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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2. Chapter 2

Snape watched in horror as a gooey blob of fudge dropped onto the chest of the boy’s new robes. Harry had insisted that he wear them out of the store, he was so excited. Such enthusiasm wore on Snape’s nerves; and he was not trying hard to stop his disgust from showing. Snape had consented to buy him a frozen treat since it seemed the only way to making him sit still for more than a few minutes. And to get him to stop asking those infernal questions. 

    “Can’t you eat a simple ice cream without getting it all over yourself?” Snape snapped. 

    For the briefest of moments, hurt flickered in the child’s eyes, making Snape flinch inwardly. He had never expected to see that emotion in those eyes again. Now, however, the boy’s face smoothed into a carefully blank mask. Snape recognized that look; it was one he had mastered at the knee of his father. Or something like that. 

    “Sorry, sir. I will clean it up.”

    “See that you do.”

    After he had finished, they headed back up the street toward Gringotts where they had stopped earlier. Snape’s dark eyes narrowed as Hagrid came out carrying a small package. He hoped that the boy had not notic-

    “Who is that?” he asked, eyes wide with fear and a strange shadow of remembrance. Snape cursed quietly.

    At his loud question, Hagrid turned his large head and looked down at the tiny boy next to the potions professor. 

    “ ‘Arry Potter! Is tha’ you?”

    He nodded silently.

    “My, last I saw yer, you was a little tyke!” he exclaimed good-naturedly and muttered into his beard, “Well, still are. Need a bit o’ feedin’ up, you do.”

    “Do you have a motorcycle?” Harry blurted. Snape rolled his eyes to cover his surprise. But in reality, he had gotten tired of this endless curiosity. Though why he would ask after a motorbike, Snape hadn’t the faintest idea. 

    “You remember!” Hagrid turned to Snape, “He remembers!”

    “I had deduced as much from your first statement,” he muttered, put off that he did not know what was going on.

    Hagrid turned back to Harry, “Goodness, me manners! Forgot to int’rduce myself. I am Rubeus Hagrid, Gamekeeper and Keeper of the Keys and Ground o’er at Hogwarts,” he said as formally as he could. Which wasn’t very. “What’re you doin’ here anyway?”

    “Getting magi-” Harry stared eagerly, until Snape cut him off with a raised hand. Unintentionally, he made the tiny child flinch as if waiting to be slapped. He ignored it but lowered his hand quickly.

    “May I ask what you are doing here? I thought you were...disposing of some things,” Snape raised an eyebrow. 

    Hagrid hesitated. “Well Dumbledore, great man, you know, he asked me to stop by and...” he leaned in yet seemed physically unable to reduce the volume of his voice to a whisper. Trying his best, Hagrid continued, “get the you-know-what from vault 713.” He finished with heavy implications.

    Snape understood and glanced at Potter to see if he had picked up on the conversation. He apparently wasn’t as clueless as he looked and far too curious for this information to go unused.

    “Come, Potter, we must get your wand,” Snape said firmly, “and get this torture over with,” he added in an undertone.

    “Bye,” Harry said quickly to Hagrid before jogging to catch up with Snape. 

    “Stop by and visit!” Hagrid called to Harry, who thought he just might do so.

    They walked until they reached a dark alley across from a shop with a decrepit sign saying Ollivander’s. Snape turned to Harry.

    “I must meet someone, I will only be a moment. Go to the wand shop, pick a wand but do not leave until I return to fetch you. Understood?”

    Harry nodded his assent. He crossed the street and entered the tiny shop. Inside, it seemed much bigger with shelves and shelves of boxes, all dusty and all unlabeled. Harry stared in fascination. A sliding ladder whipped into view rather fast, a thin, very old man hanging off of it. He squinted through his glasses. 

    “Can I help you?”

    “I am looking for a wand,” Harry said, stating the obvious. 

    “Ah, Hogwarts, eh?”

    He nodded.

    Just as fast as he came, the man slid away once more. When he returned, an armful of boxes were stacked against his chest. He set them on a small, cluttered desk and opened the top one. 

    “10 1/2 inches, oak, dragon heartstring,” he intoned reverently, handing the handle to Harry. 

    “Uh, what do I do?” Harry asked, genuinely confused.

    “Give it a whirl of course,” the old man (who Harry had to assume was Ollivander) said with a tone that implied that any idiot would know that.

    Harry did as he was told, like always, and gave it a small flick. The shelf that he happened to be pointing at collapsed, spilling boxes onto the floor. Harry was horrified.

    “I- I’m sorry. There’s been a mistake, I can’t be a wizard. I need to go,” He turned to the door and remembered Snape’s instructions.

    “No, no!” Ollivander called, “It is alright boy,” he said gesturing to the presently repaired shelf and replaced wands. “That just wasn’t the right wand for you. Try this one. 11 inches, holly, and...phoenix feather core.” His brow furrowed, making Harry pause. “Well, go on,” he said impatiently.

    When Harry’s hand wrapped around the handle, a sharp sting shot through his forehead. His free hand immediately went to his scar, and Ollivander’s eyes widened.

    “You, you are Harry Potter, aren’t you?” he asked, though it sounded more like a statement of fact.

