Harrison Snape and the Magical Childhood: Part 1 of 8 in the Cursed Chronicles
Of Bloodshed and Babies
The wrath on the potions master's face was akin to the darkness of the devil himself, the hard coldness of his eyes could make even the ugliest boggart see him as their greatest fear and scurry for safety back into the furthest recesses of the deepest, blackest, moldiest cabinet in the whole of England to get away. Dumbledore tried to keep his face blank, to belie the many emotions running like so many decapitated chickens through his sleepy brain. He had fallen asleep at his office, getting ready for the coming term which was to start in a mere five weeks and pouring over a seemingly never-ending mountain of parchment.
Tedious work, his least favorite part of the whole business. Students to expel and books to order, contracts to renew and release. Promotions to set in place and demotion forms to fill out, supplies to be restocked and taken inventory of. Filch's checklist lie shabbily unfolded and the wrinkles lazily and -the old man had to admit- rather pathetically smoothed out so that his scratchy handwriting was just hardly legible enough to read. Amendments and Addendums to school rules which needed to be written down for fear he would forget them and be ill-prepared in the wake of some disaster for he was sure that Lord Voldemort was on his way to his old school.
As headmaster, it was Dumbledore's solemn duty to protect the school and its students from any threat big or small and the most dangerous wizard in a century was surely the largest threat in the world. Everyone in it was under his sworn protection, and considering that most of them were children some as young as eleven who appeared even younger still they looked to him for protection and guidance, as if he were the father of all these children, grandfather even. Patriarch to a huge family with very little knowledge of defensive magic, nothing beyond a disarming charm or two: one could only imagine the pressure the recently-eldered man was under. He truly believed he had better things to do, more important things than sit at his desk.
Far more important than the work he now had to deal with, there was a man more dangerous than Grindelwald the man had killed, raped and tortured hundreds and yet here he was confined to his desk staring down a large hill of odious busy-work instead of doing something truly important. He sighed deeply, oh how he dreaded the work, for he had procrastinated too long and now it appeared that it would be a very long night for him indeed. Still the old Professor was nothing if not hard working and ambitious and so he got his tin of lemon drops and promised himself he would treat himself to one every five pages or so.
Several hours later, the tin half empty, his inkwell splattered across the table thoroughly ruining the papers in front of him. his half-moon spectacles dangling off the edge of his rather plump spiral-shaped ears, the old man had fallen asleep in his high-backed chair. He was snoring, his mouth open in his slumber and a little bit of drool leaking down his chin in a most undignified way as a nightmare; one he never cared to admit he had but one he had suffered so often that it merely served him with the gift of a migraine in the morning rather than causing him to jerk awake in the far-reaches of the night. Instead, it played on what seemed to be a never-ending wheel, or a musical track set annoyingly to repeat and was just about to begin again when suddenly-
"ALBUS!" a voice screamed at full volume as he dismissed it as part of his dream, he was in mid-snore when, "in the name of merlin open this bloody door or else!"
Still believing himself somewhat in his dreams he moaned, "go away." and turned his head.
His nightmare growled, "I am going to count backwards from three and you had better open this door or I will."
"I'm so tired, "moaned the poor old man, ignoring the soft menacing voice counting behind the heavy door, "please…"
He was jolted awake by the sound of an intruder banging open the office door and as he blinked to see the boy who had once been his favorite student. Still in his black cloak, a bruise under his eye and a bloody nose now dried a gross shade of brown, a color that made Dumbledore's stomach churn as it reminded him of human excrement. But even more shocking was the baby he was holding obviously, his child for the messy black hair and somewhat pointed nose told Albus that the boy was indeed his son. The baby was red faced, clad in a jumper whose blue color was damn near unrecognizable under the smears of dirt; bruised and bleeding the tracks of dry tears on his cheeks. He too looked tired and disheveled now wailing in the arms of his furious parent.
"Severus…" he said in obvious surprise and more than a little affection, "did you come to have me meet your baby?"
He opened his arms to receive the child, but Severus lurched across the table and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck with his one free hand, his voice a deadly whisper, "You lied to me," he repeated, "you bastard!"
Severus yanked the man up and pinned him to the wall, punching him hard in the face with a vicious right hook. The old man groaned in pain and tried to blink his rapidly swelling eye to see the man looking murderous to put it mildly. To see the cool, callous, calculating Slytherin so frazzled was strange to Albus and he smiled knowing something big was about to happen as the caretaker Argus Filch ran upstairs in an absolute panic noting the headmaster wiping his sleepy eyes as he babbled about trying to stop him.
