Nothing Else Matters

Disclaimer: The plot is mine, but all the main characters belong to the imagination of J.K. Rowling. I do not profit from any of them.

What if Severus took custody of Harry Potter shortly after Harry was dumped on the Dursley's doorstep by Dumbledore?

Warning: This is AU and NOT canon-compliant. Nasty Dumbledore and Sirius. Unusual happenings.

Constructive reviews, suggestions or comments are welcome, but flaming my story or me personally is not!

Story title is courtesy of Metallica, composers Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, Lyrics album, Elektra Entertainment, 1991.

Chapter 1

Severus Snape, 21, walked quickly home in the cold and light rain from his job in the Potions Research department of St. Mungo's. He had apparated from the hospital to within a mile of his home at Cheyne Place in Chelsea, London and walked the rest of the way. It felt good after being inside all day around dozens of constantly brewing cauldrons. Until recently, he had flooed home because of the danger of being kidnapped by Voldemort, who had wanted a Potion Master to brew his deadly potions, but since his demise at the hands of 15 month-old Harry Potter, he could once again move about freely. He still kept his eyes out for renegade Death Eaters, but his defensive skills were formidable and he felt himself in no danger from them.

Severus was tall, lanky with eyes so dark they looked black and thick, raven-black, shoulder-length hair. His face was pale and his nose was long, but not out of proportion to the rest of his face. He slowed as he suddenly noticed he had somehow wandered into King's Road. The shops were decorated for Christmas with colorful lights and the windows were filled with all kinds of expensive items.

He smiled and his eyes watered as he remembered his best friend, Lily Evans Potter. She had loved Christmas and whenever they'd gone to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, she used to drag him into practically every store. Unfortunately, she had died on October 31st protecting her son from Voldemort. Although they had been best friends since nine, when Lily had started dating James Potter, their friendship had waned because of Potter's jealousy and dislike, but they had managed to keep in loose contact despite it. He owled her congratulations when she'd given birth to her son and she owled him congratulations when he had received his Potion Mastery late last year. He was now the youngest Potion Master ever in wizarding Britain. The truth was Lily was the only woman he had ever loved and he would give anything if he could talk to her again. His heart had frozen when he heard about her murder and he didn't think it would ever thaw again. He had heard that Dumbledore had given her son to his Muggle relations to raise. He knew Lily would have had a fit if she knew her son had been given to Petunia. He was jerked out of his reverie when something slammed into his shin and pain shot up his leg. He looked down to see a small child, looking up at him with almond-shaped emerald green eyes.

"I told you to watch where you're going, you worthless freak!" A familiar voice shrieked. Petunia raised her hand to slap Harry, but Severus grabbed her arm, preventing her.

"Snape!" Petunia screeched.

"Hello, Petunia. Long time no see," Severus sneered, squeezing her arm hard enough to cause a look of alarm. He gave her a shove and bent down, scooping the child up into his arms. He smiled at him. "You must be Lily's son, Harry." The lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead confirmed it. He noticed immediately that the child was ill-dressed for the cold weather, wearing a thin jacket, a ragged T-shirt and shorts, holey socks and trainers that were much too big for him. He noticed, too, that his little hands and legs were bright red with cold and he was shivering. He wrapped his coat around the little boy to keep him warm.

"Give the freak back to me!" Petunia demanded

Severus looked at the stroller she'd been pushing. It contained a child whom Severus knew to be around the same age as Harry, but was about the size of a baby whale. He was dressed in a warm snow suit with the hood over his head, a scarf wrapped around his throat and mouth, wearing boots, mittens, and gloves.

"Well, you won't have to worry about Harry anymore, Petunia. I'm taking him off your hands."

"Go ahead!" Petunia screeched. "He was left on our doorstep without our permission and without any notice. We didn't even know anything had happened to my freak sister."

