to understate things.

"I will have none of this nonsense in my house! There is no Potter here. Out! Get out, or I'll call the police!"

My mind goes temporarily blank with astonishment. I watch the Muggle with a sort of detached awe, wondering vaguely how he'd managed to stay alive with such quickly fluctuating emotions. I am quite sure I have never met a more offensive person. He stomps toward the doorway where I am standing and I reach, instinctually, for my wand. He freezes, his face again the colour of ash—or maybe lilac. Yes, I am reminded that it is almost time to dig up lilac roots. I can hear the pounding of his cholesterol laden heart…or not. It occurs to me that the pounding is coming from under the staircase. Then I hear a muffled "I'm in here," and it takes me a moment to realise to whom that voice belongs.

I push past the terrified Muggle, who seems to be attempting an explanation, and I walk to a door and unlatch it. The boy squints into the light and blinks rapidly. His face is flushed and sweaty from screaming. I can see the exact moment his eyes adjust to the sudden assault of light and focus on me. He blinks again in disbelief.

"Professor? What are you—"

He forgets his manners, but I am still too stunned by the entire situation to note it. In the two weeks he's been away from Hogwarts, he appears to have lost five pounds. The grumbling of the large man cowering in a corner brings me back to my senses. "Get your things, Harry."

Wait. That didn't come out right. I can still taste the word on my lips. He has noticed, too and looks…well, gobsmacked seems to be the right word.

"Now, Potter," I amend, managing to put the right amount of bitterness into it. Thankfully, it works because he rushes off. I wait until I can hear his footsteps on the second floor before I turn on the Muggle.

"What's he done?" From his reaction, one would think I'd threatened him. He manages two coherent words: rules and nonsense. I nod, dismissively. I know firsthand the insolence of the boy. And while I have never locked him into a broom cupboard, I can't say I wouldn't have tried, were I ever given the opportunity.

"Potter will not be coming back this summer. The Headmaster will be in touch." I try to keep a neutral voice, but the man still quakes with fear. He makes Longbottom appear brave. I see him eyeing my wand warily. I begin to play with it to torture him further. The harmless green sparks which shoot out may have been the Avada Kedavra curse judging by his reaction to them. Potter finally arrives with an armful of books and an owl and pulls his trunk out of the cupboard, stuffing the books inside. He looks up at me and I'm startled to see fear there in his eyes. I have seen a range of emotions fall over that face…from nervousness, to smugness, to indignation, contempt…but fear was never one of them. My lungs seize up. I attribute it to the Muggle air.

I look at my watch seeing that we have three minutes before the portkey is set to take us to an "undisclosed location." I extract the strange object from my robes and look up to see that Potter's face has grown a shade paler.

"What are you doing with a telephone receiver?" he asks suspiciously.

"It's a portkey. We have two minutes, 33 seconds; so if there is anything you're forgetting, I suggest you get it now."

"To where?" he asks. His eyes narrow and then look between me and his trunk. I wonder at his reaction until I remember where the last portkey took him. I try to extract the impatience from my voice long enough to answer: "I don't know. Didn't you receive Dumbledore's letter?" He looks toward his trunk again and then back to me. He shakes his head. *What is he thinking?* My patience runs out. "I don't have time to earn your trust, Potter. If you will please grab a hold of this ridiculous thing, I'll explain when we get there." Reluctantly, he takes the handle of his trunk and bids me hold the owl cage. A shaky hand grabs the other end of the portkey as he looks at his uncle, who has been staring at us as though we were a circus sideshow act. Potter seems amused by this, but his eyes still shine with foreboding.

"Bye, then," he says, almost inaudibly. And the portkey carries us violently into the void.


We land, one on top of the other, on a cold stone floor. The portkey falls from my hands; as does the owl cage, the owl none too happy about it. I'm painfully aware of Potter's trunk pinning down my right arm, and pleasantly aware of a warm thigh pinning down my…

"Potter, get up!" I command with too much urgency, I think. He seems to jolt to his senses. I see awareness wash over his face, fade to paralyzed humiliation, awkwardness, and then back to fear. I am in awe of the range of emotions in such a short time, and then in pain as he scrambles to his feet. I pull myself out from under his trunk and then lean against it, recovering from two contradictory aches.

