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I am Albus Dumbledore

Chapter Text

My name is Albus Dumbledore. Well not really. I am not going to tell you my real name for then you could probably track my family down and, I don’t know, laugh at them or something.

I am a self-insert from a world very much different to the magical Harry Potter universe. Oh, we have magic, but it is nothing like here. Our magic is not something we can manipulate with wands. Our magic works for a very lucky few who are tired of life. If they wish hard enough or suffer long enough (our scientists are still unsure as to the exact formula, or we would be replicating this, don’t believe otherwise), they can escape into a new world. More specifically, into a book world.

What you need to know is that for us, books are just another universe, filtering through our thoughts, urging us to pen it down, to marvel over beings that would never know of our existence. For Inserts, the book world will become their new home, where they will live to the end of their days, unable to return; presumably now content, or at minimum satisfied.

I was not satisfied! Why did I have to become an old man with hairy balls! I had never wanted to be a man!


I came into my new body, standing in front of a sea of pointed hats and childlike faces lit by floating candles. For a wild moment, I thought that I was stuck in a medieval world with chamber pots under beds. It was a toss up between that or having gone nuts, which I would much rather be than suffer without adequate modern facilities, believe me. It was the starry dome above our heads that clued me in. I, who will never tell you my former name, had been inserted into none other than Harry Potter world.

Yes, I admit it, I squeaked like a little girl. Don’t let me be Voldemort! Or Umbridge! I couldn’t stop myself from having a mini freakout, and what came out—in a suspiciously male voice—sounded like babbling.

I sat down.

The children clapped and cheered, a deafening noise.

Food appeared on the table like magic. On my left, a woman turned to ask, “Really, Albus? Nitwit, Blubber, Oddment, Tweak? Whatever will you do next.”

“I will try the pumpkin juice.”

Oh fuck. I am Albus Dumbledore.

Why couldn’t I have been anyone else? Luna! I definitely felt like a Luna! I leaned forward to look down the length of the table: a line of unrecognizable faces to both sides. And young. So very young. For a stupid moment, I wondered why they didn’t resemble their actor counterparts, since all the teachers were nearly croaking in the films.

Turban.

Oh hell, then we are still in the first book—hello, Quirrell. A pale man in his mid twenties, he sat vibrating next to a wizard that must, by the process of elimination, be Snape. Greasy hair and a hooked nose, how old was he, thirty one? He looked closer to the book’s age than Alan ever did (Sorry, Mr. Rickman, we know it was casting). The line of faces all looked so young compared to myself, and at that moment, I would rather have been anyone else, Quirrell excluded.

“What are you looking for, Albus?" the woman asked. "Your juice is right in front of you.”

“Yes? Oh, good.”

I was not going to cry. That wobble that you heard in my voice was because I am old. An old man. I blinked hard at the golden goblet that swam in front of me and reached for it to shut her up; tried not to freak out yet again when I saw a thin, very much male hand with liver spots, bringing the goblet to my face. Something was tugging at my chin and I looked down. Oh my word, I had a beard. The thing was tucked into my belt, the long hair pulling weirdly at my chin when I moved.

I needed to get out of here! What’s this happily ever after? I was an old man, and I had, what, six years before I died? Oh my god. I hadn’t read past book four!

Pumpkin juice. Think of cold, thick, sickly sweet pumpkin soup, and never bother yourself with it. I nearly choked. I certainly spilled some in my bloody silver beard and spent an embarrassing time mopping myself up, resolutely not looking at the woman when she tsked. She must be Minerva. She was probably fifty years, give or take a few. Her hair was black, not even a bit of grey, and her face looked pinched and stern. Scary. I would have avoided her like the plague if she had been my teacher.

There was nothing for it. I ate. The beard nearly made me cry. It took some time to figure out just how to bite without the food getting into my new facial hair. No, I did not usually eat with pork chop all over my face, but you try eating without anything touching your lips. Then consider that bloody lips hidden under a bushel of hair, and figure it out for yourself. Fuck you. Sorry. Sorry. It’s me, not you. You would probably take to having a beard like a duck to water.

The meal was endless. Minerva kept talking about things I had no clue of. If I ignored her, I would have to pay attention to the weirdly short man on my other side, who I could only hope was Flitwick. Was that his name or his family name? Fidelius Flitwick? No, that was the charm. The books were nowhere near to look it up, and they would surely Loony Bin me if I asked. Talking to Minerva felt like the safest bet. Minerva who was currently trying to pin me down on some issues with the damn schedule.

“You’re my Deputy Headmistress, right?”—please don’t say no!—“Surely you can sort it out. I’ll leave it all up to you." I’m honestly just holding it together until I can find my rooms and have the mother of all freakouts.

She glared at me.

“And your capable hands," I added lamely, inwardly cursing myself.

“Of course I will sort it out, Albus. I am just informing you.”

“Ah. Well, good. What do you think of the new students?” This seemed a safe enough question, and she spent a merry time talking my ear off answering.

It was quite easy to find the eleven year olds at the tables, weirdly small between the rest of the student body. I spotted Malfoy’s white hair right off the bat in the middle of the green group. The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs I had no clue of, and struggled to remember which colours was which. At the far opposite were the Gryffindors in their scarlet and gold.

I automatically searched for Harry Potter and the Weasleys. The Weasley children were not the only ones with red hair—consider a bit what country we were in, please—but there was a group of red bunched together that looked promising. Two of the boys looked like twins, so the dark head between them and another ginger must, by process of elimination, belong to Harry Potter. He looked tiny, nearly drowned behind the table stacked with food, but then again, so did his seatmate. Kids. A piece of carrot fell into my beard.

Why the ever loving FUCK couldn’t I have self-inserted as a kid instead?!

Chapter Text

For any one of you that is ever in this situation, wondering how to get to your room in a magical castle with moving stairs, when you can’t steal the map from the twins? You tell your Deputy Headmistress you need to discuss something in private and let her lead the way. At the extremely ugly gargoyle you fiddle with invisible crumbs in your beard (yes, fine, it was two buttery peas), and she will say the password in exasperation.

I gave her what I hoped was a winning smile.

Minerva McGonagall was a wonderful scary woman that I might need to use a lot if I wanted to survive this ordeal. Better stay on her good side. She had already proved helpful having passed me a list of last minute instructions to give the students, or I would never have remembered to do that. The best of those being ‘keep away from the third floor corridor to the right or you’ll die’. This managed to scare the hell out of me—how could I have forgotten the corridor?—I, for one, would certainly not be going near it. No way was I going to do anything that could shorten the six years I had. Somewhere in the hall a lone kid had laughed.

Your office, if you are ever in my situation, is on the seventh floor, third gargoyle (or ugliest if you wish) to the right and your bedroom is through a little alcove behind the desk. Once you are there you ‘forget’ what you wanted to say—“Honestly Minerva, I am sure whatever it was could wait until the morning.”—smile again and let her go off in a huff. When you’ve found the little alcove, you run to the nearest full length mirror.

I was old. Thin. Tall. Not dressed like a showy clown but a dark grey robe fitting with my ideas of what a real wizard would wear. Huh. That must have been the director’s version then. Or fanon? My hair and beard shone silver, smelled like lavender and... the beard sparkled. Everything sparkled. My new blue eyes sparkled behind sparkling half-moon glasses—I tucked it down the crooked nose to see if all this sparkling was a trick from the spectacles and found myself looking instead at a blurry scape. That was nothing new, I used to wear glasses in my previous life. I pushed it back up and stared in awe at myself for nearly a minute before ripping off the robe to see the rest.

Colourful socks in surprisingly sturdy, high heeled boots, hairy knobbly knees and grey boxer shorts appeared. A wand clattered to the floor and rolled away. I threw the beard over my shoulder to see my chest—way thinner than what I had in my previous life, with no boobs!—and flat nipples. Oh my god. I was a man. I could walk around without a shirt if I wanted. I had… I shucked the boxers and let it fall down to pool around my ankles. Hairy. Balls. Wrinkled dick...that shrank under my gaze...oh my god. I am not going to be able to touch that! Oh my blessed g—

“Albus. I need you to reconsider our strategy on Potter—bloody hell!”

My eyes met those of Severus Snape’s in the mirror. The man stood mouth agape in the doorway, his face slowly losing colour.

I honestly don’t know which of the two of us were more shocked but I think I can safely say I get the prize for being the most embarrassed self-insert ever. And you wonder why I don’t want to tell you my name. Why was life so horrible? This couldn’t be a better option than my other one, somewhere someone had made an awful mistake.

Snape retreated as fast as he appeared with a hurried, “I’ll wait in your office.”

Why wait in my office, go away, go completely away to another country and Obliviate yourself while you are at it!

I dressed.

Pulled up my boxers and struggled back into the robe.

Straightened my beard. Awful thing that itched and pulled, getting caught in everything, no wonder he tucked it into his belt. Did everyone’s beard itch like that the whole time, if so why do they have them then. Perhaps it is just me being new to this? There wasn’t anyone to ask and I suddenly missed Google. I didn’t need a crystal ball to know I would miss it more in the days to come. Unlike Snape's my face now had a red sheen to it that did not want to go away no matter how hard I flapped my hands at it. I picked the wand up and couldn’t figure out where to put it, it fell out of my sleeve twice before I gave up and set it on the bedside table.

He was still in the office, rustling about, there was no escape, no matter how much I wanted to I couldn’t hide forever. How ever was I going to live this down? Dinner was rolling around in my stomach, threatening to come back up, and the last thing I wanted to do was go out and face the spy.

I went out to face the spy.

“I apologise,” Snape said stiffly from where he stood in the middle of the office, his face a blank mask, body rigid. “I should have knocked.”

“I’m sure if you've seen one pair of hairy balls you’ve seen them all.” Good save. And yes, your face can get hotter. “Why are you here, Sn”—He had called you Albus!—“Severus.”

My knees were not going to hold me up much longer. It would feel stupid to be behind the desk so I sank down heavily in the nearest floral armchair, refrained heroically from putting my head in my hands, and swallowed bile down.

“Are you feeling well?”

“No.” Oh for fuck’s sake. This was what I talked about. Note to self, have a lie ready if people ask if you’re feeling well, if you’re feeling yourself, if you're acting odd—

“Should I call Poppy?”

“It is not something that she can help with,” I snapped, and immediately wanted to kick myself again when his eyebrows rose but couldn’t hold my tongue. I blame stress and forced myself to speak calmly next. “I am well able to call her myself if need be, Severus. As you’ve seen I am twi-thrice your age—did you only come to talk about my health?” I damn well was older than him for real and should be able to manage this. Him.

“No.” Something like irritation flashed over his sallow face. Thankfully he gave up and fell with a long, drawn out sigh in the chair opposite, rubbing his forehead before speaking. “Albus, I’ve come to beg you again to reconsider. I’m not happy with this plan of yours. The Dark Lord is dead, we all know that, and we will benefit nothing from this farce, it will only end in tears.”

Plan? What plan? Speak clearly man! “Are you so sure he is dead?” I desperately played for time. Now’s when I should tell him about Quirrell’s passenger, shouldn’t I? Fix it before it started and kill him proper. “Did we see his body?” But he would want me to take care of it and I did not have any idea how...I can’t—I don’t even know if I can do magic.

“We haven’t felt him in ten years, surely that's enough proof. You’re the only one that thinks he is coming back!”

“We? You asked others?”

“No! It is obvious, Albus. If people thought he would return they would be doing something about it.”

I couldn’t help a snort, thinking of Fudge and everyone vilifying Harry for saying he returned. Book four or five, wasn’t it. Inspiration struck. “Say his name.”

“What?”

“Say his name in front of a group of wizards and witches and see how they run, why be scared if he’s dead.”

“Because he is the boggart in our cupboards now.”

Quirrell Quirrell Quirrell. Tell him. No. “What’s my plan?”

“What?”

Shit. Backtrack. “What part of my plan does not agree with you.”

He stared at me. “Are you sure you are all right?”

“Did I say I was?” I’m going to have to bluster my way out of this then. “Please get to the point of your visit, I am tired and it is well past bedtime for people my age. What part of the—”

“The damn part where I should be bullying an eleven year old child! You know this! What do you want me to say, we’ve been over this the whole summer—tomorrow classes start and still you want me to continue with this asinine plan!” He jumped up to walk agitatedly to and fro. “I have enough trouble teaching the idiots not to blow up the school without involving myself in their silly little lives! Voldemort isn’t coming back!” he shouted, nearly frothing at the mouth, and it took everything in me not to cringe away from the volume. “I don’t need to make an enemy of a child—of half the school—just to be a spy again because he is not coming back!”

Oh have I got news for you.

I don’t remember this being in the book. Experts did say there's more between the written lines than what we knew. According to them a good author was one that managed to get sixty percent right. How much had JKR managed? Had the Dumbledore bashers the right of it? The whole Harry hate thing was a ruse made up by him? “Fine. Scrap the plan.” Fuck you old Dumbledore. Your plan got you killed.

“What?” He stopped and swung about to face me. “Be serious.”

“The whole thing, scrap it. I did not know it was going to be so hard for you or I wouldn’t have asked.”

“If you want me to do it I will.”

Oh for the love of…! I want you to not give me a headache. “I don’t want you to do it.”

“But…”

“Oh for god’s sake!” It was my turn to jump up, two can shout. Huh. It was actually nice to have my voice go deeper instead of high. “Scrap the plan, I will think up something else! How many times do you want to hear it!”

He reeled back. “Albus, are you sure you’re—”

“If you ask me one more time if I am fine I not be responsible for my actions.” Which was probably going to be crying or screaming but I managed to frown viciously at him, hoping to make it a worthwhile threat. My damn eyes had better not be twinkling now!

He blinked. “Then I will not," he said and raised his chin, curling his top lip at me, a veritable picture of disdain.

But he worried. I could see it in his eyes. It was all starting to be too much though. That worry wasn’t for me, it was for the real Albus Dumbledore. Hell, it might even be for Harry Potter or maybe he stubbed his toe when he was prancing about, raving—I wouldn’t know because face it, I didn’t know the man in front of me...

I wanted to be alone.

I needed to be alone.

I raised myself up to my full height, feeling my back creak. “Was there anything else?”

“No.” He seemed to straighten up also, and sadly I now had to look up at him. “I do think you should see Poppy though, you are clearly not yourself.”

No. Really. Somehow I got him out. I closed the door behind his back and searched uselessly for a lock before I remembered the gargoyle was it. Could I ask it not to let anyone up? Would it understand? What if I went down and found Snape still hanging about—oh this was too much. I don’t want to be here at all! I pushed the heaviest chair to the door, stuck it under the handle, and for extra surety sat on it.

Then I had a good cry.

You would have too.

Chapter Text

You can only cry so much. Albus Dumbledore did not carry a handkerchief so I blew my nose inside the bottom of the robe to spite him. Don’t tell me it was not his fault. We don’t just jump into any which character, we have to have an affinity with them according to the scientists, and they in turn had to have something lacking that our presence would improve. So yea, I blame him for the lack more than myself for the affinity and you can’t make me feel otherwise.

Morning was going to come with fresh horrors and I needed to prepare.

There was no sleeping while I had so many things to learn. I laughed somewhat hysterically when I realized I could just as well have been Harry Potter for all I knew about magic and the magical world. Having read the books helped nothing. It’s not as if I read it yesterday either, it was years ago for god’s sake. Why couldn’t I fall into the most recent book I’ve read, who decides these things! I wasted some time trying to think of anything I had read recently that wasn’t fanfiction but couldn’t. Damn.

Not having the courage yet to return to the bedroom, I set off exploring the office. The walls were filled to the ceiling with bookcases, stacked with books having the most obscure titles. (Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms? What the fuck is a Logogram.) Not one beginner’s guide to magic to be found, if there even was such a thing, and I looked in vain for any that might be school textbooks. Oh noo, Albus Dumbledore seemed above mere textbooks—damn the man to hell and back—every last one of them looked advanced. Some shocked my fingers when I reached for them, one tried to bite and another wound a chain around my wrist that I struggled to get off, nearly hyperventilating in my panic. After that I left them alone and didn’t dare touch any of the steampunk gizmos that were ticking and whirling about, most serving innocuously as bookends. Fool me once...

The desktop and drawers held schedules and correspondence between ‘me’ and McGonagall, between ‘me’ as Supreme Mugwump and what looked like several departments of the Ministry, and nothing at all personal. A big stack was addressed to the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. For a while I kept myself busy reading whatever I could find to ‘catch up’ and that might work with the school stuff which seemed easy enough but not the rest. At the very least they taught me my full name, at worst they referred to people and cases I had no clue about and after a while the letters swam before my eyes. At first I thought it was from being tired, it must be way past midnight already, but no, I was crying again.

I changed the plan. Forget trying to catch up. I will go to sleep and hide up here, maybe the elves can send up food once I’ve figured out how to call them. After all, I need only hide out for seven years. Harry will have defeated Voldemort and I will then step out and congratulate him most sincerely. Sobbing a bit more—you have to understand me here, I never was the adventurous one, I didn’t even like going to the mall—SOBBING A BIT MORE I stepped into the wrong alcove and came face to face with a bubbling cauldron.

It was huge. Set on the ground it came well up to my middle even though I am tall and in heels. It was filled to the brim with golden fluid that bubbled at a low simmer. I leaned over and got a whiff of citrus and my beard chose that moment to pull loose, a huge hunk of it dipping into the golden fluid before I could catch it and it just… melted away. Frightening visions of boils à la Neville’s cauldron assaulted me and I retreated the heck out of there, holding what’s left of what’s now become the bane of my life well away from my robe, to go find the mirror. I might have shouted some. Well fine, imagine me going ‘HAaaAaaaaa!’ all the way to the bedroom and nearly wetting myself and you should have the picture.

