TITLE: Medusa Child

AUTHOR: Marie-J

1 RATING: R for now… maybe more later

DISCLAIMER: J K Rowling owns Harry Potter and its characters. I'm just borrowing them

2 PAIRING: SS with… well, you'll see. I don't even know yet myself…

SUMMARY: a dying baby abandoned in the Forbidden Forrest, brought up by magical creatures, returned to the wizarding world years later to become one Severus Snape... but not really as we know him…

NOTES: This story is based on a plot generously offered to me by Azrael. It can be considered AU, even if we don't really know anything about Severus' life and childhood in canon universe. It will be slash and mpreg later on, but not now. It's really more of a saga, the story life of our dear Potions Master than anything… meaning it will be long and cover more than thirty years of life and adventures. As always, drama, angst, mad ideas, a little humour at times… and romance at one time…

ARCHIVE : mpreg and ff.net. Anyone who would like it, but ask first, please.

STATUS: WIP

Azrael, this story is yours as well as mine. Thank you so much !

Dear reader, welcome into this new adventure !



CHAPTER 1: An abandon, an adoption.

People always assume a lot of things. It had always been this way with human beings and more particularly in wizarding society. Well, Severus Snape knew better than falling in this trap. One of his strongest principle could be summed up into three short sentences. 'Either you know or you don't know. Never assume. It could get yourself killed.' Not that any school had taught it to him. Experience only, and the education and the advises of the wisest creature earth had ever bore on its surface, could have carved it in the deepest parts of his mind.

People always assume things: the safest place for a child is under the natural and magical protection of his or her blood relatives. Well, that was quite true for gryffindor families like the Weasleys. Who would ever think that anything but love and deep caring could come out of Molly Weasley ? That was the typical example for that oh so common assumption. Severus Snape once again knew better than trusting this eternal 'social law'. His thirty five years of life had taught him better…

One other common assumption in the English wizarding society: the highest creature on earth is the wizard, quickly followed by muggles. All other sentient being is either meant to be their servant or are evil cruel monsters. And the Forbidden Forrest is the place where creatures of this second category were hiding in the dark, waiting for the occasion to act on their violent instincts on the first wizard mad enough to wander the dark paths of this haunted woods. And of that last belief, Tom Marvolo Riddle, the man who was preparing himself to become Lord Voldemort, had had no doubts.

That's the reason why, on this cold night of February 1965, the already dark wizard apparated at the edge of the Forrest, near Hogsmeade, in a desert field of rocs and heather. His large black hooded cloak was hiding his figure and face to anyone he would have encountered here… if anyone was crazy enough to be outside, at this hour and in this snow storm. His pace was amazingly rapid and secured, in the middle of this strong wind and this blinding snow. He was advancing decidedly along a small path entering the first rings of the woods. The screams of the beasts and the strange howls that seemed to follow him every step of his walk in this God Forsaken place didn't seem to frighten him in the slightest. He was a man with a mission, after all, and, vain as he was, he was sure he was strong enough and fully prepared to defend himself against any danger he could meet there.

He had chosen that night to dispose of a liability. An experiment turned wrong that could very well incriminate him if discovered. Tom Marvolo Riddle was utterly confident in his power and had, in the last ten years, developed his understanding of the Dark Arts to such a point that there was no one in the world who could defeat him in a duel or otherwise… save maybe for the old fool Dumbledore. His ambitions now engulfed the domination of the whole Wizarding Society, and well… of the world too. But he was not ready to go public right now, to take the risk of being exposed for what he was too early. He needed to seduce and gather faithful followers first. To build an army to backup his ambitions. And in order to do that, he couldn't afford leaving traces of his dark crimes behind himself.

