"Quirrell is after the stone," Snape said, glaring at the headmaster who stared back at him serenely.
"Now, Severus, you should know better than to accuse—"
"I'm not accusing!" Snape snapped. "Quirrell attacked Potter telling Potter to get him a stone."
"That does not mean Professor Quirrell is after the stone," Dumbledore said. "How do you know he attacked Harry?"
"The boy has bruises on his neck where Quirrell grabbed him. He said so. Mr. Thomas said so. Alexei told me that Potter had said so," Snape said. "Would you like me to continue?"
"I am sure Harry is overreacting," Dumbledore said. "The stone is perfectly safe and no one aside from the staff knows it is here."
Snape blinked at him, unable to process the sheer stupidity of the man's words. "With all due respect, sir, but Quirrell is staff and, as such, he knows about the stone, the stone he is after!"
"No one is after the stone, Severus, and I would appreciate it if you would stop accusing my staff unjustly," Dumbledore said, a frown beginning to form.
Snape fumed and was about to speak when an owl flew through the open window, dropped a relatively large envelope in Snape's hands, and flew off. He glanced at the front and recognized Alexei's Russian writing. With an irritated glance at the headmaster, he gripped the envelope tightly and stalked from the room. He tore the envelope open as he walked through the school, pulling out a stack of papers with a letter on top.
Congratulations! It's a boy!
Snape rolled his eyes.
The guardianship has been approved. You are not the legal guardian of one Harry James Potter. I have given you a copy of the guardianship papers for your own filing and if...certain people require proof.
I will see you later, mой друг.
Snape put the letter aside and scanned the guardianship papers despite having seen the papers only days before. However, they now had a cover page which stated:
This document hereby states the Ministry of Magic approved guardianship of one
Harry James Potter
Mr. Severus Tobias Snape
This document was approved on this twenty-eighth day of January of 1992.
He let out a quiet breath as he looked at the pages. He was legally the guardian of Harry Potter. He was now responsible for a child. He was responsible for the son of the boy who had made his life hell in school. He put the papers down and rubbed his eyes tiredly. Who would have ever thought that he would become a guardian, let alone the guardian of Harry Potter?
So he was a guardian.
He was the guardian of Harry Potter.
"So what does this mean?" Harry asked as he put the guardianship papers down.
"It is merely a formality while I search for a proper family," Snape said. "You will come to me with problems and I will be the one contacted in emergencies. In certain situations, you will be able to stay here in the room made up for you. I will be contacted for any legal matters that may arise. I will provide you with your necessities. I will be responsible for your punishments should you find trouble."
Harry visibly paled and Snape sighed quietly. The boy would assume 'punishment' meant beatings.
"I will not lay a hand on you, Potter," Snape said. "There are other ways to punish someone. I will always talk with you about why you are being punished. You will not be punished blindly and for no reason."
Harry nodded, swallowing thickly. "So I'm allowed to stay here?"
"If the situation calls for it, yes," Snape said.
"What if you don't find a family before summer?" Harry asked.
"I will," Snape said, "but in the case that I do not, you will come to stay with me."
Harry looked at him in surprise. "Really?"
"Yes," Snape said. "Until a family is found, you will remain in my care."
Harry gave him a curious look but said nothing.
"Now, I am sure you have some homework," Snape said, "so I would suggest you return to your dorm."
Harry nodded and got to his feet. He headed for the door but stopped with his hand on the doorknob. He turned and looked at his new guardian. "Thank you," he said quietly, "for doing this."
Snape gazed at him and Harry wondered if he imagined the slight softening of the man's face. "You're welcome, Potter. It is no problem."
Harry nodded and left, returning to his dorm room. He ignored the glares he got from Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson as well as the very open stare of Sally-Anne Perks. Ever since that day he and Dean had accidentally hit Sally's bag she hadn't really left them alone. They frequently caught her watching them and on occasion following them. She stared at them through meals and if they walked by her in the common room. It was extremely odd but she hadn't actually done anything so they just tried to ignore her. He quickly slipped into the room he shared with Dean and laid on his bed.