"I told him you were indisposed headmaster but he refused to listen." The squib threw up his hands in frightened surrender as Snape whirled on him, wand at the ready.
"You're goddamn right and if you don't get the bloody hell out of my way you will be next." He growled viciously, causing a suspiciously smelly puddle to form beneath the hem of his tattered robe.
"Don't hurt me!" squeaked the poor fellow who had begun to tremble from pole to foot.
"That'll do Argus," Dumbledore said weakly a little more afraid than he liked to admit for he had never seen the man this angry in all his years of acquaintance, "why don't you bring us some refreshment.
Filch happy for an excuse to leave stammered, "Yes headmaster." And ran like the very devil down the hall leaving him alone with the angry wizard.
Dumbledore, poured two steaming goblets from his ordered a pot of coffee and handed one to Severus motioning for the man to sit and, when he did not spoke in a soft even voice. "I did not lie, your position is secure here."
"YOU PROMISED WE WOULD BE SAFE!" Roared the former Death-Eater with an uncharacteristic ferocity.
"And you are…" replied the old man in a fatherly tone now woken fully and aware of the other's panic, "You have a career here your wife, everything you could— "
"Is this what you call safe!" he snapped angrily pointing to his face and clothes, "and just look at little Harry!" he handed the baby to the old man who stroked the now crying child's bangs back from his face.
Albus Dumbledore considered himself a brave man; he had faced many dark wizards in his day and seen far more than his share of death, war, pain and bloodshed in his time. But nothing had prepared him for this, having just left the man with a promise of a new career as the potions master here and a cheer to the joy of his son's first birthday. Having assumed all was well the two men had shaken hands and he had gone on his way back home to his wife and small child for the small family birthday party his wife Lilly was having for their one year old son. Severus was never a happy man, or rather he had trouble showing it; being of rather serious character the one time he did light up was when he talked about his family.
He could go on and on with everything from the pettiest of complaints about Lilly's annoying little habits, from her love of muggle musicals to her constant fussing and humming as she bustled around the house doing her best to be a happy Susie-homemaker all the while unable to hide her brilliant studious nature, to extoling the virtues of her courage, strength and fierceness of her emotions when it came to her and the baby. Albus had very much enjoyed seeing this side of the man, normally so stoic and cross expressing such joyous emotions and chattering about his child's love of owls and the way he could insert his whole foot in his mouth; and all the other things a new parent did upon the birth of their firstborn.
The headmaster, happy to know that his old pupil was settled in life at his mother's old home with a son of his own was a blessing onto itself. When the man had come to him asking for a job and told him that he was at last found some joy in his home, his life and the girl he had always wanted made his old headmaster happy and they had shared several drinks, Severus uncharacteristically happy as he showed his curious acquaintance fawned with twinkling periwinkle eyes over pictures of little Harrison with all the overjoyed enthusiasm of a proud grandpapa who was seeing the first-born heir to his own line rather than the baby of a man who had at one time been the right-hand man of his greatest adversary.
In fact, if one did not know the history between them, one might have assumed they were old friends rather than unlikely allies. The two had parted ways as he made Severus give him a rare, proud smile as he was told that in payment of his debt of service he not only would he be given a career at the school but also be given the honor of being head of house to Slytherin, the house of the mother he had loved so much and the one where he had once been a star pupil in. What a change it was to see the man smile, his onyx eyes gleaming with what was unmistaken pride as he struggled to maintain his cool, unaffected placidity as he thanked the man and rose to take his leave of him with a bow of his dark head.
But now as he stared at the lightning scar on his head he felt sick, "Which curse?" he asked softly, worriedly.
"Deadly." Was his father's soft reply.
Dumbledore's eyes widened, "Who?"
"My former employer." Replied Severus in a biting tone.
His now-employer turned a sickly shade of white, "And Lilly…" he asked slowly, his stomach knotting in fear.
"Alive," Severus told him, then with an admittedly proud smile, "My flower managed to hold them at bay till I got there."
The other, who had not been aware that he was now clasping the baby to his chest and stroking his hair seemed to relax and loosen his grip, "How?" he asked, his curiosity peaked.
"Hell, if I know," Severus growled, "I got home with a toy owl and walked in on curses, disarms and dead bodies."
"And you did not ask her?" Asked Dumbledore.
"No," admitted her husband, "she is rather hysterical."
Albus nodded, "I can imagine." Then slowly deliberately, "fetch her for me?"