Ever done that thing with the scissors where you cut half your hair off as a kid? Do you remember that stomach plunging dread when you saw you did a hack job of it and needed to go tell your mom? Albus Dumbledore could tuck his beard in his belt no more. Well he could tuck one tip on the right if he wanted to walk bent over but the left side came down—up to his chest. My chest. Fuckkk. My head pounded—I can fix this! I turned a wild, breathless circle—I just need scissors!

The bedroom held a huge canopied bed, a closet and a mirror. No, there were bedside tables, each with a drawer and a tiny shelved compartment below. Dusty scrolls on the bottom and a large paper bag filled with candy in the drawer, my wand lonely on the top. No scissors. I banged it shut and rushed to the other side of the bed, only to find that one empty except for a cobweb. Did the house-elves leave it for castle aesthetics or did they just clean like their asses—I desperately needed to pee.

I haven’t seen a toilet yet. Dread unimaginable assailed me and I looked at the bed. If there was a chamber pot it was going to be on the candy side but I knelt to look anyway, hoping for a clear view through. Dust and emptiness. Too black to see to the end and no flashlight is there? Lumos! That’s the spell! Back to the other side of the bed. I bent down first, heart in my mouth but if there was going to be a pot I was by now well willing to use it. Nothing. Where the fuck was the toilet?

It was in the closet. No wait, it really was. I did a whole bloody round though the place again, office, cauldron room, bedroom—even pressed all the walls in case it was, you know, hidden—and finally I ripped open the closet doors, having lost all patience I ever had. I was ready to pee in it. Or out of the window if I could open it. I didn’t have to. Albus Dumbledore had a big ass walk-in closet filled with robes and at the very end... a bathroom. If angels sang hallelujah with me I wouldn’t know for I rushed to the room, nearly skidded on the tiles turning a sharp left to the toilet that stood ready and waiting, seat up.

Robe up, shorts down I banged the seat down and sat in record time before I remembered guys stood and jumped back up. To stand. At the toilet.

If you’ve paid attention earlier you would know I am older than Snape. I am also not a virgin, have been in enough relationships and one five year long marriage to know how guys stood at the toilet. I knew penisses big and small, growers and showers, but this was my first old one. I didn’t want to touch it. It’s like you—I just met this body a few hours ago, all right? I was in no way attracted to it and already I have to touch its most private area? No. I don’t think it wanted me to touch it anyway, it definitely shrank with the thought.

I stood in front of the toilet, holding my robe up with both hands, seriously considering throwing the hem over my shoulder, (Robes are very uncomfortable, don’t be that society.) and refused to look down. If I was going to be that guy that peed all over the toilet then so be it.

Nothing.

After a moment I leaned down and raised the seat.

Fuck my life.

Maybe this needed getting used to. All my life I was conditioned that standing and peeing will mean I’ve wet myself—girl here—so perhaps I really needed to sit. I sat. Swore. Jumped up, lowered the bloody seat and sat again. Rested the robe on my lap, covering ‘it’ and tried to relax. Considered Albus Dumbledore’s penis and balls that were now resting partly squished between and up on my legs, and had a vision of the pee dribbling across my thighs. Fuck no. This will not work.

Up again, robe off, sat down, spread legs, LOOK DOWN and try to gauge where it was aimed at, it needed a tuck—quick two fingered job to point thing down—and hunch over with elbows on knees.

Nothing.

My bladder did not even feel full.

I refuse to get up. I had reached prime position, I was not crying—much—and I was going to do this.

Back home I would more often than not take a phone or ipad to the toilet. I grew up reading books on it. We even had a magazine rack with comics next to it and half my friends the same. Beyond having a massive bookcase in his study, Dumbledore seemed not to read. No softcopy next to his bed, no newspapers lying about on the furniture. No magazine rack next to the toilet. Shampoo bottles or toothpaste tubes were a second choice but wouldn’t you know, the claw foot tub had beautiful cut crystal decanters with not a label in sight, the sink held a bar of soap and washcloth. Not even a toothbrush. Okay, old man, maybe dentures. I stuck my tongue against my teeth to see if it will come out. No. To my right was a toilet paper stand. Well well well, we are all the same down there at least. Needs must. I broke a few squares off and started folding them into mini fans and little triangle boat-hats, getting the creases just so with my nails. And peed.

No it’s not feel different than with a girl, I dunno, maybe if ‘it’ was longer and I stood or held ‘it’ or whatever. Peeing felt the same way but wiping did not. Pee down your balls is why you guys don’t sit, right? I am already done with being a boy.

There’s no coming back from being a self-insert. Once you’re gone you’re gone. How did they realize people disappeared into books, you ask? How did we not just think people ran off or met a serial killer and got buried in a ditch. Well easy. Back in time books were scarce and you kept them well maintained, had only a few and blessed was the family member that got your prized collection in the will. Some smart reader noticed small changes in an extra copy. The rest is history.

Very much history. We are taught it in school. Cults developed, making their followers read only one book that will hopefully be their Nirvana. People became hoarders, houses stacked to the brim with books on books, good luck finding them in one of those. Some people only read horrors or stuck to adventures, whatever floats their boat and others didn’t pay it much attention. I certainly didn’t keep any book hoping my family would find me in it. For even though we self-inserted it was rare enough that the chance it could happen to you were—I dunno, I never kept up with the statistics—let’s just say you’re more likely to be found in a ditch.

My pee adventure had tired me out mentally and physically. I felt like I had just scaled a mountain, but I didn’t want to go lie in some stranger’s bed that probably smelled like lavender. I still had the beard to fix too before someone saw. I trudged out of the closet and was going to look for scissors in the office when the wand caught my eye and I remembered the Lumos.

Two minutes later had me shouting ‘Lumos!’ like a mad man, waving the stick about my head, hoping to catch the right motion by simply trying them all. Swish flick flick swish lu-MOS LUH-mos! Levi-O-sa! All I got were sparkles. Which looked quite pretty, and if you ran around and waved it just fast enough you can make multiple trails before they disappeared and have the whole room sparkle all the colours of the rainbow for five seconds. Creaking knees stopped the game in the end but it was fun while it lasted.

I have magic!

Chapter Text

You must think by now that I am nothing but a crybaby. Well bully for you. I don’t know if you’re going to be able to read all my thoughts or everything that I do, sometimes a book is too strong and only the most extreme actions of a self-insert will show in their copy. Or the person doesn’t do much, play out the book's events to hide themselves and then continue as they want. We even think the character might absorb some of us over time so I have no idea what my future really holds and it is scary, thank you very much. Anyway, back to crying, in my world (maybe you’re from another, who the fuck knows) we have Tumblr that taught us it is okay to cry. So I am not going to worry about what you think. Much.

The whole castle would be asleep by now, and dinner felt a very long way off. Dumbledore wouldn’t need his candy anymore so once I stopped waving the wand around, and gathered some of my breath back, I appropriated it for myself. With it in hand, and wand tucked under my arm, I went back to the office in search of the elusive thing called scissors. For all I know wizards use a spell and wouldn’t know a scissor from their ass. Then I will be truly fucked.

I pushed a fistful of jelly babies into my mouth—the whole bag disappointingly filled with normal candy, I was kind of hoping for a frog—and started opening the desk drawers one by one for a thorough search.

“What on earth are you doing, Albus.”

“Looking for scisso—” My heart stopped. I swear. It gave one hard thump and then nothing. I froze.

“Have you finally lost it?” the man's voice asked from across the room. Damn that gargoyle! Is it Quirrell? That short guy had a squeaky voice so it couldn’t be—

“He has," another voice answered for me, this time from above my head. Was it the ghosts? They were amazing to see at the feast but I definitely wouldn’t want them near my rooms! “First the crying then the shouting—”

“He cried?” This one was a woman! “He’s not moving now, do you think a Petrificus Totalus? Is there someone else here?” She sounded worried, her voice rising to a near squeak at the end.

“There’s no one here,” someone else soothed. What the hell did he mean there’s no one here, he was! They were! “Relax, Edessa. That’s when I woke, yes, he sat crying for over an hour, right there at the door and look, the chair hadn’t moved so no one came in after.” This voice came from the wall to my left.

Oh.

Portraits.

I started breathing again. How could I forget about them, what else had they seen? When I came in they had been immobile I had not even spent them a thought. All the Headmasters hung on the walls, how could I forget that, and every last one had seen me run around like a headless chicken. For fucks sake, why didn’t they speak up earlier to save me all this embarrassment. Face it, nothing has been going my way ever since I appeared here, was this now going to be my life?

One of them spoke up, his voice the pure gravel of a smoker. “Running about making sparks, don’t forget that,” he scoffed. “I can see into his room.”

“Well he’s certainly not moving now.”

Because you scared the bloody shite out of me, that’s why. I stood crouched over a drawer, hand frozen half way in, and honestly I didn’t want to look up. I was praying to become invisible. Magic don’t fail me now.

“Well he is one hundred and ten years old, that’s long in the tooth for anyone. Senility can be expected.”

“Possession more likely, senility creeps up on you and I am sure we would have noticed,” another said.

“I say it is time we call someone,” yet another voice spoke up, or was it the first? By now they sounded indistinguishable. “McGonagall will do.”

I jerked up. “No!”

“Oh look,”—peering at me over spectacles was a large florid faced man dressed in drab brown robes, his voice acerbic—“the possessed Wizard doesn't want us to call someone. How curious.”

“I am voting we sit back and watch,” a Witch at his side said with a cackle. Next to his portrait was an empty one reminding me they can move about also. What sounded good in the books turned out to be really creepy. I shuddered at the thought of them following me. Watching all I do. “What do we care if he is someone else, I haven’t had this much fun in years.”

“I am not possessed!”

“We wouldn’t expect you to say anything else,” someone said to my left and I twisted around but it could have been any of the three portraits hanging on that wall, all of them looking down their noses at me.

Round and round they went, quibbling over what action to take, and short of burning them—I didn’t see any matches or I swear I would’ve—I wouldn’t be able to stop them whatever they decided. Unable to stand the loud squabbling a moment more, I grabbed my candy bag and wand, giving up on the search, and rushed to the alcove that I was sure led to my bedroom only to find myself in the cauldron room again. Aaargh!

Not for any money in the world was I going to go out there again. I circled the cauldron to the far wall and crouched down with my back against the stone. I couldn’t see any of them from here so I am sure peek-a-boo rules applied. Let them call someone and I will just deny whatever they say. See who calls who senile!

I went through all the jelly babies, the liquorice strips and was well into the thin mints before I got bored. To the side was a long wooden table with assorted jars, next to cutting board and knife. I went to have a closer look. The bookcase had left me very much concerned that something would bite so once I've pushed my spectacles up, I kept my hands well out of the way, firmly clasped behind me.

Herbs. That one was lavender. A bowl of lemons. No eyeballs or bat wings or slugs. One jar had honey. Another was more interesting, thick silvery liquid that swirled in the jar. I stared at it for a long time, waiting for it to stop, nearly putting myself into a trance with it. It looked like something you would gather from unicorns and I spun for myself a little fantasy around it that I am not going to tell you about.

I turned perplexed to the cauldron. Why would he want such a big one? What do you need all that fluid for? I stepped closer for another whiff. Definitely lemon. Was this just where the lemon drops came from? Was that canon or fanon? But how could a lemon drop mixture do this to my beard… I turned back to the table. Lavender. Was Dumbledore making his own hygiene products?

The bubbling fluid when I held my hand over it like you would to test a hot pan, was cold. Feeling braver, I touched the cauldron, fully expecting the tip of my finger to burn, after all there was flames under the pot, but was pleasantly surprised to find it cold too. Huh. Interesting. I finished the thin mints, ignoring the urge to chuck one in. Nothing else to do, I ate. I crunched some boiled caramels. There were four lollipops and I had to put the bag and the wand down to unwrap one, it’s been years since I had them and honestly it was nice to concentrate on something that was familiar. That’s when the brainwave struck.

This might be a lemon drop mixture but I would never know how to finish it and frankly it could be anything since it melted hair. I could just dip the beard in, letting it melt off until I had an even cut, couldn’t I. Who needed scissors now! I tucked the lollipop into my cheek—for this needed concentration—and set to it, internally praising myself for being so smart.

I am an idiot. I melted or vanished, however you want to call it, the beard right left right left right until it reached my chin. By now I was sniffling again, tearfully praying that I would do the Harry Potter thing and grow it back overnight, for there was no other hope for it. The problem I hadn’t figured into the equation was my hair. As long as my beard I could have tucked it into the belt too, but that was before I had mistakenly dipped some into the cauldron. I ended up parting it at the back and gathering both sides to the front, leaning way over the cauldron to give them one last equal dip. Such was my concentration on doing just this one thing right, that I forgot the lollipop in my cheek. The next thing I knew it dropped into the golden liquid with an underwhelming ‘plop’.

Of course I dove after it. I have no brain. My hand reached into the potion that up to now had MELTED everything I put into it, my arm up to the elbow and then the shoulder before I felt something hard and round. I made a grab for it. It slipped through my fingers twice, and by now I was leaning far over the bubbling fluid, but finally I caught it! All I needed to complete the worst day of my life was a push. An unearthly shriek split the air behind me, rendering me nearly deaf, but that was not a concern right then, far worse was yet to come. Talons ripped into my back, wings flapped at my head, a lone feather falling into the potion sizzled to nothing, and the MONSTROUS THING behind me PUSHED. I tumbled into the cauldron head first, the rest of me following seconds after, swallowing as I went. Every time I surfaced I was attacked again, forcing me to duck back into the cauldron, again and again, screaming for help, choking, potion splashing everywhere. (Ever after I would hurl at the mere sight of lemon curd.) Finally, blessedly the cauldron tipped over, catching me under it, and it became both my jail and my shield as talons clanged against the iron.

The night had been too long. All the stress that came with the insert, having spent most of the night awake in Dumbledore’s old body, tiring him out with running about and mini heart attacks where he should have been tucked into bed directly after dinner. It was all too much. I blacked out.

Chapter Text

I could have died. If it wasn’t for the handle, set a bit higher than the rim, the cauldron would have suffocated me while I lay unconscious under it. The handle allowed the rest of the potion to escape and left a thin line between the cauldron and the tiles for fresh air to reach me. Or so I was told by Minerva McGonagall.

She sat next to my bed, holding my hand in both of hers, her face a mixture of awe and exasperation. “Albus. What were you thinking.”

I kept my mouth shut. Bit my tongue and zipped my lips. Someone had done me a favour and put my glasses on, though they kept sliding down. To her left stood Poppy Pomfrey, the Mediwitch, waving her wand about. Spell after spell washed over me, her whole face contorted into a frown. Her magic tickled up my spine and buzzed through my head, it felt like poking your finger at a live wire.

To her right stood Severus Snape. I dared not look at him. Once was enough. Where Minerva was shocked, and Poppy concerned, he seemed to be having a hard time keeping a straight face. I could understand the first two being here but why on earth did they call him? What would I benefit? I had medical support in Poppy and emotional in Minerva who seemed glued to my hand. All I could think was we must be fast friends. He calls me by my name and does not hesitate to enter my rooms—

“Poppy, he is turning red,” Minerva said, clutching my hand tighter. “Should we be concerned?”

Tired, I closed my eyes. I was just waiting for them to leave so I could have the mother of all freakouts but I might be too exhausted even for that. I could probably have slept through to the morning after my blackout, had the tingling magic not woken me up and I struggled against a yawn.

“Poppy!” Minerva called.

Snape’s cough sounded suspiciously like an aborted laugh as Poppy assured my Deputy that I was not croaking. For the second time that night I prayed for invisibility. I tell you, it is starting to be an unhappy trend.

The damn portraits had called them. Both the women were in dressing gowns, Minerva still had her nightcap on and Poppy in turn seemed to think her nurses cap was required, never mind that the red and white cap seriously clashed with the voluminous pink nightgown. Snape, on the other hand, was dressed all in black, his robe still buttoned up to the throat, and he looked as if he had never gone to bed.

From what I was told when I woke to find myself already tucked into my own bed, the portraits had informed them that Fawkes had gone mad and attacked me, that they heard me calling for help. None of the portraits are able to see into that alcove so it was all conjecture on their part and my word against theirs. I only needed a moment of peace to figure out a plan! The three had looked to me to confirm the story and that was when I decided silence was best.

I was going to burn all the portraits. Every last one. If I looked through my lashes, I could see six of them gathered in one painting, squashed into an awkward crush, straining to see around the doorway. They had said nothing about senility, though Dilys Derwent—according to Poppy who paused to give me a telling look, and honestly she need not have bothered for I had not yet a clue who that was—had mentioned possible possession. Half of the spells she was currently throwing at me were testing for that. I am now waiting for the moment she tells them I am an insert. What would they do to me if they knew? What could I do to save myself, especially in my new form?

I’ve been avoiding it but I suppose you’re going to find out anyway. Somehow I have… de-aged. Are you laughing yet? This has been the weirdest day. An hour ago I was a hundred plus year old Wizard with hai—creaky knees, and right this minute Poppy was testing to see if I was three or four. Their money on three.

I currently lay firmly tucked under the lavender smelling covers, dressed in a too big undershirt that one of them had pulled from my closet. Though the robes had not shrunk with me, they had been a wet mess, and apparently dear Poppy had decreed them gone. I don’t know who had done the dressing and frankly I don’t want to know. Every time I thought about it I felt my cheeks heat up yet again and Minerva would breathe a bit faster, calling, “Poppy!”

“I cannot find anything wrong,” Poppy declared at last.

“What do you mean you cannot find anything, Poppy, he is a child! Look at him!” Minerva called agitated. “Everything is wrong with him!”

“No dear. He is a fine and healthy four year old.”

“What about possession,” Snape asked.

“You see before you Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. No one in this room is possessed, we have some excitable portraits, that is all.”

I sagged in relief.

“Then why doesn’t he want to talk?” Minerva kept on.

“I have no idea. He is certainly able to,” Poppy replied.

