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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21. Chapter 21

    The next day, Harry went down as scheduled to visit Professor Snape. He stood quietly outside the door and knocked, waiting to be let inside.

    “Come in,” Professor Snape called.

    Harry entered and found Snape writing at his desk. He put the parchment that he had just completed into an envelope and handed it to the owl that waited in the windowsill. “Dumbledore,” he said quietly and the owl took off. 

    “Hello, Professor,” Harry said in greeting.

    “Hello, Harry,” Snape replied. “How are you?”

    “I really wish people would stop asking me that,” Harry grumbled. “I’m perfectly fine, and that is not about to change.”

    “That is exactly how I feel about the matter,” Snape agreed, lips twitching ever so slightly. “Nevertheless, Professor McGonagall insists that I work on being more sensitive.”

    Harry was unable to contain a snort. “Sorry, sir, but that is a ridiculous idea.”

    “That is precisely what I pointed out to my dear colleague.”

    “And what did she say to that?” Harry asked, genuinely curious.

    “That if I were the slightest bit sensitive, I would not say such things,” he stated dryly.

    This time, Harry gave a full laugh.

    “It is good to see that your experience has not affected your sense of humor,” Snape pointed out.

    “Yours could use a little affecting,” Harry commented wryly while studying the professor’s well practiced mask of indifference.

    Snape made a skeptical noise.

    “Who is covering Defense Against the Dark Arts now that Quirrell is gone?” Harry asked. 

    Snape’s face darkened. “I have tried to convince our wonderful Headmaster that I should be the one to take his place, but to no avail. Instead, the class is simply cancelled until the end of term exams in a few weeks.”

    “Cancelled?” Harry echoed in disbelief. “So Voldemort-”

    “Don’t say his name,” Snape growled.

    “But Dumbledore said-”

    “I don’t care what that meddling old man said; don’t say his name in front of me.”

    “Okay,” Harry agreed reluctantly. “Anyway, He shows up at Hogwarts and the response is to cancel defense classes? That doesn’t make sense.”

    “Indeed it does not. Whereas I know another potions professor who could take my place, a least until the end of the year, there is no one who immediately comes to mind for the defense position,” Snape said. 

    Harry looked mildly troubled but let the subject drop. “Professor?”

    “Yes?” 

    “Why did I affect Vol- the Dark Lord like that?” Harry asked.

    Snape said, “From  what Dumbledore has mentioned to me, he believes that when your mother sacrificed herself for you, she left some sort of lingering magic that resides in your very being. In your skin as well. The Dark Lord, being as evil as he is, could not bear to touch such a stark reminder of her love and thus burned up.”

    “Oh,” Harry said. “So next time-”

    “You assume there will be a next time?” Snape interrupted, raising an eyebrow.

    “Yes, I expect so,” Harry admitted. “Anyway, I’ll just have to get this wand off of him and touch him somehow.”

    “That will not be as easy as you may think. Next time, he will be prepared,” Snape said in a dark tone.

    “Next time, I will be too,” Harry said confidently.

    “Arrogance will lead you nowhere other than the path of your father, foolish boy,” Snape snapped.

    Harry was mildly shocked at the sudden change in demeanor. “Thanks for those wise words, Professor,” Harry said sardonically. “But I thought that we agreed that you would not see my father when you look at me.”

    “We did,” Snape admitted. “Perhaps the cruel terms were unwarranted, yet the meaning stands true.”

    “Er, okay,” Harry agreed. “Will you teach me Legilimency now?”

    “If you wish.”

    For the next half hour, Snape instructed Harry on the basics of theory and technique behind Legilimency. He explained that it was different from other spells in that it required a battle in one’s mind.

    “Do you believe you are ready?” Snape asked.

    “Yes,” Harry replied, trying not to sound arrogant.

    “Then go ahead,” Snape invited.

    “Legilimens,” Harry muttered, delving into the darkness with his mind. When he touched his professor’s, he sensed a barrier. He tried to break through but could not. It all dissolved as Harry came back to his own mind and reality.

    “Decent,” Snape said. “Again.”