And this one was maybe one of his darkest, cruellest one. A crime that was casting him definitely out of the category of the human beings. Under his black coat, Riddle was carrying the beaten and injured body of a little child, no more than three or four years old… his child, his own son. Well, not that he considered it as such. A bastard, an inconvenience… nothing more. Born by one of his lovers… a little pureblood thing, all sweet and innocent, he had been delighted to seduce and ruin. 15 years old, from the highest wizarding society… a Potter, a direct heir of Godric Gryffindor, nothing less ! Beautiful but so stupid. She had been a challenge, nothing more. Used for a few months and then discarded and sent back to her family. Riddle would be a name that would never be heard with joy in the Potter Household, that was for sure ! Her older brother, Harrold Daniel Potter, had sworn he would avenge her lost honour in Tom's blood… He would have included James, his new-born son, in the oath if his little wife hadn't stopped him ! Well, he could try… and die in the process !

But she wouldn't let go, the little Anna Potter. No, she wanted him back so badly… she was in love, the little fool. It was comical, really ! She had fled her shameful and angry family once more and come back to him, telling him she was four months pregnant, that he had to take her in, that it was his duty, as a father-to-be… And she had thought she could keep him in her bed by giving him an heir, thinking she could order him around. How foolish of her, really ! How wrong of her. He had no need of a family right now, if ever. That would only come in his way, against his precious ambitions. But the child… well, many dark magic or dark potion could be done with a baby, or even better, the sacrifice of one's offspring… That could represent a lot of power and disregarding it would not be very Slytherin of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

So he had kept the pregnant girl locked in one room of the Riddle Mansion for the next five months. Well, once, she had tried to escape, in the middle of her eighth month. She had finally understood how little he 'cared' for her… It had taken her enough time, the idiot ! She didn't go very far, however. He had stopped her in the loby, three feet away from the door… A Petrificus Totalis to stop her… and a few tastes of Cruciatus to punish her and teach her what it cost to cross him… How angry he had been… such a fury… it had been delectable, so pleasurable, this little torture session… Maybe a little too brutal and carried away in fact. Not that he cared about her suffering, no. But the shock of the cruciatus curse had started the labour and … damaged the fœtus.

Twenty hours after the failed escape tentative, their son was born blind and extremely weakened. The little baby had not even cried, his lungs too feeble for even that. He was staring around himself blindly, through his white burnt retina, searching for a comforting presence that had already faded away. The mother had had the good idea of dying in the process, saving Riddle the bother to kill her himself. Her body, abandoned in the middle of the Forbidden Forrest would never be found, leaving her family in an eternal doubt as to what had happened to young sweet Anna Mary Potter.

Only a strengthening spell cast by the avid dark wizard had saved the baby's life. Soon, his blood, his skin, his pain, little samples of his bones were used to make the darkest potions, to cast the strongest curses. Soon, the baby who had never, since he had taken his first breath, known safety, discovered pain, torture and excruciating sufferings. Not a week without feeling the cold and violent hands of the monster who had lost the right to be called his father on his little beaten and weak body, cutting him, bruising him, drawing blood and leaving awful scars. Torture was the baby boy's day to day life. He had come to expect it eagerly, as the only real contact he had with any other human being.

And yet, left in the care of a house elf, the baby boy had survived, despite all the abuse, despite his loneliness, despite his hunger for love and comfort. In the baby's boy mind, there was a faint memory of a time when he had a mother, when she was literally surrounding him with her warmth, when she was talking to him softly, taking care of his every need and feeding him her passion and feelings. There was still this instinctive hope that he would one day find this same safety again… Each day, a new part of him was dying. The baby boy was fading away a little more each day. Whatever subterfuge and spell Riddle found to keep him alive, the process was on the way. The baby boy was letting himself die slowly but surely.

At three and a half years old, the boy appeared to be no more than eighteen months old. He was blind, couldn't speak, didn't communicate anymore, not even by crying. He was so feeble that even the strongest healing potion would not keep him alive more than one more month. As cold and cruel as ever, Riddle had noticed it and decided to do a last dark potion before finally discarding the failure that was his flesh and blood. An Invulnerability Potion, in which the brewer had to add the heart of a rat who had been feeding on the youngest offspring of the wizard for whom it was made. Locking the baby in the cellar for five minutes had been enough. Riddle now had at his disposal ten rat hearts… and the blooded and dying body of a little child to hide from curious eyes. Hence the night trip to the Forbidden Forrest.