There was silence. I kept my eyes firmly closed when Minerva called my name. Perhaps if I ignore them, they might go away.

“Look at him,” Snape scoffed. “He is clearly faking it, Minerva, what do you expect, he is a child.”

At this my eyes flew open and I positively GLARED at the man. It is one thing when Minerva said it, for she despaired. He, on the other hand… “I am not a child!”

“You are certainly acting like one,” he countered.

“I’m not!”

He did not say ‘Are too.’ He raised an eyebrow at me and I shrank away from the sharp look that accompanied it, remembering Legilimency with a stomach clench. I felt very much exposed and desperately wanted to pull the blankets over my head and hide away until everything was magically fixed but that would just prove him right.

“When will I turn back,” I turned to Poppy instead. “How will you fix this?”

She looked at me as helpless as I felt. “I’m sorry Albus, I am sure Severus here can make an antidote once you’ve told him more about your potion. Congratulations by the way, this is monumental, the first ever permanent de-aging potion? Why you’ll surely get the order of Merlin.”

“Oh god,” Minerva groaned. “Poppy, can you imagine every last adult suddenly running around as four year olds? What have you done, Albus?”

“I for one have no wish to repeat my childhood,” Severus said. Poppy added a ‘Neither do I’ and Minerva nodded her agreement. They all stared at me.

“If you think I wanted to be four years old you are out of your minds.” Oh my voice! The high tone of a toddler sounded awful, just awful. I fought against crying, my eyes burning hot with the threatening tears, and I pinched my lips together. I certainly wasn’t going to do it in front of them.

Then what happened, Albus?” Minerva asked. “Phineas said Fawkes attacked you? We can’t find him anywhere,” she said. “Why on earth would he do that?”

Who the fuck was Phineas? As to Fawkes, my best guess was the bird knew. Were feathers the same as hair? If he got splashed he might be hopping around somewhere, naked as the day he was born—serves him right. I didn’t have a story yet and if I opened my mouth right now I would cry.

They waited until it became clear I wasn’t going to talk and explain anything and Minerva turned yet again to the Mediwitch, “Poppy!”

“Minerva, Poppy, could I have a word alone with Albus.”

My internal ‘why!’ was echoed by my Deputy.

“I think we can clear this up with a small private chat,” Severus said.

“Really, Severus?” Minerva asked her voice cool. “Albus has no need to hide anything from us.”

“I think it is a good idea,” Poppy spoke up, and shooed her hands at the other woman. “Severus is right, let’s go wait outside, Minerva.”

“Fine.” She dropped my hand and stood up. “We cannot waste time on this nonsense, Albus, we have to plan!” she tried a last time, and when I refused to respond she stormed out, chin raised to high heaven.

Snape shucked his wand out of his sleeve—remembering mine falling out I would love to know how he did that—and waved it at the doorway, muttering something under his breath. “There. No one can hear us now.” He turned to me with a strange smile. “Do you want to go have a look at yourself in the mirror?”

Oh he didn’t. Furious, feeling my blood boiling, I sat up and couldn’t rein in my tongue. “Do you think this is a joke?”

“Not at all. Who are you.”

“What—” My stomach lurched.

“The Albus I know, and Minerva will realize it once she comes to her senses, would never make such a potion.” His gaze sharpened. “Look me in the eyes!”

The wimp in me automatically deferred to the authority in his voice and I looked up into his dark eyes.

"Legilimens!"

The room swayed, everything tilted and I blacked out a second time that night. It was quite pleasant.

I came to with Minerva fervently taking Snape to task for being the worst sort of idiot, using Legilimency on a toddler. Her words. Did he know? Was he going to expose me? I peeked through my lashes. They were standing at the foot of my bed, and both turned to look at me.

“It needed to be done," he defended himself, not looking sorry at all. "He’s been acting odd since dinner."

“Poppy already confirmed that he is Albus! He has the body of a four year old child, Severus, you could have done his mind irreparable harm!”

“I know my craft, Minerva, he only fainted.”

“He only...oh well that’s fine then.”

“Explain Fawkes attacking him,” he countered, sounding unimpressed with her sarcasm.

“We have just word of the portraits to go on, Severus. I very much doubt it happened like that,” said my staunch supporter.

“Minerva. The Albus we know would have been up, flouncing about in his nightshirt, ordering us to bed, and promising he would sort it all in the morning. This one keeps pinching his lips together, looking like he wants to cry! He refuses to tell us anything of value and has spent the last two minutes pretending to be asleep!”

“Because he is also a four year old child!”

“No. I beg to differ. He only looks like a four year old child, he had strong Occlumency shields up which no child would be able to manage,” he said.

I had? Does this mean he hadn’t found me out? What will I do? I dare not admit being an insert, but how else would I explain a supposedly intelligent member of their society dipping himself accidentally into a potion that had just moments before MELTED my beard, diving after a lollipop. By the way, it was nice not to have an itchy chin anymore.

“Albus, we can see you are awake,” Minerva sighed. “Stop fooling around and tell us what happened. Do you remember?”

Amnesia! Oh my word, she is a lovely woman. My eyes flew open of their own accord and I rose up. The trope that solved all troubles—thank you, Minerva, goddess of—

“No.” Snape spat. “Don’t you dare.”

Are you reading my mind? I thought at him.

“No, I am not reading your mind, it is clear as day on your baby face that inspiration has struck, you forget we deal with children every day here, Albus. Don’t you dare claim memory loss!”

I turned to Minerva. “I am sorry,” I told her in my newly minted child’s voice and pushed my spectacles higher up my nose to squint at her, ignoring the greasy bat who was turning out to be no friend of mine. “I don’t remember anything. Who are you?”

Their faces were a treat to behold.

Swaying forward, Snape went nearly apoplectic with rage, his eyes bulging at me. “Nonsense!”

Minerva in contrast turned pale. “Albus?”

“Who’s that?”

She swung to Snape, suddenly a vicious Harpy, and shouted: “Irreparable harm, Severus! See what you’ve done!”

Don’t retaliate, is what my mom had tried in vain to teach me since I was knee high. Which I suppose I am again. If someone smacked me I would soon smack them twice. If my sisters tickled me for a minute I would tickle them for ten. Well, I’m sorry but it was fun to see Snape have a fit and I could imagine him now much more clearly in the Sirius Black debacle. Anyway he started it with the mind whammy, so there. If not for Minerva looking like she was about to cry—Ha! Join me!—I would have let it go on a while longer.

“I’m sorry Minerva, I was just having a bit of fun with…” I flapped my hand at Severus who had stormed out to interrogate the portraits. “I meant I don’t remember anything about Fawkes, I cannot imagine he would ever attack me, are you sure you can’t find him? All I remember is feeling dizzy and then the next thing I woke here in bed with you holding my hand.”

There was a moment where I feared she would bite my head off whole but then she deflated. “This really will not do.” She sank down on the edge of my bed instead, touching pale fingers to her brow. “Now is not the time for fooling around, Albus. We have to plan, you cannot be seen like this.”

“Why not? It’s just magic after all, I am smaller but I am still me. Filius”—I remembered!—“manages just fine.”

“There will be a debate on that. Filius might be short but he still looks like an adult, Albus. Severus would not be the last one to disagree and what if they do decide you are not who you declare yourself to be, the Wizengamot will be up in arms!”

“Not to talk about the old Death Eaters who would love to get their hands on such a potion, or better yet the potion maker. You cannot defend yourself in this state,” Snape said from the door. He turned to Minerva. “See? This is why I say impostor, Minerva. Albus would have already thought of this.”

Honestly this was getting tiring. Did he have Albus on a pedestal or what? Albus this Albus that, it’s enough to make me sick.

“Well what do you propose we do, Severus?” Minerva asked.

“If Poppy is right and this is not going to wear off then we have to hide him until I can make an antidote. I say we send him to Aberforth and cover for him here. It’s not too difficult to say he is out when someone looks for him.”

“Aberforth! No!” I won’t be pushed off on any strange man that supposedly hated me!

“I will not send a child to live in a pub,” Minerva said. I fell a bit more in love with her.

Severus Snape threw his hands in the air. “I thought we decided he was an adult in a child’s body!”

“Be that as it may, for others he will look like a child. Besides, they have a very strained relationship and how well would he be protected there? Hogwarts is the safest place if we fear abduction.”

“I don’t know what the big deal is. I can just stay in my rooms.”

“For the weeks it might take for me to make an antidote? All right, problem solved. Let’s go Minerva. We have an hour until we need to wake up and face the horrors of a new school year.”

“Severus…” she said in a tone, and he visibly sagged.

“Fine. Then he goes with you… a grandchild that you’re looking after. You’re already managing most of the school, we can direct the ministry owls to your apartments and he can continue his responsibilities from there. It’s not as if the owls will let us have his mail anyway, impostor or not.”

“I have too much on my plate to look after a child. Besides, I would need to have had my own children to be able to have a grandchild, where do you propose I get them from.”

“I’m not a child.”

“A nephew then,” Snape said, ignoring me.

“My family is well known, it will not be believed for a moment. No. I think he should live with you.”

“Over my dead body!”

“I am not going to live with him!” I shouted. My new voice made it sound pathetic. Like a child throwing a tantrum. Oh where was that deep voice of… hours ago. All it needed was for me to kick my legs.

“Yes, a secret affair,” Minerva mused. I could have spared my breath for the two of them were engaged in battle and at that moment I did not exist. “Your son has moved in after an unfortunate accident where his mother—”

“No!” It was Severus’s turn to sound like he was throwing a tantrum.

“Yes.” She stood up and spoke with such finality that I for one was immediately convinced my future was with Snape. There was going to be no way to refuse her. “Do not forget, Severus, I am still the Deputy Headmistress and as such I am making this an order.”

“People are not idiots, Minerva. Albus disappear at the same time that a younger Albus pops up? Even if we call him something else they are going to put two and two together.”

“Then Albus will be at breakfast this morning with the two of you,” she said and marched to my bathroom—really these people were very comfortable in my rooms. She came back with a hairbrush. “I am sure you keep some Polyjuice around.”

“I do not have extra room for him, I only have the couch.” Was his last weak kick against the tide.

“He is small. I am sure he will fit.”


While the whole school was gawking at Severus Snape’s new son, while Minerva/Albus was happily munching toast next to us, I fell asleep in my porridge.


Chapter Text

The thing is, I might not survive the six or so years Dumbledore had left before the ring got him. Supposedly wizarding children don’t die off so easily, the bouncing Neville being a good example, but I was in a completely new world where I had no idea even what’s safe to touch. Not that it stopped me. Which is why the dying part came to play. More of that later.

Snape woke me up with a sandwich. “What’s your name,” he barked while I was still groggy, struggling to open my eyes, scrabbling blindly for my glasses.

“Albus.” I had just had a dream where every portrait in the castle hissed Albusss as I passed. The answer came without hesitation. I found my glasses on the low coffee table next to the couch and put them on only to wish I hadn’t. The man stood towering over me, face severe, looking extremely put out at my answer. He clattered a plate and glass down on the table with more noise than was necessary.

“Eat and wake up,” he said. “You can’t sleep the whole day or you will never be able to sleep tonight.”

“I’m sure I will,” I answered just to be stubborn.

“Poppy’s instructions. You’ll be interested to know she gave me a whole list on childcare. According to her you will be grumpy if you do not sleep in a proper schedule and I am not going to put up with a moody child. Eat, and when you are done you can write down your potion, there’s everything you need.” He pointed to a heap of parchment, topped with inkpot and quills. If it wasn’t for the potion part I would have been delighted to have a go at calligraphy with quills. I might not have been a true Potterhead but the books had started a fashion. “Or are you going to pretend you don’t remember?” he broke through my thoughts, curling his top lip.

I should say something to him about his attitude. Real Dumbledore would probably want some respect but my stomach grumbled. I can’t remember how much porridge I had eaten, and besides, he couldn’t prove it before and I doubt anything has changed now so I ignored Snape in favour of inspecting the food he had brought me. Cheese and tomato sandwich. Gah dammit. I picked the tomato slices out and was not about to lick my fingers clean, ew. My hand never reached my clothes though, Snape caught it midway and wiped my fingers with fast, efficient movements into his handkerchief.

“So you did your homework, it still doesn’t mean I believe that you are Albus,” he snapped.

“What?”

“More than one person knows Albus doesn’t eat tomatoes, you will need to try harder than that!”

The fuck? Asshole. Hunger made me bite and chew before I snapped back. “No? You’re the one that needs to try harder, if so many people know about the tomatoes then it was a poor test,”—I swallowed—“Severus.” I took another bite and the food powered my brain. I had the perfect thing to say. I pulled out my most disappointed tone, squeaky voice be damned, “My dear boy, is all this really necessary? I am and will always be me, why won’t you accept it and save us all this fuss.”

Snape reared back, his face a picture that spoke a thousand words and none of them kind. “I will be in class for the rest of the afternoon,” he snarled and swung about with a flare of his robes to storm away, slamming the door behind him.

It was a relief to be alone. My shoulders sagged and I slumped over the plate, taking my time with the rest of the sandwich. The bread was thick grainy slices, it tasted homemade and whoever prepared it had not skimped on the cheese. House-elves I supposed. If I wasn’t enjoying my own company so much I would have tried to call them to ask for more. The drink was a glass of milk which I rolled my eyes at but internally I sang hallelujah that they hadn’t thought pumpkin juice to be healthier, and besides, a cold glass of milk not only staved off left over hunger, but was delicious as well. I did not mind at all.

I took a good look at my dimly lit surroundings. The room was tiny, just big enough for a threadbare sofa, coffee table and a single armchair, all done up in dark greens and browns. The wall behind me was crowded with books very much similar to my new office, but looking musty in this light. The facing wall had an enormous fireplace, big enough for Snape to stand upright in and orange flames crackled, filling the room with a nice and toasty heat. Two doors finished the setup, one into which Snape had disappeared. I went exploring through the other, doing a good job ignoring how strange it felt to have the doorknob eye-height and having to use two hands to turn it.

The first room was an office that must double as brewing station, the cauldron on the table was as big as a cooking pot and currently empty which was just as well. A stack of parchment piqued my curiosity. Summer homework for the fifth years, a Comparative Analysis of Confusing and Befuddlement Draughts. Incomprehensible penmanship that hurt my eyes and half of it didn’t make sense, their thoughts meandering in every direction, did they have to drink the draught before they did the homework? More books against all the walls, the place was turning into a veritable library. A book growled when I tried a closer look and after that I carefully kept my distance. A cabinet full of writing materials. Racks and racks full of jars, a good few that looked like pickled baby animals, others with lidded eyes that turned to watch my doings, and blink at me. I pushed on with a little bit more speed to the only other door at the far end, hairs on my neck rising as I passed. I felt a momentary giddy happiness that I hadn’t inserted into something like The Jewel of the Nile, for I would have made a terrible explorer.

The door led to a bedroom. Doom and gloom yet again, this time in silvers and greens. The lighting everywhere was shite sconces and the dim glow probably hid a truckload of dust. Well not so shite maybe, on closer inspection I saw they were floating unaided above my head and magic couldn’t be called shite.

Possible dust aside, Snape’s bedroom was extremely tidy. I wisely ignored the cabinets and closet—I really didn’t want to know what he would do to me if he found me going through his personal stuff—to pass through yet another door at the far end. Well, all right, I did stop to take in the prerequisite trunk at the foot of the bed in a hands-off sort of way. It looked old, the wood well worn, it had the initials S.S. stamped in brass on the lid, and the brassy handles turned out to be curling snakes. It was everything I thought a Slytherin’s school trunk would look like. Glee bubbled up inside me as it finally hit me. I was in Harry Potter world! The trunk, more than anything else for me, was such a symbol of going to Hogwarts that I spent some time gaping at and examining it as close as I dared without actually opening it, before passing to the next room. (Fine, it was locked, I tried. Kill me.)

Snape’s rooms seemed to be one long row of boxes, each attached to the next. It seemed a stupid way to organise lodgings and I’ve yet to find a kitchen. There were no windows anywhere and I did not need to wonder why the man was so pale. Honestly, if I had a kid in Slytherin dungeons I would complain. We were definitely breaking some fire-safety rules for one.

Finally a bathroom and nothing more. It was as large as the bedroom, with a rusty clawfoot tub where I would have expected a shower. A sink and a bench that doubled for seating and towel rack—ah there you are. A lone mirror in the corner. I made a beeline for it.

The fuck... They were not joking, I looked like a fucking three year old toddler. A dark haired, blue eyed, chubby cheeked toddler with spectacles. At least Poppy had fixed my frames to fit my new size and lowered my prescription until I could see clearly again. They had dressed me in a dark blue robe taken from my own closet and shrunk, this time Minerva’s work. It hung to my ankles and I was still wearing the boots that she had transfigured also, seems Snape didn’t mind shoes on his couch or just didn’t want to touch the impostor, uncaring of my comfort.

This time I did not remove any clothes. There was nothing in this child’s body that I wanted to see. They had shrunk my shorts too and hadn’t that been an embarrassment. I tightened the robe around me and tried to control my breathing. I know—I know, I am getting tired of it too. At some point I expect I will stop crying. You can at least give me a day or two until then. Or does it feel like ages already for you too.

A four year old bladder has much the same urgency as a hundred and ten year old one it seemed, and that’s all you need to know about the next bit. Any ablutions now and in the future while I still inhabited this tiny frame is going to be my business and mine alone.


The best thing about Snape’s rooms was no portraits. Not even a still life. Just to be sure I rounded them once more. None.

