A/N: To CantLogIn – check my profile for info on the original version of this fic.
Harry spent much of July outside. Just like when he was younger, Dudley and his friend—a boy called Louis—decided to get their kicks by picking on him. Despite just the two of them, Louis was tougher and more vicious than any of Dudley's old gang. They had no qualms about flushing Harry's head down the toilet or twisting his arm behind his back until it almost broke. Petunia and Vernon did nothing about it except to tell Harry to shut up when he yelled; apparently they'd only taken Dumbledore's warning to mean they couldn't hit Harry.
But Vernon, as Harry knew he would, eventually lost his own temper. It took him a month and an owl swooping through the kitchen window to set him off. A week before Harry's birthday, the bird came flying in during breakfast, making Petunia scream, Vernon drop a mug, and Dudley fall out of his chair. It circled around, landed on the table, and held out a leg to Harry, who untied the attached letter. It was his Hogwarts letter, accompanied by a note that Professor McGonagall would be arriving at the house on the last day of the month to take him shopping.
None of the Dursleys moved until Harry went to the bits'n'pieces drawer to fetch a pen and scribble a short reply that he sent back with the owl. Only then did Vernon jump out of his chair, slam the window shut, and turn on Harry, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him vigorously.
"I'll not have your freakishness in my house!" he spat.
"Get off me!" Harry yelled back. "Dumbledore'll turn you into a slug!"
He might hate Dumbledore with a burning passion, but he wasn't above using the man for his own ends.
It was the wrong thing to say. Vernon backhanded him across the face, knocking him back to hit the edge of the table.
"Vernon!" Petunia cried.
Harry lifted his gaze to Vernon's face, forcing his fear back behind anger. He hated that: being scared and facing Vernon again, powerless. It was like being seven years old all over again.
"Dumbledore'll turn you into a slug and then I'll pour salt on you."
He left the house and didn't come back until after dark, even though it meant missing dinner. He couldn't wait to get out of Thetford for good.
A week later, he was woken by the tapping of an owl at his bedroom window. He quickly let it in and untied the package attached to its leg, pulling off the letter taped on top as the owl flew off again.
Happy birthday! Dumbledore gave me your address so I could write and I think he gave it to Hermione too. How are you? How are the people you're living with? Are they nice? Dumbledore says they're Muggles but know about magic, so I hope the owl doesn't scare them. What's it like living with Muggles anyway?
Hope you're well. Write back soon
He tore the package open to find an Ultimate Honeydukes Selection Box, which had enough sweets and chocolate to last him three months. He helped himself to an Ice Mouse, closing his eyes and taking a moment to just revel in the fact that he'd got a birthday present from a friend. A real person that he knew and who liked him.
Vernon seemed to find his cheerfulness offensive that morning, grumbling as he left for work, but Harry didn't care. He didn't even care when Dudley stole his last sausage. He's had a friend who sent him letters and a birthday present, and today he'd go shopping for his school things and finally get a wand and learn how to do a Concealing Charm for his scar.
It did occur to him then that as an underage wizard he wasn't allowed to do magic. It put a slight dampener on his good mood, but he wouldn't be able to find out until Professor McGonagall arrived.
The doorbell rang just as Harry was finishing breakfast and he leapt out of his chair, grabbing his backpack and hurrying out without even a goodbye. His bag contained Kiwi, all his Famous Figurines, and the box of sweets. His Wish to make it bigger on the inside remained even after Dumbledore put the cuffs on him, and he was taking it with him because he never left his belongings anywhere Dudley could get to them, not since he tried to flush Kiwi down the toilet.
But when he opened the door—
"You're not Professor McGonagall."
Severus Snape looked down his hooked nose at him. "Your observational skills are remarkable. Your manners are less so. It's rude to leave someone standing on the doorstep."
"Where's McGonagall?" he asked, unable to keep all the irritation from his voice. Dumbledore had told someone else about him; how many others were there?
"Professor McGonagall has fallen ill. I will be taking you instead and I would like to get this over and done with as quickly as possible, so if you've quite finished asking pointless questions—"
"'Scuse me," said a voice behind Snape. "Need someone ter sign fer this."