"Goodbye, Petunia." Severus said and hurried into a nearby alley before he lost his temper and turned her into a skunk; he turned and disapparated into his backyard. It was a bit slippery from the rain, but he managed to land without falling down. He entered the back door, stopping to remove the mud from his shoes with a wave of his wand. "Tita?" He called as he entered the ground floor kitchen.

The elf popped into the kitchen. She was only a bit taller than Harry and was dressed in a long red flannel gown and wore leather slippers on her feet. "What can Tita do for Mr. Severus …" Her voice trailed off as she saw the child peeking out of Severus' coat.

"Tita, this is Harry and he's going to be staying with us. Harry, this is Tita who looks after me and is really the boss here, but is nice enough to let people think I am," He joked. "Tita, would you please draw a warm bath for Harry while I call mum."

"Tita will be happy to take care of the young master." She disappeared with another pop. Severus carried Harry up a short flight of stairs to his first floor living room. His grandparents, Tiberius and Audra Prince had bought him the house as a gift when he attained his Potion's Mastery at the age of twenty. Severus shook his head. Why they thought he needed a seven bedroom home he'd never understand, but still it had some amenities he did like such as the roof terrace, the conservatory, the garden and the swimming pool and sauna in the basement. The house was also heavily warded and under the Fidelius Charm with his grandfather as the Secret Keeper. His mum's house in Manchester was the also under the same protective spells. Severus put down Harry while he hung up his coat. He noticed the little boy was still shivering, picked him up, snatched up the afghan from the back of the couch, and wrapped it around him. He took some floo powder out of a small china cauldron on the mantle, knelt down in front of the fireplace, threw it into the fireplace and said, "Snape house, Spinner's End, Manchester." He stuck his head into the flames.

His mother, Eileen came over to the fireplace and knelt down in front of it. "Sev, what a nice surprise. How are you, darling?"

Severus shrugged. "Okay, Mum, but some days are better than others."

"I know, Sev. We all miss Lily terribly."

"Can you and dad come through? I need your expertise."

"Of course. We'll be there in a few minutes."

"Thanks Mum." Severus got up and moved out of the way so his mother and father could come through. His mum was a Potion Mistress and a Pediatric Healer. His father, Tobias, had worked for years at the largest cotton mill in Manchester and when it had gone out of business in the early seventies, he had started his own business crafting fine wood furniture and he was so successful, he opened a branch in Birmingham and would be opening a branch in London after the first of the year.

Eileen came through first. She tall and slender built with the same raven-black hair and dark eyes as Severus had. Tobias was a bit shorter, with black hair now shot through with gray, a rugged face with startlingly blue eyes, the same nose as Severus, but a still lean midriff.

"Sev, who's this little angel you're holding?" Eileen asked in surprise.

"Mum, this is Lily's son, Harry." Severus went on to explain how he'd taken Harry from Petunia. "I think they were abusing him so I want you to examine him."

"Of course, Sev. Why don't you lay him on the couch for me?" Eileen replied.

Severus laid Harry on the couch. "There's nothing to be afraid of, little guy. Nobody's going to hurt you and I'll be right here." He stepped out of the way, but still remained in his line of vision.

"Well now, little fellow, let's see what makes you tick," Eileen said in the tone she generally used to soothe scared children. She tickled Harry's stomach, causing him to giggle. She moved her wand over Harry, starting at his head and down to his feet. In a few seconds a piece of parchment appeared. Eileen studied it. "Malnourished …bad bruising … no broken bones, thank Merlin." She shook his head. "Your suspicions are correct, Sev. Somebody in that house is definitely abusing him; hitting him hard enough to bruise from the look of things."

"It looks as if he hasn't had a bath in a while either," Tobias commented. He bent and picked Harry up. He didn't look frightened or start crying. He just looked at him curiously.

"This is my dad, Harry. He won't hurt you either."

Eileen quickly wrote out a list and handed it to Severus. "Sev, will you floo home and get me these potions, please."

