Title: Apprentice: Chapter 7 (08/?)
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 may and not yet, but there will be certain aspects of the book included.
Author Note: Sorry for the delay, I was ill for a while and then I found out I had some inconsistencies in my proposed timeline for the story, so I’ve been trying to correct them and get them to work with the plot.
betaed this chapter, and I’m looking for a new beta if there is anyone interested please e-mail me at the account in my profile.
Well here is the next chapter. I hope you like it.
Nan tucked the boy tenderly under the sheets, making sure to keep the leg propped up. It was the best they could do until Eldon had taken a look at it. Harry’s condition told her his story quite clearly. Those muggles were despicable, how could they do that to a child? It was not just because he was Harry Potter ‘the-boy-who-lived’. He could have been just the kid next door, and still not deserve such treatment from his relatives. Harry was still young and needed to be treated with kindness by his own family at the very least.
Harry was now on their hands, well mostly in Severus’s. At that moment, the old witch decided she was going to be involved even in the odd case that her ex-charge did not want her to be. Although she was quite sure that would not be so. Surveying the room while she thought for a bit, her eyes settled on the boy’s trunk. They would have to stay at least a week, until Harry was better. So she saw no point in leaving his things all packed, besides she wanted to make sure that not all of his clothes were rags. Matilda started unpacking; as she took the boy’s clothes out, she unfortunately found out that all his muggle clothing was in the same or worse condition than the ones he was wearing. The things were barely fit for cleaning rags, much less for being worn. They were also HUGE and Harry was really too small and too thin for a fourteen/fifteen year old.
Nan set the rags aside ignoring Severus. He had not left the room and watched her antics with a slight hint of curiosity in his eyes; although, as was his wont, he refrained from asking. He knew her too well to know she was going to sate his curiosity later without him having to ask. The old witch huffed indignantly at what she saw; nothing was worth salvaging, so she was going to throw the huge clothes in the trash. There were four handmade jumpers in good condition though; she guessed they were probably gifts. Those she put in a dresser drawer. There were also his Hogwarts robes and uniforms in relatively good condition. They would have to do until they bought him some decent clothing; a complete, good quality wardrobe that fit if she had any say in it.
All his school books of four years were neatly stacked inside the trunk, and it seemed they had been there a long time, not just packed that day. In fact, it looked like he had not unpacked since he left school. The books were not necessary now that Severus was going to be instructing him, so he did not need to carry them back to school. A few other books were also inside it. She took out all of them and arranged them neatly on the empty bookshelves near the window. She found a photo album, an invisibility cloak, a firebolt broom, quidditch equipment, as well as piles of notes, vials and other assorted school related odds and ends.
Nan placed the photo album on the bookshelf, she was curious about it but respecting the child’s privacy decided not to pry -anymore than she was already doing- until she had asked for permission. The invisibility cloak she decided to leave in the trunk. Knowing Severus, he might confiscate it. The broom went into the closet, and the quidditch equipment into one of the drawers. The vials went also to the bookshelves while she got the boy a cupboard to store that kind of stuff, and the school related material was neatly stored in the desk’s drawers. Once Harry was awake she would ask if he wanted the notes bound in leather by year and assignment, it would make them easier to store and search through for reviews. They had an excellent binder working for their Potions Company that she could recommend to him.
Once she unpacked all of his things, including the basic toiletries -which consisted on Hogwarts’ issued supplies- and that she had Severus put in the bathroom across the hall. She had the Potions Master take the trunk to the storage closet until it was needed. Severus grumbled a bit at being ordered about, but a pointed look was all it took to make him comply, even as a full grown adult wizard he avoided getting her angry like the plague.
Matilda took a good look at the room. It was probably going to need some redecoration to make it the room of a teenage boy, as well as things like posters or pictures to make it more personal. There had not been anything in the trunk that would have given her an idea of what he liked, except the quidditch stuff, but no reference of a favorite team. There were also no toys or mementos like most people had, only the album, the Firebolt broom, and the invisibility cloak. It was not right that what she unpacked was all the boy owned, she would correct that as soon as Severus got him his glasses. They would go through the photos in his album, and see which ones he wanted copied and on frames.
