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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20. Chapter 20

    Harry woke up to the bright light streaming in through the textured glass windows of the hospital wing. A headache threatened and Harry reached  up to rub his temples. His fingers brushed something mildly slimy smeared across his forehead and, using his fingers to investigate, he realized that his scar had burst open. He could not feel it at the moment, most likely because of the ointment, but he had a feeling that later on it would be painful. After donning his glasses, Harry glanced around the room with bleary eyes and his gaze landed on the chair beside him. There, Professor Snape sat sleeping. 

    Harry took in the scene for a moment before deciding not to disturb him. He thought over what he remembered before passing out and, for a moment, thought it was a dream. With a sudden realization, Harry pulled his robes from the chair beside him where they had been presumably been placed after changing Harry into pajamas. He felt around in the pocket and found nothing. He should have assumed that they would take it, Harry scolded himself. He tossed the robes back to the chair, but as he pulled his elbow back, Harry knocked over a glass of water on the stand beside him. 

    Snape sat up with a jolt. “You’re awake.”

    “Yeah, I am,” Harry agreed. “Good morning.”

    “Is it?” he retorted. “How do you feel?”

    “I have a bit of a headache but otherwise, alright.”

    “Do you require potion?” Snape asked factually, clearing away the spill with the wave of his wand.

    Harry replied, “I don’t think so, not yet anyway. I’d like to be fully aware for a while.”

    Snape nodded in understanding. 

    “What happened to the stone?” Harry asked, unable to keep suspicion from leaking into his voice. He did not think that Snape would take it for himself, but Harry figured that there was no way he, as a potions professor, could resist borrowing it for study.

    “It is in Professor Dumbledore’s possession,” Snape replied. When he spoke again, his voice had acquired a hard edge to it. “That was an extremely foolish act that you attempted.”

    “Attempted?” Harry parroted. “I thought it succeeded rather nicely.”
    “Do you have any idea what the Dark Lord might have done to you if he had even the slightest bit of warning?” Snape demanded angrily. “I can assure you, he will not make the same mistake again. If you had let me handle him, you would not be the subject of his wrath.”

    “But you would. How would that be better?” Harry asked. “Besides, I’m pretty sure I’m already on his list for, you know, surviving.”

    “That may be but...” Snape searched for words.

    Harry cut off this thought process. “How do you know he is going to come back? He needs another body now, right?”
    “That is not an encouraging thought,” Snape snapped, though his anger was beginning to wane. 

    “I take it you got my mental message?” Harry confirmed. “I didn’t know if you’d be trying to read my mind or not.”

    “In a situation like that, one must be aware of what everyone else is thinking and planning,” Snape said in a drawn out manner causing Harry to give him a look. “Of course I was reading your mind,” he said plainly.
    “That’s good.”

    “In fact, I am now planning on teaching you Leilimency, so that, should the need for silent communication arise again, you will be able to receive my warnings and attempts to restrain you,” Snape said in a tone that implied he would do everything in his power to prevent Harry from trying something as dangerous as that again. 

    “It worked out fine, didn’t it?” Harry grumbled.

    “Potter.” Snape snapped. Harry knew Snape was mad when he addressed  him by his last name. “You attacked the most powerful dark wizard that the world has ever seen and you are but a first year who first heard about magic less than a year ago. You know only the most basic defensive spells and I assure you, in a direct match up, you would be crushed like a muggle before the Dark Lord. Do you expect me to approve?”
    Harry thought that over for a moment. When put in those terms, he did seem a little rash. Just a little. He responded quietly, “I’ve never had anyone that I have had to worry about pleasing before. I certainly never worried about approval.”

    Snape softened at that pronouncement. “Though I disapprove, I cannot deny that you did indeed banish the Dark Lord for the moment and save the stone in the process. For that I am proud of you.”

    Harry looked up, his chest filling with a glowing warmth. He said nothing but gave a wide smile, knowing that should he wish to, Snape could see what that meant to him in his eyes.