He wasn't sure what to think. He knew the professor had said he would be taking over Harry's guardianship but Harry hadn't actually thought he would. No one had ever wanted him before or tried to help him so why would he think Snape would?
But he had. Snape was his guardian. He would stay with Snape now because he knew that the Potions master would not be able to find anyone willing to take him. Harry was fully aware that he wasn't wanted and never would be so he held no expectations for Snape. But, if he was staying with Snape now, how long would it be before Snape realized Harry was too much to handle? Where would Harry go then? Back to the Dursleys'? Even though it was a new though, he wasn't sure he could go back to the Dursleys' now that he had the chance to get out.
Sitting up, he looked out the enchanted window with a sigh. His life was so unpredictable but predictable at the same time. He knew he would never be wanted but that made it so he didn't know where he would end up. What if he went to an orphanage? He had heard horror stories about orphanages. He wouldn't bother asking to stay at the school because Dumbledore clearly wouldn't let him.
He wrapped his arms around his legs sadly. When he looked at other people, he wished he had their lives. He wanted parents, even just one if it meant he had someone that cared about him. He wanted to have a place that he truly believed was his home. He just wanted...something.
Why couldn't he have what everyone else had an abundance of?
Alexei dropped the dozens of files on Snape's coffee table next to the man's feet. Snape looked at him with a raised eyebrow as he lowered his book. He glanced at the number of simple brown files and looked back at the vampire questioningly.
"I went through every wizarding family on the waiting lists as foster parents and adoptive parents. These are the best ones I found," Alexei said, sitting on the sofa next to his friend. "You should be able to find a good family for the child."
Snape put his book aside and grabbed the first file off the top of the pile.
"It starts with two parents families with children, in order of how many children. Then it's two parent families only with no children. Then it's single mothers with children, in order of how many children and then just single mothers. The end is single fathers with children, in order of how many children and then just single fathers," Alexei explained.
"How many are there?" Snape said, looking at the pile.
"Forty-six," Alexei said and Snape sighed.
"This will take forever," Snape said and looked at Alexei pointedly.
"I never said I wouldn't help," Alexei said as he rolled his eyes. As he opened a file of his own, he added, "I know exactly where he should go though."
"He can't stay with me," Snape said. "He needs a family."
"Whatever you say," Alexei said and they fell silent as they began to examine the possible candidates.
Harry jumped and flinched at the hand that shot out and snatched his fallen parchment. He looked up quickly and stepped back when he found Sally-Anne Perks extremely close. He frowned when she took a step towards him and just stared at him. She held out the parchment and Harry glanced at it but didn't move to take it. It was the notes for his Transfiguration essay and he could really use them because he had enough difficulty with Transfiguration as it was, but he wasn't sure he wanted to do any kind of interacting with Sally.
"Keep it," he muttered and turned to quickly walk away.
He froze and his eyes widened. He felt a chill run through his body and he swallowed thickly. He must've heard wrong. She couldn't possibly have said what he thought he had heard. He slowly turned around to look at the girl.
"What?" he whispered.
"I said you're abused," she repeated and he felt the cold settle deep within his body and heart. "I know you are."
"You don't know what you're talking about," Harry said.
Sally stepped closer to him again and her expression was hard. "You. Are. Abused."
Harry flew around at Dean's voice and felt his heart sink further when Dean approached them with a frown.
"I want to hang out with you," Sally said abruptly and the boys looked at her in confusion. "I won't tell anyone if you let me hang out with you."
"Why? The rest of the school hates us," Dean said.
"I want to be able to say I know Harry Potter," Sally said and Harry frowned.
"Why?" Harry said.
"Because you're Harry Potter," Sally said pointedly. "If you don't let me, I'll tell Malfoy that you let your Muggle uncle beat you."
"You can't just—" Dean started angrily.
