As It Began

When Snape is sent to deliver Harry's Hogwarts letter on his 11th birthday, will he still be able to hate Harry after meeting the Dursleys? Harry is a first year at Hogwarts. HP & SS No slash!

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17. Chapter 17

Harry stood with the rest of his Quidditch team who were jointly glaring at the Slytherins lined up across from them. McGonagall’s voice was booming over the intercom, but Harry’s fierce Occlusion practice was forcing him to all but block it out. He knew that it was pointless, for there was no way that Higgs knew Legilimency, but he thought he might as well work on his stamina. He came back into full awareness as she finished speaking.    

    “...if that is agreeable with all in attendance,” McGonagall said.

    The captains of both teams nodded approval, speaking for their team. Harry turned to George.

    “What’d she just say?” he whispered.

    He gave him a quizzical look. “Usually not paying attention is our thing,” he said quietly, indicating himself and his twin, then continued, “though I was paying attention this time. We’re simply continuing the game now that they’ve disposed of the troll. Hope it doesn’t last too long, it’ll be dark soon.”

    Harry nodded and walked off with his team to begin. The wind seemed to have picked up during the lapse, chilling Harry to the bone. He was glad that he had asked Hermione about a warming charm which he subsequently applied to his robes and gloves. 

     After getting a taste for Harry’s skills during the first part of the game, Higgs stuck so close to Harry that he could’ve grabbed the tail of his broom. Harry tried to ignore him, but soon grew disconcerted. He tried some rather complex maneuvers that Wood had diagrammed for him, but nothing seemed to shake him. Harry derived a small degree of comfort in the fact that, being in front of Higgs, he would reach the Snitch first if they were to find it. 

    The sun slowly began to sink beyond the horizon, much to the dismay of both the players and those in the stands. The score was announced as ninety to fifty, Gryffindor. Harry glanced around once more for the Snitch and realized that Higgs was gone. Pulling up on his broom, he turned sharply, eyes straining to adjust to the failing light. Just as he spotted the other Seeker, he noticed a palpable tension in the stands. He sped towards the green clad boy at top speed. He had obviously found the Snitch and Harry reached him, though was still ten feet behind. Higgs stretched out his arm and reached towards the glittering ball. Harry urged his broom to go faster. He was beginning to believe that he had a chance of reaching it when the Golden Snitch disappeared in Higgs’s fist. 

    Harry had to hold back a swear word that his Uncle frequented as a cheer went up from the Slytherin stands. Lee groaned over the load speaker.

    “And Slytherins win,” he said in a monotone. “200 to 90.”

    Harry flew to join his team, apologies slipping from his lips.

    “I’m so sorry. I screwed up,” Harry insisted.

    Wood looked disappointed but told Harry, “It’s alright. We still have the best team that we’ve had in years.”

    “Yeah, we can still recover,” Angelina insisted.

    “Sorry,” Harry repeated, despite their assertions.

    They were a somber group as they trudged through the light dusting of snow back up to the castle.

 

 

---{}-{}-{}---

 

 

    “Ah, I see that the Gryffindors are not infallible,” Snape said smugly the next evening when Harry grumbled about the match.

    “It was my fault,” he said, still angry with himself.

    Snape sneered, “Or perhaps Slytherin has a better Seeker.”

    Harry glared at the Potions master. He decided that it was time to change the subject.

    “What are we going to do about Quirrell and You-Know-Who, Professor?” Harry noted that Snape did not correct him for not properly addressing the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.    

    “I wish I knew how he was communicating with the Dark Lord, or where he was at least. If I did, I would risk telling Dumbledore,” Snape stated, frustrated.

    “Thanks a lot,” Harry grumbled quietly and without true feeling. “I still think he is in the woods.”

    “All based in a dream?” Snape raised an eyebrow as if mocking the notion.

    Harry sighed. “I guess that’s all I have to go on.”

    “I’m afraid we will need more than that,” Snape said. “He must have someone helping him, he couldn’t survive out there alone. I don’t know how in Merlin’s name he came back, but he cannot be strong.”

    “You don’t suppose Quirrell is helping him, do you?” Harry asked sarcastically, thinking that much would be obvious.

    “I am keeping far too close of an eye on him for that,” Snape stated dryly.

    Harry felt slightly reassured.

    “I propose that we simply wait and see what happens,” Snape said.

    “But what if he tries to steal the Stone?”

