Title: Apprentice: Chapter 4 (05/?)
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 may and not yet, but there will be certain aspects of the book included.
I want to thank Phoenix Angel for betaing the chapter and giving me some very good insights, I tried to follow some of them, though in the end I barely made the changes since the muses have not been all that kind to me this time, as well as real life.
I wanted to have the chapter out before the end of the year, so regardless of inspiration here it is. There is a great possibility that I might change some parts of the chapter before I post the next (which by the way is done, and only needs some minor corrections and betaing). If I do I’ll inform you so you can re-read the chapter so the next makes sense.
“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.
Shaking a little, the woman finally pointed to the locked cupboard under the stairs. Potter was in there? Severus’s stomach sunk; the boy he saw had been Potter – he could not lie to himself anymore- and Potter had not looked well. The Potions Master wondered for an instant, how had the boy managed to hide what went on at his home? From the pieces of the puzzle he had completed, the only conclusion he could draw was that the abuse was not a recent development. Snape then pushed those thoughts aside; it was not the time to dwell on them. He would get his answers later, once he was able to talk to Potter. That is, if the boy wanted to talk about it at all.
From experience with some of his Slytherins, he knew few children in his position wanted to talk about it; at least, in the beginning. With the way he had treated Potter before, he doubted the boy would feel like confiding in his ‘hated’ Potions Master; still, since he already knew, there might be a slight chance Potter would open up. As he walked to the cupboard with the intention of getting the Gryffindor out, the huge fat boy came in complaining and whining that he was hungry, and demanded to eat in that instant. Snape glared at the boy, before ordering him.
“Go to your cousin’s room, pack his things and bring them down,” the massive kid cowered at his look, then stared at him wide eyed with fear but did not move. “Now, not next week, move it boy!”
“B… but… he doesn’t have any things! Besides that m… stuff! And that’s his room!” He said pointing at the cupboard.
‘These people have to be joking! I thought that was just the place were they punished him not his bloody room!’ Severus thought starting to feel furious. He ran a hand trough his hair and took several deep breaths, trying to calm down. How dare they treat a wizard, or any human being for that matter, like that? ‘That’s no place for a child, be it Potter or anyone!’ How could Dumbledore let his Golden Boy live with such beasts? And then, have the gall to he send him back every summer! ‘No wonder the child always asks to stay at Hogwarts during all breaks and especially the summer.’
“You mean to tell me he sleeps in THERE?” He fixed Dudley with a glare that clearly stated ‘you-better-not-be serious-or…’ The whale of a boy paled a bit, but he was too obtuse to understand the whole treat behind the glare.
“Leave my Duddykins alone! You… you…” Petunia Dursley jumped up in what she believed was her son’s protection. It only served to anger Severus even more, his head snapped in her direction, wand leveled at her heart.
“Quiet woman or you’ll be getting a nasty hex… actually I might do it anyway,” he added the later as an after thought. “Now let this…” his wand changed targets and with a light wrist flick settled between the huge boy’s brows. “Excuse for a boy answer, he does have a tongue in that cavern he calls a mouth, doesn’t he?” The dark wizard ordered her, ready to stupefy the woman if she so much as moved; his voice was full of disgust and barely contained fury. For the first time since he ever heard of Voldemort’s ideas, twenty years ago, he almost agreed with the Dark Lord’s treatment of muggles… almost; at least, where the Dursley family was concerned. He still had trouble believing they kept Potter in the cupboard. How many years had the boy been sleeping in there?
“That’s… that’s where… he always slept before those… those… letters that drove Dad crazy came,” the whale of a boy managed to stutter. Since he was still in one piece, and quite stupid to realize his precarious situation, he decided to complain. “Then when he returned for the summer the first time, he got my second room; he had it for three years! It wasn’t fair and I needed it!” Dudley whined, not realizing that he was only incurring in the wizard’s wrath.