"Fine," Harry said quietly and Dean looked at him.
"Do what you want," Harry said to her and she smiled triumphantly. Dean frowned.
"Oh, I will," she said.
Dean stared at her warily before grasping Harry's arm and pulling him away and back to the common room. Neither of them spoke until they were safely in their dorm room.
'Don't," Harry interrupted. "Please."
Dean bit his lip and considered letting it go but he knew he couldn't. "Your uncle?"
Harry's eyes refused to move from the floor as he sat on his bed. He nodded stiffly.
"Forever," Harry muttered, almost inaudibly.
"That's what happened to your leg?"
Harry nodded again.
"This is why you had to stay in the hospital wing after your exam at the beginning of the year. Pomfrey found out."
"And Snape," Harry said. "He knows too."
"Is that why he's your guardian now?"
"Yeah. He said he's looking for a family for me to go to, someone who might want to adopt me," Harry said.
"Well, that's a good thing, right?" Dean said. "You don't have to go back to your relatives and you can get a family."
Harry shrugged. "'M not expecting much."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not generally wanted. I don't expect Snape to find anyone."
Harry sighed. "Just forget it. I quickly figured out that it doesn't matter." He lay down and put his back to his friend.
Dean stared at him sadly and sighed. Sally had just completely ruined Harry's mood and any possible happiness he had been feeling.
"Got yourself a girlfriend, Potter?" Malfoy sneered. "She's a real keeper."
Harry flushed furiously and tried to get away from Sally who was clinging onto him, preventing him from eating his breakfast. It had been two weeks since Sally's blackmail had begun and they were now in the beginning of February. If they had found Sally irritating before, it was nothing compared to what she was like now. She never left them alone, accompanying them everywhere from meals to the library and even attempted to follow them into the lavatory. They had drawn the line there, physically shoving her back into the corridor. She had not been happy, screaming at them for a good while once they rejoined her. Other students passing had stared, making Harry and Dean flush in embarrassment.
It was difficult keeping up with Sally's drastic changes. Any little thing could set her off and she constantly reiterated her threat to reveal Harry's abuse to either Malfoy or the school. While Dean would suggest they went to Snape, Harry would always refuse in the face of having his secret revealed to a school that hated him. He feared how the information would be used. And so they continued to endure the unpredictable Sally. Only one good thing had come of the situation. The physical harassment they had be enduring had ceased and it had become easier to ignore Malfoy and the Gryffindors.
"You're just jealous, Malfoy," Sally said and Harry groaned internally. "Jealous that Harry chose to be my friend and not yours."
Malfoy and the others burst out laughing. "Like we'd be friends with that weak Mudblood."
"You shut your mouth. You have no idea what he's been through."
Harry's eyes flew to Dean's in horror. She wouldn't...
"And what would that be?" Malfoy sneered.
"Become his friend and find out," Sally said and Malfoy rolled his eyes.
"You're all pathetic," Malfoy spat.
They both turned at their names, finding the twins standing at the Great Hall doors and waving at them.
"Got somethin' to show you!"
"Sorry, Sally," Harry said, pulling his arm out of her grip finally. "We've gotta go."
"Well, wait up, I'll come too," she said, rising with them.
"I don't know if you can. The twins can be pretty secretive," Harry said, the three of them heading to Fred and George.
"I'm sure they won't mind," Sally said, practically skipping next to them. Harry and Dean just looked at each other as they approached their other friends.
"Who's the pipsqueak?" Fred said.
Sally's eyes darkened and her face twisted in anger. "I am Harry's friend."
"Well then, Harry's friend, say your goodbyes," George said.
"This is just for Harry and Dean," Fred added.
"Why?" Sally demanded.
"Because they're our friends too," Fred said.
"Because we haven't spent much time with them lately," George said.
"You can hang out with them even if I'm there," Sally said, crossing her arms.
"It's called alone time, kid," George said.
"Scram," Fred said.