Back in the sitting room and feeling bold without supervision I kneeled down next to the coffee table to take up the smallest of the ivory coloured quills. The nib was a sharply cut point that pricked a hole in my palm when I tested it and I sucked the blood away. The parchment felt like normal paper, looked a bit yellowish and smelled dry, a bit like dusty cabinets and nothing like what it was really made of…surely Wizards don’t use animal skin anymore? There is so much to learn I was going to have to make a list. You would think Snape being a teacher would consider my smaller hands and give me an easier ink pot to open for it was just by the grace of god that the whole thing did not spill when I finally managed to twist it hard enough, jerking it wildly. It was a boring black and not the colour changing one Harry had found on his first shopping trip and I felt strangely let down.

I dipped the quill in the ink and watched the black liquid dripping down back into the small pot. That’s another thing Potterheads were in contention about. The use of archaic quills and ink when surely a fountain pen would do as well if ballpoint was out of the question or why not a pencil? Some say magical or whatnot particles in the ink will erode any other metals and clog the nibs where others contend that Wizards were stuck in time and their old fashioned ways. I wish I had someone to ask. Can you imagine what would happen if I asked Snape? The man would have the mother of all fits and his very last dying words would be ‘Aha!’

I put the quill to parchment. The idea that I would be able to write down the potion was laughable but fear not, I did have a plan there. For now, in my best calligraphy, I penned:

I am Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

The quill felt too large and unwieldy in my small fingers and left the tips of three black but on the writing itself I don’t think I did a bad job. I let the parchment roll back up and sighed. It’s probably a very bad idea to start a list of things I wanted to learn. The internet age has taught us very well don’t write down anything you wouldn’t want read. Thing is I was going to need to know a lot of things and very fast if I wanted to pass as Albus, but how? Best I could do was a little mental list.

Things to learn.
What is parchment made of. Please don’t let it be animal skin.
Why quills and not pencils or pens or fountain pens or any damn thing that didn’t turn the tips of pudgy baby fingers black.
Everyone's names.
Why was there no kitchen and how do I get a snack...

It was boring being alone. I gathered up some courage and peeked through the door Snape had left through to find an office. Why would the man need more than one? This room had two doors, one with frosted glass set into the upper half and I crept closer to hear his voice drone behind it. Class then. There was a keyhole to peek through and I was just the right height for it. I caught a glimpse of students sitting behind cauldrons before a black shape obscured everything and I hurried nervously back to the sitting room not bothering with the second door. Heart beating, breathless, I couldn’t keep myself from giggling. This was so awful! I swallowed a half hysterical laugh, gathering my nerves. This time I could quite proudly say I did not cry. Buck up buttercup, I might yet.

Boring boring boring, I wish they had a television. I missed my laptop. Youtube. If I had youtube I could watch a video on how parchment was made and need not bother asking anyone. Molly had a wireless didn’t she? Perhaps Snape had one in his other office, it would do no harm to check.

Five minutes later had me balancing on his chair, standing on tiptoe on the armrests to reach a jar full of hundreds of tiny lidless eyeballs that rolled as one in the direction of movement.

"Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Ha! Contrary to what you might think by now, I am not stupid, I read. Eye of newt was probably mustard seed, in fact most of the ingredients in witches brews were just names for herbs, most likely to sound scary to deter other people from practicing their witchcraft. Not in Harry Potter world. In here when they say eyes they mean eyes, it was awful, gory and fascinating! It needed exploring!

I grazed the jar with the tips of my fingers. Nearly there, just a stretch more… maybe step up on the shelf there…

The crash was phenomenal. The whole rack tipped, six shelves filled to the brim with jars came tumbling down—the little eyeballs flying over my head, I swear I saw the tiny pupils dilating, turning en masse to give me a perplexed look as I fell—flew!—in the opposite direction, before they shattered against the far wall. The ringing of exploding glass echoed through the small room long after the last shard fell.

Silence.

I found myself under the desk with a banged up elbow and fast blistering hand, all around me carnage. He was going to kill me. I'm going to be one dead little Insert before the day was done. Holy mother of… The smell!

Face the music or run?

I ran.

Chapter Text

Shards crunched into the thick soles of my boots. Through the only untested door, into the hallway and in a vague direction of ‘up’. That’s where my feet took me.

Did you know a four year old can speed? I had forgotten that. My fingers felt clumsy on doors and quills and perhaps now to be included jars—or should I count the whole rack?—and I needed to give myself a little boost up on couches and chairs, but there was something great about my legs. I could take flight with this speed. They pumped up and down with endless energy and three hallways over, up two flights of stairs and down another long passage and I wasn’t even short of breath! Even before I had inserted I had started to creak and come-on who can jog up flights of stairs like they were nothing. This was amazing and for a while there I forgot why I ran, skidding down hallways and sliding around corners like I was an Olympic toddler. I would have been great in The Powerpuff Girls only I don’t think it was ever a book. A shame. Anyway. I’m never going to walk anywhere again!

“Where are you going, little Albus!” a portrait called and remembering my dream I picked up a bit of speed.

All good things must come to an end though. (Which needn’t be so sad, most good things can just be repeated, go again on that roller coaster, eat another slice of that cake.) My hand started to ache like crazy and I slowed down to examine it. Shite. Bubbling green blisters on purple skin, the world tilted a bit and I did the one thing I excel at. I hid my hand in my pocket. Oh, an awful thought sprung to mind, oh holy hell what if it’s the same thing that killed Real Dumbledore…? Look, I know it was a cursed ring but what was the curse, could it have come out of a jar? Am I going to die now too? Oh the irony if I die before Snape gets to kill me!

“What are you doing here, little Albus?”

“Oh fuck off,” I told the portrait and swung around to give him a good piece of my mind for following me like a creep!

“Excuse me?” The affronted voice came not from the wall but a real human being a few feet away. At first I thought him a Professor, but no, it was just the toddler perspective that messed it up a moment.

“Sorry, I thought you were a portrait!”

Percy Weasley. I wouldn’t have recognized him if he hadn’t introduced himself. Still the actors were the first faces I pictured with the names. He was tall, which doesn’t say much because even the first years were tall for me now, slim, had carroty coloured hair and wore spectacles similar to mine. Little golden frames that he pushed up on his long nose to see me better.

“I’m a prefect, you know,” he informed me at the end of his introduction, sounding a bit snotty, looking down his nose at me.

“I know.” I gazed up at him and smiled, he had always been my favourite MC in fanfics and don’t ask me why, so I didn’t care one whit how he sounded. Remembering all the teasing he got when he became a prefect, I tried a kindly, “I can see the shiny badge, is it nice?”

“Being a prefect?”

I nodded. My neck was going to fall right off if I had to look up at everybody.

There was a moment in which I thought he would raise his chin and say something he might have thought profound, but he didn’t. Instead he grinned wide and happy. “It is lovely, I get to boss everybody around. Well, everyone except my brothers. Why are you in the halls?”

“I don’t have class. Why are you in the halls.”

“Funny. I am doing a round for stray little firsties, they always seem to get lost in the first few days so we try to help them. Do you need help back to your dad?” He crouched down, which was a relief, but now I could see his spotty chin.

Things to learn.
Parchment.
Quills.
Everyone's names.
Where to get a snack.
Do Wizards not have anything for spots or are their standards of facial care much more relaxed. Oh and teeth! And why are we wearing glasses!

“Albus?” he repeated, worried, waving his hand in front of my face. “You with me? Do you need help getting back to your dad?”

“Oh definitely not. If you want to help you can direct me to a secret passage so I can hide better.”

“I would rather take you back to your dad.”

“I would really rather you didn’t,” I said, matching his serious tone. “Besides, I don’t think I fall under your jurisdiction.” Gah. My baby tongue struggled with all the syllables making me sound like a true tot. I should probably tone it down, how do four year olds even speak?

“Good one, smarty pants,” Percy said with a smile and I relaxed again. “Jurisdiction or not, the halls are not always safe, especially for the young and wandless, so you might as well give up because I am not going to leave you alone. Want to tell me then why you are hiding?”

“No,” I said, and just in case he didn’t take me seriously I shook my head also. “Nope,” I said again, popping the p in classic fanfic way. That’s a terrible thing to read but surprisingly fun thing to do. I don’t think JKR did it in any of her books and it nearly made me laugh out loud thinking that it might...pop up...in my book now. “Nooo.”

I must have looked tragic, trying to keep a straight face, for his voice suddenly sounded very sympathetic. “Trouble then?” he asked.

“Do you have a time-turner?”

“Ah no. But I do know some useful spells and it sometimes helps to just talk about things that bother.”

It was worth a try. I removed my left hand from my pocket and stuck it under his nose, the skin itching again near immediately. “Can you fix this?”

We both looked at my purple hand, fresh green blisters bubbling up. I was going to barf.

To Percy’s credit he did not turn a hair. “Oh good job sticking that in your pocket,” he praised me in the universal let’s-mollify-the-toddler tone. “That was very smart. Put it back—”

“Why?” Hiding your injury was smart? Truly this world was weird. “Why is it smart.” This was really frustrating not knowing anything. “Why should I put it back.”

“Because pockets have Keep-safe charms, right?”

“Huh?”

He explained, carefully reaching out to put my hand back for me as he did so. It turns out that Wizarding robes were amazing. Pockets made by a good tailor could hold nearly ten times their volume, and had stasis charms so no parent would ever have to find anything yucky in the wash—his words—making my hand hurt less when I had hid it. The cloth of my robes and leather of my boots were made impermeable to all kinds of hexes and potions and that’s the reason it was literally still spotless. A thing I hadn’t even noticed.

“We’ll go to Madam Pomfrey, she’s the Mediwitch here, she’ll fix you up—she can just about fix anything,” Percy said. “Are you good to walk? It’s a bit far.”

Yeah, no. "I don’t want to go to her, thank you. I thought you knew spells?”

“I do. I can fix nosebleeds and cuts quite good, and I have some Bruise balm for bumps, my roomie gets loads of those in Quidditch. I also know how to reverse most hexes and pranks. I am quite proficient in those, if I may say so myself." He preened and puffed his chest up. "Why don’t you want to go to her?”

“She’s going to”—worry/fuss/laugh at me, pick one for I don’t know her yet—“tell my dad.”

“Probably not. She is quite good at not asking things.”

“Why. She should ask things and tell parents.” This was something that really bothered me when I read the books, no one ever called the parents when the kids were petrified or at any other time that I know of. “If it was my kid I would want to know.”

Percy Weasley just looked at me, understandably perturbed with my double standards.

“I still don’t want to go to her,” I said, not caring.

“I will show you one secret passage after you’ve seen Madam Pomfrey, how’s that.”

“Show it to me before.” For I have fast legs, Mister Weasley, and I did not say it’s a deal.

He eyed me speculatively but stood up anyway, dusting his knees. “All right. Let’s go.”

Two steps down the hall he held out his hand and I nearly broke my neck right off to glare up at him, love or no love there was limits! “I’m not going to hold your hand!”

“Chocolate.”

“What!?”

“Stop shouting and have some chocolate, you little snot nosed twat. I don’t want to hold your hand either.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. Percy Weasley had just called me a tw—well you heard him! Tears clogged my nose and misery tightened my throat, I struggled to think.

He stopped also, his hand still stretched out towards me, in it a small golden box with a little plastic window through which I could see a chocolate frog.

I didn’t want anything from him if he was going to break my heart and call me names but oh I really truly wanted my first chocolate frog to be from him, he was my very first book crush and it would just be perfect if he hadn’t just called me a… “I’m not a twat, you are!” I snapped at him and grabbed the box before he could change his mind.

“I apologize,” he said while I struggled to put it in my other pocket, hampered in doing it with one hand. “I have six siblings and we are always calling each other names, I did not think you might not be used to it.”

“We’ve only met two minutes”—There, finally in. I stuck my hand in my pocket and held it tight. Safe.—“ago, and it is too short a time to be so familiar. For instance, I wanted to ask you if there’s spells for spots or not when I saw your chin, but I didn’t, did I? These things should wait until we know each other longer than a minute, even a day would have been better. Good manners!”

“My apologies, Master Snape,” Percy said with a small bow, nearly giving me a heart attack thinking Snape behind me, making me twist about. I couldn’t figure out if he was laughing at me or not for his face was carefully blank when I turned back, hot faced myself, and the twinkle in his blue eyes could be from the glasses. “You are right, I acted much too familiar," he said. "Shall we go, then?” He swept his hand out, motioning down the hall like a butler.

I balked. “You said secret passage.”

“So I did, it’s around the corner. Come along then, I still have to return to class.”

The earlier levity was gone and I trudged by his side, unsure if it was my fault or his. Had I overreacted? We rounded the corner and he stopped at the side of an armour, reached out and shook its hand. It swung aside with a harsh creaking noise that could wake the dead. How was that secret! A black hole appeared in the castle wall, one in which I would fit easily but Percy would have to crouch.

“In you go, I’ll be right behind you.”

“No.”

“No?”

I was four years old, a veritable tiny tot that just took candy from a stranger and was about to follow him through a dark passage that led to who knows where. I saw the movie. I took a step back. A quick glance showed no portraits and an empty hall, no one to hear me if I scream…

Percy shook the armour’s hand a second time and the whole thing screeched shut again, with a nails-on-a-blackboard level of pain. “In case you were curious it leads straight to the infirmary." Oh well played, sir. "That’s probably why no one has oiled it, I doubt it’s used much. We can walk there, all right?” he said, and turned back to the passage, ever so casually not looking if I will follow. I followed. What else could I do?

We traversed one long hall in silence.

“Thank you for the chocolate.”

“You’re welcome.”

Another hall.

“I’m sorry I shouted at you.” I scuffed my boots, kicking the stone floor.

“You needn’t be," he answered kindly. "I was wrong to call you names, in fun or not. I’ve given it some thought and would probably not have done so had you not told me to fuck off—”

“I thought you were a portrait.”

“Yes, I know. Like I said, it gave me a false sense of what would be an acceptable way to converse with you and I need to apologise also.”

I sighed, if I wanted to fix this—and I do, oh I do—then maybe a bit of honesty was needed. “I may have exaggerated," I admitted shame faced, with some syllable trouble again. "I thought you were serious that’s all, I’ll be okay if you call me a twat now. ”

“Yea?” He slowed his walk. “What if I called you a booger face.”

I would hate that. I kept my hands firmly in my pockets in order not to swipe at my nose, thinking fast. “As long as everybody else don’t start to call me that. Do you think they will? You being a prefect and all it might set a trend…”

“You’re right. I’ll just call you Albus, unless you prefer Master Snape?” The last a clear tease.

“No! Albus is fine, Albus is great, thank you.” I nearly tripped over myself in happiness that all was good again between me and my favourite Weasly, smiling from ear to ear. Oh gah I am just embarrassing myself now. To cover my idiocy I said the first thing to come into my mind. “What is parchment made of?”

“Animal skin.”

No!

By the time we reached the infirmary he had explained in fair detail why we use quills. It was indeed a long way and we hadn’t even touched on my next question. Our Percy was quite pedantic, that was no lie, but I did not complain. I had just realised I could ask him anything I wanted and he would just think me a curious four year old, not shout ‘Impostor!’. He was in his element and internally I stuck my tongue out at his family for not supporting him better, something I will rectify! After Quirrell.

“Mister Weasley,” Poppy greeted Percy when he stepped into her office. “What can I do for you.”

“I brought you a little patient, Madame.” He stepped aside to show me.

“Albus?”

“P—Hiii.” I gave her a mini wave.

“Is everything all right?” she asked concerned, rising from behind her desk.

I prepared to run. “Yea, yes. We were just visiting...”

“Be brave.” Percy Weasley whispered from the side of his mouth and winked at me.

How could I not be now? My stomach gave a delicious twist. Hating him a little bit for having this influence over me, I pulled out my left hand for her scrutiny.

“Oh dear. Whatever were you doing, Albus. Come along then. You may return to class, Mister Weasley, we will manage from here.”

“I will wait outside to walk him back, Madame.”

She eyed me speculatively. “Perhaps that’s a good idea,” Poppy agreed and shooed him out. Once the door closed behind him she turned to me, hands in her sides. “Right then. What have you done, dear.”

Ah yeah. Time to be adult again. “Mister Weasley has assured me that our Mediwitch asked no questions. Don’t fail him now, Poppy. Can you fix it?”

She could. She still made me say what caused it, under the pretext that she needed to know what ointment to put, and only afterwards had I realized she had already started smoothing on the pink salve while I spilled all.

“Really, Albus,” she laughed as the blisters disappeared under her ministrations. “Are you going to need saving from Severus?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Poppy. The day I cannot handle Severus is yet to arrive.”

Not ten minutes later she handed me over to Percy and we were back in the halls.

“Serious business now, Albus. I don’t mind missing history but next up is Transfiguration, and Professor McGonagall will annihilate me if I am not on time. I’m going to run you down to your dad, okay?”

“You can go to class, I will be fine by myself.”

“How about I’ll answer more of your questions on the way, would you like that?”

He was good. I nearly went for it but… Snape. “I can walk you to the class while you answer,” I countered.

At this Percy kneeled down next to me again giving me a second look at his spots. “Why don’t you want to go back to your dad.”

Fine. Let’s see if you want to go back to him. “I accidentally broke all his specimen jars and would rather not be confronted about it.”

“Goodness.” Horror flashed over his face but he did a good job containing it to give me a sympathetic shoulder pat. “And you’re scared of punishment. Do you think he will hurt you?”

That hadn’t occurred to me. Dare I say yes so Percy Weasley won’t insist I go back? Bigger question was would Snape hurt Albus Dumbledore? Definitely not. Does he think I am Albus Dumbledore? Definitely not. “You probably know him better than I do. You tell me.”

“I don’t think so. He might look a bit grumpy sometimes but I think you’re safe.”

“That’s heartening to know, Mister Weasley,” Snape said behind me, sounding dry as dust.

“Sir!” Percy jumped up.

As for me, I took off down the hall at maximum speed. I was about to do a zig zag in case he threw a Leg-locker curse or worse at me, when I ran into an invisible wall, bounced off, and hit the floor. Which felt as soft as a pillow. Snape stopped next to me, wand out.

