Settling A Score
by Healer Pomfrey
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.
It was a cold and snowy Saturday evening in winter, when three black clothed men blasted the door of a very ordinary house in a normal neighbourhood in Little Whinging. They found a Muggle couple along with their whale of a son gathered in front of a Muggle TV.
"What'cha doing here?" Vernon Dursley roared, waving his fist at the men, before he suddenly found himself at wand point.
"Where's the Potter boy?" one of the black hooded men queried in a voice that almost made the Dursleys' blood freeze.
"Over there in the cupboard," all three Muggles shouted, simultaneously, pointing to the cupboard under the stairs."
"What?" the same man asked in apparent disbelief. "You're keeping a wizard in a cupboard, although he's much more important than you worthless Muggles?"
An instant later, Petunia Dursley saw her husband lie on the floor, wriggling in agony, before the man ended the spell. Then he sent his two companions to fetch the boy from the cupboard, still having his wand trained at Vernon Dursley.
Ten-year-old Harry Potter had already been half asleep, when the entrance door had been blast open, bringing him out of his slumber. He instinctively knew that the visitors meant harm and that the Dursleys would not protect him but either use him as shield or let the enemy have him in order to save their skins. An instant later, he heard an absolutely scary voice ask for him.
'I have to get away from here,' Harry thought, panicking, trying to remember how he had managed to flee from Dudley before by doing freakish things. He heard heavy steps approach the cupboard, and just when the door was blasted open, he found his body shrink so much that he could press himself into a small hole in the wall. Fortunately, the hole reached far enough into the wall to accommodate his slightly long figure. 'What happened now?' he wondered; however, it was so dark in the hole that he could not see anything, let alone look down his body, which felt incredulously strange. He tried to move his arms or legs but could not even feel them. 'Well, I can only wait,' he decided, when he suddenly heard the loud sound of an explosion, much too close to himself. At the same time, he felt himself being flung upwards, while his cupboard collapsed on himself.
Several hundred miles in the North, Albus Dumbledore returned from the Great Hall to his office, deciding to enjoy a quiet first evening of the winter holidays. However, as soon as he entered his office, he realised that an alarm was sounding through the room, an alarm, which alerted him to the fact that the wards around Harry Potter's residence had been breached. He leaned into the fireplace and summoned his most trusted colleagues, Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape.
"The wards around Harry's home seem to come down," he informed his colleagues, who realised that he was worried about the boy for once, considering that he forgot to offer a lemon drop. "Severus, do you know if it might be the work of remaining Death Eaters?" he queried, pensively.
The Potions Master let out a long sigh. "I'm sorry, Albus, but I haven't been in contact with any of them anymore. Is it the first time that the alarm went off?"
"Yes," Dumbledore replied, gravely. "Minerva, Severus, will you accompany me just to check the place and make sure that it's not a Death Eater attack?"
"If so, then it'll be too late anyway," Snape said dryly but instructed his personal house-elf to fetch his warm winter robes right away.
The three professors arrived at the ruin of the Dursleys' house, just when the fire brigade and the police made it to the site. Knowing that there was nothing they could do anymore, they just stood there in shock, behind the crowd of spectators, who were watching the scene with a mixture of interest and horror.
"That surely was their nephew, the freak," they heard a voice say. "Petunia always complained that he did strange things."
"But was he able to blow up the house?" another voice queried.
"I knew Harry," Arabella Figg suddenly threw in. "He was a very nice, quiet boy; not a freak."
The three professors observed, terrified, how the fireman brought the three Dursleys out of the house and laid them on the ground, covering them up.
"And Harry?" Dumbledore blurted out, staring at the ruin. "Maybe there's still hope..."
McGonagall unobtrusively cast a silencing charm around the three of them, before she hissed in an angry voice, "Don't feign being worried for Harry, Albus. It's all your fault."
"But why were they able to breach the blood wards?" Dumbledore asked in apparent confusion.
"Because they were based on love, which Petunia certainly never had for a little wizard, her nephew or else," Snape threw in, sounding bored.
"Exactly," McGonagall agreed. "And we've told you that and asked you to remove Harry from here often enough."
"I'm sorry Minerva," Dumbledore said, remorsefully.
The Scottish lioness let out a snort. "Your sorry won't help Harry anymore."
"Minerva, as long as he hasn't be found, there's still hope," Dumbledore replied, turning to the Potions Master. "Severus, can you please contact some people and find out if the Death Eaters took him with them? And then in the morning we'll come back here in our Animagus forms and search the ground and the ruin."
His colleagues agreed, and the three professors left the scene and apparated back to Hogsmeade, from where they quietly walked back to Hogwarts.
