It was a long day, sorting through all the various replies she was getting. Of course, every year was like this. She had responses by owl, and she had responses by Muggle post. Those were the easy ones, albeit tedious. The worst ones were those which she hadn't heard from.
Professor McGonnagall sat in her office, reading the last of the responses to the invitations to attend Hogwarts. Getting the responses from the Muggle-borns was always an interesting prospect. Hogwarts, of course, rented a Muggle house and that was the address where those responses were sent. The mailbox had an automatic portkey in it so anything delivered there would appear on her desk immediately. And then all those blasted owls. Cleaning spells flew plentifully out of her wand during this time of year.
She checked off the names on her list of prospective students as she read through the replies. They had all been affirmative, except for two Muggle-borns. Well, that was the right of the parents, even if she disagreed with it. Carefully, she checked off the name of her final response. She was a Muggle-born, Hermione Granger, and her parents had been skeptical of the whole situation in the beginning. After a short demonstration, though, they were fully supportive of their daughter's educational prospects. Personally, Minerva was betting the girl would be a Ravenclaw, judging from reports she got of her bookish personality.
She sighed. Now the difficult part. She scoffed at the thought. As though this hadn't been difficult enough to begin with. But now she had to deal with those who hadn't bothered to give her an answer at all. Scanning her list quickly, she saw there were less and half a dozen in this category. Well, fewer than last year. She was doing well. But then she began to read those names.
Potter, Harry James
In the care of Vernon and Petunia Dursley
Her eyebrow shot up, and she couldn't help thinking of a certain potions master who would undoubtedly be quite proud of her feat. Vernon and Petunia Dursley. Petunia was Lily's sister, and if she remembered correctly, Petunia was no friend of the wizarding world. How often had she had to listen to Lily's tears after the holidays, or after having received a letter? And she doubted her husband would be any friendlier. Somehow, the lack of response disturbed her greatly.
She had warned Dumbledore about leaving Harry there that night ten years ago. But he hadn't listened. Since when had that old fool every listened to anyone? Well, probably back with what's-his-name for a friend. She huffed. Well, this was definitely a delicate situation. Potter definitely had to attend Hogwarts. Thankfully, they would not have to rely on the Dursley's cooperation for such, since Dumbledore was his magical guardian. But still, the Dursleys didn't know this and should have responded.
Making a decision suddenly, she summoned her patronus and sent it with a message through the hallways of Hogwarts. A few moments later, there was a knock on her door.
"Enter!" she called. The door opened Severus Snape slipped into the room. He walked to the front of her desk, placed his hands behind his back and looked at her.
"I trust you had something important to discuss with me?" he demanded. "I don't usually take kindly to anyone - even the headmaster - interrupting my brewing for Poppy."
"Of course, Severus," McGonnagall replied. "I have something of a problem, and I was hoping you could help me with it."
"Well? What is it?" he snapped back. What did the blasted woman want with him when the school year hadn't even started yet? Everyone knew to leave him alone during the summer. It was the only time he got to himself without little brats bothering him with all their problems. Yes, yes, he instructed them to bring their problems to him, but still, he appreciated some time to himself.
"I have an invitation which hasn't gotten a response," she explained. She stopped and looked at Severus.
"And?" he pressed. "I believe you have been the deputy headmistress long enough to know that protocol is to send a second invitation."
"Yes, of course, Severus," she said. "But I don't think that is necessarily the wisest or the most effective course of action in this case. I think someone should have a look in on this boy. Call it a feeling, but I think it should be discussed with him, even though he isn't a Muggle-born."
"And you want me to look in on the situation?" Severus cut in. "Minerva, you know I don't do that sort of thing. You know I spend the summer stock piling the infirmary with potions for your idiot Gryffindors who don't know how to save their own necks."
"Yes, I want you to look in on the situation," Minerva replied. "You're already running ahead of schedule on the potions. I need you to do this for me."
"Who is it?"
"Harry Potter." Severus looked like he was about to have a heart attack.
"You want me to look in on Potter?" he fairly growled at her. "Have you gone mad, woman?"
"Severus, I'm just concerned about the boy. You know Petunia wasn't fond of magic."
"Concerned? I'm sure Potter just thought himself above responding. Do you know how much they receive in return for taking care of the boy? The only thing you need concern yourself about is cavities in his teeth from all the sweets he probably gets, and his arrogant attitude."
"Severus!" Minerva said, sternly but gently. "I truly am concerned about the boy. I didn't like leaving the boy there in the beginning, and Albus insisted. I can't go to just anyone for this, since it isn't within protocol, and I don't need Albus knowing about it. Please just go check on him, and get his answer please? For me?"
"Fine," Severus barked sullenly. "But then you'll owe me a favor." Well, he might as well at least be able to get something in return for this most unpleasant favor.
"Of course, Severus," Minerva conceded readily. "Just please check on Harry soon."
"Will tonight be soon enough for you?"
"Yes," she said, smiling. "That will be most acceptable." How could she smile at him at a time like this? Being sent off to visit Potter's spawn and Lily's child, neither of which was a pleasant prospect, you would think the woman enjoyed this! He huffed at the thought.
Fine. He stood outside Number 4 Private Drive, and you could tell from the neighborhood that the Dursleys were very well off. Maybe not filthy rich, but certainly very, very comfortable. He narrowed his eyes at the thought of "checking" on Potter. This was absolutely ridiculous. How could Minerva not see that this was just a waste of time? The only good thing about this was that he would get a favor done for him most likely during the school year. And with Potter attending, he would definitely need one.