    “Oh, he will, I am sure of it. Though it is better protected than you might imagine. I helped,” he replied with an air of arrogance.

    “It still makes me feel uncomfortable, It’s like we are stepping aside and allowing him to take it,” Harry said, but was ready to let the subject drop.

    “I assure you, that will never happen.”

 

 

---{}-{}-{}---

 

 

    As winter turned to spring, Harry waited for something suspicious to happen, but it never did. Now well into March, Harry’s sessions with Snape were cut down to three times a week due to the nice weather and Quidditch practice. Harry was used to the rhythm of his classes and had fewer questions for the Professor. He was feeling pretty good both about the exams that were approaching and his life at Hogwarts in general. The Stone was pushed to the back of his mind as other, more mundane problems came to light.

    Draco wasn’t doing nearly as well as Harry; his fellow Slytherins had all but disowned him. He had no friends in his house, though a few were cordial to him. Nott and his followers had single handedly turned everyone against him and enlisted a few older boys to threaten those who tried to be nice to him. For the first time, Draco realized the distinct disadvantage of being surrounded by those with Slytherin qualities. He sought refuge with his Gryffindor friends, and they became a tighter group than any would imagine.

    “Ignore them,” Harry muttered under his breath as a group of green-clad students in the Great Hall threw taunts their way.

    “I know,” Draco responded quietly. Though he knew how superficial they were, their insults never failed to sting.

    Together, they took up seats at the Gryffindor table, a recent change that left many Gryffindors glaring their way. Harry sighed. He wanted to point out to them that Draco was here to escape that very treatment, but he held back, not wanting to further embarrass his friend. Luckily, or perhaps not, the twins came to the rescue.

    “Hey, guys, cut him some slack. If he’s good enough for the great Harry Potter to be friends with, then he can’t be that bad,” Fred said.

    George turned a critical eye on Draco, “Or can he?”

    “Do you live to inflict pain upon innocent souls?” Fred asked.

    “No,” Draco replied, confused.

    “Do you drink blood or eat small children?”
    “No.”
    “Better than Snape at least,” George muttered.
    Harry shot him a disturbed look, but didn’t say anything.

    “Do you have a shrine to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in your dorm?”

    “No.”

    “Do you have snakes to do your bidding?”    

    “No,” Draco repeated, getting annoyed.

    “See?” Fred said. “Way better than most Slytherins.”

    “Gee, thanks,” Draco muttered darkly.

    Simultaneously, Fred and George offered their hands. “You have been accepted-” Fred began.

    “By us-” George cut in.

    “Because we have total authority in these matters-”

    “-as an Honorary Gryffindor for as long as you are friends with Harry-”

    “And not with those idiots,” Fred finished with a nod in the direction of the Slytherin table.

    Draco hesitantly shook their hands, looking worried that this may be some kind of sick joke.

    “Huzzah!” They cried, garnering annoyed looks from along the table.

    “Chill out, we’re forging bonds over here,” George called out, making everyone laugh.

    “Can we eat now?” Ron asked.

    Hermione rolled her eyes but passed down a plate of Cornish pasties.

    “Now that you’re an honorary one of us, tell me, does Snape really test out his potions on people who have detention?” Fred asked.

    “Er,” Draco stalled, glancing at Harry. Harry held his perfectly flat expression.

    “You ought to ask Harry,” Ron piped up. “He’s had detention for most of the year.”

    Harry was still appalled that Ron didn’t find ‘detention’ for three days a week, every week the slightest bit suspicious. Regardless, he wasn’t about to make it so. The twins turned to Harry with eager expressions.

    “What’s he tried out on you, Harry?” George asked. “Growth stunt potions?” he joked.

    “Nothing,” Harry replied honestly.

    “That’s disappointing,” Fred said sadly. “What’s he make you do?” 

    “Prep potion ingredients. Disembowel frogs, cut up slugs, stuff like that.”

    “I guess that’s typical Snape,” George muttered.

    “Just doesn’t live up to our illusions,” Fred added sadly.

    “Or delusions,” a sharp voice snapped from behind the two. Harry and the others on that side of the table had seen him coming, but pretended not to notice in favor of  watching his reaction.

    The twins winced in unison. “We weren’t talking about you, sir.”

    “Oh, there is another ‘Snape’ that I have not heard about?”

    “Distant relative, I’m sure,” George said.

    “Doesn’t quite have your charm, though,” Fred added.

    “Five points form Gryffindor for your cheek.”

