Title: Apprentice: Chapter 5 (06/?)
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 details from the fifth book, not mnay and not yet, but there will be certain aspects of the book included.
I took to long getting this chapter out, so I have yet to have it beta’ed’. I usually send it to Phoenix Angel, but I really wanted to get this one out soon. I have been obsesing with some of the future chapters, so in order to get there I need to get this and about three more chapters out.
I really appreciate all your reviews and some I’ll take into consideration. I had planned on adding a chapter to answer reviews, but with new policies I don’t think so. Anyway I’ll respond to some on the next chapter since I need to read through the lot of them.
Harry’s glasses were destroyed in the accident that broke some of his bones and left his leg a mess about a week ago, or at least he thought it had been a week. That had become the usual interval between his outings to do chores since the summer started. And what a summer it had been so far, with painful visions courtesy of Voldemort almost every other day; and nightmares of the third task the rest of the time, he had barely had a couple of restful hours of sleep. He had also been suffering the after effects of the cruciatus from his visions, so his coordination was completely off most of the time.
Harry would not have been in any condition to walk around, much less do any kind of chores because of the visions alone. However, the Dursleys really could not care less, except for the fact that he woke them up every time he had a vision, and Uncle Vernon dealt him a few punches -to keep him quiet- when that happened. Yeah right, like that would stop the bloody things. It was not as if he wanted to have them, but so far, he had not found a way to stop them. Over all, his relatives were meaner than before, mostly his aunt.
Aunt Petunia did not forget, and certainly would never forgive, the ton-tongue-toffee incident from the summer before. She decided to give him as little food as possible, to punish him for it; and that was besides using her normal arsenal of pans and brooms to ‘educate’, and keep him from ‘cursing’, and ‘contaminating’ her ‘little’ Duddykins.
She decided as soon as he set foot in the house, that he should go back to his cupboard and leave the room to Dudley. She, of course, did not take into consideration that Harry, the owl cage, and his trunk would compete for space in there. To make things worse tripping down the stairs along with Dudley had almost killed him. Especially because his whale of a cousin landed on top of him and while they fell, he rolled over him several times too, thus causing more damage than a normal fall should. He still had no clue how that came to happen.
Petunia decided Harry was faking most of his injuries, and that it would be a waste of time and money to take him to the hospital to treat those that did look ugly, like his knee. She only gave him some antiseptic to clean them up and a few bandages, telling him to be thankful that he got that much. She also determined the glasses were a lost case and she was not going to let Vernon waste money on buying him a new pair. Harry would have to do without, after beating him with the broomstick for tripping her poor Duddykins, Petunia threw the glasses in the rubbish can, and him back into the cupboard.
His uncle’s fist had a say also later that day. Vernon accused him of wanting to kill his son. Harry would have laughed at the irony of it, since it was him who felt barely alive. No longer was he ‘the-boy-who-lived’ but ‘the-boy-who-almost-became-a-human-pancake’. That night after his punishment, he was returned to cupboard with no food, not that they had fed him more than stale bread since he arrived, and he had had not come out until that day. To make things worse, that same night he had another vision. It had been the hardest to bear and watch so far. And it was after this one that he had trouble focusing his mind, and thinking straight for several hours after the visions ended.
Without his glasses, Harry was as blind as a bat. Because of that, and the fact that he had not been thinking clearly for a while, he had not really noticed that Professor Snape was not a black blur as he was supposed to be. No one had ever seen the Potions Master wearing anything but black robes and clothes at Hogwarts; the idea that he would actually wear any other color would have been unthinkable by students, and probably some faculty members.