Snape stepped aside to let the postman hand Harry a package with a couple of letters on top. Harry put them on the sideboard while he scribbled a signature on the postman's clipboard.
"Come in," Harry muttered to Snape, picking up the parcel again "I'm just gonna take these to my aunt."
Snape grabbed his shoulder, unbalancing him, and the letters slid to the floor.
"Yeah, Aunt Pet- this is for me!"
His name and address was written in Hermione's neat script on the top of the parcel, which was about the size and shape of a book. He grinned, put it aside, and picked up the dropped letters. "Back in a sec, sir."
He went to the kitchen and tossed the letters on the table, but before he could say he was leaving, Petunia gasped. Her eyes were fixed on the door and Harry turned. Snape stood there, his dark eyes full of such hatred that Harry was surprised the kitchen itself didn't shrink back from him.
"You," Petunia half-gasped. "What are you doing here?"
"You know him?" Harry asked.
"Are you one of the workers at his school for crazy people?"
Snape looked at Dudley, who shrank back. "Excuse me?"
"Go!" Petunia snapped. "Take the boy and get out."
Harry was eager to leave too. He could tell by Snape's expression that there was going to be awkward questions later. The sooner they got out the house, the less Snape could find to ask him about.
Instead of leaving, Snape flicked his wrist and his wand suddenly appeared in hand.
Petunia stiffened. "You can't—"
"I can't what?" Snape interrupted coldly, a dangerous look on his face.
"He doesn't know," Petunia hissed with a nod towards Dudley.
"Then send him out. Our Portkey leaves in three minutes and I will not be impressed if I have to come back again for the boy."
When Petunia had forced out a complaining Dudley, Snape turned to Harry and grabbed his chin in hand. Harry cringed and jerked his head away.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "I was told you wanted the scar concealed."
"Oh," Harry said, pretending his cheeks weren't going red. "Yeah."
He brushed hair away from his forehead and tilted his head back. Snape touched the tip of his wand to the scar, tracing it along the lightning bolt as he murmured a spell. When it was done, he pocketed the wand and drew out a feather then checked his watch. "We have ninety—"
"You can get it later," Snape snapped, but Harry ran from the kitchen, pushing past a half-furious, half-scared Petunia and stumbling into the hall just in time to see Dudley grab the parcel from the sideboard.
Dudley grabbed it and made for the stairs. Harry sprinted forwards, knocking into him. Dudley staggered and Harry grabbed the parcel, trying to pull it from him.
"Get off! MUM! Harry's bullying me!"
"That's mine!" Harry yelled at him. "Give it back!"
Dudley abruptly let go and staggered back like someone hit him despite no one touching him. Harry clutched the parcel to his chest, glaring at the other boy, who looking confused. Snape stood over Harry and Petunia rushed to Dudley.
"Don't you use that—that—on my son!" she said furiously to Snape, but her eyes were on Harry. "You, give him the parcel."
"The parcel is his," Snape said before Harry could speak, and Harry turned it so the name on the front was visible. Petunia looked furious. Snape held out the feather to Harry, who grabbed it, and Petunia barely had time to step in front of Dudley before the two wizards vanished.
They reappeared in the Leaky Cauldron. Snape pocketed the feather and slipped his wand up his sleeve, while Harry shrugged off his backpack to put the parcel from Hermione inside.
"Why do you appear to have brought the entirety of your personal possessions with you?" Snape asked.
"It's not safe leaving them with—" He broke off. Snape didn't need to know about his cousin's bullying.
Snape didn't push the issue, but he did ask, "Why did your oaf of a cousin ask if I worked at a school for 'crazy people'?"
Harry shrugged his backpack on again and they headed out into the alley. "My aunt and uncle don't want him to know about magic," he explained reluctantly. "They told Dudley I'm going to a school for the criminally insane."
Snape said nothing to that.
They went to Gringotts first. Harry whooped when they first set off in the cart, but Snape gave him such a dark look that he fell quiet. When they reached his vault and the goblin opened it, Harry staggered at the sight of the piles of gold inside.
