By Jessica Beaubien (alias Niaf)
Word Count: 27542
Summary: The alternate account of the Chamber of Secrets seen through Snape’s eyes.
Severus could still remember the surprise at the quiet week he’d had with the child. He could still remember that first Friday night when he’d sat at his desk reviewing the stack of homework the boy had given him. The letter that had arrived by owl halfway through his review of the boy’s Transfiguration assignment.
…Severus had been mildly surprised with the boy’s work. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t all that bad at all. Even passable. He’d just finished marking another one of his red snide comments on the margin of the boy’s essay when a sharp tapping at his window distracted him. He rose and looked at the large owl in his window tapping on the glass. He opened the window and took the letter. The owl flew off. His name was the only thing on the front of the envelope. He opened it cautiously, even though he recognized the handwriting.
I hope your summer is going well. How’s Harry doing? Is he adjusting to spending his summer in your home? Well I’ll get to the point, my dear boy. I was reading this interesting knitting weekly magazine those muggles enjoy. It has some really nice patterns. Anyways I digress. I came across this advertisement I clipped out for you. I thought maybe Harry could enjoy this. I don’t think he’s had many chances to go to these things muggle children seem to love so much.
Severus frowned at the Headmaster’s odd note. A small groan of annoyance escaped his throat as he opened the envelope and found a small magazine clipping for some sort of amusement park. He was appalled at what he was looking at. Was Albus finally going mental? Disgruntled, he set both letter and clipping back in the envelope and added it to the stack of mail on his
desk he had to deal with, but didn’t feel like looking at tonight. Leaning back, he sipped his firewiskey and continued the satisfying task of being sarcastic and cutting in his comments on the boy’s essays. Of the three essays he was reading through, the only one that barely had a mark on it was his “Defense Against the Dark Arts”.
The next few days went by in relative calm and quiet. This was beginning to annoy Severus and he didn’t know why. It wasn’t the quiet that worried him. He liked the quiet, in fact he preferred quiet. But the child living in his home was making so little noise that it made Severus edgy. Children made noise; it was something he’d both hated and gotten used to while working and living in a school for most of the year. It was what he’d always associated with children. That this child was so silent disturbed him. A part of him wondered if the boy planning something.
Severus looked at the ingredients he’d been preparing. He’d been working distracted for the last hour, and couldn’t find his rhythm. He sighed, picking up his ingredients, bottling them, and storing them on his work table so he could return later. He went to his sink and washed his hands before leaving. Checking that his robes were immaculate as always, he climbed the stairs up and out of his lab, heading first to the library. Sure enough, he found the boy there. Since his summer homework was all done, he was surprised to find the boy still in the library. He never took the boy as a reader. He narrowed his gaze on the still child who was sitting on the large window seat, book forgotten in his lap while he stared out into space.
“Reading usually helps with learning,” Severus stated bluntly, evidently startling the boy whose wide green eyes spun to face him.
A look of terror crossed the boy’s face before it vanished to surprise, then to confusion. “I’m sorry, sir,” Harry said, looking down at the open book in his lap.
“What for?” Severus asked,clearly confused. He wondered if the boy had indeed done something to feel guilty about.
“For bothering you, sir,” Harry replied.
Now Severus was very confused indeed, and decided to press the issue. “Why are you feeling guilty, Potter? Have you done something against my rules?”
“No sir, I’ve been reading in the library all morning,” Harry hastened to say.
“Then why are you constantly apologizing?” Severus demanded. He’d be damned if he would ignore this annoying issue anymore. Frustration made his voice cold and hard.
“It always works with my Uncle,” Harry replied, shrugging.
Severus stared at the boy as if seeing him for the first time. That was yet another odd statement coming from the child’s mouth; it left Severus wondering just what had really gone on in that house. “Were you often in trouble with your uncle?” he inquired, partly curious, partly annoyed.
“Yes sir,” Harry responded, nodding, still looking far too uncomfortable for such a simple conversation.