With a sigh she looked around, that had been as much as she could do to start giving him a feeling of home. The rest would have to wait until he was awake to see what else the boy wanted done. As Sev’s apprentice Harry was there to stay, even if he would be spending a lot of time in Hogwarts, the flat was still Severus main home and sanctuary, so he came back whenever he needed peace and quiet. The old witch wanted to provide that for the boy, a safe haven and a home. She could almost swear Harry never had such a place for himself.
Nan left the room and signaled Severus to follow her. He had silently observed her antics, but had not said or done more than occasionally raise a puzzled eyebrow, which she had ignored. She needed to work her anger off at the boy’s relatives before she spoke, else she might end casting a malediction –and she was quite good at it- on those people. The only problem would be that she was not sure who they were, and until she did, it could end wrong. He went after her to the kitchen, watched Nan angrily put all of Potter’s clothes into a plastic bag; and then she threw them in the trash while she muttered: ‘the gall of those people!’
Severus suspected she would have him supply the boy with a new wardrobe as soon as possible. He could not help but wonder why no one had noticed the condition of the boy’s clothes. It was a clear indication that things were not ‘right’ with his relatives. He should have certainly noticed, and yet he had not. They were just too at odds with what a ‘pampered and spoiled brat’ would wear. Thinking as far back as Potter’s first year he realized he had NEVER seen the boy wearing anything else besides his school uniform, those Weasley issued jumpers and pajamas. The Potions Master had to give him credit for being able to avoid questions by not using his muggle clothing were it would make people question their condition. That was… actually very Slytherin of him.
As he thought about the boy’s clothes he realized that supplying him with a whole wardrobe was not a bad idea. Severus did not want it said that he forced his apprentice to dress in rags; it would give people the wrong idea. Despite the cold image he had cultivated for years, he was not about to let everyone believe he mistreated ‘Gryffindor’s-Golden-Boy’. Besides, status wise it was not good, regardless of his removal as head of Slytherin house; there were still appearances to keep.
He was a Master, and as such he was required to provide for his apprentice the best that he could afford to show how well he did at his trade. He mentally groaned at this. Severus absolutely hated these kinds of ‘social’ games, but he had been playing them for so long that there was no way he could completely ignore them. Despite feeling inclined to do so. A lot of people were not going to be very happy that he had taken Potter as his apprentice, and they would be watching to see how he was treating ‘the-boy-who-lived’. Not that anyone could do anything about it, once a contract was signed, it only concerned the Master and the Apprentice. It was unbreakable unless both parties agreed to terminate it, or the apprentice passed all his examinations to become a Master.
Well, if he was going to be required to wear his Mastery colors -or ‘rank bands’ as some called them- while he trained an apprentice, he would then do it in style. He would play the game by his rules and perhaps rub a few noses while playing it. Potter would wear the best of the best, and not just clothes but all his supplies for training. He had the fleeting thought that perhaps that would put down the Malfoy brat a notch or two, or at least make him slightly green with envy. He could not keep the slightly evil smirk that appeared of its own volition on his face at the thought. That would definitely be amusing, it was perhaps a childish way to get even for tolerating all of the brat’s impertinences; but to Draco Malfoy money, power, and henceforth his social status were what mattered most.
Contrary to what all the student body believed, including said brat, he did not like him an iota. In fact, it was really a big challenge to his acting abilities to pretend that the brat was his favorite student when he despised all Malfoys. Muggles would have given him an award for his ongoing performance. In his own opinion, Draco Malfoy was even more spoiled and insufferable than what he had believed Potter to be. Not being required to keep the act anymore was a relief and would get rid of that misconception after the first lessons of the term, and he was looking forward to that and was going to enjoy it very much.
