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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3. Chapter 3

“Well, what would you like me to do?” Snape asked Dumbledore.

    The old man reclined in his chair and joined the tips of his fingers together. 

    “What do you think is best, Severus?”

    Snape growled, “I do not care what you do with him! Just take him off my hands.”

    “That is not what I asked. You have some...experience with this sort of situation. What do you suggest?” he replied calmly.

    “I do not know.”

    “Maybe he needs someone who,” Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, then continued, “understands him.”

    Realization flickered over Snape’s featured as he discerned Dumbledore’s meaning. That realization soon turned to anger, “Absolutely not. How could you suggest such a thing? You know what his father did to me.”

    “And I know what his mother did to you as well.”

    Snape sucked  in a sharp breath. “No. You figure out what to do with him. I will not be part of it.”

    “Very well. I will contact a few people and owl you with instructions by morning,” Dumbledore said tiredly.

    “Thank you,” Snape replied stiffly. He got up and moved to the fireplace. From a small pot on the mantle, he took a handful of dark grey powder. Throwing it with far more force than necessary, he called, “The Leaky Cauldron.” In a flash of green, he was gone.

 

 

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

 

 

    “Wake up,” a voice snapped.

    Harry jolted awake, expecting, once again, to find himself in his cupboard. This time, memory returned more quickly, filling Harry with excitement. And dread. He knew that Snape wouldn’t help him, he just knew it. And now he would be sent back to the Dursley’s. He shuddered at the thought. 

    “Get dressed,” Snape commanded. “We are going.”

    Harry did so without complaint, and followed Snape out of the door with heavy steps. He did not ask where they were going. He knew. They passed through the empty barroom, making Harry think that it must be fairly early in the morning. Yesterday  it had been bustling with people. He supposed that breakfast again today may be too much to hope for.  Once outside, Snape instructed Harry to grab his arm. He did so and at once it felt as if Harry had been crushed into the size of a marble and then slowly released. Once he felt fully formed once again, he was forced to stagger to regain his balance. He breathed deeply several times to try and settle his stomach. Snape watched this with a sneer of disdain.

    “If you feel the urge to upheave, kindly do so away from me.”

    Harry considered this a challenge; he stood up straight and convinced  himself he was fine. When he did so, he realized that he was not on the lawn that he carefully maintained for the Dursley’s. Instead they were facing a tall, crooked building that looked like it would fall over at the slightest breeze. The landscaping was a far sight from what he was used to; Harry leaned over to get a better look at an exotic orange flower when it hissed at him with a forked tongue. He jumped back, startled, and thought that those would make the perfect addition to the Dursley’s flower beds.

    “Oh, you must be Harry!” a woman’s voice called from a few feet to Harry’s left. He turned to find a plump, red-haired, matronly looking woman beside him. She rushed over and enveloped Harry in a hug.

    “My! You’re nothing but skin and bones! Come on in, dear, the others should be getting up for breakfast soon. You’re just in time,” she said and turned to greet Snape with a simple, “Severus.”

    He nodded in acknowledgement and gestured for Harry to enter the strange house. He walked into the kitchen and his eyes widened to take it all in. The floor was covered in a brilliantly colored rug that matched the wallpaper. On the stove, pots stirred themselves and a pair of tongs was flipping bacon strips on its own. Mrs. Weasley waved her wand and dishes flew to the table. Harry flinched, certain they were going to break but they didn’t. 

    At that moment, a fairly tall, skinny red-head came in rubbing his eyes. He stared at Harry as if trying to comprehend a difficult math problem. Then he turned to the adjoining room.

    “Oy! George! Harry Potter is in here!” he called.

    A moment later, a voice sounded in response, “You’re probably sleepwalking again, you idiot.” 

    The red-head in the doorway yelped, “What’d you pinch me for? Come look,” he said grumpily, rubbing a red mark on his arm. Harry did a double take as an identical boy stepped up next to the one in the doorway. Harry marveled that his face went through the same series of expressions as his brother’s before finally settling on pleased surprise.

    “Blimey! Ron, get down here! It’s Harry Potter!”

    “Indeed it is,” Snape agreed darkly. “I do not have time to witness the disbelief of each and every Weasley. If you’ve seen one,I daresay you have seen them all,” he said sardonically. “I am leaving,” he told Mrs. Weasley.

    “Let me show you out,” she offered.

    Snape inclined his head, wondering why she had offered when he was standing right next to the door. Harry looked up briefly, but did not comment or say goodbye. 

Both adults left, and Harry turned back to the grinning twins and the smaller (still red haired) boy who had joined them. The twins shared a secretive look.

    “Be back in a sec, Harry,” they said in unison and dashed upstairs.

    “Hello, I’m Ron,” the remaining boy introduced himself. “Those were my brothers.”

    “I had guessed. I’m Harry, but I suppose you already know that,” he said, shifting awkwardly on his feet. Harry was still not used to the notion of being famous.

     “How many brothers do you have?” Harry asked as he heard what sounded like a stampede of feet on the ceiling above his head.

    “Five brothers, one sister. She should be around here somewhere... Ginny!” he called. 

    A tiny figure slid around the corner, holding tight to the doorframe.

    “Hello,” Harry said in way of greeting. Her eyes grew wide and she all but sprinted away. He looked at Ron questioningly, wondering if he did something wrong.

    Ron shrugged, “She is really shy. Don’t worry about it,” he said dismissively. “Sit down. So how do you like being famous?” Ron asked, teasingly.

