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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8. Chapter 8

     With heavy steps, Harry descended the stairs that lead to the dungeons where he would be serving his detention. As he approached the door next to the potions classroom, he raised his hand to knock. Before he could do so, the door swung open and revealed Snape sitting at the desk in his office. 

    “Enter,” he commanded.

    Harry did so and the door swung closed behind him, causing his palms to break out in a cold sweat. He futilely attempted to calm himself and stood rod-straight in the center of the small room, gaze focused on the jars of random organisms lining two of the walls. His eyes caught on a grotesque face seemingly staring back at him through lifeless eyes. Thoroughly chilled, he instead turned his attention to a bottle of tiny flower petals that seemed very out of place in this dark room.

    “Sit,” the Professor ordered.

    “Yes, sir,” Harry replied, moving to do so.

    “Today is the first of your week of detentions, I assume you know why you are here?” he raised an eyebrow.

    “N-” Harry hesitated and looked at the challenging face staring intensely at him. “Yes, sir.”

    “Good. You will find a bucket of Streelers in the potions classroom. They are to be dissected and organs separated into separate trays. Do not touch the venom. When you are finished, return to your common room. Go.” Snape snapped, leaning back in his chair.

    Harry nodded and left the classroom. With a satisfied smirk, Snape settled back to grade essays. He repressed all remorse at having set the boy on such a pointless and difficult task. He estimated that it would take him a good three hours, due to it being a rather large bucket.

    “Idiots,” Snape sneered as he viscously crossed out sentence after sentence of gibberish on one essay in particular. He unrolled the parchment to see which student would soon be receiving a T. Vincent Crabbe. Not exactly surprising, Snape mused, And T for Troll does seem oddly fitting...

    A knock sounded on Snape’s oaken door. 

    “Enter,” he said in an irritated tone, figuring it was Potter back to complain about the amount of animals he had to dissect.

    Unexpectedly, it was McGonagall who stepped in.

    “Severus,” she greeted stiffly.

    “Yes?” he replied, eyebrow rising expertly.

    She stepped closer to his desk, “I would like to know why you have given Harry a week’s worth of detention on the first day of class.”

    “He displayed a rude, arrogant and self-absorbed attitude that was not conducive to learning and, in fact, detracted from the class’s lesson,” Snape replied in a monotone, his face a blank mask.

    “We both know that is not true, Severus,” McGonagall replied in a clipped tone. “I can tell you why it is that you are acting this way towards the child, though I suspect you already know.”

    “Do go on,” he said in a mockingly gracious voice.

    The stern professor’s eyes narrowed. “He is not his father,” she said quietly.

    “Obviously.”

    “Then why are you treating him like he is? Harry is only eleven, Severus! And he is a quiet, perfectly polite boy who has had a very difficult childhood,” she said. “Are you aiming to make his entire life miserable?”

    Snape leaned forward and crossed his arms across the desk. “Minerva. I am treating him as I would to any student who talked back to me the way he has. There is little difference. And no, I do not intend on making his life miserable, though it shall be a challenge. Even The Boy Who Lived cannot be favored by all, he must learn character,” he paused to sneer. “And I am quite willing to teach him.”

    McGonagall shook her head. “Just be fair, Severus,” she turned to leave. “And remember that he is not James.”

    The door closed, leaving Snape with those words of wisdom. Barely a few second later, it reopened. Minerva’s face appeared around the corner.

    “Isn’t Harry supposed to be in detention with you right now?” she asked, brow furrowed.

    “Yes. He is preparing potion ingredients in the classroom.”

    “But the lights are off in there,” she protested.

    Snape stood in a quick, stiff movement and swept past her out the door. Within moments, he was standing in the dark potions classroom, Minerva just behind. With a wave of his wand, the room lit up, revealing it to be empty of anyone other than the two adults.

    “Where is he?” Snape growled, stepping up to the table on which he had set the bucket earlier. To his shock, every Streeler had been disassembled and neat trays of organs lined table. The shells had been cleaned and set in a row beside the bucket. The venom had even been squeezed into a small vial that sat, corked and shimmering iridescently. 

    “Merlin,” McGonagall breathed. “Harry did this?”

