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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24. Chapter 24

    Harry stepped into Snape’s office when his presence was acknowledged. He noted that the older man seemed tense, reflecting in part Harry’s feelings. He was not tense so much as nervous that something would go wrong and he would be stuck back with the Dursleys with no true family. The very thought chilled him.

    “Are they meeting us here, sir?” Harry asked, reverting to absolute politeness in his nervousness. He glanced around the office, noting that it would not fit more than a few people.

    Snape raised an eyebrow at the honorific title but did not comment on it. “No, we shall be meeting in my chambers.”

    “Where are those?” Harry asked curiously. It had not even occured to him that the teachers had rooms here as well. Though it should be obvious that he too needed to sleep, it seemed like Snape always seemed to be in his office. 

    “You should know how to enter, should you ever need to visit,” Snape said factually. “Come here.”

    He stepped to the door at the back of the office that had, at one time, contained the workshop into which Harry had intruded. Snape pressed the tip of his wand to the door and said the password.

    “Lilunium Fulmucilius,” he muttered. “Remember that.”

    “I will,” Harry said.

    When the door opened, it did not reveal the workshop that Harry had seen before. Instead, they stepped into a small hallway that lead to a good sized sitting room. The carpet was dark green which was complimented by the black couches.  A large fireplace took up much of the opposite wall, illuminating the stone walls with its red glow. The mantle above the fireplace did not hold trinkets as one in another household might. All that sat upon the thick piece of wood was a small bowl of Floo powder.

    “What happened to the workshop behind that door?” Harry asked. 

    “When the password is given, the door opens to my chambers,” he replied gesturing to the room. “If not, one will simply enter my workshop.”

    “Wow,” Harry said, unsure as to whether that pertained to the security measure or the room itself. He began to grin wryly.

    “May I inquire as to why you are smiling in that manner?” Snape asked with a furrowed brow.

    “This room is so typical of you,” Harry explained. “Green, black, cold and plain.”

    Snape gave Harry a dark glare. Harry merely laughed.

    “I will show you around I suppose. The Ministry representatives should be here within fifteen minutes,” Snape told him.

    Harry followed his professor to the small kitchen with a sink and stove dominating the room. 

    “Why do you need a kitchen?” he asked. “You eat in the Great Hall.”

    “Occasionally I do not wish to join my comrades in such a noisy and irritating atmosphere. And sometimes I wish to brew my own tea.”

    “Oh.”

    Next, they proceeded down a small hallway with two doors off of it. Snape gestured to one of them and identified it as his room. Harry was deeply curious about what Snape’s personal space looked like, but he did not ask or open the door. Perhaps another time. The door at the end of the hallway was the bathroom. Harry thought the place as a whole unremarkable but just as he had expected. They returned to the sitting room and Harry took a seat on the couch.    

    “Harry,” Snape began as he sat in a chair across from Harry, “I  think it best to inform you that the adoption branch of the Ministry is not handling yours as a normal case. Being who you are, they are bringing a team of members of the Wizengamot who must deem the situation acceptable before the adoption is approved.”

    “What’s the Wizengamot?” Harry asked, trepidation building.

    “It is the wizarding court composed of old witches and wizards with more power than brains. Nevertheless, we must abide by them,” Snape said. “Dumbledore is on it, do not think he is who I meant by that insensitive comment. Luckily, he is one of the ones who will make the decision as he is the Chief Warlock.”

    Harry did not ask about what this meant; he could guess for himself. “Okay, what does this mean for me?”

    “It means that you should be honest. If they catch you lying, it will look like I coerced you and you are entering this engagement against your will,” Snape explained calmly.

    “Alright,” Harry said, nerves growing more agitated at another unforeseen point of failure. 

    “Simply be warned that they will try to use my background against me. They do not know for certain that I am a Death Eater, but they are strongly suspicious. It is only through Dumbledore’s good graces that I am not in Azkaban.”

    Harry nodded, mind spinning too much to say anything intelligent.  From this point on, they waited with nothing but the crackling of the fire to break the silence between them. Before long, there was a knock on the door. Snape rose in a fluid motion to open it for his guests. 

 

 

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

 

 

    “Hello, Severus,” Albus greeted warmly, customary twinkle showing in his eye.

    Severus inclined his head, “Albus.” He looked past the headmaster at the people gathered behind. “Ms. Bones, Mr. Doge, do come in,” he offered, stepping back from the door. They filed past, “Professor McGonagall,” he greeted as she entered, assuming she was the one whom they had called to witness. Finally, a small, grandmotherly woman entered and looked at Snape appraisingly. She held out a hand.

    “Patricia Nurse,” she introduced herself.

    Severus accepted the handshake with a firm, unyielding grip. “Severus Snape. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

    She simply nodded and continued on to join her companions. Severus let out a tense breath, then followed.