 

 

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

 

 

    Dumbledore came to visit Harry after Harry insisted that Snape get some real rest. The old grandfatherly figure stood beside Harry’s bed, gazing down at the boy who had been the stir of so much talk in only a day’s time. 

    “Hello, Harry. How are you feeling?”
    “Fine, sir, thank you,” Harry replied with politeness that bordered on reverence. “I do wish they would let me leave though, I really am okay.”

    “I’ll see what I can do,” Dumbledore promised, brightening Harry’s mood considerably.    

    Harry opened his mouth as if to speak, but then closed it silently. 

    “I am sure you have questions that you would like to be answered?” Dumbledore asked. Harry wondered if he practiced Legilimency too. 

    “Where is the stone, sir?” Harry asked.

    “It has been destroyed.”

    “But what about Nicholas and Perenelle?” Harry asked, concerned.

    Dumbledore’s white eyebrows lifted at the mention of Perenelle, but he replied, “They have enough potion stored to set their affairs in order, then they will die like the rest of us,” he said, smiling kindly. “For some, death is but the next great adventure.”

    “What will happen to Quirrell?” Harry asked.

    “He will be sent to Azkaban, the wizarding prison,” Dumbledore said patiently.

    “And the Dark Lord?” Harry asked. Dumbledore frowned lightly at the use of this name. “He isn’t really gone, is he?”

    “Voldemort, Harry,” Dumbledore corrected. “Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.”

    Harry nodded, still waiting for an answer to his question. 

    “Dear boy, I fear the Voldemort is not truly gone. He will return, and he will return with a special, intensified hatred for you in particular. Before that happens, we must prepare you as best we can.”

    “How?” Harry asked.

    “Professor Snape and I are devising a plan. I suspect we shall come up with a solution before the end of the term,” Dumbledore said.

    “The end of term?” Harry repeated in confirmation. “The Dursleys won’t let me practice magic at home.”

    “That is one of the things we must work out,” he replied with a kindly smile. “Now do you have more questions or would you prefer I convince Madam Pomfrey to let you leave?”

    Harry considered asking him why he affected Lucretia’s body in that manner. Instead, he held off. Harry feared that he would receive a cryptic and unsatisfying answer in return. He could trust Snape to give him straight fact, so he decided that he would pose that question at another time, to another person.

    “Please, sir. I would like to leave,” Harry said eagerly.

    Dumbledore nodded in understanding.

    “Actually, sir, one more thing. Could Voldemort really bring my parents back from the dead?” Harry asked hesitantly. “Not that I would ever take him up on the offer but... just so I know.”

    Dumbledore’s eyes turned sad. “No, Harry. Once one passes beyond the veil, they cannot come back. It would be abominable to try. You made the right choice. Even if he were able, they would not come back truly alive. That is not possible.”

    Harry nodded. “That’s what I thought,” he admitted. But not what I hoped, he added silently to himself.

    Dumbledore stood up and went to find Madam Pomfrey. While he was gone, Harry collected all of the cards and candy he had received as gifts from various people and put them into his bag. He intended to save them for the summer. Harry wondered idly how Dudley would react to his chocolate frog coming to life...

    “You may go, Mr. Potter, but do take it easy. No Quidditch practice for a while, though you should be good for the final game,” Madam Pomfrey’s voice called from the other room.

    “Thank you!” Harry responded excitedly, jumping up, grabbing his things and preparing to exit the room.

    “One more thing, Harry,” Dumbledore said, approaching from behind. His slightly troubled expression made Harry nervous that he might be punished for his actions.    

    “I must admit that I have argued with myself over this,” Dumbledore began, “but there is something that I believe you should have.”

    From within his broad cloak, he withdrew a folded shimmering cloth.

    “I am hesitant to give this to you, for it used to be your father’s and merlin knows how much trouble he got into with its aid,” Dumbledore said with a light chuckle. “I do believe, however, that he would have wanted you to have it.”

    Dumbledore offered the cloth to Harry. “Er, thanks, sir, but what is it exactly?”