    “It seems so,” Snape replied dryly, though he was still shocked. He looked at  the time; it was barely 8:45 and the boy had started at 7:00. Shaking off his disbelief, he waved almost everything away. Snape had not expected him to remove the venom, but since he did, he might as well keep it. On a whim, Snape also spared one bright orange Streeler shell. He pocketed it without knowing exactly why. Everything else was Banished.

    “You purposely gave him a completely pointless task, did you not?” McGonagall accused. 

    Snape did not reply. She clenched her jaw and left without another word. Alone, Snape let out a small sigh, dissatisfied with the apparent ease with which the boy performed what he had considered a trying task. Heading back to his office, Snape set to contemplating the object of tomorrow’s detention.

 

 

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

 

    Exhausted, Harry collapsed into bed, then glanced at the time and groaned. He rubbed his sore fingers and sat up. A small spot on his wrist burned slightly; a result of a drop of venom slipping past the edge of his glove. Sighing, he fumbled for his telescope and headed down to the common room to meet Ron. They had an astronomy lesson in twenty minutes; one that Harry was not looking forward to. After the exertion of Quidditch practice, he was tired and sore and wanted nothing more than sleep. Nevertheless, he rubbed his eyes and searched for the telltale red hair of his friend.

    “Hey there, Harry,” Ron said from behind.    

    Harry grunted a form of greeting and they exited the portrait hole. 

    “How was detention with the greasy git?”

    A smile hinted at Harry’s lips. “Not horrible. I had to dismember snails. They were sort of cool to look at though. Venom was toxic,” Harry stated.

    Ron’s eyes widened slightly. “Is that even allowed? I mean we’re only first years.”

    Harry shrugged. “I didn’t mind. It was oddly calming, really.”

    Ron shook his head in disbelief. “How was Quidditch?”

    “Fantastic! Wood said I was a natural.”

    Talk of Quidditch carried them to the Astronomy Tower where they set up their telescopes and pulled out star charts. Harry yawned widely. He set about filling in his chart, but by the time he got to the runespoor constellation, he had lost focus. He moved his telescope to scan the grounds rather than the stars, completely forgetting about the assignment. Oddly, Professor Sinistra did not comment. Harry saw smoke rising from the chimney of Hagrid’s hut and he smiled lightly, thinking that he would need to visit sometime soon. As he swung the instrument away from the hut, his eyes caught on an odd shadow. He squinted, but could only make out a long form at the edge of the forest. It was too thin to be Hagrid, but that was the only determination he could make. Eerily, as if he knew Harry was watching, the figure slowly turned and two blood red spots appeared in the blackness, what Harry assumed was its face.

    With a yell, Harry yanked his eyes away from the telescope and fell back off the stool on which he had been sitting. The class looked at him oddly, and Harry realized foggily that he had fallen asleep and had been dreaming. Embarrassed, he righted himself and found his telescope pointed toward the stars once again. Unable to resist the urge, he swung it down to the edge of the forest. Though he found nothing, Harry could not shake the chills that those blood red eyes had sent into him.

    “Mr. Potter, I daresay no stars reside in the forest,” Professor Sinistra said pointedly.

    “Sorry ma’m,” he said and readjusted his telescope.

    Harry tried to fill in the chart, but his thoughts kept drifting back to the dream. Deciding that he would ask Ron if he could copy his later, Harry simply gazed thoughtfully into the stars for the remainder of the class.

 

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

 

 

    The next two days passed without excitement, as did the next detentions. Snape was not present for either, instead, a list of instructions was taped to the door and the supplies were laid out on a work station. Harry prepared more potion ingredients, a task that he did quickly and truly did not mind. 

    When Harry showed up for his fourth detention, there was no note and no ingredients were laid out. Unsure of what to do, he knocked on Professor Snape’s office door.There was no answer. For whatever reason, Harry had the desire to go inside. He convinced himself that perhaps the professor had left the supplies and instructions in here, simply forgetting to move them to the other room. Following this skewed notion, Harry pushed open the door. He was surprised to find it unlocked. Tentatively, he stepped inside. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry thought that he saw a jar on the shelf to his right shift slightly. He whipped his head around but found nothing there. He turned his attention back to the door at the far end of the room that was slightly askew. A faint light shone from within.

    Curiosity taking hold of him, Harry pushed the door open. Inside, he found Snape hunched over a small red crystal with an expression of intense concentration on his face. Around him lay a set of scales, a small cauldron and various instruments, powders and other ingredients. A large, tattered book lay open in front of Snape, who was apparently enchanting the crystal with a spell from the old book. 

