AN: I don't own the Harry Potter-world or its original characters, they belong to the delightful JK Rowling! However, some characters in this story are mine, I truly hope you like them.
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Professor Severus Tobias Snape, Master of Potions and Occlumency and Head of Slytherin House, was not having a good day. This morning, the delivery of several potions ingredients had been delayed, important ingredients, which were to be delivered in bulk as they were used in many of the potions he had his students brew. When the delivery had finally come through, he'd been dismayed to learn that several pounds of beetle's eyes were of inferior quality, something which drastically altered the potency of potions. After having verbally ripped the Apothecary's assistant to shreds, he'd finally received the quality of beetle's eyes he expected. Then, while he didn't mind the Mediwitch, Poppy Pomfrey, (he rather appreciated her, in fact) he did mind having to brew several salves and potions she wanted to have stocked in advance. Why, you ask? Because they were necessary. The fact that several students needed Burn Salves, Scar Removers and Nutrient Tonics amongst other things, tore at his heartstrings. It meant that students were being abused at their homes. And he could do very little about it. While he had been relieved to note that none of his Slytherins seemed worse for wear after the holidays, he knew that some of them were being raised in less than ideal conditions. And now the old coot of a Headmaster had summoned him to his office, taking the time with his young Snakes away where he could check them over and have a conversation with them. No, Severus Snape was not having a good day.
As he swept through the halls of Hogwarts, his robes billowing behind him, he mentally went over the evening. All students were accounted for, there had been no emergencies, there had been an unexpected owl though. The letter must have contained something alarming, as the Headmaster had left immediately after reading it through. It must have something to do with either a student or -Severus suppressed a shudder- the Dark Lord. While the first one pained him to think about, he preferred having to deal with a student or their parents than having to deal with the monster who had killed his first friend and love, Lily Evans. He slowed his steps slightly when he came to the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the Headmaster' office, barked out the ridiculous password -Cockroach Clusters- and ascended the winding stairs. Severus rapped his knuckles sharply on the door and entered when he hear the aged voice of Dumbledore bidding him to enter.
'Headmaster, you summoned me.' He barely refrained from snapping at the man behind the desk.
'Ah, Severus. Do sit down, my boy. Tea?' The twinkling blue eyes searched his face for something.
'No, thank you. What did you want to talk about?' Severus sat down in one of the chairs before the ornate desk. He threw a quick glance around the office, it seemed unchanged from the last time he'd visited the Headmaster. Though Fawkes, Dumbledore's bright phoenix was nowhere to be seen this evening.
'This letter, my boy.' Albus handed the letter to Severus, who read it quietly. The further down the letter he got, the higher his eyebrows raised. When he came to the very end of the letter, the Potions Master threw it back onto the desk.
'Preposterous! This is obviously a way to get to the boy, Albus.' Severus sneered at the letter.
'I'm afraid what is written in the letter is true, my boy.' The old man sighed.
'WHAT? That is impossible! Lily was a muggleborn and Potter Senior was a pureblood wizard! There is no way that the brat is actually a Creature, much less a Werecat!' Severus exclaimed, astounded.
'While James was indeed a pureblood, Lily was not a muggleborn, Severus.'
'How can that be? I grew up with Lily, Albus! She was born to two muggles, how can she be a Creature?' Something was not right here, Severus was sure of it.
'Lily was not born to the Evans family, Severus. She was born in Siberia, to a Werecat named Anoushka. As a newborn, Lily was stolen from her mother by poachers. Someone was able to free her and she was adopted by the Evans family, who raised her as their own. Neither Lily nor Petunia knew of this.' Albus seemed older than ever.
'But, but, how come she never knew of this? Why did no one ever tell her?' Severus was shocked. This could not be true. It had to be a hoax, there was no way that all of this was as the Headmaster told him.
'Because she couldn't know. If it was known that she was a Werecat, the tribe would kill anyone who had to do with it. Lily would have become a victim as well.' What Severus didn't know, was that Lily would have lived through it all, as she would have been priority to the Werecats. It would be easier to coerce him if he didn't know the truth, thought Dumbledore.
'And now they know that the boy is her son, so he is part of their tribe.' The dour man muttered.
'Yes, Severus. And this means Harry is in grave danger. If he were to fall into their hands …' Albus trailed off. If he could have the Potions Master reach his own conclusions that the Werecats were a bad option, than he could have him help hide the true identity of the boy.
'I understand. But what has all of this to do with me?' Severus spoke up. His black eyes bored into the twinkling blue of the man before him.
'I need your help, Severus. Perhaps you know of a potion that hides the Creature genetics of someone?' Albus suggested. Of course, Severus would know about this. 'It does not need to be permanent, but if we could hide it just a while, Harry would be safe from them.'
The Potions Master knew exactly what the old man before him was asking. And he knew of such potions. He'd researched some of them, when he was in his Mastery, in order to improve the Wolfsbane Potion. He also knew that each and every one of them was not meant for a teenage boy. The doses were too powerful for a twelve year old child to survive, but he had this niggling feeling that, even if he told this to the Headmaster, he would be forced to brew and administer it to the boy. The old man liked to take risks when it came to Harry Potter. So he kept a straight face as he outright lied to the Headmaster.