"This is all mine?"
Snape looked as disgusted as Harry was awed.
Once back in the Alley, Harry wanted to get his wand first. Snape had other ideas.
"I want to get this over and done with as quickly and as efficiently as possible. We go only to the stores necessary, buy only what you need, and we are not backtracking to anywhere, so I strongly advise you make sure you've got what you need in each store before leaving. Is that clear?"
"Good. Then we will start with your robes."
When Harry started browsing the other robes available in Madam Malkins, after getting fitted for his school ones, Snape pointedly reminded him that he was only to buy what he needed.
"I do need robes," Harry replied. "I've got hardly any clothes and no robes at all. I can't wear my school uniform all the time."
A muscle twitched in Snape's jaw, but he sat in a chair by the door and folded his arms over his chest, resigning himself to a longer wait.
After Madam Malkins they got his stationary supplies and then a trunk (Charmed Against Fire, Thieves, and Spell Damage! Includes Thirty Year Wear-and-Tear Guarantee or Your Money Back! (Terms and Conditions Apply)) and then they finally went to Ollivander's. Harry was practically bouncing with excitement as he waited for a young girl with her parents to get served, watched jealously by a little brother. When the family left, Harry approached the counter with a grin. Ollivander returned the smile then nodded a greeting to Snape.
"We'll start with ebony," Ollivander said to Harry, "like your father's. Ten inches, unicorn hair core."
Harry took the wand, frowning. "How do you know who my father is?"
Ollivander's eyes flicked to Snape. Harry turned, looked at him, then spun back. "He's not my dad!"
Ollivander looked back at him. "I do apologise. Nevertheless, give it a wave."
Harry did. Nothing happened and Ollivander snatched it away and gave him another. "Yew, twelve inches, dragon heartstring."
That one did nothing either. He tried the next, and the next, and it felt like he went through nearly the entire shop and was beginning to wonder if his Wish Magic meant he couldn't use wand magic when Ollivander handed him a holly wand with a phoenix feather core.
He knew it was the one for him instantly. A warm tingle spread through his fingers and when he swished it through the air, a stream of multicoloured sparks flew from the end.
"Excellent," Ollivander murmured. "If I may, what's your name, young man?"
"Harry Evans," he told him, grinning and twirling the wand between his fingers. "Can I get a holster?"
"Of course," Ollivander replied, thoughtful eyes fixed on Snape. "Arm, hip, or leg?"
The arm one was kind of cool, the way a quick wrist movement would make it pop out and into the hand, but Harry went for a hip one. Snape said the arm one took a bit of practice, and Harry was worried he would accidentally make his wand pop out when he didn't mean to. The leg one struck him as fairly useless, but Ollivander said it was for people who used their arms a lot, such as gardeners, but needed their wand carefully out the way of their pockets.
Harry avoided looking at Snape when they left the store. When Ollivander assumed Snape was his father, Harry was only shocked and mostly interested in getting a wand, but now he felt awkward. Snape was going to be his teacher; being mistaken for his son was embarrassing. And what did Snape think of it? Probably disgust. Harry thought he was the kind of man who was horrified by the idea of having kids of his own, despite being a teacher. It wasn't as if he seemed to like any of the students. It made Harry wonder why he became a teacher in the first place, but he wasn't about to ask.
They went to Flourish and Blotts next, and Harry forgot Ollivander's words as he disregarded Snape's only-what-you-need command and bought not only his set textbooks, but half a dozen other interesting looking books. When he reached for a book on one of the higher shelves, his long shirt sleeve happened to fall back, revealing the bruises on his wrists from when Dudley had held him down three days ago while Louis sat on his hips and force fed him worms. He didn't notice until Snape grabbed his arm and pushed his sleeve up further.
"Where did those come from?"
Harry glanced at them then at Snape. "My cousin. Just messing around."
He didn't need to admit to Snape that he was his cousin's punching bag. It was bad enough Snape saw their fight earlier and knew Harry kept everything he owned in his backpack because of Dudley.
"Just messing around should not leave you battered and bruised."