Severus nodded. "Okay, I'll be back. He stepped out of the fireplace in a few moments, holding a box containing the potions and salves Eileen had requested. There was some baby fever reducer, baby pepper-up potion, and a baby nutrient potion. "The nutrient potion contains an extra ingredient to encourage Harry's appetite," Eileen explained.

"Thanks Mum. I can brew these as soon as I get Harry settled into a routine."

"Don't worry about it, Sev. I have plenty of these on hand and if you need anything, you can fire-call me."

"Your mum always brews double portions," Tobias said.

Before they bathed Harry, Severus took pictures of the way he was dressed and they removed his clothing, a piece at a time, and Severus photographed the bruising on his body. His underpants were torn and filthy.

"I can't believe anybody would abuse Harry. He's so sweet," Eileen remarked, shaking her head. "Not even Petunia."

"You remember, Mum, how jealous she was of Lily being a witch? How she used to call us freaks all the time?"

"Yes, I do remember, but that she'd take out her jealousy on a baby …" Eileen shook her head again. "I'm glad you took Harry away from her, Sev."

Severus wrapped Harry in a fluffy towel and carried him into the bathroom. "Mum, could you test the water for me to make sure it's not too hot?"

Eileen bent and put her hand in the water, leaving it in for a few seconds. "No, it's nice and warm."

Severus carefully lowered Harry into the tub. He felt Harry tense up and murmured, "It's okay, little guy. It won't hurt you."

Harry began to relax as the warm water felt very soothing. Eileen transfigured some bath toys for him to play with and soon he was giggling and splashing the water, getting Severus wet as he was bathing him. Severus gently washed and rinsed his hair being very careful not to get any soap in his eyes. He lifted Harry out of the tub, wrapping him in a thick warmed towel. That's one of the things he liked most about his home – the automatic towel warmers in the bathrooms.

"We'll have to go shopping tomorrow, Sev and get Harry warm clothing," Eileen said as she transfigured a washcloth into underpants for Harry.

Once Severus had Harry dry, he applied the bruise salve to his bruises and then slipped on his underpants. He transfigured a towel into warm green pajamas with feet and got Harry into them. He settled Harry on his hip. "Are you and dad staying for dinner?"

"Yes, we'll stay."

"Would you take Harry while I take a quick shower and change?" Severus was still attired in the Muggle surgical scrubs he wore to work. He found them cool and comfortable to wear in a hot lab with constantly brewing cauldrons, but now they were soaked in spots from all of Harry's splashing.

"Of course, Sev," Eileen replied. She lifted Harry out of Severus' arms and into hers.

"You go with mum, Harry and I'll be there shortly." Severus said. Once they left the room, Severus put Harry's bath toys in a safe place and took a quick shower and changed into a jumper, jeans and trainers. He went back downstairs into the living room. Despite its size, the room felt cozy. His mum and grandmother had painted in warm colors and had furnished it with comfortable furniture. His study which was off the living room was more masculine with a walnut desk and bookcases that lined the walls. There was a matching file cabinet next to his desk where he kept his notes on his personal potions research. Unlike in the Muggle world, any potion discoveries he made on his own time did not automatically belong to St. Mungo's just because they employed him.

Tita popped into the room. "Mr. Severus, Tita has dinner on the table in the dining room."

"Thank you, Tita," Severus replied.

Eileen took a log from the fireplace and transfigured it into a highchair for Harry, but he refused to let go of Severus long enough for him to place him in it. "Well, I guess it won't hurt for him to sit on my lap." He looked at the food on the table. There was a roast chicken, stuffing, roasted potatoes, baked squash and steamed carrots. "Do you think Harry will be able to eat this or should I ask Tita to prepare some baby food for him?" Severus asked his mum.

"He got all of his baby teeth so he should be able to eat it if you cut his food into bite-size pieces." Eileen replied. "Children his age really like food they can eat with their fingers."