The child, his son, had no name. No… why would he have been gifted something that would have made him a human being, a person, when his own father considered him an object, an experiment turned wrong, a failure, a mere piece of garbage? For all his father cared, he was only a piece of meat and the fact that he was still breathing, in spite of all his injuries and infirmities, was only a detail. The child had no identity. No one knew of his existence. The child had no family. No one would be looking for him. The child had nothing. The child was nothing. And soon enough, his body would be eaten by the local monsters, no longer a liability, no longer a proof to be used against him. Nothing would be left of the child and it would be for the best. Good riddance !

At the moment Riddle abandoned his light burden in the middle of a clearing, the dark wizard felt no fear, no regret, no guilt, no shame. Five minutes later, after he had apparated away, he had almost forgotten he had ever had a son, whom he had tortured and abused for three years and condemned to a sure death. He had forgotten he had destroyed the lives of a 15 years old beautiful and generous girl and of her baby boy. For him, it was only the beginning of a dark and immense destiny, the first step on the way of the realisation of his oh so high ambitions.

******

To disrupt another of those assumptions of the English wizarding society, the best word to describe the Forbidden Forrest wasn't chaos but balance. The sentient beings that were its inhabitants were more often than not smart and had constituted a real society… or a patchwork of micro- societies, clans and species groups. They coexisted together, with their traditions and their own rules. Often times, they could even band together in order to defend the Forrest against any attack or invasion. Their ways could be brutal or harsh most of the times, dictated by their primary needs, but in a more global vision, peace and order generally reigned over the community of magical beings.

Each one knew its place and territories, and no war for domination or extermination of other specie was ever started in this loose federation of sorts… Not that a few species, like the vampires or the giant spiders had no ambitions… they had been known in the past for trying one or two attacks against their more peaceful neighbours to increase their territories quite successfully, in fact. But their actions had always been annihilated and the balance re-established and restored.

Balance was the key word. And to see at its enforcement, the strongest, wisest and oldest magical creatures had installed themselves as the protectors of the whole community as well as the referee in all kind of conflicts. Tradition, force and reverence assured their success. Their decisions were followed, as much because they were feared as because they were respected.

In the English Forbidden Forrest, for the last three millennia, this particular place, function and honour had been attributed to a creature only known under the name of Medusa. This wise lady, immortal child of the gods, and heir of the natural forces, possessed a tremendous amount of primal power no other could match. She had been conceived to be the perfect mix between woman and snake. The mere fact of seeing her face was fatal. The fool who dared to threaten, attack or defy her was instantly petrified, with no chance of ever being reanimated, even by the most potent potion or healing spell. And twice fool would be the one who would forget her immense magical abilities both to defend and to attack.

And yet, her looks, which very few had been granted the honour to see safely, were full of wilderness, grace and beauty. Her slender and tall female figure seemed to be sliding above the ground and dancing in the wind. Her white skin was shining in the rare places where it wasn't covered with layer after layers of green, brown and golden veils. But her most striking and mesmerising characteristic would instil fear and awe in the heart of any observer, if it didn't bring death. Instead of hair, hundreds of living snakes of all colours, species and length were framing her pale face. Boas, aspics, cobras, najas, adders, and so many other were slithering on her shoulders and down her back, some of them erected in the air around Medusa's head, forming a horrendous and yet splendid halo.

On that same night of February, this powerful lady was seriously accomplishing one of her self imposed duties while walking idly in so well known paths : checking the magical wards she had settled all around the Forrest perimeter to monitor any intrusion. No one could enter without being noticed and observed. The innocent wizard who only wished to collect a few ingredients for potions, for example, or the good hearted persons who had taken a true passion for the Forrest and its inhabitants and genuinely helped them, like this half giant, Hagrid, were left alone. Medusa could even feel respect and friendship for a few of them she had come to watch discreetly over time. She was protecting them too, understanding very well that too many attacks and deaths would unmistakably lead to reprisals and disorder from angry humans. But people trespassing the borders of her world ill-intentioned, to hunt or to kill mindlessly were fair game for the natural predators and the magical creatures they had come to attack.