Severus narrowed his eyes on the child. Something wasn’t making sense. “Why were you in trouble?” he inquired. Even at school the worst the boy did was be out of bed after curfew. So many students did, and it wasn’t really that bad, though he was loath to admit it. Severus enjoyed giving detentions for being out after curfew. It made his nighttime wanderings feel much more pleasant.
“I’m not sure, sir; most of the time I didn’t even know what I’d done to make him angry, sir,” Harry replied so softly. The boy was being oddly polite and that set Severus’s teeth on edge. What was the boy playing at? Severus was growing worried and annoyed at all these strange emotions he was having to occlude from his mind. Where was the cheeky and disrespectful spoiled boy? Was he even there or had that been what Severus wanted to see in the boy. That thought unsettled Severus all the more.
“What did your uncle do when you made him angry?” Severus inquired. He wasn’t expecting an answer that made any sense, but what he got didn’t eliminate his fears any.
“He would punish me, usually with his belt,” Harry mumbled, looking down. “Sir, why does everyone want to hurt me?” the boy asked morosely.
That statement alone made Severus freeze in place, his eyes widened slightly. What the hell had happened to the boy, he had to wonder. It wasn’t natural for a child to ask that question. Standing there watching the small child looking at him with big pleading eyes, Severus was suddenly desperate to find some sort of answer.
“I have no idea, child, but it ends now,” Severus said gently. He meant every word. He wouldn’t allow the child to be hurt again. Enough was enough. Whatever the headmaster had been trying to do with letting the boy face the Dark Lord these last two years was clearly not helping. No, it was time he learned not all adults were going to harm him. “No one is going to hurt you anymore, Potter. Do you know where you are?”
“In your home, sir,” Harry mumbled, “but you hate me. Please don’t hate me, sir.” The boy sobbed softly.
“I do not hate you, Potter. There were many things that affected how I treated you these last two years, but it was never hatred. It’s very complicated and now is not the time to explain everything. Before next year begins, I will explain why I acted this way towards you, but not today. Look at me, Potter,” Severus added when the child had looked down to the floor, trying no doubt to hide the tears.
“Do you know why you are here, Potter?” Severus asked into the quiet when the boy had finally looked up at him.
“The headmaster forced you to take me?” Harry whispered softly.
“It is because of the Headmaster, yes, but do you honestly think anyone could force me to do something I did not want to do?” Severus inquired back.
“I don’t think so, sir,” Harry replied after a very long silence.
“The answer, Potter, is no; if I truly did not want you here you would not be here. Regardless of what the Headmaster wanted,” Severus stated simply. “Now, are you planning on spending the whole summer hidden in the library?”
“No sir, but what else can I do?” Harry asked, a little confused.
“There is plenty to do here, Potter. If you are unable to find something to occupy your time, I shall make a schedule for you. Regardless of that, tomorrow we are going out. I have seen what you wear here and it will not do. You need proper clothing.” Severus sighed and looked out the window at the bright summer day. With resignation he continued on, “The headmaster seems to think you would enjoy going to an amusement park. Is that so?”
“That’s not necessary, sir. I don’t want to be a bother,” Harry said quickly. Too quickly.
“That’s not what I asked, Potter. Answer the question!” Severus demanded. His eyes narrowed
dangerously on the boy.
“Yes sir, I’d enjoy going,” Harry answered so softly Severus barely heard him.
He stared at the child. “In that case, tomorrow afternoon, if you behave during our shopping trip, we will go see this amusement park,” Severus answered. “Now follow me,” Severus finished after the child just stared at him.
Turning away from Harry without a backwards glance, Severus walked from the room, his typical graceful movements making his robes billow out behind him in that intimidating way of his. He walked to a door a little ways down the hall that Harry hadn’t even seen before. Pulling it open revealed a large indoor play room. Harry stared at it.
“This is my godson’s playroom. Entertain yourself. I have work to do,” Severus stated and left, going back to his potion. If they were going out tomorrow, they would need the potions. He couldn’t be seen with Potter in the wizarding world outside of Hogwarts if he wanted to keep his position…
Back in the present, Severus felt that the same worry he’d experienced that day growing inside him once more. How had they all missed that the boy was far from spoiled? It stung Severus that he of all people had missed the signs. That he’d allow his hatred for the boy’s father to cloud his mind. There was nothing he could do about the past. The question was, what would he do about the future? With that thought in mind he remembered the first day that he’d actually seen the child side of the boy.