As he thought about the social games he would have to play, Severus realized he needed to check if the boy would wear the Potter family crests. If he was not wrong, the boy was already fifteen, and he was the only remaining member of the Potter family. The last two Dark Lords had done quite a good job at eradicating most of the family members. Tradition dictated that the eldest son, or daughter, of pureblooded lines wore the crest or crests after their fifteenth birthday to show they were the heirs of their family.
At Hogwarts many of these children wore them, he had seen even some of the muggleborns -those that had been born into the muggle British nobility, or that came from old traditional families- wear their crests once they found out about the tradition. It could be anything from a medallion, to a robe brooch passing through hair pins. As non-conventional as Arthur Weasley was, even he had upheld this tradition. Severus had seen the eldest Weasley child, Bill, wear the brooch on his robe since his fifth year.
Snape made a mental note to ask Albus if he had stored them, or if they were stored for safe keeping at a Gringotts vault, as he had seen nothing that remotely resembled jewelry in the boy’s trunk. He remembered James Potter had been wearing the Head of Potter House medallion and signet ring, and the heir brooch since his seventh year. It was a fair assumption that he had them with him when Voldemort killed him. He also was not sure if being the boy’s guardian influenced this tradition in any way. Because if it did, then Potter would have to wear the Snape heir family crests, and he would have to dig them out from his Gringotts vault. They and the Head of Snape House medallion, ring and brooch were among the few heirlooms he had been able to salvage after paying all his parents debts.
He could not help but smirk at the fact that if Potter wore both crests it would probably have Draco Malfoy in a snit. He was the Malfoy heir but he had no claim to being the Black’s heir. That mutt, Sirius Black, was the last male heir of the Black side of the family. Narcissa and Bellatrix, formerly Black and later Malfoy and LeStrange respectively, were the mutt’s cousins and not direct in the line. Oh yes, he was going to have some fun getting back at the Malfoy heir, and perhaps Potter would not be too Gryffindor to join in. It was a well known fact that he could not tolerate the blond Slytherin.
Severus rarely wore his crests. When he did, it was usually at social events related with Death Eaters, those he had not been able to avoid in any case, and a couple of muggle ones where he had needed to impress some people. During those occasions he had to wear the head of house medallion too. He was, after all, the last of the Snapes; though he felt no real pride on what the last two generations achieved, himself included.
After a few moments, Snape chastised himself for using diversion tactics to avoid dealing with the problems at hand. It was not something he usually did, but whenever it happened, it was a clear sign that he was trying to delay dealing with a problem. There had really been no sense in pondering about foolish traditions and keeping appearances. Those could be dealt with at a later time. But he really did not want to think about all the implications that what he learned about the boy would bring. He had to make too many changes and adjustments to his way of life and beliefs.
As he had let his mind wander, he had been leaning against the kitchen counter while Nan bustled about the kitchen, probably getting dinner ready. Severus detached himself enough from his thoughts to go straight to the fridge and pick a cold butterbeer, despite having charmed the flat for temperature control quite a few years back, it was still way too hot. They charms probably needed to be reapplied if this draught was affecting them. Regardless of his better judgment, they would have to start using wand-magic there. The wizard then sat at the table to drink it while he went back to pondering the day’s happenings, and wait for Nan to speak up. It was obvious by the way she was busying herself that she had quite a lot on her mind, and at the moment he would rather deal with her than with his own musings.
The Potions Master decided to work on things by parts. The day’s events were quite a lot to take in just one sitting, even for him who was used to discover things were not what they seemed. Severus was having trouble assimilating the fact that ‘spoiled, pampered Potter’ was neither spoiled, nor pampered. He realized that it might actually be easier to get along with the boy -like Albus had wanted all along- now that he knew the truth about his home life.
At the moment he needed to decide what to do about his findings of the boy’s home life. The ‘correct’ procedure in any ‘normal’ case would be for him, as Potter’s legal guardian or even as his Professor, to present a formal complaint in the boy’s behalf at the Ministry’s Child Protection department. He had done this on behalf of some of his students a few times throughout the years, so he was quite familiar with the proceedings. If there was enough evidence against them they would go to trial. Aurors would then take the muggles or relatives into custody depending on the severity of the case. If they won, which was a certainty on most cases as pensieves and Veritasserum were allowed, the abusers got punished and new guardians were appointed for the children. In this case, since Potter already had legal guardian, there was no need to search for someone else.