Severus took a couple more deep breaths and shook his head to dispel the desire of cursing the boy. Regardless of his previous actions, pointing his wand at him for a moment before he returned it to target the woman, cursing a child went against his principles. He never had, and if he could help it never would, not even to please Voldemort, and had almost paid with his life for refusing to do so. Yet Dudley Dursley came close to making him betray those principles.
“And I thought Draco Malfoy was the embodiment of the spoilt and pampered brat, even over Potter. This… boy is much, much worse,” he muttered to himself.
“He’s never been any good except for doing my homework, but he can’t anymore since he’s at that school, and that was bummer because I had to find someone to replace the freak.” The whale boy went on, complaining about what he believed were just grievances against Harry. “Besides, with all those screams at night it’s better if he stays…”
“Get.out.of.my.sight,” Snape said through clenched teeth and hardly containing himself. “Before I turn you into the animal version of what you are.” At the boy’s stupid puzzled look, he clarified. “A whale.” After his threat, the huge kid grabbed his behind and scuttled to his mother as fast as he could. It was really strange behavior, but Severus was, at the moment, too furious to puzzle over it.
Severus had heard enough. He… disliked Potter – the boy was annoying – but… even he would not have subjected even him to sleep in that place. He did not believe the brat had ever done anything to merit such treatment, regardless of his crazy escapades at Hogwarts might suggest. Snape had to admit that he was wrong about the kind of life the boy led, completely wrong, and he considered himself not only observant but also quite good at reading people. Severus hated being mistaken. He was probably going to have to spend quite some time re-thinking his views of ‘the-boy-who-lived’, and was certain that he would have to change his behavior towards him too; he would not add to the abuse the boy had already received. His relatives had obviously never loved Potter, much less pampered, and spoiled him in his life. Dreading what he would find, he went to the locked cupboard and hunkered before it.
“Alohomora,” he said softly and the locks opened with light clicks. The stench of sweat, old blood, pain, and bodily wastes coming from inside the small place made him gag. It was almost as bad as the stench he remembered from Riddle House’s dungeons. “What the…”
‘How the hell did he manage to contain that inside without the Ministry noticing the use of magic?’ He thought, because it was clear Potter kept the stench confined to the small cramped space using magic. There was no other explanation, and yet the Dursley woman had said that they had not received any owls.
Surprisingly enough he had not been able to feel any magic until he was within close distance of the child. Yet another puzzle to ponder later, together with what he now was positive had been indeed a ‘notice-me-not’ charm. Was he doing that consciously? Because it seemed too specific to just have been bouts of uncontrolled magic. Severus shook his head and directed his attention back to the boy; at the moment, he needed to assess Potter’s condition. Trying not to take any deep breaths as he peered inside, he turned on the single light bulb, and found Potter curled up on a small mattress hardly big enough for him, his trunk under it leaving no room for anything else. The boy was barely conscious and it took him a while to react. Finally he blinked several times and tried to focus.
“Articulate as ever Mr. Potter,” he sneered, hiding the concern he felt at seeing the sorry state the boy was in, for he looked much worse up close. Concern was something he was rather unused to feeling in relation to Harry Potter, or anyone else for that matter. It had been a long time since he worried about someone, Nan and Albus included.
“Pro… professor Snape?” Harry croaked, turning to where the voice came from, not really believing anyone from Hogwarts was there. He did not want to hope that he would finally be going home only to realize it was some hallucination because of the pain and the fever he had been suffering lately.
“Clever as always Potter, now get your things and come out of there. We’re leaving,” he ordered the dazed boy.
Potter had been able to move when he saw him outside. However, he was beginning to think the woman gave him more than a light trashing. Though it did not seem like she had much time for that, it certainly explained the way she had looked when she opened the door. Snape was really concerned now, but still refused to show it, and let the emotion take control. At his words, Potter just stared at him with wide pain-filled, unfocused eyes, with an expression of complete disbelief on his face.