Severus nodded. He cut a slice of chicken in small pieces along with a few carrots, a roasted potato. He noticed how Harry's eyes widened as he set the plate of food down in front of him. He transfigured his glass into a Sippy cup, poured some milk into it and added some of the nutrient potion. Thankfully, nutrient potions did not have any discernable taste so Harry would never know it was in there. Severus was surprised that he ate most of the chicken, some of the carrots and potatoes and even a few spoonfuls of baked squash before he started turning his head away. He did drink all of his milk though. He could tell Harry was getting sleepy, too. Eileen noticed it and said. "Maybe, you should be getting Harry to bed, Sev. We have to be going anyway."

"Yeah, he is nodding off. It's probably because it's the first time he's had a full stomach since October. Thanks for all your help, Mum, Dad."

"You're more than welcome, Sev," Eileen replied. "If you have any questions or problems, let me know."

Tobias nodded. "I'll probably being seeing a lot more of you as we're getting the new store closer to opening."

Eileen gave Sev a kiss and said, "I'll see you in the morning."

When his parents had left, Severus took Harry upstairs to his bedroom. His bedroom was large with big fireplace between two bookcases. The room was painted a sea green color and had oak woodwork. He laid Harry on his bed and cast a barrier spell on Harry's side of the bed so he couldn't accidently roll off. He went a grabbed a log out of the big copper cauldron, that held the logs for the fireplace, and transfigured it into a crib for Harry. He got a cotton ball from the bathroom and transfigured it into a mattress and got two handkerchiefs form his dresser drawer and transfigured them into a sheet and quilt. He removed the barrier and lifted Harry up. He woke with a start and eyed Severus sleepily. He started to lower him into the crib, but Harry started to scream and clung to Severus for dear life. He suddenly realized why Harry didn't want to sleep there, considering what had happened the very last time he had been in a crib. He held Harry tightly, alternately patting his back and rubbing small circles around it while walking around the room. Harry sobs began to subside into sniffles.

Severus carried him over to the book cases. He kept some books on the shelves, but mostly personal items. He grabbed a picture off one of the shelves. It was a picture of him and Lily, dressed in their Hogwarts robes, their arms wrapped around each other, and big smiles on both their faces. The Hogwarts Express could be seen in the background of the picture. "Look here, Harry. This is your mum, Lily, and me before we left for Hogwarts our first year. Your grandmother Evans took it. I wish you could have known your grandparents. They were great people who always treated me like a member of their family. I miss them as much as I do your mum." He put that picture back on the shelf and took down another one. "Here's another one of your mum and me, but this was taken before we left for our final year." Like the other one, he and Lily had their arms wrapped around one another, but this shot was somewhat spoilt by Potter, Black, and Pettigrew glowering in the background. Severus put the picture up again. "Your mum was beautiful and the top witch in our year. She was brilliant at Charms and almost as good as me at Potions." He reached up again and grabbed a book off one of the shelves. "How would you like me to read to you? Lily gave me this book for Christmas our fourth year. It's a Christmas story called A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. He lived in the 1800's during the reign of Queen Victoria." Severus settled himself in the comfortable green suede recliner with Harry on his lap and began to read, "Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

He looked down at Harry who was yawning and rubbing his eyes. Severus read a few more pages until Harry had fallen fast asleep, resting against him. Severus yawned and set the book on the table next to his chair. He felt tired, too, so he put the recliner far enough back so the footrest came up. Severus repositioned Harry so he was lying on his chest and his messy hair that stuck out all over, was tickling his chin. Severus put his arms around Harry and thought about Lily as he listened to Harry's soft breathing. He missed her so much that he swore he'd give up all the gold in his vault at Gringotts if he could talk with her, hear her voice and her laughter once again. He had drifted off into a light doze when he suddenly woke up, to find himself and Harry being covered by the afghan his grandmother had made him that usually lay folded at the foot of his bed. He looked up, expecting to see Tita since she often covered him when he fell asleep on the couch in his study. What he wasn't expecting to see was the person who was standing next to him and smiling at him.