"Thank you for accompanying me tonight," the Headmaster thanked his colleagues, when they finally reached the entrance doors.
"I told you to not leave the sweet child at that place," his deputy replied in an extremely angry voice.
"I'll go back there in the morning and check the place in my Animagus form," the Slytherin promised. On the one hand, he felt pleased for what had happened to his archenemy's son; however, on the other hand, Harry Potter had also been his best friend's child. 'Maybe he's still somewhere, considering that they didn't find a body yet,' he thought, as he retreated to the solace of the dungeons.
In the morning, the professors at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry met for breakfast in the Great Hall, where they immediately engrossed themselves in the newest edition of The Daily Prophet.
'Death Eater Attack - Harry Potter missing and his Muggle guardians dead,'
the headline screamed in large, red letters.
"Severus, were you able to receive any information about what happened?" Dumbledore spoke up in a grave voice.
"I contacted Lucius Malfoy, and he told me that he with two others went to the Dursleys' house in order to abduct Harry," Severus explained. "His uncle said that he was in the cupboard under the stairs; however, when they opened the locked cupboard, it was empty."
Dumbledore let out a long sigh and said, "Thank you Severus. Please go and search for Harry right after breakfast. If you find him, please bring him here."
The Potions Master voiced his agreement, knowing that if he was unable to locate the boy by searching the place in his Animagus form, none of his colleagues would manage to find him either. Tuning out the angry voices of his upset colleagues, who began to give the Headmaster a piece of their mind, he absentmindedly drank his coffee. 'Albus deserves worse than having to face their anger,' he thought grimly, as he left the Great Hall, noticing with satisfaction that Minerva, Poppy, Pomona and Filius were verbally fighting with the Headmaster.
"Severus!" Minerva suddenly called out to him. "Wait, I'll accompany you."
Severus slightly inclined his head and together with his former teacher walked down to the Apparition border, absentmindedly listening to Minerva's rambling about the Headmaster's wrong decision.
Arriving in Arabella Figg's guarden, the two professors transformed into their Animagus forms, before a beautiful black garden snake with a silver lining pattern left the garden and crossed the road in the company of a tabby cat. Together the two animals made their way to the remaining of the former Dursley residence, which was partly covered in snow and still surrounded by spectators.
'Sit on the stone wall over there,' Severus telepathically instructed his colleague, knowing that she greatly disliked snow when being in her feline form. 'I'll check the remaining of the house.'He slithered between bricks and stones looking for a hint that might help him in his search. 'I'm not a spy for nothing,' he mused, as he searched the ruin for a possibly unharmed cellar.
Harry lazily opened his eyes, somehow feeling strange, cold and sore. 'Where am I?' he thought in confusion, unable to see anything but green leaves. He allowed himself a glimpse at his own body. It was long and black with a squiggly, green pattern on it, and his whole body was just one limb. He had neither arms nor legs, and his body felt sore. 'Oh right, my cupboard exploded and I was flung into the air together with bricks and stones,' he thought, noticing that the end of his body was curled firmly around a brunch to safely keep him on the tree.
'I am a snake,' he realised in disbelief, before he slightly moved his body around in order to be able to take in his surroundings. He stared in shock at the ruin of his former home, which was almost completely destroyed and allowed the view onto the street in front of it. To his surprise, he saw many people walking around the ruins, checking the ruin and the ground, taking pictures and talking to each other. However, he could not see the Dursleys anywhere. 'I'll try to get down from this tree,' he mused. 'Maybe I can hear what they're talking. I want to know what happened.'
Very carefully, he slithered down from the tree, sighing in relief as he safely reached the snowy ground in his unused form. The thought 'I could change back into my human form and ask the people where the Dursleys are' crossed his mind; however, remembering that the whole matter had been his fault, because he had been hiding from the people, who had obviously been looking for him, he quickly dismissed the idea. Carefully keeping himself under the bushes, he slowly made his way towards the front part of the garden, where most of the people were gathered.
Unfortunately, too many people were talking at the same time, and he could not understand much; however, he heard enough to know that the people announcing so-called facts to the others apparently knew nothing. 'How can they tell it was a gas explosion, when the Dursleys don't even have gas in their house? Plus the men who came and blasted the doors surely made the house explode,' he mused, somehow feeling very upset at the people, who told rubbish, which the neighbours seemed to believe.
Harry slowly slithered back into the garden behind the ruin, still feeling sore, cold and shocked by the sudden events.
"Hello therezzz," a soft voice suddenly called out to him, and he saw a larger, grey snake hovering in front of him. "I haven't sseen you before. Are you new here?"
