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Unjust Fear

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Unjust Fear

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: This is my first actual comfort story. It features Harry in his first year and I was struggling so much with the young and tender age of our Mr Potter that I couldn't bring myself to make it slash. So here we go, let's begin. I always write slash but this isn't one.

Summary: Having managed to find the courage to ask for his book back from Professor Snape, Harry learns that there is a reason everybody fears the Potions Master but can one first year see through his mask of fear to see a teacher he can confide in?

Warnings: none that I can think of. Except for AU warning.

Timeline: takes place after Harry discovers Snape's leg being wounded by fluffy and his first Quidditch match.

Title: Unjust fear.

Author: Laurenke1.

Harry James Potter slowly slouched his way to the dungeons. He had managed to talk his best friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger out of coming with him. He needed his book back. Just anything to take his mind of the next Quidditch game. The last one had been a disaster

He had asked for the book back before but the look on the face of his Potions Master and the ordered, "GET OUT!", had made him retreat faster than whenever Dudley was chasing him. But he still wanted his book back and if it meant going down to the dungeons to ask, beg or even work for it, well then so be it.

Harry sighed and steeled himself as he tossed his shoulders back and lifted his head high, he could do this. This was what he was good at, asking for things in a humble way; if anything had been taught to him at the Dursleys it had been to act humble, even when he meant nothing by it.

He walked past the Potions classroom and ahead to the office that lay beyond. Was he really sure about this? His head throbbed for a moment and Harry remembered the way his broom had bucked underneath him.

He knew he might be in terrible danger from Snape but he wasn't afraid of the man. He would show Snape that he didn't need to fear the man, even if Snape had hexed him during the Quidditch match that had probably been done to make Slytherin win the Quidditch cup.

Harry shook his head; he needed his wits about him now. His hand tightened on his wand in the pocket of his robe as he summoned all of his Gryffindor courage to do the unthinkable, to ask Professor Snape for a favour.

For a moment he thought back on asking things from his family, things he would never get but he knew how to ask and in such a way that they couldn't refuse him and surely Professor Snape was more reasonable than uncle Vernon, despite his loathing of Harry since the first Potions class.

Harry still didn't know what he had done wrong. He had thought that Potions was going to be the one subject he would get right, despite his muggle schooling. He had always been fairly decent in school when there was chemistry so he had hoped that Potions would be similar but like every other subject at Hogwarts, it was hard, extremely hard and not to mention learning to live in a dorm with other people, learning to write with a quill and coming to term with everybody forming an opinion about him without even getting to know him.

He had hoped that his teachers would be different but it didn't seem so. They all expected great things from him, everybody except Professor Snape it seemed. Harry sighed again and then, before he could change his mind he knocked on the door.

There was a moment of silence, in which Harry chewed his lip and hoped that Snape wasn't going to be there. The next moment a loud curse sounded and Harry flinched. It seemed he had come at a bad time, could he perhaps sneak away before Snape would reach the door? But then…

"Enter." The deep baritone of his teacher sounded and Harry took another deep breath as he pushed open the door and stepped inside.

The dungeon office was circular with many unpleasant things floating around in slime or water on shelves. There were some book shelves and a narrow desk at which Snape was sitting. There were several chairs that looked like they came from the Potions lab and the sneer that welcomed him made Harry swallow thickly.

One chair was standing right next to Snape's desk and the older wizard was quickly pulling his black trouser leg down to cover his mangled leg, Harry had seen it before but he had expected it to be healed up by now. He quickly tore his gaze away with a small blush as he met the narrowed black eyes.

The dark greasy hair hung to Snape's broad shoulders as the black eyes bore into Harry's green ones. The Professor tugged his robe back down and said with a sneer of the thin lips. "And what brings you down here to my humble office, Potter?"

"I was….I wanted to…."

"Speech is hard, isn't it, Potter?"

Harry balled his fist around his wand as he said. "I wanted to ask if I could have my book back, sir. Quidditch Through The Ages, you confiscated it a couple of days ago before the Quidditch match."

"And why would I give it back to you, Potter? Last time I looked you could fly remarkably well."

Harry was shaking with rage suddenly. All he wanted was his book back, just one simple thing, was that so hard? Snape was studying him and then snarled. "Tell me why, boy, I should give that book back when I confiscated it with a good reason. You don't bring library books out onto the grounds and then you come into the Staff Room when you have been told explicitly not to by your Head of House no less! Or didn't Professor McGonagall tell you that the staff room is only for staff members and last time I checked you were still a student, Potter, no matter what little notions you might have gotten in that head of yours. If you had been in Slytherin…."

"I nearly was so you can get off on the notion that you safely escaped being my Head of House!" Harry snapped even before he was aware of what he had said. The moment he did he could have slapped himself and he placed his hands in front of his mouth in shock.

What had he been thinking? The last time he had said such a thing in front of Uncle Vernon, he had been sent to his cupboard for three days straight. And now he showed such cheek in front of a teacher, he would never get his book back like this.

He glanced up at Snape to see that his teacher had rose fury in his face, though his mouth twitched upwards for a moment as if Snape couldn't suppress triumph. Harry was rooted to the spot as Snape rounded the desk and said in a deadly soft voice.

"And this is how you think you will get your book back, Potter? By cheek and insulting me? I don't know what sort of family you grew up in but this kind of cheek is normally punished severely….though I suspect that given your parentage, it is…."

"Yeah, three days in the cupboard without food wouldn't be punishment enough for Uncle Vernon, usually a belt too if he considered it to be dirty enough to be wasted on me…." Harry muttered softly under his breath.

"Potter, have you learned absolutely no manners that you don't even know when to keep your mouth shut when an adult is talking?" Snape snapped suddenly and Harry was shaken roughly by his shoulder as he refocused to see his teacher standing in front of him.

Harry flinched away, the close proximity of Snape and him being startled was too much as he tried to mask him taking a step backwards by doing something else but it seemed that he was failing. Snape was staring at him but Harry's nose caught the smell of blood, a smell he was familiar with because of the many times he'd had to deal with his own wounds.

"Professor?" He managed to squeak after a moment and Snape glanced down at his own leg. He cursed and straightened when he noticed the dark strain spreading over his robe. The teacher stood and then said with a warning glance at Harry.

"Move one inch, Potter and I will use your entrails for Potion ingredients. We will discuss your punishment for your cheek in a moment."

Harry merely gave a nod as he watched as Snape went through a different door and he focussed his attention around the office rather then his own gloomy thoughts. He steadied the things floating in the glasses with narrowed eyes; he could barely focus upon them with his bad eyesight and the poor light in the dungeon.

He sighed and glanced around the other wall, where the books stood. His book wasn't in there and he wondered if he knew where it was, he could snatch it and run but no, Snape wouldn't let him, probably. The man had already cursed him for fear of winning the Quidditch game so what else was Snape capable off?

"Potter!"

Harry flinched badly when Snape's voice suddenly came and he turned to see his teacher standing with his wand in hand and his robes open, revealing dark trousers and a dark shirt underneath.

The dark eyes bore into Harry's green ones and the messy haired teenager took a step back as he blurted out. "I am sorry, sir for what I…."

"Silence!" Snape boomed as Harry swallowed the rest of his words in as Snape limped to his desk, seating himself on the edge, his lip curled in disdain as he glowered down at Harry, his dark eyes narrowed as the older wizard said. "Ten points from Gryffindor for your cheek, Potter and you may be very glad that it isn't more and you will serve a detention…."

"Please sir, I wish to apologize…I shouldn't have said that…it slipped out…I am sorry…." Harry cried out. He figured a little bit of humbleness wouldn't be too wrong in this situation and he really did want his book back but what was more, he was ashamed of what he had said. No matter how wrong Snape had treated (!) him, he should be above such petty things.

The Dursleys might deserve it but the Snape didn't deserve it, or at least…

Snape sighed and the dark eyes met Harry's green ones as the Potions Master said after a moment. "That apology won't take the points that I took back to Gryffindor. Those ten points still stand and detention will be served with me. As for your book…."

"Please, sir, allow me to have the book back…I…I really want it back and I will do anything you want me to do…anything…." Harry knew he was pleading and Snape might not like it but he really wanted and needed the book back.

"Anything, Potter?" Snape whispered and Harry nodded, echoing.

"Yes, sir anything…"

The older wizard shook his head and opened his mouth to say something when he suddenly changed his mind and got off the desk, limping around it and rummaging through a pile of scrolls until he pulled one out and gestured for Harry over to desk as he tossed down the scroll and said, with barely suppressed glee. "Here!"

Harry glanced up at his Professor, taking in the sallow skin and the hooked nose as he asked, unrolling his scroll. It was his Potions homework, words crossed out and comments in a bright red ink as he asked. "What do I have to do with it, Professor?"

"You will rewrite it, Potter, your handwriting was so bad I could barely read it."

"Oh." Harry swallowed thickly as he glanced down. Suddenly his eyes were glistered over with tears which he angrily wiped away. Really, he shouldn't be crying about such a small thing. It wasn't the first time that he had to redo work because of poor penmanship. Last time he had broken his wrist and it had hurt so badly that he couldn't write straight for weeks.

Why did he think that it would suddenly improve now? Those quills were hard enough to use for drawing so why would somebody actually write with them? He glanced down and chewed on his lip for a moment before he glanced up and asked. "All of it, sir?"

"Yes, Potter, all of it. You will finish it tonight or I will send a letter to Professor McGonagall and your relatives about your poor penmanship and that you require extra practise." Snape sneered as if the very word practise had a bad taste to it.

Harry's insides were suddenly freezing. "Please, Professor, not to my relatives….they…."

"What is the matter, Potter? Afraid that your family won't like to see anything else then a perfect record?" Snape snarled and Harry felt the colour leaving his face.

"No, sir…" Harry ducked his head. How could he tell Snape that if the Potions Master sent such a letter then Uncle Vernon would never let him forget it? He could still remembering the stinging words of his uncle when they had said that he didn't belong on this school and such a letter would only prove that it was true, if he couldn't even master the simple task of writing then how was he ever to master the complexity of magic and spells?

He kept his head down, unaware of the frown that was directed at his messy head as he sought in his bag for parchment and a quill and ink to write. Slowly he uncapped his ink, taking a deep breath and remembered Ron's lessons. He could do this; he just needed to focus and not rush things like he often had to do in the Common Room.

Slowly he copied the title, ignoring the comments added to the parchment which sprang out in bright red letters:

"Unacceptable, Potter, theory is the first grasp to a well practical experience but most students lack even the basic grasp of theory!"

"Sometimes I wonder if you can read, Potter, because I certainly can't decipher this scrawl of yours. Are you a child brandishing a wand and learning magic or a baboon brandishing a quill and learning to write because I am unable to tell the difference?"

"One would imagine that being in Gryffindor would give you a sense of loyalty to your class mates? But it seems that I was wrong and you are very lucky that I do not take points for bad essays, for you would have turned in a better one if I did."

"How long does your attention span last? Because the longer the essay gets, the worse the words and theory get. One would almost think you didn't think Potions was important."

And it went on and on in such a fashion and Harry was reading the comments with growing unease and wiggled in his seat. His ears were burning with shame. Snape really did hate him, how could he ever think that he was going to get his book back by simply asking?

His hand ached from holding the quill too tight and he dropped it, only having copied down the title. His lip was trembling and he realized much to his shame that he was once more blinking away tears.

What was wrong with him? It wasn't any worse in this school then it had been on the other, except for Dudley who wasn't here. Still nobody liked him, well except for Ron and Hermione, and he was blamed for things he couldn't even remember doing.

Why was he the only one having trouble with reading the blackboard so that sometimes Ron had to read out the instructions to him, or the magic that certainly didn't come easy, or the fact that he was dreaming weird things and that he was terrified of being spoken to and he kept his wand on him at all times, like somebody would surely hit him for his stupid mistake and he could defend himself.

He angrily wiped at his eyes, upsetting his glasses and even before he could grasp them, they tumbled to the ground and Harry could hear a loud crack. Oh no, not his glasses. They had broken again by the sound of it.

He slid to the ground, even as he heard a chair being pushed backwards as it scraped over the stone floor. He picked up his glasses, hiding them in his robe as he pretended to clean them.

"Potter, give them to me, please." The impatient voice sounded and Harry glanced up, squinting to get Snape into focus. His teacher appeared to be frowning.

"They are fine, sir…"

"Don't hold me for a fool, Potter; I quite clearly heard your glasses break. Come on, hand them over…"

"Please sir…"

"You can't go around wearing broken glasses, you daft child, I can fix them easily."

"No, sir…please…." Harry held his glasses tightly in his robe. Snape couldn't see his glasses because he would know that even with his glasses, his eyesight was very bad.

"Potter, what is the matter with you and recognizing authority? Hand them over, child, now!"

Snape's voice had dropped and Harry begrudge handed his glasses over. One of the glasses was cracked in the middle and Snape tapped on it, saying. "Reparo."

Harry took his glasses back and glanced at them, they appeared totally new, no longer held together by tape and smudged with grease but fully clean and repaired. Harry easily put them on, smiling up at his Professor. "Brilliant, sir." He managed after a moment but Snape merely frowned.

"Yes, I suppose it is quite brilliant as you so elegantly put it now please return to your work so that I may enjoy the rest of my evening or what is left of it anyway…"

Harry's smile faltered as he asked. "Sir, can you please take a look at the title to tell me if I am doing alright….I don't want to have to redo it again."

A black eyebrow rose and Snape said. "I am sure that you can do it on your own, Potter. Normal children do so as well so I am not going to make any exception for you simply because you are famous. I am sure that at home there are people to even do your writing for you but in here you will do your own writing."

Harry fell silent, his gaze down to the floor as he said. "But Professor, if you tell me if I am doing alright now, instead of later, then I can still fix my mistakes and I won't have to redo it and you won't be here all evening sitting with me until I have completed my work to satisfaction."

He held his breath, wondering what Snape would think. He could hear a sigh somewhere above his head and then the strong hand of his teacher on his shoulder as Snape said. "Very well, Potter. Show me whatever you have done."

Harry knew that he would likely receive a scowling, not that his teacher ever did much else. He approached the desk, sitting down on the chair as he pulled his parchment to him. Snape snatched it from him and then said, in an exerted tone. "Potter, you only copied the title?"

To his shame, Harry felt his face flush and then said. "Yes, sir…I…"

"Potter, your handwriting is still awful. I do fear that I will need to send out that letter to your relatives…." Snape was bent over his parchment, his hands on the desk as he picked up the discarded quill and scratched on the parchment quickly.

Harry's heart was suddenly hammering a little bit too fast. His mouth had gone dry and he felt like a fish on dry land, unable to move or to breath. "Please, sir…I will try to do better…."

Snape glanced down at him and the dark eyes narrowed as the Potions Master took in the rapidly paling complexion of his student. This was a surprise. Potter seemed almost terrified but of what? Perhaps he should keep his student a little bit longer to find out?

"Try to draw the lines as I have added them below. Does nobody in your House care if you have poor penmanship?" Snape knew that if he had found out that first years didn't know how to work with a quill in Slytherin his prefects would be severely punished.

Harry knew his ears were bright red as he stammered. "My friend Ron tried to help me but I can't get the hang of it. I…I never was really well with my writing…" Harry rubbed his wrist. Ever since breaking it about a year ago when he had tripped and his arm had been trapped underneath his body as he ran away from his cousin in school, it had ached sometimes to remind him of the old injury.

He had to swallow back tears that day, even when Aunt Petunia took him to the hospital to get the cast on his arm. Uncle Vernon had been even less pleased when his chores suddenly took longer to complete because Harry had been unable to work rapidly with his arm.

He remembered the throbbing feeling and he tensed, causing him to flinch when Snape suddenly asked. "Why are you so afraid that I am going to send a letter to your relatives?"

Harry's head snapped up and he met the narrowed eyes as he said. "I am not afraid, sir. It is just like you said; they don't want to see anything else but a perfect record…."

It doesn't matter to Uncle Vernon if I come home with a perfect record o r not because I will have to mow the lawn and do all the other stuff still.

"Do your work, Potter!" Snape finally snapped his patience thinning. Something was wrong with Potter and he was going to be damned if he wouldn't find out. It wasn't right for somebody to be so fearful of a threat to send a letter to one's relatives, if only the Weasley twins were a bit more like that, the threat would hold more power.

Harry released a long held breath as Snape snapped out the comment. It made it so very much easier to deal with then when his teacher, like Professor McGonagall had done a few weeks ago, had asked him if everything was alright at his home situation when she had requested some information like she always did with all her students.

Harry had been beet red and unable to respond only to say his aunt and uncle hadn't been used to Owl post. She had merely thinned her lips and had told him to get to his next class but what if she told the rest of the Staff, what if Snape knew? What would that mean?

"Potter, this is the last time I am warning you or I am going to go to Professor McGonagall and tell her that you are very slow and do not follow instructions very well." The Professor's angry voice made Harry jump and he made himself as small as possible behind the desk as he murmured.

"Yes, sir."

He ducked his head even when he was seething with anger. The hateful Professor couldn't do anything to him; much less send a letter to the Dursleys. But Harry was doubtful, Ron always said that Snape was the worst of all teachers and he could even keep the Weasley twins in line, what if it meant that his teacher could?

He picked up his quill, his eyes on the parchment. He glanced up when suddenly the fireplace behind the Professor flared green and a parchment flew through. It was rolled up and bound and as Harry watched, amazed, the parchment was even smoking, the Professor merely plucked it out of the air and laid it down beside him without opening.

Harry realized he was staring as Snape lifted his head to glance at Harry. Meeting the black eyes without blinking or blushing, something Harry was quite proud of, he glanced back down at his parchment and continued writing.

After a while he glanced up again to see the black eyes regarding him again above the unrolled parchment. Snape's eyes shot down to read the rest of the parchment and Harry feared it was about him when the Potions Master rose and said. "I have to step out of the class for a moment, Potter. I trust that you will remain in your seat and continue with your work. There will be very grave consequences if you don't, boy."

Harry gulped and nodded, he didn't even want to know about those consequences. With Uncle Vernon he knew what to expect when his uncle said such a thing and he knew how far he could go. What would Professor Snape do? Some part of him wanted to find out, it was always best after all when you did it as soon as you were capable so that you know how far to push an adult.

He sighed as he heard the door close behind him. He glanced around the classroom, leaning back in his seat. Couldn't he just look for his book now, while Snape was away? Surely it was somewhere here in this office, it had to be.

Looking backwards at the door, he pushed his chair back as gently and as silently as he could and rushed up to the desk. It might be a bad idea but he had to find his book, perhaps he could leave and return to the common room.

Harry's green eyes flew over the tidy desk. The scrolls that were being marked lay in one neat pile while the unmarked scrolls lay on the other end of the desk. Three drawers were screaming for Harry's attention.

He glanced around the deserted classroom, listening for a moment to hear if anybody approached. No noise came from the corridors and the door behind Harry. He didn't even know where that door would lead but he didn't really want to know.

He focussed on the desk, hoping with all his might that nobody would come in because he would be done for. He remembered the punishments Uncle Vernon always gave him when he didn't follow the rules and since Snape knew magic and had tried to hex him because he could beat Slytherin; there was no telling what the man was going to do.

He pulled open the top drawer, or at least tried to but the drawer wouldn't budge. Pulling a little harder the drawer still wouldn't budge; in fact, it looked like it was locked. Sitting down on his knees, Harry tried to see if he could find a keyhole but there was no hole but then how could the drawer be locked?

He sighed; perhaps it was the same spell that Hermione had muttered when she had opened the door to that dog. If only he had memorized that spell, it had started with an A, he could remember that but he had forgotten the rest of the spell. He sighed and resisted the urge to bang his head against the desk, knowing from experience it wouldn't do him much good.

He pulled his wand from his pocket and tapped it on the desk, perhaps by some divine miracle the drawers would...

But no, they stayed shut and Harry felt frustration welling up within him. How come Hermione had already learned that spell and he sometimes even had trouble to grasp the beginning of magic?

Suddenly a hand landed heavily on his shoulder and Harry startled, unable to hide it as he flinched away and turned when the very dangerous, silky voice came. "And pray tell, Potter, what are you doing fumbling behind my desk?"

"Nothing sir." Harry stammered, having the courage to meet the angry dark eyes. He gulped for he saw the promise of certain death within those eyes and he shivered as he tried to pull away.

"This doesn't look like nothing, Potter! I told you to continue with your work and you fail to follow through. I think points will be taken and you will serve a detention but perhaps I should inform the Headmaster of your dubious behaviour?"

"No, sir, don't..." Harry felt his heart hammer in his throat. He knew that when somebody informed the Headmaster, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia would be informed and they wouldn't be happy. They would have to come to school and...

He remembered his third year extremely well, when a nice teacher had informed the headmaster of his primary school that he was being beaten by Dudley every day...well he had spent days in his cupboard, only coming out for school and right back in when he came home, except to do chores...he didn't want to go back to that confiding space, better to sleep with five boys in a dormitory then this...

He scampered backwards, Snape sneering and growing angrier every second but Harry wondered, perhaps he could outrun his teacher, surely Snape wasn't that fast, his robes would hinder him in his movements.

He allowed himself to relax and then he tore himself away from Snape's grip, twisting his body this way and that way until he could run to the door, hoping it would open at his touch. It didn't and he realized he had failed when Snape snapped. "Potter!"

He ducked his head, knowing he would earn a swap for something like this. Whenever he had run at home, Uncle Vernon would try to hit him with the belt...

Iron grips on his shoulders turned him around but Harry didn't dare to lift his head.

"Potter, look at me when I speak to you!"

The hand under his chin and Harry tore himself away, knowing that a blow to the face would send his head spinning and him losing all control.

"Potter!" The deep voice dropped lower and this time he couldn't tear himself away from Snape's hand as it came up from under his chin. His eyes fastened themselves onto the other slender hand as he followed the movements of the potion stained hands, afraid that at an unguarded moment they would strike, fast as lightening and he would be unprepared.

His magic was rising, agitated but Harry had never been able to defend himself as he dropped his eyes as Snape snapped again.

"Potter!"

Harry's eyes flew up to meet the dark ones, they were probing his face and Harry felt the colour rise in his cheeks as he asked. "Please, don't...don't tell the Headmaster...I will be in so much trouble..."

The dark eyes narrowed and Snape frowned as he hissed. "You are already in a lot of trouble, Potter so why should I not inform the Headmaster?"

"I will do anything, sir...I won't tell Professor McGonagall about that time when you hexed me at the Quidditch match..."

Snape seemed to swell with rage and he hissed. "You arrogant idiotic boy, I was trying to safe you..."

Immediately Harry pulled away and he used his arms to cover his head when he saw the slender hand rise. He closed his eyes, waiting for the blow, perhaps if he held still long enough, it wouldn't hurt so bad.

But the blow never came; instead Snape's hand hit the door behind him with a loud bang as the teacher released a frightening hiss of anger and rage. Harry pulled back deeper, trying to roll into a ball.

Fear was curling his stomach, making him queasy as he closed his eyes tightly, hoping to appear invisible. He murmured. "Please don't hit me!"

"And why would I hit you, Mr Potter? Just because you are an insufferable, arrogant, noisy brat without any regards for the rules wouldn't justify any blow, no matter how right it may seem in your strange mind."

"Because I made a mistake and I ran and I am not supposed to run...unless Uncle Vernon chased me with the belt but..." Harry clamped his mouth tightly shut when he saw the look on Snape's face.

His Professor's already pale complexion was paling even further as Harry's words registered. The dark eyes were glittering oddly and then Snape softly asked. "Is what you are telling me true or are you trying to attract more attention to yourself, Mr Potter?"

The deep voice was controlled and dangerously soft and Harry couldn't bear to lie to make it seem alright. Something had changed in the room and he was so weary suddenly, so tired of having to be the one who got punished even when he came home with a good report card, an even better one then Dudley and he would still get send to his cupboard.

He gave a timid nod and Snape's eyes widened momentarily before the teacher sank down upon one knee, his dark eyes still fixed upon Harry and the thin lips pressed together.

"Potter, I..."

"Please, sir, don't send out a letter to my relatives? I don't want you to..."

Snape interrupted as he said, holding up a slender hand, his dark eyes following Harry's frightened green ones as they fixed upon his hand. "I will send out a letter if what you are telling me is true, it is a very serious crime to beat a child..."

"No! If they know that I told you and that I can't read the blackboard or that I can't write or even know any magic they will come and take me away...I don't want to go...I don't care if I can't do magic just leave me with Hagrid...anything is better than being there..."

All his frustration and fears suddenly bubbled over and he found himself suddenly weeping, his hands fastened themselves in the dark fabric so close by. He couldn't take it anymore. He didn't want to be sent back, he would be a punching bag for Dudley again and...

He was still talking, probably not making any sense. "Don't send me back. I don't want to go back to the cupboard and not getting food. I will adapt, I swear...I will work harder than anybody else...don't send me away..."

"Potter, calm down!" Gentle hands sought to pull his hands away but Harry tightened his grip as he cried out harder, his tears making it harder for him to see.

"Don't send me away...I will do anything! I will clean, cook...I will do anything...I promise...I..."

He was sobbing wildly and it was harder to breath. Hands pulled him closer, winding themselves around his shoulders as they gently guided him against a warm body and Harry broke down completely. He drew in large mouthfuls of air as he sobbed deeply.

"Hush, you won't be sent away. I will promise you that much, Potter..."

"I can't stop...sir..." He hiccupped and a large hand at the back of his head pushed him forward and Harry rested his head against the strong shoulder before him.

"Hush, it is alright. Just go through it. It will fade after a while. Just breathe in and out..." The deep voice soothed Harry as did the hand that gently rubbed circles in his back. He would have laughed hysterically if he had known that it was Snape, the feared Potions Master of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry who was allowing him to cry now.

It didn't matter how long he cried but finally a few hiccups was all that was left. Harry's heart fell raw, as did his throat and his nose was stuffy as he tried to pull away to run a hand over his burning eyes. He managed after a moment, Snape's slender hands loosely resting on his shoulders as the Professor steadied him.

"Potter, is it true what you are telling me?"

Harry only gave a nod. His head ached and exhaustion was overcoming him. He didn't even remember the last time he had cried like that. He was sure he looked a right mess now but Snape didn't seem to mind. His eyes focussed on the damp spot of his Professor's robes and he blushed.

Snape sighed and then refocused his dark eyes as he said. "I need to inform your Head of House and the Headmaster so we can make other arrangements for you during the summer..."

Hope was blossoming in his chest and Harry glanced up as he asked. "I won't have to go back?"

Sighing again, Snape smiled ruefully, Harry nearly stepped back and said solemnly. "You have my word..."

A doubtful look must have crossed Harry's face because the Professor added. "Regardless of whatever else I might be, I am a man of my word. Come, I will escort you to the Hospital Wing so we can give you a Calming Draught. I think you have been through enough for one evening though I will need you to tell Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey what you have told me, Harry..."

"You will stay?" Harry was sure he was old enough to do this alone but something about Snape's presence and the way his Professor was taking charge, it made him feel much better and much more at ease.

The hand on his messy head made him glance up to see the Potions Master glancing down as he said. "Yes, I will stay however strange it might be."

Harry yawned and feeling strangely at ease with the hand on his shoulder as he walked in front of Snape, he knew, he could handle strange because how strange had it been to find his fear unjust because if Snape was on his side, well, he wouldn't want to be Vernon Dudley whenever they meet and he grinned despite himself and the problems he had, because it would be a sight that would warm his memories when he thought about it.

That is it for now. I am thinking of perhaps continuing this with them going up to the Healing Wing, Professor McGonagall's and Dumbledore's reactions to the news and perhaps even a confrontation with the Dursleys. But it will depend on what the reviews will be and what you think of the story. Review of course.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Wow that is all I can say to the response (!) this story has gotten. I am so humbled by it. I want to thank everybody for reviewing and reading this story. So all I can say is, let's begin. This is not nor will be slash. I think that you all are familiar with Snape's past if not, then go and read up on it because some things will be reading between the lines but if you don't get something, feel free to pm me.

The many corridors of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry were deserted as Harry and Professor Snape walked up to the Hospital Wing. Harry was sniffling a little, green eyes darting anxiously to search for any students who would see him walking with the feared Potions Master.

It was nearing curfew and the only thing Harry felt at the moment was a deep aching shame that he had lost it in front of Snape. If Uncle Vernon would find out that he had lost control in front of a teacher, spilling the aching truth he had kept for so many years, well, he could only imagine what kind of welcome he would get when he returned home for the holidays.

Why was he being escorted to the Hospital Wing again by Snape of all people? He could deny of course what he had seen but he knew that Snape would be very disappointed in him and the older wizard would never believe him again.

And truth be told, it had felt so good to confide in somebody. To have somebody taking charge without being mocked or neglected. He knew he deserved nothing less from Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia and that they had been very kind to take him into their home and he wasn't earning his keep doing things like this, such as confiding in a teacher. He was being an ungrateful brat as Uncle Vernon always called him….

How did he always manage to get into these messes? All he had set out to do was to get his book back and he managed to not only rewrite his essay, break his glasses but also break down completely in front of the most feared Professor in Hogwarts' history. Nothing ever turned out the way he had wanted it or needed it.

He stopped, noticing the open double doors ahead of them. Snape stopped as well, glowering down at Harry's bowed messy head as the older wizard said. "Is there a reason for this delay, Potter?"

"I…." Harry stammered before he pulled in a large breath and glanced up at the Professor and asked in a small voice, eyes darting around to make sure nobody saw him. "Do I really need to tell the Headmaster and Professor McGonagall? I mean…won't they be disappointed in me because I didn't confide in them?"

Snape's face was blank but the older wizard said, dark eyes focused upon Harry. "Yes, Potter, you need to tell them. They have a right to know. Professor McGonagall, as your Head of House is responsible for your welfare in class. The Headmaster, well, Professor Dumbledore is a very influential man and…he has certain things to answer for and I wish for him to be there when Madam Pomfrey presents the results of the examination…"

"Examination?" Harry yelped.

"Yes, Potter. Your eyesight needs to be corrected and any lingered wounds will be drawn up in a report that will be filed with the school for reference on a later date. This can also be presented to the appropriate authorities in case your Muggles complain and lie."

Harry turned his eyes to the ground, his ears burning as he fidgeted with his hands in his robe and asked. "Will it hurt?"

He glanced up when no answer came and a strange look was passing over Snape's face before the older wizard sighed and said. "I imagine it will if there are wounds that need to be healed. Madam Pomfrey is a very skilled mediwitch and she will try to be gentle."

"Will I have to be alone or….?" Harry swallowed thickly, peering up into the dark eyes and before Snape even had a chance to answer he blundered on. "I am sorry, sir for that question. Professor McGonagall will be there because she will be responsible for my welfare, I shouldn't have…."

"Potter, do you remember what you asked me before we departed from my office?" Harry glanced up again to see an amused expression flashing over the pale face before Snape continued. "I promised that I would not allow you to return to your family and I will see to it myself that you will not return, on any argument. Moreover, you asked me to stay but if you have changed your mind, I can stand outside of the curtain when Madam Pomfrey…"

"Sir, would you mind being there? I know I not supposed to ask but…." Harry interrupted the older wizard again and he bowed his head, eyes burning again. What was prompting him to ask such things? Surely Snape had better things to do with his time then to stand guard while Harry was being checked over, he was a grown boy and besides, Aunt Petunia had always waited in the hallway, no matter how much Harry screamed or…

The slender hand landed on top of his messy head and Snape softly said, so soft Harry was the only one who heard it. "You are not the first abused child to come here, Mr. Potter, nor are you the first to come to me. Not every teacher knows what to look for and if you so desire, I will stand by your side, lending my…uhm support."

Harry swallowed thickly and then nodded, shuddering with the word abuse. He tried to shake his head to clear away the feeling of fear. Snape's hand on his head was strengthening and he slowly breathed out. Snape had promised that he would never again have to return. He steeled himself. He was Harry Potter; he was rumoured to have vanquished He Who Must Not Be Named.

"I know the fear can be overwhelming, Potter. Your family does not have access to you at Hogwarts and you have my word. You will never again have to return to them." The teacher's voice dropped to a low growl full of anger and Harry flinched.

He fell back on his earliest nature and merely nodded. Snape's strong fingers hooked underneath his chin and forced him to look up as the Professor said. "You have my word, Harry. Your Head of House is not the only one who is responsible for your welfare. As a professor at this institute I am obliged to report any incidents of child abuse. I am one of the Professors who have enough experience in child abuse to know what to expect…."

That odd look passed his Professor's face again and the dark eyes glittered strangely and Harry softly said. "Do abused children get sorted in Slytherin then?'

It would explain why the Sorting Hat had wanted to put him into Slytherin if Snape had such experience with abused children. His green eyes searched his Professor's face and then Snape said his lip curling into a strange smile. "Something like that, Potter. Shall we?"

The Professor gestured to the doors to the Infirmary and Harry took a deep breath before he followed Snape's billowing dark cloak, only a step behind the Professor.

Harry had never been to the Hospital Wing and he looked around at the assembled beds, all empty and the nightstands near the beds. Around some beds there were curtains but none were drawn at the moments. Cabinets were off to the walls and Harry squinted at the sudden lights as Madam Pomfrey hurried into the room.

The mediwitch was a stern elderly woman. Poppy Pomfrey had no doubt seen many injuries and she had already drawn her wand when Snape limped into the Infirmary with Harry in tow. Madam Pomfrey smiled and she smoothed out her white robes and rightened the cap on top of her greying hair.

"Ah, Severus, have you come to finally heal that leg of yours that you have been limping around on since Halloween?" Her voice was light but stern. She frowned at Harry as he walked forward. Snape turned to Harry and gestured for him to come closer as the Potions Master turned back to Madam Pomfrey who said.

"Mr. Potter, it is nearly curfew. You should be back in Gryffindor Tower. …"

"I took Mr. Potter here, Poppy. I did not come for my leg…"

"I will look at it before you leave, young man!" Snape scowled but continued, straightening a little.

"I would request that you examine Potter for any old injuries that have not fully healed or any recent ones and check for signs of abuse."

Madam Pomfrey startled and her eyes grew wide as she turned to Harry. "No, Mr. Potter he cannot possible have been…."

"According to his words then yes. I request you examine him, Poppy." Snape pressed, his dark eyes passing over Harry. Harry was angry for a moment. Why were they discussing him like he wasn't there? Madam Pomfrey raised her wand and gestured towards the bed as she said, her lips pressed tightly together.

"Very well then, step out for a moment, Severus while I examine Mr. Potter…"

"Mr. Potter has requested my presence here…." Snape appeared uncomfortable but Harry could see the determent lift of the chin as Madam Pomfrey eyed him and said.

"Only if you let me take a look at that leg of yours, Severus."

"It is for Potter's benefit…" Snape sputtered and Harry stiffened a laugh. Imagine the feared Professor being berated like a small child.

"And it is for your benefit if you walk around with an infected leg, Severus, what have you been thinking?"

Snape shot Harry a warning glance and the younger wizard managed to school his features in a blank expression. Snape shook his head, murmuring softly before he gave a curt nod. "Very well."

"Then it is settled. Up on the bed, Mr. Potter." Harry swallowed thickly, his fear returning. He suddenly remembered why he had come here. He backed away, remembering the last time Aunt Petunia had taken him to the hospital to get his arm set, and she had merely said that he didn't require any sedatives, it had hurt a lot.

He shook his head. "No, I am fine."

Madam Pomfrey frowned at him and then at Snape, who had crossed his arms over his chest. The older wizard sighed and then asked Madam Pomfrey. "Don't you have any things to update in your files, Poppy?"

"Severus, you know that…." She began when the Potions Master suddenly interrupted her as he pointed a slender finger at Harry and then at the bed.

"Fine, remain! Potter, on the bed or I will charm you up there and stick your bottom on the bed with a sticking charm. If I am supposed to get my leg fixed you will suffer through an examination." Harry's ears burned at the older wizard's tone. Madam Pomfrey was bristling but then Snape limped closer and Harry nearly yanked his arm free when the hand came to rest on it but the touch was light and coaxing and Snape softly said, in the same soft tone that he had spoken to Harry in the corridor.

"It will not hurt that bad…"

"That is what Aunt Petunia said last time." Harry stubbornly protested.

The rustled of a cloak sounded and Snape hooked his fingers underneath Harry's eyes again. A small smile was playing over the lips of the Head of House for Slytherin. "If you allow Madam Pomfrey to examine you, fully, I will waive away your detention, your essay and I will give you your book back."

"This is considered blackmail…" Harry spoke before he thought and the smile deepened.

"I am Head of Slytherin house, Potter, you know this so do not stoop any lower then what is considered normal for you. Now, I have explained to you before that this is necessary for the reports. What are you so afraid of?"

"Nothing sir."

"I do not believe such a thing, Potter so do not lie to me! Come on, you are wasting precious time here."

"I am not lying…." Harry protested his eyes downcast.

"Potter, look at me when we speak!" Harry's eyes lifted and then his teacher sighed and said. "The only way to convince the Headmaster of your words is the full report. He has never swayed to arguments of words alone, much to the grief of some of the students."

"Then if Professor Dumbledore won't believe me anyway, why go through with it? What would it be to you if I am humbled and pained before…." Harry saw the expression change on Snape's face to one of furry and the hand gripped his shoulder in a firm grip as Snape said his voice suddenly icy.

"It is to me another way to prevent years of pain at the hands of your family. I will not have another student beaten, starved and such things simply because your family is inadequate to take care of you or to blame you for something that was not your fault. If I can prevent it then I will…."

"But why would you? You hate me!" Harry bit out angrily.

Snape sighed and looked away, emotions passing over his eyes. Madam Pomfrey was stroking her apron but she kept silent, her expression set in a firm line and her eyes fixed upon Snape who was still kneeling before Harry. The Potions Master's dark gaze returned to Harry and Snape softly said.

"Regardless of my personal feelings for you, Mr. Potter, you came to me with a very distressing revelation and I am duty bound to aid you with your plead…"

"So you are just here because you have had dealings with students who have been abused and because you are duty bound?" Harry bit out sharply. His anger was rising and he didn't even know why he had expected anything else. Nobody ever cared about him so why should Snape be any different?

Something passed through Snape's eyes and this time the grip on his shoulder was painful too but it was in a whole different manner as Snape said. "I am no longer merely duty bound, Harry. The moment you asked for me to remain it became more. It became personal, something it should always have been considering who you are."

Harry's heart swelled for some reason and he gave a nod. Something about the older wizard was appealing to him. Snape glanced at him and Harry suddenly wondered what would have happened if he had been sorted into Slytherin. Would Snape have supported him too?

He glanced up and Snape said. "It may hurt, Harry, I cannot guarantee you that it won't but regardless of what happens, of what will be said in your defence and against you, you will have my support but you must bear with me. I know what I may be asking is degrading, humiliating and hurting but it has to happen. We can properly address your injuries and ailments and threat them."

What Snape said made sense and Gryffindor's Golden Boy sighed and then nodded, green eyes pleading with Snape not to leave him. The dark haired Professor merely ruffled Harry's hair and rose, allowing the young seeker to go to the bed, looking like he was going to the gallows.

"Finally, Harry up on this bed if you will. Severus, tell me about the state of your leg while Harry puts this on." Much to Harry's horror there was a white Infirmary nightshirt thrown at him. Madam Pomfrey bristled about the bed, drawing the curtains around them and glancing over at the tense teacher.

"My leg is fine…"

"It was bleeding earlier!" Harry pointed out helpfully. He was aware of Snape's glare as the mediwitch turned to the Professor while he pulled the nightgown over his head, blushing lightly. He would be damned if he was going to be the only one to suffer.

"Severus Snape, what did I tell you about proper wound assessment? As a Potions Master and a man of your experience you should be aware that you need to take care of yourself! If you have managed to work yourself into an infection, I will be the one applying the sticking charm, only this time to your back and backside!" Madam Pomfrey snapped and Harry chuckled.

"I am fine, woman!" Snape crossed his arms over his chest just as Madam Pomfrey muttered something under her breath and she waved her wand in a complicated pattern. Snape merely raised an eyebrow as runes floated over his body and numbers appeared beside him, making soft noises. His eyes followed the numbers for a while and Harry wondered what they were.

There was a certain rhythm to the numbers but he couldn't figure out what they were as Madam Pomfrey appeared satisfied and she turned to Harry, who was still staring at Snape and by another complex wand movement Harry felt his clothing that he had worn underneath the nightshirt disappear from his body and appear neatly folded on the bed.

He startled, raising his voice to voice his protest when suddenly something flared in his arm, in the one he had broken last year and he felt it grow hot as he cursed and his eyes watered from the pain as he held his arm, cradling it to his chest. Madam Pomfrey's wand had stopped in a complex pattern as she stared at him, her mouth open in silent shock and Snape had stepped closer, arms on his side now as the dark eyes narrowed while the rhythm of the numbers rose.

Madam Pomfrey ended the spell that she had done on Snape and the only sound that came was Harry's rapid breathing as the mediwitch said, her composure stiff but somewhat upsetting. "I will get the necessary supplies." She met Snape's eyes, who gave a curt nod and she departed through the curtain.

Harry's eyes were watering and he rubbed his arm, which was now feeling like there were pins being stabbed into it. He scowled at his arm and asked. "What was that all about?"

"That, Mr. Potter is the proof that you speak truth. Madam Pomfrey checked for recently badly healed injuries and it appears like your arm was broken recently. She will get the necessary supplies to threat the injuries and to record any other lingering ones."

"Then what was the spell she did on you, sir?" Harry looked up to see Snape's grim countenance soften some as the older wizard answered.

"She was checking if there was an infection in my leg. The sound you heard was my heartbeat so you can assure you friends that I am not an undead vampire interested in sucking the students' blood as they all believe. You have just received proof that I am alive."

"Oh…" Harry blushed. He ducked his head, eyes fixed upon Snape who pointed at his arm and asked.

"When did you break it?"

"In the spring. I was running away from Dudley when I tripped and fell. My arm was trapped beneath my body and well, it kind of broke." Harry sighed, pulling the nightgown a little tighter around himself. The thing was short and breezy, two things he didn't like at all.

He resettled himself on the bed as Madam Pomfrey returned, a potion in hand and her wand in the other. She gave Harry a tight smile though he could see her eyes were watery. He swallowed thickly, was she crying because of him? That made him feel very uncomfortable as he tried to check in his fear, for some reason he knew the upcoming time was going to be extremely uncomfortable.

Hp

"He is underweight, has recently healed ribs, arm, whatever appears to be a concussion, has a urinary infection, extremely bad eyesight and those are just his recent injuries. I found a multitude of badly healed injuries from years past and not to mention his physical scars of course." Harry sat wheezing on the bed. His body was throbbing with the spells Madam Pomfrey had used on him to determine his injuries.

He looked up from underneath his fringe up at Snape. The Professor looked tense but his eyes were filled with rage and Harry flinched. His throat was a bit dry and he wrapped his arms around himself. He curled into a ball, knees drawn up to his chest as he looked at the adults, eyes trained on Madam Pomfrey's wand.

Snape's posture was still, back rigid as the Potions Master whispered. "What about….sexual abuse…"

Madam Pomfrey turned to Harry who had suddenly blanched as he scrambled up on the bed and said, seeing the wand appear again. "My uncle never touched me…'

"Potter, this is a very serious offence if he did…."

"No…no…he wouldn't touch a freak like me…" Harry laughed bitterly as the dark eyes regarded him. Madam Pomfrey sighed with relief, her eyes shining strangely as she said, patting Harry's knee for a moment.

"I will be right back with something to address those injuries of yours. We will have you feeling better in a jiffy, Mr. Potter." The mediwitch closed the curtain around them again and as her footsteps faded away, Harry relaxed. He eyed his clothing, pulling the gown tighter around him.

Would Ron and Hermione miss him yet? Surely it was passed curfew and he had yet to appear in the common room. Would they be looking for him by now? He felt his heart warm at the thought and he wanted nothing more than to be in the common room with them, anything would be better than being here.

He eyed his clothing again and missed the soft footsteps as a hand touched his head, startling him but smoothing back his fringe, and stroking his scar. He glanced up at Snape, who was standing close by. The older wizard wasn't staring at his scar, however, like Harry had imagined but at his eyes or rather in his eyes.

"Are you alright?" The Potions Master asked.

Harry gave a brusque nod, even when he was feeling everything but alright. He was shivering, feeling like he had done after the doctors had put a cast around his arm and nobody had stood by his side, only a kind nurse.

Fingers ran through his hair and Harry breathed in deeply. He knew that it hadn't really hurt that badly, not really like it had done before but he didn't want to have to relive any old injuries again. He didn't even know how he had acquired some. He breathed in deeply again, trying to console and control himself.

Snape sat down on the bed opposed Harry, closer then Harry would have liked but the teacher merely looked at Harry, his dark eyes unreadable. "I can imagine it must be very uncomfortable the examination…."

Harry merely gave another nod, chewing on his lip and cheek. Harry glanced up, rubbing at his arm.

"Potter, if there is anything you wish to say to me…"

"There isn't, sir. Yes, the examination hurt but there is nothing that you or anybody else can do about it. Aunt Petunia always left me alone so I can deal with the pain and since you aren't going through the examination, I doubt you know how it feels."

Professor Snape looked away for a moment as if contemplating something before he said. "That is not entirely true, Potter."

The teacher didn't offer anything else and Harry fell silent again before Snape continued. "You do not have to go through this alone. I am here…"

"I doubt you would allow me to hold your hand, sir." Harry offered, harsher then he intended to. The shame of having to go through such an examination in front of his teacher and the pain was getting the better of him. He wanted to get dressed, get his book back and then go to the common room and forget about this whole day.

He didn't care about returning to the Dursleys again but he just wanted this over. His eyes burned with angry tears and then he looked up to see the horrified expression crossing Snape's face though the dark eyes burned with amusement. Harry wondered if Snape would use this against him…

"Well, I suppose I could but I would have to dock points if you squeezed too much." The soft words made Harry gape. The thin lips of his professor curled up in a smirk and Harry looked away, feeling a little bit better.

The sound of footsteps sounded and both Harry and Snape glanced up when Madam Pomfrey entered with an assortment of potions. Harry's stomach churned at the sight of them. He pulled his knees up to his chest and breathed in deeply.

Madam Pomfrey sat the tray down and she smiled at Snape, saying her eyes twinkling as she winked at Harry. "Ah, Severus, how good of you to sit on the bed. If you would kindly roll up your trousers a little so that I can have access to the wound then I can get it fixed. Harry, these are the potions that you need to take. You need to drink them all."

Harry gazed with wide eyes at the variety of potions. There were so many, surely he would get ill if he drank them all. He glanced up at Snape. The older wizard was busy rolling up his trouser leg but he did lift his head and ordered. "Drink them."

Harry grimaced, knowing that this was one thing he wouldn't be able to shuffle out underneath from. Making sure his face showed his distaste he reached out with one hand and grasped the first bottle, pinching his nose closed and drowned the vial.

It was as disgusting as it looked and as Harry breathed in deeply through his nose, his eyes tightly closed as he tried to keep the potion down. He gagged and then opened his eyes again, reaching for the other potion.

He glanced at the bed opposed him. Snape was reclining on his elbows, scroll fixed on his face. Right leg stretched out before him and his other leg bent at the knee, staring up at Madam Pomfrey as she looked at the bite mark.

"Potter, drown the potions if you would. If you are not done by the time Madam Pomfrey is done with poking me for her fun, I will dock points." Snape growled without as much as a lift of the eyebrows.

Harry ducked his head to hide his frown and then drowned another vial. By the time he had drowned five, he was feeling pleasantly drowsy and pain free. There was one more and he reached out for it but misjudged the distance, knocking the vial aside. He tensed as both heads of the adults in the room swivelled around to look at him as the vial shattered on the ground.

Snape raised himself up from his reclining position and glared at him, eyes narrowing before he snarled at Madam Pomfrey, dark gaze turned to her. "How much did you give him?"

"Enough to take the pain away."

"You drugged him!" The Potions Master accused, sitting upright with a grimace as he jostled his leg. The mediwitch scowled at him and hissed.

"Sit still, young man! Now, Mr. Potter…"

"Oh fix the damn leg, woman and then make yourself useful and floo both Minerva McGonagall and the Headmaster and summon them to the Hospital Wing and tell them that I wish to see them. I will deal with Potter!" Snape gestured to his leg, a pained expression on his harsh face.

"You want them…"

"Informed and Albus Dumbledore to explain his reasons for installing Mr. Potter in that household!" Snape curtly said, eyes' blazing though his face was blank. With a flick of her wand the wound healed and Snape sat up, flexing his leg and rubbing it with his hand.

"Now, do not over exaggerate yourself. Severus, that wound can reopen unless you are careful…"

"Yes, yes, I know. Now go on." Snape murmured, waving her away impatiently. Madam Pomfrey huffed and then bustled away, presumably indeed going to floo somebody, whatever that was.

Snape sat his leg on the ground, testing if it would hold him before the teacher stalked over to where Harry was sitting, staring ahead. The shift of the dull green eyes alerted the Professor that Potter had seen or heard him approach and he took a vial out of his pocket, after carefully tilting the child's face towards the light and studying his eyes, gazing deep within. Whatever he found there satisfied him as he uncorked the vial and tipped it back into Harry's mouth, murmuring.

"Mediwitch indeed! Any more of this and he would be singing and making an even bigger fool of himself…." On a louder tone the young Professor coaxed. "Come, Potter, swallow. There is a good boy. You will want to be on full alert, no matter how small that may be, for this."

Harry blinked slowly as if waking and he drew back a little, face hiding the start he had felt when he spotted the Professor so close by and peering into his face. Snape felt it where his hand was still holding his student's chin in hand and he asked.

"What did you come to collect from my office earlier this evening, Potter?"

Confusion shone in the brilliant green eyes for a moment before Harry frowned and answered, eyes shifting up to the older male in front of him. "Uhm, my book, sir…?"

"Title of the book?"

"Quidditch through the Ages." Harry answered, puzzled why Snape would ask that. Satisfied the teacher gave a nod and released Harry's chin from the firm grim, though he allowed his hand to linger on the unruly head for a moment longer, feeling Harry relax slightly.

Harry sighed, feeling tired after the draining revelations of tonight. He felt warm and slightly furry and the Professor's hand on his head wasn't helping him to think clearly. He suspected that if he sat here a moment longer he would soon fall asleep.

He glanced up when loud voices came from the entrance to the Infirmary and Snape tensed, hand falling away though not before ruffling Harry's hair reassuringly. Harry tensed when he heard his Head of House's stern voice and Professor Dumbledore's as they rose in question while Madam Pomfrey invaded all questions dutifully.

"Who is this student we are speaking about and why does it concern me? Any student of my house who is wounded would come to me so I do not see the reason why Severus has summoned us to the Healing Wing unless the students of his house and mine got into a fight but then I would be expecting him to be standing before me, demanding and taking away house points." Professor McGonagall's voice carried a little bit and Harry glanced up at Snape.

"Minerva, I am sure Severus is…."

"Utterly impossible when it comes to members of his House, Albus? Yes, I quite agree." Harry hid a snicker.

The curtains moved aside and Harry stiffened a little. Snape crossed his arms over his broad chest and Professor McGonagall frowned as she came through the opening. Professor Dumbledore came behind her, his midnight blue robes a striking contrast to his blue twinkling eyes.

The stern witch moved forward as she asked. "Mr. Potter, what is the meaning of this?"

Harry opened his mouth to answer but Snape said, his hand slowly moving to Harry's shoulder before lying there, warm and firm on the boy's bony shoulder. "Potter came to me tonight in request of an item I had confiscated …"

"Severus, for once can you just…."

"Let me finish, Minerva!" The younger staff member snarled and hissed with the speed and ferocity of a striking snake. Minerva McGonagall recoiled, her mouth in a thin line and her eyes sharp as Snape took a deep breath to control himself before he said, his back tense and rigid and eyes hard and dangerous.

Power radiated off of him as Professor Snape continued, his eyes fixed upon the Headmaster's form. "As I said before, Potter came to me earlier this evening in request of an item. I told him to earn it by rewriting an essay he had handed me earlier this week. I learned that Mr. Potter has trouble reading the blackboard, with his quill work and once I caught him trying to steal the book from my desk, he asked me not to hit him…." Snape sighed and then continued.

"Mr. Potter told me that his uncle would hit him if he did not do as his uncle pleased." Snape's hand squeezed as Harry heard the sharp intake of breath. He bowed his head, not wanting to see the rejections of the other people in the room as Snape continued with his story.

"I escorted Potter to the Hospital Wing where Madam Pomfrey examined him and found some very unsettling things."

Harry listened with growing horror as Madam Pomfrey began to speak, telling the Transfigurations Professor and the Headmaster of what she had found. Harry kept his eyes to the floor until a loud exclamation made him jump and raise his eyes.

"I have told you before not to leave Harry with those muggles, Albus. See what has come from it." Professor McGonagall had turned to the Headmaster who looked startled.

Harry raised huge eyes as Snape seemed to swell with rage as he walked forward, his voice dropping lower with each passing words. "You knew?"