    “Well, I didn’t know I was until a few days ago,” Harry replied honestly.

    “You’re joking!” Ron accused. “What, were you raised by muggles?” he scoffed.

    “What are muggles?”

    Ron seemed to have to decide whether he was being serious. “Non-magic folk.”

    “Oh. Yeah, I was.”

    “Gee, you aren’t joking are you?”

    Harry shook his head. 

    “My dad would love to ask you some questions, but he is at work now,” Ron supplied, pointing to a clock that hung above him on the wall. Instead of two hands, it had the faces of what Harry assumed was each Weasley. Each pointed to the place they were at the moment. Six of them were pointing at ‘home’, one was at ‘work’ and two were ‘in mortal peril’.

    “In mortal peril?” Harry asked in alarm.

    “Oh, those are my two oldest brothers, Bill and Charlie. Bill’s a curse breaker for Gringott’s bank; he works over in Egypt. Must be working on something tough right now,” Ron replied unconcerned. “Charlie trains dragons. Its really cool, but they can get pretty vicious.”

    “Oh,” Harry replied, unsure of what to say.

    “Yep.”

 

 

 

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

 

 

    Snape stood outside facing Mrs. Weasley. He had expected her to go into over-protective mother mode when given a new charge. Here was it’s first manifestation, it seemed.

    “Why did Dumbledore send you to fetch Harry? Given your... history, it seems most unusual,” Molly mused.

    “I haven’t the faintest idea. But you must bear in mind that Dumbledore’s mind works in most unusual ways. I suggest you ask him, not me.”

    He turned to go. 

    “Severus.”

    Reluctantly, he faced Mrs. Weasley once more.

    “Don’t forget, he isn’t his father. Do try to be nicer to the boy. He needs love and care, not the coldness you are so skilled at radiating,” she said earnestly.

    “If he needs love and care,” he put a decent degree of disdain in those words, “you may be the one to administer it. I wish only to wash my hands of the matter.”

    Before she could reply, he spun on the spot, cloak billowing, and disappeared.

    Molly sighed and returned to the house.

 

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

 

 

    When at last, all of the Weasley children had been assembled at the table, breakfast was served. Heaping piles of potatoes, pancakes, toast and bacon filled the table, and then everyone’s plates. Harry shyly took a piece of toast.

    “Oh, now, Harry, dear, you must eat more than that! Don’t be shy. They certainty aren’t,” she gestured to the twins who tried to grin without letting the potatoes fall from their overstuffed mouthes. This eased some of Harry’s tension and he allowed bacon and eggs to be added to the toast. 

    “Hello, Harry, I am Percy,” the oldest boy said  formally from the head of the table. Ron snickered, earning him a look from his mother.

    “Nice to meet you,” Harry replied.

    Mrs. Weasley smiled, “ Now that you’ve all been introduced to Harry, I have an announcement to make.” Six rapt faces, including Harry’s, stared at her. “Harry will be staying with us for the rest of the summer.”

    Grins quickly spread around the table, and none was larger than Harry’s. He would not have to go back to the Dursley’s! His spirits soared, then he hesitated. He turned to Mrs. Weasley.

    “I’ll do whatever chores you want me to, ma’am. I don’t want to be a burden.”

    “You’ll do no such thing. Relax, Harry, you will be no burden, I am sure,” she said comfortingly.

    Harry smiled his first genuine smile in days.

    When breakfast had concluded, he was ushered into the foyer with the others. 

    “Hey, Harry! You want some candy?” Fred asked.

    “We found it in our room this morning, but we have lots more,” George chimed in.

    “Yeah, go on, its only a peppermint,” Fred urged.

    Ron and Ginny shared a look that went unnoticed by Harry.

    Blindly trusting, he popped the innocent looking candy into his mouth. Immediately,  he felt an odd tingling sensation in his ears. He felt one with his hand. It felt normal. All at once, steam shot out, forcing his palm away. He pushed back with both hands in attempt to stop the steam.

    “No!” George cried.

    “Yeah,  I wouldn’t do that,” Fred said, much more calmly.

    “Your brain might explode or something,” Ginny agreed, speaking for the first time.

    Harry was force to sill his hand and let the steam empty out of his ears.

    “Aye! We got the famous Harry Potter!” George said as if this was suddenly dawning on him.

    Fred agreed, “Yeah, that’s one to tell Lee! Not that he’ll believe us.”

    Harry suddenly felt diminished. If he was tricked that easily, he didn’t deserve to be a wizard. How could he have done the things he was famous for if he was duped by a simple candy? His feelings must have shown in his expression, for Ginny spoke up once more.

    “How did he know that you two were going to be foul pranksters? He has only known you for two hours!”

    Fred and George looked slightly apologetic. “Sorry, Harry,” they said together.

    “ S’ okay,” he said, genuinely meaning it.

    “Come on Harry, I’ll show you my room, you can sleep there,” Ron offered eagerly.

    Harry agreed, glad to escape the sudden awkwardness, and followed Ron up the winding stairs to the very top. As he looked around the oddly shaped, clutter and unconventionally decorated room, he decided that he would take this over the perfect neatness of the house he had spent the past ten years in any day. 

    “It’s not much, and there’s the family ghoul overhead, but...” Ron trailed off.

    “I love it,” Harry said earnestly.

    Ron smiled, for he knew that Harry meant it.

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