Severus sighed and rubbed the bridge of his large nose. Although the proceedings sounded simple, he knew they were not. It was hard on the children to have to recount the experiences they lived through in front of others, and to have to face their family or abusers in court. And even when the children found new homes with caring families, the ordeal was not over yet. It was hard work to get them back on their feet, to help them recover their self-esteem, self-worth, and get them to trust adults. He had been lucky that almost all of the kids he had helped had benefited from the legal actions, and were placed with caring people. But he was not sure filing a complaint with the Ministry’s respective department was the ‘best’ option in this particular boy’s situation.
Harry Potter was famous, and that kind of news could really make things harder, and not just for the boy. Albus would have a difficult time explaining why he left the ‘wizarding world’s savior’ with those muggles and not once checked on him. At the moment, with Fudge wanting to discredit the old coot and Potter for affirming that Voldemort was back, news of this magnitude were sure to make things worse for both. The imbecile they had for a Minister would proclaim to have proof of his allegations -of the boy being mentally unstable and that Dumbledore was a delusional old man- that Hogwarts Headmaster was no longer fit to make important decisions. Potter had been able to fool everyone so far and he might continue to do so with some help. And well, almost everyone believed Dumbledore had never been quite sane, yet he had defeated Grindenwald and led the Order of the Phoenix successfully against the Dark Lord during his first rise.
The Potions Master realized the Order of the Phoenix definitely could not deal with the bad publicity at the moment, when surreptitious support of their activities was so necessary. It could cost them the war if the Headmaster lost credibility, probably what the Dark Lord was aiming at by taking his time. The Order needed to recruit new members just as Voldemort needed new Death Eaters; if people lost fait on Dumbledore they would have no one to aid them on their fight for the light. He was sure there were not many of the original members left, and they would not be enough. And the Dark Lord’s ranks were actually swelling with new Death Eaters from all over Europe.
Then there was, of course, Potter himself. Severus was sure the kid did not want anyone to know what his situation at home had been most of his life. It was clear that he had made a big effort –and had been incredibly successful for a Gryffindor, in fact, he had probably been even better at it than one of his Slytherin- at concealing it for the whole four years that he attended Hogwarts. He could almost swear that the rest of the trio either did not know, or knew only little bits that were too insignificant to bring to the attention of an adult.
Miss Granger was the sensible one of the trio, and she was muggle born and raised -the topic of abuse was no longer a taboo there as it still was in the magical world- she would have informed someone if she suspected it was bad enough to harm her friend. Having his family problems out in the open would probably be a big blow to whatever self-esteem the boy still had. And that was without counting whatever emotional damage he already had, and managed to hide from everyone. Severus sighed; he had the beginning of a nasty headache. Things were getting complicated, more than they already were anyway, and he could only think that this required an urgent conversation with Albus; because he really did not know how to proceed.
The headmaster was not going to be happy to hear this news. But Severus had to admit the man was in great part at fault for not checking on ‘the-boy-who-lived’ all those years. Damn! The kid had lived most of his life in a cupboard and no one knew! It made him angry, and it was not because he had suddenly developed a ‘liking’ for ‘Gryffindor’s-Golden-Boy’, because well… he had not. It was more of an understanding of where the boy came from, and because he could not condone that kind of treatment to children. It was where he drew the line, and even Voldemort learned it. He could force him to watch, but he could not force him to participate. Not after what the madman had them do to Luca. Severus Snape, not yet a Potions Master but nearly as good, had been too valuable an asset then, so the Dark Lord allowed him that ‘eccentricity’.
Although many believed the way he treated his students was abusive, it was his way to teach them that the world outside the school was not filled with ‘fair’ or ‘good’ people. He wanted them to be prepared to deal with real life once they graduated; those that did not adapt were usually either fair prey for Voldemort’s recruiters -or any Dark Lord’s as history had proved throughout time- or became their victims.