Harry jerked his arm away. "It's nothing," he muttered, taking the pile of books to the counter.
In the Apothecary, Snape went into the back of the store where the restricted items were while a clerk made Harry a supply kit with the basic ingredients for a new student. Harry was about to pay when Snape came back and stopped him, checking through the kit. He declared it in need of several more ingredients the clerk didn't include, deemed a few of them unfit for use and insulted the clerk while asking him to fetch better ones, and only when he was satisfied did he allow Harry to pay. He got similarly pedantic when they went to the cauldron shop, inspecting the pewter ones and, when Harry asked why they didn't just take the nearest, pointing out that a damaged cauldron could affect the potions made in it.
Harry's letter mentioned pets, but while Harry liked cats and found some of the owls beautiful, he decided not to buy one. At Hogwarts, he would have no one to send letters to, and he had every intention of finding a way out of his cuffs before next summer. He wouldn't go back to the Dursleys for another holiday and having a pet to look after, wherever he did go, would be a hassle.
"Are you going to teach me the Concealing Charm now?" he asked Snape as they headed towards the Leaky Cauldron. "Dumbledore said I could learn it."
"We'll take lunch first," Snape told him.
Snape paid for their lunch. Harry pointed out that he didn't need Snape to, but the man gave him a withering glare and he hurriedly changed his words to a thank you instead.
When they finished eating, Snape told him that he couldn't learn the Concealing Charm there so they were going to Snape's house to do it. Harry, who hoped the incident in Flourish and Blotts would be the last awkward moment he'd have to endure that day, decided this was definitely by far the worst. Going to a teacher's house? It just wasn't done. Even he knew that.
But he needed to learn the Concealing Charm, so he pushed the awkwardness aside, gripped the Portkey, made sure he had a tight grip on his trunk, and felt a wrench in his gut as the Portkey activated.
It delivered them into a small dark sitting room full of books. Even the windows and doors, save for the one leading outside, were hidden behind bookshelves. The only space left free was the small fireplace, which wasn't even big enough to floo in, though it was big enough for a floo call apparently, as the moment they appeared Snape led Harry into a tiny kitchen and said, "I need to make a floo call. Sit down. Don't touch anything."
Snape returned to the sitting room and shut the door behind him. Harry sat at the two-person table pushed against the wall opposite the counters and opened up his backpack to pull out the parcel from Hermione. Inside was a book on the sixteenth century European vampire uprising and a letter five times as long as the one Neville sent, filled with details of her holidays and the time she was spending on studying despite not even being at school, and mentioning that she sent the parcel by Muggle post because she wasn't sure if his guardians were accepting of owl post even if they did know about it. He smiled as he read, feeling a bubble of joy in his chest. After a month of the Dursleys, this reminder that he had friends meant the world to him.
Snape was gone for nearly twenty minutes but Harry barely noticed, reading his book. The vampire uprising was a controversial issue, particularly how it began. Wizards were unsure and none of the vampires involved were willing to talk, so there were theories abound on how it all started.
When Snape was done, he opened the door and curtly called, "In here."
Harry put his book aside and eagerly went to the sitting room, drawing his wand from the hip holster then looking expectantly at Snape.
"The Concealing Charm is a second year spell," Snape began. "I've been told you've studied first year magical theory and if you've done so sufficiently I expect you to have no trouble with it. The motions involved are relatively simple and dependant on the area of skin being concealed. For example, your scar would require only a zigzag motion. Were you casting it over the entire face, as is the norm, a circular motion would be required."
"Why would you do it on the entire face? You'd look weird wandering around with your face all concealed."
"You are thinking of a Concealment Spell."
"There's a difference?"
Snape gave him a withering look. "A Concealment Spell is for obscuring objects. A Concealing Charm is a cosmetic spell."
"Wait, so I'm basically wearing make-up?"
Snape raised an eyebrow and Harry pushed back his complaints about being a boy wearing make-up. "What's the incantation?"
It took just under an hour for him to master it, which annoyed him. He was used to being able to do any magic instantly; it felt slow to have to practice and perfect everything, but he realised he had to get used to it. Until he could get the cuffs off, everything was going to be slowly learnt.
