Title: Apprentice: Chapter 3 (04/?)
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.
Author Note: When I started writing this story, book five was not yet out. I have decided to include some details from the fifth book, not many and not yet, but there will be certain aspects of the book included. Only one thing I have not commented on the later chapters, this is not going to be slash. I’m not sure I can pull it off, although I have a couple of ideas for future fics where I might try to write it.
Thanks to my beta Phoenix Angel, for checking the chapters. When I asked her she told me she found both Severus and Petunia OOC, I actually did too, but was not sure. I did some corrections, and hope they are more in character.
Still, you will find that Petunia is WAY to OOC, but that was on purpose. I’ve always thought she was quite bad, and would do just about anything to show Harry the differences between being her son and being her ‘unwanted’ nephew. So I’ll be portraying her as quite abusive, and a bit more disgusted by wizards. Based on the supposition that her sister was greatly favored by her parents because of her magical abilities.
Snape drove for some time to reach Little Whining in Surrey. Once there, finding Privet Drive was no problem at all. Before going to the house, he decided to take a look at Potter’s neighborhood. For starters, it was not the opulent area he expected. The Potters ha been extremely wealthy and from an old ancient line of Aurors, so this place was slightly at odds with where he believed Harry Potter’s home was situated.
The area where the house was located was middle class, well off but not as rich as he expected. He could not help the frown that formed as the doubt that he might have actually been wrong about the Potter boy began taking form. Severus, of course, dismissed it; he was not wrong. The brat still was extremely spoiled, regardless of where he lived. As the Potions Master looked around, he found that there were many kids outside playing soccer, riding bikes, skateboards, or just lounging on the front lawns talking. As it was summer break, it was quite normal. However, from what he could see, Potter was not among any of them. The arrogant brat probably thought he was too good to hang around other boys his age.
There was one smallish boy that caught his attention the second time he looked. Somehow, Severus got the feeling the child did not want anyone noticing him. It was odd, almost as if he had a ‘notice-me-not’ charm. Of course, that was not possible for a few reasons. First, he felt no magic from him. Second, according to what the Order of the Phoenix knew of the area there were no other witches or wizard near the zone. Third, there was no possibility that the boy was James Potter’s son. The child did not seem to fit in with the other kids. He was the only one doing any kind of chores; he sat in an extremely awkward and stiff position while he one handed weeded his house’s lawn with one hand.
There were other boys outside the same house as the smallish child, but they were just lounging there, not helping at all, and instead they occasionally threw rocks or other projectiles at the kid. The scene was intriguing and Snape decided to take a good look; he got the feeling that something was… off, and he did not like it. He drove a bit closer, trying not to draw too much attention to himself, and observed the scene from across the street.
The boy was poorly dressed. Even from where he was it was evident that the clothes he wore were at least four sizes too large and in terrible condition. By all accounts, the child should have stood out in that neighborhood; it was clear he did not fit the dress code of the other children, and yet… he was rather hard notice even when he knew he was there. The Potions Master was reminded again of the effects of a ‘notice-me-not’ charm, only to dismiss it for the second time.
The child had one arm in an impromptu sling made of some kind of cloth, and one leg was awkwardly extended, he moved carefully as if hurt. The other boys seemed to be fine; in fact, the only way to describe one of the youngsters picking shots at him was to compare him with a small killer whale. After seeing him, it was not hard to deduct that the hand me downs were probably the whale boy’s discarded clothes.
There were three more kids there, much leaner and they were taunting the boy. He was surprised that the kid managed to ignore them and kept doing his job. Severus could not help but wonder why the child’s parents had not taken him to a doctor. From where he was it was evident the boy had some kind of injuries that required medical attention. He also began wondering why no one else noticed. Surely, a social worker would have been there at the clear signs of neglect by the family, but it seemed that no one except from the other youngsters even saw the child’s condition. Snape thought it was very strange.
The more he looked, the more he felt there was something familiar about him, and yet he could not place what it was. The bigger boy got tired of not getting a response and decided to move into action. The fat boy stood and stepped over some of the lawns’ plants ruining them. The little one clumsily sprang into action with a horrified cry. He tried to keep the huge boy away, but it was a futile effort since he could not even stand up. That leg was indeed injured restraining his mobility, or he was crippled in some way. The others took the fat boy’s actions as the signal to start shoving the small kid around. He never stood up, did not even attempt to, and just stayed on the ground curled up in a protective posture; with one arm, he covered his head as best as he could to fend off the others.