With a deep sigh, Severus accepted to himself that Albus had been right regarding Potter. The boy could not be like his father. Their circumstances in life were too different, even extreme to a point, for them to be similar. This discovery left him with the disquieting question of who the boy currently sleeping in his guest room really was. It was obvious that he could not be ‘Gryffindor’s-Golden-Boy’ as he thought he was. Nor was he really the ‘Harry Potter’ he was sure everyone else believed him to be. After some thinking, and despite all his vaunted powers of observation, he only came up with one conclusion; he did not know, and probably no one really did. Not even the rest of the Golden Trio. Severus did not like it at all, and he had no one to blame for it but himself.
His ignorance meant that he needed to get to know the boy, and he was not sure Potter would be willing to drop his masks for the man that made his life hell for four years at Hogwarts. Well this reinforced his conviction that he had to change the way he treated the boy and do his best to earn his trust. Not an easy task for someone like him, to overcome a few years of conditioning himself into believing the child would be an exact replica of his father. And to make things more difficult, the changes could not be an act. Pretending to care would, in the end, only alienate the child even more.
Another thing was the fact that they were going to live together and quite closely from then on. He could not keep his masks on all the time, night and day, weekends and holidays, for as long as it took to finish the boy’s training. That would take at least three years if Potter was indeed as intelligent as Dumbledore believed, but the norm for an apprenticeship for a graduated student was, on most situations, a minimum of five years. For one not yet out of school it was probably going to be those five years plus those he had not completed until he took his NEWTs. Besides, he had already shown the boy more about himself since he picked him up, than the majority of people that knew him ever got to see.
Then, there was Nan herself. He could tell that much by her actions, that she had already decided she wanted to keep the boy and mother him. That witch had wanted someone she could take care of, spoil and pamper for years. She had been after him to marry again, get a girlfriend, adopt a child, or at the very least get himself a pet. Like any of that would have ever happened, if he had a say in it, Severus could not help but snort at the thought.
Severus had no intention of getting married again, and with his now precarious situation, getting himself a girlfriend or adopting would just be plain irresponsible of him. Having taken Potter as his apprentice already was too much, but he had been powerless against Albus meddling. He would be endangering innocents by making them perfect targets for the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. They wanted to make him suffer, what better way than to use those he cared for? In a way he was lucky he had kept his private life a complete secret. Only the original ‘old crowd’ knew about Nan, and only Albus and Minerva –besides Matilda of course- knew about the family on his mother’s side; with which he still kept in contact with. Severus knew his old nurse firmly believed it would do him good to start over again. But he had barely survived loosing Sarah and Pat, had even tried to kill himself once just after it happened. It had been Albus who found him and got him in time to Poppy. He recovered, but promised himself he would not risk feeling that kind of pain EVER again.
He could let her mother Potter, that would satisfy her need to take care of people, and it probably would not do any harm. It might actually do him a lot of good. The boy needed some honest affection and loving care. That was something he had learned from his experiences with children in Potter’s situation. Severus was not sure he was able to provide it, or perhaps he should ask himself if he wanted to.
The answer to that question was clear, and it was no. It would be risking too much. He had already decided he would not let anyone else in anymore, save for those that he already cared for and that had not let him push them away. Nan, Albus, Minerva, and he had to admit, about a handful of his cousins on his mother’s side. He cared about the rest of his family, and had attended a large number of reunions, but he still tried to keep his distance emotionally to avoid getting hurt or putting them in danger. There was, of course, the slight possibility that once he got to know the Potter boy better, he would be able to worm his way past his walls and make him care. But he was not making any bets on it.
‘Damn it Albus! Taking in a boy under my roof is not something to spring on people with only a few hours of warning!’ He mentally snarled, and then thought with a tired sigh. ‘Was it really just this morning when the old man informed me of ‘my new apprentice’?’
The day seemed to be stretching and becoming unbelievably long. And he had yet to talk to Albus and report what happened at Potter’s. He was certain it was going to get even longer. Regardless of what he told Poppy, Severus was not yet fully recovered from his encounter with Voldemort.