"What?" I ask looking up at him, and then realise that he isn't looking at me, but at his trunk. *Oh. His wand.* Of course, he wouldn't have it on him as he couldn't use it over the holidays. I am momentarily impressed by his instinct—an instinct a boy his age shouldn't have. An instinct that I, myself, didn't develop until much later. "Don't worry, Potter, I'm not here to kill you."

He doesn't look convinced. "Where are we?"

"In exile," I mutter, looking around a large stone room. A dungeon, thankfully. I light a fire in the chimney to add to the dim light of two torches lit on opposite walls. The room is very large and quite empty, except for two twin beds on one end, a desk on the opposite end, and two lumpy looking chairs in front of the hearth. There is one door on a far wall, which I silently pray leads to a way out; but I am doubtful.

"Dumbledore sent you a letter. Why didn't you get it?"

"I've been locked in a cupboard, haven't I?" he snaps. I am nearly relieved to see insolence back in his expression.

"Nonsense, boy. He sent the letter the day after holidays began."

"Well then, I guess he just missed me, as I've been there since the night I got home!" Something like embarrassment comes into his face. I stare at him, wondering if I should believe him or not. Trying not to think about the ramifications should I choose to believe he is telling the truth, I decide on a safe retort.

"With punishment so strict, I'd think you'd be more careful about breaking the rules."

"Right. Then you'll be sure to remember that when you find I've not studied over the holidays."

"Come now, Potter. You don't expect me to believe you were locked in a cupboard two weeks for doing your homework," I scoff, but can immediately see it's true by his expression.

"I don't expect you to believe anything I say, Professor." There is venom in his voice and I've a mind to slap him. With my hand. I'm startled. Idiots such as the boy's godfather resort to physical violence as a means of expression…not wizards like me. We are able to think of more permanent ways of revenge.

"Watch your tone," I warn. It pleases me to see him struggling to hold his tongue, but I make a mental note to immediately teach the boy how to control his display of emotion. One of the most important defences.

"How long do I have to stay here?"

"Until next term." I almost take pleasure in responding, knowing how the answer would torture the boy. But then I remember that I, too, will have to endure the torment and my pleasure is replaced by the dull ache of resentment.

"With you!?" I shouldn't be offended by this outburst, should I? I suppose I just wasn't ready for *blatant* disdain. "I though," he began to babble, "er, well…after what happened…you know…" My patience grows thin again as I watch him try to form a coherent statement. "I figured you'd go back to working for Dumbledore…you know, like you did before."

It takes me a moment to extract a meaning from his rambling. *A spy? Again? Not bloody likely.* I'm almost brought to laughter, but I manage to catch it in time to respond.

"No, Potter. This may come as a shock to you, but the Headmaster prefers that I stay alive. Unfortunately for the both of us, he insists you do the same." I scowl at him, daring him to rejoin. And then it occurs to me…*the boy shouldn't have known about that*… "How did you find out about that?" I glare at him suspiciously and the flush of his cheeks tells me that he discovered the information doing something he ought not to have done.

"Er, I …sort of…fell into Dumbledore's Pensieve."

Sort. Of. Fell. I almost laugh again. *Damn. Twice.* I feel something like envy creep into my stomach. I would like very much to fall into Dumbledore's Pensieve. But then again…no, better not.

"You're to begin advanced defence training tomorrow. It appears as though you're to be rewarded for your inability to stay out of trouble." I'm taken aback by the look on his face. How dare he be less than thrilled by the opportunity?

"But, I'm on holiday," he protests.

"Maybe you should have thought about that before you—" What? Lived? I can't bloody well fault him for that, can I? I fumble for a word, mentally cursing the boy. Three times in ten minutes, I have lost my reserve. Add to that, calling him by his first name, and the day had, indeed, been a failure. I take a deep breath and repeat that training will start tomorrow. I leave to explore my prison.


