Harry was sitting in front of professor Dumbledores desk in his office. The Hogwarts express was to departure in a few hours. Harry was sitting on needles, wondering what the headmaster wanted to talk to him about.
”Harry my boy”, Dumbledore said. ”I have failed you.”
The headmaster looked down on Harry with sadness in his eyes.
”Sir?” said Harry, feeling confused.
”I was aware that Petunia and Vernon never treated you like their own son. But I should have removed you when I realised exactly how bad it was. I let my conviction of the protection of your mothers love affect my decition. For that Harry, I am truly sorry. ”
”Oh”, Harry said, ”it´s fine.”
”It most certainly is not”, said Dumbledore and looked determined. ”I will press charges agains your relatives for their abuse, and I have decided it is time for you to live with someone who will feed you and give you clothes that actually fit. But more importantly someone who will care for you and want what is best for you.”
”I´m leaving the Dursleys?” Harry almost left his seat in exitement.
”I have made arrangements for you as soon as you leave for the summer break today.
”Where am I going?” Harry asked.
”In your parents will it stated, in the events of something happeing to them you should go to their best friend, your godfather, Sirius Black. But as it is, Mr Black is in the Azkaban prison. ”
Harrys eyes widened. His godfather was a criminal?! Or more importantly, he had a godfather?
”Their next choise of a guardian, Dumbledore continued, ”is a man called Remus Lupin. He was also their best friend, but he is I am afraid, unable to care for a child with the way he lives. He is a werewolf and has been forced to go under ground, by the way society treats him.”
”So...who am I staying with?” Harry asked. He felt quite downhearted. His parents had wanted to give him to a criminal and a werewolf. Was his new guardian even going to be better than the Dursleys?
”Your mother, Lily, made an addition to the will. Should any of the assigned guardians be unable or unsuited to care for you there was a third option.”
”Who?” Harry asked curiously.
”Severus Snape”, said Dumbledore.
Harry couldn´t hold back.
”Snape?” he blurted out. ”But sir, he hates me. Didn´t you say you would place me with someone who would care for me. He absolutely loathes me.”
”Professor Snape Harry, and he doesn´t hate you”, Dumbledore said. ”But I can see why you would think that. He, as well as myself, have made misstakes. He and your father didn´t get along during their schoolyears. He was however a good friend to Lily, and in the end even he and your father managed to behave civilized to each other. I assume you just reminded Severus of James and how he was as a child. Severus is willing to take on the responsability as your guardian, if you want to go.”
”You mean I don´t have to?” Harry asked.
”You have the possability to express your wishes, yes”, said Dumbledore smiling.
Harry thought about it for a moment. Anything was better than the Dursleys. And besides, with Snape as a guardian, he would grow up in a wizards house. That would be so cool.
”I want to go”, he said and looked up at Dumbledore.
Dubmledore smiled at him. ”I understand you and Severus may have your difficulties, but I am sure this will be for the best. If you want to you can travel with him to Spinners End, your new home. Or you can go with your friends with the Hogwarts express and have Severus pick you up at Kings Cross station in London.”
Harry didn´t need to think about it.
”I want to go with my friends”, he said.
”I thought you would”, smiled Dumbledore, ” I assume you have a lot to talk about”.
”You what?!” Ron almost screamed out when they boarded the Hogwarts express for London.
”Calm down and let him explain”, said Hermione and rolled her eyes at Ron.
”It can´t be worse than the Dursleys” Harry said.
”Yes it can!” Ron threw his arms in the air.
”You´re only saying that because you´ve never experienced them”, Harry sighed.
”Harry, I think you are making the right decition. Besides, imagine what advantage you´ll have over the rest of us. Living with a teacher for a parent, that´s the dream”, Hermione sighed.
”He´s not gonna´ be my parent. Just my guardian”, Harry protested.
”And what do you think a guardian is exactly?” asked Hermione and crossed her arms in front of her.
”Well...”, Harry hesitated. ”I´ll live with him and he´ll take care of me?”
”And he´ll make sure you have everything you need. That includes rules as well as affection”, Hermione said.
”And does that sound like Snape to you?” asked Ron with rased eyebrows.
”His parents assigned him. They must know he´d be the best choice”, Hermione argued.
”Actually, he was their third choice. But since the criminal and the werewolf were unable, he´s the one I´m living with”, Harry smiled at their reactions. The rest of the journey passed in an enjoyable manner. They played exploding snap with Dean, Seamus and Neville (Hermione and Neville abandonned the game after few rounds to look at a plant professor Sprout gave Neville to care for over the summer break). As the train came into the platform, Harry felt butterflies fly all around his stomach. A sudden realization of what he had agreed to hit him hard, but he managed to calm himself. His mother had known Snape, they were friends, and she had trusted him with her child. This was all going to be fine, he told himself.