“Going somewhere, Albus?”

“Seems not.”

“What were you doing with Poppy.”

“I burned my hand and she fixed it,” I said, going for honesty. What use to hide it if he could just ask Poppy.

He frowned something fierce. “Can I trust you to walk back or do I need to carry you.”

“You will really carry me?”

He bent down to examine both my hands a second, gripping and turning my pudgy digits with his long slim ones, before he scooped me up as easy as pie and dumped me over his shoulder, ignoring my surprised yell. Behind him Percy Weasley stood gaping at us.

Snape swung about and now I had only the empty hallway as view. “Continue on, Mister Weasley.”

“Yes, Professor.” He hesitated, though, I heard a scuffle of feet. “Sir, if I may—”

“No you may not.” We passed him at a steady clip. Under me, Snape sighed, “Go back to your class, Mister Weasley, I assure you young Albus will survive unharmed.”

Once the kid was out of sight I felt it safe to complain, and kicked my feet. “I didn’t actually mean you should carry me, your shoulder is very bony, you know?”

“I know.”

“So will you let me down?”

“No, this way is faster and I don’t have to run after you if you try to escape.”

“Poppy called you, right?”

“Poppy never calls, you would know that.”

Gah. “We’ve never had a four year old here.”

He sped up. I sulked over his shoulder. I didn’t want it to be faster. I wanted it to be slow and if I was walking I could drag my feet… We were in the dungeons before I knew it, and back into the rooms he dropped me unceremoniously onto the couch to loom over me with his hands firmly on his hips.

“Are you ready to tell me who you are?” Severus asked.

“I am myself.”

“But Weasley knows me better than you do.”

“Oh? Did you want me to admit to him I am his Headmaster? That I've known you since you were eleven? Such a little snot nose you were. Quite the tw-scamp.”

A tiny tick started in his left eye but he ignored my little bit of fun to hiss: “What I wanted was for you to stay in these rooms.”

“Bully for you, you should have said.”

“You don’t even talk like Albus!”

Fuck fuck fuck. Fake it. “Yes. I am well aware of that. If I am going to pretend to be a child until we have solved this unfortunate issue, I cannot pontificate like a centenarian, Severus. It would sound odd enough to raise suspicion. Though Weasley seemed to think it was precocious."

“I am starting to think you can turn the school on its head without raising suspicion. You’ve certainly got Minerva and Poppy on board! Shall we discuss the mess you’ve left here before you ran away? That seems to be a very childish thing also, were you pretending all on your lonesome here?”

“I happen to think it was quite sensible.” If he wanted me to be wordy I could oblige, and I had enough time over his damn bony shoulder to have thought something up. I pursed my lips. “My apologies, dear boy. Your collection was too interesting for little old me, I forgot my new size and… things fell.” I shrugged and settled deeper into the couch, affecting an air of calm. “Since I know very well that you would not appreciate being bothered in class, I went for a walk in order not to wait in the fumes, making a little detour at Poppy's.” See? If I have time to think I can make a good story, these hallways are long!

“And that is why you ran away from me in the halls,” he scoffed.

“All an act for young Weasley.” I shrugged, feeling very proud of myself. Do you remember the Christmas hats and Real Dumbledore acting the silly goose whenever he could? Don’t tell me he would not grab at the chance to play the child if opportunity presented and Severus Snape should know it! “I must say I find being a child quite invigorating, do you know how easy this body can run?” I swear I FELT MY EYES TWINKLE. “It’s a shame to let such energy go to waste.” There he went again with that face. I pulled my own at him. “Do you not have class, Severus?”

“Do you not have a potion to write down, Albus?”

“Why do double work? It’s in my rooms. I will fetch it tomorrow.” Let us bow our heads a moment in silent prayer that Dumbledore was a record keeper. He certainly had enough paperwork stacked on his desk. Ah well, things could always be mysteriously ‘lost’, hey I can blame it on Quirrell!

“We will fetch it after dinner.”

“Which is still very far off, kindly organise me a snack before you go.” I flapped my hand at him and watched his eyes do their best to pop out. He should hire me, no need to dissect any newts, I can just flap my hand at them and snip... I told him so.

“You are impossible!”

“Food!” I called after his disappearing back, not really expecting him to listen. Nevermind, I had a frog!

The pockets kept the contents unsquashable—Percy’s words—and the little box had not been dealt any damage with my rough treatment. I set my treat on the coffee table and knelt next to it, examining the frog. It seemed lifeless. Did JKR have it wrong? That’s going to be bloody fucking dissapointing, I tell you. Fuck my life. With a sigh I pried open the flap. A chocolate frog bounced against my face, tiny fingers and feet scrabbling for purchase before it LEAPT.

It hit the wall and I scrambled after.

I learned I would probably never be a seeker. I learned that tired running legs can easily have a little bit more energy to climb furniture if for a good cause. The frog bounced all over the room and gave me a merry chase.

“Nooo!” I shouted when the door opened and the frog saw its escape, aiming at it with a magnificent jump.

Right onto Severus’s hook nose. He dropped a tray to slap a hand over the confection, plucking me mid-air out of my own leap with his other.

Albus!

Below my swinging legs the tray floated sedately above the ground, not a drop of my tea spilled, but I had no time for Severus Snape and his wonderful feats.

Don’t let him go!

Chapter Text

We didn’t go to my office that night. I fell asleep in my soup while still eyeing the custard tart, and woke up on the couch, Snape shaking my shoulder.

Breakfast was in the Great Hall and only half of the school was staring at me today. Snape hoisted me into a chair next to what looked like a mountain of brown leather topped with a bush, and I would have fallen right off again if Severus hadn’t reached out and steadied me. Fuck me. A giant. He was huge! Nothing had prepared me for such a huge human being!

“What?” Snape frowned settling next to me. “What did you say?”

“Nothing.” Note to self, some people have sharp ears. “I’m hungry.”

The mountain turned to look down on me. “Will yeh be introducing me to yer little one, Professor Snape?”

“Hagrid, Albus, Albus, Hagrid,” Snape said, scooping scrambled eggs into my plate following it with buttered toast. He paused, “That will be Mister Hagrid to you,” he corrected with a funny smile before pushing a glass of what was clearly milk—thank god—over to me.

“Aww everyone calls me Hagrid, t’would feel odd if ye didn’t. How’d ye like the school, little Albus?”

It seems I was going to have to accept the diminutive in front of my name. “It’s nice.” Snape hadn’t given me any bacon and the tray was well out of reach by his side. To his open disgust I stood up on the chair to reach over him. He tsked at me. To get him back I grabbed his neck in a bear hug, nearly sticking the bacon in his eye, and told Hagrid how much I loved being here with my daddy. On his other side Minerva choked in her tea. Oh this was going to be fun!

Teasing Snape turned into a delicious little game that whiled away breakfast. By the last bite I had Hagrid believing I adored the man and thought him the best father ever. I also had a standing invitation to visit the giant and his menagerie any time I wanted, which I was quite looking forward to. This was the year of the dragon, wasn’t it? The only thing that marred my fun was the sight of Quirrell talking to some students. I really needed to start a To Do list.

My wrist firmly in his grasp Snape dragged me back to his class where a row of students had already gathered. He ordered them into the room and pulled me ahead through to his study.

“I am glad you had your fun, Albus, now it is my turn. You are to stay in the rooms and don’t touch anything.”

With that he gave me a final push and closed the door between us with a sharp snap. Asshole.


His mistake was not locking the outer door and thinking I am a dog that will listen to ‘stay’ when there was a whole castle to explore. Have I said asshole yet? Asshole. Still, I waited patiently until I could hear his voice drone through the classroom door before I slipped out the other.

“Not running today then, little Albus?” The wall asked and I turned to find a large portrait of a witch and wizard peering down at me.

“Why are you following me?”

“We expect some fun,” the witch said, smiling not unkindly. “Are you off anywhere special?”

“No.” And I cannot stay here and chitchat, Snape could miss me at any time. I couldn’t very well tell the gossipy portraits where I was off to, for Real Albus would know which direction to take, so I told them loftily to mind their own business and sped up.

From the dungeons to the great hall I went uncontested, everyone seemed to be in class. From there I retraced my steps with Minerva our first night, and soon came to the ugly gargoyle.

“Twizzlers.”

In Dumbledore’s office every portrait crowded forward to see me. I ignored them and their calls and made a beeline for the potions room. There was something I needed to see. I remember grabbing it when I nearly drowned and it kept nagging at my mind. Keeping a wary eye out for angry phoenixes I entered the room.

The huge cauldron was upright but empty. The stone floor felt sticky under my boots, but other than that you would never think anything strange had happened here. At the far wall I found the paper bag full of candy undamaged. Not what I was looking for, but my sweet tooth made me quickly pocket the leftover candy before searching further.

I found it under the bookcase, right next to the lollipop that started it all, and a hand closed around my ankle at the exact same time as I grabbed for it. Excuse me if I screamed.

“Dear god, Albus since when do you swear like that,” Severus Snape asked once he had me out, kneeling in front of me, keeping tight hold of my arms.

“Since you decided to frighten the life out of me! Why on God's earth did you do that!”

“I thought you had a mishap.” For the first time he looked abashed.

“What?”

“I thought you fell and were stuck, Albus. Excuse me if recent events had me consider that an option.”

“Then you call out and ask, you don’t just grab a person…!” It was safe in my pocket and I needn’t bluster anymore. Still, I wish I had more time, there were other things I needed from Real Albus’s rooms.

“What were you doing down there.”

I held the lollipop aloft and watched any last feelings of guilt at my rough treatment disperse.

“You made me leave my class to come find a child who was just after a lollipop?” he asked, enunciating every word with utmost care.

“No one told you to follow me, Severus.” I pulled myself up to my full three feet something. “You forget yourself. I am not a child.”

“How can you say that when everything you do is so childish, Albus!” He grabbed my hand that still clutched the dusty sweet and held it aloft in front of my face. Exhibit A, I suppose. “I told you to stay in the rooms!”

Instinct wanted me to cower from his loud voice but my brave declaration to Poppy was still fresh enough to make me stand fast. “My dear boy, since when am I to be ordered about?”

“Since you became so small that anyone can pick you up and carry you off! Have some sense, Albus, it just needs one portrait to spread the word and we’ll have no way to keep you safe.”

“The portraits are loyal, you exaggerate.”

“And you underestimate their stupidity.” He stood up. “I cannot keep you safe if you don’t listen to me. Fine. Where’s your formula so I can get started on the antidote.”

Fuck if I knew. “You’re the one that wants it. You find it.” The lollipop might be beyond eating, it had been in the potion right? But I already drank the potion so that might not matter, more worrying was all the fluff stuck to it. I ignored him to pull what looked like a feather from Fawkes off it.

Above me Snape swore, then, without even a by your leave he grabbed the candy out of my chubby little hands and vanished it before stalking off to search the rooms. “I can wring your little neck,” he hissed over his shoulder.

“What a silly thing to say. Soon I will be my rightful age again and you’ll remember all these threats against your headmaster with shame.”

I followed him like a little tail, decidedly not helping. True I would also not like to be a four year old but it might be better than being a hundred. I was willing to not worry about it. I did pay careful attention to the places he searched though, for I wanted something else, something that might help this Insert in the troublesome times ahead. This was Harry Potter world, after all. Trouble was a given.

He even searched the bathroom. I idled after and grabbed up the toothbrush no one had thought to bring me. I did a good job in convincing myself that this body was the same one that had used the toothbrush before so I should be fine. Maybe I can run it under hot water first. There didn’t seem to be toothpaste, though, and I hadn’t seen anything down at Snape’s either, but his teeth were fine. In fact, I’ve been paying attention and everyone’s teeth seemed fine, all nice and straight and pearly white. It seemed the weird teeth that the wizards had in the movies was a JKR addition to the world, do you remember Flint’s? I could never understand that. Magical people with wonky overbites—where’s Percy when you needed to ask a question!

“Found it.”

What? “You did?”

He held it aloft, satisfaction oozing from his pores. Damn. Seems it was rolled up, fallen behind the sink. Hidden? Of all the places—what the hell, Dumbledore.

“Let’s go, Albus,” Snape interrupted impatiently from the door. “I still have a class to teach.”

Think, think! Ah! “You go ahead, my boy. I have some correspondence I still have to finish.” Brilliant, if I have to say so myself!

“Have you not listened to anything, I said?” Severus snapped and stormed to my office where he furiously waved his wand about. Every last scroll and paper whirled up from my desk and flew with military precision into a leather satchel. I thought it would never fit but I had forgotten again. Magic. “You can do this in our rooms,” Snape argued, “it will keep you out of trouble, and tonight you will see Poppy again, mark my words! There’s something seriously wrong with you, if you are Albus—since when am I your boy!”

Shit. Fanon! Seems something that was once a pleasure will be getting me into frequent trouble now.

I did not move quick enough for Master Snape and for the second time in so many days he picked me up and carried me to the dungeons.

I protested of course. “Let me down or I will shout.”

“Shout away. They’ll just think my son is throwing a tantrum. I might even get some sympathy in this place.”

He carried me past his class, every last kid’s head bent over their cauldron, not even an eye peeking at us, and I was dumped in his office, the satchel thrown down next to me. “Will you stay where I put you?”

“I might. If I had a snack.”

He growled at me.

“And not just one sandwich either, I am a growing boy!” I shouted after his retreating back. His growling had reminded me of Sirius, yet another thing in the long list that I had to sort. I needed a list.

Snape stormed out to his classroom to return moments later with one ham and cheese sandwich and the ever present glass of milk. I might have to reconsider my love for milk soon. Anyway, I really want to know where he got it from but damned if I will ask. Did he have a pantry there?

The plate refilled as soon as I picked up the second slice, nearly making me tumble from the chair in shock. Once I ate my fill I had a right good time stacking the desk end to end full of sandwiches before I accepted, yes, it was an Endless Sandwich plate. Amazing. I stashed a few in my pocket and left the rest for whoever was going to clean up, feeling a bit guilty about the waste, but what was done was done. It was already slipping from my mind, as I turned away.

I scarpered.

I didn’t promise to stay after the snack, did I? Snape should have had some forethought to lock the outer door, really he had only himself to blame.


I had no clear goal in mind. I still hadn’t finished my business in the office but that was probably the first place Snape would look so it could wait. I decided to explore and took off in a little more purposeful jog than the day before, watching where I went.

A bell rang and I dodged students, no one thinking to stop me but I had no problem stopping them. I wanted to see the library and the Grand Staircase, not having seen either the day before, and soon got directions to both.

The stairs filled me with honest to goodness awe. Multiple staircases moving from platform to platform some creaking slowly while the very next would swing with speed that made robes flap. All the while students rushed up and down, the majority looking like they knew exactly where they were going, taking it in stride when a stairway would suddenly turn about and let them off in the opposite direction they were aiming at. It was a madhouse and I loved it. I spent a good amount of time running up and down, aiming for the fastest ones until it must have tired of me for it finally dropped me off in a hallway and refused to pick me up again.

For a minute there I had a scare, remembering Harry and co. being dropped off on the third floor corridor, but it soon became apparent that I was on the Library’s level. A student carrying a stack of books higher than himself the clue. I couldn’t see his tie behind the books but I took a fair guess he would be a Ravenclaw.

Madam Pince stood firmly in my way. Behind her was the library, huge vaulted ceilings, an incredible cathedral filled with books and for once JKR had got it right, there must be hundreds on hundreds of rows, so much knowledge! “No, you may not enter. The Library is for students only, not for little children with sticky paws.”

I stuck my hands behind my back. “It’s not!” I only had a few toffees, you needed energy in this place where everything was so damn far from everything else and so far I haven't seen any bathroom signs or I would probably have gone to wash my hands. Maybe. Come-on there's more important things, right? Being so close to heaven, just to be denied entry, I lost my cool a bit and stamped a foot. “I demand you let me in! Do you know who I am?!”

I was thinking Dumbledore, forgetting myself for a moment there, but she pinched her whole face into one big sour wrinkle and told me otherwise. “You are little Albus Snape, a dirty little motherless snake that’s not welcome here,” she hissed. “You will take not a step further.”

My ears rang, my vision became unexpectedly hazy, and I struggled to breathe—was she hexing me? Was this how I was going to die? Only two days?!

“I’ll take him, Madame,” someone said, their voice sounding far off and I did not struggle against the hand that steered me by my head, out and away from the woman who had just called me a motherless snake.

It was Percy. Unlike me he could differentiate between tears and dying, which was just as well because I couldn’t manage anything at that moment. He took me to a secluded alcove and seemed well versed in supervising a crying fit, and I must say, being hugged and cuddled on someone’s lap was much nicer than doing it alone behind closed doors.

“I just wanted to see the books!” I wailed against his school robes, smearing snot on his tie.

“I know.” He hugged me tighter. “Books are amazing.”

“I’m not a m-m…”

“Of course not. That was a very mean thing to say. Shh.” He patted my back. “Don’t worry about it, I have two little brothers that will prank her for you, shh.” He patted and soothed and told me all about Fred and George who were just to be pointed in a direction and they will make sure justice was served. By the time I cried myself out I was too tired to be embarrassed that a fifteen year old was making me blow my nose and wipe my face, cleaning my splotchy glasses for me. (But believe me later that night I would cringe. Two o’ clock to be exact.) I also did not capitulate when he suggested taking me back to my dad, I was ready for a nap, though I did put my foot down against being carried there.

Right. Emotions. I am not going to talk about them. I have them and I’ll repeat, Tumblr said it was okay. It was perhaps too soon to tell but things felt much more intense since I came, and more so since I shrunk. They also did not seem to last long. Would that change? I don’t know. What I do know is I was happy enough to ask Percy some important questions once we were on the way. More so when he tucked a soft candy into my hand, explaining that it is an Ice Mouse. It did indeed look like a small white rodent, whiskers and all, was fluffy like a marshmallow and tasted exactly like you just had a glass of cold water after eating mints.