Snape felt tempted to intervene. He might always play the cold bastard, but he could not stand and watch that kind of abuse to someone who was obviously either hurt or sick or a child, at least when there were no Death Eaters around. Before he could do something, a thin woman with an incredibly long neck and horse like features came out of the house. He expected her to berate the bigger boys, especially the obese one. But to his immense surprise, the one that got an earful an a light trashing by the hair as she dragged him into the house was the little one, who simply lay still and let himself be dragged. Severus could not really believe what he had just witnessed, and got the feeling that this was ‘normal’, as he noticed that the few adults outside where either studiously avoiding looking in that direction or had not even noticed.
There was not much he could do about what he saw. If he lived in the area, he might have reported it to the authorities, but he had other things to do, like collecting an insufferable brat before it became too late and they were caught in a traffic jam going back to London. Therefore, he decided to look for number four. He ended parking in front of the house where the scene took place, and the sickening feeling that the smallish boy was Potter settled in his stomach. It fit, that unruly mass of hair was one of the boy’s most prominent features aside from his scar and eyes, even if it looked much longer than the way he usually wore it at Hogwarts. Potter was also too small for his age, hardly having grown a couple of inches since he arrived at Hogwarts four years ago. The feeling that he was not going to like what he found inside that house only grew stronger with each passing moment, even if he tried to push it aside.
‘It’s not Potter, he’s spoiled and pampered. People flock to do his biding, this child just has a slight resemblance to him. Besides, Albus would not leave his ‘Golden Boy’ to be abused by mere muggles, relatives or not,’ he reasoned, holding on to his beliefs on the brat’s life. ‘This is probably one of the neighbors’ children doing some summer work.’
Severus checked that he had all the parchments that both Petunia Dursley and Potter had to sign and then got off his black Land Rover. He stalked to the door in his usual manner giving the bullies his most deadly glare, although he would have preferred to hex them. Still his death glare did not fail him, the brats scattered as far away from him as they could get. He could not hide the smirk that appeared at their reaction; even in muggle clothes, and without his usual disguise, he could be quite intimidating.
Severus rang the bell and tried to look his most non-threatening, which was not an easy feat on any occasion, and even less after scaring the brats. It would not do to antagonize the woman; Mrs. Dursley might refuse to sign if he did, and Albus would be clearly disappointed. There were a couple of muffled thuds, the sound of scurrying, a low pained yelp, and a door slammed before the long necked woman opened the door.
“Yes?” The woman looked rather flushed, as if she had been exercising, or something. She was combing her hair with her hands trying to look presentable. Severus frowned; something did not seem right yet again.
“Are you Mrs. Petunia Dursley?” He tried to hide the contempt on his voice; this woman was nothing like her sister. Lily had been a friend good study partner and he had to admit very pretty.
“Yes, what can I do for you Mr…?” she asked looking a bit intrigued.
“Snape, Professor Severus Snape. I came to talk about your neph…” He was surprised at the immediate change in the woman’s features. They had instantly hardened and she looked disgusted by the sole mention of the boy.
“We haven’t received any of those letters brought by the bloody birds. What has the useless freak done this time to merit a visit?” the hatred that filled the woman’s tone startled him.
Severus agreed that the boy was useless, but he certainly was not expecting to hear that and in that tone of voice from Potter’s own family. They were supposed to pamper, spoil, and put the brat on a pedestal for being ‘the wizarding world’s savior’ not call him a ‘freak’. When the woman had the gall to look him over, he had to fight to keep from uttering a scathing remark.
“At least you had the decency of presenting yourself wearing clothes like normal people do.” The horse-like woman went on. Mentally Severus had to clench his teeth and keep himself from hexing Petunia Evans, now Dursley, as much as he wanted to at the moment. Albus had insisted that he be polite and did his best to avoid antagonizing the relatives, and he was going to try his best not to be rude.
“Nothing Mrs. Dursley; your nephew, Mr. Potter, has done nothing this time,” he was aware of the incidents on the boy’s second and third years, and the warnings for using magic when he was not supposed to. “I’ve merely come here to talk about the boy’s educational options.” Merlin! He hated himself for sounding so bland. Threaten to hex the family till kingdom come if they did not sign, get the brat, his things, and leave. That is what he should do, instead of acting all ‘nice’ or he had to repress a shudder at the thought, as ‘nice’ as he could get. However, the family could contest the contract if they were coerced to sign, something that he would not mind, but Albus certainly would. The old coot would send him on a guilt trip for that, and the conniving old wizard had an uncanny knack for doing just that. “May I come in?” The woman scowled while she took her time to respond.
“If you must…” Her words were filled with disdain and blatant disinterest, as she let him in.
“Yes I must,” He replied firmly, letting his displeasure at the situation show in both his face and voice. He had that ‘obey-or-else…’ look on his face, the one his students learned to obey at once, though the woman did not seem at all intimidated by it.