As he lay on the couch, Harry began to take notice and realized that where the Professor sat, there was a bluish blur. It puzzled him and he wished he could see clearly. It was not that he had had not identified the man. His voice as well as his sarcasm were easily recognizable, but the light coloring of the clothing was… disconcerting. There were also some things he should have asked from the beginning, like why was he there? Where were they going? Why had he taken care of him? He had been kind, in a Snape-ish sort of way, despite his sarcasm. He had also been quite gentle when he took care of his injuries and while he helped him in the bath. He would not have thought the ‘greasy git’ capable of it. Harry however, was still too out of it with the effects of his vision, prolonged pain, and hunger; it really was a wonder he could think at all.
Things became more disconcerting when he heard the man talk to someone he called ‘Nan’ and ask this person to get them several potions. It was then that he realized that Snape was pressing a shiny silvery object to the area where his ear was supposed to be. He could not suppress the thoughtful frown while he tried to think what the thing was.
“What are you frowning at Mr. Potter?” Severus snapped at the boy who visibly flinched, and actually seemed to shy away from him, not like the Potter he was used to seeing at Hogwarts. He did not like it at all, and he also worried that the boy’s eyes were a bit glazed and unfocused; could the contusion be more serious than what the spell diagnosed?
“What are you doing here Professor? Is that thing a… a muggle mobile phone? Why aren’t you a black blur instead of a blue one? Why…” Harry let out in a stream, worried that if he stopped, the ill-tempered wizard would not deign to listen, much less respond to his questions. Although to be truthful, he did not believe Snape would respond to any of them. Still, he had to try, who knew? The git might actually answer for once.
“Mr. Potter I think that was the longest continuous set of words I’ve heard you utter in four years,” he said sarcastically.
Harry glared at him, or at least in the general direction of where his head was supposed to be. Severus was a bit puzzled about the blur part of the questions until he noticed the boy was not wearing his glasses, was Potter that blind? He was pleased to notice that the boy was coherent enough to ask questions, despite his glazed eyes. He then attributed the unfocused look to the lack of his glasses. It also seemed that the crack on is head did no damage to the brain, but then he always believed the brat had a thicker skull than most people did.
“To answer your question, yes it’s a perfectly functional muggle mobile phone…”
“But… you… how?” Harry stuttered confused.
“Back to incomplete sentences are we?” Severus sneered but then realized that if the boy was speaking of seeing blurs it probably went unnoticed. He also mentally chastised himself, had he not decided to stop verbally abusing the boy? He needed to change the way he addressed him, although in Potter’s condition, the boy might think he was hallucinating. “Contrary to popular belief Mr. Potter, I don’t hate muggles… well at least not all of them,” he glared with contempt at the still unconscious woman and the… boy. “I find muggle technology quite fascinating and ingenious; but unlike that fool Arthur Weasley, I take the time to investigate what the things are used for. I REFRAIN from charming or be-spelling the things until I KNOW what they are supposed to do and I am certain a spell would make them more efficient, otherwise I leave them the way they are. Also do you believe I dress in black all the time? Even outside the school?” Harry’s eyebrows shot almost to his hairline at all those admissions; he would have never thought any of it possible. Snape allowed himself a pleased smile; after all, the kid could not see him. “What? Speechless now?” He smirked letting amusement show in his voice; the boy was too easy to shock. “And tell me Potter, where are your glasses?”
“My glasses are probably in the rubbish Sir.” Harry responded softly, and then went on explaining, as he did not want him to think he had almost been beaten to death.
His uncle had done that a couple of times before, apart from the almost nightly punches when he woke them up, but to Harry those did not constitute a beating. However, that was not the reason for his injuries this time. Besides, admitting to being abused would amount in his eyes to admitting being weak and unable to defend himself from mere muggles. He did not think that was a good idea, considering the way the Potions Master had treated him before.
“Dudley fell on me down the stairs last week Sir; at least I think it was last week.” He muttered the last, and then went on. “According to my aunt, they were broken beyond repair. I’m not allowed to use magic or I might have tried to fix them,” he responded with half a shrug, his right shoulder still not working properly. Severus raised his eyebrows in surprise, that… thing fell on top of Potter, and he was still alive? Ok the boy was quite mauled, but still alive, and it explained the condition of his knee and ankle. It probably took the brunt of the whale boy’s weight when they finally landed. “Why are you here Sir?”