As Harry got of the train he spotted the Weasleys in the crowd. He and Hermione said goodbye to Ron, who ran of o greet his family.
”Don´t forget to write!” Hermione yelled after him. She turned to Harry.
”How are you feeling?”
”I´m okay”, he said looking around for Snape.
”Okay. Remember to send Hedwig if you need to talk or anything”, Hermione said and pulled him in for a hug. ”There he is”, she wispered in his ear.
Snape made his way through the crowd and Hermione let go of Harry.
”I should go find my parents”, she said and took off.
”Potter”, said Snape. ”Are you ready to go?”
”Yes sir”, said Harry and picked up Hedwigs cage, and tried to managed both that and his nimbus and coffert. Snape didn´t notice Harry´s struggle and led the way out of the platform. Once they were outside, he took a turn and went in to an alley behind the parking lot. He turned around an faced Harry.
”Potter”, he said. ”Have you ever travelled by side-along-apparation?”
”Er...no”, said Harry wondering what the hell apparation was.
Just as Snape offered his arm to Harry he noticed the luggage and shrunk everything down and put it in his pocket. He opened Hedwigs cage before shrinking it and let her out.
”She needs to stretch her wings. She will find us later. Now, hold on tight Potter”, he said and once again offering Harry his arm.
Harry took a tight grip and a second later he felt like he was been pressed through a small pipe. He felt dizzy and he thought he was going to be sick, when it stopped and he took a deep breath of fresh air. He would have fallen to the ground if Snape hadn´t stadied him with a hand on his shoulder.
”This way Potter”, said Snape and led the way,
Harry finally noticed they weren´t at Kings Cross anymore. They were outside a small cottage house that looked like no one had been living there for at least a century. It looked like they were on the outside of the village. Harry couln´t help thinking it quite fit the picture of where he had thougt Snape would live.
”Well come on Potter”, Snape said and walked towards the small fence that separated the overgrown garden from the lane. Once they entered the gate, Harrys view changed, He managed to hide his surprise when the unkempt garden was replaced with a well kept ground with an aisle bordered with chestnut trees. The aisle led up to a fountain that was in front of a large manor. The manor and the park was surrounded with a great white wall. Harry stood still for a moment and just stared at everything. This was not at all what he had been expecting. He felt a hand on his shoulder.
”Come on Potter, I don´t want to stand out here all day. I will show you around the grounds later”, Snape said.
”Yes sir”, Harry said and followed the professor to the entrance door. They stepped into a large foyer and Snape led them trough and up a the stairs. It was a grand stair in white marble with a dark green velvet carpet on. Once they were upstairs Snape gestured to the first door to the left,
”This is my bedroom. Don´t go in there unless it is an emerancy”, he said.
”I won´t”, Harry said wondering what that emerancy could be. If the house was on fire maybe,
”This is the bathroom”, said Snap and gestured to the second door. ”And in here is your room.” Snape opened the last door in the corridor and they walked inside. The walls were a crispy white and the heavy velvet drapes where a midnight blue. Straight across from the door was the bed, and both that and the desk and wardrobe were in oak wood.
”You may decorate as you want, but I am not painting the walls blood red like you barbarians in Gryffindor tower”, Snape said and pulled Harrys coffert and Hedwigs cage along with his Nimbus out of his pocket. He put them on the floor and unshrunk them.
”No, I like it the way it is”, Harry said. ”It´s sort of relaxing.”
”I´ll let you get settled in. How about dinner in 30 minutes? Or did you stuff yourself full with sweets on the train?” Snape asked.
”No, 30 minutes will be fine”, said Harry,
”The dining room is downstairs, the double doors to the left once you come down the stairs. And wash your hands before dinner. ”
”Yes sir”, Harry said. This was going to be interesting he thought. He had no idea Snape was living this fancy. He wondered what Snape thought about suddenly being Harrys legal guardian. He didn´t act like he liked any of the children at Hogwarts, except maybe for the slytherins. But he must have been looking forward to a quiet summer, and got landed with Harry. 30 minutes later he made his way downstairs and found the dining room at once. It contained a long dining table in mahogny wood. The walls were decorated with large oilpaintings of a forrest, a sea and a meadow. The end of the table was set for two, and Snape was already sat in a chair.
”Potter, don´t linger over there. Come and eat”, he said. Harry sat down and smelled the wonderful fragrance of a stek and kidney pie. Snape handed him the cutlery.
”Help yourself”, he said.
Harry put a piece on his plate and took a large bite.
”It´s delicious”, he said. ”I didn´t know you could cook professor.”