    Harry attempted it three more times, but could not break through the barrier. On the fourth try, he pushed up against a section of the wall and it suddenly gave way. To his dismay, another was behind it. In between, however, floated a thought, or a message of some kind.

    Good, I believe you are proficient. Keep practicing, on others though, for you will never truly break into my mind. I have far more practice than you, and though you are progressing well, you lack much needed discipline. You may end the spell now.

    Harry ended it with a grin, hoping that Nott tried to pull something soon so that he could test out his new skill.

 

 

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

 

 

    A few weeks passed easily as Harry fell back into the routine of class. It wasn’t until early May that Harry finally got his chance to attempt Legilimency on Theodore Nott. The four of them sat at a table in the potions classroom as Snape used his wand to write directions on the board. A knock sounded on the door.

    “Excuse me, Professor, but may I speak with you a moment?” Dumbledore asked, sticking his head in the doorway.    

    “Of course, Headmaster,” Snape replied with passable graciousness despite the look on his face that revealed his annoyance.    

    They stepped into the hall and the students moved to gather supplies. Harry and Ron tossed some ingredients into their cauldrons and began the potion. It did not take long before Nott and his followers sauntered casually over to taunt Draco, as was the norm these days.

    “Hey there, blondie. You a gryffin now?” he said with a sneer.

    “Nott, how many times must I tell you that we don’t want your ugly face near our potions?” Harry asked with mock annoyance. “It tends to make them curdle before they’re done brewing.”

    “Watch the cheek, Potter. Not everyone thinks you’re the Golden Boy,” he replied, eyes darkening.

    “Golden Boy?” Harry echoed. “Haven’t heard that one before. You must really have a crush on me.”

    At the same time, they pulled their wands. Snape had been instructing Harry on nonverbal spells, though it was far beyond his level. Harry could only do Legilimency this way; most likely because it was so different from other spells.

    Harry used this technique now and saw in Nott’s eyes that he was about to blast Ron’s cauldron and contents so that they splashed into his face. Cruel, especially since this potion was caustic at the present stage. Naturally, Harry could not let this happen.

    “Confringo,” Nott said forcefully, wand aimed at Ron’s cauldron.

    At the exact same moment, Harry said “Wingardium Leviosa”  and the cauldron raised up off the table at the direction of Harry’s wand.The Blasting curse flew beneath it, hitting a bottle of porcupine quills and shattering it, sending quills scattering across the floor.

    “What is going on here?” Snape’s sharp voice snapped from the doorway.

    Nott made the mistake of making eye contact with him.

    “Mr. Nott,” Snape said in a stern tone, “If you would clean that up then return to your seat. Put that wand away, you shan’t need it here.”

    Nott turned red as his eyes narrowed. He did as he was told, however and returned to his seat. From this point, the class progressed as usual, with the addition of heavy glares focused on Harry’s back.

    Near the end of class, Harry looked up to see Snape standing above him.

    “Come to my office at 7 o’clock tonight. We have matters to discuss,” he said in his condescending teaching tone. 

    Harry nodded, slightly worried that he would be scolded for the argument with Nott.

    “I will, Professor,” Harry said.

 

 

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

 

 

    “Sit down, Harry,” Severus said after Harry arrived for their scheduled appointment.

    The small boy hoisted himself into the chair and sat expectantly. 

    “Am I in trouble, sir?” Harry asked tentatively.

    “Whatever for?” 

    “For arguing with Nott,” Harry said in explanation, brow furrowing.

    Severus paused. “Of course not. In fact, you used nonverbal Legilimency, didn’t you?” 

    Harry nodded.

    “In that case I commend you,” Severus said. “That is a good use for the skill, preventing injury of your companions.”

    “Thanks, sir?” The statement came out as more of a question.

    Severus merely nodded. “You are aware, I am sure, of the fast approaching end of the year,” he confirmed. 

    Harry nodded once more, seemingly deep in thought. 

    “Tell me, Harry, what do you consider your home?” Severus asked.

    “Here,” Harry said. “Hogwarts.”