“Can’t,” Harry finally responded. He hurt too much and was too weak after first a round with Dudley & Co., and then his aunt. She did not have much time to do any damage, but being dragged by his hair and thrown head first into the cupboard had been quite painful; that woman was stronger than she looked. He believed he might have cracked his skull when she threw him in as he had hit the back wall head first.
“Can’t what? Leave? Get out? Sometimes I wonder if that single brain cell Gryffindors have has not expired from loneliness.” Severus snapped at the boy, still doing his best to keep the concern from showing in his voice. It would ruin his hard won reputation as an unfeeling bastard. Besides, he needed a cool head to check and heal him enough to make it back to his flat. Poppy was not available, and St. Mungos should be only a last resort option; it was too dangerous for both of them to stay in a public place long.
‘Damn Big D and his gang!’ Harry thought, focusing on his anger at his cousin and the Potions Master instead of the pain he felt. Dudley and his ‘friends’ had only made things worse than they had already been, and just when he was finally starting to heal. In addition, Snape’s comment infuriated Harry enough to give him some strength to try to move from his cot. It only resulted in so much pain that he could not help the low whimper that escaped his lips.
“Can’t move Professor,” Harry finally said through clenched teeth. He would be damned if he let any more signs of weakness show. The snarky Professor would surely gloat about it later.
“Why?” Severus asked with a frown, still fighting not to gag at the stench coming out of the tiny room. He finally decided on muttering a simple air cleaning charm, the one he used to clear the mildly irritating fumes from some of his potions.
“Why?” the ‘greasy git’ had the gall to ask why? Didn’t he have eyes? Or maybe he did not look as bad as he felt, though he doubted it. “Oh maybe it’s because I believe my knee’s broken and probably some ribs too. My right shoulder’s dislocated, my right elbow feels broken, there isn’t a part of me that doesn’t hurt and I’m tired… Voldie’s been quite active this summer, but then you SHOULD know that shouldn’t you?”
‘How does he know about the Dark Lord’s activities? And what does that have to do with his condition?’ Snape wondered with a frown, until he remembered that Dumbledore commented the boy had visions of the Dark Lord. However, as was the old wizard’s wont, he was quite vague about them. He did not dwell on the nickname the irreverent boy gave the Dark Lord, although it was quite amusing.
“Are those reasons enough SIR? Or how about my head’s hurts so much I really can’t think straight?” The boy snapped at him, his voice pain ridden and full of sarcasm. Harry was actually surprised he managed to say that much, he had barely spoken since he first arrived from Hogwarts that summer. But he was too bloody angry and in pain to care about what he was saying. Why of all people did Dumbledore send Snape? The Headmaster knew he and the Potions Master did not get along to put it mildly.
‘Merlin! And he’s still conscious and able to be sarcastic?’ An eyebrow shot up almost to his hairline in surprise at the Gryffindor’s endurance. His opinion of the Potter boy raised several notches. He then pointed his wand at him and whispered a strong numbing charm. With the extent of his injuries it would not last long; still, it should do for the time being.
“I get the idea Potter. I just put you under a numbing charm…”
“THIS IS A DECENT HOUSE YOU WILL NOT USE YOUR STINK…” Petunia shrieked outraged at the use, yet again, of magic in her house. This had been the last straw in her tolerance of it.
“STUPEFY!” Snape roared with barely a backward glance at the woman, his voice laden with anger and his aim perfect.
Petunia Dursley had been in the process of standing up from the chair were she sat when the spell hit her with such force that she toppled over, chair and all. Snape heard the clatter, but paid no attention to it. He would have preferred to have given her a taste of an atormentar*, one of those curses created during the Spanish inquisition. It was rather archaic but not considered dark as it was used to ‘show’ inquisitors what their victims felt. On the other hand, he could have used a cruciatus, but that one would have called the Ministry’s attention if the house’s wards had let him cast it at all, and, he really was in no mood to deal with those incompetent imbeciles. Still, he believed it would do her good to feel what pain was, instead of inflicting it on a child.