"But she is sleeping in Gryffindor Tower and I do not want to wake her." Severus replied.
Albus got to his feet and gave the raging man a gentle look, "I know Severus but she is the only one who witnessed the whole encounter and therefore the only one who can truly tell me how it is that both she- and your baby- survived with little more to show for it then a black eye and a scar."
Severus nodded knowing he was right but loathed to wake his poor exhausted wife, nodding saying, "You are right of course, I will go fetch her."
The old man watched him leave, watching him intently, his eyes resting on the places he had been, long, long after he left his sight. Albus, having known the man since childhood or rather school age was happy to see that the troubled Slytherin boy had finally gotten some peace in his life. After so many difficult times, drunken absent fathers, depressed and lonesome mothers and a life of poverty that made a homeless beggar look fortunate. He had always known Severus was fond of Lilliana Evans and had comforted the boy for the two terrible years she had been involved with the handsome, and wealthier James Potter. The bully, the star-student with a silver spoon in his mouth; the one student who could have the pick of any girl in the castle and he wanted the one girl that Severus had ever cared about.
The headmaster remembered comforting -on more than one occasion- the crying, small-and-skinny-for-his-age teenage boy as he sat in his office holding her picture. Other men might have found this pathetic but Dumbledore knew what it was like to be holding such a torch, having been prone to the pangs of unrequited love on more than one occasion. The pain had been so great that Severus had been drawn to the dark arts and to their villainous master. Who had promised him everything he wanted if he joined with him; this Dumbledore understood. for although Snape had been but a small boy at the time, the dark lord -much like Albus himself- had a knack for spotting students with great potential.
Unlike the old man however, the Dark Lord prided himself on being a master manipulator and had no qualms whatsoever about using an innocent teenage boy for the means to his end. He knew what Severus wanted and set about teaching him. Tutoring him in all sorts of underhanded tricks that he had no business learning at that tender age- if ever. Making sure to play the father that Severus never had; the father he longed for so deeply, praising him giving him gifts, telling him how proud he was whenever Snape had learned something new. Acting the role of the proud father as he set about showing him ways to get what he wanted with little to no effort on his own part.
Severus being lonely, fatherless and more ambitious than a woodpecker soaked it up like a sponge. Learning all sorts of hideous mind control spells that he had thought to use on her and force her to love him. Spells that had he used, not only would he have been expelled for; but probably would have ended up doing quite a few years in Azkaban due to his breaking every decent wizarding law other than murder to get what he wanted. So, desperate was the young man that Albus remembered how the poor, bullied boy had even contemplating using a love potion on her the flame burned so strong and Albus had feared he had truly lost the boy forever.
He had often caught the boy sneaking out of his dormitory at night to the room of requirement where the vanishing cabinet lay in waiting to take him to wherever it was that Lord Voldemort was hiding in waiting for his insidious protégée. Albus had followed him wearing a well-made if slightly imperfect invisibility cloak as he stepped in beside him and they whizzed and whirled off into the dizzying blackness of magical teleportation as they sped to Merlin only knew where at a pace that would have made a racing broom seem like the muggle version: slow and immobile without human assistance.
Albus very much hated traveling this way and much preferred the quick comfort of aparating rather than the spiraling dizziness assaulting him but he had to know where this boy was going and why. He was not one to admit it but the young wizard had become one of his favorite charges as of late and he felt an almost paternal feeling toward him, more than he had any other student who had come before him as if this child; this lost lonely boy was the son he had always longed for but had never possessed the fortune to bare. The long afternoons in his office giving him sweets and comforting his injured heart while the teenager eyed him -at one time or another- with the utmost admiration were some of his favorite times and these wayward ventures were a cause for great concern to say the least.
Dumbledore had learned a long time when he was a mere professor of transfiguration at Hogwarts half a century ago to not only be a gentle guardian but also a suspicious one. After Tom Riddle had unleashed a basilisk on the muggle-borns of the school in his sixth year Albus had learned a very hard lesson. He had learned the hard lessons that academic excellence and charming behaviors did not insure excellence of character; and titles like 'head boy' meant little to nothing at all if the young man behind them did not see the honorific as a measuring stick for which to live up to but an entitlement, to which he was long overdue. Not an accomplishment, but a right which had too long been denied him/
Albus had worried about Tom's seemingly apathetic attitude to all but the suffering of others which he seemed to enjoy, but to his shame had not felt close enough to the needy, orphaned boy who had gone mad with hatred for all things non-magical due to the abuse he had suffered in his surrogate home. Hating muggles because of his filthy muggle father who had abandoned him before he was born, hating his mother even in her witchdom for the weakness of her mortal body and her sentimental heart and vented his rage first in torturing and bullying muggle-borns in that stereotypical Slytherin way.