“Why do we have toothbrushes like Muggles.” I asked the serious questions while my teeth chattered and squeaked.

“Because we invented it. Then the Muggleborn took it to their relatives, I think they got quite wealthy too, and it had the benefit that loads of Muggles started looking after their teeth also.”

“I can’t find any toothpaste though.” I had figured it out. If anyone was safe to ask it was Percy or any other kid—once I knew more of them. They would just chalk it down to natural four year old curiosity and I could learn everything Snape and the others thought I should already know.

“So your mum was a Muggleborn? I thought so.” He reached down and ruffled my hair, prodding me to turn down a dark hallway. “If you stick your toothbrush under the tap it will foam up—it lasts a good while. You should really ask your dad these things, he is very smart.”

I pulled a face at the advice and told him: “Muggles have mouthwash. And floss and Dentists.”

“What are those.”

“Mouthw—”

“Is self explanatory.” He pulled my ear until I slapped his hand away. “Tell me about floss and Dentists.”

I did. In turn he told me about a special tea that wizarding children drank when their first tooth fell out. A key ingredient was fairy dust that they found under their pillow, which, get this, the Tooth Fairy had left in exchange for the tooth. According to Percy Weasley, fountain of knowledge, this magical concoction assured them straight white adult teeth.

“You’re fucking with me.” I stopped to gape at him, giving my teeth the opportunity to squeak anew. “The Tooth Fairy is real?”

“Out of curiosity, do you swear like that in front of your dad?”

“Maybe.” I desperately wanted to tell him it is none of his business but I have learned my lesson. Percy is sensitive. Truth be told I have semi-watched my language in front of Snape, but only because I don’t know what Real Albus’s favourite expletives were. The man didn’t need more ammunition to expose me. “What if you swallow your first tooth,” I asked, bringing him back on track.

“Then you wait until the second.”

“What if you swallow ALL your teeth. Maybe it fell out while you were eating or you swallowed it in your sleep like a spider. Can you borrow a tooth from someone else or is the dust going to be for them only.”

“What spider?”

I told him about reading in an article, (Sue me, it was WTF fun facts, it ranked high up there with dogs being able to see their own farts.) that a person swallowed around eight spiders in their sleep every night. He looked dubious. Okay maybe it was every year or something.

“You know, you are very smart to be able to read already but maybe you should not believe everything you find, okay?”

“Well it could have been eight spiders in your lifetime,” I admitted, but shrugged it off. I’m an Insert, I am willing to believe most anything by now. Heck my teeth were chattering! “What about the teeth, Percy, what happens if I swallow them all?”

He grinned, his eyes crinkling up behind his lenses. “I’ve not heard of anyone swallowing ALL their teeth but if you want you can try it and let me know what happened.”

“You’re not funny.”

“I’ve heard them say that.”

“What if I never brush my magic teeth, will it stay white?”

“No. All the food will get stuck and you’ll look like you swallowed old black and yellow piano keys. Madam Pomfrey has a particularly nasty potion for firsties who don’t remember to brush their teeth without their mum to nag. Your dad makes it and I promise you it’s horrid.”

“How do you know, did you have to drink it?”

“Yes.” The tips of his ears turned pink and he found the ceiling very fascinating all of a sudden. I decided not to tease.

All the hours spent under the dentist’s drill and I could have had that? “And it fixes your teeth like new?” I asked, stopping to gape at him again, tugging his sleeve for attention. We were walking in fits and starts and the going was slow but Percy did not seem to mind.

“Yes of course.”

“How come we cannot give these potions to Muggles.”

“Well good luck trying to get a Muggle to drink a potion with cockroach toes but if he does he will just get sick, right? He needs to have magic inside him to intera—work with the magic of the potion or spell.”

“Spells don’t work on Muggles?” What nonsense is this, Death Eaters tortured them!

“Only the very strong ones, blasting spells and things that really hurt. Things like a tickle spell does nothing much, though they do make some pranks specially for Muggles. My dad actually has a job catching those,” he said proudly.

“Huh. Is there somewhere like a list of spells that work on them?” In the Library that I wasn’t allowed to go into? “Maybe your dad has one?”

“Sure. You’ll learn all about it when you go to school.” He stopped to look at me with a worried expression and gave me an impromptu lecture on how Muggles were not to be harmed for they were in the end just like us and deserved to be left in peace. For all that I loved Percy it was a relief to see Snape marching towards us.

I made a mental note to ask him how he knew about pianos before I took off like a shot in the opposite direction.


“I could get seriously hurt like this, how will you explain that to Poppy,” I told Snape from where I lay on the floor, having bounced spectacularly against his barrier. Fine, he had made it soft with I suppose the Cushioning Charm, but what if he had been too slow?

He leaned over me, wand out, the whole scenario too familiar. “I will not be the one explaining.”

I bared my chattering teeth at him.

Snape frowned. “Have you been crying?”

"No!"


Chapter Text

Back in the rooms he threatened to put a sticking charm on my ass but did not follow through with it.

“If you need books I will bring it to you, Albus. Look in a mirror, Irma wouldn’t have let you gone into the restricted area anyway.”

“I have all the books I need in my office.” I was systematically going through the material he had gathered from my desk, this time taking it very seriously, and half ignored Snape who stood arms crossed, watching me with a mixture of concern and irritation. I have only told him Irma Pince didn’t let me in, nothing more.

“Then why were you there.”

“Not all my business is your business, Severus Snape,” I said.

Lunch had been leftover sandwiches in the rooms, his idea of a joke—or punishment, who knows—but I was fine with it, my legs were starting to feel sore from all the exercise and not having to walk to the dining hall was great. I munched away on the third one, while searching for the correct forms but it all seemed to be correspondence. Would they have a staff manual? This is definitely something Dumbledore would know. Dare I ask? A peek at Snapes stormy face told me, no.

Feeling frustrated, I sat back and tried to visualize my office and everything I had seen in it, but all it did was make me sleepy. I suppose I can just let Minerva do it, but then I would have to explain why I wanted to fire that cow and I’d rather not at the moment. Maybe after a nap. That is something no one would ever have to force me to do. Naps are beautiful. If I am going to be the only four year old in this world that likes naps, so be it. I am not bothered by going against the flow.

“Where are you going?” Snape asked when I slid off the chair.

“I’m going to have a nap, Severus. If you want to watch me sleep you can come stand there, I don’t care.”

He did follow me into the sitting room and he did stand cross armed while I snuggled down under the comforter, having settled on the couch boots and all, not saying a word. He might be nagging but he was nagging about the right things. Minerva would probably get a heart attack if someone put their feet on the furniture, even without shoes.

“Wake me if there’s a fire.”


Time was truly nothing in the dungeons. When I woke, the light was the same quality as when I had gone to sleep, it could have been a minute had passed or one year, morning or night, for there was no windows in this awful place.

I stumbled to the bathroom and back, and filled with that musty, grumpy, wrong footed post nap wrath, I bemoaned the absence of a fridge. I miss my house. I miss being able to go into a kitchen whenever I wanted a drink. Or a snack.

Luckily I came prepared. My options were between a ham sandwich—of which I still had a few in my beautiful magical pockets—or I could see what candy I had left. Candy it will be, it should be near dinner time already, I am sure, let’s not spoil our appetite. I settled back onto the couch, made a vertical cocoon with the comforter, and delved into my beautiful magical pockets.

One of the things in my hands was not like the others.

What I pulled from my pocket was very far from a gobstopper. Ruby red, more so than blood, the stone glowed on my palm, how could I have forgotten it? It had rolled under the bookcase and I had just enough time to hide it from Snape’s gaze this morning. Now what should I do? How the heck do I put it in the mirror. Presuming I actually found the mirror, it should be in a room waiting for Harry to discover it, right? There’s no way I was going to be able to pass the Cerberus either, and that’s without talking about carrying a huge ass mirror under my baby arms. Dogs were scary as shit, and if they didn’t want to eat you they tried to lick your face, for fucks sake. Sorry not sorry but I am a cat person.

“Albus, if you are awake, I need your help,” Snape spoke from the doorway and I hurriedly pushed the stone into the couch.

“I’m not awake.”

“Stop fooling around,”—my cocoon was rudely plucked away and tossed on the floor—“and come help me fix your potion, it doesn’t make sense.” He paused. “Are you eating again?”

“I’m hungry, did I sleep past dinner?”

“It’s four o’ clock,” he scoffed, and dragged me through his empty classroom to the back, where a whole world full of horrors was waiting to be explored. “Don’t touch anything!”

We passed transparent urns, bigger than me, brimming with enormous skittering bugs that looked ready to eat us. One whole wall filled with square wooden drawers of every imaginable size. Rows and rows of crystal decanters, ranging from iridescent silver through all the colours of the rainbow and more, to a dull black that hurt to look at, all with alphabetized tags written in clear block letters. Shelves of specimen jars, housing eyes of every shape and colour, and was that ears? Oh God, why were they moving… toes? Gossamer butterflies that flitted about in teardrop shaped terrariums filled with miniature jungles, trays of moss in every green hue that exists, snake skin hanging in bunches next to twigs with fangs. He pulled me past all of this to the very back where he had a cauldron as big as the one in my office suspended over a green flame. A lemony smell assaulted my nose and I gagged.

Snape pushed a familiar parchment into my hands. “What is this.”

I took a gander. Oh. OH.

Dumbledore’s Lemon Curd.
(A crowd pleaser.)

Ingredients
6 T unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 tsp lemon zest

Instructions
Juice and zest lemons.
Separate yolks, and place whole eggs and yolks into a bowl.
Using a mixer of your choice, beat sugar and butter until fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Add eggs (slowly) and beat for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Mix in lemon juice until combined.
Pour into a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture is smooth.
At this point increase heat to medium and cook until thickened (about 15 minutes).
DO NOT boil, and stir constantly while cooking.
Once you can leave a path along the back of the spoon, the mixture is done.
Remove from heat and stir in zest.
Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Be sure the wrap is touching the surface of the curd to avoid "skinning" while cooling.
When cool, place in a sealed container until ready to use.
It will keep for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
You can also freeze for later use.

Oh. I peeked into the cauldron. It was filled to the brim with a pale yellow broth and looked like it might be a twin of the potion I had fallen into, but something was off… I couldn’t put my finger on it. How did he manage to make a whole cauldron full with this amount of ingredients, did he double it? No, that’s stupid, more than mere doubling had happened here... it must have taken a truckload of eggs, where did he get all the ingredients? Was there a magical spell to increase size? And why was he making the potion when he should be concerned with the antidote. Holding my nose, I moved closer and the steam scalded my face before he jerked me back by the collar of my robe.

“Well?” Severus asked impatient.

“It looks like you’ve found my Lemon curd recipe. Look, it says so here right at the top.” I cannot believe he actually made it. “Dumbledore’s Lemon Cu—”

“I CAN READ!”

“THEN WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME!” It was extremely disorientating trying not to sick up from the horrible smell while being shouted at. I threw the scroll at him. “It looks done! You should place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap!”

He caught the parchment to shake it in my face. “Where’s the real formula, Albus! I tried all your passwords, nothing!”

Oh. Ohhhh. He thinks it is like the map. Okay that makes sense even though it doesn’t tell me why he went to the trouble to make the damn thing. “It’s just my curd recipe, Severus, I’ll thank you to give it back, it’s an heirloom.”

“We’re going to see Poppy.”


He walked me to Poppy's with a firm grip on my hand, of all things—as if I was really a child!—making me trot to keep up. I was seething by the time we reached the doors, for the halls were filled with students doing nothing but dawdling and gaping, and I couldn’t make the fuss I so desperately wanted to.

Bedlam met us.

Severus smoothly tucked me in behind him when the noise struck, and had his wand at the ready, bodyguard extraordinaire. People were shouting, somewhere a bird was screeching loud enough to burst eardrums, and I could clearly hear Minerva McGonagall crying, “Five points from Gryffindor!”

I twisted out of his grip and side-by-side we stood in the doorway, boggling at the human sized bright yellow chicken running loose in the middle of the large room. Overturned furniture were scattered everywhere, and Minerva, Poppy, Percy, and what looked like the twins, were surrounding it with their arms outstretched. For a dumb moment I thought this was where Severus had gotten the eggs from, and it took me way too long to realize it was not just human sized but an actual human... My chin dropped to the floor. A person had turned into a chicken—fucking hell—magic was amazing! The Canary Creams!

“Where’s the antidote, Mister Weasley!” Poppy called.

“It’s experimental,” one of the twin boys shouted back over the din the bird was making. “We haven’t managed to make it stop on time yet but it will wear off, Madam Pomfrey, we swear!”

“Five points from Gryffindor!” Minerva hissed, and opposite her Percy blanched as if physically pained.

“We don’t know how she got it, Professor,” he protested. “We found her like this…” he jumped back when the chicken tried to peck at him, and squealed loudly.

“Lies!” Minerva shouted back. “Ten points from Gryffindor! Irma, please, if you can calm down a moment, Poppy here will sort you,” she tried, but the bird only screeched, hopping and flapping her wings like a dervish, causing everyone to jump back yet again.

“Madam Pince?” I asked astonished, a light going up. Karma in the form of the twins—Percy had been serious! I couldn’t help myself and laughed.

The chicken’s head swiveled, her beady eyes picking me out. Well, canary, I suppose, but perhaps the twins weren’t studying to be Ornithologists. Chicken Pince cackled and rushed at me.

Adding my own yells to the noise, I skirted a circle around Severus to get away, someone swore—it might have been me—and Severus shouted, “Petrificus Totalus!”

My life was such that I expected to fall flat on my back in a full body bind, but a big crash sounded behind me, accompanied by a myriad of yellow feathers filling the air around us. Severus plucked me up, out of the way, and her head fell where I had stood.

Silence.

Minerva picked a yellow feather from her tongue.

One of the twins snickered.

“Five points from Gryffindor,” Minerva snapped, effectively killing his mirth. Stepping irately over the prone librarian she held out a small card to Snape. “I think you might be interested in this.”

A small gift of thanks to a fellow hater of little snakes.’ I read together with Snape, still firmly in his grip.

“It’s not us.” A twin straightened up to protest. “Why if it was us we would give her a proper box of chocolate, not a prank, it doesn’t make sense, sir.” He bit his lip nervously. “Not that we have anything against snakes, unless of course it’s Quidditch, then we hate them but not more than we hate the Ravenclaws or the Puffs, I promise…”

“Perhaps someone stole our creams thinking it was normal ones, then we cannot be blamed, right?” said the other and they squashed their shoulders together.

Behind them Percy stood white faced, eyes nearly popping out of his skull. Minerva started remonstrating with the brothers, Poppy pushed Snape aside so that she can levitate the librarian over to a bed, and his arm tightened around me as he moved away. I dared not look at him, but out of the corner of my eyes I could see his head swivel from her to Percy and myself and I could HEAR the cogs moving, I kid you not.

“Mister Weasley, a moment of your time, please,” Snape said, and motioned him to Poppy’s office. Once inside, he closed the door with a decisive snap and dropped me to my feet. I naturally made haste to the known safety of the eldest Weasley, and seeing Snape’s face, prepared for the worst.

“Let me get this straight,” Snape said down to me. “You took umbrage at being refused the library and this was the result.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Excuse me if I do not believe in coincidences, Albus. So she refused to let you in, so what. It is not the end of the world, it doesn’t mean you have to blow it all up out of proportion!”

Enough. Seriously. Hot tears pricked my eyes and I was tired of all these emotions. “I don’t care what you believe! I’m not talking to you anymore, you only shout at me and I am tired of it! I didn’t make her a chicken! It has nothing to do with me and I will never talk to you again if you’re going to keep shouting—see if I do!”

“A canary,” Percy corrected under his breath, and Snape turned his wrath on the older boy.

“Mister Weasley!”

“Sir…”

“Explain this mess!”

“Sir,” his voice wobbled and he swallowed loudly, throat clicking with nerves. “I do not know how she got the creams or who wrote the note but it might be because she called Albus—”

“A little snake!” I interrupted, forgetting my vow. There was no way I was going to let him tell Snape the rest. “She didn’t let me in and called me a little snake, fine, I did it! She got what she deserved!”

Snape took a moment to assimilate all of this and his expression turned from irritated to something much much worse. “I’d thought better of you, Albus,” he said, his voice arctic. “Since when is it a bad thing to be called a snake? One quarter of the students in this school are Slytherins and there is no difference between them and the other houses.”

“Sir, if I may—” Percy tried and we both snapped at him.

“No you may not!”

“What is it, Mister Weasley!”

I twisted to stop him, and for some reason he had his wand out and was talking, but his words made no sense. It sounded like the static drone your mobile phone used to get when driving through a tunnel. Snape said something in turn, his deep voice reverberating like a buzzsaw, making me automatically clasp my hands over my ears. I turned back to him only to take a fearful step away from his livid expression, but he ignored me to slam out of the office. My ears popped.

“Sorry,” Percy said, sounding like himself again, but looking like death warmed over, tucking his wand back into his sleeve. “You don’t need your dad angry at you for something that was not your fault.”

“What was that! You cast a spell!”

“Sorry,” he repeated lamely. “I figured you only lied because you didn’t want to hear what she said again so I did a Muffliato—ow!”

“Albus!” Snape barked from the door. “We don’t kick students!”

“Stop shouting at me!”

“Weasley, you may go wait outside.”

Percy ran and I didn’t blame him one whit. Snape closed the door behind him, gentler than before. That was so much worse than a noisy, furious man, that I shivered involuntarily and took a step back.

“You are also shouting, Albus,” he said. “It’s not just me.”

“Only because you are, and you’re louder.”

“You’re right.” He paused and considered me. “You are running about so much, I forget that this must be stressful to you also… What if we both try to tone it down.”