"I suppose I have to go back now," Harry said once he had the charm perfected. "Are we taking another Portkey?"
"Mr Evans, sit down."
Harry gave him a curious look but settled on a threadbare sofa while Snape sat himself in the old armchair.
"I spoke to the headmaster earlier. He has agreed that, if you wish to, you may remain with me for the rest of the holidays."
Harry had to stop himself from blurting out an instant yes. He did want to get away from the Dursleys, even if it meant living with a teacher for a month, but on the tail of his joy and gratitude was suspicion. Why would Snape offer to take him in? Why would Dumbledore agree to it? He went to all the effort of tricking Harry into going back to the Dursleys and putting up spells to keep him there, now he was just going to let Harry leave them?
"I'm very grateful for the offer, but why would you do that?"
"I have concerns about your health that will be more easily investigated away from your… family."
"I told you those bruises—"
"Do not lie to me again. I am not an idiot and lying will only embarrass you."
Harry scowled and didn't look at him.
"However, those were not my only concern. Since picking you up," he continued when Harry looked up questioningly, "you have, for lack of a better term, 'zoned out' twice and been completely unaware of doing so, whilst also suffering facial tics. Your expression right now tells me this isn't news to you."
"I was going to mention it when school started," he mumbled.
"Mention what? And don't mumble."
"I might be epileptic."
"The seizures started after I ran away so I couldn't ever see a doctor or anything. Hermione thought it was probably because of my—because of when I was attacked as a kid."
"I wasn't aware Miss Granger had a degree in healing," Snape said dryly. "Of course a twelve year old girl is far better equipped to manage a serious medical condition than a licensed healer."
"I was hiding; I couldn't tell anyone and she figured it out just like you did. Besides, it was fine. I managed. Anyway, like I said, I was going to mention it when I got back to Hogwarts."
Snape looked doubtful. "The medics at Saint Mungo's are better suited to treat you. I will arrange appointments. In the meantime, you will stay here until the new school year begins."
They went back to the Dursleys so Harry could pick up the few clothes he had there and Snape could tell Petunia that Harry wouldn't be living there anymore. Harry went up to his room alone to fetch his stuff, and when he returned downstairs he paused outside the kitchen, hearing voices from inside.
"… Lily would much prefer you looking after her brat."
He never heard Petunia talk about her sister before, except to complain about her having the nerve to die and leave Harry to Petunia's care. He couldn't hear Snape's reply, just a murmur, and he only heard half of what his aunt said next.
"… both got … deserved…"
But he clearly heard her stifled, terrified shriek. Dudley obviously heard it too, because he came thundering out of the sitting room, pushed past Harry and opened the kitchen door.
"Mum, are you okay?"
Petunia was backed up against the counters and Snape stood in the middle of the kitchen. His wand was tucked up against his arm, the black wood blending in with his black robe, and Dudley didn't notice it, but Harry did.
"Have you got everything?" Snape asked Harry, slipping the wand back up his sleeve and acting like nothing happened.
Snape looked around at Petunia once more, glanced at Dudley, who looked nervously between Snape and his mother, and then stalked out the room, Harry following.
When they returned to Snape's house, they had to clear out one of the bedrooms for Harry to use. There were only two and the smaller was filled with only a desk and a lot of books. Snape had to be a bigger bookworm than Harry.
"We'll spend the rest of the afternoon clearing this room. One of the Hogwarts elves will be coming by at eight with a bed."
Harry nodded. "I really appreciate you doing this, professor."
Snape's only acknowledgement was a brief glance. "Start by removing the books on the lower shelves. Keep them in order. I'll be back in a moment."
Harry knelt in front of a bookcase as Snape left. He came back a few minutes later with an old and battered looking trunk that he sat in the middle of the room and cast an undetectable expansion charm on it before he started pulling down books as well.
It took the rest of the afternoon. They hardly spoke as they worked, but at dinner that evening—slightly over-cooked stew—Harry worked up the courage to ask Snape, "Did you know my mother?"
"We were in the same year at Hogwarts."