    The twins shifted in their seats to glare at him. Their eyes followed him down the aisle and back to the head table.

    “What do we have next?” Harry asked to diffuse the tension.

    “Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione replied.

    “Bet he’d rather be teaching Dark Arts,” Harry grumbled.    

    “Has anything new happened?” Draco asked curiously.

    “No.”

    “That’s good.”

    “Is it?” Harry asked. “I kinda wish we could just get it over with so I can stop worrying about it.”

    “Gives you more time to prepare,” Hermione pointed out somberly.

    “How exactly does one prepare to foil the evil dark wizard who-came-back-from-the-dead’s plans?” Harry asked with a scowl.    

    “I don’t know, Harry.”

    “That’s got to be a first,” he replied. Now it was her turn to scowl. 

 

 

---{}-{}-{}---

 

 

    That night, Harry dreamt of the cloaked figure for the first time in months. This dream was different, however, he was not alone. With the figure was the unmistakable shadow of Quirrell. It was just that, though: a shadow. The turban was clearly outlined and gave the man’s head a distinctive shape.

    “It is ready My Lord,” Quirrell’s shadow seemed to say, though the lack of stuttering made it hard to tell who spoke.

    “Excellent,” the figure responded in a satisfied voice. With a start, Harry realized that it was a female’s voice.

    “When shall I proceed?” the shadow asked.

    Fog seemed to descend over the scene and the figures melted away.

    “Soon.”

    The word echoed through Harry’s mind as he sat up with a start. His heart pounded as he tried to adjust to the threatening darkness of the room. He grabbed his wand from the small table next to his bed and cast a lumos. The light tried to calm him, but his mind was racing irrationally. He retained enough sense to pull his robes from the trunk at the foot of his bed and rummage through the pockets for the small silver disc that Snape had given him. When at last he felt the touch of cold metal, he squeezed it three times as instructed and waited. He took several slow deep breaths to calm himself. 

    After restoring to himself a modicum of sense, he felt foolish for not wanting to venture out of the dormitory. Some Gryffindor he was for calling Snape to him rather than heading down to his office himself. Harry passed his reluctance off on the fact that he didn’t actually know where Snape’s quarters were, and, being the middle of the night, that could be a problem. Suddenly, Harry felt bad for waking the Professor for a simple dream. It’s not simple, Harry assured himself. In any case,  he could not change his actions now, so he simply tried to make sense of what he saw.

    He had only a few more minutes to wait before the door cracked open. Instinctively jumping, Harry aimed his wand at the dark figure that slipped in. As the moonlight identified the visitor as Snape, he lowered it. Harry watched as Snape cast what were presumably charms to keep the other boys asleep and keep their conversation private.

    “What is it?” Snape said, though not as harshly as Harry might have expected. “A nightmare?”

    Harry shook his head. “Something more.”
    “Tell me about it,” he ordered.

    Harry recited every detail that he could remember and was grateful for the control that the Professor had over his emotions. Harry needed reassurance at that moment, and if the older man had shown worry, Harry might have been undone.

    “A female voice, you say?” he said, a tad sharply. “Are you sure?”

    “It was definitely a woman,” Harry said, then hesitated. “Professor, Hagrid said-,” he cut himself off, eyes widening with sudden realization. “The egg. What exactly did you see in his memory?”
    Harry scrutinized Snape, hoping that the argument associated with that night would not stop him from telling Harry the truth.

    Snape took a deep breath. “He won the egg off a woman in a black cloak, like you described. And he also told her, drunkenly I might add, how to get past that ridiculous dog.”

    Harry froze in horror. “But that means-”

    “Yes, that means that since the woman is almost certainly working with Quirrell and the Dark Lord, they know as well. I am quite frankly surprised that they did not make use of the information sooner.”

    Harry shuddered at the memory of the word “soon” echoing through his mind.

    “We can’t let him have it, Professor,” Harry insisted quietly. “No matter what it costs.”

    “I realize that,” Snape said in a voice that sounded far away. “Go to sleep. Soon does not mean tonight. Do you need a potion to help you?”

    “No, I think I’ll be okay,” Harry said.He laid his head down on the pillow and closed his eyes.

    “Goodnight, Professor. Thank you for coming. I’m sorry I woke you.”

    “It is no matter,” Snape said quietly. “Sleep well.”

    Harry thought he felt a hand brush his hair lightly, but when he cracked open his eyelids, Snape was already gone. He figured that he must have imagined it and descended into slumber.

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