Albus Dumbledore held up his hands, wrinkled with age as the two enraged members of his staff faced him. Professor McGonagall like a fierce lioness protecting her whelps and Professor Snape, ready as a snake coiled to strike, their face glowered with rage and suppressed anger as Dumbledore said, eyes darting between the younger people, weighing each word carefully.

"Now listen Minerva, Severus, they are Harry's only surviving family. Lily Potter's blood runs through Petunia Dursley and therefore Harry is very well protected…."

"Blood doesn't count for everything, Headmaster. You of all people should know that the things carried in the blood can turn to hate." Snape spat with such a vindictive edge to his voice that even Harry pulled back, knowing it wasn't directed at him.

He didn't understand why Dumbledore was so calm under all of this. Snape seemed ready to explode with rage and Professor McGonagall ready to tear him apart with her teeth and what was all that stuff about Professor McGonagall knowing all about this?

"I told you the moment you wanted to leave Harry there that those muggles were not fit to raise him. They aren't even fit but they abuse him, neglect him, denying him the things any child in this world is entitled to." Professor McGonagall's voice dropped.

"We cannot move Harry to another home; it would be most unsafe…." Professor Dumbledore tried again.

"Cut it out, Albus! To allow Potter to go back to that house would be most unsafe for him…"

"Severus, there are other things in this world far more dangerous than a home where one is treated unfairly." The moment the words left the elder wizard's mouth the atmosphere in the room changed so abruptly that Harry felt his breathing exhilarated. Snape's face was white with rage, his eyes narrowed as his hand trembled where it rested upon his wand and Harry somehow knew that Dumbledore had crossed a line as the Potions Master pulled himself up to his impressive height and looked the Headmaster in the eye as he whispered.

"I would consider that sentence, Headmaster before you utter such a thing again. Have you forgotten the last time you decided not to interfere in allowing a student to return to a home where they were treated 'unfairly'? I believe the ripples of that decision still rock your precious boats today."

"Now see here, Severus, young Harry is nothing compared to…."

"To me, you would say?" Snape let out a short bark of laughter so bitter that the hairs on Harry's neck stood on end. "Oh of course not. He is far more precious, isn't he? Golden little Gryffindor who can do no wrong. I tell you now, Dumbledore that if you decide on the same course of action that you took when I came to you with a similar plea you will regret it dearly or have you forgotten how much depends on the boy?"

"What will you have me do, Severus?" Dumbledore asked, his blue eyes fixed upon the dark haired wizard in front of him.

"What every other sane person would do. Remove the child from that home this moment! You are one of the strongest and most influential wizard's in the world so for one time, use it towards any other end then your own mad schemes."

"Surely the circumstances are not that dire…." The Headmaster tried again and Harry felt his heart swell. He had always believe in Dumbledore but the Headmaster's blatant rejection of believing Harry's word brought on excruciating pain and he bitterly chewed out the insult.

Snape's eyes swirled to Harry's for a moment before the Potions Master drew himself up again, Minerva McGonagall beside him as she put a hand on the shoulder of the Head of Slytherin House and it seemed to strengthen the younger man as he hissed sharply. "Do you really think that the report Madam Pomfrey drew up was just for show? I tell you now, Headmaster, if you choose to reject Potter's words and mine, you will sew some very bitter seeds some day so I would think carefully of your next step."

"Severus Snape, if this is a threat then you have forgotten what debts you owe me!" Dumbledore finally snapped.

"It is not a threat but the bitter truth, Dumbledore. You need us both and on your side before everything is played out, regardless of what the future might bring. Think carefully of the next step!"

"And if Severus cannot appeal to you because of his debts, Albus, then I will!" Minerva McGonagall's voice was bitter and cold.

"What do you want me to do?"

"I want you to remove Harry from that house and the influence of that family this instance, Albus!"

Dumbledore's blue eyes shifted from one person to the other. To one Head of House to the other one, both different people but united in one goal, protecting Harry Potter. The older wizard finally sighed in defeat and he said.

"I see that Harry has found himself a fierce protector in you, Severus. Very well then, if this is your decision then I assume you will abide by it, however the consequences."

"Have you ever known me not to accept the consequences of my actions, Headmaster?" Snape's voice colored with anger and Harry flinched.

Dumbledore took a step back and gave a nod, his head bowed. "My apologies, Severus that was most unfair of me. You will hear from me tonight on the next course of action. Harry will be placed under your wing for the moment, Minerva while I make the necessary arrangements to meet with the Dursleys with Harry and…."

"Severus and I are going with you!" Professor McGonagall stated with a finality that made Harry glad.

"Of course, of course. I will return in two hours. I trust Harry can remain here in the Hospital Wing, Poppy?" The mediwitch merely gave a curt nod, her face revealing her rage and Dumbledore looked at Harry, apparently wondering whether or not to approach him when Snape stepped to the side, blocking Dumbledore's passage and the older wizard's face darkened before he gave a curt nod.

"Very well. In two hours then." And with those words the Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry left the Hospital Wing as the atmosphere in the room lightened considerably. Harry glanced up as Snape chose a spot next to him on the bed while Professor McGonagall sat down opposed him and asked, making Harry's heart thump faster and he was glad for Snape's support as he considered how to answer the question.

"Now, Potter, tell me about your relatives."

That is it for now. I hope you liked it. Review of course.

Next chapter: how will Harry deal with Dumbledore's rejection and answer his Head of House's questions as they wait for the Headmaster to return? What will happen when they go to the Dursleys?

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I am so glad that so many people like this story. I know that sometimes Harry may not seem like the Harry in the books but I like my Harry. Anyway, let's begin.

"Now, Potter, tell me about your relatives."

Harry shuddered, what was there to tell. He looked up into the stern eyes of his Head of House and said. "There isn't much to tell…"

Professor McGonagall's thin lips pressed tighter together so that they were merely a white line and then she said, Snape snorting beside Harry. "If there wasn't much to tell we would not be sitting here. Now, Potter, I do expect you to answer my questions as truthfully as you can. You have seen how the Headmaster regards our words so only your word can be counted on as good enough…"

Ah, yes Harry remembered the bitter feeling that had gripped him when Dumbledore had simply brushed him aside. His eyes smarted with angry tears but he kept them inside.

He was so focused upon trying to stay in control that he missed the sharp look that passed between Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall. Snape glanced down at the small eleven year old beside him, at the bowed black messy head and the apprehensive green eyes that were focused solemnly on the floor.

"Potter, if we would ask you a question, would you be inclined to answer them truthfully?" Harry nodded at the stone floor, just a tiny bob of the head and Professor McGonagall sighed. Snape caught the look she was sending him and he sighed, continuing. "If we are satisfied with your answers, Potter, we will award points. One point per answer."

Harry looked up, green eyes wide and a small smile threatening to break out on his face as he stared into Professor Snape's face. The older wizard frowned at him and then sighed as Harry asked, with no small amount of mistrust in his eyes. "Do you really mean that?"

Snape scowled down as he said. "Of course I do, you miserable whelp. …"

"Severus!"

"Oh really, Minerva, Potter is a Gryffindor and the symbol of that wretched house is a lion. A lion has whelps in case you forgot. I could have called him a snake but that would have been more of an insult." Snape turned his sneer on her and Harry still looked up at his Professor.

The dark eyes were narrowed and Harry glanced over at Professor McGonagall. She was scowling in anger and then just as Harry turned back to look at Snape, she winked at him, really quick before Snape huffed and continued. "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, though I at least know where all the Gryffindors get their appalling manners from; I do not go back on my word, Potter. I promised you house points and if I find that your answers deserve house points, you will receive them."

Harry held his breath and held his teacher's dark gaze before he gave a nod, asking just to make sure. It wouldn't have been the first time anybody went back on their word or promises to him. "But I won't have to redo my essay or the detention, right? And I get my book back."

Snape sighed again, looking like he was suffering greatly before he answered. "Yes, I suppose I did promise you that. Now, start answering."

Feeling satisfied with the answer Harry turned back to Professor McGonagall. She was hiding a smile before she grew serious again and softly asked. "What can you tell me about your relatives, Potter?"

Harry shuddered again. He was unsure of what to say. There was so much to tell that he didn't even know where to begin. Something then occurred to him. They could have known of this beforehand. He looked up at his Head of House and said, in an accusing tone. "But you already knew!"

"Excuse me, Potter?" She yelped, startled. Harry could hear Snape taking a deep breath, probably ready to take points so he blundered on.

"The letter we got, the acceptance letter, well it was addressed to Harry Potter, Cupboard under the stairs. So you had to know or else I wouldn't have gotten my letter 'cause when I moved to the second bedroom it was addressed to me there."

Harry looked from one teacher to the other. McGonagall looked puzzled but with a dawning horrified expression on her face. Snape, on the other hand, looked the same as always, except for a glint in his eyes and the way his hand was resting on his leg, twisting in the fabric of his trousers.

At the very picture of anger, Harry shied away unconsciously. He always knew that when Uncle Vernon tried to control himself or fighting himself not to blow up, his hits would only be harder and Harry would be forced to stay in the cupboard longer. He tried to move without drawing attention to himself and so he moved an inch.

He knew Snape was always in control so it would be worse when he did lose control. What if he lashed out and Harry, because he was closest, would get the full force of it? Harry remembered his own accidents with magic whenever he was angry and Snape was more powerful so it would mean…

"Harry, there is a quill that records all the current home addresses of the magical children so that a letter can be sent to them on their eleventh birthday. Even to Muggleborns or children that live with Muggles. Nobody writes the addresses." Professor McGonagall explained with a pointed look at Snape. The younger staff member caught her eye and then glanced over at Harry.

Snape's hand touched Harry's back gently when he noticed just how tense Harry was sitting, his body shied away from Snape like he was afraid to be hit. Harry flinched as the large hand came to rest upon his back, sure that Snape would just be holding him steady but when he shuddered and Snape squeezed a little before moving his hand a little, Harry relaxed.

"You slept in a cupboard?"

The warm pressure on his back wasn't so terrifying anymore and he took a deep breath as he nodded. "Yeah, at first it wasn't so bad…I mean I wasn't so big then….and you get used to the dark and…."

"Potter, it is never alright to lock a child in a cupboard!" Snape snarled and Harry flinched, already focused upon Professor McGonagall's next question.

"And when you moved to the second bedroom, was it because you were too big for that cupboard?" Her voice trembled a little but she kept pushing forward, her lips pressed together as she waited for an answer.

Harry shook his head, frowning as he tried to remember the correct words. "No, it was because of the letters that kept coming. Uncle Vernon thought that when I moved to Dudley's second bedroom, the letters would no longer come. Dudley didn't like it at all. He even got sick on purpose but Uncle Vernon wouldn't budge."

"And why did you cousin have a second bedroom and you not even a first?" Snape's voice was deadly and Harry looked up. Snape was looking down at him, eyes narrowed and Harry answered.

"Because he wasn't a freak and because Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia wanted him…." Much to his horror Harry's eyes burned with tears as he remembered his treatment from years past. The way he was always shoved into his cupboard as soon as he came out of school or when he had to do chores to earn his keep. Yet the worst memory was perhaps of the time when he had come out of school in the second grade with his Mother Day's present. He was sure that Aunt Petunia would love it; he had worked so long and hard on the drawing.

But Aunt Petunia had merely regarded him coldly and threw it in the trash bin before she began to dote upon Dudley, hanging his drawing high up on the fridge. Dudley had merely laughed at Harry, allowing his mother to kiss and pet him. Harry had drawn away and later at night, when nobody was looking, he had pulled out his drawing and hung it in his cupboard until Uncle Vernon, in a rage, cleaned his cupboard out again, throwing all of Harry's possessions away.

A white and soft handkerchief slipped into his balled first and Harry resurfaced from his thoughts. He dapped at his eyes with the soft fabric and then opened it to fold it neatly. A small embroidered 's' was in a corner and Harry moved to pass it back to Snape when his teacher murmured, "Keep it."

"They spoiled your cousin then." Professor McGonagall stated with a grimace. Harry merely contented himself with a nod as she continued. "How did they punish you if in their eyes you had done something wrong?"

"I was sent to bed without food or I had to stay in my cupboard for a long time. Sometimes Uncle Vernon would hit me, but usually I ran too fast…I had to do extra chores." Harry offered dispassionately. He didn't want to say these things.

Professor McGonagall humpfed and continued with her questions. "Was there ever any time that you had to work for your food, Potter?"

"When wasn't there? Dudley usually ate everything that was in sight, even if it meant getting ill afterwards. If I didn't behave like the Dursleys liked me to then I had to stand by and watch them eat or when I didn't do my chores properly…I …I sometimes stole food when they were out if they didn't lock the cupboard."

"And what kind of chores did you have to do?"

"Uhm, cooking, gardening, cleaning, washing….pretty much everything I think."

"How old were you when you started to do these chores?" Harry glanced around the room and he was horrified to see Madam Pomfrey standing there, looking at him with a hand in front of her mouth as she listened in growing horror.

"I don't remember…I…." Harry fumbled around for an answer.

"What she means is, Potter, was there ever any way that you remember playing like all small children?" Snape's quiet voice broke in.

"Uhm, in my cupboard with some broken knights from Dudley before I went to sleep….But Dudley would always destroy them if I didn't hide them…."

A memory swam in front of his eyes of coming home from school late one day; he had served a detention for running into his teacher, and finding the door to his cupboard open. All of his things, his knights, blankets and drawings had been ripped and Dudley had stood laughing as a shaking Harry tried to fix the broken pieces of his knights back together.

He realized he was shaking now as Professor McGonagall rose. She muttered a soft excuse and then paced away, dabbing at her eyes with a checkered handkerchief. Was she crying because of him? Harry felt suddenly very uncomfortable as he watched as Madam Pomfrey walked away as well, both witches disappearing behind the curtain.

He bowed his head, remembering the anger that once more coursed through him. A large slender hand soothed through his hair, easing some of his tension and without thinking about it, Harry leaned against the comfortable warmth beside him. He buried his face in the dark robe, trying to disappear as an arm came to rest upon his shoulder.

Snape didn't speak and for that Harry was glad as he could feel tremors running through his teacher's body as well. "I think you have earned Gryffindor 10 points, Harry."

"But, sir, there weren't 10 questions…" Harry looked up and Snape glared down at him.

"Do not tempt me, Mr. Potter." The teacher said and Harry hid a smirk in Snape's robe. The man had sounded impatient but it was so different from his usual impatient tone that Harry wondered if Snape hadn't been playing it. The large warm hand continued to cascade through his hair and Harry relaxed further, allowing the tension to slip away.

"When you did your chores, Harry, and you didn't do them to the satisfaction of your relatives, what did they do to punish you?" The question rumbled through Snape's chest and Harry looked up, brow furrowed as he asked, thoroughly confused.

"But sir, Professor McGonagall already asked that question…"

"I know." Snape said with a hint of the old impatience before his expression softened and he continued, mumbling under his breath, "Merlin save me from obnoxious Gryffindors," before saying in louder tone "You misunderstand me, Potter. If you for example, burned the food you were cooking, would there be an alternative punishment that your Aunt or Uncle would bestow upon you except send you to bed without food or put you in your cupboard?"

Oh, Harry immediately looked down. He should have known that they were going to ask this too. Unconsciously he rubbed at his right hand where a faded scar lingered. He gave a shaky nod, eyes fearfully looking up at Snape. The teacher was gazing down upon him and then gruffly said. "Kindly explain!"

"Well, when I did burn the food, I…Aunt Petunia put my hand under the hot water faucet and she said that that was what my cooking would feel like if Dudley put it into his mouth if I burned the food…." Harry's ears were burning as he remembered the searing hot pain, his pleading and Aunt Petunia's cold voice when she had refused to allow him to pull his hand away from underneath the hot water.

He had screamed, pleaded, cried, begged and everything in between and still she had forced him to sit there, holding his quickly numbing hand under the scalding water. Snape then asked. "How old were you when this occurred?"

"I…I was three, sir." Harry shamefully admitted, his head bowed.

"No!"

Harry startled badly and his eyes flew up to see Madam Pomfrey standing in front of him, murder in her eyes. He shied away instinctively and Snape's arm tightened. The mediwitch was livid; there were no other words for her expression in that moment. Her mouth was set in a firm line and for a moment magic escaped her, swirling around her.

Harry ducked away.

"How could they…" She managed.

"Poppy calm down!" He could hear Professor McGonagall's voice as his eyes were glued to the scene in front of him.

"How could they, Minerva?…a child…a helpless child…." The healer choked out, turning back to his Head of House. "How could Albus send him to that place…?"

"I am afraid that it wasn't the only thing that they did to him…." Snape's voice was soft and controlled as he regarded the two witches in the room. The dark eyes met those of the Head of Gryffindor as they watched the enraged mediwitch.

The rage in the dark eyes was frightening but Snape kept himself under tight control, feeling the trembling body pressed against his side. He looked down at the large green eyes as Harry looked at the mediwitch who was close to losing control.

"Minerva, there is a vial of Calming Draught in the first cupboard in Poppy's office. It is a personal stock I make only for her, would you be so kind to give her some….I will see if I can get Mr. Potter to relax in your absence and perhaps allow him to sleep for a few moments while we discuss a course of action and wait for the Headmaster to return." Professor McGonagall nodded and she took Madam Pomfrey by the shoulders, turning her rather forcefully away.

The moment Snape turned to him, Harry began shaking his head. He didn't want to sleep, didn't want to be left alone. The dark eyes were kinder then they had been all night as Snape said. "You need a little bit of rest, Harry. I do not feel comfortable giving you a potion right now. Even if you just lie here and relax, that would be very helpful. Can you do that for me, Harry?"

Harry wanted to say yes, he wanted to, really badly. He wanted to be able to be stronger and to find himself again and to say no but all that came out was: "Please don't leave me…."

It sounded pitiful and Harry grimaced, trembling as he did so. This wasn't him; this wasn't anything like him to be so weak and dependant. Snape moved and then his hands came to rest upon Harry's shoulders as the teacher patiently explained, surprising Harry. "Very well then. I will be right beyond the curtain…"

Snape turned just as hands groped the sleeve of his robe and he turned back to find Harry looking at him, green eyes full of tears of rejection and the Professor felt pity stir his heart. He sat himself down on the edge of the bed and slowly pulled out his wand. He fluffed up the pillow, saying, using a gentle voice. "Lie down."

Harry did as requested, feeling Snape pull a discarded blanket from a different bed up over him. Snape turned to look at him, the strangest expression on his face before his teacher began. "Close your eyes and listen to my voice. Match your breathing with my voice, just focus upon breathing in….and out…."

Harry closed his eyes, slowly breathing in and out as Snape told him to. He didn't think of anything just focused upon his breathing. He could hear soft voices beyond the curtain and for a moment Snape paused but Harry continued to breathe in the same steady rhythm.

"Very good, Harry. Continue this exercise until I get back. If I see that you have fallen asleep on me, I will dock points!" Harry gave a nod, secretly relieved that Snape said not to fall asleep, he didn't think he could make it without nightmares. He felt his teacher's hand on his forehead before Snape's weight shifted from the bed and he heard the soft footsteps fade away.

For a while he continued to count his breaths, doing nothing except for that. That was until he heard the voices beyond the curtain.

"What do you think, Severus?" McGonagall's voice sounded a bit rough, Harry wondered why.

"That it is worse than I feared. This is not neglect, which is horrible in itself but could have been overlooked but abuse. They beat him for no reason or punished him when all he did was cry out…." Snape took a deep breath to try and console his voice from the anger that had escaped into it.

Harry shivered. It sounded very bad when Snape put it like this.

"Albus' reaction was not so surprising." Professor McGonagall remarked in a dry voice but before she could continue Snape demanded.

"You said you knew, Minerva, that you told the Headmaster that this could happen, then how could you allow Potter to return to that house or to even go there in the first place?" Harry remembered the argument and he had to focus extra hard on his breathing to try and quell the disappointment that rose up in him from Dumbledore's reaction.

"I watched them, Severus, the day I learned of Albus' plan to place Harry there. I watched them all day; to see what kind of people Albus was considering leaving the last Potter behind with. What I found disturbed me because they were nothing like the Potters or any other magical family that I have ever come across. They seemed to shun all types of magic, wishing to be normal. To leave Harry there would be to make him unhappy, yet foolishly I had hoped that they would have showed him kindness as their nephew but I was unaware of how deep some scars run."

Professor McGonagall's voice sounded sad and Harry's breathing hitched as she remarked. "Thank you for being there for Harry this evening, Severus, he seems to have taken a liking to you. I did not think that he would confide in you but your guidance this evening has been very welcomed."

"I do try, Minerva." Snape's voice sounded oddly formal and stiff.

"I know, my dear boy. I know how hard this if for you. Not only because of your personal history in this delicate subject but also your feelings for James Potter…." Harry's breathing hitched again and he opened his eyes, listening intently.

"James Potter has nothing on Harry! You know my feelings regarding both Harry's parents and I refuse to discuss…"

"Severus Snape, I worried for a moment that your hatred for James Potter would bias and blind you to Harry but I have always known that you are a most remarkable man who is blessed with keen eyes and a thick head! I am glad that you have decided to use that thick head of yours to aid Harry." Professor McGonagall's voice was firm.

For a full moment Harry lost counts of his breaths. Snape hated his father…and what was that part of Snape's history? Was that why his teacher reacted in such a way? Professor Snape struck Harry as the kind of man who was unforgiving, unrelenting and always expecting the best, always demanding the best of everybody. Was that why so many students hated him?

Harry had expected Snape to be petty and mean and he certainly hadn't been able to predict the outcome of this evening when he woke up this morning. All he had wanted was his book back and now, here he was, sitting up and…shivering…

He was shivering and he couldn't stop. He tried to go back to counting in his head but it didn't seem to help. He now realized that his teeth were chattering with the shivers that ran down his body. He tried to contain them but again it wasn't helping.

Instead he closed his eyes tightly and counted under his breath. He allowed his breathing to even out. It worked. The trick Professor Snape had showed him had worked. The lump in his throat eased a little and Harry smiled.

The voices beyond the curtain were still talking and Harry flinched when he realized that Snape was speaking in a curt tone. "I am glad that I can use one of my lesser abilities to aid a Potter…"

"Severus, that was not what I meant and you know it!" Harry had to hide a grin as he imagined the look on Professor McGonagall's face.

"I know, Minerva…" Snape sighed.

"But what are we going to do about Harry then? He…he is pretty upset even if he doesn't show it." Madam Pomfrey's voice sounded sad.

Snape sighed again and then said. "I think he will wish for some resembles of normality, like being back in Gryffindor tower and to disappear completely in the crowd of first years. I know I did when….when I came to you, Poppy. But we must make sure that Potter knows that he can always come to somebody…"

"You were much older, Severus, when we found out. If you don't mind me saying so but I was the teacher present for your examination and you were older than Potter and you didn't think you needed any help at all. You looked so defiant and sad when you sat there that all I wanted to do was to hold you close and tell you everything would be alright…even if you would have pushed me away…" Snape snorted, faintly and Harry's mouth hung open.

Snape had gone through the same thing? He wanted nothing more than to see the look on Snape's face but when the teacher cleared his throat and said in a slightly hoarse voice. "Oh honestly, Poppy, there is no reason for tears. What is done is done…"

"I just wish that we could help other students too….students who have been through the same thing. Earlier than we could help you." Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat loudly and Snape answered, soft again, his voice thoughtful.

"Yes, well, we do try. We got there in time with Potter, I think…even if Albus' agrees differently." Snape's voice dropped lower over the name and Harry pulled his knees to his chest.

"Yes, speaking of which, I am going to see about getting us a cup of tea while we wait. Do you fancy any biscuits, Severus?" Professor McGonagall's voice was cheerier then it had been a moment.

"Mmm, any of those chocolate cauldrons? But if you have something stronger then tea, Minerva, I won't object to that either. Perhaps for Potter some hot chocolate? "Harry's heart warmed and his mouth watered at the thought of hot chocolate.

"I will see what I can arrange with the house elves." Professor McGonagall's voice sounded amused and Harry hugged his arms around his knees. He could hear the soft footsteps and then Snape said.

"Oh for the love of the Founders, Poppy, get a grip! We need you, foolish woman."

The stern footsteps rounded the curtain even before Harry could lie back down. Snape was shaking his head firmly from side to side as he muttered low under his breath. He froze in mid stride when he spotted Harry sitting up. The thin lips curled into a satisfying smirk as Snape purred. "Well, well, Mr. Potter, it seems that you are feeling well enough to listen to our conversation."

Harry's eyes went wide as he stuttered. "You knew?"

Snape send him a disapproving glance but he didn't seem too angry as he moved closer with fluent movements and said. "Yes, Potter, I knew that you were listening in..."

Snape left it at that as he looked at Harry, seeing the way he was hugging his knees. Snape sat himself down on the opposed bed and asked. "Is there anything you would like to share?"

Harry began to shake no but then with a shy glance at Snape whose lips curled in disdain he sighed and asked. "Sir, about the Headmaster…" He couldn't bring himself to say Dumbledore's name just yet as he watched Snape give a nod.

"His reaction to my…" He couldn't bring himself to say the word abused either. "….was it really so strange?"

Snape sighed and looked away for a moment before he looked back at Harry. This time there was clear remorse in the black eyes as Snape spoke in a whisper. "No, Harry, it wasn't. Not for Dumbledore that is. He always reacts that way with matters he thinks aren't important enough to warrant his attention…"

Harry gasped and hid his burning eyes. He bit his lip so hard that it hurt as he struggled to compose himself. He was a fool. How could he have thought that he mattered at all to Dumbledore? How could he…?

A strong hand under his chin forced his gaze back to Snape to see the teacher standing in front of him. Snape looked down at him and said. "He worries about your safety, yes, but not in what place you stay. According to him your relatives are the safest place for you to be during the summer, regardless of their treatment of you. He doesn't think that your happiness is important enough because he needs you later. He needs to make use of you and if you are a little bit damaged, all the better to do what he needs you to do."

Harry gasped again. "But what does he need me to do then?"

Snape gave a bitter smile at that and said. "Even I don't know that. Only Dumbledore does." Snape's eyes hardened and then he said in a hard voice. "Regardless, what he did wasn't right. He shouldn't have done it and don't go believing for a second that you are the cause for what happened to you. That you are somehow to blame and responsible, you are not. You are a child, Mr. Potter and you are blameless."

Harry could only give a shaky nod and then, he didn't know what spurred him on; he threw his arms around Snape's waist and hugged his teacher. But to his intense embarrassment and surprise, Snape's arm came around him too, even if his teacher was suddenly very tense.

Snape was patting his shoulder a bit awkwardly and Harry pulled away, clearing his throat. He suddenly felt embarrassed, what had he been thinking hugging Snape like that? There was a reason that Professor Snape was the most feared teacher in Hogwarts…

He couldn't look Snape in the eye and his teacher cleared his throat before he purred in a slightly hoarser voice. "Well, yes, next time you do that in a public place, Potter, it will be 5 points."

Harry's green eyes shot up to meet the black ones. Snape raised an eyebrow. Did that mean that Snape was giving Harry permission to hug him? …but what was….unthinkable…

"But sir, you hated my dad so why…" He blurted out without thinking.

He realized he had made a mistake the moment Snape advanced and crouched down in front of him, one slender hand seizing Harry's chin in a firm grip as Snape hissed. "Your dad has nothing on you, Harry, nothing at all, do you hear me?"

Snape's voice sounded so strict that Harry could only give a tense nod and Snape released him, after staring into his eyes for a long time. Harry looked down as he heard Snape pace. His mind was jumbling with different thoughts.

Did it mean that Snape hated his father but felt different about Harry? It was confusing and it was hurting his head, that was for sure. Harry sighed; he knew that Snape had loathed him from the first moment he had stepped into the man's class. But he had never known why. Was it because he didn't know the answers to the questions the Professor asked? Snape must hate a lot of students then.

A hand touched his hair, smoothing it back from his forehead and then stroked his scar once as Snape softly said, under his breath. "Don't think too hard, Potter, wouldn't want you to hurt your head."

Harry looked up to see his teacher glancing down at him, dark eyes sharp but kind. He gave a relieved nod, making up his mind to trust himself and his teacher. Snape could have, all through the night hurt him or insult him but he hadn't. No, instead Snape had been there for him, taking care of him and protecting him, siding with him…

The curtain that was roughly pulled away caused Harry to blink before he schooled his expression into a neutral expression. The blue eyes were twinkling as they met the green ones but Harry's eyes didn't even smile back. The blue eyes then shifted to the impassive black ones. Dumbledore seemed to be a little bit put out before he smiled broadly, spreading his hands wide as he shook his lime green robes over his wrinkled aged hands. Harry looked on unimpressed.

"I see that nothing has changed in the past two hours…."

"I certainly do hope that some things have changed in the past two hours, Headmaster, else you have not only wasted your time but ours as well." Snape said coldly, crossing his arms over his broad chest.

Dumbledore's smile faltered and for a moment annoyance and anger crossed the old wizard's kind features even with a hint of remorse or sadness. "I am sad to see that you have not changed your view of me…"

"In the past two hours my view of you has changed so rapidly that I am finding it hard to think clearly at the moment, Headmaster." Snape snapped and snarled so quickly like he was a wounded animal, snapping its teeth at anybody who came too close, afraid of getting hurt again.

"Yes, well…" This time there was no mistaken the sadness or the apology in the words. Snape merely bristled in annoyance. Dumbledore sighed and Professor McGonagall returned with a tray filled with tea cups, a tea pot, biscuits and a steaming mug of something else as well.

Harry had no attention for the tray as his Head of House set it aside. She looked from Snape's face to that of Dumbledore's and finally to that of Harry's who was worrying his lip in between his teeth. The formidable witch settled herself against the other bed, looking at the Headmaster as she said in a voice that brooked no argument. "Have you made arrangements, Albus?"

Dumbledore sighed again, looking older this evening than ever before he gave a nod and said in his slow deep voice. "Yes, Minerva, I have made temporarily arrangements and I will make permanent ones when I am confident that these arrangements work out."

"Stop speaking in riddles, Dumbledore! For once speak plainly." Snape snapped again, his temper rising. Harry looked at his other teacher, the one who was leaning against his bed to see the tension coiled in the sprung body and he wondered just how long it would be until Snape would fully snap.

"Yes, Albus, I find myself in agreement with Severus. It has been a long evening and we are all tired…" Professor McGonagall said with a warning glance at the younger staff member standing near her. Snape merely fumed.

Dumbledore turned to her with a beaming smile before he turned back to Harry with a wink, which Harry frowned at. He still hadn't forgotten or forgiven Dumbledore for his remark earlier and it seemed like the Headmaster knew that as the blue eyes grew a bit sad before Dumbledore said, this time fixing his smile towards Snape.

"Oh very well then. It was hard to make the necessary arrangements, I admit, even for somebody of my stature but consider who Harry is…well…I have done all I could do for tonight but I am glad that in my absence things have not yet changed and Severus is still as fiercely protective of Harry as he was earlier this evening. Come tomorrow when we are going to visit the Dursleys as I have arranged, well, it would come in handy to have somebody nearby who can properly take care of Harry, regardless of the shared past of the name Potter."

There was a glint in Dumbledore's eyes that Harry didn't like as Snape's lip curled in disdain as he watched the Headmaster. Dumbledore sighed again and then said. "Harry being who he is will need to be placed with somebody who can guarantee his safety and protect him at all cost. Because of his…unfortunate past…." Dumbledore paused and Snape snorted and scowled.

The nearly ancient wizard took a deep breath before he continued. "….Harry will need somebody who can relate to his situation and knows how to deal accordingly to this with sternness but all the while seeing to Harry's personal needs. Somebody who can focus solemnly on Harry's needs and with who he can develop a trusting and close relationship. At this moment I can only think of one person who wholly meets all these criteria."

Dumbledore beamed around and Harry looked around puzzled. Who could the older Professor mean? Dumbledore turned to Snape and said. "You are the only one who matches, Severus and because of your fierce protection of Harry, one of the reasons, my dear boy, I have chosen to bring Harry under temporary guardianship with you. I will make more permanent arrangement in the future but for the moment, I do hope you will accept. "

Snape's eyes burned into Dumbledore's for a very long time and then the both of them looked at Harry. Harry was torn, Snape had loathed him from the first moment in sight but he had been so kind all through the evening. Harry met the dark eyes which were staring into his own with a frightened intensity and without dropping his gaze, he allowed himself the first real smile of the evening as he watched Snape nod and only then did he allow the happy feeling to fill him, he had a new guardian.

The end for now. I know I promised you the Dursleys but I couldn't fit it in. So that will be the first thing next chapter. Of course, also Ron and Hermione will be introduced. And perhaps later in the story, Remus, thoughts on that anybody?

Next chapter: Harry wants nothing more than to go back to the Gryffindor Common Room and after some rules with Snape to face Ron and Hermione. Can he tell his friends what happened that changed his life? How will it go at the Dursleys? That in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. So we will visit the Dursleys today, poor Harry, he will suffer more. Let's begin. I will need to put a torture Harry warning in here. Poor boy.

Harry held his breath as Dumbledore beamed around at everybody, including Snape's dark scowl and then said. "Excellent, excellent. Now, I have taken the liberty to draw up a document…." The wrinkled hand disappeared into the voluminous robes and Harry found himself drawn to the shifting blue and purple colors the Headmaster wore.

He looked away after a moment, angry at himself. He was still angry at Dumbledore…well…he was confused. So much had happened in the past few hours that Harry was sure that his head was going to go round a few circles.

How could he possibly explain this to Ron and Hermione? Ron, he could handle, yeah, his best friend had always been kind to him but Hermione? They had only been friends for a few weeks and she didn't even know about the Dursleys….How was he supposed to tell them? What was he supposed to tell them?

Harry shook his head firmly. He would deal with that problem when it would arise, no, now he would simply focus on the here and now and that was to see Snape scanning the document with a raised eyebrow, Professor McGonagall hovering by his side and Professor Dumbledore who was speaking in soft tones with Madam Pomfrey.

The matron's stiff counter face made Harry realize that Madam Pomfrey was quite cross with the Headmaster, she didn't seem to be the only one who was cross with the old wizard tonight for Harry could see how Professor McGonagall kept shooting glances out of the corner of her eye at the colorful wizard who cleared his throat and approached the bed on which Harry was still sitting with a bright smile.

"Well, I am sure that Severus will need some time to read that document and sign it and since it is already past curfew, why don't I escort young Harry back to Gryffindor Tower? He has had a most trying evening after all and he must be tired."

Harry recoiled, no surely; surely they couldn't send him with Dumbledore now. He would be able to walk to his common room just fine. He certainly didn't need the Headmaster for that. His eyes flew to the others and he knew his panic was mounting as Dumbledore took another step towards him but Harry felt his anger rise as he opened his mouth to say exactly what he thought of this plan the Headmaster had come up with when Snape smoothly interjected without even as much as a lift of his eyes from the parchment.

"That will not be necessary, Headmaster. I need to have a little chat with my ward. Be assured that I will return the document once I have signed it. I do have one condition…." This time the dark eyes rose from the parchment to fix on the blue eyes of Dumbledore.

The Headmaster appeared weary as he asked curtly. "And what is that, Severus?"

"There is nothing here about adding a room to my quarters for Potter to stay in."

"Surely you know that Harry will continue to stay up in Gryffindor Tower, Severus." Dumbledore's tone betrayed nothing and Snape's pale face was equally impassive.

"Of course, Headmaster, I was merely inquiring that during the holidays or when Potter wishes to stay overnight, which I am sure can be arranged with his Head of House to make an exception for Potter, there has to be a room for the child to stay in."

"And here I thought that you didn't want to make any exceptions for Potter?" Dumbledore's voice was still cheery but Snape merely raised a dark eyebrow, Harry watching between the both of them before the Potions Master purred.

"But surely, Headmaster, you agree that in this case an exception must be made." The bushy eyebrows dropped over the twinkling blue eyes and then the old wizard gave a nod as he said.

"Very well, Severus. I will see you all in the morning. I have made the appointment to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Dursley tomorrow at nine o'clock if that is agreeable. I have taken to cancel both your classes in the morning, Minerva and Severus. Harry, I have arranged so that you can have the day off from your classes tomorrow as well…."

Dumbledore turned around, his colorful robes billowing about him before he turned back and said, in an unmistakable sad voice. "I am sorry, Harry, for refusing to see this earlier. I should have seen it before and made necessary arrangements to get you out of there as soon as possible…"

"But you aren't sorry, sir, that you placed me there." Harry stated with more boldness then he felt before. His anger was rising again but he kept it tightly under control as his eyes were trained on the wrinkled face. He watched as anger, sadness and finally a firm determination took place in the bright blue eyes as Dumbledore said.

"It was necessary for your safety, Harry."

"Yeah, because getting beaten and not getting fed was really beneficial for my health." Harry answered and Dumbledore seemed to swell with rage suddenly, though Harry knew Dumbledore hadn't moved even a facial muscle but Harry could see the change take place in the blue eyes of the Headmaster.

"One day when you are older you will understand, Harry." Professor Dumbledore merely said wearily. Harry dared a glance at his Head of House and his new guardian to see Minerva McGonagall winking at him quickly, even when her eyes were still trained on Dumbledore's. Snape continued to be impassive as he continued to read though Harry could tell by the way Snape's eyes weren't moving that the Professor was indeed listening. For one moment the dark eyes regarded him, but Harry drew himself up best as he could and said.

"So when that day comes, sir, I can hold you accountable then and you will tell me, truthfully?" Dumbledore seemed taken aback but then the older wizard seemed to deflate suddenly and he said in a weary voice.

"Yes, Harry, when that day comes, I will." And with that promise, Harry gave a curt nod and Dumbledore turned around, looking more like an old man than ever. Dumbledore shuffled out of the ward and soon the doors closed behind him. Harry breathed a little easier when the tension fell away with the absence of the Headmaster and reason Harry had been placed with his family.

He sat; shoulders slumped forward as he stared at the floor. Suddenly he felt very tired and then Professor McGonagall said cheerily. "Now, let's see what I have brought from the kitchens."

Despite himself Harry glanced up when his Head of House held a steaming mug in front of him. He looked up at her and she smiled down, saying, her stern face softening. "I am sure that like all children you are quite keen on hot chocolate."

Despite his tiredness Harry smiled and his mouth watered at the wonderful smell that came from the mug which he soon accepted. It was warm but not too hot to his hands he took a sip as Snape took a seat next to him, saying. "We will go over this guardian document together, Harry, since it involves your future just as well as mine. You are under age and therefore tomorrow your uncle will sign the guardianship of you over to the school which in turn will sign it over to me."

"Uncle Vernon won't do that willingly, even if he can get rid of me." Harry said, casting his eyes down.

"Oh, I think he will, willingly or not." Harry glanced up to see Snape glanced up at Professor McGonagall, both of them grimacing in a way that would tell a student he had just earned several detentions and lost his house many points. Harry looked from the adult wizard to the adult witch and something inside him warmed. These were people who cared for him and who wanted what was best for him.

Snape turned back to Harry and after a quick cascade through the messy hair the Potions Master said. "Now, in this document there are mostly old legal responsibilities for me to live up to. Such as being responsible for you, making sure you are well protected, to support you financially until you come of age…."

"But there is nothing in there that would prevent you from hitting me and making me work?" Harry asked and he could see how Snape grew livid.

"Do I strike you as the kind of man to do such a thing, Potter?" The Potions Master snarled as he placed a stern and painful hand on Harry's shoulder.

"I think what Harry means is that like in the muggle world there is no vow or words in the document that protects children from getting beaten by their parents unless somebody else interferes." Professor McGonagall instantly cut in, seeing the wide green eyes of her first year student.

Snape looked away at once, releasing Harry as the boy forced himself to remain seated, not answering. The older wizard sat hunched over, defeated as he shook his head and said in a soft voice. "No, there is not."

Those who knew the Potions Master well could hear the layer of sadness in the smooth voice. Snape's eyes were cast down and Harry wasn't looking at his new guardian, trembling in fear as he realized that one wrong word could show just how nasty Snape could get.

The Gryffindor Head of House wanted nothing more than to tell Severus what to do and to erase Harry's fears. But she knew it was Severus' duty now as the boy's guardian. She walked forward and held out her hand as she asked. "Can I read that document, Severus?"

The dark shoulder rose in a shrug and she took the document out of the slender hand and then walked away, but not before laying a wrinkled hand on the smooth slender one and squeezing, giving Severus Snape an encouraging nod when he looked up.

Snape took a deep breath, Harry was aware of this as he waited tensely for the older wizard to speak. Finally Snape's hand came to rest on his bare knee and Snape softly said. "I swear to you, Harry that I will never strike you. I will swear an Unbreakable Vow on this if you…."

"What is an Unbreakable Vow, sir?" Harry asked, glancing up.

"It is a vow that if broken will bring about the death of me. It is sworn with magic." Snape explained patiently before clearing his throat as he continued. "Now as I was saying, as my ward you will be under my protecting and I will do everything in my power to make you want for nothing. Tomorrow before we leave the school, I want you to come to my office and we will discuss what this guardianship enthrals for us, such as a place to stay, what you will be called, extra lessons and the more practical things."

"Did you mean that, sir when you said that I could stay overnight if I wanted to?" Harry looked down and Snape sighed before he answered.

"So you will fling yourself upon me already, Potter? But we will see, within reason of course." It really was the only answer Harry was going to get and he had to forcefully remind himself that it was only a temporary guardianship so he took a sip of his hot chocolate as Madam Pomfrey brought Snape a steaming mug as well.

What was he supposed to call Snape now? And what if he got attached to the older wizard only to be moved someplace else? Wasn't there a way he could stay with somebody forever? But perhaps he could choose; Ron had always said that his family was nice so perhaps he could stay there. Plus they were a wizarding family so they would know all about protecting him.

He was pulled from his thoughts as Snape spat out his drink, coughing rather violently as the Potions Master exclaimed. "Good lord, woman, how much did you put in there?"

Harry was puzzled, why would Snape choke over simple tea. He looked at the tray that stood on the opposite bed to see a strange bottle he'd never seen before sitting there. On the label it read 'Ogden's Old Firewiskey.'

"Enough to knock out a Hippogriff." Professor McGonagall said. Harry looked from one teacher to the other to see Snape, with a grimace on his face, swirling his wand over his drink in an attempt to clear it from the liberal dose of Firewiskey.

He wanted to ask what a Hippogriff was but instead he merely yawned widely. "Use a hand when you yawn, Potter, it is unbecoming." Snape answered without looking up as he took a sip from his tea.

The Dursleys had never bothered with manners but Harry merely glanced down as he took another sip of his drink. So it would matter to Snape if he showed good manners, it would probably reflect poorly on the older wizard if Harry behaved like he had been brought up without manners like he had been.

That had been the main reason the Dursleys had never allowed Harry to sit at their table when they had guests, well they had never once allowed Harry to sit at their table…

"Now, why don't I escort you back to the Gryffindor Tower, Mr. Potter? I think that you are exhausted and tomorrow will be a long day." His insides started to jitter with the mentioning of tomorrow but Harry rose from the bed. With one tap of Madam Pomfrey's wand he was dressed in the clothing he had worn before.

He shuddered for they felt a trifle uncomfortable after the breezy hospital gown. For some reason it seemed like it was a different Harry who had worn that robe and now it was this Harry, the one who had to be strong and who had to face his friends and tell them what?

He stood fidgeting in front of Snape, unsure of how to address his guardian and to thank him for all the things he had done tonight. He shuffled his shoes and then took a deep breath before he stammered. "I want to thank you, sir….for everything that you have done tonight….I…."

Snape remained silent and Harry was aware of the heat in his cheeks and then the large hand came to rest on top of his head as Snape softly said. "Go and get some sleep. I expect to see you before breakfast tomorrow morning in my office. We will breakfast together tomorrow. Do not be late, Mr. Potter. …"

Harry gave the bed a nod and then the fingers hooked underneath his chin to force him to meet the dark eyes. Without any shame, Snape said. "If you need anything tonight, go to Professor McGonagall, she knows where to reach me."

Harry gave a nod, his cheeks burning and his eyes wet. Why would a simple statement cause such a strong reaction from him? It must be because he was tired and he had a long and trying day. Snape's thumb moved over his cheek to brush the few tears away that escaped as the teacher said. "You are exhausted if you cry over such a simple statement. Go to bed, if you were any younger I would put you there myself…"

The smirk that twisted the thin lips made Harry scowl but he held his mouth. He felt the hand on his shoulder and he turned away as Professor McGonagall said. "I think all the first year boys would start screaming that you were to murder them in their sleep at night, Severus if you went up there."

"Yes and then I would have to hex or take points, depending on how loud they scream." Snape sneered. Harry hid a yawn behind his hand and Snape gestured with his hand as he said. "Go and be off with you. I have need of my ward tomorrow."

Professor McGonagall merely smiled and with a hand on Harry's shoulder, she pushed him towards the doors that led to the rest of the school.

Hp

Harry turned to say goodbye to Professor McGonagall when they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. He wanted nothing more than to go to the Common Room and then to bed but his Head of House said. "One moment, Mr. Potter."

Harry gave a tired nod and for a moment she smiled at him before she said. "You have done remarkably well tonight, Harry. As Head of Gryffindor House I am very proud of you and you have earned Gryffindor 20 points for your bravery tonight. The step you took in confiding in Professor Snape was very well thought off…."

"I didn't really confide in him, Professor. I wanted to get a book back he confiscated." Harry softly said.

"Well, all the same, Harry, whatever your reasons were to seek him out, it paid off, after a fashion. There is just one thing I feel I must caution you on." Harry felt his insides freezing. No doubt she would tell him now that Snape was a bad man and…

"You know Professor Snape is not a gentle and patient man by nature and especially anybody with the last name Potter will see his nastier side but he is trying, Harry. You may have to be a little patient because this is the first time he was ever a guardian to somebody like yourself but he will do everything in his power to make you want for nothing and I am sure that between the two of you…well, you will both be benefitting from this guardianship."

"But it is only temporary, Professor so perhaps I will be given another guardian." Harry pointed out.

"Would you like another guardian?" Professor McGonagall frowned and Harry shook his head almost immediately.

"I think that Professor Dumbledore has arranged for you to stay with Professor Snape for quite some time, Harry, at least for the trial period of two months. After that things will be reviewed. But I am sure that Professor Snape will go over that with you tomorrow. Now, go and get some sleep. You are tired and in need of rest."

Harry gave a brisk nod and then he turned to the portrait which swung open the moment that Professor McGonagall gave the password. With a resonating thud, it swung shut and Harry was finally alone.

Hp

"Oi, mate, where have you been?"

"Harry, you are back very late and that on a school night, are you…."

Harry should have known that he would never be truly alone. The Common Room was deserted, that was true except for the two anxious first year students. Ronald Weasley, the red haired boy looked worried as his freckles stood out in sharp contrast to the whiteness of his skin. Ron was taller than him but Harry knew that his friend could hold his own very well, having grown up with 5 brothers.

Hermione Granger, the slightly bossy, bushy haired witch glared at him as she rested her hands on her hips as she regarded him. They had only been friends for a few weeks so Harry was sometimes unsure of what he thought of her. She was very bossy in class though since Harry and Ron had saved her from that Cave Troll, she had quitted down a little.

"Yes, I am fine…"

"What did Snape…?"

"Professor Snape, Ronald!"

"Yeah him. Why did Professor Snape keep you so long? You are alright, aren't you, mate?" The moment Ron closed his mouth Hermione turned to continue.

"Yes, what did you have to do? And you still don't have your book back. Did you do something so that he didn't give you the book back? It needs to be given back to the library soon…."

Walking to a soft chair in front of the fireplace, Harry sank down. He looked up as Ron and Hermione followed him and then he said. "I have to tell you something. This is kind of hard for me to say so please just let me talk without interrupting and without questions, alright?" At Ron's nod and finally also Hermione's, Harry began to tell his tale.

He left things out, such as the fact he had been crying, because well, there were just some things you didn't tell your friends, such as the fact that you had been a bit of a weakling. Hermione had paled halfway through his story and Ron was gapping at him.

"Snape is your guardian?" Ron finally cut in when Harry fell silent. Harry gave a nod and Ron groaned as he said. "Does that also mean he can dock points if you don't behave like he wants you to behave…?"

Hermione shot Ron a look before she exclaimed. "But Harry, that is awful, why didn't you tell us this before?" His female friend leaned forward and she tried to reach out to take his hand but Harry tugged it away.

"There was nothing to tell…" He offered, trying to stifle a yawn. Hermione rose.

"We should get to bed. It is a school day tomorrow and if Harry needs to go to Professor Snape before breakfast well he will need to get up very early. Good night." She gave Harry a sad smile and looked like she wanted to hug him but she walked to the girls' dormitory and for some reason Harry was glad that she hadn't hugged him.

He was left alone with Ron and as his best friend looked at him, Ron finally blurted out, looking a bit uncomfortable. "Look, mate, if you need a place to stay, we have enough room at my house…I mean….if Snape isn't working out."

And as Harry smiled and followed Ron up the stairs, Harry couldn't deny the warm feeling inside of him, knowing that people cared about him was the best feeling in the world indeed.

Hp

The next morning dawned far too early and bright for the Boy Who Lived. The green eyed male fumbled around for his glasses on the nightstand as he tried to quell the fluttering that were floating around where his stomach was supposed to be.

He wished for nothing more than to curl back underneath the blankets and wait for the day to pass. Surely it wouldn't take that long, yeah, he could just pretend that he had forgotten all about his appointments today or that he was ill….

But as Ron looked at him he knew he would go down to Snape's office to join the man for breakfast and then they would leave for the Dursleys. He didn't want to go back there. He didn't want to see them, even if Dudley was gone off to that school he went to.

He dressed quickly, muggle attire as he pulled his school robes closed over it. His wand went in his pocket and for a moment Harry stood staring at his bed like he wanted nothing more than to lay down and curl up. Why did he have to do this? Why did he have to go to Snape?

"Come on, Harry, else we will miss breakfast." Seamus called to him and Harry looked up.

"You guys go on ahead. I will be right down." Seamus merely shrugged at Dean before they asked the same question of Ron who, after a shy and worried glance at Harry, gave a nod and left with them. Harry sighed and righted his shoulders. If he didn't hurry Snape would storm up here to fetch him, his guardian would do such a thing, Harry knew that.

Something inside him eased and he opened the door to go down to the common room and after that, to the dungeons.

Everybody he met was going to breakfast and if some looked at him funny because he walked the wrong way, nobody ever said anything. He ignored the glances, telling himself that they didn't concern him; he had enough trouble of his own.

He dragged his feet, sighing all the way as he finally came across the dimly lit hallway. He sighed heavily before he raised his hand to knock. It resounded in the hallway in a way that made Harry wince and he opened the door when he heard the command being given.

Snape was seated behind his desk and he glanced up as Harry entered. The Potions Master put his quill away and gestured to the chair in front of his desk, very close to the desk, Harry noticed. Harry walked to the chair before he sat down.

"Is there anything in particular you would like to eat, Mr. Potter?" Harry shook his head, unsure of what to say. He wasn't very hungry anyway.

"Mr. Potter, look at me when I am addressing you." Harry raised his eyes to meet Snape's and his Professor softly said. "Did a cat make away with your tongue, Mr. Potter? I am normally accustomed to being properly addressed when one enters a room."

"But how should I address you, sir?" Harry looked up at Snape.

"Excuse me?" The startled adult wizard yelped.

"It is just, you are my guardian now, sir and I…." Harry gestured with his hand to the document Snape had on his desk and Snape glanced down before he looked back up, his black eyes calculating and he steepled his fingers together before he addressed the issue.

"Yes, that is a very good question, Mr. Potter. In class and in other places where I am your teacher and not your guardian you will address me with my appropriate title but I am sure that we can come up with something different when the circumstances call for it."

"Should I continue to address you as sir then?"

"No, I do not believe so. Since guardians are believed to have a certain level of intimacy with their wards I do not think it will be appropriate for you to call me sir then unless in class or other places where I am an authority figure."

"I don't have to call you dad, do I?" Harry grimaced at the word as he watched Snape's face losing what little color it had. He realized he had made a mistake as Snape made a choking noise in the back of his throat. "Or father…I mean…I…."

"Potter, I am not your father!" Snape roared suddenly and Harry could see the rage inside the Potions Master suddenly. He cowered in his seat, unsure of why Snape was so angry? He honestly hadn't meant to call Snape dad or father but why it made the Potions Master so angry was beyond him.

"I am sorry…I didn't mean…I …."

Belatedly did he realize that Snape hated his father and well, it was no wonder Snape was so angry. Snape had been very kind in becoming Harry's guardian and for Harry to repay him so by insulting Snape….

The hand landed heavily on his arm and despite himself, Harry couldn't suppress the flinch. He chanced a look to his left to see Snape seated beside him, the older wizard having drawn up another chair so he could look Harry in the eye. Snape seemed to have calmed down considerably as the older wizard ran the free hand through his long hair so he could pull it away from his face.