"I'm Harry," Harry hissed back timidly. "I'm the boy who lived here. I only changed into a ssnake to flee from the people who did thisss. Have you sseen the Dursleysss?"
"No, I haven't ssseen your family, but you're cold," the other snake hissed, disapprovingly. "Come withss me. I'll show you where to hunt. You need to eat to get warmzzzz."
Harry obediently followed the snake around the garden and devoured a couple of worms and insects, before the other snake laid a small bird in front of him and instructed him to eat. Harry was torn between finding the kind of food gross and liking it a lot. However, after a little while, he felt completely full and much warmer and thanked his new friend profusely.
Feeling full, tired and still sore, Harry curled up on a dry spot under one of the larger bushes that did not let any snow through. Not wanting to think about what happened and where his relatives might be, he forced himself to remember the pictures of cats, which Mrs. Figg had showed him, when the Dursleys had made him stay with her the previous weekend. 'Maybe I can also change into a cat. Then I could live in her garden. She's so very nice to cats,' he mused. 'How did I become a snake though?' he wondered, trying to call the events of the previous evening.
To his surprise, he managed to transform into a cat just by wishing himself to be one. 'How strange,' he mused. 'I really am a freak.' He uncertainly stood on his four paws, only to end up on his belly an instant later. 'Ah now this is difficult,' he thought, as he slowly tried to get back onto his paws again. It took a while, before he got used to his new form and hesitantly took a small step out into the snow - only to pull back his right front leg very quickly. 'Uh, that feels too wet,' he realised and retreated to his dry spot, where he curled up in his feline form, drifting off to sleep in the blink of an eye.
Ignorant of the small cat's contented purring, a black snake with a silvery lining passed in front of the bush, looking for a small boy, who was supposed to have been in the house at the time of the attack on the previous evening.
"Hello," he hissed at the grey garden snake that was curled up right in front of the garden shed, "have you by chancce sseen the small boy, who lived in thiss housse?"
"Yesss, I ssaw the ssmall boy," the snake replied gently. "He'sss a ssnake now and should be asssleep ssomewhere in thisss garden."
'Potter a snake Animagus like myself?' Severus mused, incredulously. 'But at least he's still alive.' He spent the next thirty minutes intensely searching the garden for a snake - in vain.
'Minerva, return to Hogwarts. Harry is alive and well. He's a snake Animagus and must be somewhere around here,' he thought to his colleague, before he made himself comfortable in a hole on top of the garden shed, from where he had a good view over the whole garden but was shaded from the snow.
During the next few hours, he did not see any other snake but the grey garden snake, and apart from the spectators, who were still arriving, Muggles as well as wizards and witches, the garden remained quiet. 'Maybe Potter transformed back into his human form and left with some of the neighbours,' he thought, just when a small movement almost underneath him caught his attention.
A small cat stumbled into the deep snow that was covering the garden, which was just per se strange for a cat. However, the relatively small, black cat seemed to have difficulties to keep itself on its feet, ending up on its belly in the snow every now and then.
'That's not a real cat,' Severus realised. 'It must be Potter. He probably is a multiple natural Animagus like Lily was.' He smirked upon recalling how Lily had fooled him once, when they had been about Harry's current age.
Severus slithered down from his dry spot and came to a halt right in front of the small cat, which possessed well-known emerald green eyes.
"Harry," he hissed, "pleassse change back into your sssnake or your human form. I wish to sspeak with you."
He observed in silent awe how the boy changed from his cat form into a black snake with a green pattern that matched the colour of his eyes.
"Hello Harry," he hissed again. "I am Professor Severuss Ssnape from Hogwartsss. Have your relativess ever told you of Hogwartsss?"
"No ssir," Harry replied in confusion. "Excuse me ssir, but wass it you who came for me lasst night?"
"No Harry, that were Death Eatersss, bad people, who wanted to abduct you. You did very well to hide from them." He gave the smaller snake a sharp look. "I supposse that'ss why you transsformed into your ssnake form."
"Yesss," Harry admitted in a small voice. "I don't know how I managed to do that, but thisss morning I found out that I can change jusst by wishing me to be something elsse."
"You're a natural multiple Animaguss," Severus informed him, "like your mother wasss."
The two Animagi continued their conversation about Harry's mother, his life at the Dursleys, magic and Hogwarts for about an hour, before Severus suggested that he'd like to take Harry to Hogwarts with him, however, that the boy had to transform back into his human form for the travel.
With mixed feelings, Harry wished himself back into his human form. 'When I was a snake, the other snakes were very friendly to me,' he thought, hesitantly observing how the other snake transformed into a tall man with silky black hair and onyx eyes.