…Breakfast had been a quiet affair, both child and adult caught up in their thoughts. Severus, as usual in the morning, was quietly reading his newspaper. After the quiet meal came to an end, Severus set two vials on the table from his pocket.
“Drink this, Potter,” he said, sliding the vial towards the boy.
“What is it, sir?” Harry asked.
“It is an appearance altering Potion. It isn’t like Polyjuice potion that will make you look like someone else; it is a little more advanced. This potion will alter your features, change your eye and hair color,” Severus explained. “It will not alter your size or height in anyway and it will last until you consume the antidote.”
“Why do I need to change my appearance?” Harry asked, confused.
“I cannot be seen walking through the wizarding or muggle world with Harry Potter for two obvious reasons. It is far too dangerous for you, and I don’t feel like meeting students during my summer holidays,” Severus answered as he took the second vial and downed it.
His features shifted before Harry’s eyes. His nose became shorter. His eyes became bigger and softer. His lips filled out and his face became slightly more angular. His eyes turned from black to a dark blue. His hair changed to a light brown. Severus refused to look into a mirror in this disguise, for the eyes and hair colour belonged to his father. He really hated that more than anything else. The softer features belonged to his mother, the same with the more pronounced and angular jar. “As you can see the potion draws out the dormant features that are in your genes. You will always look similar, but different enough that it will make recognizing you hard.”
“Ok,” Harry said before drinking the bitter potion. He shuddered.
Severus felt his heart stop dead as the boy’s features softened and took on the softer planes that his mother had. He looked so much like her now that it was hard for Severus to breathe. His eyes lost their green glow and took on a deep sapphire blue. The spiky black hair became the same red as Lily’s, filling out and lying down. Severus shivered. It was so painful to be looking in that mirror that matched Lily too closely that Severus almost handed the boy the antidote to the potion, but something stopped him. Something inside him wanted to remember this, wanted to feel like Lily’s child was with him.
“We will be taking a taxi to Muggle London in a half hour. Go and get ready,” Severus stated simply, rising and heading up to his bedroom without stopping to look at the boy.
A half hour later saw Severus dressed in black jeans and a black long sleeve T-Shirt with a leather jacket over top to stave off the slight chill as he stood on the small front lawn of his home, awaiting the car that would take them both to London. Harry stood beside him, looking around in awe. Severus remained silent as they got into the back of a cab. He gave the address for a large department store that should have everything they would need, and leaned back into the seat.
Severus looked deceptively relaxed, sitting there watching the scenery fly past. The drive to the store was quiet and quick. In no time, they seemed to arrive and he led the way up the few steps into the store. Harry stayed close to his side, not saying a single word as Severus began leading him towards the clothing section.
“Pick what you like. Just make sure you have ten sets of clothing by the end,” Severus stated simply, leaning against a wall as he watched the boy.
At first Harry gaped at him, but when it became evident that Severus wasn’t going to move until Harry had chosen what he wanted to wear, the boy moved tentatively over to the clothing. Picking up a few different sizes of jeans since he didn’t know his size, he went to try them on. Once he found his size, it was pretty easy to pick out ten pairs of jeans he liked. Since Severus had already told him they would be buying clothing in Diagon Alley, Harry didn’t look at the other pants in the muggle store. He knew he’d get trousers there. Picking out shirts was simpler. He really liked being able to choose his own clothing. In the end, Severus insisted he pick up some long sleeve shirts, jumpers, shorts, and a bathing suit before he allowed Harry to call it quits. Harry had never had so much clothing in his life. It really was a wonder.
As they left the store, Severus was growing annoyed with the boy, who wouldn’t stop stuttering
his thanks. “Harry, enough, I don’t know why your muggle relatives never got you decent clothing, but it isn’t some big show of kindness. It’s what a guardian is supposed to do. Now enough of the gratitude. I would like to continue,” Severus finally said, having actually used the boy’s first name.