I'm awakened by a familiar surge of unbearable pain and I clutch my arm as though trying to keep the skin from ripping open. My breath catches in my throat and I clamp my mouth shut to keep from screaming. The dark mark shines behind my shut eyelids—a reminder of my one big fuck up. The pain subsides, but for a ghostly stinging, and I pant to catch my breath, while my own conscience taunts me:

*Well you deserve it, don't you? Stupid git. You'd think your first clue that maybe joining the Dark Lord wasn't a great idea was the fact that his call to arms is so goddamn painful. Not so ambitious now, are you Severus?*

The taunting stops as I become aware of the soft, steady rhythm of sleep coming from the bed next to mine. For the first time, I'm thankful that Harry Potter exists. I concentrate on the soothing sound of his breath, and I drift back to sleep. I don't know how long I've been sleeping when I am jolted awake by a strangled cry.

At first, I wonder if I hadn't dreamt it. But then I hear laboured breathing from the bed next to mine, followed by another pained cry. I light the lamp and look over to see Potter curled into the foetal position, clutching his head. I do not react, but marvel at the boy's face screwing up in pain. I'm too astonished to feel sympathetic toward him. I have, of course, heard about his scar (who hasn't?), but until this moment, I've never seen it work. He screams as another wave of pain overtakes him. He rolls to his stomach, his knees curled underneath him, and he shoves his head into the mattress. I cross the brief distance between our two beds without thinking.

"Potter?" My voice is hoarse and betrays my concern. Some dim aspect of my consciousness curses me for my display of sentiment.


I don't know at what point I developed any sort of maternal instinct, but my hand begins to caress the boy's back in what can only be interpreted as a soothing fashion. I hear myself say, "Shhhh," ignoring a familiar voice in my head screaming, *"What in the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"* His nightshirt is drenched in sweat and clings to his curled spine. His breathing comes raggedly now and I feel his muscles trembling in an attempt to relax. My hand, which I'm now convinced has a mind of its own, begins stroking the back of his head. After a few minutes, his breathing slows to normal. I feel him tense up again, probably at the realisation that his most hated teacher is touching him. I withdraw my hand, almost too quickly, and jump up off the bed. I feel completely ridiculous, but I manage to mask over my embarrassment before he looks up at me.

"Has it passed?" I say, relieved to find my voice steady and cold.

He nods dumbly. I can see something flash through his eyes, but cannot quite place the look. In the dim light afforded by the lamp, I can see a pink flush colour his pale cheeks. He rises to a kneeling position on his bed and looks up at me.

"It was Karkaroff, I think. I mean…I had a dream…"

It takes me a moment to realise what he is going on about, and my stomach lurches. *The old man's dead then.* I nod stiffly in recognition and try to calm my own fears. *I'm next.*

"Professor, I…" he chokes on his own emotion, and then shakes his head as though trying to dispel some tenacious image. "He's looking for you," he says apologetically.

Not exactly news there, is it? I nod again and then become aware that I have been nodding like a fool all along. "Go back to sleep, Potter," I say, and my voice cracks like a fourteen year old boy. He looks angry, but I don't care much about that. I extinguish the light and begin worrying about silly things like my own mortality.


"Potter, get up."

I fight the urge to reach out and touch the pale smooth skin of his shoulder. He is far too skinny, but the faint line of muscle there and the delicious sight of a bare nipple makes him look a better dish than the drab breakfast I've just conjured. I damn the little brat for daring to remove his night clothes and force bitterness into my voice. "Get up, now. We've work to do."

He looks up at me lazily and blindly reaches for his glasses. His green eyes are punctuated by the red rims of an obviously restless night. I'm sure I don't look better, having spent most of the night listening to his snivelling. Several times, I had to fight the urge to comfort him. I wonder what the hell has come over me. I empathise with the boy, I think. He is too young to be tortured by such dreams. Too young to be the target of Voldemort's wrath. Too young for me to be staring at him like this.