    “It is a Cloak of Invisibility. Very rare and very valuable, this is perhaps one of the best I have ever seen,” Dumbledore said in appreciation. “Though be warned, one may still hear you despite the trick upon their eyes.”

    Harry nodded fervently, unfurling the cloak and wrapping himself with it. A quick glance in the mirror across the room showed only his head, which floated, grinning in the air.

    “Hang on,” Harry hesitated, “is this like what Quirrell was wearing when he broke into Professor Snape’s office?”

    Dumbledore gave a pleased smile. “I was not sure you would make the connection, but this is indeed the same cloak. When your father died, it was in my possession until it was stolen by Professor Quirrell.”

    “Oh,” Harry said, feeling the fabric slide between his fingers. The slight tainted feeling that Harry felt upon hearing this news was immediately cancelled out by the fact that it was his father’s. “Thank you.”

    Dumbledore nodded in dismissal. 

    Harry left the wing, but not before donning his new cloak. 

 

 

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

 

 

    Dumbledore gazed at Severus over steepled fingers while reclining at his desk. The blank expression on Severus’s face was well practiced, leaving nothing open to interpretation.

    “Severus, do have a seat,” Albus said, gesturing to two chairs in front of his desk. One was a simple, wooden backed piece with a small embroidered cushion. The other was, for whatever reason, a large, cushy lounge chair. Severus took a seat in the former.

    “I knew you would choose that one,” Albus said with an air of familiarity.

    “What do you need from me?” Severus asked, cutting straight to the point. He had other things to be doing rather than discussing his furniture preference.

    “Blunt as always,” Dumbledore observed. “And here I thought you’d changed, Severus.”

    “What in Merlin’s name would make you think that?” Severus said, raising an eyebrow. 

    Albus did not directly answer. “Tell me, why did you not inform me of Voldemort’s hold on Quirrell earlier? I am quite certain that you knew.”

    Severus remained silent for a long moment, staring down his mentor. “I knew since fall,” he said slowly. “I wanted to lure the Dark Lord into the school so that we could take care of him. If I had told you, you would have insisted upon protecting the students.”

    Dumbledore studied the potions professor. “That is not all. If it was, you would have told me anyway and we would have come up with an alternate plan. What are you not saying, Severus?”

    There was a pause. “He threatened Harry,” Severus said quietly. “He tried to kidnap him once, that is how I found this out. I couldn’t risk it.”

    Though Snape expected a reprimand of sorts, Dumbledore smiled. “I do believe you have changed. Could you see yourself saying those very words a year ago?”

    He had to admit, the very idea of it did seem to be ridiculous. “A year ago, I didn’t know that boy,” he said in a voice close to a growl, as if he were defensively angry.

    “I am not saying there was not a reason behind the change, but you cannot deny that you are not the same.”

    Severus did not reply.

    “You are not the only one who has changed, Severus.” Snape looked up at this pronouncement. “Harry has too. Over the years, I have watched him more closely than you can imagine. This is a new Harry; a better one. Thanks, in part, to you.”

    “You’ve watched him through the years?” Severus burst out in anger. “You saw him with those,” he struggled for words, “brutes? And let him stay? Did you see what they did to him? They abused him, starved him and locked him in a cupboard for weeks on end. You are okay with letting the boy who rid us, however temporarily, of the Dark Lord be treated in such a manner?” he accused.

    “I did,” Albus admitted. “It was for the best.”

    Severus looked disgusted.

    “If you disagree so much with how Harry is treated with his relatives, why don’t you do something about it?” Albus suggested.

    Severus’s eyes narrowed. “What could I possibly do other than drill some sense into their minds from afar? I cannot come within ten feet of the house.”

    At this, Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. “Ah, that old bit of magic.”

    Snape stared silently at the older man.

    “You could, of course, take him into your home,” Albus suggested casually.

    Severus’s jaw almost dropped. “You mean adopt him? Wouldn’t that cancel the magic?”

    “Dear boy, I believe you are more than up to the challenge of protecting him. That magic was necessary only because Harry was living with muggles,” he replied. “Your position amongst the Death Eaters has obviously already been compromised, it would not change things in that regard.”