    Snape’s head shot up so fast that Harry did not see it move. The expression in his eyes was of the greatest degree of loathing that Harry could imagine.

    “Get. Out,” he spat, as if trying to restrain himself from throttling Harry. The stone in his hand shattered, pieces of red crystal tinkling as they hit the cold stone floor. Snape stared at his now bleeding hand in horror. “NOW,” his eyes flashed dangerously. Harry sprinted away, fleeing to the relative safety of the Gryffindor common room. He huddled in front of the fire, trying unsuccessfully to remove the image of Snape’s furious face from his thoughts. It seemed permanently burned into his mind. Luckily, it was fairly late, so the common room was over half empty and no one paid any attention to Harry. No one except for Hermione. She was sitting in the chair on the other side of the fireplace; Harry had not noticed this before.

    “Are you okay Harry?” she asked, concerned.

    Harry merely stared at her.

    “Har-” she began again, cut off by the slam of the portrait opening (and a “Oomph” that sounded from the Fat Lady).

    Professor Snape stormed in, cloak billowing around him menacingly. Everyone in the room held their breath, secretly praying that he would take no notice of them. The only sound was the crackle of the fire as Snape turned his dark gaze upon Harry.

    “Come.”

    He turned around and swept out of the hole.

    Every pair of eyes in the room was on Harry, who gulped and paled. Hermione gave him a sympathetic frown and patted his arm. Harry reluctantly got up and headed for the door. A few people whispered words of encouragement.

    “Good luck, Harry,” one of the twins said.

    Harry didn’t respond, but merely stepped out of the portrait. Snape was waiting for him and they began a tense, silent journey down to Snape’s office. As the door slammed closed behind Harry, Snape whipped toward him with an accusing glare.

    “What were you doing in my office without invitation?” he demanded.

    “I- I came for detention and there wasn’t anything there, so I thought maybe you left it in here an-” he rambled, before he was silenced by a raised hand.

    “I suppose you are incapable of knocking?” he snapped sarcastically.

    “I did, sir, but you mustn't of heard,” Harry protested. Snape looked unconvinced.

    “Ah-” he cut off as his dark brow furrowed. “How did you get in? I had a very advanced locking spell on that door.”

    Harry shot him a mildly suspicious look which was promptly ignored. “It opened right up.”

    “How could that be?” Snape mused, half to himself. Thankfully, his anger was slowly leeching away as he contemplated this situation. “Did you see anything...especially odd when you came in, Potter?”

    “No,” Harry answered, then caught himself. “Actually yes. I thought I saw a jar over there shift, but when I looked, there was nothing. I thought I was just jumpy.”

    Snape pulled out his wand almost frantically and waved it at the door. Harry heard the click of a lock, and a mild panic grew in his chest. Luckily, Snape swept right past Harry and into the back room once more. Unsure of whether to follow, Harry simply stepped so he could see through the doorway.

    Snape seemed to be checking the large book that lay upon the table, then bent to examine the floor. He cursed loudly and stood up. He waved his wand in an arc over his head and murmured an incantation. Bright blue threads spun around him, then branched out in every direction, they spun through the air, weaving themselves around anything they came in contact with, including Harry. He yelped as the twisted around him, but quickly realized that they were insubstantial and were not harming him. If he moved, they fell away, so he stayed still, not wanting to ruin the spell. He saw Snape growl loudly and raise his wand to the door. 

    Harry looked toward the door, forgetting about the bands around his head which soon disappeared. He caught a glimpse of a tall, thin, cloaked figure wrapped in blue bands. Its hood was up and wand was out as it undid the lock on the door. Snape fired a spell at it which was somehow blocked inches from the figure’s back without his wand moving from the lock. Snape was forced to jerk back to avoid the rebound. During the few seconds this took, the figure had unlocked the door and slipped out, threads falling away into nothingness. Cursing again, Snape hurried out after him. Harry followed without hesitation.

    As soon as he stepped into the hall, bright lights exploded behind Harry’s eyes and he collapsed.

    Harry... a voice called through the darkness.

    But Harry wasn’t there.

 

 

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

 

 

    “Rennervate,” Snape muttered tersely. “Rennervate.”

    The boy in his arms stirred feebly. 