On that particular night, Medusa had nearly finished her inspection when one of the alarms went off in her mind, informing her that someone had crossed over the edge near the wizard village. Apparating immediately in this sector, she soon focussed her attention on a dark hooded figure walking quickly in the direction of the blue licorn's clearing. She couldn't see the intruder clearly, only guessing at its stature and moves that it was a man, young, and strong. The spells he was coming across gave her more details about him. A wizard, obviously. Alone and, at first impression, not here to bring trouble to her people.

But her feelings and instincts were not at ease. The sharp senses of her snakes had given her all the practical and tangible indications, but her own eyes, blind to the lights, forms and colours that surrounded her, could read auras, minds and hearts. The closer to him she came and the more her inner senses were set off by this stranger. He was surrounded by black and angry red storms of cold ruthlessness, madness and lust for power and domination. No innocence left in him… that was for sure. Blood and sadism had deeply tainted this man.

That was exactly the kind of auras Medusa hated to read. It was like a hard slap hitting her in the face, freezing her with dread and anger. It always left a bitter trace in her mind, as if she somehow could hear the screams and pleas of this human monster's victims. And she had already heard them… they were not so many yet, but they came from the torture sessions of the same wizard… oh, yes… she had seen this despicable man before… in the past ten years, he had come to abandon many murdered and tortured bodies to rot or be devoured in the Forrest. Medusa had never done anything against him… no harm had been intended against her domain and her politic was of total non-intervention in human matters not interfering with the destiny of the Forrest. But seeing those broken existences, those lives destroyed so mercilessly…she understood the necessity of killing to survive or to protect, even, more questionably maybe, in war or conquest, but there, it seemed to be gratuitous, by mere… pleasure… something totally foreign to her honour and understanding.

There had been this teenager, no more than sixteen years old, whose face was still contorted with pain even in the liberation of death. She was not the only victim of this dark … thing. Far from it, in fact. But she was the one for whom Medusa had felt the more sorrow and compassion. One look at her had told her the whole story. The girl had been weakened so much that the monster had been sure she would die in childbirth. She had been too thin and signs of torture were still visible. She had never even seen her baby. She could have been a mother, she could have loved and been loved unconditionally, she could have shared every moment of the life of the tiny being whom she had given life.

But this dark figure had stolen that from her. Oh so cruelly ! If there was one thing her immortality and her immense power hadn't given to Medusa, and very likely would never give her either, it was motherhood. Medusa and her two sisters were unique and could search till the end of the world for a partner to conceive an offspring without ever finding one. And that was her only desire, her most painful regret, her eternal need, having a child… being a mother. No wonder that such a case would have hurt her more than any other she could come across in her millennia, by empathy if nothing more. Even three years later, she still felt waves of anger rise in her heart against this particular intruder.

Shaking away those memories and thoughts from her mind, Medusa finally focused her attention back on the present. The teenage girl was in the past. The bundle so carelessly thrown over the killer shoulder was in the present. And if she had to trust the macabre series this particular wizard had begun, it could not be anything but a new victim. Stepping a little closer, still making sure that she wasn't seen by the intruder, she was finally able to sharpen her perception of the spectacle unfolding in front of her. The very sensitive tongues of her snakes had detected a strong smell of blood, fresh blood. There was now no doubt left about the goal of this intrusion. And that meant that Medusa would have to perform the Ritual yet again, to take care of the Dead to ease their passing to the Other Side. Who did they think they were… and they thought the magical creatures were all brutal and heartless monsters? How arrogant they could be, those humans ! Leaving their victims here to be devoured, without giving them any respect and denying them the Eternal Rest… Who were the monsters?

Sighing to herself, the Protector of the Forbidden Forrest took a moment to calm herself. It was not the first time, since the moment, years ago, she had seen this dark figure stepping into her domain, that she had wondered if she could not, for once, forget about her own rules and bring justice to this true monster, each time wondering if it would be fair to risk the safety of her Woods in order to avenge those human murders. And like each time, once again, wisdom and practicality told her to let humans take care of human matters. But her patience had become very thin, with each victim. She had even come to hope that this killer would attack her domain so that she could finally let her anger loose and bring a little practical justice to the world… No such luck.

