Title: Apprentice: Prologue (01/?)
Pairing: None yet, previous Snape/OC
Warnings: Violence, child abuse, manipulative but not evil Dumbledore, OOC-ness
Disclaimer: Nope, doesn’t belong to me. I only play with them a bit.
Summary: The war had been over for several years, and Harry’s life did not turn out the way he expected it. He ended leaving England and travelling the world. That’s where death found him, but he was the Master of the Hollows and second chances were a given. He would not waste them.
THIS IS AN AU STORY (AUAlternate Universe), even though I try to follow the original novels as close as I can.
Not a native English speaker writing.
Characters might be Out Of Character (OOC)
There might be spoilers for all books.
This was probably the eight night in a row that he could not sleep. The first two he had tossed and turned on his bed fighting for sleep. By the third, it was clear that he needed to do something more productive than lying awake in bed. At his age, 150 years, Albus Dumbledore really did not need more than four hours of it; but still he had to rest at some point. The old headmaster opted that day for roaming the deserted halls and corridors of Hogwarts, letting his mind wander to the things that kept him worried and awake.
The most important of those being that Severus Snape was exposed as a spy. Not that he had that much time to start spying for him. It was a little bit more than a month since he asked the younger wizard to return to his active spying days at Voldemort’s side. To give his Potions Master credit, he had accepted to take the risk without question. They knew getting back into the Dark Lord’s most trusted ring was not going to be an easy task. Back then, after Voldemort’s first defeat at Lily’s and Harry’s hands, Albus had vouched for Severus. The Ministry Aurors captured him, charged the younger man with being a Death Eater, and sent him to Azkaban without a trial. His word eventually saved him from a ‘Dementor’s Kiss’ but he still spent six months in that prison.
Since Voldemort’s return Snape had been out almost every night on errands and missions for the Dark Lord. It had been hard, most of the times he returned suffering from the after effects of the Cruciatus curse, or mauled after participating on one raid or another, and on top of that, he had to prepare poisons and torture potions for Voldemort. Severus was being cautious with his reports; he did not want to seem too obvious, as there was one of Voldemort’s own spies set in the Ministry that insisted the teacher was betraying his calling; this only complicated the situation for him. For a couple of days the Potions Master had to comply to the crazed Dark Wizard’s every command even if it meant participating more actively on the raids and tortures -as much as doing this sickened the wizard- it was important to gain Voldemort’s trust.
Things started to become quite difficult not just for Severus, but all the other Death Eaters as well, as some of their victims started to disappear surrounded by a bright white light. Voldemort had punished all his followers present first, and then asked questions. Unfortunately, no one had the answers he required. With all the wards and protections cast in their hide-out it should have been impossible to apparate from the place, yet the only conclusion they reached was that the prisoners, even the muggle children, were being apparated somewhere else.
As part of his work and his effort to gain the Dark Lord’s trust, Severus and Dumbledore agreed to divulge the information that their prisoners were appearing outside of Hogwarts; it was an effort to move the Potions Master back to his former place in the circle. But for the spy, the fact that they were reappearing outside the school grounds produced the contrary effect he expected. Voldemort grew even more distrustful as more captives escaped, although it was never more than two per session.
A week ago, it reached the point where the Dark Wizard decided he could do without a Potions Master as skilled as Severus after Lucius Malfoy insisted he was the spy. Malfoy and his goons tortured Snape in hopes of getting a confession before presenting him to Voldemort; but he remained quiet and did not give in even when they finally dragged him to the Dark Lord. Voldemort tried to break him too, by Cruciatus and Imperius, but he had no success either. He decided that using the Avada Kedavra was too good for a traitor and was going to kill Severus by Cruciatus, a most painful and slow way. The white light appeared, protecting him, soothing his wounds, and aching muscles. Then, just as he passed out, Snape saw his surroundings disappear.
To everyone’s surprise, and complete bafflement Severus appeared inside Hogwarts infirmary with a resonating ‘pop’ that drew the attention of Madame Pomfrey to his arrival. No one could explain how he managed to be there without setting the school’s apparition alarms. Hogwarts had especial protection, and no one could apparate either in or out. A thorough revision of the defenses shed no light. The wards and charms were in place, and were not removed or tampered with. Snape was unable to provide any information on how he escaped, he had been too far gone in pain to notice much.