*Damn.* I turn away and walk to the desk which holds tea and porridge that I summoned from Hogwarts. I am glad it worked, as there is no kitchen in the place we're at. Nothing more than this room and a bathroom. Of course, I enjoy the darkness. But I worry about Potter's ability to withstand it. It must be dreadfully depressing for a boy his age, of his mentality, to be locked up out of the sun. He is far too pale as it is. The idea occurs to me to bewitch the ceiling to reflect the sky. I make a mental note to look up the spell, as I sit for breakfast.

"Where'd this come from?" he yawns, stretching his arms above his head. At least, he had the decency to put his clothes back on. I don't answer but sip my tea He sits across from me and begins shovelling porridge into his mouth. I hate watching children eat. My stomach flip flops and I look away, waiting for him to finish. I begin going over my lesson plan in my head.

"Professor Snape? I was wondering…" I shoot him an impatient look, but he continues anyway. "You know how I can…well…my dreams. Do you think Vol-er, You-Know-Who dreams about me, too?"

I hadn't thought of that before. My stomach tightens to think of it now. I don't think the Dark Lord dreams, exactly. I try to imagine him sleeping, and I fail. Sleeping is such a human thing to do. But is it possible that he has visions of Potter? That he sees us now? Together? Dumbledore managed long ago to break the tracking charm on the Dark Mark on my arm. Is there a charm on the boy's scar? A lot of good hiding will do if the boy is linked to him. Surely, Dumbledore thought of that. Right?

I can't think of an answer to the boy's question. I grunt and drink my tea, hoping that will keep him from asking again. He is angry, I can feel it. I glance over at him and see his eyes blazing with rage.

"You don't believe me, do you?"

"Finish eating, Potter," I say and rise. I decide to take a shower to avoid his questions.

When I turn off the water and step out, I can hear muffled voices coming from the adjoining room. For a moment I'm paralyzed with fear. I quickly robe myself and dart through the door. I relax at the sight of the Headmaster who is smiling that infuriating smile. I perform a quick drying spell on my hair and walk toward the two.

"Good morning, Severus."

*Piss off, Albus.*


"Harry was just telling me about his dream." I glance at Potter whose eyes are staring at the floor. His jaw clenches.

"Did you find him?" I ask and was answered by a nod.

"Just outside Hogsmeade. Disturbing," he says and lowers his eyes. I notice Potter watching me and I turn away from him. His gaze makes me uncomfortable. And my stomach burns with…loathing, I think.

"The boy's scar, Albus. Can Voldemort track him by it?" My voice is low, and I wish that I could talk to the Headmaster alone. Dumbledore won't meet my eyes. He knows something he isn't saying. And I will not find out until he is ready to tell me.

"Harry is safe here. As are you. So long as neither of you know where you are, Voldemort cannot find you." I can tell he's lying…or keeping something from me. I want to blast him into a hundred pieces, but I simply nod. I know, at least, we're safe. I'm sure the old man has seen to that.

"Sir, might I have a word in private?" I try, motioning to the bathroom. I can feel the boy's glare penetrate me. Dumbledore looks at me and shakes his head.

"I think it best if we all speak openly, don't you?" I clamp my jaw shut to keep from cursing him out loud. Speak openly, indeed. I'm sure I don't know anyone with more secrets than the man before me. Hypocrite. Damn him.

"The boy cannot be cooped up in this dungeon, Albus. Children need sunlight and fresh air," I say through clenched teeth. Despite myself, I look at the boy who is gaping up at me. Shocked to find that I am concerned about his welfare, no doubt. Despite the number of times I've saved the little bugger's life. Dumbledore is smiling again with amusement. I feel my wand hand twitch

"Of course, you're right, Severus. How thoughtful of you. I will see what I can arrange, but at the moment I fear the two of you must stay here. Sorry Harry. Severus, I have taken the liberty of bringing a few of your things. I'll pop in from time to time to check up on you."

After a little more small talk with the boy, Dumbledore leaves. Harry goes to shower and I am left wondering how in the hell I'm going to get through the summer.