The whale boy started shrieking when he saw his mother fall, so he got stupefied too to keep him quiet; no need for the neighbors to call the muggle authorities… although, on second thought, it might be interesting to hear how that Dursley woman explained Potter’s condition to them. How long had Potter been in like that anyway? The stench in the little cupboard suggested at least a few days. It filled him with rage, as a Professor he had sworn to protect his students from harm, annoying ‘Golden Trio’ included, and it was an oath he took to heart. A low chuckle, and then a pained whimper brought his attention back to ‘the-boy-who-lived’, although, at the moment, he appeared to be ‘the-boy-who-was-barely-alive’.
“That felt good, thank you Sir.” The comment made Snape look at him quizzically, but Harry was not looking at him, and just went on and explained. “You have no idea how much I wished I could curse them. A cruciatus would have been much better,” Severus could not help but raise an eyebrow in surprise. He would have never believed Potter capable of wishing the cruciatus on anyone. One of his Slytherins… yes they would have, but not a Gryffindor. “But you might have gotten in trouble.”
“My thoughts exactly Mr. Potter, it seems we finally agree on something. At the moment, I don’t relish the though of dealing with idiotic Ministry officials at the moment, nor the idea of spending a little ‘vacation’ in Azkaban anytime soon. But I can still curse them, there are other curses that work like a cruciatus and are allowed,” he responded wryly and allowed himself a small smirk. He had been there less than an hour and he already ‘hated’ those two. He could only imagine what it would have been to see them everyday.
“It’s ok Sir, they aren’t really worth getting in trouble for, or I would have risked an expulsion and Azkaban long ago.”
‘He would have actually cursed them? Now that’s interesting,’ Severus thought and decided to file that information for later.
Severus got Harry out carefully from under the stairs. Without the charm, it would have been a painful ordeal. As it was, he had a bit of trouble since he could not levitate him out of it; he had to take the child in his arms, hoping not to worsen whatever other injuries he had. He set the boy on the couch in the living room, then went and got the trunk, and owl cage out. He asked Harry if everything was in there before he shrunk the objects and put them in his jeans’ pocket. The boy’s snowy owl was nowhere in sight, but he surmised that the bird was probably out hunting or perched on one of the trees outside. As he appraised the child, he realized Potter was practically skin and bones. He had been quite thin when he left the school because of the strain of the tournament and Diggory’s death, but he had lost even more weight since then, so on top of being beaten the boy had not eaten enough. He wondered if it was because he could not eat or because his relatives did not feed him. The way things were looking, the second option seemed more probable.
After a quick diagnosis spell, he came to the conclusion that Harry’s assessment was mostly correct. Although he found no explanation to the nerve damage indicated, and it was not light either. He could feel the slight, involuntary trembling of the boy when he carried him and could see the minute twitching of his hands. Somehow, it reminded him of the after effects of several cruciatus curses, but there was no one to submit him to them. The wards would have detected any Death Eaters inside, and, as he knew how they operated, they would not have left the boy there in the first place. It had to be something else; the spell he used was a simple one, just to find the more important injuries. Once back in his flat, he would cast something more specific.
Potter’s shoulder was indeed dislocated, the right knee, foot and ankle were broken as well as his femur (only a hairline fracture actually). There was a slight crack on his skull and a contusion because of it. The elbow was only badly sprained, and some of the ligaments were torn. Two ribs were broken, and another had a nasty crack, all that besides being black and blue on the areas where he could see skin, though he was probably bruised all over. Severus felt relieved that he could correct most of the injuries with his knowledge of medical spells.