‘Albus is not expecting me to contact him for a few days. So I don’t think there will be too much of a problem if I delay a bit. At least until I’ve had more to rest, and think things through calmly,’ Severus reasoned. ‘The boy is already here, safe, and most of his injuries have been treated. Besides, if I were Potter, I would be furious with the Headmaster for sending me there yet again. I would not want to see Dumbledore, and if I did I’d probably want to hex him until next year.’ He smirked at the thought, it would be worth seeing. ‘I would not hold it against Potter if he tries. I’ll even give Gryffindor points if he actually succeeds hitting that old coot! Merlin, even I who didn’t like him feel like I might hex Albus for being so irresponsible; and knowing Nan, she would probably not contain herself. Well that takes care of it, we’ll contact Albus tomorrow.’ Once he decided this he felt only slightly better.
Snape was tired and his muscles ached. He really felt too tense and stressed out; a light nap might help, although he was not sure he could sleep, and he did not want to rely on a sleeping potion; he had been taking too many healing draughts already. Snape had no intention of developing an addiction; being a Potions Master, he was more than aware of the risk of abusing certain potions. Besides, Nan would probably find out and demand an explanation, which he did not want to think about just then.
“Why so thoughtful Sev?” Nan asked sitting at the table with a butterbeer. She had worked her anger at the kid’s family by busying herself with dinner and a cake. By the emotions crossing on Severus’s face he might need something to relieve him of the stress and probably cheer him up. Carrot cake usually helped. Her ex-charge never had a sweet tooth –not even as a child- but there were exceptions, that particular cake and pancakes were among them.
“There’s a lot to think about,” he said non-committally and stood up to get another butterbeer.
“About?” she heard him sigh, it was a good sign. She was not going to have to pull out whatever worried him with forceps.
“The school, Potter, the Dark Lord…” he began slowly avoiding her eyes.
She had not liked one bit that he was going to be spying again. Dumbledore had gotten an earful for asking him to go back, after Severus informed her. That was something she had asked to know from the first time he became a spy. Nan would rather be aware of the dangers he was incurring than be kept in the dark even if it made her worry more.
“The three are connected you know?” He paused before he dropped the dung-bomb so to speak. It was better if it was him the one to tell her before she found out from someone else, or from rumors in Diagon Alley. He shuddered at the thought, she was even better than Dumbledore at sending him into guilt trips. Besides, if it came from him, he could edit the information to suit his needs. “The spying went wrong; I could not get Him to trust me completely again, although I was getting there. I probably would have succeeded had Lucius not gotten too power hungry and that strange light had not started rescuing peo…”
“Those disappearances?” She interrupted him; he nodded and raised an inquiring eyebrow. “There have been rumors in Diagon Alley,” she explained, and then her tone changed to worry as she asked. “When and how did you get away Sev? Were you hurt? Why wasn’t I informed when this happened?”
“It happened last week, and as you can see I am fine.” He extended his arms wide as he reclined on the chair, in a gesture that clearly said ‘I’m-fine-as-you-can-see’. “But I won’t lie to you; He would have killed me for sure. In fact, I believed that was it; about how I escaped? I’m not exactly sure. I’m one of those ‘disappearances’, and we still can’t fathom what they are.”
“Are you sure you’re ok son?” She asked concerned. She occasionally called him son, he was like one to her anyway, and for the muggles she did pose as his mother. “Why wasn’t I informed? I know Albus has not spoken to the Order of this, is that why?”
“Nan, I’m fine, really. You weren’t informed because there was nothing to tell, and we had quite a few things to do. And about informing the Order, Albus decided it was best to wait a bit longer to tell them. I believe he is concocting something for the next meeting in that convoluted mind of his, though only Merlin knows for sure what it is. I do know there are going to be some changes that need to be taken care off. Starting with my position in the ranks, since I can’t bring information anymore, you know he needs to work on the most paranoid of the members so they…”
“Namely Alastor,” Nan interrupted him. She was well aware that the retired and extremely paranoid Auror had never accepted Sev as an Order member.