”I didn´t”, said Snape. ”I have house elves. And please don´t talk with your mouth full.”
Harry swallowed. ”What are house elves?”
”Oh Salazar, I forget how little you know of the world”, Snape said. ”House elves are creatures that live to serve others. They cook and clean, and pretty much anything you tell them. In this house there are 28 of them.
They tend to the park and the manor. Some of them I even trust with my green house and herb garden.”
”You have your own green house?”, Harry asked.
”Yes Potter. Like I have been telling you in class for the past year, it is of utter importance to have the best ingredients when you are brewing. Maybe someday you will actually pay attention in class”, said Snape and raised his eyebrows.
”Yes sir”, Harry said and continued eating.
After a few minutes of silence, Snape put down his cutlery.
”Potter, there are a few things we need to talk about”, he said.
Harry looked up from his plate.
”Sir?” he asked.
”As you are aware, your parents named me your legal guardian. When you are living with me I expect you to follow the rules I set. And not just do as you please, as you normally do at Hogwarts.”
”I promise I will behave sir”, said Harry and looked down.
”And I also expect you to come to me if there is a problem of any kind”, Snape continued. ”It is my responsability to make sure that you are alright, and well cared for.”
There was a silence and Snape eyed Harry.
”Do you have any questions?”, he said.
Harry looked up at the potions master.
”Do you even want me here?” he finally asked.
Snape raised his eyebrows, and Harry thought he saw a small smirk fly by.
”Potter, I can´t deny that I was surprised when Dubmledore told me about the will at christmas. And I have enjoyed many holidays without any disturbanse of students. But I loved Lily. I will do my best to care for you, her child. Even if it was unexpected.”
”You have known since christmas?” he asked and stared at Snape. ”Why didn´t I know until this morning?”
”Professor Dumbledore had to make inquries at the ministry and at the muggles social services. But yes, I have known and made preparations of your coming here. I had my objetions of the headmaster waiting until the last minute to tell you. But he wanted to be sure it could happen and not disturb your schooling. Snape fell silent and then added,
”Do you have any other questions?”
Harry thought for a moment.
”Do I have a bedtime? And what about other rules? And what will happen if I somehow accidentally break them?” he asked,
”I hope you´re not planing on breaking my rules, Potter”, said Snape. ”But if you do, you should know that I will never hit nor spank you. As punishment I will take away any privilges such as telly time or flying time for example.”
”Telly time? You have a telly?” Harry couldn´t help but ask.
”My father was a muggle Potter”, Snape said. ”And I find it an easy way to keep up with muggle news as well as occational entertainment.”
Harry could almost not belive his luck.
”As for bedtime and other rules. You should be in bed by 10 pm. Non negotiable. And I want you to tell me if you are leaving the grounds and go outside the gate. I also expect you to be on time for every meal, to treat the house elves with respect, take responsability for your owl and your schoolwork and keep your room fairly tidied up.
”I can do that”,Harry said.
”Wonderful”, Snape said and Harry could almost feel the professor wanting to roll his eyes.
”Now Potter, if you are done eating I will show you around the manor and the grounds.”
They exited the large entrance doors and took a right turn. Professor Snape gestured to the fountain and the aisle of chestnut.
”The animals almost never comes here in the front, exept for the birds.”
”Animals?” Harry asked.
”In the wooded part of the grounds I keep a herd of albino fallow deer. And there are also wild rabbits and the occational jarvey.”
Harry didn´t know what to say. Everything was so different from what he expeced. Snape showed him the herb garden and told him they needed to weed it over summer. They passed the green house and the fruit garden. Harry spotted an open green area and a wooded part further away. They then reached the entrance doors from the other side.
”You have a really big garden” Harry finally said.
”Observant as always Potter”, Snape snorted. ”You are free to roam the grounds as you like. But, respect the wild life and you will gain their trust”, said Snape as they entered the foyer.
”In here”, said Snape and pionted to the doors to the left, ”is the chess room. There is a fireplace connected to the floo, and a small relaxing area with a chess board.” Snape pointed to the next door. It was just to the left of the large stairs.
”This goes to my potions lab in the cellar”, said Snape, ”Don´t go down there unless I invite you.”
Harry nodded. He had enough of potions in school anyway.
”The next room, is as you know, the dining room. From there you can reach the kitchens and the laundry rooms. Although the elves are taking care of all that. This door goes to a bathroom.”
Harry stifled a yawn and tried to look awake. Snape saw it of course.
”Let me show you the last of upstairs, then I belive it is time for you to go to bed.”
They went upstairs and Snape pointed to the first door to the right,
”This is my study. Don´t go in there unless I give you permission. Next here is the living room and it is connected to the library. You are free to read what you want, but please don´t make a mess out of my set-up.”