    Severus nodded soberly. “As I thought.” In that case, it would not matter, he mused.

    “Why does that matter?” Harry asked curiously.

    “You remember what I told you about the lingering magic that your mother left you with after her... sacrifice?” Severus said, mildly pained. Harry nodded. “The magic is in you, in your blood and in hers. Therefore, Lily’s sister, Petunia, is also involved due to the blood relation. As long as you call Privet Drive ‘home’ you shall be protected from the Dark Lord and his followers.”

    Harry seemed to mull this over. “Now that I consider Hogwarts my home, the spell is broken, right?”

    Severus nodded.

    “Does that mean I have to stop thinking of this as home? I’m not sure I can manage that,” Harry admitted.

    “There are other options,” Severus assured him.

    Harry’s bright green eyes scrutinized his face. Severus had to resist the urge to Legilimize him, for that would be a habit that he would have to break if this was to work. Harry’s brow furrowed and a concerned look overtook his features.

    “Sir? Why were you not able to come in the house at Christmas?”

    Ah. The very question that Severus had dreaded answering. He thought it out carefully, for this could ruin everything if he was not careful.

    “Harry, promise to listen to everything that I have to say, alright?” Severus said firmly. Harry nodded in agreement.

    Severus took a deep breath. “I am a former Death Eater.”

    “What’s that?” Harry blurted.

    “One of the Dark Lord’s inner circle.”

    Harry’s features darkened, but he stuck to his promise and let Severus continue.

    “That is what I meant all those months ago about the bad choices I made. When my master at the time began to target your family, I begged him to leave you alone.” Severus did not add that he only plead for Lily’s life. “He refused, so I went to Dumbledore for help protecting your family, for Lily was very important to me. He helped as best he could, and from then on, I was a double agent; Dumbledore’s informant. My loyalty to the Dark Lord died on the night that your parents did. I am firmly Dumbledore’s now. Please believe that,” Severus said, his voice taking on a pleading edge.

    Harry was quiet for a long, tense moment. Severus’s heart began to sink, feeling that Harry might not forgive him. 

    “So you killed my parents,” Harry accused quietly, without force. “You betrayed them.”

    “No, I didn’t. Your parents put their faith in one of their friends, the wrong one. He betrayed their location and allowed the Dark Lord to find them,” Severus said calmly.

    Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Every time that I start to trust you, something comes up that makes me doubt.”

    “I am truly sorry for that, Harry,” Severus said sincerely. “But that is the way with a former dark wizard such as myself.”

    “You seem very accepting of what you are...what you were,” Harry corrected himself.

    “I have had to accept it, or I would not have been able to carry on with my life. I would have drowned in a pit of despair,” Severus said. “I came very close.”

    Harry stayed quiet for another minute. Unusually, Severus began to fidget.

    “Okay,” Harry said simply.    

    Severus’s eyebrow lifted in surprise. “That is it? You accept that with a simple ‘okay’?”

    “Yes,” Harry said. He began to smile slowly, “Unless you would like me to make a big deal out of it? I could be angry at you for a few days if it would make you feel better.”
    “No, no of course not,” Severus said. “I am merely surprised, that’s all.”

    “You have to understand that I’ve never really had anyone to trust before,” Harry explained. “It’s hard to shake now.”

    It was Severus’s turn to remain quiet. The irrevocable trust left him feeling slightly uneasy, for he did not feel deserving of that level of loyalty. Quite honestly, he didn’t fell that he deserved any. Naturally, the one child who would trust him has never had any sort of adult figure to look up to. Severus assumed that was the only way that any child would become attached to someone like himself. 

    Severus sighed and leaned back, wondering how he should approach this delicate situation.

    “Harry, are you aware that many wizarding families offered to adopt you years ago?” Severus asked, a seemingly abrupt change in the topic of conversation. Severus had a plan, however; he knew exactly where he was going with this.

    Harry frowned. “No. Why’d they leave me at the Dursleys’ when I could’ve grown up magical?”

    “Dumbledore did not want you to grow up with pressure from the wizarding world because of your fame. Now, however, you are free to do as you wish,” Severus said.