There were other cases beside his, but the differences between them and him were rather impossible to ignore. Unlike the muggles or wizards rescued, Severus was also partially healed by this light. The others only reported, feeling comforted an underlying current of guilt, sadness, sorrow, and frustration. This only happened for those saved that had family or friends left in the hands of ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’. They all agreed that it felt as if whomever or whatever that light was, ‘it’ was apologizing for being unable to save them all, and even the most grief stricken of the victims could not blame ‘it’ as the feelings were overpowering. It did the best that it could and they were alive.
These strange occurrences were also part of the reason why Albus could not sleep, but he had no leads as to what this phenomenon was, or why it was happening. Only that Voldemort did not like it at all, and anything that saved lives and spoiled some of his plans was helpful in Dumbledore’s opinion. Another of his worries was Harry, ever since the Dark Lord obtained a body he had been having visions because of the connection the scar on his forehead created. Yet, he had not heard from the boy once since he went to his relative’s home about a month ago. He deemed this strange, he knew Voldemort had been quite busy so far, but he still had no letter from the Harry. Ms. Granger and Mr. Weasley -his best friends- wrote him not two days past expressing their concern for Harry’s well being. They both implied that the boy’s relatives were not kind to him.
Worry for the boy was starting to take precedence above all else, especially now that Severus was safe in Hogwarts grounds and recuperating at an accelerated pace. The day before Dumbledore checked the crystal sphere(1) where he measured the strength and condition of the protections surrounding the home of Harry’s relatives. They began to weaken at an incredibly fast pace. In addition, there was no explanation as to the reason why. If the weakening kept going at that rate, there would be no protection standing by September 1.
There was still a whole month left before the term started, but he did not want to wait until the wards had given up completely. It was imperative that he found a safe place for ‘the-boy-who-lived’. He did not think sending him to live with the Weasleys would do. They had enough with all their children, even if they considered Harry an honorary member of the family and Molly Weasley would mother the boy as if he was one of her own.
The Burrow had some protection, but it would not hold against a full-blown Death Eater attack. The same would happen to the Granger house, with the added inconvenience that Miss Granger’s parents were muggles and they would not be able to defend themselves. Because of this, her home was also out of the equation. His other option would be for the boy’s Godfather to take him, but that was neither safe nor possible. As long as Sirius was still considered an escaped convict, he could not take his responsibilities as godfather. Besides, Mr. Black usually let his temper get the better of him, and he was not a prudent man. The risk of leaving Harry under his protection was far too much.
All that thinking left Albus with the conclusion that he needed to find someone to act like the equivalent of a muggle bodyguard. In the process of keeping his/her charge safe, this wizardor witch should also be able to teach the boy how to protect himself. However, finding a capable witch or wizard that also had his complete trust seemed like it might end being a monumental task. Although this seemed like the most viable option. He sadly concluded that no matter where he put Harry, the boy would never be truly and completely safe, even if Hogwarts was still the place with more safeguards.
His mind pondered on the problem at hand, at the time he began analyzing possible candidates for the post. He had reached the end of the hall, where large windows stood facing east. The light hues of dawn were appearing and he paused for a moment to enjoy the breath-taking view of another dawn. He leaned against the side of the window as the grounds began to fill with light. It was then that he noticed the grey clad figure running just inside the castle wards following their outline.
For a few tense seconds he observed the figure’s progress, the tension left as soon as his vision improvement charm let him recognize the runner. A soft chuckle escaped his lips and his eyes twinkled with merriment. He had done it again. It was uncanny how Severus Snape managed to escape the infirmary when HE deemed he was healthy, regardless of what Poppy thought. The younger wizard usually tried escaping several times before he was healthy, but it was probably just to amuse himself at the medi-witch antics. She was always so overprotective with her patients, especially the Potions Master who after all his years in Hogwarts still had the dubious honor of possessing the largest record of visits or stays in the infirmary. It was a shame too that his closest competitor was a boy by the name of Harry Potter, who happened to be another victim of the medi-witch overprotective manners.