“We really want NOTHING to do with that freak school of yours or any of your KIND,” she told him while she led him into the living room and rudely did not offer him to take a seat.
She sat primly on one of the couches closest to the window. Petunia Dursley avoided all the rules of courtesy, by not even offering anything to drink, not that he would have accepted, but still it was ‘polite’, even he understood that. Severus was beginning to take the woman’s attitude as a personal offense, Potter or no Potter he WAS going to hex the bitch, nothing serious of course, just enough to teach her some manners. Since he had not been invited to sit, Snape took his time looking around the living room. There were many static photographs of the Dursley family and that whale of a boy, but, to his immense surprise Harry Potter did not feature in any of them, in fact there was no hint there that a second teenager had lived with the family for thirteen years. These along with other small clues were forming a puzzle he did not want to unravel because it would make all of his beliefs about ‘the-boy-who-lived’ false.
“Now what is it that you think is important enough to come here to bother us Professor?” Petunia asked in a sharp tone, making his title sound like an insult. The Potions Master’s guts clenched; this woman was earning his hate faster than that mutt Black ever did.
‘I… am…going to…kill this… this… woman,’ Severus thought as he prayed for something he did not have, patience. ‘Once she signs I’ll hex her or maybe turn her into a horse. Umm… doesn’t sound bad at all even if transfiguration has never been my forte; and I don’t think I’ll mind if she’s left in an in-between state, Albus and his politeness be damned! Me, be polite to the likes of this woman… indeed.’
“Headmaster Dumbledore decided that it would be good for Mr. Potter to be apprenticed to a Mast…” he began with a sneer and glared at the woman. It was enough to make her shift uncomfortably in her chair, but she still interrupted him.
“We won’t give you any money,” She began sternly.
‘Well, it seems the brat got this… interrupting characteristic from the Evans side of the family,’ Severus thought affronted by Petunia’s rudeness.
“If ‘he’ wants him at that ‘school’ then let ‘him’ pay for it.” She went on incensed. “We’re not spending another pound on the useless freak! In fact, we should be compensated for taking care of him. Tell that… that man that he should be paying US for taking care of the brat.”
Severus was not one to be easily shocked, but this time he could not help but gape at her words. He recovered quickly enough. After years of training, the Potions Master could rebuild his masks easily. He was not hearing correctly; where were Potter’s coddling and pampering relatives? Because she certainly was not one of them. It was more than obvious that she loathed Potter more than he did. This situation had suddenly become bizarre, and not at all what he expected. In fact, not even Albus would have expected it, and he liked to make everyone believe he was omniscient, which of course he was not. He was wrong about the boy’s life, he knew it in his heart and mind, and yet he rebelled against admitting it. He told himself he was jumping into conclusions and should wait before accepting that his relatives might just have abused Potter.
“Surely you don’t mean that, after all he is your sister’s son.” Severus could not believe he had actually said that, but he was in… he could only call it shock; and it was really very hard to shock him after all he had lived through.
“So? She and her useless husband were freaks like him. That… that Voldemort guy really did us a favor by killing both freaks, good riddance. Although it’s a shame he didn’t finish the job and got the brat too. They had no place in a normal…” She said callously, shocking Severus yet again.
“You will NOT speak of Lily like that!” Severus raised his voice in anger. “She was a good and powerful witch, and she happened to be YOUR sister!” He could accept anyone badmouthing James Potter, Merlin knew he did it often enough, but Lily was something else entirely. She had been one of his few true friends and he really could not stand to hear her own sister being glad that she was dead.
“So? She was still abnormal, and that made her a freak…”
“Wizards are NOT freaks!” he snapped at her. “And you better listen well…” now his voice had dropped to a very low and dangerous tone. “If you so much as THINK the word in my presence again, I am going to make sure you and your family regrets it,” his wand was out of his special pocket in his jeans and aimed at her. To hell with politeness, it was wasted on the… the… muggle. “Contrary to Mr. Potter, I’m an adult and a fully trained wizard. The restriction to use magic during the summer break does not apply to me ignorant woman, is that understood? Watch your words from this moment on Dursley if you want to remain human much longer.” Severus was not sure if he could cast Dark spell or curses inside the house as much as he was tempted. However… transfigurations were not classified as such, so maybe he should follow his impulse of turning her into a horse.
“Y… yes,” she stammered looking frightened. She had been acting boldly believing the restriction would apply to the man sitting before her. The only wizards she remembered dealing with, besides the ‘boy’ that is, had been underage. She had not attended Lily’s wedding where she might have met adult wizards. The freak looked every inch the dangerous wizard even if he was wearing normal everyday clothes, and she did not doubt that he would do something terrible to her or her precious Duddykins.