Early in his studies to become a Potions Master, he had received some training in medi-wizardry, as it was necessary when dealing with all types of healing potions and even poisons. He was certain he would have done well if he had taken the placement exams. However, at the time, his circumstances had not allowed him to follow a medical career, not that he would have chosen medi-wizardry over Potions. He really did not have the right disposition for it anyway, and it was a ‘required’ course. He had received that ‘extra’ course during his 6th and 7th years at Hogwarts. Poppy was an excellent medi-witch and a very dedicated and strict teacher. She rarely accepted to prepare students before they had taken their NEWTs and graduated from school. Dumbledore had been the one to convince her that because of Severus ‘exceptional’ circumstances, he required the early training. As young as he was, Snape was their only high placed spy in the Dark Lord’s Death Eaters ranks, and they had not had a student with his genius for potions in at least 70 years.
Later on, when he did well enough as a businessman, chemist, and as a Potions Master he saw no reason to pursue more knowledge of medi-wizardry. Snape had practiced a lot during his time as a Death Eater; the knowledge had been handy for desperate situations, of which he found himself in many. The Dark Lord had appreciated that extra skill; it had made him a more valuable element than the majority of his followers. It was because of his valuable skills that he had been allowed some of his ‘eccentricities’, as well as the chance to prove himself again when Voldemort returned, for any other would have been dead at first sight.
Severus had removed the pant leg to get a better look at the injured extremity, and he did not like what he saw. Potter’s right knee and foot were in a terrible condition; the almost black coloring was disquieting. The bones shattered, damaging sinew, tendons, muscles, and nerves. Shards of bone had also pierced the skin at some point, but at least that seemed to be healing. He thought that odd, as the injury had not received any treatment, save for crude and dirty bandages, and there were already signs of severe infection. Because of that, the boy was probably suffering from bouts of fever, although at the moment he did not have one. Snape could not help but wonder what happened to Potter to leave him in such condition, and what possessed those sorry excuses for human beings that were his relatives to deny him medical attention. The Potions Master could only think that perhaps they worried about all the questions that would arise at Harry’s condition.
Most of the damage he saw, fit with at least one, but probably more than that, beatings, but not the injuries sustained on his right leg. Anyway, he would find out later what happened. At the moment, he had to concentrate on healing what he could, as he believed a specialized medi-witch or wizard should look at the leg. The damage went way beyond his scope of knowledge, so he just immobilized it with a localized version of the body bind spell. One rib needed to heal on its own, since the fracture was too old to treat successfully with magic, and the same applied to most bruises. The elbow, skull crack, and other ribs were relatively easy to heal, and with the right potions, the boy would be as good as new in a few of days. The last he did was pop the shoulder in place, his previous numbing spell making it painless.
Once finished he finally realized that the cupboard was not the only thing that stunk; Harry smelled badly too. More than an hour cooped up with the smelly teenager in his Land Rover would be a nightmare, even with the windows open. Severus applied a simple cleaning charm that took care of most of the smell and some of the dirt, but a bath was still necessary. He suspected the bath would relax muscles that had been in pain too long, and help ease the involuntary tremors that Harry was still suffering. Besides, the boy might actually enjoy it. He did not usually let the kinder part of his nature show, but he felt Potter had already been through enough, and since taking of his well being was part of being his legal guardian, he might as well start taking the responsibility. Taking advantage that the muggles were still out of commission, he levitated the boy upstairs.
“Where are we going Sir?” Harry managed to ask weakly. He was surprised at being taken upstairs.
“You stink Potter,” Severus told him, as if that explained everything, which to him it did. He kept his tone neutral. At the moment, there was no need to overly embarrass the boy, at least not more than he was going to be when he realized that his hated Professor was going to assist him in taking a bath.
“I’m sorry Sir,” he muttered. Not really comprehending what the Potions Master had meant with that statement. All his previous anger was gone; he really had little energy left for that even though he was no longer in pain.
“No need to apologize. I assume you had no choice in the matter.” The boy’s eyes had widened at hearing him, he probably expected to be called to task for not being able to bathe. “Now which door is the bathroom?”
“Second door on the left… but… I… I don’t… I… can’t…” Harry stuttered when he realized that in his condition he would not be able to wash himself.
“I know that boy,” he snapped. To his surprise, Potter cringed slightly and he frowned. “I shall assist you.”