“Headmaster Dumbledore sent me to pick you up. The wards around the house have been weakening slowly since the summer break started. It’s no longer safe for you to stay here.” At that the boy had laughed bitterly, it was rather ironic to mention it “Potter?”
“It’s nothing Sir, don’t mind me?” Harry told Snape. He had never been safe there, and now the man knew it. The Potions Master decided to humor the boy and went on as if nothing happened.
“We better get going; I have no wish of being caught in a traffic jam.” The last comment was more to himself than to the boy. Still Harry heard it, and it puzzled him. Since when did wizards worried about muggle traffic? Was he talking about broom traffic? That sounded a bit farfetched though.
“Traffic jam? Aren’t we going back to Hogwarts Sir?” He asked, noticing that his brain was less foggy and he was able to sound more coherent.
“No, not for a few days at least; I have some pending business in muggle London.” Severus decided to explain, and saw the boy frown as he processed that bit of information, though he was again surprised that he did not ask about it. “Besides, Poppy just left yesterday for a vacation in the Bahamas… or was it Puerto Rico?” He shrugged since he had been in such a hurry to leave the infirmary the last couple of days that he really did not pay attention to the medi-witch’s inane babble about her sunny vacation. “There’s no one to take care of you at the school. Where’s your owl?” He asked changing the subject.
“I left her at Hogwarts Sir. I’m sure Dudley would have found a way to hurt Hedwig if she came with me.”
“From what I saw, I wouldn’t doubt it,” he agreed absentmindedly. He was forgetting something important to do before the left. Then he remembered that to keep Harry protected while in muggle London and with him, they needed to transfer the remaining wards, and sign the apprenticeship contract.
‘If I tell him I’m to be his Master, the brat’s not going to like it anymore than I did, but might as well get it over with while he still a bit dazed. He probably won’t ask.’
According to Dumbledore, both the teen and he had to sign the apprenticeship contract and one other parchment for the wards to transfer. He had asked where the wards were supposed to transfer to but had not received an answer. Trust Albus to avoid explaining things clearly.
‘It had something to do with me being the guardian, and substituting the blood relations,’ he sighed and shook his head in confusion. ‘Albus was so damn vague about explaining this part, I really don’t like it but… it seems there’s no other way if the boy is to be protected.’
“Mr. Potter I need you to sign some papers before we go out,” he told the boy without preamble.
“Sign? What for?” Harry asked confused. “Besides I don’t think I can, I’m right handed Sir, and I my arm doesn’t respond yet.”
“Don’t worry about the arm; just touching the document in the right place will authenticate you. I will also need three drops of your blood.”
The blood part bothered Severus quite a bit. He could not shake the feeling that he would get more than he bargained for because of it. He was also sure blood was not required in any apprenticeship contract or a guardianship transfer. He had mentioned it to Dumbledore, but the only thing he got in response was the old wizard stressing the utter importance of this part.
“And what am I supposed to sign?” the boy asked with a frown.
It was not that Harry did not trust Snape, because oddly enough he did. After all, the older wizard had saved his life several times. Because of his visions, he had proof of the man’s loyalty to the light side, and knew how much the Potions Master was willing to sacrifice to keep him safe regardless of their mutual dislike. It was just that he never had to sign anything before leaving the Dursleys. Also, at the moment, he could not read what he had to sign, so he had no real way of knowing what he was committing to do.
“The Headmaster decided that you need more specific training in Defense Against the Dark Arts among other things. When he petitioned the Ministry of Magic to authorize those extra courses, they refused to deviate from the school plan in any form. Personally, I think Fudge is just trying to complicate things by being a complete imbecile and refuse to acknowledge the Dark Lord’s return. Therefore, the only way available for you to obtain this kind of training is if a Master takes you as his apprentice.”