"Do I strike you as the kind of man who could be a father?" Snape asked after a moment.

"You could be a very stern one." Harry replied, relaxing a little.

Snape sighed and glanced away as he murmured. "Silly brat. Let me rephrase the question then, would you like to call me father?"

Immediately Harry began shaking his head. No, he didn't want to call Snape father. A father was somebody who was always there and….

Snape's hand squeezed a little and Harry glanced at the Potions Master to see a wry smile tugging at the thin lips. "Good, then that is settled between us. Now…"

"I still don't know what to call you. Snape just sounds weird…." Harry looked back at Snape and the older wizard grimaced again.

"It does because Snape is not what most people, who know me, call me. At least not who I give permission to use my given name. Considering the familiarity we will be sharing because I will be your guardian, I think it would only be fair if I allowed you to use my given name."

"And what is your given name?" Harry stared up at the older wizard. He had heard Snape's name before, or so he thought but he wouldn't use it without the older wizard's permission.

"I am sure you have heard it before but my given name is Severus." Professor Snape shifted in his chair and Harry glanced at the desk. "Now, how about some breakfast?"

Harry gave a relieved nod as he shyly asked. "Can I have some pancakes…uhm…Severus?" The name felt foreign on his tongue but he did really hope his guardian said yes.

Snape frowned and then answered. "You can have three but you will eat some porridge as well."

"That is a big breakfast then. I am not sure I can finish all of that." Harry confessed.

"I guess you will just have to eat less pancakes then, don't you?" And Snape smirked knowingly at Harry's grimace.

Hp

Harry wanted nothing more than to finish eating his breakfast, even if it meant stuffing himself so full that he would have a stomach ache, when he left Hogwarts an hour later with Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape. All adults were dressed in, somewhat eccentric muggle attire.

Professor Dumbledore was dressed in a suit of faded pink, with his beard tucked into his belt and ankle high boots over the pants. Harry was unsure if they would even gain entrance in to the house with the Headmaster dressed like that.

Professor McGonagall wore a very ugly pale green tartan dress with her hair in the customary stern bun. She could probably pass for a grandmother for Harry knew from the TV that they didn't have much fashion sense.

Snape was dressed in faded black jeans, a grey button up shirt and a dark trench coat. The older wizard's long hair was tied back in a low pony tail. His hand was resting on Harry's shoulder who felt downright miserable.

"We will take a portkey the moment we are beyond the gates. We have an appointment for nine o' clock and I think it is best if we were to draw as little attention to ourselves as possible." Professor Dumbledore explained as he set of at a brisk pace towards the gates.

If it hadn't been for Snape's hand on his shoulder, Harry was sure he would have turned back and ran but instead he merely took a deep breath and hoped everything would be alright.

Hp

Harry didn't even know why he kept thinking that everything would be alright because the moment the door to Privet Drive number 4 swung open; he knew it could never be. He actually gulped when he saw his uncle's face but Vernon Dursley, big beefy and purple in the face wasn't looking down at Harry. That alone should have put Harry on his guard because normally, his uncle always looked down at Harry to make sure he wasn't misbehaving.

Aunt Petunia was standing in the hall, her horse face showing dislike almost immediately as she spotted Harry and her eyes widened when she saw Dumbledore's state of dress. "Well what do you want?" Vernon Dudley had never been a very polite man as he banged the door shut behind them and came to stand next to his wife.

Harry felt Snape's hand tighten on his shoulder but he kept silent.

"We have come to discuss the treatment of your nephew and to transfer the guardianship of him to somebody else."

"Well, let's get it on then." Vernon answered, crossing his big arms over his chest. Harry could hear Professor McGonagall murmur. "Appalling manners."

"I think we better discuss this in the sitting room since we do have many things to say." Dumbledore drew himself up to his full height and Vernon shared a look with Petunia before he pushed the way to the sitting room, not holding the door open with an angry huff.

Harry wanted nothing more than to stay in the hallway; sure he would be safe here. Snape applied pressure and he reluctantly went in after Professor McGonagall. Vernon was already seated on the couch, leaving two chairs and part of the couch free for everybody else to sit. Petunia was hovering near the kitchen door with tight lips like she was unsure of what to do.

"I am sure that a pot of tea would be very beneficial for the discussion." Dumbledore said as he chose one chair and Professor McGonagall the other, leaving Snape and Harry standing. Vernon gave a sharp nod when Petunia glanced his way.

His aunt disappeared to the kitchen and a heavy, uncomfortable silence descended between those in the room. Harry refused to meet his uncle's eyes, like he could somehow make it alright if he didn't have to look at his uncle.

Snape had removed his hand in favour of crossing his arms over his chest to appear more intimidating. Harry shifted restlessly. Something was wrong and all he wanted to do was to ask Snape if they could leave but he refused to show such weakness in front of his uncle.

Petunia returned with a tray full of mugs not before long and Professor Dumbledore took the document out of his inner pocket as he suggested. "Harry, why don't you go pack up all your belongings? I am sure you will have some stuff stored anywhere here that you will want to take."

Glancing up at Snape, Harry could see how the older wizard gave a nod even as his eyes continued to stay fixed on Vernon and Harry then answered. "Alright."

He left the sitting room with one last look at Snape. He didn't want to be there but he didn't want to leave the safety of Snape either. He was all alone in the hallway and he looked around. Should he first go upstairs or to the cupboard?

The cupboard first. Harry walked to the much hated place before he opened the door and crouched down. He peered inside, it was just as dark, small and dusty as he remembered but he would have to go in…

"How dare you, boy?" The sharp hiss behind Harry made him jump and he wanted to turn around but before he could Uncle Vernon's hand had pushed him further inside. "I will show you what becomes of tattle tales."

Even before Harry could cry out or do anything else, the door banged shut and Harry could hear the bolt sliding into place. "Let's see if they will come to save you now!"

Breathing quickening Harry could hear the heavy footsteps going back to the sitting room. He sat in the darkness for a moment before he pushed against the door, it wouldn't budge, no, he was trapped!

Hp

Severus shifted his weight slightly as he listened to the growing arguments between the male Dursley and the Headmaster. Dumbledore was taking far too long to stay on pleasantries and manners with the woman when Vernon Dursley said he had to go and get his reading glasses from his jacket.

He didn't trust these muggles as far as he could throw them. There was something off and if it had been him, he would have demanded that they sign the damn paper and he would have been on his way after a hex or two.

Minerva was looking around her impassively. Her expression was masked and Severus knew he couldn't figure out what the Head of Gryffindor House was thinking.

His eyes shot up towards the ceiling; did he just imagine he heard Potter upstairs? He did hope the brat would hurry up, the faster they would be out of here the better. They shouldn't have brought Potter, it would have been far better if it had been just the three of them to deal with this. Severus had seen how frightened the young wizard was, poor child.

He ruthlessly squashed the memories that tried to resurface and sneered at Petunia as he once more wondered what the hell was keeping Potter.

Hp

Harry pushed against the door again but it refused to budge. He ran an arm over his face. He couldn't panic now. They would find him, yes they would and they would get him out of here. He just couldn't panic.

"Help!" He cried out. He pounded on the door.

"Please help!" He called, trying not to sob.

Hp

Severus resisted the urge to check his watch. Surely Potter should have been back by now. He caught a glance from Minerva, a concerned one at the door and he gave a small nod. Yes, he would go in search of the brat.

Mentally he prepared himself to scowl the brat heavily. How long could packing some stuff up take?

Hp

The walls were closing in; it was so small in here. The old panic was taking hold of him again, the one that he could remember from when he was small and he had been locked in here every time he had done something wrong.

I know I have been wrong but just open the door, please….

Harry was pleading, he knew it but it didn't matter. He was trying to conceal the sobs, knowing that Uncle Vernon hated it even more if he cried. He pounded on the door again, calling. "Please let me out."

Hp

Severus frowned as he encountered the empty hallway. No sound came from upstairs and he glanced towards the kitchen, no, empty as well.

He had one foot on the bottom step of the stairs when he heard the noise. His eyes grew wide and within one fluent movement he had his wand out as he stalked over to the small cupboard underneath the stairs.

No, surely not…He waited a moment for the sound to come again.

"Please let me out!" It was Harry's voice and it sounded so frightened that Severus bit back the urge to storm into the sitting room and to pull the Dursleys' head apart with his bare hands.

"Harry, are you in there?"

Hp

Harry could have wept with relief when he heard Snape's voice. He barely had the mindset to call out a yes as he pounded on the door again, demanding to be let out.

"Harry, stand back. I will have you out of there in a moment."

Harry could only wait with bated breath as he did as was requested of him.

Hp

Severus held his wand steady and pointed it at the small door behind which his ward was trapped.

"Alohomora!" His voice was a bit shaky and he was glad to see the bolt that was holding the door fast moving. The moment the bolt was no longer an issue, he was down on his knees and opened the door.

Severus wasn't prepared for the reaction it had upon his ward when the door opened. A teary eyed, sobbing white faced Harry Potter launched itself at him. He caught the distraught child with a bare feeling of relief as Potter buried his face into Severus' neck, still sobbing.

His hands were checking for injuries he knew weren't there and finally, despite all of his best intentions Severus pressed Harry closer to himself to reassure himself of not only Harry's welfare but also for the boy's sake.

His heart was still thumping in his chest as he rose, Harry still clutched to him. For a moment he rested his cheek on the silently sobbing child's hair and his free hand slowly eased circles on the heaving back as the other arm went around Harry's bottom so Severus could easily carry him.

Harry still clung to him as Severus went back to the room, wand in hand, rage fuelling his steps.

Hp

The moment the door to the cupboard had opened Harry had done the only thing he could think of and that was to launch himself at his saviour. He was trying to conceal the sobs and to keep them inside but the warm pressure of the hand on his back made him bawl all the more.

He felt Snape rise and for a moment he wondered if the older wizard would set him down on his own two feet. He tightened his arms and then after a moment the Professor's hand came to rest on Harry's own as Snape softly said. "If you would just ease up a little bit, it would be very beneficial for my health."

Snape sighed, his breathing ruffling Harry's hair from where his face was still buried in the pale neck as his Professor said, his voice a little bit hoarser. "Harry, you are suffocating me. I am aware of how grateful you must feel towards my person, or the love you suddenly bear for me, but if you could just ease up a little, that would be a very big reward indeed."

Snape waited a moment and when Harry still refused to move the Potions Master said. "I am not going to drop you, Mr. Potter even if the floor is clean enough to eat from. I don't think that even you would benefit from such a fall."

In responds Snape's arm tightened as the adult wizard shifted Harry's weight before murmuring a faint spell, one Harry couldn't quite catch. "Now that is much better. You are as light as a feather now, Mr. Potter." Harry could almost hear the smirk in Snape's voice before his professor continued. "Now if you would just stop cutting off my oxygen supply then I shall see to it that we will get home."

Home…

That one word burned into Harry's heart and he slowly eased his grip as Snape's hand came to rest on his shoulder again, stroking gently, petting him, and reminding him that he wasn't alone and that he was safe. It was after a moment that Harry released the air he had been holding. He continued to press his face into Snape's neck, for looking up would require more courage than he had at the moment.

Hp

Having reassured Harry enough that his ward wouldn't slowly crush his windpipe within the next few moments, Severus paused outside of the door. He could hear the argument going in inside and he took out his wand, already having cast a feather light charm on his distressed student.

Rearranging his face into the scariest scowl he could manage and not the expression of pure fright and terror at discovering Harry trapped in his old bedroom. He could be quite scary. It had taken him some time to perfect the Death Eater glare that promised instant death to any student but after nearly 12 years of teaching, he was a master at it.

Severus had no doubt who had put the brat there but this time it wouldn't stop at just promises of instant death, no if he had a say about it, there would be far more than just promises, Headmaster and Azkaban be damned.

He pushed open the door, Harry still upon his arm, trembling and whimpering in fear now. The look on Vernon Dudley's face was one of smugness and Severus felt his rage threaten to break free. Minerva rose to her feet, an expression of alarm on her face as she exclaimed. "Severus, what happened?"

"I found him locked inside his cupboard. No doubt a last attempt at punishment." The expression of alarm turned to outrage. "How dare you!"

Vernon merely raised his double chins as he asked, not aware that Petunia had grown incredibly still at his side. "Who says that I have put the boy in there? I am sure that the door fell shut behind him. The door is known to catch sometimes."

"The bolt was fast in place." Severus hissed through clenched teeth. He raised his wand, the other arm holding Harry firmly against his chest, feeling the trembles that wrecked the child. Vernon merely shrugged and then shouted.

"Put that thing away at once!"

"No!"

"Severus, violence is never the answer to anything." Dumbledore tried to explain as he rose to his full height, ignoring the cowering Dursleys.

"I say it is now!"

"Severus, honestly…"

"I knew it! I knew it!" Everybody looked up as Petunia rose. She wore a disgusted triumphant expression on her face as she pointed a finger at Severus. He merely sneered in responds.

"I am glad that you have not forgotten me, Petunia." He answered as he inclined his head. He could feel Harry's body stiffening and he knew that he needed to fix this before the brat got any ideas.

"Put that thing away!" Vernon shrieked, pointing with a mad finger at Severus' wand.

"I will the moment it has done what I have required it to do." Severus snapped before Dumbledore softly said.

"Severus, take Harry and return to Hogwarts. We have no more business here and I am sure that I can close up alone."

How dare he? Severus had just as much right on revenge as Harry and he would be damned if he wouldn't get it.

"Yes, flee; flee like the coward you are!" Petunia shrieked and Severus flickered his wrist at her, annoyed. She continued to open her mouth but no words came out. She clutched at her throat with a horrified expression and Severus smirked. Silence spells were one of the best inventions.

"What has he done?! I will kill you!" Vernon raged and the moment the big man tried to leap over the table, Severus raised his wand again and pointed it at the beefy purple face.

"Give me a reason and I will do it." He swore, tilting his body so he kept Harry close to himself and out of harm's way. He could summon a protection spell within a second but just in case Vernon managed to get underneath his quick reflexes, the brat was safe.

Vernon was quivering and for a moment Severus revelled in feeling so powerful. He could feel the power coursing through his veins, feeling the need to protect Harry rising. The boy would be safe with him and if it meant harming these people then so be it.

Severus had always managed to keep his more violent and dark side under tight control but in this moment he understood how Lily could have made the sacrifice she had. The urge he felt to protect Harry was nearly overwhelming and Severus was sure he couldn't have felt any different if the boy was of his own blood.

So when he felt the tremble intensify within his ward's warm body, he immediately tightened his grip. Dumbledore stepped in between them and with a careful glance at his Potions Master, the Headmaster gave a quick nod and Severus accepted the portkey Minerva handed him and with a last look upon the Dursleys, they were spun back to Hogwarts.

Hp

Within moments Severus was in his quarters, a fire in the floo and as he carefully tried to pry Harry's arms loose so he could look the boy in the eye and asses the hurt, he knew after a moment it was useless.

So he sat himself down on the couch, shifting so Harry was in his lap and with the boy's face still pressed tightly in his neck and the child's arms around him, Severus waited for Harry to come out of it himself, cursing the Dursleys and Dumbledore for doing this to Harry as his arms tightened around his ward, keeping him safe as he longed for nothing more than to erase the memories and knew he could not, making him feel just as miserable as the first year in his lap./P>

That is it for now. I do hope you liked it. So what shall we have next chapter? There will be a proper dealing with the Dursleys of course, curtsey of Minerva and Severus. Review of course.

Next chapter: How will Harry's first night go when he refuses to go back to the Gryffindor Tower? Can he stay the night and if so, just how long will that night be for our young guardian? Will Severus be able to help Harry?

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you so much for the reviews. Let's begin. Harry's suffering isn't over yet. About Harry, well, I do know that he isn't behaving like an 11 year old but I like to picture him as having undergone major trauma and therefore he may seem very much out of character. I would appreciate comments about this.

About the Calming Draughts: I do like to think that they do stop working after a while. Just like a normal medicine for us so hope that it makes sense.

Aware of the warm body that held him, Snape's arms which were wrapped tightly around him and no longer trying to pry his fingers out of the death hold he had on Snape's black trench coat, the deep and even breaths that his guardian was making and then Snape moved as he slowly rocked backwards and hummed underneath his breath.

The song was an old lullaby, one that Harry remembered listening to lying in his cupboard when Aunt Petunia was singing Dudley to sleep. He pressed his face tightly against Snape's narrow chest, his eyes tearing up again.

Why was he feeling this way? He had been locked in his cupboard before so why should this affect him so? He should have known that Uncle Vernon would never allow him to leave without some last punishment. He should have expected worse and he should feel lucky that he had gotten off so light….

Harry shifted lightly and he pressed his ear against Snape's chest. He could hear the soft but powerful heartbeat underneath his ear as he took a deep breath to try and console himself. His eyes were burning and there was a huge lump in his throat that made breathing difficult and his nose was stuffy and runny and his head was beginning to ache.

"Harry?" Snape's voice was low and Harry sniffled as he wiped his nose with the sleeve of his sweater. Immediately a handkerchief was pressed roughly into his hand as Snape sneered somewhere above him. "Ill manner child! Use that to wipe your nose, not your sleeve."

"Sorry…." Harry hiccupped as he noisily blew his nose and Snape shifted him in his lap so that Harry was now sitting with his legs to one side and his head resting against his guardian's chest. Snape's hand was firm against his back and Harry wanted nothing more than to stop sniffling and behave like a normal 11 year old boy.

"Well, now that you can speak once again I am sure that we can discuss what happened this morning…"

"No…no …please…." The old panic was seizing hold of him again and Harry struggled to contain the sobs that were trying to rise to the surface.

"Hush!" Snape's arms were around him again and Harry was reminded that he was safe, hiccupping and trembling in his guardian's lap. He buried into Snape's arms, tears leaking out of his eyes as he fought for control.

Snape once more hummed underneath his breath, one hand stroking Harry's hair. If Harry had been able to lift his eyes, he would have seen the worried expression on Snape's face. Harry was once again lost in thought as he remembered the fear that has gripped him earlier this morning.

"Harry…" Even Snape's voice sounded worried and Harry glanced up. His guardian was looking down upon him, dark eyes glistering strangely and the pale face impassive.

Harry was sure that he looked a right mess so he struggled to put a smile on his face but he was failing miserably. He had no idea why he was behaving this way. It wasn't the first time that he had been locked in his cupboard and besides, this time it had only been for like 10 minutes so why was he making such a mess of things.

He blew his nose and wiped at his eyes with his handkerchief. He knew that within moments he would be sent on his way because even his teacher at school hadn't cared when he was this upset. They just let him sit until he could control himself away, sometimes glaring at him and clearing their throat to inform him he needed to hurry up.

But nobody had ever held him like this before or spoke calm and soothing things to him in his ear as a hand calmly stroking his back in an effort to calm him down. He tensed his body in preparation of being pushed away.

He tucked his head against Snape's chest, perhaps if Snape saw how bad he was feeling, his guardian wouldn't send him away. Snape sighed and leaned back against the pillows of the couch and Harry could hear the voice rumble through Snape's chest as Snape said. "What am I going to do with you?"

There was a sigh in there somewhere and Harry went rigid. So Snape didn't even know what to do with him, just like the Dursleys. He began to struggle as the arms wound tighter around him and Snape startled.

"Harry, what is the matter?"

"Lemme go! You don't want me, lemme go…." Sobs were again breaking out but Snape merely tightened his grip on the struggling and flailing child.

"Harry, stop that this instance!" Despite his struggles and the many times Harry had to fight his uncle, he was no match for the adult man and finally Harry collapsed in a heap of sobs and feeling quite miserable for himself.

He knew it had been too good of a plan for Snape to become his guardian. Why had he been so blind? Snape hated his father and he loathed Harry so why had he wanted to become Harry's guardian in the first place? Probably so that he could get his revenge and….

Hands underneath his arms and Harry was swung into the air as Snape began to pace. Harry was bounced with the firm steps Snape took to the fireplace even as he hid his face in Snape's neck on his no doubt soiled and wasted robe.

With one hand supporting Harry and holding the young very upset child tightly pressed against him, Snape tossed floo powder in the fireplace and called out in a tense voice. "Poppy Pomfrey!"

Within moments Snape was back at pacing, one slender hand on Harry's back as the Potions Master whispered. "What was that about not wanting you, Mr. Potter?"

The breath was a warm rush against Harry's ear and despite an inner voice whispering that he was just going to be disappointed again; Harry lifted his head to stare up at Snape. He was sniffling as he softly said. "You asked what you were going to do with me…"

Snape's expression changed and he frowned as he said. "It is just an expression, surely you were not thinking…."

"I can do things to earn my keep…."Harry began, looking down before Snape snarled, sounding more dangerously than ever.

"There is no need to earn your keep, Mr. Potter!" Snape sounded so angry that Harry trembled before Snape's tone softened as his professor noticed Harry's reaction. "I will never send you away, Harry. You are safe…."

The floo flared and Harry glanced away from Snape to see Madam Pomfrey spinning into view. The mediwitch looked worried and Harry glanced back at Snape in fear. The Dursleys had a doctor who had come to see Harry too once to tell them that the hard work was not good for a boy of five. Harry had spent the next 5 weeks locked in his cupboard only to come out to do his chores and to use the loo. He hadn't asked for the doctor to come, no, his school teacher had sent for the doctor and...

"She is here to make sure you are alright, Harry." Snape explained. Harry merely buried his head against Snape's shoulder, hoping that despise all odds that everything would disappear as soon as he closed his eyes.

Hp

Feeling the messy slightly greasy hair underneath his hand, Severus tightened his grip a little as he adjusted Harry on his arm. The poor child was terrified, simply and purely that. Severus had anticipated that after some reassurance Harry would be alright but the further time progressed and Harry only seemed to get worse instead of better….

Poppy looked at him, her eyebrow raised though she looked worried at the trembling child Severus held. "What has happened, Severus?"

She approached him, wand held in hand as he softly said. "The male Dursley locked Harry in his cupboard. I found him but I have no idea how long he was trapped there. Since then he has been sobbing. I can't get him to calm down, Poppy."

Severus' tone rose a little and Poppy could tell how worried the younger wizard was. She had seen children who had been abused in her time as a mediwitch but never before had Albus sent a child back to visit their home as he had done with Harry. Usually the students were sent to live someplace else unless they caught on to late but truth be told, Poppy had always found that Albus could have done better by a lot of children, not in the least by the wizard standing in front of her holding the distressed child.

"Do you think that Harry can tell me what has happened?" Severus shook his head firmly. He had tried before and the reaction had been that Harry was more fearful and upset than ever.

He could feel Harry tremble as Poppy said. "Can you hold him while I perform the diagnostic charm?"

The thing Severus liked best about Poppy Pomfrey was that apart from her experience as a mediwitch and her discreet nature, she was not one to dally. She was a professional and she did things as a professional. They could have wrestled with Harry to get the upset boy to lie still but if this worked as well, then it was even better.

The magic danced over his skin as Poppy cast her spell. She frowned at the readings she got as she softly said, Severus listening anxiously even when he went through great lengths to hide it. "Physically he is fine. He has no wounds other then the same wounds that we have found last night. Mentally, I don't know, Severus. He has suffered trauma, I can tell you that much by his reactions."

"But you can't tell me more?" This time his tone was disgruntled.

"I would need to do more tests, Severus. I can do them if you wish but they would require a calm state. I do not think that Harry is up to this…."

Sitting down and rearranging Harry in his lap so that Poppy could have a closer look at him, the mediwitch raised Harry's tear stained face. Severus kept a firm hand on Harry's back to make sure the brat didn't bolt. The dulled green eyes were reddish and washed with tears as Harry sniffled weakly and miserably.

Severus felt pity well up within him and Poppy softly said. "Harry, I am going to excuse you from class today, alright? Your guardian will have something for you that will calm you down and then you go and have a long nap…"

"Poppy, honestly, he is 11, not 5." Severus growled but Harry gave a nod and Poppy gave him a smile he did not like as she said.

"That may be so, Severus, but he needs reassurance from you now and he is in no state to go to class."

His hand stroked Harry's heaving shoulders in a futile attempt to calm him. Harry was taking gulping breaths but Severus' keen eyes were taking stock of the pale face, the trembling in the thin shoulders that rose and fell with each shaky breath. He looked up at the mediwitch to ask. "What do I need to do?"

"I am going to put this in the report and report this to Minerva and Albus. This was a bad idea for Albus to bring Harry with him to his visit of the family. Do you wish to cancel your classes for today or else I can watch Harry while you are teaching after I have taken this up with the Headmaster."

From his time as a student, Severus remembered that Poppy was a woman who was kind and gentle to those who were wounded but he also remembered that she was a force to be reckoned with. She was a woman who might be small in stature but who could rival with the best wizards and witches when it came to protecting those she considered to be her wards. Lucky for the Hogwarts students and perhaps not so lucky for the current Headmaster, was that Poppy had taken Harry in with just and was showing just as much protectiveness as Minerva towards the small Gryffindor.

Severus' lip curled, oh to by a fly on the wall when Poppy Pomfrey caught up with Albus Dumbledore.

Hp

The warm hand on his forehead soothed Harry a little as he sniffled again. He glanced up at the mediwitch who was still bustling about and then he said, trying his voice to sound strong. "I can return to class now, Madam Pomfrey…really…."

He wiped at his tears with false courage and he plastered a smile on his face. He tried to beam up at them both; he knew that he would only get into trouble later if he slouched off now. Besides, he couldn't ask of her to stay here and stay with him, not even Snape would do that.

No his guardian needed to teach and Harry would be alone again. He could better return to class and suck it up. It wouldn't matter that he could cry in his bed later. He was alright, really…it was nothing…he had done this before and he could do this again…

He slipped out of Snape's lap to stand in front of his guardian. Snape's dark eyes were watching him, taking stock of his appearance and then the Potions Professor said. "Tell Minerva to cancel my classes for the rest of the day as well."

Harry stood in front of Snape, fidgeting as the older wizard turned his glare upon him and said in a stern voice. "And as for you, young man, I will not hear any nonsense about you going to class. You are not fit for it. I will show you to your room after which I will give you a calming draught and you will get some rest, is that understood?"

Harry wanted to scream but when Snape tousled his hair and said softly. "It will be alright. I will be here all afternoon and all night if you need anything."

Harry gave a nod, his eyes burning for quite a different reason now and Snape's hand was so impossible warm that he actually yawned. He placed a hand over his mouth out of surprise and he could hear the chuckles the adults in the room made.

He looked to the floor underneath his shoes; it was made of the same chilling stone as in the dungeons. Yet these rooms did not seem to elude the same nearly sinister chill. Harry glanced around; Snape's quarters were warm with dark brown and warm red colors. The walls were decorated with bookshelves after bookshelves and Harry knew that without a doubt Hermione would love it here.

Potion stained fingers curled under his chin and Harry blinked up at Snape. The older wizard gazed down at him, the harsh lines in his face standing out, dark eyes unfathomable and without thinking Harry threw his arms around Snape's legs and pressed himself against his guardian's body with a sob.

Immediately Snape's hand came to rest on his head as Madam Pomfrey said. "Poor child, he is exhausted, Severus. Give him a calming draught and send him to bed. I will deal with Albus!"

For some reason Harry glanced up at the mediwitch to say. "Please don't hurt him…"

Snape's fingers curled around his arm roughly to pull him away to shake as the older wizard hissed. "Are you quite mad, Potter?"

Harry met the enraged black eyes calmly, daring Snape to continue as his guardian snapped. "Have you lost what little sense you have? Have you forgotten just what that excuse for a wizard did to you? Have you forgotten what he is capable off? He sent you to your relatives and…."

"I haven't lost it, sir, far from it actually but well….if Madam Pomfrey hurts the Headmaster then it means that I can't hold him accountable for his actions anymore and when that day comes…." And when that day comes, I want him to answer me truthfully why he did it!

He was fuming suddenly. So angry that it made him tremble. Dumbledore had been behind this, he had been the reason why Harry had been placed at the Dursleys. He shook his head firmly; balling his fists and bit his lip, looking away.

He heard a faint flare and then Snape softly said. "Would you care for something to eat or shall I give you the calming draught and send you to bed?"

Harry wanted to give his answer but his body decided for him. He yawned loudly and as Harry was sure that Snape was going to berate him for it, the Potions Master only chuckled and answered. "Why don't you go through the door over there and wait for me? I will get your potion and be right back."

For perhaps the first time today Harry was left alone. He glanced around the room uncertain before taking a deep breath. He was a big boy and he could certainly do something more then to walk to the room his guardian had appointed him to. The door was the same like the other doors and Harry pushed it open.

The room was lit by candles. The room was larger than Harry's bedroom back at the Dursleys and he wasn't even counting his cupboard. His eyes went wide as he saw the four poster bed, done in the same warm brown and red tints and the small bedside table that stood near the bed with a trunk at the end of the bed and a door which would no doubt lead to a bathroom or closet.

Harry's mouth fell open and he wondered who the room was for. The careful rapping of knuckles on the door behind him had Harry turning around. He blinked up at Snape, to overcome to say anything as he wiped at his burning eyes. The tall wizard was gazing down at him as he spoke in his soft voice. "I am aware that it is by no means a room fit for a teenager but I do suppose that it will serve its purpose."

Harry must be more tired than he thought at first because he was imagining things and he focused back upon Snape to hear. "I do want this room as spotless at it appears now, do you understand? Just because this will be your room does not mean that I cannot even enter without breaking my neck over the mess on the floor."

My room?

"I do know that you will still be living up in Gryffindor Tower but you know…just in case…." Snape trailed off when he noticed that Harry wasn't saying anything. His guardian's eyes were taking stock of the younger male's movements and then Harry threw his arms around Snape.

"It is my room, really?" Harry beamed up, tears in his eyes again. They were really becoming quite bothersome. Snape could only nod, stunned as he was before Harry felt the strong hands lift him and he was placed on the bed.

With a mere flick of Snape's wrist, Harry was clothed in his pyjamas. He looked down at himself as Snape pulled the covers back. The red liquid inside the vial was placed on the nightstand and Harry crawled underneath the covers.

He yawned again and Snape tucked the covers around him, holding the vial out for Harry to take as he explained. "This is a calming draught and it will make resting easier. Try to get some sleep…."

Harry took the vial and uncorked it before he drowned it. A strange calm was overtaking him and Harry found himself wondering as he laid down how it was that he trusted Snape so much now that he took something and drank it without questioning. Snape tucked him in further and doused the lights as Harry murmured. "Please don't leave…."

It seemed like from a long distance the answer came: "I will be in the room beyond or in my bedroom. The door will remain open. Rest, Harry." And as Harry was sure he imagined the hand on his head, he fell asleep, and feeling more secure then he had done in a long time.

Hp

Severus carefully pulled the door halfway closed behind him. He was glad that Potter had managed to fall asleep quickly. He had sat with his ward for 10 minutes, unable to leave after Harry's heartfelt plea. He ran a trembling hand over his face and through his long hair, pulling it away from his face.

He was out of his depth here, not even knowing what to do. 11 years of teaching hadn't prepared him for this. Hell, his own past hadn't prepared him for this. When Poppy had discovered his horrible past and home situation he had been 16 and too angry and bitter to care anymore.

She had tried of course but by that time his mother had already died, wasted away, having no magic to defend herself with since his father had managed to break that in her years ago, leaving her weak and a shell of the woman she used to be. His father's alcoholic addiction that he had indulged in for years had finally caught up with him and his much hated muggle born sire had been wasting away from liver failure. He had died by the end of the year and it would be a grotesque lie to say that Severus had felt any remorse that his father had died.

They had tried to place him with a different family during the summer of course but within days of hearing the terrible news Lucius Malfoy had agreed to let Severus stay with him for the remainder of the summer until he turned of age. In truth, it had sealed Severus' fate.

He shook his head firmly; this wasn't the time to dwell upon memories of a past he wanted to bury. He pinched the bridge of his nose and then went to the fireplace to throw a handful of floo powder in. He had some revenge to plan.

"Minerva McGonagall!" His voice was firm and Severus crouched down, his wand in hand before he Summoned a quill and parchment.

Within seconds Minerva's concerned face appeared in the fireplace and she frowned up at him through her square horn glasses. "Is Harry alright?"

Severus fought a groan. It was the question of the hour and one he sadly had no answer for since he was still searching for it himself. "What do you think after being locked in a cupboard by an uncle eight times his size?"

Her expression hardened and Minerva said. "There is no need to snap at me, young man!" She glanced up at him with an amused expression that looked too much like an expression on a cat's face who saw some cream, Severus felt like snapping immediately. "But I am sure that he is in your capable hands. You always complain that Slytherins always end up cleaning up the mess from Gryffindors and since you have been teaching at this school for a while I am sure that you have a lot of experience on how to clean up messes…"

"I think that it is taught in your house not to clean up messes, Minerva and since we are on the subject. Our somewhat hasty departure left a big mess behind, namely in dealing with that wretched family…." He snapped.

"I always believed that you reserved wretched family for the Potters, my dear."

Severus bristled at the reminder and being called my dear as he answered. "Do not play coy with me, woman! The Potters are saints compared to this family."

"Yes, you are right. Now where is that fabled Slytherin hospitality or will you come through to my end?"

Severus scowled heavily but he glanced at the open door that led to Harry's bedroom. He was a man who never made promises lightly and he could clearly remember every promise he had broken. He was also a man who rarely made any mistakes for he had paid dearly for those he had made.

While Severus only rarely if never admitted that he had been wrong or that he had made a mistake and he had certainly not been a man who was prone to apologizing, the sheer horror of a Slytherin apologizing was excruciation and he would never live it down, imagine his snakes, apologizing wherever they went…

He shook his head firmly, better not think about it. He had certainly realized he had made a mistake in treating Harry the way he had first day in class but the shock of seeing the miniature version of James and with Lily's eyes had brought back memories and feelings of resentment and guilt that he thought he had buried years ago.

He remembered stroking the messy hair a while back to reassure the small child that had clung to his robes with such strength and the fact that three days ago he would not have thought this possible, him being Harry Potter's guardian but he clearly remembered telling the boy he would be right here if Harry needed him.

While it was most unlikely that Harry would wake up any time before dinner, Severus still did not feel comfortable leaving Harry, even for a moment. He turned back to look at Minerva and said. "Fine, come on through then…."

Minerva showed surprise as she asked. "I am being invited into your quarters, Severus, the sanctuary of Severus Snape, mystery man of Hogwarts?"

"Yes yes, you old cat, now hurry up! I do wish to have something left from my afternoon without spending it submerged in Gryffindors." Severus growled, moving away.

"Severus, why are you inviting me into your quarters if you don't want it? Come through to my end, you silly man." Minerva rolled her eyes and Severus grimaced before he smirked.

"Because we are going to do some planning like only true Slytherins can and the vibe has to be right for that! Your quarters reflect your hard headed bravery too much to get any planning done and I do not want my brain turning to mush for the next few days because I soaked up to much Gryffindor stupidity. And well…." His voice dropped as he said. "Harry asked me to stay around and I do not wish for him to be upset. That will require another Calming Draught and I am already halfway through my stock!"

"Of course you do not want your precious potions wasted on Potter, Severus." Minerva rolled her eyes and Severus frowned. How could she see through him so well? Luckily for him she did not comment on it and said. "Well, move over to allow an old lady passage."

"Emphasis on old." He muttered which earned him a glare as he smirked while moving away. He took the bottle of firewiskey out of his hiding place and placed it within sight. It would certainly melt the iron of the old Scottish witch and most certainly her tongue.

The floo flared and Minerva stepped through as Severus held out a hand in case she tripped. The only thing that was shot his way was a stinging hex as Minerva hissed. "Old lady huh? She still bests you, young man!"

Rubbing his hand and scowling at her, Severus answered. "I was obviously holding back, Minerva. Besides, it is considered to be bad manners to step into a room with one's wand (!) at the ready and training on somebody in the room." He smirked at her as she shot him a warning glance, sinking down upon the dark brown leather couch with a small sigh.

"Can I tempt you with any firewiskey, Minerva?"

"A small finger then, Severus, it isn't even noon yet."

"I know…." Severus sighed and poured the drinks. He pressed one into her hand and raised his glass before he sat himself down in his favorite armchair in front of the fire. He took a sip, allowing the early day's events to fall away before his dark eyes fixed on Minerva and he said. "What should we do about the Dursleys?"

Minerva grimaced at the burn in her throat before she said. "It depends if you want this to be done the legal way…."

"The Gryffindor way you mean." Severus snarled but Minerva paid him no heed and continued like she had not just been interrupted.

"This will mean that you will have to wait for the approval of Albus and most likely you could report the Dursleys to Child Services in the muggle world but it could possibly drag on for years and…."

"Whoever said anything about the legal way, Minerva? It is so much more fun to do it the Slytherin way…." Severus purred.

"Ah I knew that leaving Harry with you was an excellent decision! Good now that it is settled, tell me what you have in mind?" Severus fought his grin. He did always enjoy his numerous bets and adventures with Minerva, she could have been in Slytherin if only she did not value honour so much.

"Hexes! Potions can be traced and since the Dursleys won't eat anything even if we force it down their throat. No, I wish to see results immediately. I do not think that Albus, Poppy or Harry needs to be aware of this."

"Sneaky snake." Minerva complimented him before she sobered and said. "Yes, it would be best for Harry if he does not learn about what we will be doing to his relatives. I am sure that you know plenty of dark and powerful hexes and I do agree with you that they need a reminder of just what they have done…"

"Well since our big Dursley does love to indulge himself with all sorts of food, it would be most brilliant if every tiny morsel caused him such excruciating pain that he will never eat again?" Minerva's expression told him enough as she said.

"We do not wish to do him any favours, Severus!"

"Yes you are right. How about a hex that will cause everything he eats to taste heavenly while it dissolves into mud on his tongue?" This time the cunning expression on Minerva's face mirrors his own, he knew as she smiled at him before he continued. "I am sure that they could do with some weight loss. But there have to be other hexes that could be equally satisfying."

"One that involves claustrophobia, even when they are in open spaces. One that involves their joints aching from hours of laborious work even without working."

"You should have been sorted into Slytherin." Severus saluted her ideas with another mouthful of firewiskey.

"Imagine the horror but how about the smallest Dursley?"

"Yes, the horror indeed. Slytherin would never be the same again." Severus never had to struggle to contain his sneers or scowls but now he was. Truth be told, the only thing he wanted to do was to march up to that blasted house and curse the Dursleys for all they were worth, which was not a lot.

He wanted them to suffer just as much as they had made Harry suffer and he wanted it to continue forever. He wanted to destroy their peace of mind and to have them remember what they had done to that small dark haired green eyed child!

How could anybody be cruel to a child without any remorse? Especially when they had a child that was only months older then Harry. Had they never felt guilty at all? Never hearing the cries as Harry was locked (!) in his cupboard while their son played in the room beyond. How could they just ignore that? Nobody could! They must have really hated the boy to give him such a cruel fate.

Any child would be terrified to be in the dark and then to be locked in the dark as a punishment….it must be terrifying…

"Severus?" He glanced up to find Minerva looking at him. He raised an eyebrow and she smiled at him, saying.

"I need to return. My next class is waiting. Would you like me to bring you some books so that you can research more spells? Why don't you use this time scheming? I am sure that you can come up with more satisfactory spells than the ones I have come up with."

Minerva rose and Severus waved her away impatiently. "Really woman, you are speaking to a Slytherin! I know that Gryffindors think that nobody can best you at ideas even when it is the Slytherins who do all the planning and scheming and you just take the credit for it."

"Yes, especially since we are far superior then the Slytherins."

"You are getting demented if you think that you can beat Slytherin. Or have you so conveniently forgotten the past seven years?" It was a sweet remembrance to know that the Quidditch cup was still standing on his mantelpiece, ugly though it was, rubbing it in certainly made up for it. At least it did in Severus' opinion.

"I do think that you will be eating those words before the year is out. You have seen Harry play…"

"Yes and he nearly fell from his broom. First thing I will be doing is to send him to a decent flying instructor who doesn't teach him to drop like an airsick bird. Oh dear, Minerva, there goes your perfect record. I believe the bell just rang for the next class." Severus smirked when he noticed the look on her face. It was quite priceless and he merely sent her a sweet smile while he waved her away to the fireplace.

Within moments he was left alone and as he cast an uncertain glance towards Harry's bedroom door, he frowned at himself. He was not turning into a sentimental Gryffindor and while he did go to check upon his brat, he told himself it was for his own benefit because he hated screaming brats and for a moment, he almost believed it.

Hp

Where am I? It is so dark! This isn't Gryffindor Tower…it was all a dream….I dreamed it….

Panting Harry shot upright in the unfamiliar bed. His mind was reeling and his heart was trying to beat out of his chest. He looked around but the room was dark and he couldn't see without his glasses. He fumbled around for them, choking back a sob.

All a dream….

His hand encountered his wand and Harry clutched to his chest. It shot sparks in response to his agitation and Harry shook his head. His heart was racing and he felt like he had swallowed a snitch by the lump in his throat.

It had been a dream, a very bad dream to be locked in his cupboard or had the past few days been a dream and he was still in Privet Drive before he left for Hogwarts, holding his wand and wishing that it was not some sort of prank from his cousin.

Harry tried to brush the tears away; of course it all had been a dream. Who would want him?

The soft snoring that he heard was just like Uncle Vernon or Dudley but….

He didn't know the room and there was no window where a street lamp could shine inside so he could have some light. But there was no window, and there was no light. The only sound was the snores coming from the room beyond and sniffling, Harry got out of bed.

He had to know if it hadn't all been a dream and so he braved the cold dungeon stones as he forced himself to keep taking deep breaths and not to dissolve into sobs. He was a big boy, he was 11 and he was in boarding school and big boys weren't going to cry because of something that had happened this morning.

His eyes were burning and his whole body seemed to be achy but the worst part was the fear and panic that threatened to seize hold of him again. He tried to swallow past the lump in his throat as he kept repeating to himself: It is not a dream…you will wake up and everything will be well again…

He walked through an unfamiliar living room and into the room where the snores were coming from. He would scream if his uncle was lying in the bed but the candles which dimly illuminated the beds occupant weren't showing a big lumpy flesh but a thin tall man lying on his stomach with long dark hair and a hooked nose snoring.

Harry could feel the lump dissolve in his throat and he wanted to turn to go back to bed but his feet refused to move. It was like they were stuck to the ground with a sticking charm as Harry continued to look at his guardian.

He had no right or reason to wake Snape. The Potions Master had done enough for him and he deserved a full night sleep. Besides, he was not worth it…why would anybody care for him?

It hadn't been a dream and Harry just needed to go back to bed even if he couldn't sleep and would just lay awake, trying to not let the panic take the overhand and to…

It seemed to no avail because his plan to leave was halted when his mouth opened and he uttered in a desperate plea. "Severus!"

He clamped his mouth shut, what a fool was he! With bated breath he waited for a snort and then Snape would merely bury back in his pillow and go back to sleep without any regards to Harry and Harry could slip away to his own room….

But the reality was quite different. Within a second that he had uttered the name, Snape snapped awake and turned to look at Harry. The sleep filled dark eyes sharpened immediately and Snape pushed himself up to a sitting position immediately.

"Harry?" The quiet muttering of his name made Harry choke upon another sob and he turned haunting miserable green eyes up at Snape as he waited for the anger to burst forward.

He stared up at Snape with pleading eyes, his lower lip trembling but he knew it wouldn't make a difference. It had never mattered to his uncle and aunt but the next moment Snape stood up and with two very quick steps, he was towering over Harry.

Harry flinched away, sure he would get kicked or beaten, it had always been the case when he had woken up his uncle but instead strong arms lifted him to settle him upon a familiar hip and he clenched to Snape, smelling the warmth of the blankets and the sleepiness that clung to his Professor as he sobbed into his neck like he had done hours ago. The warm hand on his back soothed Harry as he muttered. "S not a dream…."

He knew Snape was frowning but when the dark voice came, Harry couldn't have been happier with the words Snape said in his life. "Never a dream, Harry, never!"

And for the first time in hours, Harry felt safe as Snape held him and continued to talk soothingly to him while Harry desperately cried all of his fears out.

The end for now. I know, very unsatisfactonary ending, I know. Review of course and send me punishments for the Dursleys!

Next chapter: How will Severus and Harry cope during the long night ahead of them with Harry so upset? Will Harry be able to talk to Snape about his fears and most importantly will Severus be able to sooth Harry? How will they respond when another frightened first year comes to seek reassurance from his Head of House? Will the two firsties bond or will their (!) relationship deteriorate even more? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. So the crying part is over, at least for the moment. Let's begin.

Severus took a sip of his firewiskey as his hand stroked Harry's hair away from his face. The young wizard was sitting in the same spot he had sat in hours ago, still trembling as Severus found himself at his wits end.

Harry was sniffling, the sound pulling at Severus' heart. He was at a loss of what to do anymore. He had paced for what had seemed like hours, speaking in a low voice to reassure and sooth his ward but Harry's arms had only tightened around his neck. Severus had tried to offer him a sip from a much needed calming draught and while Harry had grown calmer, it had not had the desired effect.

Harry leaned into his touch, eyes red from crying and no doubt burning quite badly. Harry sniffled again and scrubbed at his face with the handkerchief he was clinging to. Severus took another sip before he banished the drink back to the bottle as he sat up.

"Would you like me to wash your face for you?" He asked.

Harry shook his head.

"Would you like a cup of hot chocolate…." Severus had to force himself to say the next words."….with biscuits?"

Again Harry shook his head. Severus was truly at his wits end. A child that didn't want a biscuit, what was wrong with the brat? He sighed again. He had no idea what to do. Normally when a student came to him upset, he gave them a calming draught to send them on their way again.

He was the evil tempered git of the dungeons, feared Potions Master of Hogwarts, bane of the students and yet, one sniffling, crying child, a Potter for crying out loud and all Severus wanted to do was to cry in frustration.

He ran a hand down Harry's back in an attempt to calm him.

"Do you want a glass of water?"

"No thanks."

"Do you want me to take you up to Gryffindor Tower so that you can sleep amongst your peers?"

A negative shake of the head.

"Do you want me to fetch Madam Pomfrey so that she can examine you?"

Again a shake of the head.

"Then what do you want?"

"Could you hold me, please?" The voice was small, the voice of a small child and Severus wondered how many times Harry had asked for such a thing and had been beaten before he learned that he was not to ask this question.

He wrapped a strong arm around the small shoulders and Harry melted against him with trust that had not been there mere days ago. How could it be, Severus mused as he rested his cheek against the unruly hair buried underneath his chin that Harry Potter, son of his enemy, could depend on him so?

If only the boy's parents could see him now, sitting here with Lily's son. Would James have hexed him, mocked him or would he have stormed over to his in law's to teach them a lesson? It wouldn't matter at all, not at all. Lily and James were dead and they had left Harry to this fate.

Dumbledore didn't care; he had never cared about abused children. Why would he when they offered him everything and became everything that the Headmaster needed them to be? But why wouldn't Dumbledore make sure that his hero would be well protected instead of abused by his family?

He should just march up to Dumbledore's office right now and present Harry to the Headmaster, showing him what the old meddling coot had done by taking Harry back to his relatives. Severus bit back a growl, knowing that it might frighten Harry.

"Except for me holding you, is there anything else you need?"

It wasn't like him to be so gentle. Gentleness and kindness was not within his nature and even in private he was not prone to give it. He was Head of House for Slytherin and Slytherins were not soft hearted and they did not require comfort. They had a certain reputation to uphold after all and while there had been many students who had come to him as First Years in the very first weeks of the new term with homesickness, he always reminded them that they were Slytherin and it was something to be proud of.

And besides, he had drilled his prefects well. They were to see to it that the Firsties would never embarrass their house like Gryffindor was hell bent upon. Severus had fought the urge to strangle the new Gryffindors many times in the past and especially this year with Harry Potter attending.

Surely it was a huge laugh of fate that Harry was currently curled up in his lap, trembling like a little kitten. Severus had known the moment Albus had decided to write him off as Potter's guardian. No doubt the Headmaster wanted to make use of Severus' lack of people skills and hatred of Potter to show Harry that he wasn't welcomed or treated well by his guardian. But Severus would be damned if he would allow that to happen.

He would not be a puppet for the Headmaster to play around with, using the strings to pull him this way and that. No, it would end and Severus would do his best to protect Harry from the same fate. The boy had already been through too much and while Severus was not an optimistic person by nature, he knew that the odds of Harry breezing through Hogwarts were small.

Even without an insane dark lord chasing him around, there were plenty of people who wished Harry harm, regardless of mad Headmasters and their ideas. He would rather face the dark lord then allow Potter to come to harm, either by his own hand or by Dumbledore's.

Harry was holding himself stiffly in Severus' lap and Severus took the handkerchief from his ward as he flickered his wand to wet the tips of the wet fabric so he could wipe Harry's face slowly as he said. "You are a mess, Mr. Potter. Now perhaps we shall send you back to bed…."

"I am fine right here, sir." Harry's voice was too polite and Severus wondered what had happened that had put the brat back into being even more polite since their first disastrous class together.

What had happened to the child who had defied him, trying to steal a book from Severus' desk? Had the Dursleys always abused this child? This polite version of Harry?

It was unthinkable and yet, Severus knew that it wasn't entirely impossible. If somebody was determent to find a fault in a person, they would find one. He had been guilty of that as well. His arm settled Harry a little bit better against him as Harry offered stiffly.

"You can go to bed, sir, I will stay here. I won't get in any mischief, I promise." The small voice trembled and threatened to break.

"You really think I would allow you to be in my sitting room with all my priceless possessions after what you have just been through, then you are dreadfully mistaken. Your Potter luck will show and you might just blast my quarters to rumble because of accidental magic." Severus moved his arm so that Harry was tucked against his chest as he forced himself to breathe in evenly and deeply.

"This better not be some ill mannered attempt to get out from underneath your classes, Potter, because you will find out the exact reason my students fear me." Yet despite the threat Harry relaxed a little.

Severus almost smiled, mind you almost, as he felt Harry's head coming to rest wearily against his chest. He stroked the brat's hair again and then said. "Now that you managed to relax slightly, may I inquire what is it that you fear so much?"

Harry stiffened slightly and tried to pull away. Perhaps the brat would be more comfortable when they could look one another in the eye, so Severus allowed Harry to put some distance between them. Harry was biting his lip, his green eyes huge in the candlelight as they refused to meet Severus' own.

"Come, brat, surely you can tell me." Severus lowered his voice slightly and as Harry's eyes shifted to his own for barely a moment, Harry then said in a small voice.

"I thought that it had all been a dream and that you wouldn't be real and not my guardian. It was always so frightening being locked in the dark and not knowing what I had done wrong this time. I always tried so hard and even then I would get stuffed into my cupboard…" Harry hiccupped dryly, his sobs no doubt having run dry at the moment.

"Did your aunt ever lock you in your cupboard when your uncle was close to losing control?" Severus could feel the nod against his chest as Harry twisted his hand into the fabric of Severus' shirt.

"When you ran out of your room, did you notice perchance that I did not put a lock on your door or that it doesn't even have a keyhole?" This time Harry shook his head.

"Good, because I will never lock you up, not even for your own safety. You will always be free to leave or to come to me if you need me. These rooms are protected by spells and a password and only the teachers know the password so nobody can snatch you away at night when I am not looking. Now, if you are afraid of the dark…."

He felt Harry stiffen but he pressed on ruthlessly. "…If you are afraid of the dark, I will teach you the Lumos spell. With this spell you can create a light with your wand. I will leave candles to burn in your room should you wish it so." Severus took a deep breath and then said. "Were you ever afraid of the dark up in Gryffindor Tower?"

"No, sir. The room was large and there was a window and there were several people there as well. I was never alone."

"You are not alone in these quarters either." Severus offered tensely.

"But I didn't know where you were." Harry cried out, pushing himself away so he could look Severus in the eyes. "You could have gone away and I would have been all alone. And it could have been a dream…."

"I made you a promise that I would remain…."

"Promises mean nothing! Uncle Vernon promised me a bike if I would be good all year long and did all of Dudley's chores and I did, and even my own and he gave it to Dudley and said that a worthless freak like me doesn't deserve any gifts." Harry sobbed dryly.

"You are not a worthless freak, Harry." Severus said softly.

"Yes, I am! I am stupid and I am a big freak because I cry when uncle Vernon puts me in my cupboard because I have told people about what has happened at home. I deserve my punishment because I have done something wrong and I…."

"Harry Potter!" Severus shouted. It was perhaps the only time that he raised his voice and Harry was out of his lap immediately, the table in between them as the younger wizard trembled and turned huge eyes towards Severus. Severus lowered his voice. "You have done nothing wrong and you cannot be blamed for how your relatives treated you…"

"Yes, I am. If my parents hadn't died then uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia didn't have to take care of me and they wouldn't have to spend money on me to feed me and clothe me and put me through school…"

"And if your aunt had stepped in when those two oafs had started beating you and fed you properly and loved you and treated you like her nephew instead of a smelly house elf then none of this would have happened." Severus bit out sharply.