"Are you ready Harry?" the man queried in a soft voice, causing Harry to automatically nod. "Grab my arm then and don't let go," he instructed the boy, before he apparated them to Hogsmeade.
Harry quietly walked next to the older wizard, looking at the huge castle in front of them with amazement. "Excuse me sir," he finally spoke up and, seeing that the professor cast him an enquiring look, asked, "what's going to happen with me now? The Dursleys always said if they'd not taken me in, I'd had to go to an orphanage."
The professor cast him a surprised look. "Definitely not, Mr. Potter. There are more than enough people, who're willing to become your guardian. Some of my colleagues have begged the Headmaster for years to allow them to take you in; however, Professor Dumbledore always refused and insisted that you had to stay with your relatives, claiming that they were the best to keep you safe." A sudden smirk crossed his face. "Can you believe how upset they're with him now?"
"Professor," Harry began to ask, hesitantly, "would it be possible that I changed back into a snake or cat, so that he won't get to know that I'm here?"
"You mean you want to keep Professor Dumbledore on his toes until you come to Hogwarts as a student?" he asked with a combination of surprise and amusement. "You may change now if that's what you want," he continued in understanding. "In that case, I suggest that I take you into my quarters for the time being. We're going to call my other colleagues though, and you must speak with them in your human form. They have been worrying about you for years now. Together with my colleagues, we'll decide what we're going to do with you until you'll enter Hogwarts as a student in September. Is that agreeable?" he queried, quirking an eyebrow.
"Yes sir, thank you sir," Harry replied quickly, before he once again transformed into his snake form.
Thirty minutes later, Harry was sitting next to Professor McGonagall on a sofa in the Potions Master's living room, where he observed in amazement how the professors one after the other stepped out of the huge fireplace that occupied the centre of the large chamber. Everyone was delighted to see him alive and well, and Harry inwardly groaned at the fuss that the adults made about him, especially when Madam Pomfrey heard that he was sore from the attack. However, everyone was very friendly, and Harry somehow felt very special and cared for - an experience, which he had never made before.
When Professor Snape explained to the others that Harry had suggested to spend the eight months before he'd be able to attend Hogwarts in his Animagus forms, keeping his presence at Hogwarts from the Headmaster, everyone immediately agreed.
Only Professor Flitwick asked, "Are you sure that you all want Albus to worry about Harry for such a long time?"
However, Professor Sprout and Madam Pomfrey immediately informed him that they had been worrying for a decade and that the Headmaster fully deserved having to be concerned after what he had done to the boy.
"Oh well, he left Harry with the Dursleys because he really thought it would be the best for him though," McGonagall threw in, only to add, "Still he deserves it. He should have listened to us."
"Manipulative old coot," Snape mumbled and agreed with Professor McGonagall that they would take turns looking after Harry, considering that he seemed to like spending his time in his snake or cat forms.
The following eight months were the most pleasant that Harry could remember to have ever experienced. While the professors were in class, he usually slept in his snake form, curled up in front of the Potions Master's fireplace. When Snape returned to his quarters, he taught Harry Potions and other things, which he deemed useful for the boy to know. Later in the evening, he allowed Harry to assist in his potions lab, knowing that it was safe for the child to transform to his human form, since the Headmaster would never ever set a foot into his lab. When Snape used to go to bed around three o'clock in the morning, it was already time for Professor McGonagall to get up for an early morning cat stroll over the grounds, during which she told the young cat a lot about his parents and their time at Hogwarts.
Harry enjoyed himself so much that he was almost sad at the thought that school was going to commence soon. On the other hand, the prospect of becoming a real student like all the others was extremely appealing too, and he was looking forward to it very much.
"Slytherin," the Sorting Hat shouted into the Hall.
Smiling at the Gryffindor Head, Harry handed her the Hat and walked towards the Slytherin table, wearing a happy smile on his face. 'I'm so happy to have Severus as my Head of House,' he thought in relief. 'He's awesome, although McGonagall would be great too.'
"Mr. Potter," the Headmaster suddenly called him over to the Head table. "Tell me one thing my boy," he said in a gentle voice, smiling at the boy. "Where have you spent the last eight months, during which you didn't even have a home? We were looking for you."
Harry looked at the old wizard, keeping his face void of emotion, as he replied, "I didn't have a home during the nine years before that either, but these last eight months were the best, since I was able to spend some quality time in my Animagus form, sir." Seeing from the corners of his eyes how the Headmaster's smile was replaced to a guilty look while he let himself sink back into his seat, Harry continued his way to the Slytherin table, unobtrusively casting his new Head of House a grateful look as he went.