The dark figure had now stopped in the clearing and unceremoniously thrown his burden at his feet, in the snow. Turning his back to his crime, he was already walking away from his abandoned victim, as coldly as if he had only rid himself of a piece of garbage. Medusa watched him carefully, her disgust clearly following each of his despicable moves. Once again the same hesitation rose in her mind… once again discarded. There was nothing to do except to go and check what could only be a corpse, before it could be buried under the snow.

Steeling herself for her macabre duty, Medusa hurried to the clearing and, kneeling beside the dark bundle, pulled aside the black blanket in which the body had been wrapped… and gasped in horror. The vision her snakes had given her sent a violent chill through her, making her dizzy. A child. Still a baby. So innocent… A baby, for God's sake ! In blood… so much blood, cuts and bruises every where. His poor little face… God, his face ! What have they done to this child ?

Medusa couldn't stop the sob that escaped from her throat nor the tear that fell from her eyes on the baby's face. She advanced a shaking hand toward the tiny cheek to wipe it away, in an instinctive gesture of respect, sorrow and deep compassion. The first contact made her gasp once again… in surprise and hope, this time. The skin was still warm and… yes, the baby boy still had a faint and fragile aura around him… this bright white light shining its innocence and fear… and fading more and more with every second. The baby boy was still alive. Terribly hurt and agonising, but alive never the less.

This time, there was no doubt in Medusa's mind. She would act, no matter her non intervention politic. The child had been abandoned here, given to the Forbidden Forrest, to her, in a way, after all. His destiny, his protection, were her responsibility too now. She had to try to heal him. Anything else would be unthinkable. She would do anything in her power for this child… so tiny… so innocent… so hurt. Reaching even further with her mind, and wrapping the baby in the warmth of her magic, she began the long and difficult process. Infusing the little body, mending it with her energy, sharing her health with him, trying to force the pain, the cold and the death away: it would be a long battle, but Medusa refused the mere idea of defeat. Tendril after tendril of repairing power, she worked on the deepest wounds, stopping the bleeding here and there, passing her hands over his little chest, head and back.

But despite her efforts, she could still feel the boy's life slipping away a little more with every second… sliding away from her grasp. And with every second, Medusa was becoming more and more desperate to save the baby boy, more and more determined to put her whole being in the battle if need be. In a last chance to reverse the process, she reached more deeply in the child's aura, to try and identify the cause of this dire situation that was taking away her hopes little by little. Focussing her attention on his state of mind, on his feelings, on his memories, on his expectations, she searched frantically for minutes that seemed to last hours. He was so sad… an ocean of sadness and despair. Diving in it was so difficult, so harsh to take in, but finally she found the answer to her question.

It was as if the baby had lost the will to survive, to live anymore. He had suffered too much, known nothing else in the three years or so he had been kept alive. You couldn't even call that existence a life. For a long time, he had been hungry for affection, any token that would remind him the love of a mother, the comfort of the womb. But this hope, this craving had faded away, leaving behind only an emotional vacuum. And now, the child had been offered an escape from his suffering, both physical and emotional and mental, through death… and couldn't find any reason to fight, to go on hurting like that when he could embrace this blessed void.

Of course, those suicidal thoughts were not and could not be expressed so clearly in the baby's consciousness; he was too young, too simple yet for that. But his unconscious mind and his wounded heart were radiating with them. And reading them tore at Medusa's heart and mother instincts. Healing the body would never be sufficient. She would have to treat the mind and the heart too, and in priority… to reach for his inner self and convince him to go on living.

And so she started to send him wave after wave of her sincerest feelings, searching for a way to comfort him. Compassion came first, along with pity and a fervent wish to see him healthy, to erase his pains and make his life better, her dedication to fight for his well being. But that wasn't enough. It was maybe a little appeasing for the baby's wounded spirit, to know that someone cared what had happened to him and had some sympathy. But it wasn't enough. And Medusa tried harder, shielding the baby's soul with every ounce of warmth that she could muster. And still it was not enough to anchor the baby's spirit into life.