Harry shook his head. "I deserve what I got because I am a freak and I am to blame why my parents were killed and that is why I am the reason that Aunt Petunia had to take care of me and it is my fault that I can't be normal and…."

"Harry James Potter, stop uttering this nonsense!" Severus rose to his full height, the cabinets in the room trembling with his magic. He was enraged to hear such lies coming from a child's mouth. Harry again shook his head as he said.

"I am a freak because I make weird things happen. I just want to be normal." This time there was such a sad note in the boy's voice that Severus was around the table in two steps and had dropped to his knees beside his distressed ward.

"Harry, every magical child makes those things happen. They cannot help it. It is the magic that is displaying itself and it can be quite frightening. Most muggles don't understand this but for many wizarding families it is a joy when their child displays magic because it means that in our world the child is normal."

"But I am not even normal in this world. I am again a freak." Harry said bitterly. Severus' hand shot out to grasp the thin wrist as he hissed.

"Never use that word again. You are not a freak! You are very special and…."

"But then why doesn't anybody love me if I am special?" The pure note of sadness tore at Severus' bitter heart as Harry turned sad green eyes up towards him. He knew in that moment that he had to answer or he could risk wounding Harry further.

"I will love you." The words left his mouth before he could even think and while he might wince a little, he watched as a smile blossomed on Harry's gaunt face.

"Really?" The impossible boy breathed.

Severus could only nod and within the space of a heartbeat he had his arms full of Potter as Harry sought to undo him with more messy tears and a hug. Harry was surely out to get him killed or marked as traitor by any Death Eater still on the loose as the boy whispered. "I love you too, sir."

"Severus." Severus wheezed, awkwardly patting Harry's back. Who would have thought that such a few simple words could produce this effect? Imagine saying these words to any distressed student and Severus knew that his reputation would be ruined.

Good lord, if he kept this up then within the week his chambers would be crawling with big fluffy puppies and kittens. In the time of only a few days he had gone from being the heartless git of the dungeons to saying I love you to the Potter brat, his ward.

What was Potter doing to him?

Hp

Harry was amazed. How could he have gone from feeling so miserable a few minutes ago to feeling so happy? He had somebody to love him. He had somebody who took care of him and who was going to be his family and that was his Professor.

He had a family. Now he knew why Ron was always going on about his mum and dad 'cause this felt brilliantly. Snape was petting Harry's back and Harry felt like smiling suddenly. Whoever said that families were a nuisance was wrong. And besides, he thought, who needed the Dursleys? He certainly didn't. He had a new; father, dad or what was Snape now?

He pulled back so he still was within the older wizard's arms but that he could at least look Snape in the eye as he asked his question. "Can I call you dad now or still Severus?"

"What?" Harry glanced up when Snape yelped. He repeated his question to the suddenly pale wizard and Snape asked. "Why would you want to call me dad?"

Harry frowned and he got a funny feeling in his stomach. Did Snape's question mean that they weren't family? He swallowed past the lump in his throat and said. "Because we are family now."

Snape paled, even more then he had ever done before and Harry looked away. He knew that look. Snape didn't want to be Harry's family. How could he have been so stupid and…

"You don't have to call me dad or father because I am your guardian, Harry. I think that if you continue to call me Severus for the time being will be fine. Your father will always continue to be James and it makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable to be named father or dad by you…"

"I get it; you don't want to be my dad." He was feeling quite miserable again but he wouldn't let Snape see that…

"Actually, Harry, it isn't like that at all." Snape took a deep breath before he continued. "You know my past with your father and I do not feel comfortable if you were to call me such a thing. That would imply that I am your sire and I am not. I have been your guardian for only a matter of days, Harry and while I certainly do wish to remain your guardian longer then the two trial months, there is always a chance (!) that something might go wrong. But I want you to know that no matter, you may always come to me if you ever need anything. I am always here for you."

Harry gave a nod. He understood now. Snape was afraid that they might take Harry away and that both he and Harry would be heartbroken if such a thing happened. Snape smiled at him, not the evil sort of smirk that he had gotten before, or the sad smile that Madam Pomfrey smiled every time she saw him but a really kind smile.

It made Harry give his Professor another hug. Snape allowed him and then pulled away with another smile as he said. "Now, Harry, do you perhaps want some hot chocolate and biscuits now?"

Fighting his own smile Harry nodded. His Professor was so kind. Snape gave him a nod and then kissed his forehead before rising to go to the kitchens of Hogwarts.

Hp

Severus closed his office door behind him as he leaned against the door. Good lord, Potter was bound to be the death of him. Calling him father? What had the child been thinking? Severus might as well just paint a big bull's eye on his back so he could get hexed properly.

His eyes snapped open when he felt something push against the wards that he had placed around his quarters. Before Severus could wonder what it was, the portrait to the sitting room burst open and a drawling voice called out. "Uncle Severus?"

Even before Severus had a chance to curse, he could Harry hissing. "Malfoy!"

"Potter!"

The voice of his godson rose in alarm at seeing his enemy sitting in his godfather's private quarters. Severus cursed and opened the door.

Hp

Harry cursed at himself for not taking his wand with him. He stared at Draco Malfoy, the other boy was also dressed in his pyjamas but he did have his wand in his hand. The blond boy was blinking at him, thoroughly confused no doubt to why Harry was here and why was Malfoy calling Snape uncle Severus?

"What are you doing here, Potter?" Malfoy spat. The blond older wizard had slightly red eyes and he quickly ran an arm over his eyes as he raised his wand high.

"Harry is here because as my ward he has reason to be, Draco." Snape's voice had never been more welcome than at that moment. Harry hid his smirk as he noticed that Malfoy turned to Snape with a scandalized expression on his face.

"Your ward?"

"Has something impaired your hearing, Draco? I just told you that Potter is my ward." Snape snapped. The older wizard crossed his arms over his chest as he stared down his hooked nose at the young Slytherin.

"But, Sev, I thought that you hated Potter." Draco whined with a look at Harry. Harry could feel the smirk sliding off of his face. He cast a look at Snape; the older wizard wasn't looking at him. Snape took Malfoy by the arm as he crouched down and said.

"Draco, how many times have I told you not to call me Sev? Now what is the matter?" Draco threw Harry a look of the deepest loathing as he smiled sweetly at Snape and said in a low voice, sounding very whiny and so much like Dudley that Harry got a bad feeling in his stomach.

"I miss my mom, uncle Severus."

It was exactly the same behavior that Dudley always displayed when he had done something and he wanted Harry to take the blame for it. Dudley would look at him like Malfoy was looking at him right now and Snape would take Malfoy's side and Harry would get punished and be sent to his cupboard…

It was just the way this always played out, they would side together and Harry would get punished for it…

"Draco, stop it this instance!" Snape's voice cut in sharply and Harry could see Draco recoiling as if he had been struck. Snape scowled sharply and Malfoy nearly shouted.

"You are the same as everybody else; you also care for Potter and not for me! Everybody carries after precious Potter simply because he killed the Dark Lord when he was a child and he is famous for nothing and…."

Snape shook Draco roughly as he hissed. "That will be enough, Draco! Stop behaving like a spoiled brat! You are behaving like a snotty Hufflepuff instead of a Slytherin! Harry may have defeated the Dark Lord but he also lost his parents that night. He is famous for something that he may not wish to be famous for at all. I would state with confidence that he would rather have his parents than to have seen what he has seen. So stop being annoying, Draco, I will not have it."

"But I…."

Snape rolled his eyes and then crouched down in front of Draco as he said, his voice gentler this time. "There is no shame in admitting weakness in front of me, Draco. It is alright if you miss your parents. Frankly, I would be very surprised if you had not missed them."

Draco shot Harry another look, a dirty one that usually meant; don't tell a living soul about this. Harry looked away, a little uncomfortable. Draco was much closer to Snape then Harry would ever be. He would pay for this, he knew it and then Draco asked. "But then why is he here? You told me that Potter was a spoiled brat and that he deserved everything that came his way and that we should hate him."

Snape raised a dark eyebrow and opened his mouth to say something but Draco cut across him sharply as the younger wizard bit out. "Why would you take care of a sniffling Gryffindor? It isn't fair. You are my godfather and not Potter's guardian. He doesn't need a guardian, you are my godfather…. And I won't share you with anybody cause…

Draco continued in the same tone and Harry could see how Snape was losing his patience. Time and time again the older wizard tried to interrupt Draco but Draco refused to allow Snape to say something. The young wizard continued to rage and then with a particular look on Snape's face that Harry didn't like at all, the older wizard turned Draco around and slapped him upon the bottom.

The slap startled Harry as much as Draco for the blond Slytherin stopped talking almost immediately. Snape took a deep breath and then turned Draco around as he hissed. "Stop that this instance! I have had enough, Draco. You are behaving like a four year old and I will punish you like a four year old. I will not be spoken to in such a manner, not by you!"

The young wizard stood in front of Severus as he angrily bit his lip. Snape continued to stare down at Draco and finally Draco muttered. "I am sorry, sir."

"That is better. Now sit down on the couch and I will fetch you a cup of hot chocolate and then we will talk. Do not anger me further, Draco!"

"But Potter…?" Snape merely raised an eyebrow and said in a chilly voice.

"What have I just said?"

"Not to anger you further, sir." Draco bowed his head.

"Then be a good boy and go and sit on the couch or you can return to your dormitory." Snape's voice brooked no argument and Draco cast a look at Harry.

"But Potter is there…"

"Do you need another smack? It is enough. You are making a big nuisance of yourself, Draco." Snape's voice was impassive and didn't brook any argument. The older wizard looked angry and Harry made himself small on the couch.

Malfoy looked different to him now and Harry expected him to moan and shout now like Dudley did when Aunt Petunia was cross with him but Draco merely gave a nod and said. "Yes, sir."

Snape rose as he rested a hand on Draco's head and said. "There is a good boy, Draco."

The adult wizard glanced over at Harry. Harry refused to meet the older wizard's gaze, knowing that he might get punished as well. He felt a little uncomfortable at seeing his former enemy so humiliated. It didn't add up, why would Malfoy suddenly be so docile?

"Behave yourself, boys. I will return shortly." Snape said as Harry nodded. Draco had sat down on the other end of the couch, his wand in his hand as he too stared down at the floor. The silence between them was deafening as Harry glanced at the other boy sitting on the far end of the couch.

"So Snape is your godfather?" He finally asked. Draco looked up, his grey eyes suspicious as he said, probably trying to restrain himself to being polite.

"Yes and he is your guardian."

"Yeah."

"Good." That one word sounded so hostile that Harry glanced back and then said.

"Well, it could have been worse. It could have been McGonagall."

"Or Dumbledore."

"Or Filch."

"Or Hagrid."

Harry cocked his head to the side. "Hagrid wouldn't be so bad, except for the obviously dangerous animals. And I would have to walk Fang, which really would be very bad 'cause he will pull me along all over the school grounds."

"Well it would never be boring. Unless you got Quirrell."

"He would make me wear a turban as well, no thanks."

"Yeah and that wouldn't suit you at all."

"It would look better on me then on you."

"Nay, purple and black don't mix." Draco shot back. Harry grinned at him as he asked.

"So do you come to Snape's place often?"

Draco stiffened a little and placed his hands on his knees as he swung his legs as he said. "Only when I miss my mom. Is this your first night here? I didn't know that Sev was your guardian."

"Sev, don't let him catch you say that, he will put you in detention. Actually he became my guardian two days ago. This is the first night that I stayed here. Dumbledore took me back to my relatives yesterday to sign the guardianships document and my uncle locked me in my cupboard, I freaked and…."

"Dumbledore did that? That man is nuts. If my father heard about that, he would have hexed your uncle."

"And yet he does let Severus smack you?" Harry raised an eyebrow. He was feeling a little bit uncomfortable with this subject but he said nothing.

"I deserved it, didn't I? I was a disgrace to the Slytherin and the Malfoy name. Besides, Severus only smacks somebody when he deserves it. Now father is different but I usually deserve that too."

"My uncle smacked me even when I didn't deserve it…." Harry shivered.

"Father says that it is up to adults to know when to smack a child and when not. If you go around smacking children all day then the punishment won't be affective. No, he says that you have to do it when a child deserves it. He usually sends me to my room or tells me he is disappointed in me. I…That is worse than the smack I just got. Severus never once told me he was disappointed in me. I know he is proud of me." Draco puffed his chest out and offered Harry a smile as he added. "He isn't bad at this guardian/godfather thing."

Harry could feel his ears burning as he said. "I think he is brilliant, actually."

"He is. He is far more patient than father and…." Draco fell silent as if he was afraid he had said too much.

Harry shuffled a little closer and asked. "You miss your father too?"

Draco gave a nod, his eyes fixed on the floor underneath their feet. He didn't say anything, merely perched his lips tightly.

"Well, that is alright. I miss my mom and dad too." Harry confided. Perhaps Malfoy wasn't as bad as he had first thought.

"My father says that it is weakness to show that you care for somebody."

"No, it isn't. Perhaps your father just didn't want to tell you how much he cared for you so you wouldn't miss him all that much. But I will share Severus with you if you need a hug. He is very good at that. And besides…" Harry nudged Draco with his shoulder. "….he tells you that he loves you when you ask him."

"Really?" Draco asked.

Harry nodded eagerly. "Yeah he does, really! Plus he was the one who got me out of the cupboard and he has been really sweet 'cause he took care of me even when I couldn't sleep and when I was upset."

"Yes, uncle Sev is a really good guardian and godfather." Draco said with a nod.

"Yeah I know."

"So are you moving to Slytherin territory now instead of staying up in Gryffindor Tower?"

Harry shook his head and made a face. "Who would want to be a Slytherin?"

"Well it is better than being a Gryffindork."

"Says you."

"Yeah, I am glad that you know that I am saying it, else your glasses would be useless."

Harry laughed and after a moment so did Draco. It was tentative at first but eventually both boys were laughing hard, joking at each other and playfully bantering at each other. It was thus that Snape found them.

The older wizard was levitating the tray behind him as he stood in the doorway to his office. He smirked a little and knew that his little Gryffindor would do very well, with just a little bit of Slytherin help.

That is i t for now. I know it was shorter then I expected but this seemed like a good place to end it. Review please.

Next chapt er: Harry goes back to class but can he tell his friends what has happened? Will Ron and Hermione support their friend and add a new Slytherin to their circle of friends or will Harry stand alone? And Harry will see that Snape's influence extends beyond the private quarters of his guardians as the Headmaster seeks to know just how Harry is doing? Will Snape be able to save Harry from the sherbet lemons? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: wow, so many reviews, I am honoured(!). So Harry will no be longer be such a crying mess, I promise. Or that means that I will try and I will see by the end of the chapter if I succeed or not. Let's begin.

"Do I have to return to class today?" Harry took a small bite of toast in the small kitchenette in Snape's rooms as the Daily Prophet dropped a little to display the stern black eyes as they narrowed before Snape's hand appeared to grasp the mug of coffee that stood on the table and it disappeared behind the newspaper just as Snape had.

"Do you wish to spend most of the afternoon catching up on your classes?" The dark voice soon floated from behind the newspaper and Harry made a face at Fudge who was speaking to somebody on the front page.

"No, sir."

"Good, that answers your question then."

"But if I am to return to my class today, then why aren't we eating breakfast in the Great Hall?"

"Would you like to have your friends questioning you, and thus making it nearly impossible for you to eat a decent breakfast, about where you have been since you disappeared from breakfast yesterday morning?" Snape still didn't emerge from behind the paper and Harry sighed moodily, staring at his food.

He had no idea how Ron and Hermione would react or how Draco would behave. Would the young Slytherin still be as mean to Harry as he always was or had he mellowed out a little after their chat last night and the hot chocolate and biscuits?

They had sat together talking with Professor Snape until the older wizard finally had to carry two very sleepy firsties to bed, but it had been one of the best nights of Harry's life. He sighed and drowned his milk, taking careful sips not to upset his stomach. He didn't want to go to class, he was a child, and any excuse to skip class was exploited.

"So can I call you Sev now?" He brightened a little.

"No!"

"Oh, but Severus seems so long."

Snape lowered his paper a little to glower at Harry as he hissed. "I will be sure to change my name then within the next instance since it is such a shame that the Boy Who Lived finds my name too long."

Harry frowned at the odd nickname and said. "My name is Harry and not the Boy Who Lived. But why did they pick that name? I mean there are tons of boys out there who lived and they aren't getting nicknames and blamed for making some bad wizard disappear."

This time Snape did fold the newspaper and Harry watched a grim expression settle over the pale face of his guardian before the older wizard pulled his chair a little closer and said. "In our world there are curses that cannot be stopped or sidestepped. Curses that kill. One such curse, a forbidden one, is the Avada Kedavra. It is the only known curse that kills instantly. Upon uttering this curse, you will serve a lifetime in Azkaban for it…."

"What is Azkaban?" Harry felt a little bit uncomfortable with what Snape was discussing. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that this was about him.

"It is the wizarding prison and I would appreciate it if you did not interrupt me! Now, as I was saying, the killing curse. You are the only known survivor of the curse and that is what makes you such a remarkable child, among other attributes and fine qualities that you have."

Snape was stroking Harry's scar and Harry felt suddenly so subdued. "So this is the curse that killed my mom and dad?"

"Yes, Harry, it must have been."

Harry stared ahead, not seeing the concern in the dark eyes of his guardian and then the young wizard choked out. "Did they suffer?"

"No, Harry, they didn't. The Killing curse is most effective and kills upon contact. They did not feel a thing." Harry glanced up.

"But how can you be sure? And why did You Know Who want them dead? Were they a threat to him? Why would somebody murder innocent people and…."

"Harry, calm down!" The soft spoken command made Harry snap his mouth shut. He stared up at Snape, suddenly afraid. His guardian's dark eyes were narrowed in contemplation before Snape sighed and said.

"I am not sure if I am the person to tell you this, Harry…."

"But you are my guardian. If you can't tell me, then who can?"

"Because there is not only a history between your father and I but between your mother and myself as well. We were friends when we grew up but we had a falling out of sorts…."Snape took a deep breath and Harry chewed on his lip. He focused on his guardian's chest instead of Snape's face and then the older wizard said. "It is a long tale but know that I always regretted not being able to make it up to her."

Snape took a sip of his coffee before he continued. "Your parents were among the people that never joined You Know Who's cause. They resisted him and fought him. The Potters were an old pure blood family and You Know Who wanted them gone. So he went after the last Potter, your father. During that time a prophecy was made, concerning not your parents but their child, you! A spy for the Dark Lord overheard a part of this prophecy before he was discovered and thrown out. The Dark Lord connected the prophecy to the Potters and hunted them down. During Halloween 1981 he found them and killed them. He wanted to make sure that none of the Potters stayed alive but he failed when he tried to kill you."

Harry was suddenly shivering all over. The Dark Lord had been defeated, he was sure of it. Really, he had to be because else he may just come after Harry and…

"Take a sip of milk." Harry glanced up again as he obeyed Snape. The milk slid down his throat, making him think a little clearer again. "But he is gone, isn't he?" He blurted out.

Snape must have understood how Harry felt because the moment Harry asked; Snape rested a big hand on Harry's knee. "We believe he is. And even so, you are well protected and I will not let any harm come to you, mad Dark Lord or not."

His guardian was the best, Harry had always known it but he smiled none the less at hearing the words coming from his teacher's mouth. Uncle Vernon would have gladly given him to You Know Who, probably demanding to get paid for it as well but now his Professor was watching over him.

He pulled himself into Snape's lap and wrapped his arms around his Professor, ignoring the sudden tensing of the adult. "Yes, yes, that is quite unnecessary, Harry."

Snape was awkwardly petting him but Harry merely pulled back to grin at his guardian. A smile that Snape returned begrudgingly. The older wizard seemed a tad bit uncomfortable and then softly asked. "Do you have your book bag? I don't want you to be late for class."

Harry slid of Snape's lap, running to his room as Snape called after him. "And brush your teeth!"

Inside the kitchen, the older wizard sighed, why again had he said yes and with his past? But as he remembered the smiles he received from Harry, he knew it was worth it.

Hp

"Excuse me?" Harry kept dodging through the crowd of the older students as he finally made his way outside for their flying lesson. It was the first lesson of today and he would finally see his friends again. It seemed like forever since he had last seen them and he knew that they would be burning with questions.

He straightened his tie and then smiled when he reached the inner courtyard where the flying lesson was held. The students were all chatting, standing next to their brooms and waiting for Madam Hooch to appear, the flying instructor.

Being on the Quidditch team, Harry didn't have to attend the class but he liked it. It was the first thing that he was actually good at and he liked helping people. The Slytherins were all standing on one side and the Gryffindors on another.

"I am sure he will be here, Hermione. Harry wouldn't miss a flying lesson for the world…."

"Ronald…."

"There he is." Ron's voice was a welcoming sound as the two young Gryffindors who had stood closest to the entrance of the courtyard rushed towards Harry. His two best friends exchanged worried glances as they fell over each other to ask questions.

"How are you?

"Where were you, mate?"

"How did it go yesterday?"

"You missed several classes; do you know that, Harry?"

"Oi, leave him, Hermione, you copied the notes for him and I am sure that he had a very good reason for missing class, you did, right, Harry?"

"How did the visit go?"

"Potter, you can still jump on a broom and hover above them so you won't get trampled by your fans." Harry would have recognized the drawling voice anywhere and he turned away from Hermione and Ron to see Draco standing there.

The other boy wore the smug smile he always wore but this time Harry could see the uncertainty behind it. Ron turned back to Draco and said. "We can ask questions if we want and what is it to you?"

"Well since Potter is Professor Snape's ward and Snape is my head of House that makes Potter part Slytherin."

"Why would Harry want to be in Slytherin?" Ron was red but Harry merely looked from one boy to the other.

"Maybe because he is tired of always having to be brainless and behave like a Gryffindor?"

"It is better than to slither on the ground like a snake!"

"Oh is that what you call walking, most people use their feet, Weasley." Despite himself Harry laughed a little. Ron opened his mouth and closed it with a snap, huffing a little. His friend seemed gob smacked and Harry softly said.

"That wasn't very nice, Draco!"

Ron's mouth opened again, this time in pure shock as he heard his best friend use their enemy's first name. Harry felt a little bit awkward standing between Hermione and Ron on one side and Draco on the other. He had no idea, well that wasn't entirely true, what his friends might say if he told them he could possible form a friendship with Draco Malfoy.

A loud thud had Draco turning away from them and Harry glanced around the Slytherin's slender form to see that Goyle had fallen over a broom, stupidly blinkingly up at the sky. The grey eyes rolled up towards the blue sky before Draco walked away to help his friend up.

"If Goyle is that clumsy on the ground, I really don't want to know what he will do when he is on a broom." Hermione's voice was soft but Harry turned as he said.

"I am clumsy on the ground as well but not on a broom. You aren't clumsy on the ground but you are on a broom."

Hermione's mouth opened and she huffed before she spoke in a haughty tone. "Well I don't see what is so brilliant about flying anyway. It doesn't take that much of a brain to…"

Had she thought it through, Hermione would have concluded that it hadn't been the most brilliant idea to argue the merits of flying when she was in the flying class and within hearing range of three Quidditch crazy boys and the instructor.

"Miss Granger, I do not ask you to like my class but I would like that you show the same participation as you do in your other courses. This is a required class for first years and you are to pass the class and by your current attitude, I am not so sure that you will!"

Hermione looked on the verge of tears as Madam Hooch walked away. Feeling self conscious, Harry reached out and patted his friend's back. "It will be fine. You don't have to be brilliant at everything."

"But you can fly and Ron can do it as well….then what is so hard about it that I can't do it?"

"Well, Neville can't fly either…"

"Harry, I don't want to be measured by Neville's standard!" She hissed at him. Harry shook his head quickly as he said.

"I didn't mean it like that but there are some subjects people are better at than others. And you just aren't that good at flying like I am no good at Transfigurations. But we'll help you."

"Really?"

Harry swallowed and plastered a grin on his face. "Of course."

Hermione beamed at him and then gave him a hug before rushing towards a broom. For some reason, Harry had a feeling that this wasn't going to end well.

Hp

"Mount up. I want you to try and stay airborne for 5 to 10 minutes, longer if you can achieve it. Should you feel your broom wobbling I want you to gently point the handle to the ground and slowly decent, is that understood?"

Alright, Hermione, you can do this. You are one of the brightest witches in this year so surely you can master something as easy as flying.

Hermione Granger was determent to prove herself. She was a Muggleborn and she refused to back down to the likes of the sneering Slytherin in front of her. No Muggleborn was going to lose to that lot and especially not (!) this girl.

She stood next to her broom and held out her hand, saying. "Up!"

Much to her intense pleasure and satisfaction the broom jumped into her hand almost immediately. It was loads better then the first time. She even refused to think of that first time and she could still feel the heat staining her cheeks when she realized that she was one of the only ones that had been unable to lift their broom.

She glanced around at the rest of the class. Harry was already in the air, hovering calmly and looked for the entire world like he had done this for most of his life. Ron was helping Neville mount his broom and Harry was watching, hovering closely.

Hermione lifted her robe a little and adjusted it as she mounted her broom. She would probably never get used to it but she was determent to show all those pure blood meanies that she belonged here, especially Draco Malfoy.

Even now he was watching her and Hermione fought the urge to wipe that stupid smirk of his handsome face as she tilted the handle back a little and kicked off gently against the ground. She hovered a few inches above the ground for a few moments, trying to find her balance.

A huge grin broke out over her face. I am improving. See, flying isn't so difficult.

She tilted the handle a little more, rising a little as she glanced around to see if anybody was watching her. Nobody was, they were all busy, Ron and Harry helping Neville down.

She held her broom lightly, allowing it to rise a little more. She was higher up now than she ever had before but she refused to look down. The wind breezed lightly and it made her drift a little bit away. Hermione took a deep breath, trying to quell the fear that was rising in her belly.

What did Madam Hooch said again? Oh yes, remain calm and ask for help.

She looked around, as her broom vibrated a little. Hermione couldn't see anybody who could offer any help as she struggled to remain seated on her broom. The damn thing rose a little more and Hermione could feel herself sliding off. She tightened her legs around the broom, whimpering in fear.

She was higher than she had ever been before and she knew that she was going to fall. The broom vibrated a little bit more and Hermione pressed the handle down. She was hovering now, calmly in the sky but she wanted down. She didn't want to stay here, no she wanted to be down on the ground on her own two feet.

"Are you alright?" The drawling voice of Draco Malfoy was one of the best things that she'd ever heard as Hermione glanced to her right to see the Slytherin hovering calmly on his own broom, grey eyes watching her.

They weren't narrowed in malice or anything else but merely concern and Hermione tried to keep the fear out of her voice as she asked. "Not quite, can you help me down perhaps?"

She knew that he might tease her for it later but right now, she could care less. She wouldn't even have cared if Harry's Dark Lord was sitting on a broom beside her now, just as long as he helped her down.

"Just apply pressure down and the broom should decent." Malfoy's voice was without the usual sneer and Hermione was trembling. She managed to replace her hands with the greatest difficultly. Alright, I can do this, really. It is just a small way down and…

"Ahhhh!" She screamed when the broom suddenly soared down faster than she ever had anticipated. She only dropped a few feet but it was terrifying. Pale, elegant hands steadied her broom and Hermione sat gasping. Her hands curled around the handle so hard that her knuckles turned white.

She could feel the fear running through her veins, making her terrified. She whimpered, refusing to look this way or that, just looking straight ahead at the horizon. "Granger, are you alright?"

Hermione shook her head but she refused to let the broom go. She was safe as long as she held the broom and as the other pair of hands held the broom steady for her, she would be fine. "Granger, I am going to let go of the broom now so that you can get it down and…"

"Don't you dare let go!" She barely recognized her voice as the hiss it was but then Malfoy said. "Alright then."

It sounded a bit careful but Hermione could care less. She was scared out of her wits and the only one willing to help was a Slytherin, she could care less at the moment. She looked around a little to see Draco Malfoy floating in front of her on his broom.

Their brooms were sideways and their legs bumped together but Hermione was ever so glad for the quick handed male next to her as he had come to her rescue. "So then how do you suggest that you get down to the ground, Granger?" One fine blond eyebrow rose.

Hermione glanced around again. Everybody was busy, including Madam Hooch. She sighed and then glanced back at Malfoy, there was only one way. "Let me sit on your broom."

"What?" His eyes grew wide and Hermione sighed loudly again before she repeated.

"Let me sit on the back of your broom and you can take us both down."

"Hold on a moment, you are afraid to move on a broom but you are willing to switch from one broom to the other while hanging in the air. Yes, that makes perfect sense, Granger."

"Well it is that or you will have to hold onto my broom for the rest of the lesson or until somebody who can help will come."

"And how is that better than to have you holding onto me?" Another eyebrow rose as Malfoy looked at her. Hermione felt like crying suddenly, she was terrified but she knew that Malfoy would only laugh at her if she told him that.

Her expression must have given her away because Malfoy slowly said. "Alright then, I will keep one hand on the broom…" At Hermione's glance he said. "….I need to steady you with the other! Weasley and Potter will kill me if I let you fall. But anyway, you need to shift on the broom so that you can easily switch over to mine."

"Perhaps this isn't such a good idea…" Hermione squeaked.

"Well you can stay floating here, if you like?" Hermione glanced around again, the breeze had drifted them a little bit away from the other people who were flying and Draco brought his broom up beside Hermione's, still keeping a steady hand on her broom handle. Their legs bumped into each other but Hermione could care less, as she hiccupped with a dry sob.

"Come on, Granger, up you get! Use that famed Gryffindor courage you surely possess."

"As long as you don't make fun of me!"

"Granger…"

"Say it, Malfoy!"

"I wouldn't dare to make fun when I am rescuing a lady, now will you get on or shall we stay and argue?" The hand that gripped her hand was firm however, despite the teasing voice and Hermione slipped one leg over the handle of the other broom floating beside her.

She refused to release the handle but finally when Draco tugged she did so, grasping his offered hand tightly. She balanced for a few precious seconds between the two brooms before she wrapped a strong arm around the slender waist in front of her and hauled herself over to the other broom.

Her legs clenched around the other broom and she buried her face in the back of the male in front of her, choking on a sob. "Now that wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Get me down this instance!" She moaned into the black school robe, holding on for dear life.

Hermione held her eyes tightly closed, she didn't care if she wasn't showing bravery or whatever, and she had shown enough bravery for one day, really! Her hands tightened around Draco's waist and she heard him suck in a large breath.

"Do you want me to float down or spin down because if you keep tightening your grip, I will!" He warned, just shy of breathless and Hermione released her grip a little, only a little mind you.

It seemed like an eternity before they made it to the ground and she heard. "You can get off now!"

"You are such a gentleman, Malfoy." Her voice was steadier than her legs when she dismounted from the broom. Her legs buckled and she fell over, trying to make it look graceful and less like a ragdoll whose strings had been cut. She squinted up at her blond saviour as Malfoy drawled.

"I just rescued you, you know, you could be a bit more grateful."

"I am grateful." She said as she got to her shaking feet.

"Hermione, what happened?" She ignored Ron and Harry's cries in the distance and said, holding out her hand. "You aren't half bad for a Slytherin, Malfoy. You could have left me hanging."

"Nay, my prefects would have had my hide."

"And now your father will have your hide for saving a Muggleborn."

"Ah, what he doesn't know won't kill him." Draco dismounted with far more grace then she displayed and accepted her hand, shaking it solemnly.

"You do realize that the whole class saw you, right?" And as she glanced around, she could indeed see the whole class staring at them.

"What has that Slytherin scum done with you?" Ron panted in her ear. Harry was a step behind him and she could see the green eyes narrow as he took in Draco's appearance.

"He saved me, Ron. I was up on the broom and I was afraid and…."

"Well, so much for Slytherin subtleness. You could have just shouted to the breakfast hall that we are friends, Draco." Harry grinned good naturally and clasped Draco on the back.

"Class dismissed! Miss Granger and Mr. Malfoy, if I ever see a stunt like that again, I will dock points from both of you!" Madam Hooch's voice was strict and Harry laughed at the look on Draco's face.

"You and Harry are friends?" Ron's voice was soft but Harry turned to look at his best friend, would it be enough for Ron to see that Draco had helped Hermione instead of leaving her to her misery?

"We met yesterday evening in the rooms of his guardian." Draco replied curtly.

"And what is Snape to you then?"

"He is my godfather." Draco's chest puffed out in pride much as it had done yesterday as the four gathered their stuff to go inside to get some lunch. Hermione was still a bit shaky, looking from one boy to the other and then Ron sighed and said.

"Well, I suppose that some of us have to show you bravery cause what you just did, that was just plain stupid. I mean, you completely failed. You have to wait until Hermione promises not to nag you again and then you should rescue her. It is what we did last time, ain't it, Harry?" Dutifully Harry gave a nod.

"I hardly doubt that Granger will nag me…"

"She will now that you are one of us." Harry softly said with a large smile.

Draco paused and glanced at Harry like he couldn't believe what the Boy Who Lived was saying. "Don't joke around, it isn't funny!"

"I am not joking, besides you can feel what it is like to be the only Slytherin among Gryffindors like I felt last night."

"You weren't complaining last night when you got hot chocolate and…."

Draco fell silent the moment they entered the Entrance Hall. Harry glanced up to see the Headmaster standing in front of them, blocking their path most effectively.

"Good afternoon, Harry, do you mind if we had a word in my office?" Dumbledore's voice was sweet but Harry could feel himself tensing up. He glanced around at Hermione and Ron but they could only gape in awe. Draco's look was calculated but Harry knew that the youngest Malfoy couldn't help him either.

"Well, sir, I was just about to have lunch in the Great Hall and…."

"Oh wonderful, I am sure that we can partake in lunch in my office. The house elves won't mind. Shall we go, my boy?" And Harry could only look back helplessly as Dumbledore's arm enclosed around his thin shoulders and he was led away from his friends.

Hp

The sound of running feet towards his office was never a good sound, Severus had concluded early in his teaching career. It usually meant trouble, either of the dangerous kind of the annoying kind. He had hoped for a relatively peaceful day after his not so peaceful night. He was still debating whether or not to see Albus and present him with a pensive full of memories of Harry from last night.

"Professor Snape! Professor Snape!" Severus sighed and picked up his wand. So much for a nice quite meal while he was amusing himself with reading the latest essays the students had turned in.

"Professor Snape!" A breathless Draco appeared in the doorway to his office. Severus raised an eyebrow in silent admonishing. Draco never ran in the corridors, he knew better and he had been raised better than that.

"It is an emergency." Draco panted, stepping into the office.

"Yes, I gathered that. Which one is it then? One of the students is choking? Somebody saw the Dark Lord return? Dumbledore had a heart attack? The Giant Squid kidnapped a student? Well?"

Draco gestured with his hand as he drew in another breath before he said. "Professor Dumbledore has taken Potter up to his office with him to talk. You need to hurry, sir."

And while most of the other emergencies would have made Severus walk calmly, this had him running because Potter and the Headmaster in the same room together, that was bound to end up in trouble.

Hp

"Now, why don't you come in and sit down so we can talk, Harry?" Harry glanced around at the circular room with the big desk in the middle that belonged to the Headmaster of Hogwarts. There were many moving portraits on the walls that waved at him, at least the ones that weren't asleep.

There was a beautiful golden/red bird sitting on a perch in the corner looking at Harry. Dumbledore noticed Harry watching and he said with a benevolent smile. "That is Fawkes, Harry. Fawkes is my familiar and he is a phoenix."

Harry pulled himself away from watching Fawkes as he sat down. He still hadn't forgiven Dumbledore for the comment the older wizard had made and he really had no idea what the older wizard had wanted to talk to him about.

Well, that wasn't entirely true, he had an idea what the Headmaster wanted to talk about but Harry wasn't sure how he should answer.

Dumbledore sat behind his desk, a smile on his face and the blue eyes twinkling behind the glasses. "So how are you doing, Harry?"

"I am fine, sir."

"Very well, how are your lessons going?"

"They are going well, sir." Harry wasn't going to say that he still had trouble in some classes but he knew that under Snape's tutelage he would do a lot better than he had done before.

"Alright, that is what I wanted to hear. Now there is something that I would like to discuss with you, Harry but first, is there anything in particular that you want to eat perhaps?"

"Uhm, nothing in particular, sir." Harry wasn't hungry all of a sudden. He had looked forward actually to sharing the meal in the Great Hall with his friends and perhaps to see Snape. He still had to tell Hermione and Ron everything that had happened even though they probably had guessed it. But what was he to do now.

"Alright, I will just order a bit of everything then, shall I?" Dumbledore laughed but Harry merely smiled politely.

The older wizard tapped his wand to an empty parchment and then folded his hands together on the desk, looking at Harry gravely. "I have been visited by Madam Pomfrey yesterday, Harry, she was very angry with me. It seems that I have made an error in my judgment…."

Dumbledore paused to allow Harry to say anything but Harry pretended not to know what the Headmaster was talking about and finally Dumbledore sighed and continued. "I was aware that Vernon Dursley locked you in the cupboard for a short period and that Professor Snape rescued you but Madam Pomfrey was especially angry with me when she saw how upset you became because of this. She called me many things which I shall not burden you with now but I wish to know how locked in that cupboard made you feel and I wish to apologize sincerely."

"It was frightening to be locked in the cupboard, sir, but then you could have known that. I know that you always believe in the good of people but the Dursleys don't deserve that, they really don't! They are mean and Uncle Vernon will always hurt me…"

"You are right. I should have realized that when I placed you there…."

"Yes, you should have, sir." Toast, mashed potatoes and a variety of other food items appeared on a table that stood off to the side. Harry glanced at it for a moment before he focused back at Dumbledore.

"Madam Pomfrey couldn't tell me everything about you since she is honour bound not to release anything from her patients, even to the Headmaster." Dumbledore sighed and then continued, smiling at Harry. "I have to know some things. Are you happy that Professor Snape is your guardian, Harry?"

"Yes, sir. He has been brilliant."

"Good, good, so nothing strange has happened? He hasn't touched you with a finger or laid a hand on you…."

"Professor Snape would never lay a hand on me." Harry said angrily.

"Yes, that is true, Harry." Dumbledore hurriedly soothingly said. He must have realized that he had said something wrong for he quickly changed the subject. "So how is the Quidditch going? Are you being accepted by the team…?"

"Professor, do I get to stay with Professor Snape?" Harry knew that it was rude what he was doing but he could care less. The Headmaster had invited him for a chat so Harry could possible get some answers as well.

"Well, Harry, that depends on many different elements. There will be a full investigation from the Ministry in regards to who is best suited to raise you. I have you know that there have been families who have expressed their desire to raise you, such as the Weasleys. It also depends on your wishes and those of Professor Snape. Currently he is the first choice because he can best provide you with the safe environment and the protection that you need. But there is the tiny disadvantage of his past and the fact that he is a bachelor though that may change at any given time should the need arise."

"So he can adopt me?"

"If he so desires, then yes he can and if he should be found to be a suitable guardian for you then yes. People such as Professor McGonagall have already pledged their support with Professor Snape to be your guardian and…."

"Will you vouch for him as well? You always say that you trust him." Harry knew he had caught Dumbledore off guard with this question and the older wizard looked away for a moment before he answered.

"If it is your wish that you wish to remain with Severus, Harry, then of course I will, though I hardly think that it matters…"

"I think it does. You put me with the Dursleys in the first place so I think that you could redeem yourself in the eyes of the public by placing me with a suitable guardian and you haven't been very nice to him…."

Dumbledore's expression hardened but Harry stood his ground. The older wizard sighed and then smiled tiredly. "It seems that your Slytherin tendencies are coming to the surface by placing you with Severus…."

There was a knock on the door and Dumbledore glanced up. Harry glanced back to see Snape enter, slightly out of breath as the older wizard's dark eyes flew over Harry's face before he nodded to Dumbledore. "Headmaster."

"Ah, Severus, can I help you?"

"Why yes, you can. It has come to my attention that you required a word with my ward and I couldn't help but wish to enquire why?"

Dumbledore smiled thinly and then said, gesturing to an empty chair. "But of course you were, Severus. I wished to know how Harry was doing…."

"You could have asked me as well, Headmaster. I would be more than happy to provide you with a full report on how Harry was doing when he returned from the Dursleys. I hardly think that he needs to be present for it. He has already missed his classes yesterday for a very understandable reason and I do not see any reason for him to be present for our conversation."

"Poppy has already spoken lengthy to me about what Harry has been through yesterday, Severus and I extend my apology to you as well. You have done a very good job, my boy."

Snape merely gave a nod as he sat down in the empty chair. "Was there anything in particular that you wanted to discuss with Harry, Headmaster?"

"I wished to enquire if he had any questions about the guardianship and if he was satisfied where he currently was."

"Oh did you?" Snape's dark eyes flashed to Harry's face but Harry couldn't read what Snape was saying. He wondered if he had done something wrong.

"Yes and Harry has expressed the profound wish, should you be in agreement with me, to remain with you and to make you his legal guardian until his coming of age, I would hardly think that his godfather Sirius Black or Remus Lupin should be imposed to it."

Harry perked up and looked at Snape. He had a godfather. Snape shook his head faintly at Harry and promised a silent 'later' to him. The dark eyed wizard glanced back to the twinkling Headmaster behind the desk and answered. "I would be in agreement to discuss this both with Black and Lupin regarding Harry's guardianship."

"You would consent to becoming Harry's legal guardian?"

"Yes, I would, Albus. I would be more than happy to."

"Excellent, excellent. I shall owl the Minister than, shall I to ask for his approval in visiting Sirius Black?"

"Why don't you owl Lupin while you are at it?" Snape sneered.

"Excellent idea my boy, excellent idea. I am so glad that you suggested it. I shall do so immediately. There was nothing else that you required?" Dumbledore turned away with a smile as he grasped a quill and parchment

"Actually, there was one other thing. Harry needs a new prescription for his glasses. I would like your consent so I can take him to Diagon Alley to get his new glasses and other items he will require, such as clothing." Harry looked down; there was nothing wrong with his clothes.

"Of course, Severus. You are aware of the school fund for…"

"That will be completely unnecessary. I am wealthy enough to care for my ward. Come along, Harry, it is time you ate lunch and get back to your classes." Harry rose as Snape did and he gave Dumbledore a polite smile as he felt Snape's hand settle on his shoulder.

"Very well, goodbye Harry, afternoon, Severus." Dumbledore dismissed them and as they stood on the rotating staircase going down, Harry turned to his guardian and asked.

"I have a godfather?"

"Yes, you do but I will answer that question tonight, not this moment. Classes will start soon and you have to eat. Tomorrow, we are going to go shopping." And with the happy promise of spending an entire day in Diagon Alley with his guardian, Harry happily skipped off to class.

That is it for now. I hope you liked it. I am looking for a beta reader for this fic so please let me know if you are willing to beta read it. This fic is being translated in to German by the wonderful Isabelle who is amazing and I feel very honoured. Review of course.

The next chapter: Harry and Snape go shopping in Diagon Alley to get new clothes and new glasses for Harry and don't only meet up with Remus Lupin but another person from Snape's past as well. What will Lucius Malfoy say when he learns that his old friend is the guardian of Harry Potter? What will Harry learn about his godfather from both Snape and Lupin? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you for the reviews. We passed 200, wow that is amazing. So we have an official beta reader for this fic who is absolutely amazing since she within the span of a few days corrected all of my mistakes in the previous chapters. Let's begin. Please pardon the title for the glasses shop but I was much uninspired.

"Sir, who is my godfather?" Harry was busy putting on his shoes and trying to pull his overlarge shirt into his trousers. He wasn't sure if he should wear his school robes but his guardian had yet to say anything. Snape paced from his bedroom back to the sitting room as he searched his pockets and mumbled underneath his breath.

Finally the older wizard raised his wand and said. "Accio wand sheath"

Harry's eyes widen and he forgot all about his shoes as the wand sheath floated to Snape. The older wizard rolled up his sleeve and bound it tightly around his wrist before he unrolled his sleeve and the sheath disappeared. Snape made a gesture with his hand and his wand disappeared.

"That is wicked!" Harry exclaimed, grinning.

Snape's head snapped up and the older wizard pointed at Harry shoes and said. "Get a move on!"

"But what did you just do? That spell was so cool." Harry chattered as he pulled on a shoe, standing up to turn pleading green eyes towards Snape. His guardian sighed and strode over. Despite himself, Harry flinched sharply with the purpose stride of the older wizard. Snape's eyes narrowed and checked his stride, seeming to glide over and then Harry looked away to the ground.

He frowned when Snape suddenly bend over and began to tug at Harry's shoes. The older wizard tugged at the laces sharply and then said. "Place your foot on my knee."

The Potions Master sat down on bended knee and Harry had to support himself on the broad shoulder to keep from falling over. "Who is my godfather?" Harry asked again, looking down at the dark bowed head.

Snape tied his laces together with quick and sure fingers and Harry knew he could do it himself but it felt good to have somebody doing it for him, taking care of him in that way.

"Other foot." Snape merely said, not answering Harry's question.

"Who is my godfather?" Harry asked louder and finally Snape looked up, his black eyes narrowed as the older wizard hissed. "You'll learn in good time about your godfather now stop asking questions and start getting ready, I'm keen to be off."

Harry shot a startled look at his guardian and Snape merely raised another eyebrow before he curtly said. "We've a lot to do today and a lot of ground to cover. You need new clothes, new prescription for your glasses, new shoes and preferably a wand sheath if I can manage it."

"But you don't have to pay for me; I've got money in my Gringots account…"

"Nonsense! Now do have everything?"

"Do I need to wear my robes?" Harry straightened out his clothing self conscious as Snape stared down at him. The older wizard walked around him, looking him over critically before he frowned and stood in front of Harry, gesturing with his wand and said.

"I will shrink these clothes but they'll be binned the moment we acquire a new set, is that understood? I do not care if you have grown fond of them or not but they'll be burned, and the same goes for your shoes."

"So, I'm really getting new clothes?" Harry bounced as Snape frowned at him before laying a stern hand on his tousled hair.

"Stop bouncing around or so help me, you'll remain here and I'll get you new clothes myself and you'll like them, is that understood? Or do you require a potion perhaps?" Harry turned wide eyed towards his guardian. Surely Snape wouldn't force a potion on him. He tried to curb his enthusiasm and tried not to draw attention to himself.

Why was he showing that he was a freak and growing all excited at the prospect of simple shopping? Everybody went to the shops so why should Harry be excited about that?

He looked away and the hand on his head moved a little as Snape said. "If you behave really well we may even have a little bit time left over to stop at the Quidditch shop." Harry looked up, surely his guardian was joking but Snape smirked down at him and continued. "I'm sure that I can suffer the displeasure of being in a Quidditch shop if your behavior is impeccable."

"Yes, sir, I promise." Harry swore. Wow, Snape was willing to take him to a fun shop like Aunt Petunia always did with Dursley to end a shopping trip. He smiled up at his guardian and then Snape gave a nod and said.

"You'll have some rules to follow, even when we aren't in school. You'll stay by my side at all times, unless I tell you to leave. You're not to run away from me and you'll listen to me at all times, is that understood? Failure to follow these rules will result in being forced to hold my hand!"

What? Snape wanted to hold his hand in public? Was he mental? What if somebody saw them like this? Harry being dragged forward like a small and sulky child, this could seriously damage his reputation. No, Harry would be on his best behavior.

Harry looked up at Snape as his guardian held out a dirty can. Harry was sure that his eyes were as wide as sausages as Snape shook the can impatiently and said. "Well, are you ready or do you need more time to prepare yourself for shopping?"

Harry stared at the can and finally Snape followed his gaze to the tin can. It was very dirty and old and Harry wondered what the normally neat Potions Master was doing with this. He opened his mouth to ask the question when even before he could formulate the words, let alone roll them off his tongue, Snape said. "This is a portkey. It will allow us to travel directly to Diagon Alley and it is a very safe method of transportation."

Harry must have looked doubtfully at the can. How could a can have magical properties and finally Snape sighed and said. "It is set to go off within the next minute so come here. You've to touch the portkey at all times, is that understood? You cannot let go or you can end up anywhere."

Harry swallowed thickly and as he came closer to his guardian he asked, casting a weary glance at the tin can. He tugged on Snape's pants and asked. "Can we not walk?"

Snape sighed and then said, sounding a tad bit impatient. "Harry, Diagon Alley is in London. We can Apparate but we'll have to walk beyond the wards or we can floo, and truthfully, I don't trust you in a fireplace. The portkey is the best and safest method."

"How about flying?" Harry asked hopefully. He deducted the answer from the look his guardian shot him before the older wizard crouched down to rest an arm around Harry's shoulder. "There is nothing to worry about. Flying is unsafe and we can be seen by muggles. This is the quickest method."

Harry glanced up, the green eyes meeting the black and finally Snape said. "Very well then, come here so I can lift you. It is easier this way then to drag you with me. The first time can be unsettling."

Snitches were making a mess in his stomach and Harry swallowed thickly before he moved closer to the older black clad wizard. He threw an arm around Snape's neck and soon he was swept up in the powerful arms as Snape settled him on his rather bony hip before the older wizard counted underneath his breath. "Five, four, three, two, one, hold on!"

Harry let out a little yelp and tightened his grip when a hook behind his navel appeared and he was sure he would be pulled away from Snape. He hid his face in the black hair close by as they were spun away in a sickening whirlwind of colors.

Hp

Severus held his wand in hand the moment they appeared in a secluded corner of Diagon Alley used for portkeying. He glanced around, black eyes searching the shadows around him for possible enemies as he shielded his body to protect Harry.

He disposed the portkey in his pocket, shrinking it as he adjust Harry and said. "Are you feeling unwell, Mr. Potter?"

He needed to put some distance between them, even when the child that clung to him seemed unable. He could feel the negative shake against his throat and he hummed a noncommittal answer in the back of his throat as he said. "Then can I set you upon your own two feet?"

"Why didn't you tell me that it would be like that?" Harry looked up, green eyes wide and his limbs shaking. Severus raised an eyebrow, what was the impossible brat talking about?

"I thought that it was going to pull you away from me." Harry finally confessed, his green eyes cast down.

"Oh, no, it wouldn't but it is just an affect of portkeying."

"Well, I don't like it." Severus sat Harry down, hands brushing the garments back into place. How could the child always manage to get dirty even when simply portkeying? He would have to ask Molly Weasley if all children were prone to rumpling like that or if it was only his ward.

"Well come along, we've got much ground to cover today." He finally snapped and gestured for Harry to fall into step beside him as they entered the always busy hubbub of Diagon Alley.

Hp

Harry hardly had time to look around as he practically had to run to keep up with the older and taller wizard. Snape swept down the street, people moving away from the dark wizard as if the teacher had cast some kind of spell that made everybody step away from him.

Harry looked around at the shops quickly but every time he saw something fun, even before he could point it out, Snape was already yards ahead. "Severus, wait!" He called, trying to keep up with the long legs of his guardian. He wanted to look around Diagon Alley, how many times would it be that he would actually be here?

He was out of breath when Snape abruptly turned and Harry yelped as the long thin but strong fingers curled around his wrist and he was yanked behind Snape. "Do keep up, Mr. Potter!" The older wizard said curtly as he slowed his steps to allow Harry to catch his breath.

The fingers released his wrist before coming to rest on his shoulder so Snape could press him forward. "First stop will be Glasshouse. We'll get your prescription there. It is time that you moved on from being an owlish wizard to one who could see."

Harry glanced up at Snape. He knew he was getting new glasses but surely they would have to stop at Gringotts first, he needed some money. He opened his mouth to say something when Snape raised an eyebrow and said. "Now, shall we get going? We do have other places to be."

Harry could only nod. He did need new glasses. Snape had repaired them but his glasses weren't suited for his eyesight and well, Aunt Petunia had always snatched them out of the discount bin at the local supermarket and Harry had always had to squint, it was very annoying when he was trying to read the blackboard. And not to mention the thousand times he'd had to repair them with tape just so he could wear them again.

Harry was so focused on his thoughts that he didn't notice they were already standing before the shop when Snape stopped and looked down at him. The older wizard was pausing before a glass door with a big door handle and Snape raised an eyebrow.

Harry took a deep breath and glanced around to buy himself some time. The sign above the door showed a huge pair of round glasses with a pair of blue eyes behind it. One eye winked and Harry grinned before he turned back to look at Snape. He gave a nod and they entered the shop.

Hp

"Good morning." The moment they entered they were greeted by a kind female voice. Severus resisted the urge to scowl and instead guided Harry forward. His ward was a little bit intimidated, which Severus didn't find strange at all.

The shop was airier then the front suggested and the different models of glasses that stood in the shop cases seemed to pop out. He dismissed most of them as either way too childish or too serious for the boy by his side. Harry would soon be a teenager and Severus knew the hurts bullying about one's clothing could do to somebody.

A young female, blond, slender limbed and fair smiled at them as she adjusted her glasses on her nose. She looked down at Harry and then back up at Severus before she addressed him. "Welcome, can I be of any assistance?"

"Yes, actually. He needs new glasses. It has been a few years since his prescription has been updated and we would like to take a look at the products and methods you've available here." Severus softly said.