“In part, but there are also Black and Lupin; those two alone are sure going to make a racket about me. Especially when he finds out I’m Potter’s new guardian, he is the boy’s Godfather.”
“Oh dear! That doesn’t bode well.”
“That is putting it mildly,” he sneered. “The canine duo is not going to be very happy about any of it.”
“I can only wonder what Albus was thinking. Those two never really accepted you, even at school. Although I believe Lupin won’t be that much of a problem, he has matured, unlike Black. I’m pretty sure he believes you have turned from the Dark Lord. Now, where does… Harry and Hogwarts come up in that?”
“Well, Albus quite unilaterally –I might add- decided it was too risky for me to remain Head of Slytherin because some of the parents are either Death Eaters or sympathizers.” His voice was bitter, being Head of House was something he was really proud of accomplishing. Besides, he did care about his charges, despite appearances to the contrary. He worried they would be unfairly treated by the next Head of House.
“I’m sorry Sev; I know you liked being Head of House.”
“I can tell you I was not happy about it, and protested against the decision, but you know Albus.” He shrugged. “And that wasn’t all…”
Severus told her about having to leave his dungeons too. Then how the infuriating man had sprung the news that he had an apprentice and it was Harry Potter. Whom, he now realized, he had spent four years despising for the totally wrong reasons. Talk about major guilt trips, and this one was –as always- courtesy of Albus. The man was quite accomplished at sending his co-workers and Order members into such trips, not just him. Really, that man should have been in Slytherin, and be labeled the king of emotional blackmail. He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose, the beginning of the headache finally settling in.
“Actually, I really don’t know what to do with Potter, besides taking care of his injuries and buying him new clothes to make up for those you threw in the rubbish, that is.”
“Well, he is in your care, to raise, and to teach, so… teach.”
“You know that what I… What do you mean to raise him?” He asked frowning, not comprehending what that had to do with training the boy. He silently cursed his headache for not allowing him to think as clearly as he should at the moment.
“He’s not a pet that you simply feed, house, and train. Seriously Sev, he’s a child, and children need to be nurtured and cared for. Providing food, education, and clothing isn’t enough.”
“It’s not? I was thinking that it would be, added to the fact that we won’t beat him up. It seems to me that it is more than he’s got so far. Besides I was planning on letting YOU do the nurturing and caring part. Merlin knows you’ve nagged me about giving you ‘grandchildren’ for a long time, well… this is your chance at it.”
“Severus Snape you can be dense at times!” She exclaimed sounding a bit exasperated that he had not realized all the implications of having a minor as his apprentice. Although, it could be excused since he really had little time to think about all that it entailed. “Now tell me, what you found out about the way his family treated him.”
“Well, besides finding out how utterly they despised him, and that they beat him, and made him sleep in a cupboard for most of his life, I really found little.”
“They did what?”
“His room was a small cupboard under the stairs. It certainly was not the place to keep a human being, wizard or muggle. There were a small cot and a ratty blanket inside for him to sleep on, besides his trunk and the cage for his owl. The place was barely big enough to hold a small child, and Potter is small for his age, but still… it was really cramped with all those things in there. I took him out of it.” His expression hardened at the memory of what he saw when he first opened the door.
“Merlin! How could they? How could anyone be that cruel?” She was horrified.
“I really don’t know Nan. I also found out they had not fed him in a week. He told me that much, although the results of the diagnostic spells showed that even if they ‘fed’ him, it was not enough to nourish kneazle, much less a growing teenager.”
“Well…” She began once she had her anger under control. Severus’s words had served to make her want to kill those people. “According to your account, he did get food, just not often enough to nurture him. He had a bed, inside a small cupboard. He had clothing, those rags I threw, and he went to Hogwarts, so he did get an education. You can clearly see the condition he is in, and not just physically. I can only imagine how he’s emotionally by his reaction to my touch, and it’s not promising. Harry needs people to CARE for him.”