He still had nothing more in life than he would have in death, still nothing to expect in a future life. She was just soothing his passing right now. The baby boy needed something else, a reason to choose life over the eternal rest he craved. Medusa would have to give much more, offer promises much more personal, and sincere, if she still wanted to save him. Promises she would have to keep… no matter what.

Medusa took a short moment to consider the situation. In her next move, if she chose to make it, was hidden an engagement to the child she could never break. She was now aware that if she saved the baby's life, she would be responsible for it, she would have to take care of him, protect him, and more than anything, love him, be a mother to him. For nothing less could lure the baby back into life. She had a second of hesitation, while pondering her choices, let the baby die or become his mother, but then her centuries old desire came rushing back at her, erasing any doubt left in her mind and heart. She had already chosen, the moment she had found out he was alive, her maternal instinct had kicked in. She had already embraced motherhood. It was now time to show it to her son.

Deciding to mix both mental and physical stimulation, Medusa started to pass her healing hands over the weak body while her spirit was projecting pictures of herself as a loving and gentle mother in the baby's mind. She was showing him how loving she would be, holding him on her heart, stroking his cheek, kissing softly his forehead, gently rubbing his shoulders and keeping him safe from anything, from anyone. Each image was even more heartfelt and compelling than the previous one. She was making her best to attract and lock his attention on her and her promises, and not on the alluring numbness of death. If only she could awake his interest, if she could convince him to give her a chance, to give himself a chance…

After a moment, which could have been seconds or hours, Medusa couldn't say for sure, the link between them was no longer one sided. During an agonising time, Medusa had felt absolutely no reaction to her mental ministrations. She had been keeping on sending images and warm feelings, but still not detecting any sign that the baby had even acknowledged them, let alone answered to them. The longer it went on this way, the more she was getting desperate and distraught. What if he was too far gone ? What if he was already too eager to die to even pay attention to any way to escape his dire destiny? In a last attempt, she sent all her soul to reach for his and wrap it in all the care and affection she could muster, crying out to him, pleading in an urgent and yet tender tone "Come to me, my son ! Stay with your mother !".

And then it happened. A little spark of interest appeared into the baby's soul, shining weakly at first, and then slowly increasing in intensity in the middle of the grey of the previous unfeeling detachment. It was not only interest, but confusion, puzzlement and wonder too. Progressively, he was turning away from his death wish, intrigued instead by this brand new sensation, this emotional comfort that he was promised. He had not felt it, received it since… before. Before the great shock, the great pain that had preceded all the hurt and cold that had been his life. This new warmth was compelling, singing to him, calling him to bathe himself in it. But it was terrifying too. It was too new, it was too well known. It was another promise. Like… before. And baby knew what came after promises… only hurt. Only pain, cold and loneliness.

He stood there, in his mind, absolutely still, as if hesitating between the two options he was presented. Peace and closure or love and a new beginning. And the voice came again, so soft, stroking gently his whole being, making him perceive the happiness he craved. "I love you my son, my baby boy. Come to me baby, come to mommy!" And that's just what he did. His soul reached for the lady's, his mother's, and locked with it, taking a steal grip on her life force, accepting her offer readily.

With this wonderful sensation, this enthusiastic acceptance of the adoption, Medusa increased the intensity of her healing trance. The danger was still great for the baby's health, if not for his life. The little body in her arms was so still, so weak, so cold. It was frighteningly light too. Such a feeble and fragile shell for such a strong soul… One by one, the last wounds stopped bleeding. Medusa's energy slowly infused a little strength back in the tired heart and organs, making them restart their activities. Life was slowly conquering back agonising territories that had been abandoned to death only a few minutes… or was it hours ago. But the process had been long and difficult. It was not only one cruel attack she had to repair. It was a whole life of abuse and deprivations. But finally, at the end of the night, while the first rays of light were appearing in the horizon, the baby's health was finally stable enough. Medusa's child was saved.