    “How could you even consider adoption?” Snape demanded, anger rising once more. “Is this some sort of sick joke where my colleagues are waiting behind a curtain to jeer at me when I agree?”

    “Of course not,” Dumbledore said in mock offense. “You said that you thought Harry’s home living conditions horrible, did you not? Would you leave him there with his relatives for the rest of his life?”

    “No,” Severus admitted. “Not if I could change it. But I cannot.”

    “You can, my boy. Think of how proud Lily would be of the two of you.”

    Severus stared for a few moments at the elderly professor. He swore lightly. “You are manipulating me,” he accused.

    “Is it working?” Albus asked innocently.
    Snape did not reply, but simply turned and strode from the room. He would not admit that it was to Dumbledore, though he might to himself.

 

 

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

 

 

    “AH!” Ron screamed, attracting a few curious glances from other students who were likewise enjoying the sunny day. Unable to resist the temptation, Harry had come up behind, Ron, invisible, and tugged on his hair. Laughing, Harry tore off the cloak. Draco doubled over and even Hermione grinned widely.

    Ron, on the other hand, was not amused. “What’d you do that for? You just about made my heart stop!”

    “Just a joke, Ron, relax,” Harry assured him.

    “Where’d you get an invisibility cloak from, Harry?” Draco asked, calming down. “They’re pretty rare.”

    “It was my father’s,” he replied proudly, not mentioning the connection to Quirrell.

    “You feeling better?” Hermione inquired.
    “Yeah, I’m just fine, thanks,” Harry said. “How about you?”

    “I’m perfectly okay. Ron’s the one who gave us fright,” she replied.

    Ron looked sheepish. “Sorry. I’m okay now though. Pomfrey fixed me up pretty quick.”

    “What happened?” Draco asked. “Before we got there, I mean.”

    “You got there? When?” Harry replied, confused.

    “I think you were passed out at the time,” Draco said. Ron hung his head and Draco and Hermione shared a glance that went unnoticed by Harry.

    “Oh, right. Well, Quirrell was working with Voldemo-”

    “HARRY!” Ron cut him off. “Don’t say his name!”

    Harry stared at his friend resolutely. “Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself,” he quoted.

    “But still.”

    “Anyway,” Harry continued, unperturbed, “He was possessing a lady named Lucretia Black,” he said, then explained how he got the Philosopher’s Stone. “Then I noticed Snape lurking behind the mirror. With an unspoken thought,” he said so as not to reveal their skills, “we made a plan. He attacked Quirrell while I got Lucretia.”

    His friends’ eyes widened simultaneously.  “You what?” Hermione demanded. “Harry! That was so stupid!”

    “I know, I know,” he said tiredly. “Snape told me the same thing. It worked anyway. I got her wand, then she tried to grab it back but when she touched me she burnt and disintegrated.”

    “So he is gone, right?” Ron asked hopefully.

    “No, just temporarily removed,” Harry said with an air of acceptance.

    “I can’t believe Snape helped you,” Ron said, still in shock.

    “He saved my life,” Harry said quietly. “Speaking of which, why were you in Snape’s office in the middle of the night?” he asked Draco.

    “Er, well...” Draco began with a nervous glance at Ron and Hermione. “He is my Head of House, you know, and... my fellow Slytherins thought it would be fun to pull a prank on me in the middle of the night. I was upset, and I have known the professor for years through my family, so I went to him.”

    He waited for their reactions. Surprisingly, Ron was the first to speak up.

    With a grin, he said, “If you want a little revenge...I think I have a few brothers that can hook you up there. Wouldn’t mind seeing a few of those Slytherins after Fred and George have had their way.”

    They all laughed and Draco looked relieved. They spent the rest of the day chatting amiably and catching up on much needed rest. Harry churned things over in his mind, wondering about Dumbledore’s casual comment about a “plan”. He really hoped it involved staying at Hogwarts permanently, for this was his home now.

 

 

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

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