“He’s got plenty of those fawning people at Hogwarts,” he interrupted her not liking where the conversation was going. All right he had just been thinking about that, but he did not want to dwell too much on it yet.
“Really? Then how come no one noticed and got him out of there before? They don’t care for him or he would not have been left with those horrible people so long.”
“You don’t know Potter Nan…” He began, but stopped himself. He was just arguing for arguing’s sake. Had he not come to the conclusion that the boy was not who and what he had deluded himself to believe?
“And you do? Actually… does anyone?”
“No, you’re right I don’t know him at all, I thought I did though. I’m starting to believe he’s a superb actor, capable of rivaling my most skilled Slytherins. The boy’s been cunning enough to fool everyone for the four years he’s been at Hogwarts, and that is an unheard of quality in a Gryffindor,” he admitted with a sigh and a slight hint of admiration as he began to see the boy in a new light. “If those people ‘fawning’ over ‘the-boy-who-lived’ really cared for ‘Harry’, the boy would not have been mistreated at all.”
“That’s part of what I meant Sev, no one has ‘really’ paid attention to him.” She paused to make sure her last statement had sunk in before going on. “You know, caring for a child is not just giving the boy enough to eat, but making sure he eats properly. It’s being there when he’s ill or stressed, making sure he gets treated and reassured. It’s providing him with a good environment where he feels safe, and being by his side to give comfort, support, or advice if he needs it. Right now Harry is hurt, weak, in pain and quite stressed. I think he’s probably going to need to be reassured that we won’t harm him SEVERAL times before it actually sinks in that we mean it. You saw how he cringed when I first touched him, and you also saw how he began leaning into our touch once he realized that neither of us was going to hit him; he actually relaxed then.”
“If you’re talking about affection, then forget it Nan. I’m not able to give the boy or anyone else that anymore.”
“It’s not that you’re unable Sev. I believe your problem is that you won’t…”
“We’ve been through this before Nan; you just change the person each time. .don’..,” Severus gritted pressing the bridge of his nose; the headache was now a full blown migraine. This was a delicate topic, one he was not willing to talk about with anyone any time soon; though she always did her best to bring it up.
“Alright, can you at least try to be civil and kind? It’s not asking too much.”
“I can try,” he finally said with a defeated sigh. “Can’t make promises though, I… practically hated Potter for four years, and I believe he returns the feeling.”
“Umm… I’m not so sure about that. I can see why he might do so though; you’re far from nice to your students, and from what you’ve told me even less so to him. But… I just got the feeling that he… he trusts you Sev.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Nan! I made that boy’s life miserable for four years, and during all that time I know he was convinced I was the bad guy out to get him; the cause of everything bad that happened to him at Hogwarts.”
“And were you? Were you really behind ALL those bad things that happened to him? Despite not liking him, you have told me quite a lot of the boy’s adventures to know they were dangerous.”
“Was I the one behind all those extremely dangerous ‘adventures’ as you call them? No, I had nothing to do with those. But I did humiliate him as much as possible in class, or outside, and I tried to find any excuse to get Albus to expel him.”
“Knowing you as I know you, you probably did that and more. But… you also saved him a few times…”
“I don’t think he is aware of that, and I rather he remains that way,” he interrupted her.
“As you wish, but what I saw tells me he trust you, quite a lot actually. Didn’t you notice he doesn’t cringe away from your touch?”
“I… I didn’t notice,” he began thoughtfully and as he reviewed his interactions with Potter that day. Her observations were correct. The boy had not shied away from his touch, although he did from his tone of voice and a word. It was odd, why would Potter suddenly start to trust him when he had not for all the years he had been at Hogwarts? “But…” he began slowly. “You’re right, he cringed more to my words and tone of voice than my touch, and even then, I think it wasn’t because of me, but because of the implications the word ‘boy’ has for him.” At her puzzled expression he explained. “I’m pretty sure they usually called him that, as well as ‘freak’ instead of his own name.”
Not sure how to spell the name correctly Grindewald or Grindenwald.