“Well the Minister IS a moron,” Harry agreed. He had developed a strong dislike of Cornelius Fudge. “But… a Master?”
“Yes, a Master boy.” Harry could not help but cringe a bit at hearing that word.
Boy and freak were the only things the Dursleys had called him all this summer, and what either uncle Vernon or aunt Petunia called him before punishing him since he was sent to live with them. He had unconsciously begun to associate the word with at least a slap. Severus noticed his reaction and had his belief that the abuse had been going on for some time confirmed. He could not help but sigh. He was not the right person to deal with Potter, no matter that he already admitted to himself that he had to modify his behavior towards the child; he knew it was not going to happen overnight. He did have very little patience and one hell of a temper after all; they were not part of the act. For Potter’s sake, Severus would try a more neutral tone while speaking with him, and avoid using the word boy for the time being. He really did not need to deal with a scared child.
“A Master has complete freedom to choose what to teach and when,” he went on explaining in his lecture voice. “The Ministry can’t interfere, nor can it break a contract once it’s signed. As an apprentice, you won’t be taking lessons with the rest of the school. In fact, you would no longer be considered a student, though you’ll still live at Hogwarts. Your lessons are to be more personal and intensive. Your duties and responsibilities are not many; you must LEARN, OBEY, and ASSIST your Master, that’s about everything you have to do.”
“That doesn’t sound like too much to ask,” Harry commented thoughtfully.
“No it’s not; although I believe that with your history, the obeying part might give you trouble Potter.” The boy glared at him. “In return, the Master will not only teach you what you need, but also most of what he knows of his Mastery subject. He will provide for you and protect you if the need arises. Although some might want to make you earn your keep.” Severus added.
The thought occurred to him that having an assistant while experimenting or brewing some of the most complicated potions would be a valuable asset. He could leave the bothersome tasks of preparing the ingredients to Potter, those tasks were always time consuming when what he really wanted was to start the actual brewing. Suddenly having an apprentice did not sound as bad as he had thought only that morning.
“Since you’re still underage the Master becomes your legal guardian, although even after you reach majority you will remain an apprentice until you can pass the Mastery exams for which you were trained, or the contract is revoked by mutual consent.”
“Umm, obeying won’t be a problem I think, though it doesn’t seem the Master gets a lot out of this.” He muttered.
Harry was used to do what the adult Dursleys ordered, even though at Hogwarts he rebelled when Hermione and Ron were around. Being with them let him free his natural curiosity, question things, and do something about it. However, he fought not to do anything of the sort when he was with his relatives. Questioning their orders on a good day usually ended in a few days without food. On a bad day… he rather not think about it.
“It appears so, but this is designed to guarantee that knowledge won’t be lost. This is a very ancient custom that has not changed since it started more than three thousand years ago; it’s not that common anymore, though not unheard of. However, it still serves the same purpose, and it’s believed those trained this way are superior in knowledge, magical power, and experience than those who studied at higher education magical schools.” At the boy’s puzzled look he explained. “They are much like muggle universities. Besides, as I said, the Master might want you to earn your keep.”
“That’s no problem either Sir. I’ve earned my keep since I was about four or five, so nothing new there, regardless of what THEY might say.” Being an apprentice did not sound bad, and at the moment Harry really did not want to think too much. His head was beginning to throb, and most of his other injuries were also starting to hurt, the charm was probably wearing off. “What about the Dursleys?”
“You won’t see them again, since the Master will assume your legal custody as I said before. Your… aunt has already signed the release and transfer of her rights as guardian. Also once you’re apprenticed the restriction about underage wizards using magic is not applicable anymore.”
“Where do I sign?” Harry asked eagerly, those last words really did the trick.