An infraction that was little more frightening than an angry Cornish Pixie and little more worth punishing than removing points from the house whenever a member of the faculty happened to catch it walking by. But then he had made the mistake of falling in…well not in love but rather into a deep infatuation with the wealthy and oddly beautiful Eileen Prince. Or at least she might have been had she smiled every now and then. A fellow Slytherin the witch had been pureblood and possessing of great power, something the boy was instantly attracted to, and what she lacked in beauty she made up for with a mental sharpness that would have made any professor there go mad with envy at the ease their matters came to her.
There was no subject she could not master almost at once and no man she could not read almost entirely upon first meeting. Naturally she had seen what Dumbledore himself had and thus turned down the head boy much to the surprise of those, less perceptive around her who didn't understand why the head boy wanted anything to do with Pruney, prudy prince to begin with. A rejection he might add, that Thomas Marvolo Riddle the II did not take lightly to put it in a gentle tone. He had raged, fumed and made threats that he would later make good on and all anyone had done was admonish him that he would find someone else.
He had failed Thomas, failed him in the worst way, allowed the darkness and the loneliness of his tragedies to poison him to the point of where his once innocent white soul had been painted the color of pitch and made it as slimy and unpleasant as its color's namesake. He had failed him… but perhaps he could help his only begotten son; it was sadly too late for Lord Voldemort, but it was not too late for Severus. Hence why on that terrible Halloween night so many years ago he had ended up in the middle of a midnight glade stalking the child of the man, who no one dared speak his given name.
He used a silencing spell on his own feet to hush the sound his feet would make on the caramel-colored leaves long dead from winter cold and he followed watching him closely fearing that Lord Voldemort had discovered the truth of this child and worse had told the boy. The lonely fifteen-year-old boy had no idea and it was going to stay that way. He had no need to, it was bad enough that he was abused at home without knowing of the rape that this monster had done to his mother and the resentment that his stepfather had for him due to the blame; unduly placed on the woman to which he had once professed the deepest love for.
Thomas Riddle, now Lord Voldemort had met the boy with a firm hand on the top of his head and handed him a vile of something or other had sent the child on his way. When he had reached Slytherin dormitory Albus had followed him in and searched his cloak pockets to find the tiny crimson bottle. An illegal and very powerful love potion long-declared a controlled substance by the Ministry the same one that Tom's mother had used on his father with disastrous results. Albus had taken it and tossed it out the window and the boy had been so distraught that he thought he had failed a second time.
Lilly thank Merlin, had come to her senses just in time to save her childhood friend's life; given him not only a reason to live, but a reason to change his ways. Lilly had done the seemingly impossible, neatly prying the dark lord's hooks from him with three simple words, 'I love you.' And as the two of them came into the room, Severus' ebony eyes fiercely protective and her own eyes weary beyond comprehension. She stood and threw her arms around her old headmaster who embraced her wholeheartedly and cuddled her close to him as if she were his own frightened daughter waking from a nightmare in the dead of night.
"Oh, Albus it was horrible!" Lilly sobbed into his chest and the old wizard kissed her head.
"There, there dear one…" he crooned, "Tell me everything."
Lilly did, she told him the whole harrowing tale, from Voldemort threatening their baby, to Peter's betrayal (she cried a little at this) and finally the cursing of the baby and the backfiring of the spell. Dumbledore listened intently watching her every move as she exhausted herself; sobbing and taking the baby from his arms to clutch him tightly and stand by the window, rocking her now sleeping child while she clutched him to her breast as if she feared the return of the man and not being so lucky a second time. Severus came to her and offered her a steaming goblet of coffee which she pushed away with a tired shake of her head.
Albus for his part had kept his eyes on Lilly the whole time, not saying anything for several moments. "Hogwarts will give you asylum as long as you need, you are safe now." He stood and went to pull her and the child he wanted so badly to be his grandson down to an easy chair where her breath was released from her chest in a harrowing sob.
"Drink," her husband pressed her gently, "you have had a long night my flower." And Albus was more than a little touched to see the tenderness passing between them.
Again, she shook her head, "Coffee is not good for the baby," she said placing Severus' hand on her still-flat belly.