“Whatever.” What does he mean ‘also’. What stress could he possibly have. Was he an Insert? Did he fucking de-age?

He sent me a flat look.

“Fine!” I agreed. “Fine. Can we go now?”

“We are going to wait until they leave then Poppy will examine you.”

I nearly swore at him, in fact I took a deep breath to do just that, but blew it out again when he raised his eyebrows at me. Fine. I am tired anyway. She won’t find anything, nothing was going to change in one day.

“I’m sorry she said those things to you, if it helps it is not because of anything you did, Irma and I have some history…” He pulled a sour face and blew out a harsh breath. “Anyway, it might be interesting to know that Poppy finds herself ‘unable’ to turn her back,” Severus said, “and Minerva agreed we should let the prank wear off on its own. The Weasley terrors say that can take anything from twenty-four-hours to a week.”

“You told them?” Oh God, I was going to cry again.

“Yes. Come along, let's get this done.”

Outside it was just Percy and the twins, Minerva nowhere in sight, and Poppy busy behind the curtains. Snape corralled the brothers.

“You two will present yourselves at Hagrid’s every afternoon for the rest of this week at class end, you will serve your detention under him,” he told the twins.

They looked quite happy with this, Hagrid would probably give them tea. A token punishment. Huh, who’d have thought Snape was a softy.

“And ten points each from Gryffindor.”

“That’s so unfair!” I shouted, forgetting our deal.

“Albus. I will not now, and have never condoned pranks. No matter what the reason. The line between that and bullying is this thin,” he held his thumb and forefinger a millimeter apart, “and in the history of all schools ever, students have never known how not to cross it.” He turned to the twins. “Dismissed!”

They scurried off and Snape stopped Percy. “Not so fast. I have no doubt that you have a big part in all this, Mister Weasley, and you a prefect.”

“Sir…”

“You will keep yourself available for babysitting duties whenever I require…

I would have shouted but I was too busy swallowing my tongue. Snape went on to berate Percy for casting a spell on me without my consent, detailing his dark future should such a thing dare to repeat itself, while internally I had the mother of all rants. Babysitting! I was not a child!

My mind must have glitched for I found myself on a bed with Poppy bending over me, a familiar tingle running up and down my spine.

“I’m fine, Poppy,” I told her.

“You blanked out there, Albus, let me just do a few tests.”

“Severus organised a babysitter for me, excuse me if I didn’t handle it with my usual aplomb.”

“Managing him well then, are you?” she teased with a small smile.

“It’s difficult with this size,” I admitted with a sigh. “Things aren’t working the same and if he doesn’t drag me around, he insists on carrying me. Who listens to someone they can carry?”

“It will be fine dear, you’ll both get used to it.” She stopped casting and told me I was still a four year old and not to tire myself out too much.

Xxx

They had a meeting about me in her office and I wasn’t invited. For sure I wasn’t going to ignore it, I hid outside the door, my back against the wall, straining to hear.

“Poppy he is acting more and more like a child!”

“It is to be expected, Severus. He has the physical body of one, hormones, development, the lot. Imagine an adult’s knowledge combined with a child’s impulses. Didn’t you listen to me when I gave you the list? He will be affected in ways we don’t know, after all, he is the first of his kind.”

“He’d better be the last.” Severus muttered and moved deeper into the room, pacing, I presumed. I had to strain to hear him now. I moved closer to the door and wished for the Extendable Ears, mentally adding that to my list. In what book did they use it? Have they invented it yet? “…the potion now, before it is too late.” What? What did I miss! I squashed my ear against the door.

“His handwriting is the same, but look here, you can see it turning childish already.” Paper rustled and I peeked through the keyhole to see my ‘I am Albus’ note waved at Poppy.

“That could just be because he has not the muscle dexterity yet to hold a quill. It doesn’t indicate anything, Severus. We should start him on writing exercises at some point like you would do any young preschooler.

What! That will be the day!

“I would rather finish the antidote,” Snape returned sour.

“Well you still have time.”

“I would if he gave the bloody formula to me! How can I even begin to figure it out with nothing to go on! How does he expect me to help him!”

“He did not give it? Hmm. Albus usually has something up his sleeve, perhaps you should wait for him to give it out of his own accord.”

“The only thing he has up his sleeve is candy.” He yanked the door open causing me to tumble in against his legs. “Is that not so, Albus.

“No.” I pushed myself off him. “I also have my arms.”

Chapter Text

Asking Snape to stop treating me like a child was useless, and telling him did not work either. On his side he spent some time ranting at me about the formula, until I hid myself under the comforter and pretended he did not exist. Oh, wishmagic doesn’t work, in case you wanted to know. Bloody fanon. Snape did disappear, but more the storming off and slamming of doors type and I had the whole evening and most of the next day to myself to plan.

Here goes. I don’t want to be an old man. I will take growing up instead, and don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same. There’s still the issue of should I stay ‘Dumbledore’, expose my new age to the wizarding world and take over his responsibilities, or should I chuck the whole lot for the birds and go do my own thing. It is a big question and one I put aside for later, after I had been in this world longer than three days.

What I did need to sort was Voldemort. I discarded my old idea to let Harry take care of it, he was still a kid and I an adult, I needed to solve it without him and fast. I didn’t want to spend years on it like they did. Easy would be to tell both Snape and Minerva, right? There’ll be a bit of Albus-what-have-you-done and after they would get right on to the business of catching Quirrell and his… thing.

Only I don’t know this Snape very well yet, and he doesn’t seem exactly the same as JKR’s Snape but that might not necessarily mean he was better. He’s not interested in playing games with Harry for one, which was a big positive in my mind, but I will put him in the position of having to fight his former master, and what if Evil Incarnate still had a hold over him? I had no clue if Minerva would be safe against Quirrell either, I only read up to book four, certainly she must be a talented witch but can she fight? Will I be the first Harry Potter Insert that gets Minerva killed? My book will be burned!

It needed much more thought and thankfully I still had time. First threat against Harry was in the Quidditch game, yes?

So I had a plan for that.

It was Thursday, today, and according to the student roster tacked on Snape’s office wall, Flying Lessons for Gryffindors and Slytherins would start at exactly three thirty this afternoon. Plan, ‘Stop Harry Potter from becoming a seeker’, began early in the morning while everyone was still asleep.

(Why would I want to spoil his position on the team, you might ask if you were feeling nosy about my doings, and I’ll tell you. Being the youngest seeker, and gaining the reputation of getting special treatment had done him no favours. Let him join the team in his second year like all the rest and let him enjoy his friendship with Ron without this cloud hanging over their bro-happiness. No I am not being dramatic, go away.)

I slipped out of Snape’s dark rooms on socked feet, carrying my boots against my chest. On the walls the portraits were sleeping, and the hall was dimly lit, giving off a spooky vibe that had my neck hair standing on end. It was even odds which I was more scared of, the ghosts, or a fire breathing Snape short on my heels. Once I turned the corner I ran.

I made it to my office unhindered, more portraits sleeping, their snoring ranging from soft to buzzsaw. Closing the door as quiet as a mouse, I tiptoed past them with bated breath to my bedroom. And the closet.

The cloak was amazing. Silvery, featherlight material that spilled through my fingers like cool water. I threw it around my shoulders, and did giggle when just my head floated, Harry Potter style. Slipping the hood over my head I disappeared from the mirror and the world turned a shade paler.

Perfect. If Ignotus Peverell could use the cloak to hide from death then certainly I would be safe from Severus Snape. Ugh. Why would I remember that and not where all the Horcruxes was kept. I wracked my head over them when I made my To-do list last night and now as I crept out of the office, I counted them yet again with my steps. The ring, the book, the snake—please don’t be fanon—the diadem and the cup. Potter. Am I missing one or more? Fuck.

I returned for my boots which stood lonely in the middle of my bedroom and carried them out, not yet ready to wake anyone up with the pitter-patter of my stupidly tiny feet.

The cloak was not that amazing. It flowed behind me like the train of a Queen’s wedding dress, I hadn’t considered the fact that it had held all three of them, and it didn’t seem to want to adjust to my size either.

I ended up fixing it in an empty classroom, and by the time I figured out how to twist it a couple of times around me like a bedsheet, I was sweating, exhausted, ready for a nap and also hungry enough to eat my hand with the fork. Let me tell you it is bloody difficult for mummies to extract anything from pockets, but I couldn’t trust that Severus wasn’t already looking for me and I persevered until I had one ham sandwich to munch on without ever moving from the cloak. It tasted as fresh as when I had put them there two days before. Magic!

The flaw in my plan to find Gryffindor tower was the students were coming OUT of it and not going IN. It took me a very long time to track the flow and by the time I stood in front of the Fat Lady there was no more students about. Balderdash. I knew the password but did I want to spend my time searching through dormitories and trunks. How many students were there anyway. Harry’s year looked to be ten to a house and the ones above maybe less even. War. That still left me—discounting that maybe half was girls—around math amount of trunks to search? And maybe the twins were carrying it around with them, I certainly would.

Which meant I had to go all the way down again and see if they were still in the Dining hall. Fuck me. This was going to be one hell of a slog.

They were not in the hall. Severus Snape was though, looking like a thundercloud but what else was new. For some reason he was talking to Percy, towering over the teen and frowning so fiercely that I felt deeply sorry for the kid but I wasn’t going to stay around to hear what he had done, I had my own things to worry about. I was going to get that damn map today if it killed me.

I found the first years in Transfiguration, Minerva’s voice ringing clear through the room as she explained what she expected from them. Then there was the squeal of a pig and children’s laughter rang through the open door. I couldn’t help myself and peeked, watching in awe as she turned a very pink pig back into a desk, and slipped into the room to watch the lesson from the side.

Which was complicated as fuck. I wasn’t the only one thinking that, the kids were taking hurried notes, cross-eyed and struggling to keep up. On the large blackboard her chalk was marching out a steady stream of transfiguration laws while she herself was wandering through the room, talking a mile a minute. The poor kid nearest me had tears in her eyes.

I felt a bit like crying too. How was I going to learn all of this to fake Dumbledore’s level of competence? All I knew so far was that quills were Muggle-safe, looked like a dropped feather to all but Witches, Wizards and Squibs, and anything written by a charmed quill would just look like gibberish to non-magicals. Oh and all magical books? Handwritten with quills, a Muggle never be able to read it. And the teeth thing.

I found them in an empty classroom, bent over a cauldron. They hadn’t even closed the door on themselves but that wasn’t surprising anymore. Through the morning I had found students everywhere except where they should be, practicing spells and playing games, giggling around corners, they were the third I’ve found bent over cauldrons—no one seemed to care what anyone else were up to, or... maybe they were expected to practice what they’ve learned and did it just where they pleased? Okay, that made more sense. There’s practical exams too, how else would they pass them, not just from class activities, right? JKR was very weak on what the students learned and most I remember was library this and library that.

George,” a thin whisper. “Why do we have the Headmaster standing right behind us?

Oh holy fuck, my stomach went right through the floor in a nauseating tumble and I couldn’t move to check if the cloak had opened or fallen or... how did they know I was Dumbledore!

“I don’t know, Fred. It’s not as if we were making anything illegal… just a little…” they turned as one, nearly hugging each other, and their blank faces when they saw nothing made me move.

The map. That’s how. For the first time since I came here my mind was suddenly clear. I knew everything that I needed to. While the Weasley twins were gaping at what seemed to be nothing but air, I slipped around them and pinched the map where it lay open next to their cauldron, tucking it safely into the cloak. I did not want to run, for the hall outside was empty of children that would mask my steps, so I slid in under the desk—for once celebrating my short stature—and out the other side where I stood motionless.

“...just a little prank… George? Why would the Headmaster be invisible?”

They turned back to the table and their faces when they saw the empty spot was a treat. Mirroring each other they went from shock right through to horror in two seconds. One of them tried to Accio the map but it didn’t even move from where I clutched it tight against my body while the other was on his knees checking to see if it had fallen in under the desk.

“Who can we tell?” George wailed. (I knew it was George for Fred was embracing him, patting his shoulders saying ‘There, there, George. There, there.’) “Dumbledore stole our map!”

“I’m sure he has good need of it…”—insert lots of soothing pats—“... maybe he will give it back when he is done, do you think?”

“I think our potion will blow us up if we don’t add the bearded tooth, brother,” George said, looking over Fred’s shoulder to where the potion was currently forming an alarming green dome that threatened to spill over the top.

They split, and what followed was a flurry of movement as they chopped and stirred ingredients at a manic pace until finally the dome sagged back down into the cauldron. They, in turn, sagged against each other with sighs of relief.

“I’m going to miss the map,” George lamented. “Two days was way too short. Do you think Filch has more?”

I sidled around them and sneaked out as quiet as you please, totally not interested in seeing teeth with beards. Really not. I hadn’t brushed mine this morning for I would have had to go through Snape’s bedroom to get to the bathroom—yeah no.


At some point I will stop being amazed by this magical world, but it wasn’t today.

I sat in an empty classroom—I closed the door, pushed a desk against it, went to the far end and sat with my back against the wall, under another desk, the cloak a tent around me—and pored over the map. It was marvelous. Incredible. Magic.

Little black shoeprints marched everywhere. On impulse I pinched it open like you would a touchscreen—oh how I miss my ipad—and it zoomed in until each pair of footsteps became accompanied by a name, and I could see Evelyn Bean enter the girls bathroom. I swiped her away and pinched and twisted until I had a 3D model of the castle. Curiosity made me search for Salazar’s little hideaway but there I was to be disappointed. No matter. I’ve just found the Potions Class. Someone named Michael Carrol was sitting at the desk and I knew none of the nine other students either. Snape was nowhere to be found. My heart suddenly thumping in my chest I zoomed out until I found Albus Dumbledore against the wall and, oh thank god, no one around me. I spent some time calming down and wondering what use the cloak was if I still showed up on a map.

Quirrell was just Quirrell, he did not have a ‘Voldemort’ attached in a weird hyphenated combo. No Pettigrew anywhere, also no Scabbers. Which was just as well, I suppose. The map would be awfully cluttered if all the pets showed up, and what then about the normal animals, rats who had no name, or did they call each other Squeak1 and Squeak2 until infinity? That might be interesting to know.

A few names kept popping up everywhere I twisted the map, crisscrossing all the halls up and down, Percy being one of them I figured the rest was Prefects too. They never went to class which was curious, I thought they would be doing their patrolling in between classes and surely the new firsties couldn’t be getting lost still? They were definitely searching for someone. I watched them going in and out of classrooms until I got bored. Whoever they were looking for must be hiding well.

Lunch was a ham sandwich outside near the castle wall, close to where a lot of brooms were stacked. I would have liked to filch something else from a table for I was getting quite bored of the taste, but I figured a disembodied hand would not go unnoticed and certainly would raise eyebrows. I followed it up with a lollipop and a nap.

I woke up grumpy and thirsty with Madam Hooch shouting instructions to a group of students standing next to rows of brooms. Oh hell. I haven’t even made a plan yet. I could see Draco’s white hair standing out like a sore thumb so it’s not as if I had any more time. I was going to have to wing it. And when I was done I was going to find some juice in this bloody god awful place if it was the last thing I did!

The moment Hooch instructed them to sit on the brooms things went downhill fast. Neville Longbottom, a truly chubby boy, went up and up and came down with a crash and a bounce and a crack. Everyone winced as one, and taking its chance the broom made fast tracks for the forest, escape clearly on it’s bristly mind. Ask me, I know a runner when I see one.

“Did you see his face the fat lump of lard?” Draco Malfoy laughed. “Who wants to bet the next to fall is Potter?” The group around him snorted and thumped each other in their merriment.

I spied the Remembrall first but was hindered by the little crowd jostling around it, the only one standing still a girl with bushy hair—oh. Hermione Granger. She spotted the small ball lying lost on the grass at the same time and was just about to pick it up when Malfoy grabbed it.

“Oh look what we have here,” Malfoy chortled. “The idiot dropped his precious little memory ball, where shall we hide it, lads!” Honestly the boy needed a sound smack.

“Give it to me, Malfoy!” Harry snapped and everyone fell silent.

Oh god I can’t let him go in the air! I had to move!

Clutching my cloak around me, praying there’s no loose flaps anyone could stand on, I darted in between the kids while the two argued. And just as Malfoy pulled his hand back to throw the thing, I tripped. I fell forward into his back, bumping him hard, and instead of swinging freely his fist connected with The Boy Who Lived’s eye. A dead center shot.

The brawl erupted in seconds, someone stepped on my hand when I scurried away and I think I tripped another, causing an even greater mess. Holy hell, everyone took part, even the girls who scratched and screeched loud enough to burst eardrums. I think I saw Hermoine pull Ron’s hair, she must have mistaken him for a Slytherin in all the mess, and then I was back at the wall, Minerva shouting at them through an open window.

Minerva moved herself up to the top of my ‘Most Scariest Witches Alive’ list—that I had just started—by ranting and raving at the group until they were a sniveling, teary heap. Detentions were handed out like candy, points were taken away and three of them were sent to Madam Pomfrey, their newly sprouted tentacles dragging in their wake. When she was done she made them all hug. No, I am joking, she did not. She sent them scurrying to their dinners, tails between their legs.

“Seamus! Is that a tail?” She called after the Gryffindor boy. “Yes, I am talking to you, Mr. Finnigan! Don’t try to hide it, off to the infirmary with you! And don’t think I will not check with Madam Pomfrey to see that you went!”

She didn't move to follow them, but stood on the spot, taking deep calming breaths before turning a slow circle, peering at the distant forest. She looked to be searching for something, checking if she had missed one of them? She stood a very long time, did something with her wand that made it spin on her palm, and walked off to peer around the corner before sighing deeply and turning back to the castle, the corners of her mouth turned down. My deed for the day done I could probably show myself and ask her what she was looking for, perhaps even help, but she might just be still irritated from the brawl which I was starting to feel a bit guilty about. Better not to take the chance.