'There are potions like this, but every one of them takes a lot of time to prepare. Even if I were to start on one now, it would not get done in time. Not to mention the physical reaction the boy might undergo. He would probably alter appearance as well, Headmaster. The boy would become unrecognizable.' Mentally, he was begging for the old fool to believe him.
A silence fell over the two men. A pensive look on Albus' face turned sombre, a deep sigh left his mouth.
'It appears that there is nothing else left to do, is there? We must count on young Harry himself to protect himself from the Werecats. Of course, I won't let the boy out of my sight as long as the Werecats are here, but I'm afraid that his safety is out of my hands on the matter.'
Internally, Severus was fuming. Safety? Ha! The boy hadn't been safe a single day in Hogwarts' walls yet! What was the old fool thinking? That Severus was a moronic dunderhead? That the Potter brat would be killed simply because he was his mother's son? He knew enough about Creatures, no matter what they were, as long as they possessed human-like intelligence, that they would not ever kill any infant of young of their own species. The boy would not be in danger from the Werecats, no, the boy was in danger when left in the care of the Headmaster, he realized. He stood up abruptly.
'I'm sorry, Albus (he deliberately used the Headmaster's given name) but there is nothing I can do either. And I have a House meeting to get to. The first year Slytherins must be introduced to the rest of their House and given further information. If you will excuse me.'
The old man nodded quietly and watched his Head of Slytherin House leave. If Severus did not know of anything that might keep the Werecats from their paws of his young pawn, then there was nothing to do but hope that Harry chose him, the wise Headmaster, over the wild and unknown beasts that would be arriving in a day's time. After all, it would not do for his plans to be disrupted.
While Dumbledore was in his office thinking about ways to keep his hands on the Potter boy, Severus stormed to the dungeons. He had a House meeting to attend first. He certainly hoped that the Prefects were doing their jobs in taking care of the first year snakes. Last year, one of the boys had nearly, very nearly, slipped under the radar. But he'd managed to pick up on the signals that the boy had desperately tried to suppress. Flinching away from physical contact, huddling away in a corner, Theodore Nott had almost managed to hide the signs of abuse from his Head of House, but luckily, Severus had found out and helped the boy overcome the abuse by his father. Quietly leaving a bag full of healing potions on Nott's nightstand before the summer break had been the last action Severus had been able to undertake to aid the boy. He hoped the content of the bag hadn't changed, but he feared the opposite.
When he entered the Slytherin Common Room, all students had gathered around the largest fire. The first and second years sat at the front, on the dark rug, while the third, fourth and fifth years stood behind the couches on which the sixth and seventh years were sitting. As one, they turned towards the sound of the wall sliding closed behind their Head of House. Severus relaxed the frown on his face and sat down in the high backed chair they'd left empty for him.
'Good evening, everyone. Welcome and welcome back.' He intoned, his eyes sweeping over his students.
'Good evening, Professor.' They choired back as one.
'I hope you all have enjoyed the Welcoming Feast and have had no troubles on your way to the castle today.' Severus enquired.
Again, all heads nodded.
'Now then. I will talk to the higher years tomorrow, as it is quite late and the first years still need to hear a few things before they go to sleep.' He waved the second years and higher towards their dormitories. Only the prefects stayed, knowing that they would have to make sure the youngest ones found their respective beds at a reasonable time. They encouraged the new students to sit in the chairs and couches that had just been vacated.
'I will not keep you long, little snakes. I know that today is a tiring day for you. But there are some things, rules if you will, that you must know. The sooner, the better. First of all, Slytherin House is not very well-liked by the other Houses. Especially the Gryffindors. Therefore, when you leave the Common Room, do not go anywhere alone if you can help it. Being alone makes you an easier target. Second, you will behave yourselves, at all times. You will not like it if you receive a detention with me. I always have cauldrons that need to be scrubbed, never mind the work tables and benches. Third, do not antagonise anyone. Either in Slytherin or the other Houses. Some of your elders need to be reminded of that as well. And last, if you have a problem, no matter how small, the prefects and I are here to help you in any way we can. If none of us are available, go to the elder years, they will be able to aid you as well. You will receive more information tomorrow after classes. The prefects will guide you to the classrooms the first week, be on time so they are not tardy in their own classes. Understood?' Severus looked at the ten young faces. They nodded shyly and he shooed them off to their dorm rooms.
He turned to the two prefects. 'Tomorrow there is a House Meeting which I will most likely be unable to attend. I trust you can arrange for study groups to be formed?'
'Of course, sir.' Thomas Avery nodded amiably.
'Good. Explain as much to the first years as they need to know tomorrow. And make sure they all get a sixth year to help them with homework if necessary.' He stood up and bid his two prefects goodnight. He was quite content with his choice of the two. Avery was a well-known pureblood who had the respect of his peers and had a good head on his shoulders. Evangeline Selwyn was a gentle and approachable witch that always had an eye out for her younger House mates.
Now, he had a letter to write to warn one Harry Potter. It would not do for the boy to trust the Headmaster too much.
AN: I gave our esteemed Potions Master the middle name Tobias (after his father), as most characters have a middle name in the Wizarding World. I got inspiration on Pottermore. Also, he might seem OOC to you, but remember: 'Always'. Severus Snape acts less of a bastard when he doesn't see any Gryffindors around.
I hope you liked it! Please review!