Staring wide eyed at Severus, Harry remained silent. Severus led Harry through the streets of London and into the Leaky Cauldron. Once inside, he shrank the bags and set them on a table. Taking out his wand, he gave his clothing a tap and soon stood in his usual black robes once more, only the under-robes were a rich deep green with a beige shirt beneath. Tucking the bags into his pockets, Severus led the way down into Diagon Alley. Their first stop was a small clothing shop that was next to a toy store. It had everyday kinds of items.
Severus walked quickly up to the counter.
“Mister Prince,” the short male attendant at the counter said, “what may I do for you?”
“I presume you received my order yesterday?” Severus said smoothly to the man.
“Yes, it is ready. I just need the boy’s measurements and a couple of minutes to make the necessary adjustments, and it will be packaged for you,” the man said.
“Excellent,” Severus said, turning to Harry. “Follow Mister Fenian, Harry.”
Severus took a seat in a chair to wait. About ten minutes later Harry came back and stood awkwardly before Severus. Severus was just about to tell the boy to have a seat when Mr. Fenian returned with a large box wrapped in brown paper.
“Will this be on the usual account, Mister Prince?” Fenian asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Severus said, taking the boxes from Mr. Fenian. “Come along,” he added to Harry before heading out into the alley. He shrank the boxes, tucked them into his robes and entered the toy shop. “Pick ten things that you want to have at the house. I don’t have much for a boy your age, and I don’t know what you’d like. So choose,” Severus said and leaned back against the wall near the entrance of the shop.
A few minutes later Harry returned with a couple of games and some wizard toys in his arms. Severus led him to the counter. Taking out a small bag of coins, he paid for the lot. It was packed and handed to him. He stored it in his robes. After that, it was a quick stop for a few potions ingredients, a few books Severus had on order, and a book for Harry. Then they were Flooing back to the house for lunch.
Lunch was a quiet affair. Harry was in shock at all the things that now sat on the floor of his room for him to put away later. He didn’t know what to say to Severus, and every attempt he’d made at indicating he would pay Severus back had ended with a sarcastic comment. Harry was at a loss. He just stared at the man as he ate.
Severus, for his part, was silent as usual, enjoying a quiet and peaceful lunch. He knew the boy felt awkward about the shopping trip and he didn’t know how to deal with it. To him, it didn’t matter. It was something every child usually had. A part of him had to wonder what the boy would be like at the amusement park this afternoon if he was this awe struck at something as simple as clothing and necessities.
By the end of lunch, the spell on Severus’s muggle clothing was canceled and they were once again heading out of the house. Severus stopped just outside the house, looking around to ensure that no one was watching. “Come here Harry, take a hold of my arm and hold on tight. We will apparate close to the theme park,” Severus stated.
He didn’t know exactly how far away it was, but from his travels he knew a place close enough that he could apparate them there and then they could take the bus to the park. Harry came right up to Severus and grabbed his arm. With a pop they were gone. When they landed, Severus had to catch Harry before he could fall. The boy looked pale and shaken. Holding out a vial to the child, Severus waited for Harry to consume the light blue liquid, which he did without hesitation, handing the empty vial back. It seemed he was feeling better because he gave Severus a small smile.
“Where are we going, sir?” Harry asked, looking around him.
“Gulliver’s Land; it’s some muggle adventure park the Headmaster found in one of his knitting
magazines,” Severus explained as he led the way out of the blind alley and down the street to a bus stop…
Recalling those memories, Severus shook his head. He still couldn’t believe he’d actually taken the boy to a theme park. Let alone the two they had visited during that month on every second Saturday. That he’d willingly taken the child outside his home, still made him shiver. How he’d managed to survive was still beyond him. Not like he’d never taken Draco to a theme park, both muggle and wizard. But this was Potter. Not his precious godson. Still, it amazed him to think how well-behaved the brat was. Startling, really, to think that the child was actually not that bad. He was even more well-behaved then Draco, and that was saying something.