    “So you mean I could be adopted and have a family?” Harry asked, a glimmer of hope in his eyes. 

    “Would you want to be?” Severus asked, chest tight.

    Harry gave it a moment of thought. “I don’t know. I mean, I wouldn’t want to go off with a stranger. That would just be...weird.”

    “But you do not want to go back to the Dursleys’, I assume?” he asked.

    Harry’s eyes widened. “Definitely not!”

    “What if someone that you knew fairly well offered to adopt you?” Severus asked, forcing his tone to be level. 

    Harry shrugged. “Like who?”

    “Like myself,” Severus forced out. “For example,” he added.

    Harry was quiet. The silences in this conversation were really putting Severus on edge.

    “Was that an offer?” Harry asked quietly.

    “Yes.”

    There was another pause. “Oh”

    Severus blinked. What did that mean? “You really have a way with words, don’t you?” he asked.

    Harry smiled softly. “Can I think about it?”

    “Absolutely,” Severus said, though his emotions were churning. Now he would be in a state of stressed suspense for days. Fantastic. Though Harry did have a right to consider such a life changing decision.

    “I think I’ll go now, Professor. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Harry said a little awkwardly. “Bye.”

    “Goodbye, Harry,” Severus said. The door closed behind Harry and Severus ran his hands through his hair. What just happened? What if Harry declined? The awkwardness would be next to unbearable. Rejected by both the mother and the son. That would be his luck. Severus resigned himself to a long sleepless night as he worried about what Harry was thinking.

 

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

 

    Harry walked back up to the common room slowly. Once inside, he managed to avoid anyone who might want to talk to him and go straight up to his room. Harry drew the curtains around the bed in a strange state of calm, almost in a daze. He sat on his bed, sheltered from the outside world by four protective sheets of fabric and let his emotions run free. Harry never would have expected such a thing to ever come out of Professor Snape’s mouth. For whatever reason, Harry had instantly rejected the idea of accepting in his mind. To live with Professor Snape... would be difficult, to say the least. What would that be like? He hardly ever showed emotion and certainly not affection. That wouldn’t be so different from his current family, Harry supposed. But maybe Harry could change him. Perhaps Professor Snape was simply lonely and Harry could brighten him up. 

    In his mind, Harry reviewed their every encounter. Beginning with the loathing that had started off the year to the rather pleasant potions and defense lessons. It seemed like Snape, or at least Harry’s impression of Snape, had changed already. Who’s to say it couldn’t go farther? To have a father... Snape wouldn’t be a horrible father. Strict, maybe, but Harry could rely on him. In the past few months, Harry got the impression that Snape actually cared.

    Suddenly, the idea of adoption didn’t seem quite so outlandish. Harry could have a family. A father that chose him. It could work. Harry gave a tentative smile. It could work.

 

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

 

    Harry wasn’t set to return to talk to Snape until the next evening. Though he didn’t have Potions that day, he did see his professor at breakfast and in the corridors. In the Great Hall, it was difficult to ignore the stare that he knew was coming from the Head Table. Harry tried to talk with his friends as normal, but he found his conversation skills lacking. There were too many other things floating around his mind to allow for trivial conversation. 

    Harry managed to avoid Snape until afternoon on his way back from Transfiguration. They approached from opposite sides of the hall. Before passing, Snape stopped. Harry looked at him, then dropped his gaze, unsure of what it would reveal. He didn’t know what he was feeling himself, what would Snape see? Harry quickly went on his way, not wishing to prolong the awkwardness. He had only a few hours to make up his mind. Harry was sure that Snape would allow him more time, but it was not fair to keep him waiting. By tonight, Harry will have made his decision.

 

 

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

 

    A quiet knock sounded on Severus’s office door.

    “Come in,” he called, heart racing beneath his calm and collected exterior.

    Harry slipped inside, closing the door behind him. He took his customary seat and immediately began talking.

    “Professor, I’ve been thinking about your offer-”

    “You can certainly have more time if you need it,” Severus interrupted. He scolded himself for betraying his nerves by accommodating so quickly.