Harry and Dean looked at Sally in worry as she glared deeply at the twins. After a while she finally turned and stomped back to the Slytherin table. They both blew out relieved breaths, finally free of Sally for the first time in days.
"Let's go," the twins said and they all left the Great Hall.
"So what's with the girl?" Fred asked as they walked up the Grand Staircase.
"She's been following us for like two weeks now. She won't leave us alone," Dean said.
"Why not just tell her to get lost?" George said, turning them down a seventh floor corridor.
"We're tried," Dean said. "She always freaks out and threatens to...ow!" He rubbed his side where Harry had elbowed him. It was bad enough Dean knew he was abused; he didn't need the twins knowing too.
The twins stopped, looked at each other, and then turned to the two younger Slytherins.
"What was that?" Fred asked, knowing something big had been kept quiet.
"Nothing," Harry said. "She's just annoying."
Dean bit his lip as he looked at his friend. He wanted to tell the twins about Sally's blackmail so badly but he knew how much it would hurt Harry to reveal his abuse. The twins, however, caught Dean's look and could tell Harry was hiding something important.
"Is she threatening to hurt you?" Fred said. "She forcing you to be around her?"
"Uh..." Dean hesitated while Harry fidgeted.
"Hold that thought," Fred said.
"Come with us," George said and they resumed walking a little further down the corridor. They stopped and Harry and Dean watched in confusion as George paced in front of the empty wall. However, their confusion turned to amazement when an intricate black door materialized in the stone. George pushed it open and made an exaggerated gesture for them all to enter.
"After you," Fred said, making the same motion.
Harry and Dean chuckled and walked into the room that suddenly existed. They looked around in awe. It wasn't a large room but was, instead, a cozy little sitting area. Sofas and chairs circled a wooden and glass coffee table that had plates of sandwiches, glasses of juice, and bowls of fruit. There was a small fireplace in the corner that had been lit, warming the small room. It was cozy and Harry and Dean instantly relaxed.
They laughed at the twins again and went to settle on one of the sofas, the twins taking the other and also a sandwich each.
"She's not threatening to hurt us," Dean said, grabbing a strawberry while Harry grabbed some juice.
"But she is threatening you with something," Fred said and Dean slowly nodded.
"What is it?" George asked. "If we know we could help."
"Uh..." Dean hesitated again, glancing at Harry who was staring intently at his juice. "It's more a threat towards Harry. I don't know if I should say."
The twins nodded in understanding and turned to Harry. "Why don't you tell us?" George said.
"I don't want anyone else to know. Enough people know already," Harry said. "It would just be something else for everyone to use against me anyways. I just want to be invisible."
"Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen, kid," Fred said.
"You can tell us. We just want to help and we wouldn't tell anyone else unless we feel we should. In that case, he would go to Professor Snape," George said.
"He already knows," Harry muttered.
"He knows what the girl is doing?" George said.
Dean shook his head. "No, he knows about what she's threatening to tell everyone."
"He would be perfect to help then," Fred said.
"Why haven't you told him what's happening?" George said.
Harry shrugged. "He's dealing with enough. Not like Sally's actually done anything."
"Only blackmail you," George said pointedly and Harry shrugged again.
"What is she using?" Fred said. "We can try and help."
"Harry, just tell them," Dean pleaded. "They'll care, they won't turn away."
"How do you know?" Harry said.
"Because I stayed too," Dean said and Harry blinked as though just realizing now that Dean was still his friend despite knowing about the abuse. "We're your friends and we care. We only want to help."
Harry stared at Dean and the twins. It was true Dean had remained his friend. Hell, Snape had cared enough to go against the headmaster and get temporary custody of Harry. It seemed even Alexei—a total stranger—cared about it too. None of them had turned away from him like all the others. They all stayed and cared and eventually helped. Surely he could put the same trust in his Gryffindor friends who had always risked everything to be his friend and protector.