Outside, Severus had stopped running near the quidditch field, and was doing what appeared like stretching exercises. Probably getting ready for some of those Martial Arts movements he seemed so fond of performing. Albus had always wondered where the younger wizard had learned that particular fighting technique. Most pureblood wizards did not bother learning any other fighting skills besides how to duel with a wand. Although he had to admit that because of this particular form of exercising, Severus was considered in his youth among the top duelists, and not just because of his ability with a wand.
Most of his students would never believe the Potions Master to be a man that liked to perform physical activities, especially outside. The fact that one of his many monikers was ‘overgrown bat’, was proof enough that the thought that he did anything else but spend time in his dungeons had not crossed their minds. In fact, Severus encouraged this belief with his acting, and some Glamorie. He just looked pale, greasy, and thin, always had a sour expression on his face to add with his rather disagreeable personality, which sadly was not a complete act. But the performance was needed after the war since he kept indirectly spying the Death Eater families that had avoided Azkaban. There had been more than enough talk over the years of either finding Voldemort or finding someone suitable to become a Dark Lord. Severus information had always helped to thwart any attempt.
The younger wizard did have one hell of a temper, and was not very patient with incompetence. He was sarcastic by nature, bitter by what life dished out for him, his stubbornness could compete with any Gryffindor’s, and he was not a trusting man. The contempt and superiority complex were an act though, for the benefit of his Slytherins. But there were good traits to him that he usually kept well hidden behind cold walls. He was as loyal as a Hufflepuff once he had decided to grant someone with his trust, and he was brave even if he denied it. There was no denying his high intelligence, the Sorting Hat had once commented he could have been in Ravenclaw, he was one of those few could have been in all houses, but it had been Severus’ cunning that finally convinced ‘it’ to put him in Slytherin.
The younger wizard did have a sense of humor, although so far, only very few people had been privy of that. When he was a teen studying at Hogwarts, the only one of the Snapes to do so, he had quite a mischievous streak. He returned almost all the pranks the marauders played on him without missing a beat. Since Severus Snape first came to him for help, wanting to turn sides so many years ago, the elder wizard had grown fond of him. The younger man became the son he never had. As 12 daughters and three wives throughout his life were enough to tax the patience of a saint. And Albus Dumbledore was a good man but not a saint.
The headmaster kept watching the figure in the field, at first he could tell he was rather stiff, and having some trouble but as he worked through his routine, the movements flowed with grace and power. He sighed, working the kinks of joints and muscles suffering from the after effects of the cruciatus curse, was a hard and mostly painful job. He could only imagine how it hurt for Severus. Since the beginning of the summer, Voldemort subjected him to the curse almost on a daily basis; and it was only because of his excellent physical condition that he endured. At the pace the Dark Lord was going, he was going to rid himself of most of his followers, fourteen years had passed and his most loyal Death Eaters aged just as everyone else did.
He watched the Potions Master execute a high kick, hit an invisible enemy, and then roll forward on the ground to kick another invisible foe(2). It was then that an interesting idea began forming on his mind. After he was returned from his last meeting with the Death Eaters, Albus decided that it was no longer ‘safe’ for Severus to continue being Slytherin’s Head of House. Too many of the parents from his former chargers were either Death Eaters or sympathizers. Being that close to them in those dark dungeons would mean a constant vigilance and be too risky; and contrary to what Severus insisted, he would not be able to maintain a 24/7 vigilance for a ten month period. He was only human after all.
To say that the Potions Master had not liked that ‘order’ was an understatement. He argued and protested for the better part of a day, until Poppy saw fit to cast a sleeping charm on him. He had lost the argument of course and, as soon as he was able, he would be moving to the now refurbished third floor, potion workroom and storerooms included. Albus was even providing him with a personal exercise room, not that he believed it would appease the younger man, who happened to like living in the dungeons and only Merlin knew why. No one would be able to enter the third floor without his permission. Since the Sorcerer’s Stone was stored there four years ago, it was one of the safest and most secure places in Hogwarts. Severus office was also moved to a spare one besides Minerva McGonagall’s; it was was heavily warded and located at a more public place.