He would be able to do magic all year long, and not see the Dursleys anymore. He really could not think anything could beat that; and he trusted Dumbledore, so he did not think he would end with someone that was worse than his relatives were. There was also the fact that he would do almost anything to get away from them. Especially his aunt, the woman was vicious; she starved him and took advantage of his weakened condition to beat him. If he had no energy to run, then he could not escape or fight her. Vernon was loud and obnoxious, but he usually was too lazy to give him a beating. That was unless his aunt demanded it, or Dudley got hurt, like when they fell down the stairs, even if it was not his fault at all.
When Vernon deigned to move, he could inflict real damage -the man was built like an ox- and on those occasions he got involved things got really ugly. Thankfully, it was not often or he would probably have died at some point. That summer he had only punished him three times, so he counted himself lucky. The almost nightly punches really did not count for much; Vernon was tired and sleepy so he did not use his full force. They were mostly the man’s version of a slap; he had been on the receiving end of those for years, so he could deal with them most of the time if Voldie had not been particularly nasty. There were also Dudley and his cronies, with their constant bullying, but they were not home most of the time, and as long as he was able to run, climb a tree or a convenient lamppost, he had no trouble escaping from them.
Getting Potter to sign was easier than he thought, although from what he had been able to see, Severus really did not blame the tiny teen for wanting to put as much distance between his magic hating relatives and himself. He omitted telling Harry he was the Master and was glad the boy had not yet asked to whom he was apprenticed to. Still, if Potter found out before sealing the contract, Snape was sure the boy would refuse to sign. After all, he had verbally tormented and ridiculed him in the lapse of four years. But no matter how he had treated the boy at Hogwarts, the older wizard would never subject him to beatings, starvation, being locked in a cupboard, or deny him medical attention. Even Voldemort’s prisoners got to eat at least once a day most of the time. Severus was positive that what he offered was a vast improvement over his actual situation; Potter might get to see it that way in time.
Severus took the boy’s hand and placed it on the parchment, his name appeared immediately on the paper. He then picked the boy’s index finger and after transfiguring an ash tray into a needle he prickled said digit and placed three small drops of blood in the proper place, on top of his aunt’s, on another parchment. Then signed his own name beside Potter’s on the contract, transfigured another object into a needle and put the same amount of his blood on top of the boy’s. For a moment, nothing happened, then some reddish mist started coming out of the combined blood drops. It enveloped the both of them swirling lazily and expanding until it covered the whole house and slowly receded to be completely absorbed by their bodies.
“What the hell?” Severus exclaimed clearly surprised, in his experience, an apprenticeship contract did not produce such results; neither did any wards he knew. And he knew almost all of those placed on the house, as he had helped Albus research them. “This isn’t part of the contract, what did you do Albus?” He muttered.
“That wasn’t supposed to happen?” Harry asked worried. Not being able to see much he had not noticed that Snape had signed and used his own blood on the parchment. He had not just seen the red mist; he actually felt a warm tingly feeling all over as his body absorbed it. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” Snape asked raising a skeptical eyebrow, although the effect was lost since Harry could not see it.
“I seem to have botched it somehow. Would the wizard Master I’m to be apprenticed with be very angry?” There was fear in his voice.
Severus looked at the parchments; they had already stamped themselves with the proper Ministry seals, the time and date of the signature and created three copies. He guessed they were not ruined.
“They don’t look ruined to me. In fact, the copies have just transported themselves. My guess is that they are already at the corresponding Ministry office. We better leave Mr. Potter. It seems the wards are completely down now. Nothing should be able to apparate or portkey from inside the house if they were still on.” He said and picked the light boy carefully, making Harry squeak in surprise.
Severus tried not to jolt the boy too much, he had healed most of his injuries, but he still needed at least a couple of days to recover from some of them. He then made his way back to his Land Rover, leaving the muggles still stupefied. Snape had no intention of allowing them to move. With any luck, for them that is, the spell should wear off sometime later that day. He managed to open the door without the use of magic, there were too many children outside, some curious about the man taking the strange silent kid away, to risk being seen. Severus carefully settled Harry on the passenger’s seat and secured him with the safety belt; he then went to his side of the car, boarded and drove away from Privet Drive without looking back.