    “No, it’s alright,” Harry said with a slight frown. “I thought really hard about it and I made my decision.”

    Severus forgot how to breathe.

    “I would really like to come live with you, Professor,” Harry said quietly with a small smile.

    Severus let out a breath. “I would like that too,” he said.

    Harry smiled. “Good.”

    Severus’s lips twitched into an uncharacteristic smile. “I shall start the paperwork then. And you certainly cannot continue to call me ‘professor’ or ‘sir’.”

    “So...” Harry trailed off, unsure of what to say.    

    “Just call me ‘Severus’,” he said.

    “Severus,” Harry said. “That sounds weird.”

    Severus raised an eyebrow. “Does it?” he asked rhetorically.

    “Can I tell my friends?” Harry asked excitedly.

    “If you are certain you want to go through with it.”

    “I am,” Harry said firmly. “What about the protection through blood, though?”
    Severus replied, “We decided that I am more than capable of defending you until you are old enough to defend yourself. Those muggles needed all the help they could get.”

    Harry seemed to be fine with this. “Can I go now then? I want to find Draco before curfew.”

    “Certainly,” Severus replied. “Goodnight, Harry.”

    “Goodnight...Severus.”

 

 

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

 

 

    “Hey, Draco!” Harry called from down the corridor. His friend’s blonde head bobbed amongst the other students milling around.

    He turned. “Hi, Harry.”

    “Can I talk to you for a moment?” Harry asked. At Draco’s assent, he gestured towards an empty classroom.

    Once inside, Harry began excitedly. “Draco, Professor Snape offered to adopt me!”

    “What?!” Draco said, mouth dropping open.

    “Yeah,” Harry confirmed. “I’m going to have a father!”
    “Harry, that’s great!” Draco said earnestly. “You deserve it.”

    “Thanks,” Harry said, “Hope you don’t mind me running off, but I have to tell Hermione and Ron.”

    “Sure,” Draco replied.

    Harry turned towards the door before he glimpsed the look of concerned fear that overtook Draco’s face.

    “See you, Draco,” Harry called, without turning.

    “See you,” Draco replied with less enthusiasm than one might expect. Brow furrowed, he left the room.

 

 

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

 

 

    “WHAT?” Ron burst out upon hearing the news. “You agreed to live with that greasy git? What’s he given you, a senseless potion?”

    “Don’t call him that, Ron,” Harry said quietly. They sat in the mostly empty common room, but Hermione put up a silencing barrier so that they could not be overheard.

    “I’m happy for you, Harry, but do you really think he is the best one for the job?” Hermione asked, ignoring Ron.

    “I trust him,” Harry said. “He understands like no one else can. He lost something on that night too.”

    Hermione nodded in acceptance, while Ron stared in disbelief.

    “But why?” Ron asked.”After all of those detentions.”

    “Ron, I haven’t  actually been in detention,” Harry said, resisting rolling his eyes. “He has been teaching me, and I can trust him. I don’t expect you to understand.”

    “I don’t understand. I thought you hated him.”

    “You won’t understand because you have such a big family. I have never had anyone before Professor Snape. I think he actually cares,” Harry said quietly.

    Ron raised an eyebrow skeptically. “I didn’t realize he had emotion.”

    “You have to see past the surface,” Harry stated wisely. 

    “I must admit, I’ve never exactly tried to see into Snape’s soul.”

    Harry rolled his eyes. “You know that’s not what I mean. So you’re okay with it?”

    “Do you really need my approval?” Ron shot back.

    “Well, no, but you’re one of my closest friends. I wouldn’t want to lose you as soon as I get what I’ve always wanted,” Harry said.

    “You won’t,” Ron assured him.

    Harry gave him a smile.

    “Just promise me one thing, okay?” Ron asked.

    “Yeah?”

    “Make sure he washes his hair,” Ron said.

    The three of them laughed and shared a grin. Harry felt a million times lighter as he made his way up to the dorm, and smiled to himself in the darkness.

 

 

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

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