"Very well. Would you like contact lenses or regular glasses? I take it that he is still growing and therefore his eyes can either deteriorate or grow sharper. We do have glasses that'll adjust to smaller deteriorations of the eyes if that is agreeable."

"I suppose that would make a good investment." Severus answered. Harry was standing by his side, gazing up at the witch with bright interest and finally she said with a kind smile at the boy.

"How about we remove these atrocious glasses? They look like they've had their best time a long while ago. Oh my, you do have beautiful eyes. Now, why don't you come over here and we shall take a look at your eyes. What is your name?"

Harry looked back at Severus, who raised an eyebrow in responds before the young male said. "My name is Harold."

"Very well, Harold, come and sit down on the chair for me. Your father can join us here…" All breath left Severus suddenly and he couldn't hear a thing the witch was saying. Surely Harry didn't even remotely resemble him. Who in the right mind would picture him as the father of Harry James Potter?

He coughed and inhaled sharply, cursing himself for the lack of attention. He was a fool; he was a spy for Merlin's sake. How could these words affect him so? But the thing was, Harry had been close to being Severus' son. If he only had chosen differently….

He shook his head sharply and glanced at the witch who was still busy with Harry, allowing the young wizard to look into a small tube to measure his eyes. Severus turned to look out of the window. Who would have thought when he swore to obey the Dark Lord that he would be taking care of the Boy Who Lived when the Dark Lord had died?

Certainly not him. Dumbledore would have no doubt said something about fate working in mysterious ways but Severus had never been the kind of person to place his life in the hands of any fate.

He looked up to see Harry blinking as the witch smiled and said. "Oh my, your eyes are very bad but we'll have you seeing well again soon. I am just going to pop over to your father and chat with him for a moment. Why don't you look around to see if you can find any glasses that you might like?"

Severus fixed the scowl on his face as the witch walked over and said. "Sir, I must ask, why does he wear muggle glasses? He would benefit greatly from wizarding glasses and he may actually be a good candidate for a special potion that'll enhance his eyesight greatly, perhaps even go so far as fixing it."

"You should be aware that he isn't old enough and the potion will only work to the full advantage when Harold is grown and his eyes have developed completely which will not be until he is 22 years old. We'll take the adjusting glasses." Harry glanced up at him and Severus said. "Have you found a pair you like?"

Harry gave him an excited smile and reached up to point at a pair of oval glasses of a dark frame and Severus gave a nod. "Very well."

The witch smiled and said. "Very well then, do you wish for an unbreakable charm and easy cleaning charm to be placed on the glasses? The charm for adjusting the eyesight will have to be adjusted every two years."

It didn't take long until the glasses were perched on Harry's nose and Harry glanced around happily, commenting softly on the various things he could now see. The green eyes stared happily back at Severus and somehow, Severus knew that the 100 galleonshad been worth it.

Hp

This was amazing, Harry could hardly wait to tell Ron and Hermione about this. Wow, he could see everything now and plus, the glasses were really neat. He glanced around, noticing the way the sunlight caught on the stones underneath his feet, the way Snape's robes shifted every time the older wizard moved and the way that people smiled at each other and gave each other nods of greeting.

Snape was engrossed in the article the witch had included about the various charms Snape would have to perform on his glasses to ensure that they didn't break like the other ones. Harry happily skipped alongside his guardian. This day could only get better, he knew it. He could just feel it inside of him.

"The devil be damned, Severus Snape!" A soft drawling voice made Harry stop in his tracks as Snape suddenly stopped ahead of him. The hand that shot out and grabbed his shoulder prevented him from hurling straight into the tall stranger in front of them.

Harry glanced up, squinting into the sun as Snape said, in a nearly deadly voice. "Fancy seeing you here, Lucius."

Snape's body was tense; Harry could see it even when his guardian shifted his weight slightly so he stood more relaxed. Snape had stuffed the parchment in his robe as he coldly regarded the stranger. The black eyes were calculating, the way they often were when somebody made a mistake in potions class.

"Out for a stroll, are we? And on a school day as well, my my, does Albus know about this?" Harry turned his attention back to the stranger. The man was tall and had long blond hair, cold grey eyes that had yet to focus on Harry or probably had focused upon him and had then dismissed him as unimportant, Harry could tell from the way the proud wizard's eyes kept focusing on his surroundings that he held himself superior to most of the people in the Alley.

The wizard was dressed smartly in coal grey robes and held a long elegant cane in his pale hands. He was taller than Snape was, but somehow Harry found him less intimidating. He reminded him of somebody, but Harry wasn't sure who it was.

He focused on the stranger's face. The man was handsome, no doubt about it but his face was cold, pale and Harry knew in that instance, he probably wouldn't really like the man.

"I am here on an errant, Lucius. And you are strolling here to find new ideas on what to send your house elves to buy next to bribe the ministry?"

"Ah, you haven't lost your edge I see." Harry rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, wondering when he was going to be introduced.

Snape's hand on his shoulder tightened a little and then the younger wizard said curtly. "Only you would know, Lucius."

Lucius inclined his head and Harry wondered when Snape was going to introduce him. He was getting fed up with just standing here.

"You may wish to turn in the other direction, Severus, Knockturn Alley is in the other direction." Harry glanced up. Was Knockturn Alley another part of Diagon Alley and if so, what kind of shops would it have?

He glanced up at his guardian to see Snape's eyes narrow dangerously, a sure sign that he was getting angry. He turned back to the stranger to see a smug smile twisting the well shaped lips. He felt uneasy suddenly, why was this stranger angering or possibly even hurting his guardian?

"Excuse me, sir, but who are you?" He inquired loudly so that several people looked around at the pair.

The grey eyes widened as the stranger looked down before he sneered and said. "And why should that be important to an urchin like you, boy? Run along and play with your friends and leave the grownups to speak."

Harry huffed and Snape's hand came to rest on his tousled head as the Potions Master said. "Do be kind to the child, Lucius, you owe him your life…"

"I do not owe him no such thing…." Lucius began to say when Snape carded through Harry's hair so the lightning bolt scar was revealed and Lucius broke off with a gasp. "Harry Potter?"

"The very same who defeated the Dark Lord 10 years ago, Lucius." Snape sneered as he crossed his arms over his chest and said. "Harry, may I present to you my very old friend, Lucius Malfoy, father of Draco Malfoy, my godson. Lucius, meet Harry Potter, my ward."

"Your ward?" Lucius gasped again and Snape gave a nod, a smirk twisting his lips.

Now Harry could see the features that so resembled Draco's or probably the other way around and he beamed up at Lucius and held out his hand as he said. "Nice to meet you sir, Draco tells us all kind of wonderful things about you."

That was a lie and Lucius no doubt knew it as he said coldly. "He has never spoken about you before, Mr. Potter."

"Well, I would imagine not, sir, since we only became friends about three days ago."

"You are friends with my son?" Lucius asked and this time he did not need to feign disbelieve. The grey eyes snapped back up to Snape's in a sharp look which Harry couldn't place. Snape raised a cold eyebrow and said.

"Who am I to deny the very idea you no doubt encouraged in Draco the moment you learned Harry Potter was in his year?" Lucius frowned and Harry watched attentively.

"Well, you know that my son failed in that regard on the very first evening." Harry could still remember the first meeting with Draco. He sighed as he remembered what he had thought of the older boy at the moment, thinking him an arrogant little bully.

"He was just following your example, Lucius." Snape sneered and Harry managed with great difficultly to suppress his snort. It came out as a kind of sneeze and Snape glanced down sharply. "Do you need a handkerchief, Potter?"

"No, sir, I'm fine."

"Then enlighten us, what is so funny?"Snape growled.

"Nothing, I was just thinking that perhaps there should be classes for Slytherins on how to impress people and to act socially." Harry said wisely, aware of the two Slytherins that stood before him. Both wizards blinked at him, Snape silently fuming and Lucius no doubt annoyed and amazed.

"What on earth are you babbling about?" Snape finally managed to snarl, recovering himself. He turned a little towards Harry and Harry quickly glanced around before he said.

"Well, I mean you aren't very sociable, always hovering in corners or chasing people away by scowling at them. You know, if you smiled once in a while it would make a big difference and well…if Draco really was following Mr. Malfoy's example then perhaps he should be nice to people instead of insulting their friends. People usually don't like it when they meet somebody for the first time and get insulted right away. It doesn't go over very well."

Snape closed his eyes the way Harry had seen uncle Vernon do countless times when Dudley was annoying him and he counted to ten silently. The black eyes snapped open and finally Snape grabbed Harry's upper arm to pull the young boy to him as he bend down and hissed. "Do you have a death wish, Potter?"

"Oh do be kind to the boy, Severus. He is much more perceptive then most Gryffindors." Lucius sneered in his soft voice.

"Do you mean kind as in your way or shall I be kind in my own way?" Snape snapped at the older wizard and Lucius' grey eyes narrowed and then Harry said.

"Well, seeing as I still behave well and I haven't insulted either one of you by saying you were behaving like Gryffindors, I do say that I still deserve to go to the Quidditch store." The dark eyes narrowed nearly dangerously and Harry swallowed thickly. He knew he was pushing his luck.

A loud laugh startled them both and Snape's head snapped up to see a rare sight. Lucius Malfoy, composed gentleman wizard of the Magic World in Britain was holding a slender hand to his mouth to stifle the peals of laughter that were escaping him. The grey eyes were dancing with amusement and Harry turned back to stare at Snape.

The Potion Master had straightened up and was staring at Lucius as the older wizard recovered, fingers brushing his eyes before he smirked at Harry and winked before he gestured with his arm, inviting. "Shall we go and have a drink to discuss this latest turn of events?"

"I think not, Lucius. We've other places to be and this is not to be influenced by you."

"You should be aware, Severus, that you are walking a dangerous path. When the more notorious of our old friends shall discover that you are Harry Potter's ward, I can guarantee you that they'll not be as lenient as I'll be. You need my protection, old friend." Lucius drew closer.

"If you are speaking about Black, I suggest you save your breath, Lucius. I'm already meeting up with an old friend of the mutt who can protect Harry just as well as I can." Lucius' eyes narrowed as he quickly looked at Harry and then said.

"Why did Dumbledore place Potter with you anyway? You've no relations with the Potters."

Snape's thin lips curled into a sneer as he hissed. "Because of my unfortunate past, Lucius, a past you're well aware of since you were the one who helped me through that dark period." Lucius paled even more and Harry wondered what they were talking about before Lucius glanced down and said in a strangely strangled voice.

"The Boy Who Lived abused? Surely you kid, Severus."

"Do you know me to be a man prone to kid, Lucius?" Snape said stiffly.

"Of course not. How could Dumbledore make such a mistake? His relatives, I presume."

"Yes, the muggles he was placed with. Dumbledore has been known to turn blind eyes towards people's…faults…"

Harry looked from one adult wizard to the other before he shrank back against Snape's legs as Lucius sank down upon one knee and asked softly. "Mr. Potter, I assume that you are under the two month trial period at staying with Professor Snape?"

Harry gave a shaking nod as Snape's hand came to rest on his shoulder, holding him steady. "And you would prefer to stay with him, I take it?"

Harry nodded again and Lucius rose as he regarded Snape. "Dumbledore isn't keen to place the boy with anybody else?"

"He may attempt it, considering my past but so far we've managed to evade the question. But I think one slip up and Harry will be placed with somebody else and away from my influence and protection before any of us can blink. Dumbledore has even taken him back to his relatives, resulting in a relapse."

"Yes, no doubt Dumbledore failed to grasp the severity of the situation. You wish to gain custody of the Boy Who Lived, against all the strive this may cause?" Snape gave a nod and then Lucius continued. "Very well, consider it done."

"Consider what done, sir?" Harry asked startled as Lucius glanced down with the first kind smile Harry had seen all day.

"I'll use my influence to persuade the Ministry to see things my way and to place Mr. Potter under your guardianship, Severus. You've my word that I'll do everything in my power to help you. I take it you will gather a support group of Potter fanatics around you? The Weasleys, Lupin, perhaps…"

"Of course. It has already been set into motions. Harry must never come under the influence of Albus Dumbledore again."

"Very well. I bid you a good day gentlemen. Give my regards to Draco, Mr. Potter." The slender hand touched his head for a moment in a nearly friendly tousle and Lucius Malfoy was on his way through the crowds, Harry staring after him.

"What does he mean with his influence, Severus?"

"Lucius is a very powerful wizard in our society, Harry and it is a good thing that he is on our side. He is not one to anger."

"Oh, so I did well?"

"You did very well, brat."

"So can I stay a tad bit longer in the Quidditch shop then?" Snape only groaned.

Hp

Harry was happily holding the toy broomstick he had received when he had purchased or rather Severus had, expensive seeker protection gloves, arm and legs braces and Severus had been sorely tempted to buy a helmet, but that would be pushing his luck and his bank account.

Harry moved his right arm oddly because of the wand sheath Severus had insisted on buying and the brat was not yet used to the weight. The clothes and shoes had been sent to Hogwarts and left for the House Elves to unpack and all that was left was the only thing Severus dreaded, to meet up with the werewolf.

He sneered in advance, seeing the lined face of his old adversary up ahead as Lupin's keen eyes glanced around the crowd. The owl Severus had sent had not explained the reason why the old wolf had to meet up with him but Severus had not felt the need to explain himself, lest the letter fell into the wrong hands.

The moment Lupin spotted him, the scarred face lit up and the tired eyes flashed with fire. The graying hair received a tousle as the werewolf pulled it away from his face before he settled on a smile, unsure of how to approach Severus Snape.

Severus pushed Harry through the crowds that were always busiest here at the entrance before the Leaky Cauldron as Lupin said, speaking in his soft and calm voice. "Afternoon, Severus."

"Lupin."

The werewolf opened his mouth to say something when his body froze and Severus followed the golden eyes as they focused on the boy standing beside Severus.

"Harry Potter?" Lupin asked, confusing before the intelligent eyes flashed to meet Severus' dark one.

"Yes and the reason we're here."

"Hello." Harry softly said, smiling up at the next stranger. Lupin recovered quickly, an odd grimace twisting his lips before he smiled down at Harry and said.

"Hello, Harry, my name is Remus Lupin and I'm a friend of your parents."

"So you know my godfather too?" Harry's green eyes were bright and Severus fought the urge to strangle the brat. Lupin looked at him again before he said.

"For years I assumed I did, Harry but this is hardly the place to discuss this. Shall we go to the Leaky Cauldron? I imagine that this isn't the first surprise I shall receive here." Lupin smiled kindly and straightened, leading the way.

Severus hurried after him, pushing Harry ahead who hung back against his legs, making him stumble. Two steps and he swung Harry up in his arms to protect him from the crowds. Harry held fast to his small broom which hovered against his enclosed hand. His other arm went around Severus' neck as Severus carried the small elven year old to a table Lupin had acquired.

The other man had already sat down and had pulled out two chairs. The table was in the back of the Cauldron and Severus was sure that they wouldn't be disturbed. Tom the landlord was already hovering around their table and Lupin had ordered tea the moment Severus reached the table.

The lunch crowd had just left but Severus ignored the pangs of hunger his stomach chose to inform him of. He set Harry down on the chair beside him, opting to sit next to Lupin. The werewolf scooted away, knowing how uncomfortable Severus was in his presence.

Severus hid his sneer. Lupin poured the tea the moment it appeared on the table and handed two cups towards Severus, pushing the sugar and the milk towards him and the plate of shortbreads. Lupin's eyes came to linger on Harry time and time again as the young boy eyed the biscuits, obviously hungry.

"You may have one and after that we'll order lunch." Severus said sternly and Harry favored him with a smile as he carefully took a biscuit as Lupin turned to regard Severus.

"I must say that I'm puzzled why Harry is with you, Severus."

"I'm Harry's guardian since the muggles Dumbledore placed him with were deemed unfit to take care of him." A graying eyebrow rose but Lupin was silent before he asked.

"What happened?"

"We discovered he was abused." Lupin's eyes widen before they narrowed and turned to Harry, keen eyes looking at the pale face before the other wizard said.

"When did you learn of this news?"

"A week ago at the most. Dumbledore assigned me to be Harry's guardian since I was the one who discovered it…."

"You think he is setting you up?" It was uncharacteristic of Lupin to interrupt him but as the fingers curled around the hot teacup, Severus found he didn't mind. Lupin had always been the brains of the bunch.

"Yes, I think it is his plan. The moment I muck up, Harry will be taken from me and placed somewhere else, under Dumbledore's influence…."

"Albus is a very sensible…"

"He took Harry back to his relatives who locked him up in a cupboard when we went to sign the guardianship papers. I managed to rescue him but Dumbledore refuses to believe him. He still doesn't believe us, Lupin and the old coot always has turned a blind eyes towards certain wrongdoings."

"How was Harry after this?"

"He had a breakdown and it took me most of the night to settle him. He is still fearful now." Harry turned back to look at them, taking a sip of the milky tea. The young boy smiled up at Lupin and then said.

"I do want to stay with Severus. He has been taken excellent care of me."

"I know that you would be the most likely choice for custody, Lupin but you must understand the severity of the situation should Harry be back under Dumbledore's influence…."

"Oh, I know Albus. He often dismisses the impact of events on certain people to protect those he favors. I'm not a good candidate for custody, even with Albus backing me up, which he will rely upon I suppose. You alone have the necessary skills and reputation and the freedom between us to properly take care of Harry. I cannot say I am not sorry but my predicament does not allow me to take custody of Harry in the eyes of the Ministry."

"So not even Black…"

"Sirius is in the least bit able to take care of Harry. Even if he ever gets out of Azkaban, he murdered Peter and the Potters. To place the last Potter there will be like handing Harry directly to Voldemort. And besides, Harry has taken a liking to you."

"Lupin, I'm hardly capable of taking care of the child…"

"And yet here you are. You'll have to make due, I'm afraid, Severus, No parent is ever fully prepared to take care of a first child and it is a learning process. I've no doubt that you'll do fine." Lupin smiled and Severus sneered.

Why did this mangled werewolf believe in him so? He had no reason to. He had every reason to hate Severus, to dislike him and to distrust him. So why was Remus believing in him? Why would this man before him trust in a Death Eater who renounced his ways?

Harry stared from one to the other and then asked. "Can you tell me about my godfather?"

Lupin shot a look at Severus who merely sneered in responds. He had been evading the question for a day now and Harry deserved the truth, regardless how gruesome.

"We can certainly tell you about your godfather, Harry, if you want to know about Sirius." Lupin said carefully. He cast another look at Severus and then smiled at Harry before he said. "Why don't we order something to eat first? I'll tell you about Sirius then."

Harry gave a nod and glanced at Severus. The Potions Master glanced down at his ward as he said. "I hardly think that you need my help in picking out a dish."

Harry seemed to hesitate and then softly said, in whisper that was meant to confide. "I've never eaten out before."

The green eyes stared up at Severus in confusion and Severus grabbed one of the menu's that lay on the table. Lupin pretending to be engrossed in his own menu but Severus had no doubt the enhance hearing of the wolf heard every word they spoke.

"Very well, what would you like to eat?" He asked, holding the menu in front of him and Harry.

"Can I have some soup?" Harry asked, contently leaning against his side.

"Of course. Some tomato soup?" Harry gave an excited nod and Severus shifted out of his seat to place their order. Lupin was too slow to rise but Severus waved him back down. "Sit down, you silly canine! I'll place the order." And pay for it.

"Severus, really, I must insist!" Lupin began to protest but one sharp look from Severus and the other wizard fell silent, pink tinting the gaunt cheeks as he gave a nod and then softly said. "Thank you, Severus."

Severus knew how hard it was for Lupin to get a job and no doubt the werewolf was low on cash. While most people were hesitant to employ a former Death Eater they were downright frightened of werewolves. This meal was on him, regardless of how little his pay was and Lupin deserved that much, didn't he?

Hp

Harry slouched in his chair and stared up at the other adult in front of him. Remus seemed like a friendly man but his eyes kept flashing to Harry again and again like he couldn't really believe that he was seeing him. The man smiled when Harry caught his look and then said in his soft voice.

"So Harry, how do you like Hogwarts?"

"It is brilliant, sir. I'm even on the Quidditch team." Harry grinned and Lupin managed a smile as he asked.

"Oh and what position to you play?"

"I'm a seeker. I'm the youngest seeker in a century." Harry said proudly. He loved playing Quidditch and for a moment his hand tightened on the toy broomstick.

He glanced at Lupin to see the older man looked grief stricken before he managed to smile again and said. "Just like your father. He was a seeker as well."

"Yes, I know."

"So you wish to know about Sirius Black, your godfather." This time there was a hard edge to the otherwise calm voice and Harry glanced up again. He wondered what had happened between Lupin and Black to make Lupin speak in such a hard voice. He had learned at an early age to read the words people never spoke to know if it was safe to ask a question or to walk into a room.

"Well, Sirius was your father's best friend and he was the best man at their wedding…." Lupin fell silent and Harry asked.

"Is he dead?"

Lupin's gaze snapped up and the golden eyes flashed before the adult wizard asked. "Why do you ask?"

"Because you keep saying was, normally people only speak like that when somebody is dead." Harry felt more then saw Snape return as the older wizard sat back down on his seat.

"He isn't dead, Harry. He is a prisoner in Azkaban, the wizarding prison." Snape's voice was soft but deadly and Harry glanced up at his guardian. The pale face was like a mask but the dark eyes were blazing with loathing that normally had been reserved for Harry. Harry had no doubt his guardian hated his godfather with a passion.

"What had he done to be condemned to prison?" Harry stared at Lupin, knowing that the other adult would tell him what he needed to know.

Lupin stared at him and then glanced back at Snape before he said. "When your parents went into hiding, they used a spell that enables the location of their house to be hidden in a person. Only when that person shares the secret can anybody else find them. Sirius was their secret keeper and he betrayed them to Voldemort.

All the breathing suddenly left Harry. Why would anybody want to betray their best friends? Black's betrayal had led to their death. Would he kill Harry as well….He tried to breathe again and he became aware that Lupin was still speaking.

"A friend of ours, Peter Pettigrew caught up with him in a street full of Muggles. He was devastated and thought he could handle Sirius alone but Sirius blew up the street, killing Peter and 12 Muggles. The Ministry caught up with him and they sent him to Azkaban."

And that person was his godfather? Harry pulled in a deep breath, unaware of the hands that lifted him into a familiar lap as he hid his face in the black chest in front of him. Hands stroked his hair comfortingly and for a brief moment Harry wondered who was holding him.

"We never knew why he betrayed them since Black had always been a supporter for the side of light." Snape's deep voice rumbled through his chest and Lupin answered.

"I've never spoken to Sirius after….everything happened."

"I've no doubt that it would be good to tell him about Harry's change of guardian before Dumbledore gets the chance." Harry glanced up. Snape looked down at him and then smirked as he stroked Harry's hair again before Harry asked.

"You are going to visit Sirius?" The dark eyes regarded him before snapping up to meet Lupin's eyes.

"Yes, we are."

"I want to come!"

"Under no circumstance, young man!" Snape immediately barked.

"But…."

"What Severus means, Harry, is that Azkaban is a terrible place and certainly not suitable for children. Besides, it is very dangerous!" Lupin's voice was kind but once again had that slight edge to it. Harry pouted but Snape merely raised an eyebrow and Harry finally sighed, announcing defeat.

"Alright." He said.

And even while he could've argued more, he knew that both these men at the table would protect him from any danger and that feeling was more precious to Harry than anything else.

This is it for now. So perhaps some ideas on how they the meeting with Sirius should go? And I need help with the Quirrell situation or actually the defeat. Seeing as it is still early November I would like it done before Christmas so help is appreciated. Review of course.

The next chapter: Severus and Remus meet up and team up to go to Azkaban to see Sirius Black. But will the Animagus revelations leave them shocked? And Draco and Harry talk about fathers; will Lucius be able to keep the promise when he visits Dumbledore to speak about Harry's guardian? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: wow so many reviews. I'm sorry that it took such a long time to update but well, my social life has been hell. Just see my page for the updates with which I won't bore you here. Let's begin.

"My father is at Hogwarts." Harry glanced up from his position at the desk in the laboratory that Snape used to brew in. He was down here doing his homework after they had returned from their trip to Diagon Alley. Snape had wanted to send him on his way again to the dormitory but Harry had pleaded, begging was for little kids and he wasn't a kid, with his guardian to allow him to study here.

It hadn't been long before they had been discovered by Draco, who had seen Harry coming back down from the Gryffindor Tower with his arms full of parchment and books, intent on making up for the lost day of classes.

Draco had joined them and somehow Snape had seemed relieved that Harry wasn't alone. Now the two boys were doing their homework together under the watchful eye of Severus Snape as the Potions Master brewed the potions that were needed to restock the Infirmary.

"Oh, but what is your dad doing here at Hogwarts? We met him in Diagon Alley today, didn't we Severus?"

Harry was merely rewarded with a noncommittal answer from his guardian but it was enough. He knew better then to ask Snape questions when the Potions Master was busy working. If Harry had glanced at Snape's direction, he would have seen the frown that crossed the pale face of the older wizard. What business does Lucius have at Hogwarts?

"I don't know. I just saw him walking in the Entrance Hall. He didn't see me, he was with Dumbledore." Harry shifted and stopped pretending to do his homework. It was far more interesting to talk about Lucius Malfoy and why he was here at Hogwarts.

"But why would your father have business with Dumbledore?"

Draco shuddered and then said, sounding almost like the boy Harry had hated early. "Father is on the board of governors for the school. He usually has business with the Headmaster."

"What does the board of governors do?" Harry was puzzled. If Lucius Malfoy had managed to work his way into deciding things at Hogwarts then the man must be more influential then Harry had at first realized.

He looked at Draco, as the older boy put his quill down and pushed his blond hair back before he said. "How should I explain this? Uhm, let's see….ah yes, Dumbledore is the Headmaster of this school and every day decisions such as whether or not the food in the Great Hall should be changed for a certain holiday belongs with him. But for big decisions, such as hiring a new professor, or approving a budget for new school supplies, a new subject that is to be taught to the students or perhaps a new kind of club that students can engage in, he does decide over those but not before the board of governs has had its say."

"But I thought that Dumbledore decided over all of those things."

"Yes, unless the board of governors find a valid reason to raise an issue. Usually they resolve it by simply taking every precaution against any issue the board can raise. But father has been known to be pretty…well petty when it comes to certain things that he wants his way."

"Oh? Such as?" Harry had forgotten all about his homework now and was listening attentively to Draco.

"Well, whenever Dumbledore does something that may endanger the children or when he suggests something that is too mad to even be considered. Dumbledore once wanted to install a club that was dedicated to making sweets. That would've raised an issue with the parents and Madam Pomfrey would have had a lot more work because the students would get ill….just ask Severus."

"I would rather not. He is terribly busy." Harry quickly looked at his guardian to see Snape was engrossed in the latest potion he was brewing and Draco sighed before he said.

"Do you remember the Halloween feast? Don't you think that students don't get a stomach ache from eating so much? Well, Madam Pomfrey has to fix them back up and Severus brews the potions. Normally there is a budget for potion ingredients and usually that is more than enough to last the year and even to have some leftover for next year. But if such a club was established then there would have to be more potions created because the students would get ill and there is not enough money for that. So the Board has to interfere. It is more of a struggle for power, Dumbledore wishes to see what he can get away with and…."

"Draco, do not speak ill about the Headmaster." Snape snapped suddenly. Both boys jumped nearly a foot in the air as the Potions Master continued, strolling menacingly towards their table. "Now show me the work you've accomplished."

Harry grabbed his parchment, bringing it closer to his book to cover up the fact that he hadn't written much. Snape stared down his nose at Harry before one eyebrow rose. "I thought that you two working together would actually imply work. You've not done anything except chatter to one another. I expected better from you both, boys."

Draco turned his head away in shame, he hated disappointing his godfather before Harry bit his lip and then glancing up at his guardian. In for a knut, in for a sickle… The young Gryffindor took a deep breath before he said. "But it is equally important to know what is going on in the wizarding world. Now I won't embarrass anybody when I'm at a party and supposed to talk about pureblood society."

"You aren't going to a party until you're off age!" Snape snapped and pointed a yellow finger down at Harry's parchment. "Now get to work!"

"Yes, uncle Sev." They both whispered as Snape turned his back. The older wizard turned around on quick feet that had saved him many times in the past and hissed.

"What did you call me?"

"We mean, yes, professor Snape." Draco and Harry exchanged a grin. Snape sighed and checked on his cauldron. He cast a statis charm on the cauldron and turned to gaze back at his godson and ward. Making up his mind he straightened his cloak and announced.

"You two keep working here while I go to the Headmaster! I've a matter of the most important urgency to discuss with him. I'll dock points should anything be broken and I expect you to finish the assignment by the time I return, is that understood?"

"Yes, sir." Harry knew that Snape was placing a great deal of trust in him and Draco for allowing them to be alone in his laboratory. He gave his guardian a smile and vowed to live up to that.

Hp

Students fled from the purposeful stride of the Potions Master as Severus took brisk steps towards his destination. He ignored the whispers that came from the students, only sneering at those that dared to cross his path. His mind was ahead of himself, already contemplating what business Lucius had at Hogwarts and how it would threaten Harry.

The truth was, Severus had been a little bit surprised and suspicious of Lucius' sudden acceptance of Potter as his ward. Lucius never accepted anything without finding a way to turn things to his advantage. Had his old friend finally seen the error of his ways or was he realizing that aligning himself with Potter may be a wise move for the future?

The moment Severus had come to know Lucius, he had known the man for what he truly was, an opportunist. Lucius was hell bend on using every opportunity to his own best interest and those he cared for. The moment Severus had been offered a place to stay at Malfoy manor; he had not been surprised that it was a sure step to becoming a Death Eater.

But Lucius and Severus had never been frank with one another, even when Lucius married his childhood sweetheart Narcissa and sired Draco. For all that Lucius may install in his son, he did truly love the boy and wished him no harm or ill will, even when Lucius was a strict parent.

But would the influence of one of the richest and influential wizards in this day and age cost Harry or would he gain a steady protector? Severus would have preferred to be the only Slytherin in a camp full of Gryffindors, now he would have to take in mind Lucius' tendency to be sneaking and cunning like any true Slytherin was.

He took a deep breath and paused, blinking to find himself in front of the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore's office. He drew his cloak around him and sneered as he purred. "Pear drop."

Dumbledore's insane passwords from the last years were making him uncomfortable and he always glanced about to see if no student spotted him. It would do no good for a student to see the stern and fearless Potions Master utter sweets to a gargoyle.

The gargoyle leaped aside and Severus cats another dark look about before he stepped forward and on the rotating staircase.

Hp

"Ah, do take a seat, Lucius, would you perhaps like some tea?" Professor Albus Dumbledore was not a senile old man by any stretch of the imagination and even while he may appear to be a doting, benign and indulging headmaster to many, Lucius knew better.

He had seen at first hand just how unforgiving Dumbledore could really be if he wanted to. And Lucius Malfoy may be many things, such as a manipulative, cunning and sly Slytherin, but a fool, he was not.

He could however be, whenever he wanted to, the picture of a perfect gentleman. He sat himself down, rearranging his robes about him as he stretched out his long legs. He waved a slender hand dismissively before he sat forward, cane in one hand as he said. "I came here for business, Dumbledore, not for tea and biscuits."

"Oh…." The old man's face fell slightly before he smiled again and said sadly. "None of you young people wish to have biscuits with me these days. It is all business; you'll remember it when you're as old as me…."

"You did not defeat Grindelwald by speaking to him sternly over biscuits and tea." Lucius muttered. He glanced up to see Dumbledore shooting him a smile before the powerful wizard waved his wand and tea appeared before him, he held out an empty cup for Lucius and tried again.

"Are you sure you do not wish for any tea, Lucius?"

"Oh very well, Professor Dumbledore, if you think that this makes it any more pleasant." Dumbledore beamed at him but Lucius ignored it. He couldn't afford to be distracted right now and Dumbledore was a man prone to small talk in order to distract his visitors so that in the end they would not remember why they came here but this would not happen to Lucius.

"To what do I owe (!) the pleasure of your company today, Lucius? I hear that your son is doing very well in school and surely Draco has had no reason to complain, especially with his godfather as his Head of House."

"This does not concern, Draco."

"Oh, surely the Board has no reason to be displeased with me. Granted, the tiny problem at Halloween was just that, a problem but it is solved and no student was harmed…"

"That is not what this is about….what problem at Halloween do you speak about, Headmaster?" Lucius spoke through gritted teeth.

Dumbledore looked concerned as he said. "Oops, I should not have said that. A troll managed to find its way into the dungeon and…."

"Trolls do not simply find their way into a warded castle, Headmaster, obviously it was let in."

Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled as he sipped his tea and answered. "You know, Severus said exactly the same thing…."

"And we all know how well you listen to him." Lucius stirred a lump of sugar into his tea before he tapped his cane on the floor twice and added in a louder tone. "I came here for personal business today, a parent duty, as it should've been properly done and I'm very surprised why Mrs. Weasley or Mr. Weasley has not yet appeared on your doorstep…"

"I thought you and Arthur did not see eye to eye." Dumbledore commented, taking another sip of his tea. But Lucius was glad to notice with a smirk, that he went at great lengths to hide, that the blue eyes lost a little bit of their twinkle.

"I'm sure that if Arthur knows what has happened to Mr. Potter, he will agree wholeheartingly with me…."

"I've no idea what you are talking about, Lucius. Harry Potter is fine and settled in at Hogwarts…"

"I do not speak about the boy's experience at Hogwarts. I speak about his experiences at home, the ones you're responsible for." Putting all pretendence aside, Lucius sat his full tea mug down and leaned forward, knowing he had Dumbledore's attention.

"Why should Mr. Potter concern you, Lucius? You've no affinity with the boy." Perhaps realizing that it was futile to deny that Dumbledore did not know what Lucius was talking, Dumbledore sat his own cup down as well.

"I may not have any affinity with Mr. Potter but I know of a dear friend who does. Imagine my surprise, Headmaster when I was in Diagon Alley earlier this day and found Severus Snape acting as a guardian to Harry Potter. Now I asked myself, why would Harry Potter need a guardian and then especially such a powerful wizard as Severus, but one who is shrewd by our society? Wouldn't the boy have been better off by the Weasleys, muggle lovers as they are? But I know your plan, Dumbledore."

Lucius enjoyed the taste of victory for a brief moment before he continued. "The Weasleys wouldn't have forgiven you if they found out that you deliberately left Harry Potter with his relatives, knowing they would abuse him. So you send the boy to live with somebody who can properly take care of him. But I know that the moment Severus makes a mistake, you'll take Harry away and the blame will fall on you no longer. The wizarding public will place the blame with a former death eater, because why should an agent of the dark truly care for the one who defeated the Dark Lord?"

Lucius took a deep breath. He needed to get himself under control. He could not allow his anger to rule over him.

He could still remember the moment an angry and bitter sixteen year old Severus Snape had stood on his doorway, begging for a place to stay when Dumbledore had removed him from his family. Lucius had helped his friend, because Lucius had been the only one Severus had left and much to his regret he had abused that friendship, using the anger Severus had for his father to lure him to the Dark Lord.

"I'm sure that Severus knows how to take care of Harry properly and…"

"You made a mistake, headmaster. You send the boy back to his relatives without thinking twice about how this would affect Mr. Potter! Had Black gotten wind of this, I'm sure he would've gladly murdered you as well for harming his beloved godson! I stand here as the closest relative Mr. Potter has left and demand justice for what you've done."

Dumbledore was taken aback, Lucius could tell and the old wizard sputtered out. "But Harry isn't related to you."

"Madam Malfoy is sisters of the Black family and by accepting Harry Potter as his godson Sirius Black accepted him into his family should something happen to the child's own. Black may have been stripped from all his rights and privileges when he was sent to Azkaban but nobody can take the magic away that was invoked the day the Potters died and left Harry an orphan and an honorary member of the Black family."

"Would you mind getting to your point, Lucius?" Dumbledore sounded weary as he refilled his tea mug. The older wizard seemed to realize that he had no legal leg to stand on if Lucius decided to press his case and try and gain custody of Harry Potter.

"My demand is that you'll do everything in your power to support Severus Snape should he wish to gain custody of Harry Potter. You'll not try to manipulate this to your advantage or try any mad schemes that put Harry Potter or Severus Snape is danger. Should you fail to do so, I'll press my case to the Wizengamot and have them charge you with being an unfit magical guardian for Harry Potter."

"You cannot do that." For the first time Dumbledore's voice lost a little bit of its calm and fury crept into it.

"You were registered at the Ministry for Magic as Harry Potter's magical guardian when he was living with his muggle family. You were responsible for looking after him during the years he lived with his relatives and you never once went to check upon him! You let an old woman, a squib look after one of the most powerful and famous wizards of this age. What if he had been killed by his uncle? What would you've done then?"

Dumbledore was silent and Lucius took a sip of his tea, savoring the moment before his gaze hardened and he said. "A squib could not have prevented if something happened to Harry Potter or to his family. If his accidental magic caused him to protect himself, something which he really should've done and he would have killed his family and blown up the house in the process, possibly injuring himself and possibly even landing himself in Azkaban, what would you've done then? Your precious hero would have been incarcerated."

Dumbledore waved his hand and then said, chuckling uneasily. "You speak about such gruesome possibilities that never really happened. Harry is a most admirable young man, whose self control is…."

"With all due respect, Headmaster, that is a load of rubbish. Every young man, until they come of age, have burst of accidental magic. It is common and as Headmaster of a magical school filled with such children you should be aware of that."

"But…I…."

"You're unfit to be Harry Potter's magical guardian!"

"Lucius Malfoy, this is not your place to…" Dumbledore tried to gain some control back but Lucius would've none of it as he hissed.

"As a parent of a child that attends this school and as a Board member, I've every right, Dumbledore! Unless you want word to get out who was responsible for Harry Potter for all those years, then you'll abide by my wishes."

"You do not understand why I had to…."

"I don't need any explanation, old man!" Lucius roared suddenly. He was on his feet, his magic crackling through the air and his hands clenched over his cane, the knuckles white. He knew that the moment Dumbledore was beginning to sprout the usual nonsense about his reasons, Lucius would lose the thread of the conversation. He still had the upper hand and he needed to keep it.

"I've had enough of your explanations and you've had plenty of time to take Harry away from there but you didn't. No, in fact, you even tried to deny the claim that Severus Snape, Harry Potter and Madam Pomfrey were making. Now, you understand my terms?"

He tapped his cane on the ground, staring down at Dumbledore. The older and more powerful wizard met his gaze calmly before he finally said. "You would seek to remove me from the post as Headmaster, Lucius?"

Lucius sniffed disdainfully before he sneered. "Of course not, Headmaster, I would merely put an official complaint towards the Board. I'm sure they would love to hear the reasons why you've neglected your duty towards your student. I'll leave you now, sir, I'm sure that you've a lot to think about."

"But…" For once Dumbledore seemed at a loss of words and Lucius spun around, a smirk upon his face as he bowed and answered.

"I'm sure that your owl knows where to find me when you have your answer ready. Good day, Headmaster…." And with those words, Lucius Malfoy exited the office, only to come face to face with Severus Snape.

Hp

The door banged shut behind Lucius as the older wizard smirked sharply at him and said, shoulders easing in a slight bow. "Good evening, Severus. Sometimes I do not see you for weeks and now I see you twice in one day, imagine what Narcissa might say to that. She is always hoping you come round for dinner again."

Severus raised an eyebrow and said. "I'm sure that she is as keen to hear the reason why you are visiting Dumbledore as I am, Lucius."

"Oh, Narcissa really never took any interest in my affairs except to hear news of Draco." Lucius smirked at him and then clasped him on the shoulder.

"Then I'm sure that you can give her the most wonderful news of Draco's latest grades and the recommendations that his teachers have given him." Two could play the game Lucius was playing and Severus met Lucius smirk for smirk.

Lucius' smirk turned more genuine at the mentioning of Draco as the blond haired wizard asked. "So Draco is doing well in school?"

Severus' smirk turned deadly. "I'll tell you the moment you see it fit to share the reason for your rather abrupt visit to Dumbledore this evening."

"I had business to attend to with the Headmaster." The grey eyes sparkled with mischief as Lucius fought his smile. Severus raised an eyebrow, he was a teacher for Merlin's sake, and who did Lucius think he had before him?

"Normally when you've a change to tell Dumbledore off, you are gloating about it for weeks so do not even think of telling me that it had nothing to do with the pledge you made today to me."

"Severus, I'm hurt that you think so little of me. I was expecting this of the ignorant public, but not from somebody who knows me as well as you do."

"There are reasons why people think little of you, Lucius and be glad that you are solemnly responsible for that. And to tell you the truth, if I'm the person who knows you very well, I fear what the general public knows about you."

"There is no need to be insulting."

"You've know my sarcasm for 20 years now, so do not act insulted with me, Malfoy." Severus was tired of the game Lucius was playing as he snapped. "Have you made things worse for me or have you kept your promise?"

"Severus, I always have your best interests at heart."

"Then I should be more careful with you then with my enemies for you'll surely destroy me or cause the death of me." Severus couldn't help but think of the many times something that Lucius needed from him managed to produce a counter affect.

Lucius sighed and finally said. "Very well, I told the old man that he was to support you should you wish to gain custody of Potter."

"You did what? You just told my employer that I, his feared Potions Master and former Death eater, or threatened should I say since I know your ways of persuasion, Lucius and there was no bag of gold in sight, would like to gain custody of his favorite student? It has finally happened, Lucius, you've gone round the bend. You are stark, raving mad, even worse than Black I'm sure."

"Oh stop it, Severus. Besides, perhaps you may get a generous, anonymous of course, donation of golden cauldrons for your classes."

"With my luck, we'll be happy to be brewing in cauldrons next year when the budget is discussed and Dumbledore remembers your little stunt." Severus sighed as he guided Lucius down the rotating staircase. It was best that Dumbledore did not overhear this particular conversation.

The gargoyle closed behind them and Severus looked around the deserted corridor. Lucius was watching him, the grey eyes narrowed in clear mischief that Lucius had not enjoyed and indulged in years. "Well, you would know all about Black's madness, wouldn't you, Severus? I believe you nearly cursed him insane once."

"I've no idea what you are talking about." Severus could feel the tips of his ears heating up and he had never been happier that he wore his hair long so that it fell over his ears. He feigned ignorance even when he knew that in a matter of hours, he would be face to face with Black and he wondered just how hard it would be to control himself then. Knowing Black, it may just be impossible.

Hp

"So your dad does this kind of thing often, going to Dumbledore and discuss stuff?" Harry and Draco were walking back to their dormitory because soon curfew would be upon them and Harry didn't really want to mess things up with his guardian because he wasn't back on time in his dormitory.

Draco cleared his throat, seeming to be uncomfortable suddenly and even a little stiff as he replied. "Father is proud to be on the Board and he think that it is very important that the right people listen to you and such things…."

"Your dad must be very important in the wizarding world then." Harry noted softly.

"Of course, the Malfoy name is very important in our world."

"I never heard of it in the muggle world." Harry commented his eyes on Draco as he watched the older boy sneer and nearly spat.

"Father says that we've to be true to our blood and not allow it to be polluted by mud…Muggleborn or muggles."

Harry eyed his new friend coolly and then answered. "Then you must have a very large wizarding population because if your family is as old as the Weasleys…." Draco's lip curled into another sneer but Harry plowed on. "…and the wizarding world is small, then there is a chance that there is a lot of inbred, and in the end you'll end up related to those you despise and the only way to fix it is to 'pollute it' as you say by muggle blood or that of Muggleborn."

Draco's face fell slightly and Harry finally said his voice a tad bit cold. "To me it seems that the wizarding world is very small and perhaps a little bit old fashioned. Muggles may not understand everything but they've come a very long way, especially since the secrecy act and it is only a matter of time before muggles become aware of us. I think that they are aware, they just don't want to know. They like the idea that they know and can explain everything that there is in this world. Kind of like wizards, they always think that they're so much better then muggles…."

It took Harry a moment to realize that Draco had stopped and he turned around. Draco was staring at the floor, his book bag clenched in his arms and his posture stiff as he softly asked. "Do you really think that muggles and wizards are much alike?"

"We're all humans, aren't we?" Harry shuddered.

Draco looked up, his grey eyes wide as he asked. "What does that mean?"

Harry sighed and he drew closer as he answered. "We all have the same feelings, such as fear, love, sadness and happiness. If we cut ourselves we all bleed in the same color. We are all born the same way and we all die the same way. So we've got magic, well muggles have electricity and machinery."

Draco was looking at him wide eyed and then chuckled. "Don't let my father hear you say that. He would rinse out your mouth with a scourgify."

"Your dad would punish you simply because you say something positive about muggles?" Harry raised an eyebrow. Draco gaped at him for a moment before he chuckled and said.

"Of course not. He isn't that severe."

"But he does punish you?"

"Well, yeah, when I deserve it I suppose. He is much stricter then uncle Severus though and he isn't that fair either. It depends on his mood."

"Oh and what does he do for a punishment then?" Harry wondered if Draco was abused as well.

"He says he is displeased with me and sometimes, when I'm really naughty he will smack me. He once ignored me for a week when I ran away from home. He also gives lectures that are quite boring or tell me to go and clean my room. He sometimes gives chores as punishment. He always says that my behavior will reflect poorly on the Malfoy name and that we should be proud of ourselves and try to behave impeccably in public. I hate displeasing him because he always says that no son of him would have such behavior as I sometimes show."

"But surely he tells you that he is proud of you as well or….?" Draco made it sound like Lucius was the worst father in the world and it was strange to recoil the image of the perfect gentleman that Harry had seen today with the man Draco was painting for him.

Draco smirked at him and said. "Of course he does. He always speaks to me about how I should behave myself and I know that he likes it when I behave really well because I always get a toy or something I want. I know he loves me."

"But surely he tells you that and doesn't just buy your stuff you don't need?" Harry was amazed. For a moment Draco reminded him of Dudley but when he saw his friend's face fall he was concerned, especially when Draco sneered half heartingly.

"Father always said that showing emotion is for weak people and for girls."

Harry made a face as he said. "I don't know about you but Severus doesn't look either way weak or like a girl to me. And he says that there is nothing wrong with crying. Don't let him catch you say that because I'm sure he'll do something worse than even your father could do."

"My father can be pretty badass as well." Draco shot back.

"I'm sure. I was covering in my shoes when he strode across Diagon Alley."

"My father doesn't strut, he walks gracefully." Draco answered.

"It is better than billowing into a room like Sev does."

"Father always says that manners and the way one carries himself and conducts his business inflect upon him and those closest to him. He always likes it when I behave really well. I'm proud to be like him." Draco's eyes shone and Harry wondered if Severus would like Harry to be as him as well.

"I'm sure that your dad is proud of you as well and loves you. I mean why would he otherwise do something as boring as sitting in on the Board when he can do so much more fun stuff than (!) listening to a bunch of old people talking about stuff that doesn't concern you anyway."

"And that is the exact reason, Potter, why my father is on the Board and you're guardian is a Potions Master. I know that there all sorts of different levels of intelligence but really, do you have (!) to prove (!) with each word that you utter that you're far inferior to the famous Malfoy intelligence?"

"It is better than being a cunning Slytherin."

"Says a Gryffindork." And as they both laughed, neither saw the blond man that stood in the shadows, a smile on his face that was far more genuine then anybody had ever seen him smile before.

Hp

I'm going to get the old wolf a pocket watch that he can put around his neck so he can always check upon the time. Surely he can afford a watch.

A couple of days later, Severus was waiting in his office for Lupin's arrival. He had cleared his brewing schedule of today to accompany Lupin to Azkaban to meet Black. The necessary arrangements had been made, the portkey reservations, the appeal to the head guard stationed at Azkaban telling him of their wish and reason for a visit. It seemed that Dumbledore's signature still opened some doors that remained locked to others.

Azkaban….

The very name send shivers down Severus' spine as his mind returned to the brief time he had spend there when he had awaited his trial after the fall of the Dark Lord at the hands of Potter. In his darkest dreams he could still remember the burden of guilt and agony that held his prisoner better than any walls ever could and truthfully, he had never shaken the feeling.

He had come a long way since then, or so he kept telling himself but he could never overcome the fear that one day the aurors realized they had made a mistake and came back to collect him, regardless of Dumbledore's protection.

He sighed, to be a prisoner of his mind, which was not something Severus ever desired. He always prided himself on his keen mind and no matter how dire the situation was in his day to day life, he could always escape in his mind and dream of research and forgiveness in green eyes.

There was a knock on his door and Severus called out an absentminded 'enter'. He put the customary scowl on his face as he saw the kind smile Lupin bestowed upon him as he entered cautionatly.

"Ah, good afternoon, Severus, how are you today?"

Lupin glanced about the dimly lit office and Severus was quite sure that the werewolf was looking for a certain messy haired, green eyed mischievous imp. "Harry isn't here." He said bluntly, picking up his cloak from where he had dropped it over the back of his chair.

Lupin blinked at him with those amber eyes and then gave him a slight smile as he recovered quickly. "Ah, right, I didn't expect him to be here anyway but well….it is always nice to see him…."

"The brat is in class. Shall we get going? I've no stomach to postpone this any longer than absolutely necessary for you know that I've no desire to see Black longer then it has to take."

Lupin's face bore a grimace as he said. "I know about your reluctance to go to Sirius, Severus and I am glad that you're willing to bury the past for Harry's sake…"

"This isn't about Potter at all, Lupin!" Severus snarled even while he knew deep down that it was but he would rather face another first year of Gryffindors then admit it to Lupin. He sighed and then continued. "I would like to see the look on the mutt's face when I tell him that I'm his godson's ward."

A graying eyebrow rose but Lupin merely tried to fight his smile before he gestured with his arm. "Shall we go then if you're so keen to be off?"

"The best suggestion you've ever had." Severus mumbled as they left the office and the school.

Hp

Azkaban was a place that would never make any visitor welcome. Even if the Dementors somehow disappeared and the sea would calm down, Severus knew that the few lucky souls who managed to escape Azkaban would never forget the agony they had endured at this place.

Even while he and Lupin were just visitors, Severus somehow couldn't shake the fear that he wouldn't be able to leave the prison. Lupin paused as he pulled up his hood to protect himself against the fierce wind that kept splashing them with sea water.

"Come on, I know you like your damp dungeons but Severus, my clothes are getting soaked." Severus sent a sneer towards Lupin as he snarled.

"Then you should consider mending your clothes, Lupin. Clothes that have holes in them attract unwelcome things." They moved towards the huge door that kept the prisoners inside and any unwelcome visitors outside. Severus could feel the strong wards wash over him as they were bade to enter.

Azkaban was not a cheery place and it would never be so, even if they paint the walls with bright colors, dusted the place and used every ounce of magic in the world to brighten it, the feel would always be the same, dark and depressing.

"We're here to see Sirius Black. Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry enclosed this document that state we've business with Black."

"You'll have to register your wand." The guard told them the moment Lupin finished speaking. Severus sneered at the guard, a Ravenclaw if he had not been mistaken and a boy just below Severus when he had attended Hogwarts. He would be damned if he would hand his wand over to this incompetent fool.

He raised an eyebrow coldly as the guard approached him; hold a long rod in his hand. "Please extend your wand, sir." The guard stuttered at Severus, just managing to control his shaking.

Lupin shot him a look and finally Severus extended his wand, allowing the guard to quickly run the rod over it. The guard stepped back, nodding at Severus and actually managing a smile as he said. "Thank you kindly, sir."

Severus glared.

Hp

The cell that belonged to Black was dark and Severus ignored the itch to allow his hand to stray to his wand to repel the Dementor. But he steadied his hand and kept his eyes firmly fixed on the door that opened up as light flared in Black's cell.

"The cell will now open. Stand back and wait for the guard to clear the cell and secure the prisoner. Black is one of our most heavily guarded ones…." The guard paused as the Dementor swept down the hallway when one of the prisoners screamed. It died soon enough when the Dementor swept past.

"That thing doesn't go in with us." Lupin was pale but a fierce light shone in his eyes as he regarded the guard.

"Black is too dangerous for us not to use a Dementor." The guard sputtered, no doubt not used to anybody talking back at him.

"Lupin is right. Use that thing to secure Black and when we enter, it will go out. I refuse to have a conversation with that hovering over us. This visit is depressing enough without something feeding on it." Severus hissed in a low voice.

He could cast a patronus but he would give himself away and that really was not his intention. It would be like handing a card to the other death eaters and painting a bull's eye on his back. No doubt it would tip Lupin off and a snooping werewolf with a keen nose and an intelligent mind was really the last thing that Severus needed.

The door opened and Severus took a step back, his finger straying to his wand out of habit.

The guard flashed his wand at the door and even before Lupin or Severus could make any move or comment the Dementor had glided into the cell. "No! I refuse! What are you doing to me?"