After about Â¾ of an hour of silent driving Snape stopped at a petrol station, where he bought Harry one of those sports drinks, the boy was dehydrated on top of everything, he ordered the child to drink it slowly. He also needed to re-apply the numbing charm. He had a potion that was much better but he never would have thought he was going to need it. The drink would begin to hydrate the boy’s body and get his stomach used to having something inside. It had the added bonus that, due to its slight sugar content, Potter’s blood pressure might rise. It had been low when he checked the boy at the house, and it seemed to be still quite low at the moment. Potter would feel slightly better and his head might start to clear. The drink worked after a while, and it was then that Harry realized that he had not even asked the name of the person he was to be apprenticed to.
“Umm… Sir… I was wondering… do you know who is to be my… umm… Master?”
“Yes, Mr. Potter as a matter of fact I do.”
“So… umm… who’s this Master Wizard Professor?”
“I am,” he said glancing at the boy from the corner of his eye. Unlike Arthur Weasley, he had not charmed his SUV, so he needed to keep his eyes on the road, and both hands on the steering wheel. He noticed the boy’s horrified expression and could not hide his smirk.
‘No! No, no, no, no,’ Harry screamed mentally in shock at his own stupidity. ‘Why didn’t I ask before I signed? This is like jumping from the frying pan to the fire! Why did it have to be SNAPE of all people? The only one, besides Voldemort that is, that I can swear will be worse than the Dursleys!’
‘He wasn’t that bad a while ago,’ a mental voice that sounded a bit like Hermione reminded him. ‘Wouldn’t you say he was almost gentle in the way he handled your injuries?’
‘Oh shut up! It’s Snape for crying out loud! He and gentle on the same sentence isn’t possible!’ Harry argued with the Hermione-like mental voice.
‘Give the man a chance, do you REALLY think he’d be worse than the Dursleys?’ the voice insisted.
“But… but you said it was Defense Against the Dark Arts and you teach Potions! I’m no good at Potions!”
“I will be teaching you Defense Against the Dark Arts Mr. Potter. I do have mastery on it and I’m approved by the Ministry to teach it,” when he mentioned the Ministry, his tone was more than slightly bitter. He was approved to teach the subject and yet the board of directors did not ‘allow’ him, an ex-Death Eater, to take the position. Those dunderheads might have actually learned something if they had only allowed him to teach the subject.
So the rumors were true,” Harry could not help mentioning. “You wanted to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts instead of Potions. Why didn’t you Sir? As far as I know, none of the other Professors were Masters. With the exception of Mad Eye Moody, but it wasn’t really him.”
“That position is neither something I want to discuss now, nor any other time Mr. Potter. Abstain from making any reference to it in my presence. Regarding your Potion making skills, let me be the judge of that. You might not be such a waste of my time if you can deliver the same kind of essays you wrote during your first year, and pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re brewing the potion,” he stated dryly while he mentally groaned at noticing that he had been unable to avoid the traffic jam.
‘Did he just compliment my work during first year?’ Harry thought gob smacked, a compliment from Snape to a Gryffindor was unheard of, especially if said Gryffindor went by the name of Harry James Potter. ‘I guess this is as close as he would come to one, at least towards me.’
“I will Professor, but… why did you accept to train me? You… I… we really don’t get along Sir,”
“Let me assure you Mr. Potter that I’m no more pleased by this… arrangement than you are, but…” he hesitated a bit before adding his next words. “The Headmaster has his ways of getting people to do what he wants. He got his mind set on this… so; there was no way around it.”
“Umm… I wonder if Professor Dumbledore finally went off his rocket,” Harry muttered, but Snape still heard him.
“It would seem so, although at times I really wonder if that man wasn’t really in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor.”
“On that I would have to agree wholeheartedly Sir, he IS too cunning for a Gryffindor.”