Harry looked at his juice again and took a deep breath as he prepared himself to tell the twins of his abuse. He held tightly to his glass as his hands started to tremble. He flinched slightly when Dean's hand landed on his shoulder and gave a squeeze of comfort. Harry shot him a grateful look and Dean smiled, nodding his encouragement and support.
Harry breathed deeply again. "Somehow she found out something secret about me. Only like three other people know and she's been threatening to tell Malfoy and the school unless we let her hang out with us. She wants to be able to say she knows and is friends with me," he said.
"She's a little crazy though," Dean added. "The smallest thing makes her mad and she goes off screaming."
"What did she find out?" Fred said softly.
Harry bit his lip, almost reconsidering his decision to tell. "She found out that I'm...I'm abused, by my uncle," he finally blurted and a heavy silence descended.
Harry didn't look up at any of them, keeping his eyes on his juice. He did feel another shoulder squeeze from Dean, though, and he was so glad the other boy was there with him. The twins remained quiet for a long while, making Harry even more nervous. He eventually worked up the nerve to raise his head and look at the two Gryffindors. Both their faces were fluttering between various emotions, looking angry, sad, sympathetic, and compassionate all at some point. Eventually they settled on a mix of them all.
"You said Snape knows?" George said and Harry nodded.
"He was one of the first to find out. He helped heal me and took care of me when I got pneumonia and after all of Malfoy's attacks. He's also got me out of my relatives'. He took temporary guardianship and is searching for a good family for me to go to," he explained.
"And how are you now?" Fred said.
"Better," Harry said. "Still not a hundred percent but I'll get there. I'm just glad I never have to go back."
Here the twins left their sofa and sat on either side of the Slytherins. They then reached around and crushed the two of them into a large hug. Harry couldn't help but laugh a little as he and Dean were crushed against each other and he smiled at the fact that Dean had been right. The twins cared and had not abandoned him just because they found out about the abuse. Rather they made sure he was alright and wanted to help. However, despite this happiness, the hug was getting tight and he and Dean found their breathing becoming restricted.
"Uh, guys," Dean choked out.
"Can't breathe," Harry said and they drew in sudden breaths when they were released.
"You need to tell Snape," Fred said.
"He can stop her," George said.
"How?" Harry said.
"There are things he can do that can stop her interacting with you," Fred said.
Harry frowned. "There are?"
"Why hasn't he done any of these things to Malfoy then?" Dean said.
"My guess is that Dumbledore won't let him," George said.
"Snape can only do so much without Dumbledore's permission," Fred said.
"But he can do something about the girl because she doesn't have the important parents and ties like Malfoy," George said.
Harry still hesitated.
The twins sighed.
"You said Snape has your guardianship," Fred said and Harry nodded. "He got that for a reason. He cares enough to protect you which means he will help you when you go to him with problems."
"I dunno," Harry said. "He's busy. He and his friend have to make me a really complicated potion so I can start eating more. He doesn't really have the time."
"He would make the time for you," George said. "You have to tell him. There's no telling what the girl could end up doing. She could become violent."
"He's right, Harry," Dean said. "She's not exactly stable."
"But what if she tells everyone? What if she already has?" Harry said worriedly.
"Then she tells, everyone knows, and we help you get through the fallout," Fred said. "You won't have to face the school on your own. We'll help and so will Snape."
Harry looked at his friends and their supportive faces. He knew they were telling the truth. They really were his friends. They would help him. He sighed and nodded his agreement to go tell his guardian, gaining him small smiles from his friends.
A/N: I am going to makes attempts to continue this story. I really do want to finish it. I am just focused on so many others things and have the biggest block on how to continue from where I am in this story right now. I know where I want to get to but I am having a hard time getting there. I still have a couple chapters already written so I will post them and I will attempt to keep going. I feel like I've got a bit of inspiration for this story coming back so hopefully that helps. I have a harder time writing stories about young Harry, essentially anything before 4th year, I have a harder time with. Not as much to work with. Lol. Leave a review if you enjoyed the chapter.