    “Harry,” Snape said, shaking him gently. The tiny figure opened his eyes. Snape exhaled in relief upon seeing those familiar green eyes once more. He was more concerned about the boy than he thought possible, or probable. So much so, in fact, that he did not give chase after the cloaked intruder in his rush to help the boy. Unsure of what to make of this revelation, he simply picked Harry up and carried him to the hospital wing. His eyelids had fluttered closed, and Snape shook him gently to keep him from slipping into unconsciousness. 

    “My! What happened here?” Madam Pomfrey said in alarm. “Well, lay him down, why don’t you?”

    Snape did so. “I believe he was hit by a blasting curse.”

    “It looks like it,” she said. 

    Snape noted for the first time the deep cuts on the boy’s face. 

    “Here,” Madam Pomfrey said, stuffing a cloth doused in potion into Snape’s hand. She then bustled to the far side of the room to dig through the medical supply cabinet. Snape stared at the rag in his hand. Taking a deep breath, and feeling horribly out of character, he dabbed at the cuts on the boy’s face. The medicine must have stung, for he immediately opened his eyes. Snape removed the rag. Harry stared at him through glazed eyes for a long moment, then relaxed as if to give him permission to continue. Snape did so and once he was finished, the wounds did not look so bad. Madam Pomfrey returned and fixed Snape with a long, considering look. 

    “I can take it from here. Alert Dumbledore, if you will,” she suggested.

    Snape nodded and made his exit, deeply disturbed.

 

 

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

 

 

 

    Harry awoke to find himself in a starched white bed with bandages covering his chest and arms. 

    “Ah, good morning, Harry,” a gentle voice said.

    Harry sat up and found his glasses. Once donned, he found Dumbledore sitting comfortably on a cushy chair next to his bed. 

    “Good morning, sir,” Harry replied.

    Dumbledore chuckled lightly. “Ever polite. I am glad you are okay, Harry.”

    Harry nodded, “Me too.”

    “Do you remember what happened?”

    “I remember everything up until entering the hallway,” Harry said honestly. “Then I blacked out, I think.”

    Harry recalled slipping into a dark void, or beginning to, at least. Someone called his name and he followed their voice back. Harry wasn’t sure if this was normal so he refrained from mentioning it.

    “You were hit with a blasting curse, Harry, presumably from the intruder to Severus’s office,” Dumbledore explained. “We are still not sure if he meant to hit you or Professor Snape, have you any idea?”

    “I wasn’t very close to the professor; he had rushed ahead of me,” Harry recalled.

    Dumbledore nodded, “That is what he said as well. This leads us to believe that someone wishes you harm. You must be very careful, Harry.”

    “I will, sir.”

    Dumbledore smiled kindly. “Your wounds are almost healed beneath the bandages; it should not be more than a day until you are released.”

    He stood and transfigured the armchair back into a standard hospital chair. “Take care, my boy.” He strode toward the door. “Oh, Harry?”

    “Yes, sir?”

    “Do stop by and see the potions master once you are released; I believe you two should have a talk.”

    “Alright, sir,” Harry said, though he did not relish the thought.

    Dumbledore smiled, then left.

    After lunch, Ron, Hermione and Draco stopped by for a visit.

    “When I first heard that you had been attacked, Harry, well, I thought...” Hermione started then looked down as if ashamed.

    “She thought that Snape did it,” Ron said, unabashed.

    “No,” Harry said rather forcefully. “He was really angry, but I don’t think... I don’t think he would ever hurt me.”

    Draco agreed, “Snape isn’t as bad as he looks, I have known him forever. He is friends with my father.”

    Ron’s eyes narrowed, but he held back his comment. He purposefully switched the topic to homework that Harry had to catch up on. When only fifteen minutes had passed, Madam Pomfrey showed up to hurry the other students away.

    “He needs his rest!” she scolded. “Or do you not want him released tomorrow?”

    They grumbled but said their goodbyes and left. Harry was glad they had stopped by, for he was in better spirits now and had homework to occupy his time. Every now and then, Harry’s mind would drift back to the previous night. He remembered only pieces of what happened after the attack until he woke up the next morning. He closed his textbook and lay down. Letting his eyes fall shut, Snape’s face swam into view, looking odd for a reason that Harry could not place. He held a rag in his hand that descended toward Harry’s face as he slipped into sleep.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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