Going back to Snape’s rooms went slow. I tried the kitchens first, easy to find now that I had a map, but the portrait with the pear was set high, out of my reach. I spent some time in the Great Hall, drooling after food that never seemed within reach of my too short arms. Returning to the Dungeons well past dark, I dejectedly munched on the last sandwich while en route.

Classes were long since out and there were students everywhere up and down the halls. Quite a few playing some game of hide and seek. I kept having to turn around and find different halls in order not to be trampled by large searching groups, and gave up on the secret tunnels when the first four I tried held prefects. Not much of a secret these tunnels, huh?

The map was very useful in avoiding most of them, but I felt quite done with my little adventure by the time I reached Snape’s rooms. I stashed the map and cloak behind an armor outside the rooms and spoke the password. Fluxweed.

Where were you,” Snape hissed, pulling me through the portrait. “We’ve been searching everywhere! Do you know the time?”

Oh please. King of exaggeration. He might have stalked a bit up and down in a fret just now, but the map had shown he never moved from the living room for the last hour and I had checked often enough to know that he hadn’t been in the castle the whole day!

“Searching everywhere in your rooms?” I asked, feeling snippy.

“Minerva and the Prefects are searching the school, Hagrid is outside scouring the Forbidden Forest, and I’ve been ou—stuck here waiting in case you showed up.”

He shook his wand out his sleeve and waved it in an intricate movement that managed to look delicate and furious at the same time. A silvery mist appeared at the tip, coalescing into a doe. His patronus! The beautiful doe gave me a choleric look that equaled its maker’s and galloped off through the wall. Snape made a second one that took off in the opposite direction and I realized he had just sent the wizarding equivalent of voice mail to the searchers. He turned his attention back to me, looking ready to murder.

“Where were you, Albus!”

It was his shouting that did it, I thought we had done with it. Hackles raised, I snapped back. “Out, Severus. Last I checked I did not report to you.”

“You don’t report to m—” He sputtered and threw his arms in the air, stalked away and whirled around when he found his voice. “Wandering about all day, not one person knew where you were, you’ve had us worried sick! Did it even cross your bloody infantile little mind that we might think you had been abducted? Had fallen somewhere and were unable to call for help? Your potion could still have consequences that we don’t know of, Albus!” He took a deep breath and bent his head, clutching at his forehead, fingers white. All very theatrical, if you asked me. Expertly done to make me feel guilty… He snapped his hand down to glare at me. “We even had Sybill search in her damn Crystal ball! Det—You’re grounded!”

“What!” Any, and I mean ANY guilt I felt, dissipated like it never existed.

“You heard me,” he hissed. “You’ll spend the rest of this week and the next in this rooms, let’s see you do this again.”

“Have you lost your mind? On whose authority! You’re not my parent—I will tell Minerva!”

“Oh?” He threw himself into his armchair and bared his teeth in a sneer. “Go ahead. I dare you.


I did not have to wait long, for she came while I was still protesting volubly to a stony faced, deathly silent Snape, railing at his insolence. Did he forget I was his headmaster?!

Minerva, when she heard had no problem with it. Unlike her earlier fuss with the students she did not shout or rave at me. She sank down on the couch, looking pale and tired, and her eyes glittering dangerously, she told me: “You may add to that no pudding. Go to your bedroom.”

“This is my bedroom.” I clutched my arms tight around my chest. Why did they insist on treating me like a child! “This is my bedroom and you’re sitting on my bed.”

This turned her attention from me. “Really Severus?”

“I told you when you gave him to me, I have only one bedroom.”

Enough.” Rising like the Angel of Death, she stalked off to his second office, and Severus rushed to follow.

“This is my private—”

“You don’t need two. Kindly remove your papers before I do it for you.”

Their voices muted as they moved off and I followed to peek around the corner, their squabble pulling me like a magnet. It was magnificent. Minerva went through the room like a dervish, snapping about irresponsible men, Severus pulled in her wake. She was waving her wand about, transforming his office furniture into a bedroom with a clanging and banging that could wake the dead; he was catching scrolls and books as they flew through the air, sending them in a stream over my head to his outer office. Magic!

Ten minutes later had them both standing breathless in the middle of a bedroom. The desk was transformed into a low child sized bed, bedding and all. The empty racks—that had me feeling guilty every time I passed—were now a bright blue closet, and the office chair was turned into an adult sized rocking chair. She had put effort into decorating the bedding all in blues with colourful little boats and red buoys, bobbing—actually bobbing!—about on an undulating sea, and even transfigured a thick rug. It was not a private bedroom, Severus would still have to pass in and out on the way to his own or the bathroom, but it was definitely better than a couch.

“There.” Minerva breathed in satisfaction. She looked like a tornado had hit her, her usual tidy coiffure standing on end, making her look like a mad scientist who had just jammed something they shouldn’t have into a socket. She calmly set about fixing it, smoothing the wayward strands down before delicately dabbing at her brow with a lace handkerchief. “You may fetch his clothes.”

Severus did not move.

I was sent to brush my teeth—by Minerva playing mom—while they had a row about my wardrobe, or rather the absence of it. They were still at it when I returned to ask how I was supposed to sleep with them fighting.

At this, Minerva turned to take a good look at me. You could literally see the light going on as the witch suddenly realised with full clarity that the absence of a wardrobe also meant I’ve been four days in the same robes. “… and underwear, Severus!” She shouted apropos of nothing I could discern.

She gave Severus no choice but to bring out some of his own clothes for her to transfigure into a long nightdress and boxer shorts for me. I loved the fact that they still put boys into nightdresses, it was such a silly, wizardy, victorian thing. She even added a frill.

Back to the bathroom to change, then out again for inspection. Please please please move away from my bed…

Minerva speared me with a critical eye and… pursed her lips. “Albus. When last have you had a wash?”

Fuck.

“No.” Severus growled at her. “Enough. He will wash in the morning.” He turned to me and flung his arm out, to point a long bony finger at what used to be his desk. “Get into bed!”


Chapter Text

“I’m not going to,” I told Snape early morning.

After yesterday, he had no patience with me. It showed in his lips that had not stopped curling since we woke, but I could be stubborn too. He might have cornered me in the bathroom, the tub already filled to the brim with steaming water, but there was no way I was going to set foot in it.

I’ve decided I can rot, it will be fine, I read something somewhere about a man that hadn’t washed in ten years, that should just about give me enough time, and when next I see Percy I will ask him exactly what spells he can do. Rumour had it JKR used to say that wizardkind vanished their poop where they stood or something (The toilet paper rolls stacked on the shelf to our left proved her wrong.), so it stood to reason there was some magical way to bath too.

“Why are you being such a child?" Snape's exasperated voice broke through my thoughts. "I’m not going to stand here and watch you do it, just get into the tub and wash yourself…” he trailed off, considering me with sharp eyes. “This has something to do with you standing in front of the mirror that night, right?”

“No!”

“Dad.”

“...”

“No, Dad. Dad, Daddy or Father. Choose one and start to use it, but you will not just say ‘no’ to me while you are this size, it sounds horribly rude coming from a toddler's mouth. Next we'll have the whole school following you.” He gave me a flat, angry look. “Or tell me the formula and let us be done with this farce.”

I tucked my hands into my armpits. “My deepest apologies, Severus, but I will not do either.”

I had no time to scream. The bloody man took me, clothes and all, and dumped me into the tub. It’s fair to tell you I screamed then, though, and loud enough to raise the roof. Somewhere in the background, Snape swore viciously and the next moment the tub filled with bubbles up to my nose.

“Happy now? You can’t see a thing! Evanesco!”

My clothes vanished. It was the oddest feeling, Minerva's transfigured nightdress, shorts, socks, all gone in an instant. I grabbed for them but only felt the slick skin that I had avoided for days now, and yelled again, splashing water to the floor.

“We don’t have time for this, Albus!” A cloth fell into the foam in front of my face and his finger swept out to point at a set of crystal decanters on the far rim. No plastic pollution in wizarding world… “Soap. Shampoo. You have five minutes to get going or I will come and bath you myself—the choice is yours!”

“You said you would stop yelling at me!”

“Stop being such a baby!” he shouted back and slammed out of the bathroom.

I hated him. I hated him so hard that for a moment I completely blanked on the thought.

The water was too hot, and there was no escape, it reached well up to my chin. I felt like I was being boiled alive, the steam fogging up my glasses, but his threat had me grit my teeth against the heat and the impending tears to grab the nearest decanter. Of course it was bloody heavy crystal that slipped through my pudgy fingers, what else could I expect, this was my life now. Not to do things just half, the corner hit my chest as it plunged into the bubble topped water and I sucked in a sob. Crying now—I’m sorry, that damn thing had hurt—I had to actually swim for it, dipping down past bubbles that burst against my glasses, submerging half my face into the hot water to reach, tiny bubbles foaming up my nose.

It smelled like lemons.

I gagged.

Leaving the decanter to God to sort I surged up and away from the olfactory attack, water sloshing everywhere. There was no more thought about this being a child’s body that I did not want to see, there was only a cauldron tipping over my head and I could taste the curd.

As a kid my siblings and I loved bubble baths, not just for the fun of making Santa beards and cone topped heads, but the added bonus was its slippery goodness that turned the bath into a slide.

There was nothing fun about slipping feet and plunging unsuspecting into an overfilled tub, steamy water flooding your nose in a burn that seared the lining and filled the sinuses, sloshing over your head, into your ears and eyes and mouth. I know I screamed. I know I kicked and grabbed for the sides, submerging once, twice, I don’t know how many times, swallowing and gagging before hands grabbed me out of the cauldron. Air hit my raw throat in a burst of yet more pain and I coughed and cried and flailed blindly at the arms that held me too tight.


I woke up in the infirmary, tucked into a feathersoft bed. Every part of my body ached. My head throbbed, my chest hurt, my nose—even breathing was a pain. Close by Minerva was berating a white faced Snape, their features too blurry to make out, but there was no mistaking her voice, low and furious. I could hear snippets, child endangerment, irresponsible, I should never have given him to you… Through it all he did not offer one word to defend himself.

“Minerva,” I croaked. “It was not his fault.”

I must be going mad.

“Albus! I will call Poppy!”

The two women fussed over me, spells were cast and a grassy tasting potion removed the aches and pains as if it never were. All the while Snape stood behind them, mutely rooted to his spot and visibly ignored by both women. I could not let them fight over me. I needed them to be a united front against what was to come. That was why, when Minerva asked what I meant with it not being Severus’s fault, I lied through my teeth, knowing full well it would come to bite me in the ass probably sooner rather than later.

I struggled up. “Severus saved me, he is not to blame for any of it. I told him I’ve been taking baths my whole life and certainly did not need anyone’s help.” That sounded like something their Albus might say, no? “My apologies for the fuss, Minerva, I might have overestimated my abilities somewhat.”

“Somewhat? Albus!”

Her scolding was epic. I think Snape took notes. Poppy moved off quite disappointed in me and left her to it.

I bore it. I certainly wanted to cry when she took my whole personality apart, trying to figure out why I was unable to act sensibly and ask for help, bringing up examples from Dumbledore’s life that I had no clue of but managed to feel guilty about anyway. There was some invective about the ‘Great Albus’ that always knew better, that was probably just her blowing off steam, but even so pierced my little baby heart. I was pinching my leg under the blanket not to burst into a sobbing mess and met Severus’s impassive eyes over her shoulder. I hated him. I bore it because I was not going to let him see me fall apart from a mere scolding.

When I couldn’t manage anymore I interrupted her, pretending my voice did not waver. “I apologise, Minerva. I will certainly do my best to be more responsible from now on.”

“I should certainly hope so, Albus!”

“Yes, quite. Have we missed breakfast then? Do we not have children to teach today?”


“That woman…” I took a steadying breath when she had gone. She’s a menace…

“Quite,” Snape said, echoing my earlier words. “Why did you take the blame, it was more my fault than yours.”

He made to put my glasses on my face, but I snatched it off him and smacked his hands away. “Don’t touch me.”

He took a step back and took stock of me. “Albus, I would like to apo—”

“In future you will not touch me without my permission, you will not pick me up or manhandle me to do anything I don’t want to. Don’t forget yourself, Severus Snape. I am still your Headmaster.”

He paused. Straightened his back and gave me a small nod, his face unreadable. “You will still need to call me Dad.”

“I will do so when I need to. Where is my clothes.”


Poppy tried to keep me in bed but Snape stood by me when I said no. With all the fuss we still had enough time to go down for breakfast before classes started. Despite the pain relieving potion I felt exhausted, and the walk tired me even more, but where yesterday Snape might have picked me up he now just slowed his steps. I picked at breakfast, finding it difficult to swallow the soft porridge and was glad enough to go back to our rooms when Snape declared us finished.

Friday. The Gryffindor and Slytherin first years had double potions in the morning that started at nine. I fully intended to go to my bed and sleep the day away, leaving him to it, but Snape had other ideas.

“No. You'll sit in the classroom where I can keep an eye on you. I’ve had enough of your adventures to last me the year.”

“What happened to not telling me what to do? How quickly you forget nearly drowning me—if I hadn’t taken the blame, Minerva would still be shouting at you, Severus.”

“I did not ask you to lie to Minerva. Enough. I made a mistake, and one that will not be repeated. Don’t equate that with you deliberately hiding away a whole day, doing god knows what—knowing full well we would be searching and worried out of our minds. You’re still grounded, Albus and I don’t trust you not to disappear—”

Now was not the time to tell him that the thought of them searching hadn’t crossed my mind whatnot them worrying. “That’s idiotic,” I hissed instead, balling my tiny fists. “I won’t stand for it.”

“You’re still grounded and if you have any complaints about it, you may take it up with Minerva.”

“...”

Minerva would definitely not be open to hearing anything from me right now. I was going to rue taking the blame faster than I had thought. We were having a standoff. Outside the voices of students gathering sounded and inside he was pointing me to his desk and chair.

“You’re not very nice,” I said, and it sounded much more childish than it did in my head.

“If I may, Albus. When had I ever pretended to be nice? Nice wizards don’t get anywhere in life.”

“If you say so.”

“Nice gets stepped on. Let’s go. Sit.”

I sat. Seems he had no need to manhandle me anyway, he just needed to play the Minerva card. I clambered onto his chair, ignoring his triumphant smirk.

Only when I was fully seated did he turn to open the classroom door and the firsties trooped in all wide eyed and hesitant. I figured the rumour mill had been at work there, possibly with some bat analogies. They didn’t know where to look, at Snape, me or the open door to his stockroom where a myriad of eyes were twisting about in their brine like schools of fish, peeking right back at them.

I was just tall enough that if I stretched I could cross my arms on the desk and set my chin on them. From that vantage point I joined the iconic first class. Fine, it seemed I was going to have a potions lesson. The dream of every Harry Potter fan, ever.

Snape started the lesson by taking roll call, giving me a good opportunity to learn some faces. They all looked so young! He didn’t stop on Harry’s name but moved over fluidly to the next, and the kid’s tense shoulders sagged visibly. At the desk I blew a sigh of relief myself. Maybe this might not be so bad.

He started his monologue—“You are here to learn the subtle science of…”—and I sat up perking my ears in excitement. This was it! His soft voice enthralled his listeners, and the kids were staring mesmerized as he stalked past their desks— “…There will be no foolish wand waving… bewitch the mind… delicate power…”—it was beautiful. Snape turned in a swirl of robes for the finale. “... even stopper death.

I clapped.

Holy fuckaroly for once JKR had nailed it—word for word—and the speech was EVERYTHING she had promised. Oh hey, newsflash, baby lips produced just spit when you tried to whistle.

Snape turned around in slow motion, and when the kids started clapping with me, I wished for a camera. Oh how I miss the internet. If I could just have a picture of his face I could make a meme… Evade! I slithered off the chair and in under the desk.

“Enough,” he barked at the students. “We are not in a theatre, stop this noise and open your textbooks”—he reached down to pluck me out of my hiding spot and dumped me back onto the chair, seems not touching me had gone right out of the window, it hadn’t even been an hour—“on page twelve. You will read the safety rules at the beginning of each lesson until you have memorised it. You have five minutes before I test you, I suggest you hurry up!”

He said all this without sparing them a glance. That was new. He should be shouting questions at Harry now, not standing with his back to the class, glaring at me.

“What. Was. That.”

Oh God, I was going to laugh in his face. “I’m sorry, S-Daddy, but it was just so beautiful!”

More glaring effectively silenced my mirth.

“I’ll just sit quietly, shall I?”

“Do.”


He peppered them with questions about safety precautions, where to find Bezoar—besides the stomach of a goat, also on his desk and in their individual kits. They had a double period and it seemed he intended to take up the whole of the first just with that. The students were sitting to attention, furiously scribbling everything down, but I had nothing to do and soon found myself yawning.

Another thing I learned that JKR had gotten right, was Hermione. The girl found a reason to raise her hand every two minutes until Snape got tired of saying, “Yes Miss Granger?” and changed it to: “That had better not be your hand I am seeing, Miss Granger.”

“Sorry, sir!” she said, not sounding apologetic at all, “but your son is going to fall from the chair.”

A hand steadied me before that could come to pass. “Albus can you walk to bed or will you allow me to pick you up.”

Oh now he asks. I raised my arms, too sleepy to do much more than that and he picked me effortlessly up against his chest. For a thin man he certainly wasn’t weak, perhaps from hauling cauldrons about… I snuggled in and hoped I would drool on him, beautiful speech or not, he was not yet back in my favour, no.

“I’ll be away for two minutes,” Snape said above me. I must be dreaming, for his next words were, “Put your hands on your heads and don’t touch anything while I am gone.”

Sluggish, I tried to raise my hands but he pushed them down. “Not you, Albus. The dunderheads that we call first years…”