The voice was a deep baritone and while Severus hated Black with all that was within him, he flinched at the despair and fear in the voice. He looked away, noticing how tense Lupin was. How much does it cost the mangy wolf to see one of his closest and only surviving friends like this? This is the friend that is responsible for the murder of the Potters. Yet Black already showed his true colors at the age of 16 when he tricked me into going to the Shrieking Shack.

The guard left the cell as Black gave a curling scream, and a moment later the Dementor followed. Severus shivered as the Dementor brushed past him before the foul creature went to stand a little ways beyond.

"Call any of us if there is any trouble. The use of magic is prohibited and will be acted upon accordingly should it happen. Black is detained and he is unable to perform magic but remember that he was one of the You Know Who's most trusted member so he may have access to magic that is unknown to us."

Got a Black fan club going on? Severus sneered at the guard.

"Well in you get, Lupin, just in case Black snaps we won't deprive Potter of another guardian so soon." Severus hissed softly as he followed the other man inside the dimly lit cell. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light.

The cell was small, with a blanket and a mattress that was so dirty and full of holes that Severus could see the dirty floor. The small window looked out over the sea but it was so high that Black probably could only see the sky if he ever cared to look at all.

The criminal and one of the reasons that his youth at Hogwarts had been such a rotten one was a tall man who was so thin that Severus was sure if he would've blown Black would have fallen over. The gaunt cheeks were paler then even Severus' sallow expression and the eyes lay low in their sockets but they burned with something as Black croaked out. "Remus? Remus, you came"

Black's voice sounded so grateful that Severus fought the urge to vomit and sneered.

"This isn't a social visit, Sirius." Lupin's voice held none of the usual warmth of kindness and Severus smirked. He didn't know that Lupin had it in him.

Black looked confused for a moment before Severus took a step forward and the bound wizard spat. "What is he doing here? Remus, why did you bring Snivellus here?" It was almost like Black was pleading and Severus could feel a grin twisting his thin lips.

"Good afternoon, Black…."

"Have you come to gloat?" Black's eyes burned with hatred as he swung forward in an attempt to break free of the magic that held him captive as he hissed. "This should've been you in here, rotting away…"

"It was not I that betrayed friends that resulted in their death." Severus purred.

Black strained against the magic again as he cried out. "It wasn't me either."

"Oh, it was some other part of you, Black? Are you truly as insane as your youth always predicted?" Severus teased. Black's eyes burned with something different this time, not hatred but something much worse and for a moment Severus could see every year upon the once handsome, wasted face that Black had spent in Azkaban.

"Peter Pettigrew did it." Black eventually whispered.

"Your murdered Pettigrew!" Lupin suddenly roared, close to losing control as he stepped forward, his wand rising as he hissed, grabbing Black's collar. "You murdered Lily and James and then you went after Peter…How could you? Your best friends are dead and you don't even show any remorse. You merely laugh at all those muggles and…."

Severus jumped forward intend to grab Lupin, even while he knew he was no match for the overpowering strength of the werewolf. Black went slack in his former friend's grip as his head shot up and he said. "But Pettigrew is still alive…"

"Tell your lies to somebody else, Sirius." Lupin hissed.

Black trembled as he said. "It isn't a lie, Remus. I have never lied to you. He transformed into a rat after blowing up all those muggles…."

"Like I said, Sirius, tell your lies to somebody who cares…"

"Pettigrew was an animagus?" That certainly explains how they could always sneak about unnoticed…

"But Remus, it is the truth, I'm innocent! Just have that git perform Legilimency on me to prove it." Black seemed obsessed suddenly and Severus scowled. He had no desire to delve into the mutt's sick mind.

"The guard said no magic…" Lupin snarled as he held Black tightly.

"There is no magic needed for the Legilimency." Severus found himself saying. He drew up alongside Lupin a he looked Black in the eye. He held his own wand up threatened as he hissed. "One trick, Black and I'll empty your mind out!"

"There is no need to threaten me, Snivellus. I loathe it just as much as you do that you're forced into my mind but if that is the only way to convince you that I'm innocent then so be it." Black snarled back at him, eyes meeting Severus' mockingly.

"Legilimens." Severus hissed and within a moment, ignoring the hiss of pain that Black produced, he was in the chaotic mind. Black trust the memory at him and Severus found himself falling into it. He relived the day he only heard about in the Daily Prophet and finally he pulled away when the memory restarted, not noticing how Black slumbered down in the bond that held him captive.

"He is telling the truth. He is innocent." And as he met Lupin's confused eyes, Severus looked at the innocent man before him.

That is it for now. So I need ideas how they will get Sirius out of Azkaban and how we should find and deal with Pettigrew. Review of course.

The next chapter: Mayhem occurs as Severus and Lupin try to get the full story but how will they convince somebody in power that Black is indeed innocent? And what questions will Black's story raise? Will they find Pettigrew? And how will Sirius react when he finds out that Harry's unlikely guardian is standing before him? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you very much for the reviews. Let's begin. I still need ideas on how to deal with Pettigrew and Quirrell. Just a quick note with Harry regarding Remus. I do think that people know that there is something wrong with Remus but don't know what it is precisely if that makes sense, even if Remus is very nice.

"What do you mean, he's innocent?" Lupin's amber eyes shone with a strange light as he looked at the slumbered figure beside him. Black was breathing heavily because of the abrupt pull that Severus had done once he had viewed the memory.

"He did not murder Pettigrew or all those muggles. Pettigrew blew himself up." Severus snarled.

"But that can't be!" Lupin looked deranged and less calm then Severus had ever seen him. The other male paced the cell like an animal possessed and Severus held on tightly to his wand. He knew how much control mattered to the werewolf and the thin light that streamed into the cell seemed to bring out a strange glitter in the amber eyes.

"There was a street full of muggles who saw Sirius reach for his wand and destroy Pettigrew!" Lupin gestured wildly with his hands and Severus snapped the memory still fresh in his mind.

"Pettigrew deceived them. Black never went for his wand!"

Black laughed, the sound sending shivers down Severus' spine even when he knew that the mad Gryffindor had once sounded more insane than he did now. The blue eyes lifted up to pierce Severus' black ones and Black purred. "I never thought I would see the day I would be glad for the support of the greasiest git that ever slithered through Hogwarts."

"Be careful, Black, between the three of us I'm the one with the most influence in this world." Severus held up his wand. He was feeling annoyed despite the feeling of shock in knowing that Black was innocent.

He had been shocked when he had learned that in the days after the Potters' deaths and the disappearance of the Dark Lord, Black had murdered an old friend of his and a street full of Muggles. Even when he had always claimed that Black had been a deranged idiot, he could've sworn that Black would never stoop so low to hunt down a friend and to kill him, exposing himself in such a manner.

The Sirius Black Severus had known was an intelligent wizard, one who would never allow himself to be caught if he had murdered somebody. Black must have been really mad in those days, but then again, who hadn't been?

Black's eyes narrowed as he fixed Severus with a glare before he rasped out. "Remus, what is the grease ball talking about?"

Severus tried to fight his smirk but he found he could not. True, he may not have accomplished much in his life but he had come much further then Black, which was a satisfying thought to him, even when he went to great lengths to hide it.

The wolf seemed to fight his own smile as well as he said, crossing his arms over his chest to hide a chill. "Well, Sirius, with you in Azkaban and all and stripped of your privileged, that only leaves Severus and myself left. And since the werewolf laws have only strengthened since Voldemort disappeared, Severus is the only one with a job and a very fine one at that."

"But he is a Death Eater! Who in the right mind would employ a Death Eater?"

"The very same person who stepped in when you should have been expelled when you not only endangered me but nearly got somebody you professed to be your friend killed as well if Dumbledore hadn't interfered."

"Ah so he was the one you crawled back to?" Black sneered at him and Severus smiled coolly as he lazily twirled his wand in his fingers.

"You should know by now that you should be more kind to the ones who know of your innocence. We're your ticket out of here, Black, I mean, who is going to believe a mad Gryffindor who spent his best years in Azkaban." He could see how Black paled and Lupin shot him a warning glance.

I should have remembered that one lone Slytherin always is the underdog against two Gryffindors.

Severus raised an eyebrow at Lupin. Truly the werewolf should know by now that Severus wasn't going to give up any chance of making comments about Black when he had been on the receiving end of Black's wand for years.

"I'm sure that if we can get Albus down here, he will see for himself that I'm innocent and we can get a fair trial." Black sounded so unlike himself that even Lupin frowned at him. Black looked at them, his eyes hopeful even when his lips curled into a mocking smile.

"Did he ever come to see you after everything that has happened?" Severus asked harshly.

"He was busy that is all."

"He saw to it that you were sent to Azkaban without a trial, Sirius. Be reasonable, he never came to visit." Severus' heart nearly failed him when he heard that Lupin agreed with him. Lupin shot him a look and then continued.

"Dumbledore is getting old. Who isn't saying that he wanted you in here so you would cause less trouble, especially in light of recent events."

Black strained against his bonds as he screamed. "Dumbledore would never be so cruel. He cared!"

"He cared in his own way, Black! Stop showing such a blind faith in the old coot!" Severus hissed.

Black fixed his eyes on him and snarled. "And what would you know about this, Snivellus? He just didn't care about any slimy Slytherins doesn't mean that he just doesn't care."

Severus growled low in his throat as he hissed. "Oh and how would you explain that it was very convenient for Dumbledore that you were stored away in Azkaban, an unfit guardian for Harry Potter so Dumbledore could place the boy with his relatives who abused him and there was nobody with a claim to the boy, leaving him there for ten years to rot in the cupboard under the stairs!"

He took a deep breath, not noticing how Black had paled before he said in a whisper. "When we found out, it was already too late; Potter had come to Hogwarts and had already been damaged. A new guardian has been found and the boy has been placed with him. But you don't even know the extent of what Dumbledore did. He even sent the boy back there when he went to sign the guardian papers, causing his relatives to lash out."

"He did what?" Perhaps Severus had never seen the cold fury in Black's face or he could have forgotten what it looked like but the bound wizard's eyes narrowed and his magic crackled through the room, not needing a wand to be let out.

"Tell me that the greasy git is lying, Remus! Tell me that it isn't true! Dumbledore would never have permitted this to happen to Harry! He wouldn't have allowed this to happen to James and Lily's son!" A pleading note crept into the voice as it broke.

Lupin only gave a nod and Black roared. Severus cast a quick shield charm and he could see Lupin reaching for his wand as well. The bound wizard roared like a wounded animal and the pain in the scream was too much. Severus wondered how long it would take before the guards would come running but then he felt the tingle of Lupin's magic, the mangy old wolf had added a silencing spell.

"Sirius, listen, this did happen, just like Severus has said…" Lupin walked forward and the warning died on Severus' lips when Black suddenly looked at him and hissed.

"And how would he know this?"

Severus found his mouth dry suddenly. It was too soon, Black couldn't know yet about Severus' guardianship to Harry Potter. The mad wizard would tear him to shreds.

"Severus is the Potions Master at Hogwarts and he was one of the Professors who were present in the hospital wing. Severus was also the one Harry confided in." Lupin cut in smoothly.

Black hung his head and nodded, showing how emotional he was that he didn't once joke about Severus' profession. "Who are you suggesting to help us with this? If Harry is really in danger then I need to get out of Azkaban as soon as possible." He whispered.

"I don't know anybody who…" Lupin said as Severus cut in smoothly.

"Lucius Malfoy."

The two Gryffindors stared at him.

Hp

"Who?" Lupin said dumbly.

"Are you really as dumb as you look that you're honestly suggesting Lucius- licking the boots of Voldemort - Malfoy to help me get out of Azkaban? He would rather kill me himself and use my hide for a rug." Black sneered.

"Lucius Malfoy is the only one that has the necessary influence to get (!) the Wizengamot to rethink of a trial for you, Black. Unless you want Dumbledore to get his way." Black deflated with a sigh but yet his eyes continued to narrow in a dangerous glare towards Severus.

"I just don't trust that blond bimbo." Black eventually said.

"Well, he is still one of the most powerful wizards in this world politically speaking and he does have the necessary gold to sway Fudge if we can provide the evidence that you are truly innocent."

Black rallied against the bonds that held him as he snarled. "You saw that I was innocent!"

"Yes, but how do we prove that the memory was not tampered with? You've spent (!) the last 11 years in the company of beings that feed of every sane thought that crosses a person's mind, people more sane then you have come out of Azkaban insaner."

"I kept myself sane because I knew I was innocent."

"You didn't have much sanity to begin with!"

"That is enough! You sound like two bickering schoolchildren! Severus is right, Sirius, simply presenting your memories won't be enough! We need to find Pettigrew and present him to the Wizengamot, that is the only way. 11 years is a long time for somebody to disappear and the world is big, it will take time to find him, if we can find him at all."

"Well, I'm not worried so much about me unless you can get me out…." Black seemed hopeful but his glance was not towards Lupin but towards Severus. Severus raised an eyebrow. Was the demented Gryffindor really thinking that Severus could offer him a way out of Azkaban?

"Are you serious, Black? You want to rely on the Death Eater to get you out of Azkaban like the prisoner you are?" He drawled to buy himself time. It didn't shock him that Black could only think about himself before he snarled. "Do you even know what you're asking? You want me to risk everything so that you can once more parade outside! Are you really that selfish?"

Black had the gall to look ashamed as he looked away and muttered something underneath his breath. Severus stepped closer, wand raised as he hissed. "What did you say?"

"I said that it isn't for me that I want to get out there! Pettigrew is capable of hurting Harry because he is the last of the Potters! Harry is unprotected because he can't call his relatives a home any longer and somebody needs to look out for the poor child."

Severus exchanged a look with Lupin as he offered. "Potter is well protected at Hogwarts…"

"How can you be so sure? If what you say is true then Harry isn't safe in any place with Dumbledore so close!" Black shouted.

Who knew the mutt had it in him to be so protective of the brat? But despite his thoughts Severus did found himself smirking. Black was a powerful wizard and one who could prove to be useful.

"Potter has been safely removed from any Gryffindor influence." He was proud to say. He could see Lupin rolling his eyes but he ignored him, hoping Black wouldn't try to coax any other words out of him but as usually when concerning Gryffindors, hoping got him nowhere.

"Then where has Harry been placed? The boy needs somebody who can protect him and who can watch out for his needs. Not everybody can do such a thing. If he has truly been abused then…"

"He was living in a cupboard, Black and had to cater to the needs of his muggle family. He was beaten from an early age on and knew no better than that he was an unloving burden, a freak that nobody wanted. He was worse off than most house elves these days." Severus snarled. He tried to curb his protective streak towards the boy he had taken as his wards but it was nearly too much that Black didn't think that Severus knew what Harry needed.

Black was silent, his blue eyes wide and filled with pain before he turned to Lupin and asked in a small voice. "You know who Harry has been placed with, don't you, Remus? Please tell me; please say that that person is taking good care of my godson!"

Lupin exchanged another look with Severus before he did take a step forward and said. "Harry is being looked after very well, Sirius. He is in good hands."

"Can you tell me who it is? I mean….I know that I probably don't deserve to know because I abandoned Harry, just as much as Lily and James did. I left him on his own while I should have done my duty as his godfather to take care of him but he needs somebody to see to his needs and to properly take care of him like I should have done."

Severus swallowed thickly; he knew that Lupin was going to tell the truth to Black as the bound wizard continued. "Harry is in danger. There are still Death Eaters out there and there could be even those who will try to harm him while he is at Hogwarts…"

Severus' heart slowed to a near stop as he stood gaping.

How could I've been such a fool? Quirrell is at school and he has already tried to harm Harry! He hexed him in public, not caring for the consequences or that an ybody could see him. He even let that troll into the school at the anniversary of Lily's death! I may not yet know what the hell he is up to but I'll find out and I'll protect Harry! Perhaps I should ask Lupin for some protective charms to add for the boy's safety. If he really did inherit James' luck for trouble there will never been enough spells to keep him safe.

"Severus, is everything alright?" Severus realized voices were calling his name. He looked up to find himself looking into Lupin's eyes as Black glanced at him to, concern hidden in the debts.

"Severus, what is it?"

"There is somebody at Hogwarts who has been trying to harm Harry. With everything that has been happening lately I completely forgot." His voice was higher than normal and Black growled.

"How could you possibly forget something important like that, Snape! I know that you do not care about the boy and would rather see him dead because he is James' son but for your precious Lily you could at least try…"

Such fury was building up inside him that Severus found himself speaking without thinking, his wand raised as he pressed it against Black's neck. "Do not tell me how to care for my ward, Black, when you've been absent for most of the boy's life! It had to come to this that it is the man you hated for so long in your life and who you even once tried to kill takes care of your godson because somebody else is completely unable! The past few weeks have been hell, Black! Harry has been a mess and you want to know why? It is because of his relatives and Dumbledore! That idiotic headmaster sent him back to his relatives who locked him in his cupboard for a good 20 minutes before we could get him out! Do you have any idea what issues your godson has? He thinks he doesn't deserve to be loved so excuse me if the fact that I would rather focus on Harry now, instead of hunting down potential danger for the brat doesn't fit into your alley!"

Black gasped and his voice dropped. "You're Harry's guardian?"

Something was making its way down Severus' spine and he gave a brisk nod. He looked into the other man's blue eyes and then Black surprised him by saying. "Good then, there isn't anybody else I would trust Harry's safety with."

"And thank you!" Lupin said dryly.

"Oh, I didn't mean it like that, Remus. I know you would have taken care of Harry if you had been given the chance but well, since Snape here is our man, it is only proper that I respect it. Besides, he may be a vile git but he is a vile, powerful and known dark wizard git and he knows all the proper curses to protect Harry and besides…"

This time Black's smirk turned positively wicked and Slytherin as the bound wizard said. "He will be an honorary Gryffindor before the year is out if Harry is anything like James…"

"I'll be in the hospital wing before the year is out if Potter is indeed like his father…" Severus muttered admits the laughter of two relieved Gryffindors.

Hp

Severus tuned out Lupin's idiotic chattering as he led the way to his office. He knew he would need to say very explicitly that this wasn't going to be a common occurrence that they would have tea in his office.

He frowned when he found the wards to his office bore a distinct magical signature, one he couldn't place. Taking out his wand he muttered the password to his office and the door opened to reveal a slightly hyper 11 year old that launched himself at Severus.

He could hear the gasp behind him as he crouched down to run hands over Harry's body, holding him at arm's length as he said urgently. "What is the matter? Are you wounded? Did something happen?"

He took his wand out to cast a diagnostic charm when the brilliant sparkling green eyes met his and Harry said with a bright smile, though it was a bit uncertain as he searched Severus' face. "I haven't seen you all day and I wanted to spend some time with you. But nothing happened…." The lower lip trembled as Harry said, trying to hide the pain in his eyes. "I can spend time with you outside of class right? Even if it is for no reason."

The thin shoulders underneath his hand were trembling as Severus pulled Harry into a quick embrace as he whispered, running a hand through the dark tousled hair and down the thin ridged back. "You foolish Gryffindor, haven't I told you that you are always welcome?"

And as Harry's trembles eased underneath his hand, Severus allowed himself to relax and pull himself together as he said. "Come and stay for tea with Lupin and myself if you can't seem to find it in yourself to rid you of me."

And Harry laughed softly, smiling up at him and then proceeded into the office as Severus felt Lupin's hand on his shoulder in a friendly tap and he wondered when he had begun to submerge himself in Gryffindors.

Hp

Harry stood by his guardian's side, hopping from one foot to the other as he waited for the adults to sit down and to pour the tea the house elves had so kindly delivered to them. He couldn't see over Snape's desk to see if there were any cookies, he hoped so.

He had behaved very well today and the last couple of days when Snape had been busy with his pending visit to Black. Harry had no idea how the visit had gone because the lines in the face of his guardian hadn't revealed anything and he didn't like to look at Lupin for too long. The other man was kind to him but he had a slightly dark look about him and Harry got a weird almost frightening feeling whenever he looked upon the other man.

When Snape nearly bumped into him again the professor snarled. "Would you stop getting underfoot, Potter! Take a seat and wait for tea to be served."

Harry pressed himself against Snape's leg when the candlelight in the room flashed over the amber colored eyes of Lupin and for a moment he had a distinct feeling of something animal glancing back at him. He hid his face, feeling Snape start.

"Harry, what is the matter?" The slender hand came to rest upon his head but even that couldn't persuade Harry to look back at Lupin as he whispered.

"It is nothing…"

He was roughly pulled away and found that Snape was crouching in front of him as he hissed. "Nothing is not a reason to go cuddling against my legs, now what is the matter?"

"It is him!" Harry blurted out as he pointed at Lupin. The tall man took a step back, startled as Snape's eyes flew over the scarred face as if Lupin had raised his wand on them. Lupin held up his hands, showing them to be empty as Snape asked.

"Harry, has he done something? Anything to make you feel uncomfortable?"

"No, but it just…." Harry chewed on his lip and Snape soothed a potion stained finger over it to stop the movement as Harry blurted out. "There was something in his eyes when the candlelight moved over his eyes. It was almost like an animal was looking back at me." Harry whimpered, remembering the crazy glint in Aunt Marge's dog's eyes whenever it chased him around the garden.

Lupin seemed to deflate as he looked at Harry; shoulders slumbered in defeat as he smiled uncomfortably. "I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't mean to scare you…I…."

"Harry, Remus is a werewolf. It is an illness that makes him transform into a wolf every full moon. There is nothing dangerous about him but sometimes, the wolf can come close to the surface and show itself on his features or in his eyes. He doesn't mean to do this and he doesn't want you to feel uncomfortable around him."

Harry looked back at Lupin, eyes wide before he asked. "You're a wolf?"

Lupin tried to smile at him but he seemed to be feeling as uncomfortable as Harry had felt before. "Yes, Harry, I'm."

"Do you know that is so wicked!" Harry grinned suddenly as he stepped away from Snape. The older wizard kept a strong hand on his back as Harry asked. "So you can transform into a wolf? Are you a big mean one or a nice fluffy one?"

Lupin stammered for a moment, seemingly at a loss for words as Snape said. "Harry, werewolves are very dangerous and people who are werewolves often do not have very much control during the full moon! You will not go looking for them, is that understood? They cannot protect you and will often hurt you."

Snape's hand ghosted across his own side for a moment as the dark eyes glazed over, lost in memory before Harry asked. "But you wouldn't hurt me, would you?"

"No, I would never! But what Severus says is correct; I can hurt you even when I don't want to." Lupin immediately said. Harry nodded and then looked back at Snape. The older wizard was gazing back at him and Harry moved towards Lupin, throwing his arms around him as he cried out.

"Cool, I've my very own pet wolf." And while Snape tried to ignore the large smile that had taken over Lupin's face at these words of acceptance, he couldn't help but feel proud of his ward for showing that particular skill.

Hp

After his spontaneous hug with Remus, Harry had ignored his own vacant chair and instead had come to stand by Snape's, clearly waiting for something. At first the older wizard had been determined to ignore him, but when Harry had tapped his hand, the older wizard snarled. "What do you want?"

"Can I sit on your lap? I want to cuddle." For a moment the black eyes widened and Harry waited to be rejected, worrying his cheek in between his lip before Snape shoved his chair back and gave a brisk nod, not meeting his eyes.

Harry beamed and waited to be picked up, shuffling closer to his guardian before Snape growled and pulled Harry onto his lap, Harry cuddled in happily. He knew he should feel mortified that here he was, a lad of 11 years old and cuddling with his guardian but it just felt nice to have somebody to cuddle with, people who had parents just didn't understand.

Lupin hid a smile and met Harry's eyes from across the desk as he winked quickly. Harry looked from his guardian's severe face to Lupin's easy smile as he asked. "So did you find my godfather?"

"Of course we did. I really do not need a map to find a prisoner in Azkaban, Potter, especially not one as famous as Sirius Black." Snape snarled but it was without the sting and Harry could feel how his guardian had suddenly tensed, almost as if there was something going on they didn't want Harry to know about.

"Nothing happened now did it?" He turned back to look at Snape and finally the black eyes met his own. Finally Snape looked away and reached out to take a sip of tea before he said.

"Of course not. Why would you think something has happened?"

"Well, I don't know. I mean, he is a prisoner." Harry took a sip of his own tea but it sat heavily in his belly. Was it just him or did Snape seemed to be hiding something?

It reminded Harry of the professor he used to know, back when Snape hadn't been his guardian. Why did all adults seem to hide things from him?

Lupin seemed to notice his gaze because he said. "Sirius had a long chat with us and there are some difficulties…."

"He doesn't want to take me away, now does he?" Harry cried out. Snape's arm tightened protectively around his waist as Lupin immediately soothed.

"No, Harry, don't worry, he won't. He agreed that being with Severus was best for you now. We just had some surprises that we weren't counting upon. But we will all sort it out; don't you go worrying about that, alright?"

Harry shrugged and then nodded what else could he say? He would worry about his godfather, he didn't know what sort of man he was after all and well, promises usually meant nothing, especially coming from criminals. But still, he did want to meet the man who was his godfather, he was curious.

He shifted on Snape's lap before the teacher snarled. "Stop moving about or go and sit in your own chair. I'm not a pillow you can simply fluff up for your own pleasure! Now, tell me, how are your classes going?"

Harry pulled a face into his tea. Did he really have to discuss his classes with his guardian? Snape raised an eyebrow at him and Harry sighed as he said.

"They're going well. I don't have any trouble with any of the material…"

"And you don't have any trouble with any of your instructors?"

"No, sir. And besides, Hermione and Draco are helping me. And Ron as well, so everything is going well."

"Good and you have not noticed anything else that may be odd? Like strange things happening to you?" Harry looked puzzled and it seemed to be all the answer Snape needed as the professor coaxed him out of his lap and said. "Run to my private storeroom and find me a blue vial. It should be on the first shelve. Do not mess anything up, is that understood?"

Harry gave a nod and disappeared into the storeroom, it wasn't every day that Snape allowed him in here.

Hp

"So you think that somebody at Hogwarts is trying to harm Harry?" Lupin's voice was soft and Severus took a sip of his tea. He took a moment to think and to make sure Harry wasn't listening before he answered softly, casting a privacy charm.

"During the first Quidditch match of the season Harry's broom was hexed. I just had the time to mumble a counter curse but it was obvious that somebody was trying to harm Harry, making it appear like an accident when it clearly wasn't."

Lupin looked thoughtful as he said. "And nothing else has happened?"

"Well, a troll got into the dungeons during Halloween."

"That normally shouldn't happen."

"No, I know, I have good reason to believe that the troll has been let into the castle to create a diversion."

"It seems that you have already picked out a suspicious person." Lupin leaned forward in his seat as he asked. "Who is it? You usually have a good nose for these things."

Severus raised an eyebrow but let the pun pass as he answered. "I have my suspicions about Quirrell the defense teacher."

"What does Dumbledore think?"

"He asked me to keep an eye on Quirrell but nothing more. I have no idea what he may do if I go to him with the concerns I have about Harry."

"It may be worth looking into."

"He will simply dismiss me, like he always does." Severus didn't care his voice sounded a tad bit bitter.

"I don't think he will, don't forget that he made a mistake with Harry and it will reflect badly on him if he dismisses your valid concerns."

Severus smirked; Lupin may actually have a point.

Hp

"Fire calling Lucius Malfoy!" Severus waited patiently until the house elf that had taken his floo call had called his master. His knees were slightly sore from sitting on the stone floor but he had forgotten to put a soft towel or something of the like underneath his knees. It was times like this that he did feel his true age and the active life he had led.

He supposed he was lucky that he had used the floo in his private quarter rather than his office, imagine if one of his students or his colleagues and saw him with his arse sticking up in the air making a floo call.

"Yes, Dobby, who is fire calling me?" Lucius came in, dressed immaculately in his fine grey house robe. On anybody else this style could have been described as somebody's best robe but in the case of Lucius Malfoy his best robes were all under statis and preservation charms in one of the many rooms of the manor.

"Ah, Severus, what a pleasant surprise. Let me guess, you've some students reported for detention on their Saturday night and you're looking for new inventive ways to torture them?" The well shaped mouth curled into a smirk and Severus rolled his eyes, instantly regretting it when the ash from the floo flew in them.

"Of course not! Even I know that it isn't beneficial for one's health to put detentions on Saturday. No, I need help with another delicate matter. May I come through perhaps; it will make it much easier to discuss this?"

Lucius stepped back from the floo and Severus pulled his head out of his own floo and stepped through, quickly landing in Lucius' carpeted study.

He took Lucius invitation to sit down in one of the handsome armchairs near the fire as he asked. "Have you received a letter from Draco regarding the first Quidditch match of the season?"

Lucius acted surprised but he could see the calculating gleam in the blue eyes as he scoffed. "Lucius, I know your son and I know how jealous Draco can be. I've no doubt that he sent a letter to you with his complaints that Potter made the team but he didn't. That the rules had to be bent for a Gryffindor and not for a Malfoy. I know my godson."

Lucius laughed, the sound rare, but finally the older man turned to him, eyes twinkling in amusement as he pushed his loose blond hair away from his face. "You know my son too well, Severus but yes, I've read his letter with great interest."

"So Draco has mentioned everything, including how Potter was almost bucked off his broom in the height of the match?"

"Yes and that you were set on fire by another student."

Severus growled, if he ever found out who had done that particular spectacular piece of magic he wasn't entirely sure whether or not to applaud and award house points or dock points and hand out detention.

"Yes, but that isn't the subject which we were discussing. It is the nature of why Potter was nearly bucked off his broom. It was no ordinary prank. It was a hex that send my ward nearly thumbling to the ground and most likely death."

"Somebody hexed Potter during a Quidditch match?" Lucius sat up straight as he leaned forward, all traces of amusement gone.

"Yes, no doubt to make it look like an unfortunate accident."

"And let me guess, you saved Potter." Lucius looked away for a moment before he said. "Do you have any idea who may have been responsible for this?"

"It was a teacher, of that there is no doubt. It was dark magic that was used and no student should have any knowledge of this. I was able to counter the curse but it was only because the caster had been distracted that I could gain the upper hand. The magic was quite strong but I could not detect the magical signature behind it, it was impossible when I had to focus on forming the words themselves."

"But you would not be here unless you had a suspicion of who it was that attacked Potter."

"Yes, but seeing as I'm not sure yet, I'll not be sharing that suspicion with you." Severus knew his voice was strict but Lucius merely inclined his head, a smile pulling at his lips. Severus ignored it for the moment as he asked.

"But I do have a favor to ask of you."

Lucius' eyes narrowed but he did wave a slender hand through the air, inviting Severus to continue. "I've been to see Black together with Lupin and we have learned some unsettling news. It turns out that Black is completely and utterly innocent. Pettigrew was the one who killed all the muggles before he disappeared."

Lucius was staring at him, his mouth hanging open in shock before he said. "And just how did you find that out?"

Severus' dark eyes flew across the well and beautifully furnished room before he tapped his temple, Lucius paled. It was a signal between them to occlude their mind whenever the Dark Lord approached.

Lucius paled himself together by brushing imaginary dust from his robe as he said. "Very well, then what is it that you want from me?"

"I want you to convince Fudge to give certain prisoners of Azkaban another chance at having a trial."

"Severus, you're aware that it was the decision of the Wizengamot not to give many Death Eaters a trial that was our rescue, right?" Lucius' voice betrayed nothing but Severus rolled his eyes.

"I do know that Black currently doesn't stand a change, nobody would believe him. There is not a single shred of evidence supporting that claim, Severus; one would be a complete idiot to have a trial without evidence that supports a different outcome that was decided years ago. Even Gryffindors aren't that foolish." Lucius nearly sneered. Severus sighed; he should've known that it would take more than his normal persuasive methods to get Lucius to do him a favor.

"But I doubt that all that you want me to do is to convince Fudge to readdress the issue of Black's trial." Lucius raised an eyebrow and Severus cursed before he said.

"Very well, I want you to use some of your old connections to see if you can catch any whisper of Pettigrew. It is important that we find him and soon." Lucius inclined his head and then said.

"Very well, I'll see what I can find. Now, I must ask of you to leave, Narcissa has made special arrangements for dinner and I would rather not miss it." Lucius' lips shifted into a smirk and Severus raised an eyebrow, he really didn't want to know.

"I'll send Lupin round to fill you in on the details on Pettigrew." Severus rose and with brisk steps he was flooing back to Hogwarts, his duty done for tonight.

That is it for now; I really need ideas really bad because I have no idea on how to deal with Quirrell and Pettigrew. Review of course.

In the next chapter: Can Albus Dumbledore redeem himself or will he simply ignore his Potions Master when Severus comes to him with his concerns regarding Quirrell? And will Harry be safe from the dubious defense teacher or is Quirrell really out to get him? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I've been struck by a massive writer's block for this story so bear with me please if this chapter is a little bit off. I need ideas and inspiration really bad so please send me some. Let's begin.

"Severus?" Snape murmured in the back of his throat, too engrossed in his marking to fully pay attention to his ward. Harry sat at the large table in the dungeon quarters of his guardian, worrying his lower lip in between his teeth as he looked at Snape's sharp profile that was highlighted by the fire behind him.

"Severus?" He asked again and finally Snape looked up, dark eyes fixed on Harry.

"Yes, Mr. Potter, what is it?"

"I had a question, sir."

"Do you have a problem with your homework perhaps, Harry?"

"No…well, I can't make my feather float like it is supposed to but that isn't what I wanted to ask. It is about my godfather…" Harry almost whispered as he lowered his gaze to the floor. He tried very hard not to look at Snape to see the dark eyes narrow into a glare that always stole over the harsh features simply because of the reminder Black.

"Speak up, boy!"

Harry sat up straight at the harsh tone, even when it wasn't directed at him. He tried to suppress his flinch and Snape's tone softened as he held out a hand. "I apologize, Harry, my tone of voice was not meant for you. Come here and I'll try to answer your question."

Harry got up, dragging his feet, his back tense. He now wished that he had kept quite. He had obviously spoken up at a bad time. He had thought that he had left it all behind but apparently he had been wrong.

The hand that tousled his dark hair soothed him a little as Snape put the quill away and asked. "What is it that you wanted to know, Harry?"

"Why is it that my godfather never tried to take care of me? I mean, why didn't he come to my house when my parents were murdered if they were best friends when he heard the news? I mean, if I heard that Ron had been murdered I would have gone to his house immediately…"

Snape held up a hand and Harry fell silent. The older wizard looked away for a moment, one slender finger trailing his lower lip in a thoughtful gesture before he sighed and said. "I've no idea what happened in the mayhem that night, Harry. But I do know somebody who was there. Professor McGonagall was, she watched the Headmaster place you with your relatives. I'm sure that she may remember more about that night than I do."

"Oh, so I should go to her then?" Harry looked up. He knew his guardian was a busy man but it stung just a little bit, knowing that he had a godfather who never seemed to care enough for him to never come looking for him.

"I'll floo her later when I finish my marking and perhaps she can provide the answers you so obviously crave. Go and finish your homework. I will not be long."

Harry looked up at his guardian. Snape's eyes were already back on the parchment and his work no doubt. The Professor mumbled underneath his breath before he noticed that Harry was still standing beside him.

"Mr. Potter, should I send you to Madam Pomfrey to get your ears checked out or have you simply decided to dismiss my instructions? I don't take kindly to…" The older wizard glowered down at him and Harry blurted out.

"But I can't focus without knowing! It just keeps going around my head all the time and there is no room for any other thoughts… I just thought that you wanted me to do well in my classes but I can't get this off my mind…"

Snape sighed and scowled at Harry down his nose. "Very well, I'll floo her right now and ask her to come through. Remain here!" Snape's voice was strict but the hand that tousled Harry's hair as the older wizard walked to the fireplace made Harry realize that having somebody who looked out for him and who had his best interests at heart was a good thing, really!

Hp

Children and especially Potters will never cease to amaze me. The thoughts that run in that little head of that boy is baffling, really. Only a Gryffindor would care why he wasn't picked up! A Slytherin would use this as an instance to blackmail. I see that I still have a lot to teach the boy.

Severus looked over at Harry as the little brat had the audacity to pull up Severus' chair and sit down within it. The little imp behaved as if he lived here. Severus sighed and looked back at the fireplace as he reached out to take a pinch of the floo powder.

If I ha ve my way then Harry will come to live with me and I suppose that I'll have to get used to having to share things. But I suppose, all in all, with all the emotional baggage and the fact that he does have a not so dead Dark Lord on his tail, which I still need to think very carefully on how I'm going to remain a spy, Harry is a remarkable docile child. But perhaps the problems will come later though I suppose that it isn't strange that he would seek reassurance from somebody to why somebody would want him.

And that job falls to me. And Lupin I suppose.

Severus sighed again and threw a pinch of floo powder in the flames, causing them to burn dark green. He stuck his head in the flames.

"Minerva, are you there?"

The tabby cat that was dozing in the chair by the fireplace looked up at him strangely. The intelligent eyes blinked and Severus fought the urge to sigh, knowing he would only inhale a massive amount of ash.

"Harry has some questions regarding the night his parents were murdered and except for going straight to Dumbledore, which really is not the best of ideas, I remembered that you were there so I had hoped to intrude upon your time to answer some questions but if you would rather remain here and lick a hair behind and cough up hairballs, I'll tell Harry that it is inconvenient."

He pulled back, smirking and knowing that he had baited her. She could not resist a good bantering after all and he had played on her soft side by mentioning Harry. He got up off the floor, gracefully walking towards the desk and the occupied chair.

"Is she coming?"

"Get out of the chair, Potter!"

"But you didn't answer my question…" Harry looked up at him but he did hop out of the chair, biting his lip as he stood next to the chair as Severus sat down, pulling a sheet of parchment to him to grade.

"I put out the bait, Harry; we just have to wait for the trap to fall. Call the house elves and order tea, would you?"

"Yes, sir…." Harry's presence faded from his side and Severus sighed in relief. While Harry's presence wasn't upsetting him he did find that he was more used to being alone than he had originally thought.

"Uhm, Severus, what is a house elf?" And for the first time in all the years of knowing her colleague, the esteemed and very patient Professor Snape, Minerva McGonagall saw him bang his head on the table, brought down by a small boy named Harry Potter.

Hp

"Mr. Potter, would you mind terribly to just sit still!" Snape's voice was a low hiss beside him and Harry glanced up at his guardian. The Professor's head must still be aching because he had dropped it quite hard against the desk. Harry had been worried for a moment and had rushed to his guardian's side but Professor McGonagall had said that Snape was fine.

"Oh, Severus, leave the boy. It is good to see that he is driving you to madness. It is what children do." McGonagall's voice was kind as was her smile.

Beside Harry, Snape grumbled. "And what would you know about children, Minerva?"

"I've spent enough time with children and their parents over the past years, Severus. But I do not believe that is why we're here. You said that you had some things to discuss and you required my aid with this."

Snape sat up a bit straighter and Harry felt the heavy hand on his shoulder as he took a sip of his tea, careful not to spill anything. He could feel the dark eyes pass over his head but he didn't say anything. It had seemed so innocent to ask Snape his question but he was feeling shy now that his Head of House was here.

He wondered why Snape couldn't answer the question but his guardian had answered that he hadn't been there. Harry wasn't even sure if he wanted to know what had happened that night. He knew that his aunt and uncle had lied to him because his parents hadn't died in a car crash, no, they had been killed.

"Yes, Harry had a question regarding the night that…" Snape's voice hitched for a moment on an emotion Harry couldn't possibly name… "Lily and James were killed."

"I see that is a night that is not a very fond memory but I'll try to answer the question to the best of my abilities, Harry. What is your question precisely?"

"I…I wanted to know if my godfather, Sirius Black, did he even ask for me when you and Professor Dumbledore gave me to my relatives?" Harry swallowed thickly and looked away.

The silence that fell over the room was deafening and heavy and Harry tried not to look up to see the sharp look McGonagall gave Snape. The witch cleared her throat and finally said.

"I was not the person who picked you up Harry, but I do know for a fact that Sirius Black did ask for you and was there in Godric's Hollow, but the only person who knows more about that is Hagrid." Harry's head snapped up, his mind spinning. His godfather had asked for him. He looked at Snape to see his guardian looking shocked as he stared at McGonagall.

The man's mouth opened and closed a few times before Snape's eyes narrowed and he hissed sharply. "You mean to tell me that Black dared to ask for the last Potter! Not once did Black ask about Harry, not once! Even when we were in his cell did he…."

"And when did you go to visit Sirius Black, Severus Snape?" Harry nearly shrunk back at the stern voice of his Head of House. It seemed that Snape shrunk back as well because the normally tall and imposing man seemed to become smaller.

The dark eyes remained fixed upon the witch's face but Snape's mouth settled in a thin line as he muttered. "It is necessary in the matter of getting custody of Harry to visit the godfather for permission...."

"And did you obtain your permission?" Professor McGonagall's voice was tight with disproval but Harry was afraid to look up. He made himself as small as possible. He had always disliked fights because with the Dursleys it meant that he was the one who got the beatings.

"No, we were distracted by other events." Snape replied tensely. He glared at McGonagall, his eyes narrowed before the tall man crossed his arms over his chest and replied acidly. "And besides, I believe that we were here for Mr. Potter and not for my reasons for visiting Black."

"You were the one who mentioned Black, Severus but I'll digress; we will continue this conversation at length when Harry is not present." Snape shot a meaningful glance towards Harry's bowed head. Harry glanced up to see the witch's eyes narrow behind her glasses at his guardian.

He looked up at Snape's face. There was a fierce expression in the lined face and the dark eyes were blazing with something that Harry presumed was anger. He took a careful sip of his tea and swallowed thickly.

Snape wanted to gain custody of Harry, wasn't that strange? It was the first time that somebody had ever said that he wanted Harry. Sure, Snape had said that he wanted to be Harry's guardian but this guardianship was just two months.

Severus really wants to have me around and be like a dad? We could be a proper family like the Weasleys?

A couple of weeks ago Harry wouldn't even have thought twice about spending even one minute in the same room with Snape and now the man wanted to gain custody of him? Snape had done more for Harry in the last couple of weeks than anybody else ever had, except perhaps his parents but he didn't remember them.

But Snape had said that they hadn't even gotten the permission yet because Snape had been distracted. Did this mean that his guardian wasn't serious about having him around? Why would anybody be distracted if they really wanted to gain custody of somebody, unless it was really important but what was so important that somebody forgot about Harry?

Oh right, I forgot, everything is more important than me. You're allowing things to go to your head, Harry, simply because Snape has taken an interest in you. It is just that, a passing fancy and soon there will be bigger and much more exciting things to worry about than Harry bloody Potter…

"What thoughts are running about in that head of yours, Mr. Potter?" Snape's fingers curled underneath his chin and Harry flinched away at the unexpected motion. Snape's fingers felt hot against his skin as Harry lowered his eyes, aware of the nearly awful expression on Snape's face.

"Harry?"

His guardian's voice was a soft murmur and his movements were controlled as Harry looked up and fixed a smile on his face to try and fix the situation. He could see that Professor McGonagall leaned forward in her chair, seeming intent on following the conversation between them.

"It is nothing, sir." He lied.

Snape's lips thinned in disapproval but the Potions Master merely looked away once before the dark eyes met Harry's eyes again and Snape said. "Do not lie to me, Harry! I'm disappointed in you. I thought that you knew better than to lie, Mr. Potter!"

Harry lowered his eyes in shame. It was an awful feeling to know that Snape was disappointed in him. He could feel his heart pound in his chest. It had never mattered with the Dursleys because their approval wasn't much better than their disappointment.

But with Professor Snape it was different. Harry wanted his Professor to be proud of him and now he had thrown it all away by lying. He had made it worse because he had lied, the flinching was bad enough but he had been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn't been focusing upon his surroundings.

"If this is all that you're willing to contribute to this conversation then perhaps you should return to your dormitory, Mr. Potter." Snape's voice was cold and he withdrew his hands, crossing his arms over his broad chest and glowering down at Harry with those black eyes.

Harry swallowed bitter tears away and got to his feet slowly. He had messed up.

"Severus?" Professor McGonagall's voice was soft but Snape shot her a glare.

Tears were stinging in his eyes and they blurred the room as Harry tried to focus on the stones underneath his feet as he walked towards the door. The lump in his throat was rising and finally he couldn't take it any longer as he turned around and blurted out.

"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to lie, please don't get rid of me! I know that you've more important things to worry about than keeping me but I'll do my best. I'll be good from now on…"

Snape frowned at him and then held out a hand as he said. "Mr. Potter, there is no reason to upset yourself so. You are right, I do not take kindly to liars but that would not be a reason to get rid of you…"

"But you said that when you went to get the permission to gain custody over me from my godfather more important things came up." Harry cried. He ran a hand over his eyes before he said. "But I understand that, sir…I'm not important enough to be remembered…"

"Do not finish that sentence, Mr. Potter." Snape's voice was such a low growl it startled Harry so badly that he stopped talking almost immediately. He looked up shocked as the man dropped to his knees in front of him and took him by the shoulders, hissing.

"Have I not told you that you are special? I would make you my son legally if it was possible! Never, never again, think that you are not important enough! You're my ward! You are important to me!"

There was something desperate in Snape's voice that made Harry look up. The dark eyes were positively enraged as they stared into Harry's own but Snape whispered. "Don't ever doubt that I won't take care of you, Harry! I never want to hear such things from you again unless you find me unwanted as a guardian. Or is this perhaps about something else?"

Snape's expression hardened as he said, his eyes narrowing even more. "Do you perhaps wish for somebody else to be your guardian? I'm not good enough… Well, speak up, Potter!"

Snape's voice dropped menacingly and Harry had never seen his guardian so enraged. He was frightened as he watched the dark eyes narrow in anger as Snape shook him again, harder this time so that Harry's glasses slid down his nose.

"Well, tell me, Potter! Have you finally had enough of me? Have you followed in your father's and godfather's footsteps and decided that Snivellus isn't even worth trotting on? Well, boy…"

Harry shrank back, shaking his head as he fixed fearful eyes upon his guardian. Snape had never spoken in such a manner before and the man before him seemed possessed. He wanted to break free and run away but then suddenly…

"Severus Snape!" There was a flash of light and Snape flew away from Harry, landing hard upon the cold dungeon floor as Harry hid his face in the folds of Professor McGonagall's robes as she pulled him closer, shielding him from the angry black eyes.

Hp

Oh Merlin, what've I done?

Severus watched in horror as the tear washed green eyes looked up at him. He wasn't even aware of Minerva's angry gaze, only knowing that this terrible burning and tightening in his chest was because he had come so close to harming Harry.

He didn't care if he was sitting in an undignified heap upon the floor as he hid his eyes shamefully in his hands, not having the words to speak to his ward. He had let his temper rule him again. Luckily for him he had not struck out at Harry but he had shaken the boy, frightening him which was perhaps even worse.

He had done just as that wretched family of the boy had. He looked up through his fingers, not even knowing what to say or how to make it right.

He had messed up again. Because of his own past and his own inability to take care of somebody he had frightened Harry away and simply because the boy had been confused. Why was he such an impatient man? Why did he always have to take his temper out on those that were shoved in his protection?

This had been the excuse Dumbledore needed to place Harry with somebody he deemed worthy. Severus had failed. He had abused his ward, the boy placed in his trust. But lucky he supposed there had been a witness that stopped him just in time. Oh dear, what would Minerva say?

She had always stood up for him, even when he didn't deserve it and now he had messed up. He had probably lost her trust forever and…

Severus was so lost in his own thoughts that he flinched when a warm small and trembling body suddenly pressed against his chest, folding himself in his arms and whispering. "Please don't send me away. I'll be good, I promise…please…."

Only his instincts as a Potions Master kept him from shoving Harry away but instead he tightened his arms around his ward, pulling the boy closer to him as he said. "I'm so sorry, Harry, please forgive me. It wasn't my intention to frighten you…please…"

His voice broke and said no more, simply pulling Harry closer and letting the boy pull strength from him. He looked up at Minerva, fully expecting to see scorn there but he had not been prepared for the gentle smile that she gave him. She had stepped in and protected Harry when he had been so close to losing control.

She knew his temper perhaps better than anyone and also his history but now as he stroked Harry's hair, he knew that she didn't judge him and that knowledge was a balm to his wounded heart and soul as he closed his eyes and simply allowed himself to heal as he held the boy that was becoming as dear as a son to him.

Hp

"How can I possibly do this, Minerva? You saw what I just did…" Severus paced the length of his sitting room, gesturing with his hands at Minerva McGonagall who was merely regarding him patiently, holding a steaming mug of tea in her hands.

"What I saw, Severus was a man who was afraid to lose his surrogate son. There is nothing wrong with being fearful, my dear man, as I've told you times again though I would caution you in the manner you express you fear. There is no reason to be cruel with Harry. Gentleness is often the best path to getting the result you want from him."

"But how can I protect him from the Dark Lord and his followers when I can't even protect him from myself?" Severus cried out.

He paced around the room again, one eye on the door that led to Harry's bedroom. His ward had finally fallen asleep and it had been at Minerva's urging that Severus had relented to allow Harry to sleep here. He crossed his arms over his chest, how could he protect himself from Quirrell when he felt so out of his debt at having his ward here.

"Dumbledore is right…I'm not fit to be Harry's protector and…"

"Severus Snape! Stop lying to yourself! You are a fierce protector of Harry Potter and you're the best guardian that boy could wish for. Now, what is this nonsense about a Dark Lord? You Know Who is dead as you well know…"

Severus' eyes narrowed as he looked at the formidable witch. Had she truly not seen how Quirrell behaved? Severus had no doubt what the man was up to and he had a faint idea, even if he prayed that he was to be proven wrong, for who Quirrell may be working.

"Have you truly not noticed anything disturbing about our esteemed colleague?" He asked, settling himself down. He met Minerva's raised eyebrow and sighed before he said.

"During the first Quidditch game of the season, you surely must have noticed that Harry's broom was acting oddly? He was nearly bucked off of it."

"Of course, how could I not notice? It had the whole school talking."

"Well, wouldn't it strike you as strange that an excellent flyer like Harry would be bucked from his broom? A broom that you gave to him and that was tested by the best Professors at Hogwarts to make sure that no curses or any other nefarious hexes could be placed on the broom? You yourself protected the broom, Minerva, so that no student could hex it."

"Well of course. We both know of plenty of students who would love to sabotage Gryffindor's chances for the Quidditch cup." Minerva cast a glance at the Quidditch cup that adored Severus' mantelpiece.

"What if I told you that it was not a student who tried to hex Harry off that broom but a teacher? Somebody we both look to teach the students the necessary defense skills?"

"Quirrell was the one responsible?" Minerva's voice was filled with outrage and Severus merely nodded. He glanced towards the door but there was no sound coming from Harry's room. He glared back at Minerva.

She was staring at him and finally said. "How can you be so sure, Severus? It is not like you to sabotage somebody like this…"

"Sabotage?!" This time it was his voice that rose as he leaned forward and hissed. "I felt his magic when he uttered the spell! I was sitting one row below him, Minerva! Do not dare to accuse me of discriminating against the Defense Professor! Many may be incompetent fools but Quirrell knows what he is talking about, despite the role he is playing!"

He took a deep breath before he shook his head and said. "Harry is in danger every day that that man walks these halls! As is that thing that the Headmaster insists on hiding in this school! Quirrell is up to something but I'll not let him harm Harry, over my dead body!"

"Can you supply the evidence for your claims, Severus? For if you can, I'll be one step behind you on the way to Albus' office." And as Severus smirked, he rose to get his pensive.

Hp

Albus Dumbledore was a cheerful man by nature. He had lived his life and he always liked to show to everybody what he gentle being he was. It didn't matter who stood before him or what he was faced with, Albus Dumbledore knew much from experience and he knew that not many people had the heart or the courage to stand up to him.

He knew he displayed a grandfatherly air with infinitive wisdom and an air of benevolence. His forgiveness had kept some of the worst Death Eaters indebbeted to him and Dumbledore knew when he planned to collect his dues.

But he had also been a man who made mistakes, least of all with the man that stood before him now, glowering down at him, Dumbledore's deputy Headmistress by his side. He smiled at them and waved his hand, inviting them to take a seat.

"Good morning, Severus, Minerva, what can I do for on this early but rather fine day?"

Albus was on his guard. In all his time as Headmaster he had experienced that Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape in the same room meant trouble. But if his experience was anything to go by then having them in the same room and agreeing with each other, it usually meant trouble for him. And this morning, with no glowers or glares aimed at each other, he knew that this rather fine morning was going to waste and quickly as well.

He smiled at them none the less and said, waving his wand. "Some tea and scones perhaps? I'm sure you must be hungry…"

"Only hungry for justice, Albus." Oh dear, Minerva was in a right mood. Albus wrecked his memory as he tried to think of what he had done this time to set the witch off.

"Right and what exactly would you like to have justice for, Minerva?"

Surely this can't still be about Harry. Harry is safe with Severus, I saw to it myself and the boy does look better now that he 's with somebody who looks after him. I had hoped that Petunia would have been ready to leave the past behind her and to have somebody there that reminded her of her beloved sister but I was wrong. I never knew that hatred could run so deep…

"What Professor McGonagall means, Headmaster, is that we have some concerns regarding the safety of the students and a certain object that I shall not mention by name that is hidden at this school?" Severus smoothly cut in. The younger Professor looked over at his colleague carefully but much to his dismay, Albus found that he couldn't read the look.