    The newcomers had arranged themselves along the sectional couch so that Harry sat in the middle, with Severus in a chair opposite him. The adoption official was the first to speak.

    “Hello, Harry dear, I am Mrs. Nurse. Is it alright if we ask you a few questions?”

    Harry nodded. 

    “When did you first meet Mr. Snape?”

    “At the beginning of the school year, ma’m,” Harry responded quietly.

    She smiled. “Very polite. How did you meet Professor Snape?”
    Harry said, “He is my Potions professor.”

    “What was your first impression of Professor Snape?”

    “I do not see how that pertains to his perception of me now,” Severus snapped, knowing that Harry’s first impression of him would not be favorable. 

    “It is part of the procedure,” Mrs. Nurse said calmly. “Please answer, Harry.”

    “Er, well he was a little intimidating but nicer than my uncle,” Harry said honestly.

    “You used to live with your aunt, uncle and cousin correct?”

    “Yes.”

    “What were they like?” Mrs. Nurse interrogated.

    “Um,” Harry said, uncomfortable with talking about it in front of so many people. 

    Mrs. Nurse sensed his hesitation, “Would you rather talk about it later when we are more alone?”

    “Yes, ma’m.”

    “Not a problem, dear. Do you trust Mr. Snape?” she continued.

    “Completely.”

    “How has he earned your unfailing trust?” she asked, genuinely curious. Severus leaned forward as well, for he was still unclear as to how that had happened.

    “He saved my life more than once,” Harry said. “And he was straightforward with me when other adults thought I was too young to understand.”

    “When and how did he save your life?” she inquired.

    “Well the first time, he caught me when my broom got cursed and it tossed me off. Then when You-Know-Who’s servant Professor Quirrell tried to kidnap me,  my friend told Professor Snape and he came to save me. The most recent time was when I went to try to rescue the something important from You-Know-Who and I alerted him first and he came and distracted Quirrell so that I could fight the lady whose body he was possessing,” Harry said.

    Summarized in that manner, Severus thought the story, while true, sounded remarkably false. He glanced over at the official.

    “Well. I suppose that would be a good reason to trust him,” she said sounding skeptical.

    Harry nodded earnestly.

    Mrs. Nurse turned to Severus. “Why is it that you allowed the child to take on You-Know-Who while you attacked the less powerful wizard?” she asked suspiciously. “Were you loathe to attack him?”    

    Severus could hear the insinuations of his servitude in her voice. He responded calmly, “Harry made it known that he wanted to fight said dark wizard and I reviewed my options. Unexposed at the time, I could not stop him and any attempt to take on the more powerful wizard and thus spare the child would have resulted in an opening for Quirrell to attack him. My only option was to go with his plan so as not to put him in additional danger.”

    She made a noncommittal noise and narrowed her eyes. Severus could tell that she was trying to find fault in his logic. After a moment, she turned back to Harry. 

    “Last question for now,” she told him. “Has anyone coerced you into accepting this offer?”

    “No, of course not,” Harry replied assertively.

    She made a mark on one of the papers on her lap. “Minerva, would you kindly escort Harry to another room while we ask Professor Snape a few questions?”

    “Of course,” she agreed. “Come on, Harry, let’s get the elves to send up a nice bottle of Butterbeer, shall we?” 

    Harry rose with a nervous glance back at Snape before heading with Minerva to the kitchen. In the short moment that their eyes met, Severus tried to instill reassurance and confidence in his gaze. He hoped that he could exude such qualities presently.

    “Severus Snape,” Mrs. Nurse said, turning to him. “I am sure you are aware of the suspicions regarding you and...Dark Magic?”

    “I am,” he replied.

    “Are they true?” she asked.

    “I decline to answer that,” Severus said.

    She looked at him critically. “We cannot, in good conscience, place a child, especially one of such importance as Harry Potter, in the hands of a Dark Wizard.”

    “I do not practice Dark Magic,” he said honestly.

    “Are we supposed to take him by his word?” Elphias Doge spoke up accusingly.

    “I will,” Dumbledore offered.

    “Albus, if I may speak freely, you are a little too trusting for your own good,” Doge snapped.

    “Elphias, dear man, it does not do to judge on what you do not know. I am fully familiar with all of Severus’ accomplishments and failures and yet I still vouch for his honesty.”

    Doge huffed and Snape cut in. “I will submit to Veritaserum if it must be done.”

    This seemed to have the desired affect on the assembled. When they realized that he was willing to go to such an extreme, they assumed that, however doubtful it may seem, he was telling the truth.

    “That shall not be necessary,” Mrs. Nurse spoke up. “May we continue?”

    Doge nodded. 