To placate Snape, the headmaster also offered him the chance of having more time to dedicate to research and experimentation. It was a known fact, that Severus loved that part of his chosen trade, and it usually had the odd property of mellowing his moods. A Potions expert or a Master of lower rank would teach fourth years and belowto provide the time. The younger wizard had always preferred to teach the advanced grades. He would have even offered him the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor the younger man coveted for years if that was possible.
Severus was among the most capable Professors Albus had encountered over the years. But the board of governors had made it quite clear than an ex-Death Eater would not be allowed to teach that kind of subject. So he gave in to one of the things Severus wanted to do for quite some time, teach an elective advanced Potions class for his most gifted students. There were several with the potential of becoming Masters, and he wanted to encourage them towards that option without having to keep his acting in front of the Slytherins.
Rounding things up, Severus Snape seemed like a very good choice to become Harry’s protector/teacher. He had more than the necessary skills, had even protected the boy on several occasions. He was also well versed on the subjects the teen needed to learn in other to protect himself, and some others that could become handy. The Potions Master was powerful enough to perform wandless magic no matter the spell, again one more of Severus secrets, and that was something ‘the-boy-who-lived’ needed to learn. The incident the summer before with his Uncle’s sister more than proved Harry was capable. Ok, the con to his idea was that those two seemed to hate each other with a vengeance. However, he was sure that could be worked out if they both gave it a chance. It might actually do Severus good to have someone to take care of.
Now that he decided who would be Harry Potter’s protector, came the tricky part. The Ministry had not allowed him to set special classes for Harry the past term(3), no matter how he argued that it was necessary. The explanation given was that the boy needed to go through the elementary courses like the other students, regardless if his life was in danger by learning useless tricks. After all, according to Cornelius Fudge, Voldemort had not returned. The stubborn old man still refused to acknowledge the fact. Teaching Harry without the Ministry’s approval would only give Fudge more options to discredit the boy and Hogwarts.
The old man scratched his beard thoughtfully, knowing there must be a way, and it was then that he remembered the old way of training. A Master with a personal apprentice; it was still accepted even if it was rarely seen anymore. The Master had complete control over what he chose to teach his charge and the Ministry could do nothing about it. In fact, underage students serving an apprenticeship were allowed to use magic all year round. There were no holidays or vacation time in this kind of personal one on one education. There was also the fact that in the case of minors, the Master assumed the custody of his apprentice. The implications Ms. Granger and Mr. Weasley made in their letters of possible mistreatment worried him. If this was the case he needed to get Harry away from the Dursley.
If Severus got custody of Harry, he was sure it should be enough to place at least some of the wards he used at Privet Drive at Hogwarts instead. This needed further investigation, but Albus was sure there was a way to strengthen them. These wards would protect the whole school, not just their living quarters.
The more he thought about it the more he liked the idea. There was of course the fact that both Harry and Severus were probably numbers one and two on Voldemort’s to kill/torture list, but keeping them together might prove beneficial. It would be easier to keep an eye on them if they were together than if each went their own separate way. Knowing Harry’s propensity to get into trouble, whether he looked for it or not, this might avoid future dangerous situations. At least he hoped it would be so, after all, Severus did share that same propensity too. Although the adult wizard was most of the times able to bail himself out of tricky situations, something young Harry needed to learn. With this decided he returned to his personal quarters to get the parchments he needed for the Ministry ready.
(1) Invented by me.
(2) This is actually a movement in one of the Lama Sam katas (movements) for blue belts. I don’t practice it, but my sister and nephews do, so I’ll probably base whatever mention of Martial Arts I make on this. Lama Sam is originally from Kobe Japan. My sister and eldest nephew are both green belts and my younger nephew is brown belt with two red bands (going for red belt). Update: Well they are all now black belts so I might add later on more things.
(3) Remember this is AU so I’m taking some liberties for plot’s sake.