”I wont sir”, said Harry.
Snape looked at the sleepy eleven year old.
”Now, go brush you teeth, Potter, and go to bed. Breakfast will be served at 8.30. Good night.”
”Good night sir”, said Harry and went to get ready for bed. This was a wierd day.
Quirrel unwrapped his turban and turned around. A horrible snake like face stared at Harry. His scar hurt and he tried to scream, only no sound came out. Suddenly there was a green flash and a woman screaming.
Harry woke up shaking and tears streaming down his cheeks. He was sweating and felt slightly out of breath. He thought maybe his crying had woken him up. With a sudden realisation he knew something else was wrong. He reached down and felt his pyjama pants. They were wet. Harry felt a chill of horror down his spine. This could not be happening. He had wet the bed in professor Snapes house. He had wet his bed like a baby the first night in his new home. He felt his bottom becoming a little cold and he didn´t like the feeling of the wet pyjamas sticking to his bum. He thought about what his options were. Either find the house elves, but it was the middle of the night and he didn´t know what they looked like. Or try to deal with it himself or tell Snape. Telling Snape was the least appealing alternative, but he wasn´t aloud to do magic out of school. And even if he was, he didn´t know any cleaning spells. Harry tried to hold back the tears from the nightmare and climbed out of bed. He was planning to try to clean himself up before telling Snape, when he saw the professor standing in the hallway. He was dressed in a dark green pyamas and a black dressing gown.
”Potter, I heard screaming, Are you alright?”
Harry couldn´t answer. He tried to pull his t-shirt down to cover his wet crotch. He looked at the floor and willed the tears to stay put in his eyes. Snape of course saw the action and knew what had happened. He had after all been head of house for many years and was not entirely unfamiliar of the concept of the occational wet bed.
”Potter”, he said.
Harry didn´t answer.
”Potter”, Snape repeated. ”Harry”, he said and lifted Harrys chin. ”It´s alright.”
Harry felt tears fall from his cheeks.
”I´m sorry”, he whispered. ”I had a nightmare. I didn't mean to wake you up.”
Snape put his hands on Harrys shoulders and pulled him to his chest.
”How about you take a quick shower, and I will take care of the sheets. And then we will have a glass of warm milk. Okay?”
Harry nodded and made a turn for the bathroom.
”Put your wet pyjamas in the basket and the elves will take care of it”, said Snape who had followed Harry in to the bathroom. ”There are fresh towels in the cabinet over here”, he said.
Snape exited the bathroom and Harry pulled of the wet pyjamas and got in to the shower. He heard someone coming in and getting out. When he was done and drying himself off he noticed Snape had put a clean pyjamas and boxers on a chair. As he got out of the bathroom he met Snape coming up the stairs with two glasses of warm milk on a tray.
”Lets sit down in the living room”, he said.
Harry followed the man in to the living room and sat down on the edge of a couch. Snape handed him a glass and sat down next to him. Not to close and not to far away, He turned to face him.
”Do you want to tell me about your nightmare?” he asked.
Harry took a sip of milk.
”I dreamed about Quirrel and Voldemort. They wanted to kill me. My scar hurted and then I heard a woman screaming”, Harry said in a low voice.
Snape set down his glass on the coffee table and looked at Harry.
”I can't say it was only a bad dream. Because I know it wasn´t. But Quirrel is gone now, and you don´t have to worry about him.”
”What about Voldemort?” Harry said and looked to his feet.
”Harry, you are only eleven years old”, Snape said. ”No one expects you to face him alone. Or at all. As I said at dinner. I will be here for you. Understood?”
”Yes sir”, Harry said and took a sip of milk. It felt better now. Even if he was embarrassed about his accident. Only little kids wet their bed.
”Harry, I think we could skip the formalities when we are at home”, Snape said. ”You don´t have to call me sir here, Once when we go back to Hogwarts that will have to be reinstated. But at home you may call me Severus.”
”Severus”, Harry tried. ”That´s gonna´ be weird.”
”Well yes, but now I am your guardian and not your teacher. Although I will very much appreciate if you did well in potions from now on”, said Severus and winked at Harry.
”I will do my best prof...er Severus”, smiled Harry.
”Sure you will”, smiled Severus. ”Now Harry it´s time for you to return to bed. Do you think you can go back to sleep?”
”Yeah”, said Harry. ”It´s fine”
”Leave the glass here on the table and the elves will take care of it”, said Snape. He followed Harry into his room and pulled the covers over him once Harry had climbed into bed for the second time that night.
”Sleep tight Harry” he wispered.
Harry was amost alseep and could only answer with a murmur. Snape left the light on in the hallway and slipped in his own bedroom for a few hours of much needed sleep before morning.