“I… umm… you… really… it’s not necessary,” he managed to say as he heard the water start to fill the tub.
“Nonsense, you do need a bath.” His tone left no room for argument and Potter surprised him again by not arguing, just turning a bright shade of red in embarrassment.
Severus settled the boy on the toilet while he looked around the bathroom. He found hair shampoo, soap and a strawberry scented bubble bath. Thinking a bit, he decided to add some of it to the filling tub. It would provide the boy with some privacy, even though he would end smelling like a girl, an improvement over his present odor for sure, though Potter might not like it one bit. At the moment, he was in no position to argue anyway. When the tub was full, he levitated the boy into it clothes and all, earning an undignified squeak. Once settled he removed the kid’s clothes with a spell.
Potter did manage to wash most of himself with only one working arm, so Severus only assisted him with his back and hair. After he finished, he used a spell to change the dirty water for clean and let the boy soak a bit in warm water, the slight tremors easing considerably. Potter did relax and even sighed in contentment once he got over the embarrassment of having his most hated Professor helping him bathe. Harry should have taken that time to think, there were quite a few things to ask about. But he was not up to thinking straight yet. He was weak and his mind fogged. He had been feeling like that after the vision he had the day Dudley fell on him. Since then he had three other visions and it took him quite a long time to dispel the fog in his brain. The latest had only been last night, so he hoped that Snape would explain why he was there without him having to ask any questions.
Severus noticed that his suspicions about the boy being black and blue all over were true. In addition, Harry was even smaller than he originally thought, and much too thin for his age. His bulky clothes certainly covered that fact. After he mentioned it, the boy finally admitted that he had barely eaten since he arrived and that it was probably a week since his last ration; also that he had only drunk a couple of glasses of water a day. It was after this admission that the Professor finally understood why the boy had barely grown since his first year. Malnourishment, when prolonged, tended to inhibit growth and he had little doubt that that was the case. Snape was a bit surprised that Potter had barely spoken and had not asked all the questions he was expecting, but he attributed it to him being weak, and probably dazed by the contusion.
After some time, Severus resized the trunk, and took out some of the boy’s worn muggle clothes for him to dress in. He then transfigured some of the bathroom necessities into bandages for his ribs and arm, and a sling for the right arm. When they were done, the older wizard descended the stairs levitating the frail boy and deposited him carefully on the couch again. A cursory glance in their direction told him the muggles were still out; he must have put a lot more emotion into those stupefy than he originally intended. But he had seldom been so angry, and not just at them. He was so angry with himself for not noticing the boy’s situation and adding his own brand of abuse on top of what he got at his relative’s house, and he was furious with Dumbledore too. The Headmaster was going to hear a few choice words from him as soon as he could contact him.
Before leaving Severus decided to inform Nan; she would need to make some changes on what she planned for dinner. Potter needed to be re-introduced to solid foods, for the first couple of days, so probably a broth of some kind would do. He intended to get the boy eating again as soon as possible to aid his recovery. He also needed some standard potions to complement his spells and try to speed the bones healing, a painkiller, something to help nourish him faster, salve for the bruises and muscular pain, and he would have to look for a good potion to combat the infection. Several came to mind, but he was not sure which one would work best with the kind of infection the boy had, as his diagnosis spell had not told him how extensive it was. Besides, even if he had to have a crash refresher course in healing since the start of the summer, courtesy of the Dark Lord, it had been a long time since he had to medicate someone, including himself. In addition, the medi-wizard or witch that tended to his leg might have a different concoction in mind.
Those potions he did not have in stock, his old nurse could prepare. It was Nan who first introduced him to potion making and encouraged him when she discovered he had the aptitude. She was no master, but she was good enough that he would use any potion she brewed without thinking about it twice. Severus sat on the other side of the couch where he put Harry, took out his muggle mobile phone, and dialed home. There was no need to give those despicable muggles a way to locate him by using their phone.
* Atormentar = Spanish for ‘To torment’.