"Were you friends?"
Snape didn't answer immediately. His eyes were fixed on his meal and Harry watched him. He knew so little about either of his parents that he was eager for any scrap of information.
"As much as a Slytherin and Gryffindor can be," Snape answered eventually.
"She was in Gryffindor? What about my dad? Did you know him?"
"Finish eating. Afterwards you can wash up. I expect you to keep your room clean and help around the house as necessary while you're here."
Harry nodded. The rest of the meal passed in silence.
Later, after the house elf delivered the bed, Harry shut himself in the room and looked through The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) until he found a Cutting Curse. He didn't really expect it to work, but he was going to try anyway. He had to take any chance he could at getting the cuffs off.
Unlike the Concealing Charm, the spell worked on his first try—just not on his cuffs. He rushed to the cramped little bathroom and bunched up a bundle of tissue to press to his bleeding arm, thinking maybe he should have tested it on a bit of parchment or something before he tried using it on anything so close to his skin, especially when the tissue was bright red and falling apart in mere seconds. He panicked, reached for the towel, then stopped, thinking Snape wouldn't be impressed if he got blood all over his towels, even if it was navy and it wouldn't really be that obvious.
But the blood really was gushing out scarily fast and maybe he should just call Snape anyway. He'd call Harry an idiot and probably take away his wand or something, but hopefully he'd do it after fixing his arm.
Severus ignored the first call. If Harry wanted to talk to him, he could damn well walk down the stairs to do it. He wasn't going to be summoned like some pet dog.
Severus frowned. That sounded almost as if Harry was struggling not to cry.
Severus got up then, because that wasn't a tearful tone, but one of pure, unbridled panic.
The bedroom was empty but the bathroom door was ajar. He pushed it open and his heart dropped. Harry was sprawled against the side of the bath tub, barely conscious, his left arm covered in blood which dripped over the floor and soaked the towel gripped loosely in Harry's right hand.
Harry woke up in a hospital room. Snape was in a chair by the bed but he got up when he noticed Harry awake. He didn't say anything, just walked out the room and came back soon after with a man wearing lime-green robes, who smiled at Harry and came to stand by the bed.
"How are you feeling?" he asked as Harry sat up
"Gave us quite the scare, you know. You want to tell us what happened?"
"I was practising spells. The Cutting Curse."
"No! It was an accident. I didn't mean to!"
"Alright," he said placatingly, "that's fine, accidents happen. You're all healed up just fine anyway. The professor there stopped your bleeding and got you here quick, and we gave you a Blood Replenishment potion so you'll be just fine. You'll be free to go in the morning, so for now just get some rest, there's a good lad. And maybe leave practising any more magic until you're at Hogwarts, eh?"
When he was gone, Harry hesitantly looked over at Snape, wondering how much trouble he was in. Snape's face was carefully blank of any emotion, but his arms folded over his chest and one leg crossed over the other.
"Was this a suicide attempt?"
"The Cutting Curse slices through whatever the wand is aimed it. You are competent enough to know how to hold a wand, so unless you suddenly lost all your senses, you cannot possibly have nearly killed yourself just by practising spells."
"I was trying to get the cuffs off. I thought a Cutting Curse might work but I didn't aim very well. I wasn't trying to kill myself, I swear."
Snape's voice was quietly furious. "You almost killed yourself because you couldn't be bothered to undo a simple buckle?"
"They're stuck. Didn't Dumbledore tell you about them?"
"Dumbledore does not concern himself with the ridiculous fashion choices of a stupid child."
"He put them on!" Harry half-yelled. "They're magic suppression and he tricked me into putting them on and now he won't take them off and give me my magic back."
"What are you talking about?"
"If you don't know, I'm not telling."
"You almost gave me a heart attack by bleeding all over my bathroom; you will tell me."
Harry flushed, looking down. He had no rebuttal to that.
When he finished reluctantly telling Snape about his Wish Magic, Snape drew his wand and dragged the chair closer to the bed, grabbing Harry's hand and holding it still as he touched his wand to the cuff. He inspected them both, casting a few spells before eventually straightening up and slipping his wand away again.