"I have told you before that the stone is safe…."

"I hope that it is safer than Harry Potter was during the first Quidditch match of the season." Severus muttered loud enough to be heard. Albus looked up. During the first Quidditch match he had been away. It had been young Harry's first time in a match and he had wanted to be present for it but Fudge had requested his presence at the Ministry and much to his regret he had not been able to go.

Of course he had heard the extordinary save that Harry managed and he had felt proud of the young Gryffindor. He refocused his attention on his Potions Master and he said.

"Whatever do you mean, Severus?"

"I mean that it wasn't an accident that nearly knocked Harry from his broom."

"You mean that he was hexed?" Albus found that he couldn't hide his dismay at this. Severus glowered at him and then leaned forward in his chair as he said. "Somebody we all known has recently undergone a great change…."

Albus sighed. He wished he could dismiss Severus like he had done last time but he knew he would make a powerful enemy of the man then if he did. Quirrell had taught Muggle Studies but he had taken a break to travel and expand his knowledge during the school year of 90/91.

The moment the soft spoken and intelligent young man returned to teach the DADA position they all knew that something had happened. Quirrell had been nervous and had developed a stutter. Many of the staff members had thought that something unpleasant may have happened to the young Professor but so far none had seemed to be able to talk to Quirrell about it.

Albus sighed and then said. "I've asked you to keep an eye on him, Severus…"

"Yet you would not allow me to do any more, Headmaster! The safety of not only the students but of the whole wizarding world could be at stake! This is not a case to take a simple gamble, Albus, not with the lives of innocent people! Who knows what could happen with the Philosopher Stone in the hands of Quirrell!"

"The stone is well protected, Severus. Very soon the final protection will be in place and nobody will be able to have accessto the stone that has wicked intentions…"

"Soon?!" Severus seemed to swell with rage and anger and for a brief moment, a very brief moment, Albus felt a flash of fear as he saw the young man rise out of his chair to slam his hands down on the desk as he hissed, giving Albus a view of the enraged black eyes. "You mean that the moment Quirrell tried to take the stone during Halloween while you were all in the dungeons trying to stop that troll, the stone was just lying there?"

"Now see here, Severus, the stone is protected by other forces…"

"Which do not stand a chance if Quirrell learned the dark arts from somebody who we know excel at them?" Severus sneered.

Albus sat forward in alarm as he said. "Severus, have you felt anything?"

The dark eyed man shot him a glare but shook his head before he looked away and softly said. "When he hexed Harry at the game, it took all of my power to keep the brat on his broom. There was a sensation that was faintly familiar in Quirrell's magic, a sensation that has never been present before. I'm telling you, Headmaster and I pray that you heed my warning, that man is not what he seems."

"But I cannot justify his removal to the Board without a solid reason and I'm sorry, Severus, I truly am but I cannot send away our Defense teacher in the middle of term on a hunch, you know how hard it is to find a new one." Albus was sorry; he really was, especially when he saw the way the thin lips pressed together in dismay at being dismissed once again.

He took a deep breath and said. "But I'll add extra protection to all the towers and to the castle in general that will be keyed to all remotely dark curses. It's the least I could do…"

"You could send the stone back to Nicolas Flames, Albus." Minerva had been silent for so long that Albus had nearly forgotten she was there. He turned to her.

"You know that Nicolas sent the stone here to be protected, Minerva…"

"That stone should be destroyed…"

"It is well protected, my dear…"

"We'll be the judge of that, Headmaster!" Severus said smoothly as he rose and dusted his robe off.

Albus was taken aback as he said. "What do you mean, Severus?"

"What I said, Headmaster. Minerva and myself will go through the hedge and test your so called protections and if we find them lacking or can come by the stone, you will remove it from the school this instance. It is not worth endangering the students over." The Potions Master said smoothly and with a sneer across his lips.

"Now, Severus, I cannot in good conscious let you do that…"

"On the contrary, Albus, you should encourage us. We can test your protections and thus when the Board comes calling why you have hidden this dangerous object in a school filled with young and vulnerable students you can tell them that you have witnesses who found your protection adequate. It is a win win situation. Of course we will not mention if the protection is lacking if you give us an oath to place the stone someplace else if we manage to acquire it."

"An oath?"

"Yes, a wizarding oath." And as Albus looked up he groaned when he realized that Minerva would have done very well as a Slytherin but the most despairing thing of all, they had him cornered so he reached for his wand and gave a nod. Some battles were not worth fighting if you couldn't win them.

Hp

"Mr. Potter…" Harry turned on his way to breakfast to find Professor Quirrell standing behind him. The Professor smiled at him and invited. "Would you…perhaps…be sssso kind of come with me. Mr. Potter?"

Harry looked around the corridor fleetingly, seeking an excuse before he finally said. "I was on my way to breakfast, sir. I can't be late because I won't make it to class in time. Can we not discuss this later or…?"

The DADA professor looked slightly disgruntled before he fixed a trembling smile to his face and said. "I wanted to ask you something…Mr….Potter…I have been thinking of starting up a special Defense club for the first year students and…with your expertise I'm sure that it would be well if you were to become the president…."

"Uhm, wow, sir, that would be…."

"A great honor, I imagine….why don't you come…by my office after class?" And as the Defense Professor smiled and left without awaiting Harry's answer, Harry stared after him. He had a funny feeling about this and it wasn't a good feeling, no, it was a feeling like something bad was about to happen.

Yes, I did it! I managed to finish writing it and got some ideas out of it as well, yay. Review of course and send some ideas please. Please send some ideas on how Lucius should go about trying to get Sirius out of the cell.

The next chapter: How does Harry feel about this new idea Professor Quirrell has? But when our young hero decides to share it with his friends will they agree it is wicked or sense trouble up ahead? And when Dumbledore summons an old ally and friend to the school to keep an eye on things will that agree with Severus and Minerva? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you for the reviews. I'm so sorry for the late update but I've been very busy lately with my day to day life. Anyway, let's begin.

The moment Quirrell disappeared around the corner, Harry shot away from the deserted corridor. He didn't want to remain here so he did the only thing that he could do and rushed into the Great Hall. His appetite had suddenly disappeared as he paced past the Ravenclaw and the Hufflepuff tables.

Quirrell seemed to have already eaten his breakfast as Harry cast a glance at the Staff Table. Snape was sitting next to Professor McGonagall and he was deep in conversation with her. Much to Harry's surprise Professor Dumbledore kept shooting glances at them, his bushy brows furrowed in contemplation.

"You're late, Harry. You really should learn to start eating on time and Ron also said that you weren't in your bed last night at all…" Harry rolled his eyes as he sat down in the empty seat in between Hermione and Neville. Ron was looking at him oddly but then his best friend shrugged at Harry as Hermione asked. "Where were you last night, Harry?"

"I was with Professor Snape. He let me stay over this night." Harry looked around at the well laden table but he just wasn't hungry. The run in with Quirrell had robbed him of all appetite. He glanced at the Slytherin table to see that Draco was simply staring ahead, sighing in a dramatic way as he played with his fork. Obviously the Malfoy heir was bored.

Seeing Harry look the older boy sat up straighter and looked at Harry, raising an eyebrow in question. Looking around Harry noticed that none of the other people seemed to watch him, except for Hermione and Ron so he beckoned to Draco and then pointed at the entrance door.

Draco gave a nod, telling Harry he understood. Harry turned back to Ron and Hermione. Hermione was staring at him, opening her mouth but before she could ask a question Ron leaned in and hissed. "Be quiet, Harry has got something to tell us, don't you mate?"

Relieved Harry nodded as he took a slice of toast. He could feel the dark eyes upon his head so he nibbled on it and whispered to his friends. "It is about Quirrell. He asked me something really strange when I came down to breakfast and I fear that he may be up to something…"

"But what does that have to do with Malfoy?" Ron sounded just a little bit put out and Harry rolled his eyes as he said.

"You do remember that he saved Hermione right? Look, Draco is a nice guy, really and besides, with this…" Harry looked around to see if anybody was watching him and listening in as he said. "…with this stone business it is important that we need all the help we can get. Draco's dad is a high placed man and even Professor Snape says that he is very influential. We need to know what's so funny about Quirrell so let's just meet in the abandoned classroom down the charms corridor. I'll go first with Draco and you follow us, okay? Just make sure that nobody sees us. The last thing we need is for one of the Professors to start snooping."

Harry rose from the table as he took a sip from his pumpkin juice. He glanced towards the Staff Table but Snape wasn't paying attention to him and Harry slipped away from the table without anybody noticing. Draco glanced at him and barely a moment later the Slytherin had risen as well, quickly speaking to his friends to help them settle down before he was a step behind Harry.

Harry quickly exited the room, followed closely by Draco. Harry turned when he was in the Entrance Hall and said. "Come on, there is an abandoned classroom down in the charms corridor. We can talk there and everybody will fit…"

And as Harry started down the corridor, he grinned as he heard Draco call behind him. "What are you talking about, everybody will fit?

Hp

"So let me get this straight, Quirrell asked you to become president of the Defense Club?" Ron's disbelief sounded in his voice as his best friend stared at Harry. They were sitting down in the abandoned classroom. They had pulled up chairs and sat down in a circle.

Hermione looked put out that she hadn't been asked to be a president but before she could say something Ron said. "But isn't that good?"

"No." Draco said sharply even before Harry could answer. Ron stared at him and the Slytherin leaned forward as he said. "Something is causing the professors to worry; I mean why are they so adamant about us not going into the corridor…"

"Because there is a big three headed dog standing guard, that's why." Draco stared at Harry, his mouth opening before Ron cut in.

"Fred and George say that the professors always worry about something. I know that McGonagall was worried during the Quidditch match when Snape was cursing Harry…."

"It wasn't Snape!" Ron looked a little bit frazzled as he noticed that Harry and Draco had spoken together. Harry glanced at Draco before Harry turned to Hermione and asked. "You said that you pushed Quirrell away when you sat Snape's cloak on fire, right?"

Hermione merely nodded. Harry chewed on his lip before he said. "Professor Snape told me that he was protecting me. I know that it would be strange why Quirrell would try to harm me but I'm sure that there is a reason. I don't trust him in the slightest and now that he wants me to come to his office after class so that we can discuss the club, I just…it is unsettling."

Harry chewed on his lip again as he glanced around the circle. Draco and Hermione both had matching contemplating expressions while Ron looked horrified. "He could harm you right there and tell everybody that it was an accident."

Harry nodded and finally Draco said. "Perhaps if somebody were to go with you. You could have told us about the idea and as a member of a different house it would be beneficial for the student body that I was present during this meeting."

Ron stared at Draco but then Hermione said. "That is a brilliant idea. It is much safer to have another student present than to have a teacher there. We could discover something about Quirrell that will give us an idea of what he is up to and then we can go and tell Professor Snape."

"But why can't Hermione or I go? Why does he have to go?" Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes as he said.

"Don't you think that it may look a little bit suspicious if you and Hermione were to join me? We're all Gryffindors so it would be easier if Draco came with me because he is from a different house. We could say that Draco was interested in becoming co president with me." Harry's eyes narrowed.

Sometimes he couldn't believe that Ron could be jealous of his starting friendship with Draco but it did seem to be the case. Harry wondered why. He knew that Ron didn't like Draco because of what had happened the first night they had come to Hogwarts but Harry thought that Draco had proved himself when he had saved Hermione.

"How do you know that Professor Snape would never harm Harry?" Hermione's question was a good one even when Harry could feel the need to defend his guardian taking shape but he wasn't going to say anything. He could still clearly remember yesterday when he had seen Snape lose control and only because he had been afraid that Harry was going to leave him.

Didn't the Professor understand that he was the best thing that had ever happened to Harry? Harry would never leave Professor Snape willingly. Why would he want to live someplace else than at Hogwarts? And if the Professor was going to live someplace else Harry was going to go with him, which was for sure.

"Professor Snape is my godfather." Draco's answer was simply and immediately Ron's eyes travelled back to the grey eyes. Draco's eyes held Ron's but Ron didn't back down once before he said.

"How can you be so certain that Snape wouldn't harm Harry?"

"Because his position as a Potions Master and Dumbledore's trust means everything to Professor Snape." Draco's voice didn't rise once but it seemed to Harry that the older male grew taller as Ron stared at him and finally Ron said.

"Well and no doubt it will be in the guardian papers. Snape would be foolish to try and harm Harry. Why else would he claim guardianship over Harry while all he had to do if he wanted to harm Harry was to let him remain with his relatives? Even Snape wouldn't go to such lengths to try and ensure protection and then try to harm Harry. Everybody would know immediately that he had done it. No, somebody is after Harry and it isn't Snape."

"Look, as interesting as this is, we're going to be late for Potions." Hermione ushered them all out into the corridor and Harry stifled a groan. The last thing he needed was to be late for the class of his guardian, especially when he had left in time and Snape had seen him leave. He looked at Draco, glad to have at least somebody there who was going to go with him to Quirrell, because he knew without a doubt that Quirrell was more dangerous than he looked.

Hp

"Alright, class, settle down. Before you start to brew the potion that I have outlined for you today, there is something that I wish to discuss in regards to your homework for the upcoming week. Next week we are going to brew a special potion. I'm sure that most of you have familiars such as owls, cats or toads." His lips curled in a sneer at the very mentioning of toads and he could see the Longbottom boy turn a nasty red color.

Toads were not altogether worthless though but Severus had never liked them. Familiars were supposed to be a proper symbol of status and power. Owls and cats were very useful. When Severus had first attended Hogwarts he had not been able to afford a familiar except for the old family owl and he had often sneered at it, even when it had been useful to send letters to his mother.

Later, when he was a potions student he had bought his very own owl, a huge eagle owl that had large black wings. Toth was still with him today, serving him faithfully even when she was getting awfully old and napped most of the time in the school's owlery.

Severus allowed his eyes to drift through the classroom. The Slytherin students were off on one side and the Gryffindors were on the other side of the dungeon. Harry's messy head could be seen behind Granger's bushy hair but his ward was paying attention to Severus.

Even Weasley was paying attention and Severus lowered his voice slightly as he began the other part of the lecture. He had learned early enough that if he wanted to keep the attention of the students it sometimes worked to speak a little bit softer so they had to focus to hear him and to understand what was going on.

"The Potion we are going to be making in the next few lessons is not a particular hard one. For the next lesson you will have studied this potion. You will also bring along something that belongs to your familiar, such as feathers, hairs, nails, a tooth or whatever you can find. Mind you that the potion will only work correctly if you add something that belongs to your familiar."

As Severus had predicted Granger's hand rose and he pointed at her, nodding as she asked in a breathless voice. "Bur, sir what is the potion used for?"

"I was getting to that, Miss Granger if you had let me finish before asking your questions. The use of this potion is simply to see how strong the relationship between the familiar and his or her wizard or witch is. As you all know, magical familiars have a very strong bond with their owners and it is beneficial for the development of the familiar' skills and the bond between his or her owner that the bond between them can be strengthened. For most new familiars the bond is not very strong yet but it matures through the years and the more time the familiar and the owner spend together the more the bond deepens and grows."

Severus walked through the room as he lectured and continued. "We all know the benefits of having familiars, such as in the case of owls they can deliver letters but there are even certain acts of magic that can be accomplished by having familiars around. Animagi, the few wizards who have developed the skill to transform into an animal, find it often helpful to have a familiar around because it helps them to focus and to get in touch with their animal nature."

"Familiars are partners and they can aid in spell work. Many times a familiar will guard his or her wizard or witch and thus such a bond should not be taken lightly. Next week you will bring your familiar to class with you. I will cast an appropriate charm beforehand to protect them from danger and then we will administer the correctly brewed potion and see how strong the bond is between familiar and wizard or witch."

Severus looked at the class. Most of the students were listening to him with rapt attention and he fought his smirk. It was good to see that they were paying attention. An incorrectly brewed potion would not harm the familiar but it would simply not work the way it was supposed to. Severus gave a nod when Dean Thomas, a Muggleborn if he wasn't mistaken raised his hand.

"Sir, why is the bond between a wizard and his familiar so important? I take it that they aren't like just regular pets."

Severus held up his hands as his Slytherins cried out in outrage. He shot a glare towards them, before saying. "Not all students are familiar with the bond between a wizard or a witch and the familiar and they should not be blamed for it. Now settle down or I'll dock points. To answer your question, Mr. Thomas, no, familiars are not like regular pets, though I'm not surprised that you would ask such a question. Familiars are not simply picked out by a wizard or witch but the familiar must bond with the wizard or witch as well. Familiars, unlike pets have a high level of conscious and intelligence. They will often grow older than non magical pets. Familiars often act as intermediary for his or her wizard. Familiars are to be given respect because once a bond is established, it cannot be broken."

Severus' dark eyes sought out the eyes of the Gryffindor but he saw the Thomas boy nod. He could see how Harry sat up and he suppressed a thin lipped smile. It wouldn't be surprising that Harry would like this potion.

"If there are no further questions, then I want you to start by reading the chapter on the potion. The next class we will start to brew the potion and next week I want you all to take your familiars with you. Now, I'm going to send a parchment around the classroom on which you will write your name and what kind of animal your familiar is. We may have to divide the class concerning how many owls or cats we have."

"Yeah, I don't want my Scabbers near any cat." Severus' lips curled into a sneer as he saw the tell tale signs of redness that could only mean that Weasley had spoken out of turn again.

He left the desk, bearing down upon the youngest Weasley son as he snapped, coldly since he hated being interrupted in class. "And pray tell, what is a scabbers?"

Weasley flushed again and Severus ignored the venomous glare Harry was sending him before Weasley stammered. "It is my rat, sir."

Severus' lip curled again as he leaned down and breathed. "Yes, it would be a shame if he were to end up as cat food. You may bring him in together with Mr. Longbottom's toad and we'll see what we can make of the pair of you."

Severus ignored Harry's look as something tingled in the back of his mind, something that was telling him that he had heard of this before but he couldn't imagine what it could possibly be. He rose, striding to the front of the classroom as with a wave of his hand he send the students to work.

Taking in a moment to allow himself to remember, he strained to try and remember what it was that was bothering him but the memory kept escaping him, like a half forgotten dream and Severus dismissed it, he could dwell on it later, when the time was right and he settled on the desk, intent on watching the class work.

Hp

"Enter." Harry tried to smile at Draco when they stood outside of the Defense classroom. He wrung his hands nervously before Draco smacked his hand lightly and hissed, leaning in closer, the grey eyes scanning to see if anybody could hear them. "Stop that! Never show an enemy you're nervous!"

Harry could only nod. He took a deep breath and then forced a smile to his face. Honestly, he had never been afraid of Quirrell before but something about that man was making him feel uncomfortable. He summoned all his courage and opened the door, being the first to step in with Draco following.

Quirrell was sitting behind his desk, the office looking very much the same as the DADA classroom, boring and dark. Harry stepped into the office, trying to look like he was excited to be here and not nervous like hell as his hand twitched towards his wand.

The Professor smiled, the sight eerie on the pale face. Quirrell didn't look so good at all, he looked thin and pale and there was sweat on his brow. The eyes gleamed strangely as they beheld Harry and they looked almost eager, something Harry didn't like at all. The thin lips curled into a smirk and in the dim light Quirrell looked a little bit evil.

The candles flashed for a moment and Harry was sure that he saw a flash of red in the eyes and he shivered. Merlin, I'm very glad that I decided not to come alone. Quirrell looks far too eager and I doubt that it is because of the upcoming club.

Quirrell's clothes were strangely rumpled like he had been fighting with somebody and Harry stepped in further as he forced a smile to his face. It felt as unnatural as the athompshere in the room.

"Ah, Mr. Potter, how good of you to be on time. Do come in…" Much to Harry's surprise, Quirrell didn't stutter once. He frowned, was the man really so nervous around large crowds and he spoke normal in private? He would have to ask Snape if he had learned the same thing.

"Yes, sir, I hope that you don't mind but it seemed that Draco Malfoy overheard us talking and he wanted to come with me to see you and to discuss the president ship of this club. He doesn't believe that I have what it takes to be a president."

"My exact words, were, Potter that just because you defeated a Dark Lord as a child, doesn't mean that you still have your skill. Perhaps it was merely some form of luck that helped you. No, what the Professor really needs is somebody who has the expertise and who has been taught since childhood how to protect himself against the Dark Arts."

Harry glanced back at their teacher and for a moment he imagined that he saw an expression of fury cross the Defense Professor's face. He blinked and when he looked again Quirrell was already gesturing for them to enter as he said. "Mr. Malfoy, I believed that you did not like Defense. You have barely managed to stay awake in my class or you are too busy with other things."

Harry walked towards the chairs that had been pulled out. He could feel Draco bump in him from behind and the youngest Malfoy said. "I'm merely trying to help, Professor. Potter isn't that special that he should be the one to be president when there are so much better candidates out there."

"Well, perhaps the club and the students would most benefit from two presidents or no…that is too dangerous but it is a much better idea. It would be a most excellent idea that on the first day there will be a duel between the two of you and we will see your skill and who is best suited to be president of the Defense Club. And then the winner will get to face me."

There was a very eager gleam in Quirrell's eyes and Harry didn't like it at all. It made him feel uncomfortable and he knew without a doubt that facing Quirrell was the worst thing he could do.

Perhaps Draco sensed it because he drawled. "Perhaps it would be fairer if you were to face off against another Professor, sir. I know that Professor Snape is an excellent duelist so perhaps you can show the club how to duel first and then Harry and I will go next."

The same fury Harry had seen earlier appeared on Quirrell's face for a brief moment and Harry was sure that Draco must have seen it as well but then there was a change. A look of calculation descended over the pale face and Quirrell said. "That is an excellent idea. I'm sure that Severus would be keen to fight me. He is easily one of the best duelists here at this school."

Harry gulped. He opened his mouth; he didn't want Severus to face off against Quirrell. He knew without a doubt that something wasn't quite right with the older wizard, something sinister. He suddenly wished that they could leave.

Quirrell seemed lost in himself as he drew up a parchment and a quill to write upon, completely forgetting about the two boys in the room. Quirrell was muttering to himself, all traces of a nervous teacher and a stuttering man completely gone as he listed idea after idea and spell after spell he could show the Defense Club.

Harry glanced at Draco to see that the Slytherin had paled considerably and was feeling like Harry was feeling, nervous. Harry opened his mouth but Draco shook his head firmly, his sharp eyes never missing anything as they flew over the paper that Quirrell was writing upon.

"Sir, do you still have need of us? Professor McGonagall gave us quite a lot of homework…"

"Oh, no dear boy, you can stay here. We have so much more to chat about." The voice that came from Quirrell's lips was so different, pitched lower and sneering with a sickening sweet quality to it that didn't fool Harry in the slightest, that he was taken aback that such a voice could come from Quirrell.

It seemed like another person had taken over inside Quirrell's mind as his teacher fixed the two first years with a stare that spoke of a far greater intelligence than Quirrell had ever displayed. He recoiled, not even pretending anymore that he was comfortable with this visit.

Quirrell rose and stretched, like he hadn't been able to do before. Much like a sleeper from a very long sleep and he was getting used to his own body again. He came around the desk and purred, his voice deep and rich and almost hypnotizing. "Oh no, I have a lot of questions for you, Harry Potter! Such as how is it possible that a mere babe escapes with his life while the greatest wizard of all times loses his body and all his power? Do tell me, boy…."

There was a strange gleam in the sudden dark eyes and Harry pushed himself back in his chair as far back as he could. Quirrell kept coming closer and closer and there was a sharp twitch in Harry's scar which made his eyes water. He managed to stop himself from raising his hand and rubbing at it.

There was a wicked smile on Quirrell's lips and as the older wizard raised his wand and he looked into Harry eyes, the first muttering of a spell on his lips…"Legi…"at that moment the floo flared and Dumbledore's welcoming voice called out.

"Quirinus, would you be so kind to join me for a chat? We have something very important to discuss."

An expression of intense rage and hatred passed over Quirrell's face and Harry recoiled before the Professor turned and stuttered. "Bbbut of course, Headmmmmaster. Can….it not wait?"

"I'm sorry, my dear boy but no. Ah you have got company. Why don't you send these students on their way? I'm sure that they have got plenty of homework to do."

Quirrell glanced back at Harry and Draco and then nodded, following Dumbledore through the fireplace. Harry had never been so glad in his life as he and Draco fled the office, intent on seeking their friends out.

Hp

"Ah, Severus, what are you doing here?" Severus rolled his eyes up towards the ceiling as he forced a pleasant expression to his face. It wasn't Minerva's fault that the Headmaster had decided to call them at the most inconvenient time.

"What do you suppose that he will want now? If he is already expecting results then he is even more senile then normal." Severus grumbled but Minerva merely smiled at him as she whispered the password so the gargoyle leaped aside.

"I'm sure that isn't the case, Severus. He can't expect results so soon. I'm sure he has called us here to impart something important."

Gryffindors define important very differently than Slytherins. Important for me right now is that I can attend to my potions because with chasing Quirrell around, supervising my detentions, supervising Harry and all my grading, there isn't much time for much else, especially if we are trying to protect the stone. I suppose that I was lucky that I could delegate the task of trying to convince Fudge to reopen certain trials to Lucius. It isn't like he has much better to do with his time.

Severus fixed his expression in a suitable scowl and then stalked into the room after Minerva. His entrance was ruined however by an unexpected visitor. His eyes widened as he spat, turning on his heel. "What is he doing here?"

His lip curled in the familiar hateful sneer at the sight of Lupin, sitting cozy in the chair Severus usually occupied, sipping tea. He may be working together with Lupin to protect Harry from Quirrell but that didn't mean that he wanted Dumbledore to know what he was up to with the old wolf.

He gave Lupin another hateful sneer for good measure, and because it relieved him a little bit of his frustration and then went to stand next the chair Lupin occupied, staring at it darkly. He wondered if it would send the coolheaded werewolf fidgeting yet as Dumbledore poured Minerva the tea she had requested.

"Is there something you wanted, Severus?"

"Yes, for you to get out of my chair, Lupin." He snarled.

"Now, Severus do not be childish. That chair does not belong to you but if you like it so much then I'll give you one for your birthday, a similar one…"

"I do not see your name on it anywhere." Lupin was calm but he ignored Dumbledore as he glanced back at Severus. The dark eyes narrowed dangerously, a sure sign that the temperamental potions master was going to lose his temper and he stepped forward and jabbed a finger in Lupin's chest roughly as he hissed.

"That is because, unlike in your animal form, you are blind as a bat! When I say that you need to get out of my chair then I mean it. Conjure one of your own! This one is mine, I was here first."

He heard a loud sigh and then a softly muttered. "Perhaps this was a mistake…" Severus glanced up sharply at Dumbledore but the older wizard was too busy to shake his head at his desk.

"Perhaps I should conjure you a new chair, Severus?"

"If you think you're capable, Lupin, then be my guest. But mind you, it better be nicer than the one you're sitting in."

Lupin rolled his eyes but Severus ignored it. He had been lying to Lupin to be frank. The chair Lupin was sitting in didn't really belong to Severus. It was the chair he usually occupied but not because he had chosen to do so. The chair was uncomfortable, a chair that students could sit it when they had to visit the Headmaster because they were in trouble. Severus had only chosen that chair at the first meeting because all the other chairs had been taken and ever since then it had been a habit because the chair was closest to the door and he could easily leave once the meeting was finished, that was if Dumbledore didn't call him back.

It was a moment later that Lupin had managed to produce a chair, and a very nice chair at that. It was a dark leather one, one that Severus took to immediately and he gave Lupin a nod as he declared. "Adequate, Lupin."

"That is more than adequate, Remus, that is a very impressing piece of magic. However did you manage to conjure this chair from midair?"

"I didn't conjure it. I simply used one of my buttons to transfigure it." Lupin looked away for a moment, two spots of pink in his gaunt cheeks before he looked back at Minerva and said. "I've a lot more experience with transfiguration now than I had back in my schooldays. Furniture is spare when you do not have a job and sometimes it is far easier to transfigure something then to try and wait until you have earned the money."

Silence fell heavily between them and finally Dumbledore looked at Severus with that damable twinkle in his eyes as he said. "Now if Severus sits down then we can get down to business. Though I suppose that I should offer you all tea first or perhaps sherbet lemon anybody?"

Severus shook his head firmly as he held up a hand. He had no taste for tea or anything else. Dumbledore beamed around at everybody and waited expectantly until Severus sat down. Severus sat down with remarkable slowness. He for one hadn't forgotten Lupin's mischievous streak.

But nothing happened and he crossed his long legs out in front of him, gesturing for Albus to continue. Albus twinkled at him and Severus scowled before Albus steepled his fingers together and said, regarding them all over half moon spectacles.

"I have asked Remus to come here today because I believe that he can be of good use here. We all know of the item that is hidden in this school and we all know that it is in danger. Now, Severus and Minerva have agreed to test my security in protecting the Stone…."

"And what about protecting the students? You have done a very dangerous thing in allowing the stone to be put away at Hogwarts! You know that the existence here would attract the attention of somebody who wants it! It somebody is powerful enough to break into Gringrots then they would also easily deflect the things you put up to guard it."

Severus was amazed by Lupin's venomous glare and speech but he smiled despite himself at seeing Dumbledore recoil. Really, the old coot deserved it. Lupin seethed for a moment as Dumbledore softly said. "That is the reason why I've called you here today, Remus. I know your expertise in dealing with the Dark Arts and it seems that our poor Defense teacher is having some difficulties with the course work. I do think that it would be best if I were to hire an assistant for the poor man."

Dear Circe that is positively Slytherin of the old man. And it looks like Lupin has caught on. I do wonder what Quirrell will say about this.

"But that do poses the question, Headmaster, what will we do on a full moon? Lupin or the students are far from safe and while I would applaud if Quirrell were to be eaten by a werewolf I do not think it will be good for Lupin's digestive system. Perhaps he will benefit from the Wolf's Bane potion."

Lupin turned to regard Severus, his lined face filled with questions before he said. "Would you consent to brewing the Wolf's Bane potion for me, Severus?"

Severus' lip curled as he said. "Don't kid yourself that I'm doing it for you, Lupin! I'm doing it to protect the students I've sworn to protect and to protect Harry. You will not set foot in my chambers and see my ward unless you have taken that potion. Is that understood?"

Dumbledore sputtered, as did Minerva but Severus paid them no heed. He met Lupin's gaze and the wolf locked eyes with him before he answered, nodding. "Of course, Severus. I did not expect anything less from you. I shall come by next week to collect the first batch."

"Yes, do so. Owl me when you wish to come by. Now, if you'll excuse me, Headmaster, I have a difficult potion to brew and I doubt that you will need my help with Quirrell. I will see you later, Minerva. Until next week, Lupin."

And with the prospect of brewing a challenging potion, Severus swept from the office.

Hp

"I'm sorry but the Minister cannot see anybody at this moment." The bored young witch behind the desk didn't even glance up as Lucius approached. The blond wizard raised a delicate eyebrow as he drawled.

"If you would actually look up, you would know that he will want to see me, regardless of how busy he is. I only funded most of his campaign."

"Oh, Mr. Malfoy, but of course! I'll go see if the Minister is available to receive you, shall I?"

"Yes, why don't you?" Lucius knew that his most charming smile and the prospect of money could persuade anybody, especially dimwitted members of the opposite sex. He tapped his cane on the floor arithmetically.

"Ah, Lucius, my good man, come in, come in. What can I do for you? Would you care for some tea or for something stronger perhaps?" Lucius followed Cornelius Fudge into his luxurious office. The office was equipped with a big executive desk; a big chair that Lucius was sure was too big for Fudge and a nice view of the Thames.

"I'm fine, Cornelius. This will only take a few minutes, I'm sure. Now, I have something of the uttermost importance to discuss with you."

Fudge glanced at him, looking odd without his normal hat on. Fudge was a small man, a bit rounded but a friendly sort of fellow. Somebody, Lucius decided, who rather sits behind the desk and tries to weasel his way out of everything than to fight at the front line.

Fudge favored him with a smile and Lucius sneered. Why had he supported this man again? Perhaps Severus was right; it was up to the Slytherins to influence the important people in this world. He merely waited for Fudge to sit down before he began to speak.

He busied himself by brushing the dust from his impeccable robes. When Fudge was seated Lucius crossed his legs and said. "It has come to my attention then you have been neglecting your duties as a member of the Wizengamot. I do understand that in the dark days after the fall of He Who Must Not Be Named you had other things on your mind than a trial, but I was surprised when I found out that you neglected to give the last surviving member of a respected and established pure blood house a fair trial."

Fudge looked taken aback as he sputtered. "Whatever are you talking about, Lucius?"

"I'm talking about Sirius Black of course! I was looking into the old Death Eater trials and you never once sent the boy to trial…"

"The evidence was overwhelming to be honest. There were witnesses, muggles who swore that they saw Black killing Peter Pettigrew. How could I send him to a trial after that? No, it is better that it ended this way, just quietly and no fuss at all."

"No fuss, huh? Have you even heard of the latest development regarding Harry Potter? No, I suppose you have not. Harry Potter has been removed from his muggle residence and placed under the temporary guardianship of Severus Snape. The grounds were that the poor boy was abused by his muggle relatives and Dumbledore never once looked in on the boy. Now as you know very well, Sirius Black is Potter's godfather and since my wife was a Black before she became a Malfoy we are the only family the boy has left. I have already taken this up with Dumbledore but I must insist that you reopen Black's trial or at least look into his documents with your fellow members of the Wizengamot. I have got good reason to believe that Black was never one of You Know Who's inner circle."

"But why would I do such a thing, Lucius? You have always advised me against raising these issues so why are you advising me now?"

"Well, look at it this way, Minister, if you are the one who gets an innocent Black out of prison he may be so very grateful that he will use some of his money to fund your next campaign. It is just a thought but as you know very well, I merely make suggestions and nothing more."

Lucius rose as he hid his smirk. Really, Fudge was too easy. The man was all about money and power and his eyes had grown even larger now than they were before at the mentioning of the Black family money.

"I'm sure that I'll hear from you soon, Minister."

"Of course, of course, Lucius." Fudge waved him out absentmindedly and Lucius knew that without a doubt he had succeeded. He smiled at himself, giving the witch his most charming smile, it was almost too easy but that also made it fun.

I hope yo u liked it. I know it may be a little bit short but this was all I could be bothered to make since my writer's block returned and my time isn't my own at the moment. Yes, being in the final year of college sucks. Review please and tell me what you think?

The next chapter: Remus returns to Hogwarts for his potion but will our handsome werewolf get more than he bargained for or has he come just at the right time? Our first year potions students are getting excited because of the Familiar Bond potion but will everything go as planned or will the potion reveal some nasty secrets? And Sirius gets a surprise when an unlikely person comes to visit him in Azkaban. That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you so much for the reviews. Yes, I know, terrible long time since I updated and I apologize for that. Not going to make excuses that I was very busy, which I was but I'm back now. So let's begin. Oh yeah, I'm on facebook just in case anybody is curious. Just send me a message and I'll send you my name there.

"So Harry, d' you think Scabbers will actually react to this potion?" Ron peered at the fat, grey rat he held in his hands. Scabbers was fast asleep, like that is a surprise, Harry thought. He looked up at Ron, who was busy staring at his rat. Tomorrow Ron and Neville were going to go first with the bonding potion they had been brewing all last week in class. Harry had loved to brew this potion, it was the first time he ever had any fun in brewing and even Snape seemed to have been more relaxed.

Harry sighed. Potions may have been brilliant but that had been the only thing so far. Harry had only seen his guardian in the classroom because Snape had been extremely busy with some delicate potion he couldn't use Harry's help for. It wasn't for lack of trying however since Harry had wanted to talk to Snape about the Defense Club. Rumors had begun to spread about Quirrell's club but Harry hadn't had the time yet to talk to Snape about what he knew.

He chewed on his lip. He wondered what Quirrell made of it now that Remus was going to help him in class. The corridors had buzzed with rumors about a showdown between Dumbledore and Quirrell when the news was delivered about Remus but Harry hadn't see anything to suggest such a thing in class. Sure, Quirrell was looking paler by the day and he was back to muttering to himself, jumping at shadows and even glaring at Remus. Though that didn't even seem as remotely as sinister as the suppressed triumph on Quirrell's face. It made him look quite scary, so Harry was now back to having nightmares.

"I'm sure he will. It will be interesting to see…" Harry began before Ron cut him off and said his eyes wide.

"But what if he don't bond with me. He has been in my family for ages and he was Percy's rat first. What if he prefers Percy instead of me…?"

"The potion isn't designed to show that. It just shows the strength of the bond between you but that is all." Harry turned on his bed to stare at Hermione. The witch smiled at him as she placed the stack of books she was holding in her arms on an empty bed. The moment Snape had announced what potion they were going to brew, Hermione had disappeared, as predicted, to the library, only returning late at night after dinner to do her homework dragging a book bag full of books with her that Harry swore changed every time he saw his friend.

By Ron's expression Harry was glad that he wasn't the only one who didn't understand what Hermione had said. She sighed, smiled, shook her head and then said. "It shows a connection between you and your familiar and then it will show a color. The color will indicate how close you are. It is really interesting how this potion works…"

The moment Hermione began to lecture Harry tuned her out. It may be impolite but he had other things to worry about. How was he going to warn Snape about Quirrell's plan? He needed to explain it. He needed to see his guardian and be reassured. Surely Snape would tell him he had done alright. He had been stressing about it all week long but Snape had kept busy with that important potion and Harry hadn't dared to set foot in the dungeon after the last time his guardian had snapped at him. Harry had rethreaded. He knew Snape didn't mean to snap at him but Harry still wanted to talk to Snape.

The older wizard barely even mentioned Sirius anymore or anything else. Harry drew circles on his duvet and finally he couldn't take it anymore as he stammered, ignoring that he was cutting Hermione off. "I'm sorry but I've got to go and talk to Severus…"

"But Harry, why?" Hermione glanced at him.

"I have to tell him about Quirrell. I have to warn him. "And without even looking back, Harry hurried away, finally making up his mind to go and talk to his guardian and this time, he wouldn't be dismissed.

Hp

It was close to curfew but Harry didn't let that discourage him. It felt good to finally make up his mind. He encountered fewer students the closer he got to the dungeons and taking a deep breath, he took the last few steps into the dimly lit corridor that led to Snape's office and his private chambers. He wondered if Snape could be in his office but lately the older wizard had been very busy with brewing so the chances were high that the Professor was in his private lab.

Making up his mind Harry decided to try that first. He walked the few steps necessary into Snape's office, remembering to knock only seconds before but when he received no answer he walked in. The fire was roaring but Harry could tell that Snape hadn't been here in a few hours since the office was too tidy. He walked to the door that appeared out of nowhere. The wards must have recognized him because normally there was not a door on that wall. Harry eagerly opened the door, taking caution in case somebody was going to shout at him.

No shouting greeted him but the soft bubbling of a cauldron and soft conversation as only Snape could manage.

"Damn it, Lupin, I said dice, not cut up roughly. How you ever managed to scrape an OWL in Potions is beyond me." Harry stood in the doorway and he surveyed the room. It was similar to the potions classroom with long tables and different sized cauldrons that stood on the desk and on the floor. Shelves lined the walls and there were various stools standing around. The room was at least as big as the potions classroom. Harry's attention shifted when a low laugh reached his ears. He looked to the right of the door and found Remus standing behind a table, a wooden board in front of him with ingredients on it and a knife in his hand that he used to chop deftly.

Snape was standing on the other end of the table, in front of a big cauldron. The Professor was snarling and scowling into his cauldron as he stirred. Harry wondered if Snape had seen him. Snape had shed his robes and was wearing dark trousers and a long apron that seemed to be made of some kind of leather. Harry wondered how to announce his presence when he glanced back at Remus. The older man smiled and winked at him and then said.

"Well, Severus, perhaps you would have Harry do it then if I'm so bad at it. I always thought that it was like cooking…"

"Potions is not like cooking at all! Have you eaten dog chow Lupin, that you mistake the delicate art of potions making of throwing whatever one has in their home into a pan and simply lit a fire underneath that!" Snape's eyes had narrowed and Harry had to strain his ears to hear the next bit as the Potions Master murmured. "Harry knows more about potions than you do."

He glanced back at Remus to find that the sharp eyed man had heard the comment as well and a gentle smile curved the full lips as the werewolf said. "Well, then why don't you allow Harry to help you?"

"I'm not going to pluck the boy from his dormitory and from some much needed sleep simply to get him to come and help me with a potion."

"Oh I doubt you need to pluck Harry from anywhere. He came on his own." Snape's head snapped up and to the door to where Harry was standing. Harry swallowed thickly as he saw the dark eyes narrow and the thin lips press together in a tight line before Snape marched over to tower over him and said.

"You should be in bed!"

"But it is important…"

"So important that it cannot wait till morning?"

Harry shook his head, sending unruly hair flying as he said. "I wanted to tell you all week but you kept dismissing me. I really need to tell you."

"Harry, tomorrow is a long day and the first time that we are going to test the bonding potion, I need to get this finished and bottled so it can cool off and then I need to retire so I can have my wits about me…."

"I think that you should listen to what Harry has to say, Severus. It is obviously important." Snape shot a glare Remus' way but the older wizard merely went back to whatever he was doing.

Snape closed his eyes and took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose with potions stained fingers before he said. "Very well. But you will make yourself useful while you tell me what is on your mind. Come along, it is time that I teach you this anyway."

Happy and relieved, Harry followed Snape to a chair next to the cauldron the Professor used. He pulled himself up on the stool and waited until Snape gave him some instructions to pull the roots away and clean a plant the name of which he couldn't remember. Snape went back to stirring the cauldron as he asked. "Now what was so important that it couldn't wait?"

Harry took a deep breath and said. "Professor Quirrell is going to open a duel club."

"Yes, I have heard that. Surely you didn't come here all the way just to tell me that…"

"But he wants me to help him!" Harry blurted out. "He said so himself! He asked for me and Draco to come and I'm sure that he wants to duel you. He wants me to be his assistant and he will hurt me and…"

There was a splash and a flash as somebody waved their wand. A wave of heat passed over Harry, making him wince and then strong hands lifted him off the chair and onto the table a little bit further. Harry looked up to find Remus standing in front of him and somebody was cursing. Upon closer inspection it seemed to be Snape as Harry looked around Remus to find that his guardian was waving his wand and mopping up the spilled liquid. After a moment Snape stepped away and made his way over to where Harry was sitting.

"That potion is ruined. I'll start afresh in a moment but first we are going to have a long chat, Mr. Potter and you'll tell me exactly what Quirrell said to you."

Snape pulled a chair back and sat down, raising an eyebrow at seeing Harry sitting on the table before he pulled another stool back and Harry slid down from the table. "Well, I'm sure you can handle things from here, Severus. I shall return for my potion then tomorrow."

"Yes, yes, Lupin, come by in the last five minutes before the lunch begins. There are some details I still have to go over with you and this way, I'm most likely to discourage any brats from lingering after class asking annoying questions."

"Oh, that is your first year class, isn't it? What potion are you going to teach them tomorrow?" Snape rolled his eyes but Harry answered, ignoring the glower that was aimed at him.

"We're going to be testing the bonding potion on our familiars. It is going to be great…Ron and Neville are going to go first and…"

"That will be all from you, Mr. Potter. I thank you very much for your wonderful attitude towards sharing." The stern hand on top of his head made Harry stay silent. He really hoped he hadn't angered his guardian. He glanced up through his lashes at the other man but Snape was focused on Remus and finally Snape snarled.

"Oh very well, of course you may come and look, Lupin. I didn't know that your memory had decayed that much that you cannot even remember studying this potion in our OWL class but very well. I suppose I could always use another pair of hands to help contain mayhem."

"Alright then, Severus. I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Sure, I'll find something useful for you to do." Snape shook his head when he caught Harry's look and then raised a stern eyebrow. The older wizard waited for the door to fall shut and then he said, crossing his arms over his chest and fixing Harry with a glare. "Well, Mr. Potter, begin your tale."

Hp

Severus resisted the urge to snap at Harry and tell the brat to get a move on. Harry sat curled up in his chair, the very picture of being uncomfortable. Harry glanced up through his fringe and Severus raised an eyebrow.

The younger wizard fidgeted on his chair for a moment before he began to speak. The tale surprised Severus greatly. True, he had heard Quirrell boasting about the club but it had never occurred to him that this would be the way the Defense Professor was going to go after Harry [?]. So Quirrell intended to take him out in front of the school in a battle, did he? Severus' mouth set in a thin line, they would need another plan.

Who was he kidding? They had no plan. No plan at all. This could all so easily backfire. Severus knew that Quirrell could not best him in a duel but there was something about Quirrell, something that made him dangerous and unpredictable. Quirrell wasn't dangerous at the moment because he wasn't backed up in a corner. He was like a wild animal, fine for the moment but once he was backed up into a corner he could snap and be deadly. Severus had no intention to find out just what made Quirrell tick but he had to come up with some sort of a plan. If it was just for Harry's sake.

His ward was looking up at him with large green eyes as he asked. "I did alright, didn't I, sir?"

Severus turned back to Harry. Harry was chewing on his lip and looking away. It seemed the younger male was insecure and finally Severus placed his hand on Harry's head and said. "You did well. I am surprised that you waited so long to come to me however but it was a wise decision not to go on your own and to take Draco. I'm sure that by now Draco has owled his father."

"But I didn't wait, sir…I wanted to come but you kept dismissing me before I could say anything." Harry immediately piped down after his outburst. He glanced up at Severus through his lashes as if he was afraid he had spoken out of turn. Severus forced a smile to his face and said.

"I would have paid attention had I known that this is what you wanted to discuss."

"But you said that there would always be time when I needed you. I know that I can be…"

"Harry, do not even finish that sentence because you know that I'll not tolerate that. It is not your fault but mine that I was otherwise occupied. I will assure you that it will not happen again."

"Okay, but what is going to happen now?"

"I'll take this up with the Headmaster and pretend that I know nothing when Quirrell asks. For me to compete in this club with Quirrell, he will have to go to the Headmaster first and ask for permission to hold this club." Severus took a deep breath before he added. "And if he wishes to do this the proper way, which I think he would like to, since he is the teacher here, he will ask me formally to compete against him in a public place. I imagine this is going to be the Great Hall."

"But you will say no, won't you?"

What is the brat on about? Does he really expect me to sacrifice my honor so that that fool can get away with it just to please him? Now, Severus, take a deep breath. You know that Harry does not mean it like this. He is merely concerned about you. He does not know your skill in dueling. You have fought along the Dark Lord's side and against many of the most powerful wizards and witches in their days when you were a Death Eater so you can surely best one blabbering little fool like Quirrell, even when he isn't who he appears he is. Harry is worried that I'll get injured. It is very sweet and I wouldn't expect anything less from a sentimental Gryffindor…

Severus shifted in his chair. It made him feel a little bit uncomfortable to suddenly realize that he was responsible for somebody else as well. He had never shied away from his responsibilities but this was the first time in his life that somebody depended on him so like Harry did. If Severus was injured or killed then it meant that Harry would suffer from that as well. Albus would no doubt place the boy with somebody else, somebody more Gryffindor than Severus.

He sighed deeply. Until now he had played with his life and put it on the line without thinking about the consequences but that had to stop now. He was a parent and he was responsible for somebody. Could he really put Harry through that again if he were to die? Harry had finally learned to trust an adult and if that adult left him again then what would happen to the young boy?

Severus lowered his eyes and studied Harry's face. The thin cheeks were finally beginning to fill out with the nutrition potion and the regular meals at Hogwarts. The sleep Harry got under his supervision seemed to be doing him a world of good as well but what was more was the fact that Harry's eyes communicated how much he needed and had come to rely on Severus. They had only signed the document a month ago, such a short time but so much had changed.

Severus was Harry's parent and like it or not he was responsible for his ward and it was not a task he would abandon if he could help it.

He ruffled Harry's hair and said. "Now that you are here, why don't you help me with the Wolf's Bane potion?"

He rose from his chair, but Harry caught his hand and whispered as Severus turned around. "You haven't answered my question. You will say no, won't you? Please, for me?"

Severus cursed under his breath. If Harry ever learned how to do the puppy eyes thing with those green eyes, Severus would give into all that pleading, unless he grew a resistance to green eyes. Perhaps there is a potion for that. Severus mused. He crouched down in front of Harry and finally said. "Nothing will happen to me…"

"Can you promise that?" Harry's eyes were filled with sorrow.

"No, Harry, I cannot and I will not make that promise. It would only ensure that I break it. I will promise you however that I shall be very careful and will not put myself in unnecessary danger."

"But I don't want to lose you." Severus was sure that if somebody barged in at this moment his reputation was ruined, whatever remained of it now that he had chosen to submerge himself in Gryffindors. Harry had thrown his arms around Severus' waist and buried his head against his guardian's chest. Severus could only wrap his arms around the brat before he pulled Harry away. He wondered how Harry had come down from the chair so quickly, must be those Potter genes.

He crouched down in front of Harry and said. "I know that and if I have a say in the matter, then you won't. But there are some battles that I have to fight, battles that I have to win. But know that I will not put myself deliberately in danger except to protect you. But that should not mean that you should go looking for danger. If you do not want me to get hurt then you should stay clear of any danger." It would only benefit him if Harry did stay out of danger and stopped breaking the rules. Sometimes, just sometimes, the means justified the end. And it was true what he was saying.

"Oh, I will, I promise." Harry vowed.

"Good, then shall we get to brewing? I do not have a desire to run after a moon struck werewolf who has been unleashed on the school ground." Severus shivered at the idea but as he saw Harry mirror his actions, he knew that he had driven the point he had been trying to make home.

Hp

Days in Azkaban were always the same. During the daylight hours guards patrolled the grey and depressing corridors and at night they were replaced with Dementors. It was at night that most of the prisoners screamed. After 10 years in Azkaban Sirius had grown used to it. He curled in on himself at night, trying to keep those dreams of sanity as clear as he could. He was innocent. He had to remember that.

After Snape and Remus had come to visit him, he had received an unexpected surge of hope. The night after they had come to visit him had cost him dearly. The Dementors had surrounded his cell, eager to feed on him and finally Sirius had done the only thing he could do. He had transformed. The urge to howl his misery to the moon had nearly been overwhelming but he had resisted. The last thing he needed was for the night guard to come and see what that inhuman noise was.

The wards at Azkaban never cared what happened to their prisoners but Sirius wasn't that foolish to give himself away like this. This was the only time that he could be himself and be sane for a moment. To block out all the terrible memories that the Dementors inspired. He sighed. In the daytime he couldn't transform. There weren't many guards but if one of them saw him, well all hell would break loose and it wasn't something that he wanted to experience.

But at night…sometimes it was the only way to remain sane. He shifted on the bench. Luckily he wasn't chained any longer. They did that sometimes, to the prisoners who were a danger to themselves but that was usually only in the first few months. They tried to kill themselves but eventually the fight left them. It left them all and they just lay there, moaning, refusing to eat and lost in memories that would soon reek of despair. They refused to move and to wash and eventually they died. Sirius had seen it all too many times.

If he hadn't been able to transform into Padfoot he would have joined the ranks of unmarked graves outside a long time ago.

"Yo, Black, straighten up. You've got a visitor." Sirius raised his head. A guard was standing in the door opening, peering into the dark call.

Sirius rose from the bench, one wave and Sirius was chained. He could barely set one foot in front of the other but he shuffled towards the door. The door flew open and he was taken by the elbow by the helpful guard. He supposed that it wouldn't do him any good if he fell flat on his face.

"You should have been given a shower. You'd want to look nice for an important guest." The guard grinned and Sirius' eyes narrowed. Who would be important enough that he was dragged from his cell, one of the best guarded prisoners in Azkaban? The guard grinned and said. "You're going to meet the Minister of Magic. No idea what you did this time but perhaps he will finally give the go for you to be Kissed."

"You do realize that I'm right here, don't you?" The hand on Sirius' arm tightened and the guard hissed.

"And what are you going to do?"

"You realize that I killed a whole street full of Muggles. Who knows what an insane thug like me is going to do? You better be careful that you don't anger me." Sirius grinned evilly. Sometimes, the reputation he had gotten when Pettigrew escaped served him well, especially in scaring the guards.

The guard merely raised an eyebrow. It seemed that today of all days nothing Sirius was going to do was going to impress him. Oh well, not that it was worth something but days in Azkaban were dull and Sirius would have given his right paw for some excitement but he feared that the visit from Fudge was going to be very exciting. He wondered what the Minister wanted.

In the chaos following the fall of the Dark Lord, Sirius, as well as countless others had been sent to Azkaban to await trial. Many of those trials had been held except for Sirius'. It seemed that everybody had forgotten that he was here but at the moment he could have cared less. All he cared for was to try and stop the pain from losing James. After a few years, when he had learned to live with the pain he wanted there to be a trial, even when he knew he would not be declared innocent, that only happened if they found Pettigrew and he would be long gone by now.