    “Mr. Snape, why did you rescue the child?”

    “Which time?” Snape asked with a light sneer.

    “Any,” she said, “or all.”

    “I saved him in the beginning because, contrary to popular belief, I am not a sadistic person who wishes harm and death upon people,” Severus figured that was a safe assertion. “More recently, I had been spending more time mentoring Harry and have grown rather fond of his company. Therefore, I would obviously wish no ill will upon him. Thus, I went to great lengths to save him.”

    She nodded in acceptance. “If the adoption is approved, do you have accommodations to care for the child?”

    “I do,” he replied. “I inherited the family house in Spinner’s End where I spend the summer holiday. During the school year he shall live here, and I believe accommodations will be made so that he has a room in my quarters should he need it.”

    “Alright. Are you prepared for the responsibility of a child?” 

    Severus could not hold back a sneer. “If I were not, why would I have filed the paperwork?”

    “True,” she muttered, seeming unappreciative of his condescending tone. “Are you aware of Harry’s treatment by his previous family?”

    “I am, for the most part.”

    “Were you comfortable with the way they treated him?” she asked. 

    “Absolutely not,” Severus replied. “That is part of the reason behind the current arrangement being made. I would not send him back to them.”

    “What exactly did you take exception to?” she asked. 

    Severus scoffed. “Everything. The fact that he lived in a cupboard, was starved for weeks at a time, abused and punished physically, degraded mentally, and taught that magic was freakish and abhorrent.”

    “I suppose that is enough. Would you change places with Harry please?” she requested.

    “Certainly.”

    Snape rose and entered the kitchen. He found Harry sipping a bottle of Butterbeer and chatting amiably with Minerva about Gryffindor’s chances of winning the cup. He rolled his eyes.

    “Your presence is requested in the other room. Remember, Harry, be honest,” Severus warned.

    Harry nodded and left.

    “Hello, Severus,” Minerva said cheerily. 

    Severus sat with a dark look at her bright mood and decided that he hoped Harry’s interview was quick. He was not one for meaningless conversation.    

 

 

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

 

 

    “Will you tell me about your former family now, Harry?” Mrs. Nurse asked.

    Harry looked around. There were still the three members of the Wizengamot but one was Dumbledore, so Harry discounted him. “I suppose. They were horrible people. I lived in a cupboard under the stairs while my cousin got two rooms; one for him and one for his stuff. He needed it, he was pretty big,” Harry added absentmindedly.

    “What was your life like while you were there?” 

    “Well I cooked, cleaned, dusted, gardened, painted, pretty much anything that needed to be done. They fed me most of the time, but never very much. If some magic slipped or I even said the word ‘magic’ I’d get locked in the cupboard without food for a week or two,” he said casually. “I learned pretty quick.”

    The gathered adults looked horrified, except for Dumbledore who remained his usual encouraging calm. “Did they hurt you?” Ms. Bones spoke up.

    Harry shifted uncomfortably. “Sometimes.”

    “Did Mr. Snape ever show signs of wanting to hurt you?” Mrs. Nurse asked.

    Harry briefly thought of the night that he intruded on Snape, then the night that he found out that Harry knew about the stone. He deserved his anger for both of those, so he didn’t count it. “No.”

    “Never?” 

    “No,” Harry repeated. “And he may not seem like it but he is a million times nicer than my uncle.”

    “I’d hate to meet your uncle,” Ms. Bones muttered quietly.

    Harry gave a small smile.

    “Do you know enough about Professor Snape to go through with this adoption?” Mrs. Nurse asked.

    “Yes,” Harry said confidently.

    “Are you sure that you want to go through with it?”

    “Yes,” he repeated.

    “Is there anything else that you didn’t want to say in front of Professor Snape?” she asked in conclusion.

    “No, I would say anything in front of him,” Harry said.

    “Very well, will you bring him and Professor McGonagall back in here, please?”

    “Sure!” Harry said, jumping up to fetch them.

    As soon as he left the room, hushed muttering broke out. Harry decided that it was probably best to give them a few minutes to reach their final decision. He entered the kitchen and waited with his two professors.

    After a few minutes, Harry impatiently asked. “Do you think they’re done?”

    “Most likely,” Snape responded. 

    Harry smiled, “Let’s go, then.” He headed towards the door and missed the fond smile bestowed upon him by Professor McGonagall. 

    Once they had returned to the siting room, Mrs. Nurse made an announcement.

    “We have collectively decided that, should both parties still want to go through with it, the adoption will be permitted.” She turned to them expectantly.

    “I still want to,” Harry said.

    “As do I,” Snape said.

    She turned to the Wizengamot representatives. “Still in agreement?”

    “Yes,” they echoed.

    “Alright, then. We have some paperwork to do.”

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