"They're Magic Locked."
"I told you that."
"Magic Locked, not magically locked. A Magic Lock ties a spell into the caster, making it so they're the only person who can end it. Unless I'm much mistaken, your cuffs are Magic Locked by the headmaster; he's the only person who's able to remove them."
Harry felt like screaming.
"I hate him," he grumbled instead, flopping back against the pillows. "I hate him and I hope he gets eaten by a manticore."
He spent the rest of the night in the hospital and the next morning Snape arranged for him to see a specialist healer about his epilepsy, and about the possibility of getting a magical eye to replace his useless left one. Harry was delighted to discover that not only were there ways to restore his vision, but there were prosthetic eyes that could let him see through walls or see through it even when he removed it.
He spent most of the next month reading and practising magic under Snape's supervision. Snape didn't have much of a garden but there was a river not far away and when the weather was good he took a book and sat by it to read. He slept a lot too, and wrote to Hermione and Neville, sending it through the Muggle post. When they booked his appointment with the healers, they were told he'd need testimonials from people who'd seen him have seizures so he asked his friends about that.
The night before he was due to see the healer, Snape cleared his throat in the middle of dinner and said, "If you're determined not to be recognised as the Boy Who Lived, you may want to consider the option of a non-permanent iris re-colouration."
Harry looked up in confusion. "You mean… change the colour of my eyes? Why would I do that?"
"Because between your eyes and your chosen surname, anyone who knew your mother would be able to guess your parentage."
"From my eyes?"
Snape frowned. "Surely you're aware that your eyes are the same as your mother's."
Harry shook his head. "I've never seen any pictures of her or my dad."
A long pause followed his statement. Harry continued to eat, eyes fixed on the spaghetti bolognese. Snape's own fork didn't move until he spoke again.
"I will speak to Professor McGonagall. She was their Head of House; she may have photos that she can give you."
Harry jerked his head up. "Really? You'd do that?"
Snape scowled. "Not if you start spewing sickening amounts of gratitude."
Harry nodded, but he couldn't help grinning and enthusiastically thanking him once.
The next day, they spent most of the morning in the hospital with a healer called Kirith Karpel. Harry spent a great deal of time answering numerous questions about his medical history, lifestyle, and his personal experience with seizures. He explained the attack when he was younger, and to his annoyance Snape refuted his lie about the burglar.
"Did your uncle often hit you?" Kirith asked.
"So what if he did?" Harry grumbled, not looking at her. What was the point in talking about it now? No one ever did anything about it, and if he had his way he was never going back there again, just as soon as he figured out how to escape the cuffs.
"Blows to the head could cause or affect epilepsy," Kirith told him. "It's important I know these things."
Scowling, Harry admitted, "He would hit the back of my head, or my face sometimes, and the seizures didn't start until after that last time, though."
She asked a few more questions about it that he reluctantly answered, and he was glad when she moved on to other things. Snape provided a sheaf of papers and parchments containing the Potter family medical history, much to Harry's surprise, and Harry gave the information from his friends. He then had a magielectroencephalogram—an MEEG, complex spells cast on his head and a special quill, which stood upright on a strip of parchment and recorded his brain activity—and between that and the witness accounts, Kirith says it was highly likely that epilepsy was the problem
"You mean you're not sure?" Harry asked.
"There's very a minor chance it could be something else," Kirith explained. "It's unlikely, but it's good to be sure. I want to do an MRI—a test that'll let us get images of your brain—and a prolonged MEEG."
"What does that mean for him?" Snape asked.
"You'd need to spend anywhere from a day to a week under observation."
"School begins in a week."
"I know. There's no possibility to do it before then. You'll have to miss a couple of days of school, but I'm sure you won't mind that," she said to Harry, then saw his expression and said, "Or it can wait until the winter holidays if you prefer?"
"Alright," she agreed with a smile. "In the meantime, I will start you on an anticonvulsant."
The next ten minutes were devoted to her and Snape talking about the potion. Snape had been reading up on epilepsy and apparently there were three anticonvulsant potions and he wanted to know why she picked the one she did. Kirith then turned to Harry again.