    “Yes, is that bad?”

    “No, it is merely...curious.” 

    Before Harry could ask what he meant by this, the door chimed. When he turned, he found a small blonde boy behind him. Not missing a beat, he said, “Hello, I am Draco Malfoy. You are?”

    “Harry Potter,” he replied, accepting the handshake. 

    Draco, however, did not act as Harry expected. He raised one eyebrow slightly and inclined his head. His attention then turned to Ollivander.

    “I need a wand,” he said, rather rudely, Harry thought. The wandmaker did not seem perturbed, though, he simply exited down one of the far rows.

    “Are you going to Hogwarts?” Draco asked as if testing him  .

    “Yes, it is my first year.”

    “Same. I am going to be in Slytherin,” he said proudly. “Do you know what house you’ll be in?” 

    Harry hadn’t the faintest idea what he was talking about. He decided he would ask the Professor. “I’m not sure yet.”

    “Hm,” Draco grunted, almost in distaste. “Anything but Gryffindor. I’d die if I were put in with that bunch.”

    Harry nodded, feeling it was safer to agree than show his ignorance. 

    Draco glanced toward the door, “My father should be here any minute,” he said with a strange undertone that Harry could not place. “He’d sure love to meet you.”

    Something about the way he said that made Harry nervous, and curiously enough,  he wished Professor Snape were there. He dismissed this odd thought; he had spent much of the morning thinking about how cold and distant the man seemed. And how lonely. 

    As if summoned by thought alone, Snape chose that moment to appear. He nodded to Draco, who gave him a much too knowing smirk. Foolish child, Snape thought. He always had liked to seem important; Snape gave him a dismissive sneer. Harry looked confused by this interaction, but in an uncommon display of self control, did not ask. 

    “Come,” Snape ordered.

    Harry followed without a hesitation and together they stepped out into the street, nearly running into another blonde, this one much older and walking with a menacing cane. 

    “Severus,” he greeted, without warmth.

    “Lucius,” Snape retuned in a comparable tone. 

    Lucius pursed his lips and looked Harry up and down. With a sneer to rival one of Snape’s, he passed them. Harry and Snape continued on without a word. Harry pulled out his letter and glanced once more at his supply list. 

    “I have everything except an optional pet, can I get one of those?”

    Snape tried to resist rolling his eyes, “If you must.”

    They turned the corner and entered a store sporting exotic animals in the window. Harry’s eyes were immediately drawn to the reptiles. He stared into the cage of a Burmese Python. It watched him intently.

    “Looking for a pet?” it asked as sarcastically as a snake could.

    “Yes,” Harry replied. Then turned to Snape who had been watching this short interaction with an extremely intrigued look on his face. This was the first expression that Harry had seem on him that did not stem from anger or loathing. 

    Ignoring this odd look, Harry asked, “Can I get a snake?”

    “Absolutely not. Can you not read? It clearly states ‘one cat, toad or owl’,” Snape replied, reverting back to his stern disposition.

    “Oh,” Harry replied, saddened. He turned back to the snake, “Sorry, hope you get adopted soon. I know how you feel.” 

    Harry wandered between the rows of cages and finally an odd owl caught his eye. It’s wings were almost jet black, but its head was white and had a mottled gray and white chest.

    “How about this one?”

    “Sensible,” Snape consented, handing Harry the money bag he had been carrying for him. 

    After they had purchased the owl and exited the shop, Harry decided that it needed a name. Carmax, he decided. That sounded good. Remembering the conversation in the wand shop, he suddenly turned to Professor Snape.

    “Sir?”

    “Yes?” he responded tiredly.

    “What are Slytherin and Gryffindor?”

    Snape sighed inwardly. It was frustrating how little this boy knew of their world. “Hogwarts was founded by four wizards: Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and Slytherin. They each had different ideas on who should be taught, and so each student is now sorted into a house based on their individual qualities,” he summarized briefly.

    “I’d die if I were in Gryffindor,” Harry parroted.

    “What?” Snape asked. Considering his parents, this was an odd thing for the boy to say. He merely shrugged and Snape let the matter drop.

    “It is time to return you home.”

    Harry’s eyes snapped up, wide with fear that Snape did not need to use Legilimency to see. “Please, sir! Don’t make me go back there!” He seemed on the verge of a total breakdown. “They won’t let me go to Hogwarts! I know it, and they’ll...they’ll...” he gulped as if forced to stop himself from saying something. It reminded Snape of a house elf who was forbidden to speak of his masters.

    “Please,” he implored quietly.

    “I will see what I can do, but I do not see many alternatives,” Snape replied.

    Harry nodded, as if not truly expecting Snape to help him.

    “Meanwhile, I suppose we can get a room for the night, perhaps in the Leaky Cauldron.”

    He brightened slightly and seemed to compose himself a little. Then a flush of embarrassment colored his cheeks.

    Snape decided he would have to contact Dumbledore tonight. He swore lightly. That old fool did not tell him about this. This emotion. Taking him shopping was bad enough, but what if he started crying? God, that would be awful. I didn’t sign up for this, Snape thought.

    He led the compliant boy off, while considering how much Dumbledore owed him. But did Snape perhaps owe him more?

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