“Now, let me get this straight,” he began wearing one of those sneers that made his students want to dig a whole in the dungeon’s ground and disappear in it to escape from his wrath. “You have no interest whatsoever in keeping Harry Potter under your care. Am I right?”
“Yes,” Petunia said with a slight tremor in her voice. “We never wanted the fr… brat, but we were not given a chance to refuse him.”
“Well, then I can get to the point of my visit and stop wasting my time with disgusting… muggles. My intentions are to take your nephew as my apprentice…”
“You’re a Master?” She squeaked turning as white as a sheet. He could not help the evil smirk that appeared on his face. So this… woman knew more about the wizarding world than she let on.
“Yes, I am a Potions Master,” her face became even whiter as he went on, as well as Defense Against the Dark Arts…”
“Severus Snape…” Petunia mused and then recognition as well as fear flashed in her eyes.
Lily had spoken of him, and told her of his dark reputation, even if it had been to defend him from her fiancÃ© and his friends. She said his reputation was not entirely deserved. That he was not evil, although at the moment he looked every inch the evil wizard. She was also aware of a Master’s added advantage over regular wizards; God knew Lily had bored her to tears explaining why she wanted to become one. A Master did not just know more about magic, but actually were strong enough to perform all the ‘tricks’ they knew.
“You were her friend!”
“Yes, I was. Now stop wasting my time, and let us finish this… conversation. In order for me to… relieve you of your duty as Harry Potter’s guardian, I need you to renounce his custody in my favor.” She gaped at him. Here was the opportunity she and Vernon, were waiting for, to finally get rid of the freak.
“Can you guarantee we won’t see or hear from the… ‘boy’ again? Or any of your KIND? Because once he leaves I am certainly not taking him back.”
“I can. In fact, I have all the pertinent paperwork with me so you just have to sign and deliver the boy and his things.”
“Then I’ll sign whatever you want Mr. Snape,” Her use of his last name made him raise an eyebrow in her direction and sneer. Was she trying to get on his good side? Not likely, after making him despise her faster than he despised Black. The mutt had worked hard for several years to achieve his complete and total hatred, a thing she managed in less than an hour.
“Good…” he said enlarging and unrolling the proper parchments. On second thought, he decided some to add some things to keep the muggles from trying to collect payment for raising Potter. He had no intention of giving any pounds to them, and since he would be the boy’s new guardian it fell on him to provide the money for their demands. “You will also write a letter where you desist of ever claiming any payment for taking care of your nephew.”
“But… we have spent money on him!”
“Have you really? His clothes and glasses seem at odds with that statement.” He countered remembering the rags the child was wearing. Potter he told himself, it had to have been Potter. He might as well be prepared to the condition he would find the boy in.
“We clothed, fed, and educated the little urchin; it’s only our due to be reimbursed as we never wanted to take him in.”
“You want to get rid of him and our KIND don’t you?” His voice was low, persuasive, and carried the hidden threat of pain for her and her family. Petunia just nodded in response unable to find her voice. “Then sign, and write that letter. You won’t hear from him again. Also, I was forgetting, I’ll need a drop of your blood too.” She looked suspicious, but just nodded in acquiescence.
Severus produced a quill and ink, pointed to her where she should sign on a couple of documents, then he added his own signature. As soon as he did it, the parchment self sealed and stamped the date, time, and replicated itself. The copies, minus one, and the original went out the window, to Petunia’s horrified cry and disapproving look. The parchments then transported themselves to the proper Ministry office; the fact that they could do that from just outside the house was a clear indication that the wards had indeed weakened. He handed a copy to her and pocketed the original. Then gave her some blank parchment he successfully transfigured from a toll booth ticket. The woman looked clearly disgusted at such blatant display of magic in her house but he ignored her, and had her write the letter where she denied any claim of reimbursement for taking care of the boy. Finally, he produced another parchment, pricked her index finger with a needle, and placed three blood drops on it.
“Now where’s Potter?” The woman paled, with the look of someone who had just realized she forgot something of vital importance; she gulped nervously and refused to look at him. “Do I have to repeat myself? Where’s the boy?” he demanded, his voice cold as ice.
A/N: Severus is I think very OOC. Mostly attribute this to being in denial, he prided himself in being a good spy, very observant and with an analytical mind, yet he failed to notice the signs of a mistreated child, even if before it was never that bad. He really does not want to admit that he let old grievances cloud his mind so much that he completely blinded himself to other things (the welfare of a child that he was ‘supposed’ to protect and not only because of his oat to Dumbledore to protect his students but also because of his debt to James Potter). And, well there is a little extra that will be explained in further chapters, but probably if you’re observant you’ll find out in this chapter some of the explanation.