"I'm sure you realise there are certain activities that you shouldn't be participating in unsupervised—flying, swimming, anything where having a seizure will put you at risk of serious harm."
"But I can fly, can't I? Just not alone."
"You can but I advise against it. Try to avoid extreme heights and make sure your flying partner is skilled enough to be able to catch you if you fall. It should be an adult, not just a friend."
She gave him a booklet with a variety of medical ID bracelets and a form, and told him to start keeping a seizure diary so they could keep track of when he had them, and then moved on to examining his blind eye. This was much quicker, with just a few diagnostic charms, but the verdict didn't make Harry happy.
"There's no reason to give you a replacement eye," she told him. "The damage is to your optic nerve, not the eyeball. The nerve is what we'd replace—we couldn't repair it; it's been too long since the damage was done for that."
"Oh," Harry said, trying not to sound disappointed. He really liked the idea of having a magical eye.
Kirith noticed his disappointment and smiled sympathetically. "Having a prosthetic is still an option, but it would be non-essential. However, we couldn't do it right now in either case. Forging a magical nerve, especially one so close to the brain, is delicate work, and we have to be especially careful working on children or teenagers in case it interferes with development. Doing so could affect them not only physically but magically. With epilepsy, you would be at even greater risk, and if there's scarring in your brain then it may not be possible to create a working magical nervous system at all. Whatever the case, I don't want to do anything until after the MRI and extended MEEG."
Harry's shoulder's slumped. "So I might never get my sight back?"
"It's a minor possibility, yes, but don't lose all hope. We won't know anything until the scans are done."
A few days before the end of the month, an owl brought a small parcel for Harry. It wasn't the bird that delivered Neville's letters, and Hermione's came through the Muggle post still as she had no bird for herself, so he opened it with a frown. Inside was a photo album and a note.
Professor Snape said you had no photos of your parents. I asked several people who knew them if they had photographs to spare and this was the result. It might not make up for losing your parents, but I hope it helps.
Harry looked through them with a lump in his throat. Snape was right about him having his mother's eyes and he was glad he hadn't had an iris re-colouration, even temporarily, because it was a connection to his mother and he wouldn't give that up for the world. He had his father's dark hair, although his was tamer than James' wild mess, but that's all the similarity he could see between them and he supposed he must look mostly like Lily.
He spent all morning looking at the pictures, staring at their happy, smiling faces, committing them to memory, and didn't go downstairs and face Snape until he was sure the tears dried and his eyes were no longer red.
On the final day of August, Snape took Harry to Hermione's house in Oxford. Snape needed to get prepared at Hogwarts for the next year, so Harry would go to King's Cross station the next day with the Grangers.
They were nice people. Hermione had told them all about Harry—everything, which made him nervous on top of meeting his friend's parents for the first time. He'd never been to a friend's house before on account of not having a friend before. But they were perfectly friendly, buying Chinese takeout for dinner and watching fondly as Harry and Hermione talked.
After dinner, while Mr and Mrs Granger did the washing up, Hermione inspected Harry's cuffs.
"So you can't do Wish magic at all?"
"Nothing. Can't even turn a matchstick into a needle. It sucks."
"I'm sure Dumbledore had a good reason," Hermione said.
"Yeah, he doesn't like a kid having so much power."
"Maybe he just wants you to learn how to do wand magic without your Wish Magic getting in the way, so you'll know how to do both if you ever need to."
Harry said nothing. Hermione thought well of Dumbledore, heavily influenced by the books that spoke reverently of him; she wouldn't agree with Harry's distrust of the man. Harry hadn't mentioned that Dumbledore also left him with the Dursleys even after being specifically told that Vernon used to hit him, and he wasn't going to even if it might change Hermione's opinion on Dumbledore. He wasn't entirely sure why. Embarrassment, maybe, or fear that she would tell her parents. He hated that Dumbledore had done it, but he still didn't want other people getting involved with it all. He didn't want their pity, and he didn't trust in their help.
Besides, Vernon had only hit Harry once this summer. What did he have to complain about really?