He hadn't bothered to change into Muggle clothes. Why should he? Petunia and Vernon knew of wizards of course, and he didn't care what others in the neighborhood thought of him. Coming up to the door, and rang the doorbell. Waiting a minute impatiently, he crossed his arms, and began tapping out a rhythm with his fingers. After what seemed an eternity, the door opened, and he returned to a neutral position.
"Snape!" a woman hissed at him.
"And this is Petunia Dursley I have the misfortune of addressing?" he threw back, with a sneer.
"Get off my porch," she said, her tone remarkably level.
"Trust me, Petunia," he drawled, "I want to be here as little as you want to have me. So let me finish my business here and we both can continue our lives as normally as we otherwise would." He placed his hand on the door, since he had a feeling it would soon be closed in his face. Whether he was right or not, he didn't know, because Petunia stepped aside and he stepped in.
"What do you want?" she said.
"Who is it?" a voice boomed from the kitchen.
"It's...one of them," Petunia called back. She sounded like she had just seen something particularly repulsive. Well, Severus felt he could sympathize at the moment. He smirked at the thought slightly. Vernon Dursley rounded the corner, and for a moment he and Severus sized each other up.
"I'm here to speak to Mr. Potter about his acceptance letter to Hogwarts, which he so conveniently ignored," Severus said, addressing both of them. "The faster I can see Mr. Potter, the faster we can have our talk, and the faster I will leave you. So if you please."
"He's not here," Vernon said.
"Then please, do tell me where he is," Severus said, bordering either curiosity or contempt, he wasn't sure which.
"How should we know where he is?" Petunia said.
"I do believe you should know where your nephew - a near eleven year old - is," he drawled back. Perhaps there was something to Minerva's concern?
"He's over at a friend's house," Vernon assured him. "After all, it's his birthday today, so he went visiting. He won't be back until supper. So maybe you should come back another time?" Severus' mind was racing trying to bring old memories back. Well, today was July 31st, and it did seem, now that Vernon mentioned it, that Lily had given birth on this day, eleven years ago.
"No," Severus declined. "As much as I would dearly love to leave you in peace right now, I must wait for Mr. Potter to return. If I could have a cup of tea?" He noticed the worried looks the two Dursleys exchanged, and wondered what that could be. Probably nothing more than the thought of having one of them staying for the afternoon.
Supper time was nearing. And still, there was no sign of Mr. Harry James Potter. Severus sighed. He'd been waiting in this blasted Muggle house for hours now, and he wanted to go back to Hogwarts and finish that potion Minerva had so kindly taken him from. It was clear that Potter lived the privileged life he knew he had. There was nothing for Minerva to worry about. But he knew that after investing this much effort into the project, to come back to her without having seen him and without an answer - that would just not work. He certainly wouldn't get his favor from her this coming school year.
"Will Mr. Potter be arriving soon?" he asked, breaking a long held silence.
"He should be back soon," Vernon said, slightly nervously. Well of course the man was nervous. Having an ex-Death Eater - well, Vernon didn't know that, but he was still a dark man - sitting in one's kitchen all afternoon, and now for supper too, couldn't be an easy thing for a wizard hating Muggle to accept. Severus nodded his acknowledgement. Wordlessly, dinner was served, and the Dursleys, he noticed, did have enough decency to give him a plate, even if they had never actually invited him. They ate in silence.
"Where is your son, Petunia?" Severus asked, after dinner was taken care of.
"He's also at a friend's house," Petunia replied.
"The same as Mr. Potter?"
"No," Petunia said cautiously, guardedly. "At least I don't believe so." Severus nodded.
"Mr. Potter should be back soon," he continued. "It's almost dark. Will he be calling you when he leaves?"
"I doubt it," Petunia said. Severus huffed a bit. Just like a Potter. Spending his birthday with whatever group of Marauders he had collected, ignoring his relatives, and then not even having the decency - or the common sense - to call when he was leaving. Alright, he might be a wizard, but he couldn't send a patronus, so of course he should use the telephone.
"It's getting very late," Severus observed. He hated stating the obvious, but with Muggles, one could never be too sure. Well, with any non-Slytherins. He didn't want to speculate what house Petunia or Vernon would get if they could be sorted. "Where is Mr. Potter?"
"He must be spending the night," Vernon concluded. "So you might as well drop by some other time."
"You seem very intent on getting rid of me," Severus said. "As I am also of leaving, but not before I finish what I came here to do. Will you please call his friends until you find which ones he's staying with?"
"That wouldn't do!" Petunia objected. "It's not good form!"
"It's also not good form to not know the whereabouts of your eleven year old nephew on his birthday. Now, please, will you find me Mr. Potter?"
Uncle Vernon was going to kill him. He just knew it. There was a stranger who had come, and was asking about him. He didn't know who the man was, or what he wanted, but it had to do with him. And the last time someone came asking about him, Uncle Vernon had really given it to him for telling lies about him to good society. But, really, he hadn't. He hadn't complained at all, or said a word about anything his uncle did to him. Why should he? Why should he want to tell people about what a bad person he was? He wasn't sure why his uncle thought he would. But his old teacher - one from the pre-school he never finished - had come by to talk about him. Oh, if only the man would leave, so that he could get his punishment and then it would be over! When would the man leave? He began to sob quietly into his pillow, terrified of what his uncle would do to him. Well, it wasn't really much of a pillow, but it was all he ever had, and he tried to muffle his sobs as much as possible. He knew that noise was not acceptable from people such as himself.
A/N: I have a bit of a plan for this, but not much. Suggestions are always welcome. I will be doing house points for reviews, so please state your house preference. Thank you for reading.