Sirius allowed himself to be taken to a special room where they had special visitors. The walls were bare and there was a small table and some chairs. Not that Sirius was going to be seated but well, perhaps he could look like Snape did and try the menacing looming for a bit. Well as far as one could loom while under heavy chains. He had no trouble doing the dangerous part; everybody believed that of him already, his reputation saw to that.

He forced a smirk to his face when he saw Fudge sitting uneasily on a chair, looking out of place with his pin striped bowler hat and dark pin striped robes. It was strange that such a little man wielded such power. Two aurors in their red robes were standing behind Fudge, one who looked bored and the other one who seemed to be rather young and who was looking around with fear in his eyes, one hand on his wand.

Sirius shuffled into the room and Fudge rose as he said. "Ah, Mr. Black, there you are." The Minister then turned around and said, to the surprise of everybody. "You can leave us. I need to speak to him alone."

"But sir…he is a dangerous criminal." The guard protested.

"He can't hurt me and I'm sure that Black won't harm me, will you, Black?" The Minister looked at Sirius for the first time and Sirius smiled. For some reason Fudge wanted something important. He shook his head, sending dirty hair flying. His blue eyes focused on Fudge's face. There were even circles underneath the hooded eyes but then, whoever said that the Minister of Magic would get enough sleep?

"Black is insane. Are you sure that you want to be in the same room as him without guards, sir?" The guard insisted and Sirius rolled his eyes. Fudge's expression steeled and Sirius sighed; apparently this fool didn't value his job enough.

"I'm sure that Mr. Black and myself can come to an understanding. He is the Head of an old Pureblood family…"

"Who only murdered a whole street full of Muggle and a wizard…"

"Guard, you will stop that this instance or I swear that you will wish that you had not spoken to your superior. You will step out of this room at once and leave me to speak to Mr. Black." Sirius merely smiled sweetly as the guard secured him with a flick of his wand. He rolled his eyes as the door banged shut behind the aurors and the guards; it wasn't as if they weren't going to be waiting right outside the door. And besides, what was he going to do? Try to strangle Fudge with the chains?

He focused his attention on the Minister that stood before him as Fudge cleared his throat and cancelled the spell the guard had cast on him. "I'm sure that we can talk this over like civilized men."

If he wants to go down that road, I'm not going to complain. Sirius merely settled his expression on feigned boredom and relaxed his stance. Fudge rose from his seat and began to pace around the room. Sirius was at least a head taller than one of the most politically powerful wizards in the country and he suspected that it made Fudge uneasy. He waited until Fudge spoke; he had all the time in the world and this was a nice distraction from the boredom of the rest of the day.

"I shall cut right to the chase, shall I? After all we are very busy men…" Fudge chuckled at his own joke but Sirius merely smiled briefly. Let Fudge think himself funny, Sirius had learned at a very early age that it was easier just to play along, it got one what they wanted a lot quicker.

Fudge spun on his feet and stared at Sirius, who stared right back. Fudge had his hands behind his back and cleared his throat, looking slightly uncomfortable before he said. "In the days of your capture, Mr. Black, chaos was all around, I'm sure you can remember those days very well. It is not something one forgets easily. We all did our best under the circumstances and a few mistakes have been made, such as sending you among other criminals to Azkaban without a public trial. In the past few weeks I have been given insight in a series of unfortunate events regarding your godson by a mutual ally of ours. I'm sure that you know my benefactor Lucius Malfoy as your close relative. He has taken up the mantle of championship for your godson because his ward is unable to."

Wow the slimy git was right for a change, who would have figured? I guess he does do something good in this world. But this didn't just drop from the air. If I know Fudge then he wants something.

"Now, I'm sure that we cannot prove your innocence without finding Pettigrew alive, which will be hard but I'm sure that we can get your sentence reduce by a number of years. You have served in Azkaban for 10 years if I'm not mistaken and the guards tell me that you have shown remarkable good and sane behavior, unlike some of the other unfortunate members who have fallen away from our society. I have great influence with the Wizengamot and with the backing of Mr. Malfoy and of course yourself…" And your Gringotts account.

"As I'm sure you are aware there will be elections in a year and I need to start my campaign soon. This may sound harsh but I need to make a statement, a statement that says that I'm the right Minister for the job and I intend to make an example out of you. Your case is a high profile case and I'm sure that with the right evidence we can get the sentence that you deserve."

"And why of all people would you help me?" Sirius had to hide his smirk.

"Why, you are the Head of a very powerful pureblood and old family. And you are the godfather of Harry Potter. I'm sure that you have heard how Dumbledore neglected to check up on the boy that had been placed in his care. It is time that the world saw that Dumbledore is getting old and he may not be the right person to have children placed underneath his care."

"And how would I fit into that?"

"Dumbledore singlehandedly proved testimony for all his people, except for you and you worked for the Order of the Phoenix. Why would he do such a thing? Not that it is of any matter. As I said before, those days were chaotic and we all made mistakes. I intend to prove that you are innocent or otherwise that you will get the punishment you deserve."

Great, this guy is going to get me Kissed.

"And what do you want in return? Don't tell me that the Minister is going to donate his busy time to his little pet project without wanting something in return."

Fudge smirked, or he tried to but he seemed to be looking more like he had a bad toothache. "I have many powerful and smart people at my disposal. People who are looking for a favor from me. It is one of the benefits of being Minister of Magic, people like to bow and scrape before you. No, what I need from you, is your support if I do manage to get you exonerated, which will not be easy and otherwise, a substantial amount if I can get your sentence reduced to cover my campaign will go a long way."

It is always about gold.

"What about Malfoy? What is his role in all of this?"

"He will be working with us of course. Lucius' knowledge of the law is very extensive and we will have need of him."

Fudge looked at Sirius as if he wanted him to protest but Sirius merely shrugged. He may be a Gryffindor but he knew enough about Slytherins to know that sometimes you just needed them. And he had Harry to consider now. He merely nodded. The chance that Fudge was going to get him exonerated was small but even if he could get his sentence reduced it would be great. Every small bit helped. He smiled and nodded, saying.

"Of course, Minister. I'm grateful for the help of course." I'll happily help Malfoy to stick his cane up your arse if it can get me released or my sentence reduced.

"Brilliant." Fudge clapped his hands together. "Now all we need to do is find some evidence to get you released and we are all set."

Nobody knew that it was going to be handed to them on a silver platter.

Hp

"Alright, class, settle down. As you have noticed I have an assistant with me today, Professor Lupin. Today we will be testing the potion on Mr. Weasley and Mr. Longbottom's familiars. Gentlemen, if you would be so kind to bring your familiars forward and set them on these two tables. You have both brewed the potion following the instructions I supplied you with. We will be testing that potion and you will receive your marks according to the outcome of the potion. Should the potion not work then there is no need to worry. I have an antidote ready and my version of the potion which will show you what is supposed to happen."

Severus paced around the classroom. The students were all watching him, Draco and Harry were seated side by side, and Granger on the other side of Harry and Lupin was in a corner, out of the way. Severus had given the other man his potion this morning. He had told Lupin to stay close just in case he was having a bad reaction to the potion.

All students settled down in their seats, eager faces looking up at Severus and he fought his sneer. This was one of the few potions the students looked forward to. Longbottom came forward, almost cowering as he held his toad tightly. Severus sneered at the boy and stepped aside when Weasley came forward, holding a squawking rat. Severus had warded the desk so the animals couldn't jump off and escape.

That was the last thing he needed. It was bad enough that he had to rush after the brats and clean up tables with animal droppings. He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose before he snapped. "Well begin! Unless you need me to show you how to feed your familiar?"

Longbottom flushed but Weasley merely tightened his grip upon his fat rat and looked about at the small bottle with a nuzzle before he looked back at the ugly rat. "Sir?"

Severus advanced on Weasley but the youngest of the six brothers merely met his gaze calmly and asked. "Could it be possible that somebody could help me holding Scabbers so I can administer the potion? I don't want to have to bin him with a spell in case the magic interferes with the potion."

Severus raised an eyebrow before he glanced over at Granger. The small witch was sending Weasley such a look of pride that it would have made his mother gag. Severus shook his head before he looked back at Weasley and said. "Very well. Mr. Malfoy, I'm sure that you can help Mr. Weasley with holding his rat."

He ignored the glower Draco sent his way but his godson didn't dare to protest in class, especially ever since Severus put his foot down. It was one thing that Draco learned to get along with Harry but he would need to get along with the other Gryffindors as well. It was something that Severus could easily teach him here at Hogwarts as the boy's Head of House and away from Lucius' influence.

He turned to Longbottom and asked. "Do you require aid as well?"

"No, sir, I can manage but thank you."

"Very well." It seemed to Longbottom could cope with his toad and Severus silently awarded one point to Gryffindor. Sometimes he had to reward Longbottom, even when the boy would fail this class miserably and Severus would be glad when Longbottom dropped his class in fifth year.

Lupin moved forward and came to stand near Severus' desk. Severus himself moved away as well as Longbottom was the first to pour a few drops down his toad's mouth. The toad was then sat down on the desk and slowly Longbottom stepped away. Severus' eyes widened when he realized that the thick threads flowing out of the toad were actually a textbook color. They pulsated with a deep red color and Longbottom grinned when the bands reached him.

"Now as you can see, this is the way the potion is supposed to look. It is not completely correct because the bands do not pulsate the way they are supposed to. I think that Longbottom perhaps added an ingredient in the wrong sequence but as you see it doesn't matter in the slightest. That is five points to Gryffindor, Mr. Longbottom for an otherwise correct potion."

Severus turned back to the class to see one finger raised in the air and he nodded. Dean Thomas rose as he said. "Sir, what does that color represent?"

"It means that Longbottom's familiar bears great affection for him. The richer and deeper the color, the deeper the feelings." Severus looked back at Weasley and Draco who seemed to be in the middle of an argument.

"I'm not holding that flea bitten thing!" Draco's expression would have done Lucius proud and Severus shook his head as Weasley raised an eyebrow and said.

"You can also administer the potion of you want. I'll hold him." It seemed that today was going to be filled with surprises because normally Ronald Weasley was hotheaded but it seemed that he wanted to make an impression and he was actually friendly. Ronald held the rat while Draco administered the potion.

They waited for a few moments but nothing happened. Weasley frowned and then gestured for Draco to administer another drop. Once again nothing happened. Severus drew closer and Draco said. "Perhaps we should use Professor Snape's potion."

Weasley nodded, frowning. The youngest Weasley son was biting his lip, a look of dismay upon his face. If Severus didn't know any better he would have said that Weasley was on the verge of tears. An unfamiliar emotion was stirring inside of him but Severus waited. He would pull Weasley in his room later in case the potion didn't go as planned.

Severus' own potion was ingested but still there was no change. Lupin moved in closer as well as both confused students turned to their teacher.

"Give him to me. We shall try it. I require your assistance, Professor. Would you hold the rat and I shall administer the potion?" Lupin moved over and accepted the rat Weasley handed him reluctantly.

"I will be careful with him, Ronald. I'm used to handling animals." Severus rolled his eyes when he saw the way Lupin smiled and sought to reassure Weasley. He could have said something but he decided against it. He had no desire to undermine Lupin's authority in class. He would have Dumbledore, Minerva and Lupin on his case, no better to swallow that comment.

He tapped his booted foot on the ground as he waited for Lupin to grasp a suddenly struggling rat. "What is the matter with him? He was so calm a moment ago."

The confused amber eyes lifted up to meet Severus' dark ones and Severus raised an eyebrow. Lupin seemed disappointed after a moment and Severus felt a stirring of pity. He was angry at himself suddenly. Why was he feeling pity towards a werewolf? It wasn't his fault that the daft familiar responded to the scent that he seemed to catch from Lupin's wolf side.

"Can you hold him?"

"Yeah, let me just get a good grip." Lupin shifted his hands slightly and then frowned; he glanced up at Severus immediately, his expression one of alarm. Severus had the potion in hand but Lupin beckoned forward immediately. "No, don't administer it just yet. Is it just me or does he seem to be missing a toe?"

Severus stepped in closer and peered down his nose at the struggling creature. Scabbers struggled against Lupin but the werewolf had the rat in such a grip that he couldn't escape or bite him.

"He does yes."

"He was always missing a toe, sir. The moment I got him from my brother." Weasley was quick to jump in.

"Severus, I know why he isn't responding to the potion." Lupin's voice held a sense of urgency.

"Oh and pray tell, Lupin. I always thought that you weren't such an experience in potions." Severus snarled.

"Oh then tell me, does that potion work on Animagi?" Lupin snapped right back and Severus cast another look at the struggling rat in the large hands of the other man.

"No, but this is clearly no Animagus."

"Why don't you cast the spell and we shall see. If you are right then the spell should not force him to anything, if not…" Lupin looked uncharasterically grave and Severus found himself unable to argue. He raised his wand before he called out.

"Alright, there seem to be a slight problem. Professor Lupin and myself are dealing with it but I suggest you all go stand over there, yes, Mr. Weasley, you as well, nothing will happen to you rat. Yes, boy, I promise." Severus rolled his eyes and ushered all the students to the side of the classroom as he put up the strongest wards he could think off. They would protect the students from everything but a collapsing of the ceiling.

He took out his wand and Lupin moved as far away from the rat as possible while still holding him. Severus intoned the spell underneath his breath and Weasley nearly screamed when a blue and white flash hit his rat. Lupin jumped away and while Severus tried to blink the black spots away from his eyes he heard the werewolf snarl. "Stupefy!"

What the hell is the werewolf playing at?

The question was on the tip of Severus' tongue when he beheld what Lupin had done. There, on the ground where the rat had been a moment ago was now a small, balding man with a pointed nose. Severus stared. The man looked familiar but he couldn't place him. He looked up when Lupin growled, a hateful expression on his face.

"Peter Pettigrew! I knew it!"

And as Severus stared at the supposingly murdered wizard from ten years ago, he groaned. Because staring him in the face was Black's ticket out of Azkaban.

That was it for the moment. Yeah, so the rat is out of the bag. I hope you liked it. So tell me what you think of everything? Do you like it? Review of course and ideas are more than welcome.

In the next chapter: Pandemonium erupts as somebody who was thought dead returns to the living. It becomes so bad that the Headmaster himself has to come down to verify it but what will happen when the authorities are called in? Will Fudge come to Azkaban to see to Sirius' release or will he have to make sure that a certain reporter doesn't print out the whole story about his and Dumbledore's failure first? And Quirrell makes his plans known for the Duel Club but does Dumbledore have a plan for that as well? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you so much for the amazing reviews. I know it has been forever since I last updated and sorry for the huge delay. I should be getting back to a regular schedule now. Let's begin.

Severus had seen many things in his days, from victims to the Killing curse to seeing people tortured before his eyes but he had never expected to see this sight. To see somebody who had been thought dead for years suddenly returning to the living. But that wasn't right. Pettigrew had apparently never been dead, he had always been alive and in hiding.

But who had he been hiding from? From Black? No, that couldn't be right? Why would Pettigrew be hiding from Black when Black had been imprisoned the moment he had been caught?

Severus only had moments to think these things when suddenly a loud wail went up that made him raise his wand. It sounded as if one of the undead had come into the classroom. But it was Weasley.

The red haired boy had his hands in front of his face as he stared at the stunned man on the floor who had been parading as his rat for Merlin knows how many years. Harry was standing beside him and his ward had his arm wrapped around Weasley's shoulder as Granger tried to restrain the youngest Weasley.

Lupin's eyes had darkened but his wand was pointed at Pettigrew steadily as the werewolf said. "I think it is important that we restrain Pettigrew. We need to call Dumbledore."

"What do you suggest? We cannot leave him here in the classroom with the students. It is not every day that they see a man who was thought dead to the world returned." Severus sneered.

Lupin merely glanced up at him before he conjured ropes. The still stunned former rat was bound within a moment before the DADA professor said. "Is there a room where we can restrain him? One of us needs to keep an eye on him, preferably the both of us. He cannot be allowed to escape again."

Darn it, the wolf had a point. Severus thought quickly as he said. "I shall summon Minerva, Pomona and Fillius. They will know what to do. We will need everybody to work together and who better than the Heads of House. They can oversee the students while we guard Pettigrew until the Headmaster comes."

Lupin seemed satisfied with the plan and he assumed a defensive stance as Severus summoned a quick shield to hover in front of the students. It would not do if Weasley would break free from the clutches of his friend to go to his rat.

He would have to see to the students in a moment but first thing first. He decided against using the floo in his office. It wouldn't do to have Pettigrew making use of the moment to overpower Lupin, as hard as it may be to overcome a werewolf, could very well seize Harry.

He could not have the students leaving the safety of the classroom. The story would most likely spread and Severus was ill equipped to deal with the pandemonium that would surely come from that.

No, they needed more teachers and the Headmaster for this. He cast one last look at the unconscious wizard lying bound on the floor before he turned his back on the spectacle. He did shiver, was it just him or did Lupin look a little bit enraged?

Hp

Albus Dumbledore had been Headmaster at Hogwarts for a very long time. During his tenure at Hogwarts he had seen some very exiting changes come over the school. Some he had encouraged himself and others had been sprung upon him, even going as far as to upset his delicate plans.

One of the things that had set most changes in motion had been the coming of Harry Potter to Hogwarts. True, Albus had always known that Harry's coming was going to be a true challenge but he had never expected it to be quite like this.

Not only had he learned some unsettling truths about the youngest Potter but Harry had also managed to upset some of his best wrought plans. Albus sighed and played with the quill that lay on his desk.

He had been a fool if he was being completely honest with himself. He rarely was. He had thought that once the war was over, and all of his planning and manipulating put to the test, he would have been forgiven for what he had done.

He knew that what he was doing or had done was wrong but it had all exploded in his face quite spectacularly. He had known that he had made mistakes. For example with Severus. And most recently Harry.

He should have seen to it that they received the proper care, even when he could not give it himself. But he had foolishly assumed that once Severus had begun teaching here and Voldemort had disappeared, the younger man could begin to heal from his injuries. But he had been wrong.

By allowing Severus to remain here, he had sufficiently bound the Potions Master to a life the man did not want. But Albus needed Severus here, not only to protect the Philosopher Stone but also to protect Harry. It was only a matter of time before Voldemort returned, if he hadn't done so already but it was not an excuse of how he had threatened Severus.

Severus had come to terms with it, even when Minerva and Poppy had not done so but Albus had paid dearly for his next mistake. And that was to place Harry Potter with his muggle relatives. Minerva had warned him about them but he had refused to believe her.

And now it had come back to bite him in the arse. He had lost all credibility with Severus, Minerva, Harry, and the Weasley family, Poppy, Lupin, Sirius and many others. And the most hurtful thing was perhaps, that he had no idea how to go about mending the relationships he had with those wonderful people…

He glanced up sharply when the floo flared and Severus' head appeared in the fireplace. Pleased to see his old friend, Albus rose from his seat with a smile and approached.

"Severus, my dear boy, can I help you with anything?" The severity of the Potions Master's face put a damper on any cheerful mood Albus had been feeling.

"Headmaster, a situation has arisen that must be dealt with quickly. I suggest that you come through."

"Has there been an accident in your classroom?" Belatingly Albus realized that at this time of the day, Severus had a class to teach.

"No, just an unexpected discovery has been made but it would be better if you saw it with your own eyes."

Severus' tone gave nothing away and it wasn't long before the Potions Master pulled his head back out of the flames. Concerned, Albus followed.

Albus Dumbledore had seen many things in his life and could not be easily surprised but the scene that greeted him when he stepped out of the fireplace and into the Potions' classroom was certainly a surprising one.

Albus had attended many potions classes, both in his tenure as a Headmaster and as a Professor but never in all his years had he seen a wizard lying stunned and bound on the floor with an enraged werewolf standing watch over him, actually growling. The students were all standing safely behind a shield Severus must have conjured.

Severus was standing a few paces away, giving Lupin the room he needed. Remus actually looked to be in complete control over the situation as the normally demure man allowed the tight reigns on his wolf's side to loosen slightly.

"What do we have here?" Albus glanced around the room. The students all seemed as baffled as he was, except perhaps for the youngest Weasley boy. Albus focused upon him. Weasley was screaming but the shields Severus had erected prevented them from hearing what was being said.

Severus glanced back and murmured. "Do you know who is laying there, Headmaster?"

Albus took a closer look and gasped. It was the quick hand at his elbow that allowed him to remain at his feet and finally the quick chair that his deputy Headmistress Transfigured and he finally sank into, to allow him to come to terms with what he was seeing. There was Peter Pettigrew, bound, alive on the ground, being guarded by his former best friend.

Pettigrew was supposed to be dead. He had died 10 years ago. He had been killed 10 years ago. So what was he doing here? And perhaps the best question of all was, what was he doing at Hogwarts?

"During my class, when we were testing the Familiar Bonding Potion, it was discovered that the potion brewed by the students, or my own potion failed to react to Mr. Weasley's rat. Upon closer inspection, Professor Lupin discovered the reason why the potion did not work. It does not work on Animagi. And when we cast the spell, the person who had been parading around as Mr. Weasley's rat was revealed: Peter Pettigrew."

And as Albus closed his eyes, he sighed. This certainly was not going to be his year if unexpected things like these kept happening.

Hp

Severus glanced at the Headmaster out of the corner of his eye. He was by no means worried for Albus. The Gryffindor usually took these things in stride but at the moment Albus looked old and Severus had feared that the shock was going to be too great for the old Headmaster.

But as he watched and Albus opened his eyes, Severus could see the strength they had been relying on for so many times in the past return. Albus rose, his wand in hand as he said, "Pomona and Fillius, please escort all the students back to their dormitories. Find Mr. Weasley's brothers and allow his friends to remain with them. Then floo their parents to come to Hogwarts immediately. Severus and Minerva, please assist me. We must bind Mr. Pettigrew and summon the proper authorities to deal with this. I think that Professor Lupin is more than qualified to oversee Mr. Pettigrew at the moment."

Within moments the classroom was empty and Severus turned around to lock his gaze with Harry. He gave a simple nod, telling the boy that they would speak about this later but right now, he needed to be present here. His ward gave him a tense smile back and Severus turned his attention back to the proceedings in the room.

The Headmaster had added his own ropes and wards to bind Pettigrew and Severus threw a sneer in the traitor's direction. There were many things he couldn't stand but for somebody to turn on their own friends and family and then disappear for years, that was one of the most cowardly of actions.

In the back of his mind Severus could suddenly understand why Black had gone after Pettigrew. If Severus knew anything of the short temper of Harry's godfather, then he knew that Black would never stand for it, if Pettigrew had really murdered Lily and James.

But that also meant that if they caught Pettigrew, then the claim that Black had murdered Pettigrew would be nullified and Black would be released. His former enemy would no doubt be given the highest condolences and rewards because he had been imprisoned needlessly in Azkaban. Everything would be given to Black and all would be made easier for the other wizard, such as gaining custody of his god son.

Severus frowned; he would rather die than allow Black to gain custody of Harry. He sobered. The trial period of two months was not even up yet and Black could still step forward as the closest family member of Harry and there was nothing that would stop him.

He resurfaced from his grim thoughts when Albus called his name.

"Severus, we need help with Remus. He refuses to stand down. Perhaps you can offer your assistance?"

Muttering softly about flea ridden beasts, Severus stepped towards Lupin. The other man was still standing in the same spot he had been standing in ever since Pettigrew had been discovered.

"Lupin, The Headmaster has bound Pettigrew so there is no reason to act like a rabid dog and standing guard over the rat." The amber eyes turned up to regard him but Lupin did not relax his stance.

"I have let him out of my sight once and you know what happened. I will not trust Peter with my life or the lives of others. He will most likely escape again. Tell the Headmaster that I will guard Pettigrew until he is in Azkaban."

The wolf's voice was a snarl but for some reason Severus' respect for the man rose. Here was a man shunned by society, as a werewolf living on the very edge and even discriminated worse than Death Eaters, and yet Lupin had more humanity than some of the pureblood wizards Severus knew. If Lupin was this protective of all of those he considered friends and family then perhaps if Severus played his cards right he had gained a powerful ally in keeping his custody of Harry.

"Very well. I will convey your message to the Headmaster. But I am surprised that you are not rushing off to Azkaban to tell your mate Black the good news."

"That he will be exonerated? Have you never learned not to count your puppies until they are all back in the pack?" The man's voice wasn't bitter but it showed a whole different side to the thoughtful man that Severus was used to.

Perhaps he had never considered that Lupin was never a normal Gryffindor and would take the plunge before thinking about the consequences.

"Sirius can be told in due time. When there is no chance of Pettigrew escaping and he is safely behind bars. You don't have a potion on hand that will keep him in this form, do you?"

Why haven't I thought of this before? Or for that matter, Albus? It is worth mentioning.

"And you are certain that he will try to escape again?"

"As certain as I turn into a mangy werewolf each month at the full moon." Lupin answered and with that answer, Severus knew what needed to be done.

Hp

In between with what needed to be done and it actually being done, a lot of time seemed to pass. And most of that time was spent waiting around, watching Pettigrew in Albus' absence as the Headmaster floo'd the necessary people.

The aurors were to be summoned; somebody from the Ministry to file the necessary documents on the capture of Pettigrew and no doubt the press would be beating at their doors. Or so Minerva thought as she stood next to Severus.

"I have no doubt that some students will have written to their parents by now and I think that we shall be seeing members of the Board of Governors arrived at any moment."

"You mean Lucius Malfoy? Yes, I do think that he will be here. If not to be the first to learn of this story but also to try and spin it to his own hand. Though I do have to hand it to him, he did help us with Black."

"Then perhaps he can help and spin this to your advantage. I am sure that the Minister for Magic will be bringing a reporter with him and who better than Lucius to help you get an exclusive interview so that you can share your side of Harry's tragic need for a guardian." Minerva's smile was catchy but Severus merely blinked. What was the old tabby going on about?

She sighed and said. "Sometimes it seems that you are not completely in your right mind. Cornelius Fudge is coming here; to Hogwarts to see for himself the dangerous criminal that is Peter Pettigrew. He will bring with him somebody from the Daily Prophet to herald this as a success for the Ministry of Magic. But you know just as well as I do that the Minister failed, together with Albus in protecting Harry. Fudge will no doubt use this as an opportunity to score points in the eyes of the public by releasing Sirius and allowing him to gain custody of Harry. You need to beat them to that!"

"And how do you suggest I do that?"

"I think that if you can gain the help of Mr. Malfoy, who can surely distract the Minister for a few moments, then you can tell the paper that you have an exclusive which puts their Minister in not such a good light. I am sure that they all love a good gossip tale."

"You are proposing that I talk to the press about Harry?"

"Consider the story, Severus. If Fudge and Albus have their way, it will disappear to the background once Sirius is released. Sirius will gain custody of Harry because he has been serving time in Azkaban as an innocent for all those years and you will be left with nothing. If you share your story now, then people will protest whenever Sirius makes a claim for the guardianship. This is your best chance, Severus. You better do it before the news of Pettigrew being captured takes over. This will just be another blow to Fudge for failing to see that Sirius was innocent for all these years. If you wish to strike and punish the man for neglecting Harry, then now is the time. I imagine that Fudge will want Harry there anyway to ask him what he thinks of his godfather being innocent. You could share the light so to speak."

It was food for thought, very much so but Severus wondered. Would it be the right thing to do? Not because he didn't want Fudge to pay for his mistake, he did. The man deserved every ounce of bad press that he could receive.

"I will go in search of Draco. I am sure that he can tell me where his father is."

Hp

"Why are we being summoned to the Headmaster's office? It is Ron's rat so I don't see why it has anything to do with us." Harry fell into step besides Draco who followed Professor Flitwick.

"I don't know. Perhaps they want to interview us." Draco tried to sound confident but Harry could tell that he wasn't entirely succeeding.

They had left Ron with his family and his parents when Professor Flitwick had come to collect them. Harry hadn't even seen Severus, let alone talked to him since this happened. He wanted to find out what was going on above all else. He needed the reassurance from his guardian right now. But he wasn't here.

Come to think of it he hadn't seen Severus all day. Ever since Ron's rat had turned out to be a person, a horrible balding little man that Harry disliked immediately. He had wondered what had caused the adults to become alarmed so suddenly. He knew that it wasn't right for a rat to turn into a man but there seemed to be something seriously wrong with that man and Harry wasn't so sure he wanted to find out what it was.

"They're saying that the Minister for Magic is at the school." Harry turned his attention back to Draco.

"Do you think that is the reason why we are being summoned?"

"Well, you are at school and father always said that Fudge was a pompous arse. He likes to make himself seem more important by hanging around with famous people."

"Mr. Malfoy, it is perfectly alright for your father to speak badly about the Minister for Magic but it is not alright for you to do so. I do not care what you do at home but you are at school now." Professor Flitwick's voice was strict but Harry could tell that the Charm's Professor was hiding a smile.

"I will remember that, sir." Draco rolled his eyes at Harry.

"But why would he want to interview me? I mean it wasn't me who discovered that man. It was Ron's rat and Professor Lupin and Professor Snape discovered it. I didn't do anything."

"But don't you see? Fudge clearly wants to talk to you. I bet it is because of your godfather."

"What does my godfather have to do with this?"

"I think that the man they have just found is somehow connected to him."

"Mr. Malfoy, I never picked you for a gossiper so would you please keep up and keep those thoughts to yourself." It was not often that the small Professor lost his temper but Draco hastily did as he was told. The look he gave Harry told him that Draco had no intention of shutting up unless he was told by his father.

The walk up to Dumbledore's office was quiet after that. Harry just wanted them to hurry along but somehow he knew that whatever was going to happen in the Headmaster's office was not going to be nice. He didn't want to be interviewed. What did he have to do with the man they had found?

He sighed. Perhaps he'd better get used to this. But there was no way to get used to this as he stepped into the office and the moment Professor Flitwick stepped away, a camera was shoved in his face, followed by a woman with curly blond hair. She smiled toothily at him and immediately asked.

"Ah, Mr. Potter, how do you feel now that your safety has been compromised by the revealing of an Animagus in your very dorm room? Do you not think that you would be safer away from Hogwarts where no unexpected surprises can leap at you from the dark when you are in the safety of your bed?"

Harry fumbled for an answer. He blinked when the camera went off and sought to throw up his hands. Immediately they were seized by the camera man who said. "Another picture for the ladies, Mr. Potter."

The man reminded him of Uncle Vernon. He had big meaty hands and was big like his uncle was. He reacted without thinking as he backed away, hands raised to ward of any blows and his magic reacted.

There was a loud ringing in his ears. He backed up against somebody and then suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder and a drawling voice in his ear that spoke soothingly.

"Focus, Harry! Feel the magic pouring out of you and pull it back. Imagine it is like a tap that is fully opened. You can wade through the water and turn it off. Imagine your magic like that. Just turn it off." The hand on his shoulder grounded him and Harry tried to do as the voice told him.

He suddenly felt exhausted. The hand never left his shoulder as his knees buckled. "Very good, Harry."

"Lucius!" Harry opened his eyes, not realizing he had closed them when Snape's voice cut through the muttered voices in the office.

"He is alright now, Severus. The bout of accidental magic has passed."

"Fudge and that man certainly do not look alright."

A rich chuckle flowed down at Harry. "Yes, well, it will teach them a thing or two about Mr. Potter."

"I believe that there are certain things that I do not want them to know about, such as how powerful he really is. Fudge does not need to make use of Harry until he is much older and can therefore defend himself. Protecting the brat is a full time job already and I do not need added danger to it in the form of our dear Minister for Magic."

"Oh come now, Severus. There is a lot of fun to be had in the goading of those in power. It is better pastime than terrifying students, I can guarantee you." Lucius' hand remained on his shoulder as Harry could feel his knees starting too weak and buckle.

He could feel the wave of exhaustion after such a powerful blast of magic. Suddenly Lucius hissed. "Severus, would you mind looking over Draco for a moment? I think that Mr. Potter is feeling the after effects of the accidental magic."

Another hand rested on his shoulder as Draco's father instructed. "Remember that you turned the tap on your magic off, Harry? Now, you need to restore it back to normal."

"It is my job as his guardian to help Harry." Snape's voice held no real venom.

"By all means, Severus, be my guest. But I think that the Headmaster will need you in a moment. Let me worry about the boys while you tackle the Headmaster. You are so good at that, making a daily living out of it as you do." Snape growled something but the next moment Draco's voice reached Harry's ears.

"Father, is Harry alright?"

"He will be in a moment, Draco. Stay back, please." But it was truly a long time until Harry felt alright again.

Hp

Severus kept an eye upon Harry as Lucius bent over the younger wizard. He trusted his old friend, of course he did but the time that a wizard released their magic accidental had long since past. All parents had to know how to deal with the effects of accidental magic, such as waves of exhaustion.

Severus knew for a fact that the magic that Harry had just released had not been accidental. Harry had sought to protect himself. Severus had no doubt it was from the man who had sought to touch him.

Harry had reacted before Severus could reach him. Luckily Lucius had been behind him and could quickly conjure up a shield to protect Harry and Draco. Dumbledore's shield had protected the portraits and Fawkes. Severus, Minerva, the Skeeter woman who had followed Fudge to do the interview had each hastily threw up their own shields. Only Fudge, who had either been too stubborn, or to slow to throw up a shield had been knocked backwards as had the camera man. None had hastened to see if they were alright, naturally.

Draco turned to look at him but he remained by his father's side, as instructed. Severus wondered what Fudge would make of this. Rita Skeeter was watching him with hawk like eyes as she said. "You seem very concerned with Mr. Potter."

"Naturally, "He sneered. "Mr. Potter is a student at this facility and as a teacher he is therefore my responsibility. I fail to see why he should be present for whatever meeting our dear Minister for Magic has come up with."

"He wishes to interview Mr. Potter of course."

"Yes, because that is one thing that Fudge does so very well, is in the aftermath of his own faults and catastrophes, he will be displayed as the winner with the victim by his side."

"Are you referring to Sirius Black? The man may be innocent after all. I did some preliminary research and it seems that Black was not even given a trial."

"Madam, times were different after the war and you cannot compare the techniques that we have now with the actions we took back then." The Minister's voice was soft but stern. Severus forced a smile to his face as the Minister continued, with a pointed look at Severus. "You are a fine example of those times. Professor Snape. Had we gone through trial after trial…?"

"Most Death Eaters were given a trial but Sirius Black was not. He was discovered a day later in a street filled with dead muggles. He was not even questioned when he was brought in by the aurors. I wonder why that was."

"Perhaps you have to interview the auror responsible for bringing Black in." Rita Skeeter had not changed at all it seemed. He remembered her from his own trial, when she had written about his past.

"Oh I have tried but it seems that Mad Eye Moody is in no mood to be interviewed."

"He was one of the few aurors who always played by the rules."

"Yes, but on Barty Crouch's orders, Black was brought in without a trial and sent straight to Azkaban. The evidence was overwhelming, or so I have been told."

So it was as Severus feared. They had not even given Black the decency of a trial or even pretend that there had been one. He had been tossed into Azkaban without anything, not even giving him a chance to defend himself. And now the whole thing had to be reevaluated because the most important piece of evidence, Pettigrew himself, was alive. Why hadn't they even questioned Black? Even when the man had been as mad as Peeves, he still deserved to be told his side of the story.

And now they had left a fine mess to be cleared up. Well, if Fudge thought that he could fix everything simply by appearing as the fatherly figure in an interview with Harry Potter, then he was dreadfully mistaken. Obviously he had failed to take into account Severus.

Severus straightened with a flourish as he caught Lucius' eye. He gave a low nod as the grey eyes of his friend narrowed. Fudge had failed Harry just as well as Dumbledore had.

If he had use of Harry, he could have searched him out years ago and discovered for himself the horrible living arrangements Harry had to endure. But now Harry was supposed to be the poster boy for the Ministry, oh no, the Minister and Dumbledore had a whole other thing coming if they thought that posing with Potter was going to fix anything, Severus would make sure of that.

He allowed a smirk to come to his face as Lucius grinned at him. It was a smirk that promised the students that they were in for some grueling lessons and many a detention. But for Fudge, who merely thought Severus an overbearing Professor, it meant a world of trouble as the two Slytherins combined. Harry and Draco merely gulped and vowed to stay out of the way.

Hp

"So, Minister, what is your plan to tighten the security at this school? How did Peter Pettigrew manage to stay hidden for all these years as a rat? You cannot deny that you failed in the investigation when you captured Black. Pettigrew was an unregistered animagus, surely there must be better laws regarding such a thing…"

Rita Skeeter was on form tonight. She was firing question after question at the Minister. Harry sat in the chair next to the Minister. He had no idea why he was sitting there but Fudge had demanded his presence at his side.

Harry wanted nothing more than to go back to his class. What was he doing here? This had nothing to do with him. He glanced up as Fudge answered.

"It is certainly a point of interest that I am going to campaign hard for. If I get elected, I will promise that mistakes like this won't happen again…"

"But it has already happened. How will you guarantee the safety of these students?"

"We will call forth a meeting with the Headmaster and discuss our options. I am sure that between the two of us we can come to an agreement to protect students like Harry Potter then."

"Oh if you are so keen between the two of you to protect students like you have been protecting Harry then we might as well close down the school now. All students will be dead within the year."

Harry's eyes shot up the meet the dark ones of his guardian as Snape sneered, and not so softly either.

Somebody cleared their throat rather pointingly and Harry realized that it was Dumbledore. The Headmaster was staring at Snape but the Potions Master did not seem to pay attention to this. Snape was merely staring at Fudge as he dared the Minister to say something.

"I am sure that we can do a very fine job, Professor Snape. Harry is sitting here, right as rain, isn't he?" Fudge's smile looked a little bit strained to Harry but he may just be imagining thing.

"Oh yes, because flinching away when somebody reaches out to you is extremely normal for a child his age. I instructed Draco to do the same thing just the other day. I am sure in time it will become the new fashion trend. "This time it was Lucius Malfoy who made the comment.

"But Harry isn't flinching, now is he?" Fudge draped an arm over his shoulder. It felt heavy and it reminded Harry of whenever Uncle Vernon had been at his most dangerous. When he had been kind to Harry, it meant more trouble for him later. Fudge wouldn't be the same, Harry knew but he didn't trust the Minister for Magic. Something about him was fishy, like he was a man who only looked out for his best interests and not for Harry himself.

"He does not look like a boy who is comfortable." Lucius said with a smirk.

"Well, he should be honored to be summoned to my side…"

"No, Minister, you should be honored to be on his. Unless you have forgotten what Mr. Potter is capable off?" Lucius' smirk was deadly and Harry glanced up towards the Minister to see him paling.

Rita Skeeter was writing quickly, her quill flying over her parchment as she sucked on the end of her quill and then glanced up towards Harry. She winked at him and Harry found himself flushing.

"Well, it is of no concern to me if Mr. Potter is daunted by my presence. It would serve him well to know that there are those who look out for his needs and have his best interests at heart…"

"If you really had his best interest at heart then perhaps you should be more concerned what is happening outside of the walls of your own comfortable office, Minister? It keeps happening that mistakes made by the Ministry seem to have a direct effect here on Hogwarts. The Ministry is severely lacking if you do not even realize that an unregistered animagus has appeared at Hogwarts and he has been living with an employee of you, for all those years."

"I will have you know that our security is top notch. We have been a little bit preoccupied lately." Fudge was barely keeping his temper.

"You mean that you have relaxed your guard because you think that the Dark Lord was beaten by an infant! Perhaps you should rethink your ways, Minister and prepare so that when he rises again, he won't take over as easily as he did all those years ago."

"Do you know something perhaps, Professor Snape that you are not sharing with me? Withholding information regarding the whereabouts of the You Know Who is a serious crime. One that would almost put you in league with him. I have not forgotten on whose side you were really on."

Rita was writing so fast that Harry was surprised she could keep up. He glanced up at his guardian to see Snape merely smirking. Dumbledore looked stricken and ready to interfere. Lucius looked from one man to the other.

Why would Snape be smirking? If those things were said of Harry, he would have been really angry. It almost seemed as though Snape was pleased with the way Fudge had responded.

"I have been a bit preoccupied this past month with another issue that should have been addressed by both the Headmaster and the Ministry for Magic. Another failure I suppose. I do not have the desire to spy for Dumbledore as I once did, especially when I am not only responsible for myself now but also for somebody else."

"Oh, and what issue have we forgotten now then? Perhaps you should stand in our shoes and see if you can do a better job."

"I already have. I have done a better job than you yourself, the Ministry and The Headmaster of this school have done and that is to protect Harry Potter."

"We have protected Harry Potter just as well…"

"From what? From being abused by his relatives? From the Death Eaters that were too afraid to go after him? From failing to check up upon him? What exactly were you trying to protect him from?"

Snape's voice dropped lower. Fudge rocked to his feet as if burned.

"You make a lot of accusations, Snape, but I have yet to see proof of this matter. For somebody who is abused Mr. Potter looks remarkably well." Fudge realized he had made a mistake when there were sharp intakes of breath all through the room.

"Are you really prepared to dismiss my word of Mr. Potter's treatment at the hands of his family a mistake, Minister?"

Fudge bristled. "In my world, we demand proof before we make accusations."

"Like you did with Black, Minister?" Lucius purred. And as the silence deepened, Harry knew that somehow, his guardian and Mr. Malfoy had won this battle but yet, he wondered what had been the goal of this.

Hp

"Severus, a word please?" Dumbledore's voice was curt. Severus cursed. He just wanted one moment of peace in this incredibly long day. But it seemed that he wasn't even granted that. He turned back to the Headmaster.

"Yes, Headmaster?" He held himself stiffly. It was no doubt about his abysmal behavior when Fudge was here.

"This isn't about your behavior towards me when Miss Skeeter was present, though I have to ask, do you really detest me that much for what I have put Harry through that you would go as far as to announce it publically…"

"I wanted Fudge to admit that he had made a mistake. He had to know what the Ministry had done, or rather not had done for Harry." Severus was not going to back down. He knew what he had done may not have been the best tactic but now Fudge would not look like the rescuing hero here.

"You have not answered my question." The blue eyes twinkled sadly.

"This is not about my personal feelings regarding you, Headmaster, but it is about that blame is laid on those who are responsible for what happened to Harry. This may happen again. I have no desire to be picking up the pieces every time Fudge or yourself fail to see the signs of abuse. The public must be made aware that the Ministry has made mistakes. They make too many mistakes as far as I am concerned and the public does not know or does not wish to do anything about it. My personal feelings regarding you are of no matter here."

"I see. But it is not the reason why I asked you to remain behind. This concerns Quirrell. Rumor has reached me that he is looking to start a dueling/defense class and is planning to start it soon. Now, that in itself would not be the biggest problem, were it not that it is Professor Quirrell who is organizing this. I have a feeling that this would not go over very well were he to duel you, as his intention is."

"Harry warned me about that."

"Harry knows about this?" Dumbledore looked concerned and with a sigh Severus relayed what his ward had told him.

"So Harry is saying that Quirrell seemed to be a completely different person. Then the situation is indeed graver then I thought. Especially when last Halloween what I have hidden here was almost stolen…."

"Ah, yes, when will you remove that thing? Have you had any contact with the Flamel about this?"

For some reason Severus had no doubt that they could protect the stone better than hiding it here at Hogwarts. They had practice in hiding the damn thing for 600 years while ever since the thing had come into Dumbledore's hands, it had nearly been stole, twice.

He merely sighed and glanced back up at the Headmaster before he asked. "Has Quirrell approached you about starting this club?"

Dumbledore leaned forward, his eyes twinkling as he said. "Do you have an idea perhaps, Severus?"

Severus smirked as he said. "Of course not, Headmaster. I am merely pointing out that if there is to be a duel in the Great Hall with the students present then the Headmaster should be there, especially if no consent was given for the duel, to make sure that the international dueling rules and regulations are obeyed. Especially those that were amended by the Ministry for Magic to make dueling acceptable and teachable. "

"Once again you surprise me, Severus."

"I do try, Headmaster. Was that all?" Severus rose to his feet at Dumbledore's nod. He wished they could do something about Quirrell but they could only make their move if the Defense Professor made the first one. And so far, Quirrell had been oddly silent, but if only Severus knew how fast that was going to change.

Hp

Harry was standing in front of the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore's office. He had gone down to Snape's office only to find that Professor Snape wasn't there. There had been enough red robed aurors that had walked around. Draco had explained that they were like magical policemen but Harry would rather not get in their way.

One of them had told Harry that he could find Professor Snape with the Headmaster but Harry had no idea what the password to Dumbledore's office was, so he would rather wait until Snape or Dumbledore emerged.

He didn't have to wait long until his guardian emerged, but Snape was so lost in thought that he missed Harry as he took a sharp right turn. Harry had to run to keep up with the long strides of his guardian as he shouted. "Professor Snape."

The older wizard stopped in his tracks and Harry nearly collided with him. Only Snape's hand on his shoulder steadied him. "Mr. Potter."

"I wanted to talk to you about what happened today." Snape gave a firm nod and guided Harry down the marble stairs towards the dungeons. The students that were returning from dinner were chatting softly amongst themselves and paying no heed to either Harry or Snape.

The Professor slowed his steps for a moment as he listened. "It seems that the rumors have not [!] yet spread among the students just what the reason is for the aurors being here. I had hoped to avoid it until the Headmaster makes a statement. It seems because of all the confusion we have missed dinner. Dinners are always a good opportunity to make announcements regarding what happened here today."

"I have already eaten." Harry was rewarded by a hand on top of his head as Snape said.

"Then I am in glad that in light of the recent events which took over my intention, you took care of yourself. You feel better now than you did a few hours ago?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Malfoy told me that I should eat my fill and go to bed when I felt tired. According to him, it was the best remedy for healing away the effects of accidental magic."

"Yes, Lucius had enough dealings with accidental magic when Draco grew up to know what best way to minimize the lingering effects." Snape's voice revealed nothing and the Potions Master turned away from the delicious smells that came from the kitchen.

"Come, we shall retire to my office so I can finally get some supper and you can talk to your hearts content."

Harry would have been more than happy to make that his evening but as usual, things didn't go as they were planned. A flash of magic caught Harry's attention and immediately he was shoved behind Snape.

The older wizard took a step back even as a shield flared around them both. Students hastily stepped out of the way and Harry could peer around Snape's legs to see who had dared to attack his guardian.

"Professor Snape, I hereby challenge you to a duel, tomorrow at noon in the Great Hall."

And as Harry stared at Quirrell, he wondered if his defense teacher had finally lost his mind but what was an even bigger worry, that Snape was going to be alright when he fought Quirrell, because somehow, Quirrell seemed different and Harry didn't like it one bit.

Another semi cliffy. I didn't cover everything I wanted to cover but I suppose that is to be expected [!]. So review of course and send me some ideas on what you want to see for the article, the duel, Dumbledore's plan and of course Sirius' reaction to the news that Pettigrew has been caught.

In the next chapter: things at Hogwarts turn deadly as Quirrell challenges Snape to a duel, can our hero hold his ground against the Defense Professor or will secrets be revealed along the lines? And just what has Dumbledore planned? When Rita Skeeter prints the article, how will the public react or will Fudge and Dumbledore have more on their hands than [!] they bargained for? And how will Sirius react to [!] the information that the [!] investigation for Pettigrew's murder begins again? Can he contain himself? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you for the great reviews. I'm sorry that it took so long but had some personal problems that I'm still dealing with and my uni is far busier then I ever thought. But anyway, let's begin.

Days in Azkaban were always the same. Sirius woke up and changed into his Animagus form, allowing his mind to calm down from the nightmarish sleep he had been in. Usually when the guards came to deliver breakfast he had transformed back. Usually to kill the time he allowed himself to reminisce about the time at Hogwarts, with James and Remus when they would sneak about.

Sometimes, if the Dementors drew closer to his cell, he would transform and howl like a beaten dog. But always, for all those years he had been imprisoned, he had howled at the full moon every month. Sometimes he couldn't even see the moon but he had learned to feel it together with Moony on these nights so long ago when they had run free at Hogwarts.

So the days blended together and Sirius tried to keep himself as sane as possible. The bleak existence would continue for all his life, he knew but sometimes there were days when people visited. You could tell because the guards became excited and Sirius was told repeatedly to be on his best behavior.

It meant that he couldn't transform on those days and escape this hell. It drove him insane but once those days were over, he was glad that he could transform into Padfoot and escape into the simple mind of the dog. He had to be careful not to lose himself in there but knowing that he was innocent carried him through.

He had long ago forsaken hope that he would ever be free or Pettigrew caught. The slimy rat had no doubt taken the first chance that came along to get out of Britain and start a new life for himself. It would have been something that Sirius would do.

But his hopes increased when a few days or weeks ago, Sirius was never sure, Snape and Remus had come to visit. Sirius never received many visitors, not even from Remus. Their visit had reminded him that he wasn't the only one at stake here. He had to consider Harry as well.

He had no intention of becoming Harry's guardian. He had no idea what a boy his age needed and he always rather liked the idea of being the cool uncle who did all the fun stuff with their godchild before he could deliver them back to their parents.

It was a favorite daydream of his and one sure way to keep him sane. To think about the life he should have had with James and Lily and little Harry. But Remus' visit had rekindled something inside of him and it had set things into motion so fast that Sirius had not even dared blink, lest it be another dream.

"Well, well, well, Black, let's try to make you look presentable because you have got company coming today and that is very important company." Rowly, one of the friendlier guards stood in front of the door.

Sirius backed into a corner. He knew what would happen next. They would stun him if he wasn't going to comply and wanting to make a good impression, Sirius held his hands in front of him, allowing them to be bound.

Rowly smiled and then the door opened. Rowly and Smith, another of the friendlier guards entered Sirius' cell. Sirius smiled but he knew that they were weary of him. They could not trust him and he knew it. He was a dangerous criminal after all.

He snorted. He was a powerful wizard but this place robbed him of his magic. It suppressed his magic and without a wand to direct his magic, he couldn't do a thing.

Who was coming to visit him now? He seemed to have had more visitors in the past few weeks than he'd had in the entire ten years that he had been incarcerated. First it was Remus and Snivellus. No, Snape! He's Harry's guardian and that means that you better be nice with him unless you want him to influence Harry badly.

He shook his head firmly and smiled slightly. His feet were shackled together and he was led to his bed where he was made to sit. It was a humiliating procedure but Sirius knew that if he protested, they wouldn't hesitate to use spells upon him. He would rather go through this with something akin to decency than to be tied to the bed like a common thug.

Rowly and Smith were friendly to him and while they were strict, they didn't mind to explain things to him. They didn't behave like he was an idiot, which was refreshing for a change. He knew better than to expect stimulating conversation but it was nice not to be treated like a criminal.

He slowly breathed out, forcing his muscles to relax. If he tensed, the ropes would cut into his skin and it would only hurt more.

When he had just been sentenced in Azkaban, he had often railed and screamed, intent on breaking free. Now, he knew better. They would only see it fit to punish him and Sirius had no taste for that. He had received enough punishment in the earliest years…

So he merely schooled his expression and smiled pleasantly as the guards set out to wash and bath him. He did indeed have important company coming today but he wasn't aware just how important.

Hp

If there was one thing that Rufus Scrimgeour hated about his job it was the visits to Azkaban. The dreadful environment was not something that spoke of a safe environment but rather of plotting revenge and scheming about escaping. And if there was one thing Rufus detested, it was when criminals escaped.

It meant more work for his men and a lot more paper for the Head of the Auror division, namely him. He didn't like paper work either. It meant hours behind his desk when he could have been doing other things.

Such as having the delightful task of being a messenger boy for the Ministry. Normally he would have dispatched one of the trainees or junior aurors. It was always a test of strength and character to see which one of the new recruits who wanted to join the ranks of aurors that could stand to be at Azkaban and possibly come face to face with the Wizarding World's toughest criminals.

But there were some things that Rufus had to do himself. Such as visit Sirius Black. He didn't dread the visit. It was a nice break from a day that would have been filled with rapports and meetings. Sadly his position did not allow him to go out onto the field much, he missed that.

Though the stability was nice and his wife always liked it when he came home in one piece. There was not much danger when one was sitting behind a desk, unless one counted explosive Howlers. But Rufus had not been made Head of Auror office for nothing….

"Rufus Scrimgeour, Head of Auror division and here to see Sirius Black." Rufus told the guard. He fingered the coins he kept in his pocket. He wasn't nervous but this place put him on his guard.

Because of his position he didn't have to hand in his wand. There were certain perks to his position after all. Such as receiving interesting cases and actually being able to give his opinion. This was certainly an interesting case. The investigation to Sirius Black had reopened after the discovery of Peter Pettigrew.

Even now a cell was prepared for Pettigrew to hold him in Azkaban and Kingsley Shacklebolt together with Alastor Moody was questioning him back at the Ministry. While Rufus wouldn't trust Moody as far as he could throw him, the man was too paranoid for his own good, he was one though Auror. He may even manage to crack Pettigrew.

Leaning on his left leg, Rufus winced. His right leg would never be the same again after a dark curse had been cast on it. It was his last mission before he was promoted and to this very day his wife didn't allow him to forget what had happened.

He had never learned what the curse had been but it had felt like liquid ice had been poured into the very bones of his leg, causing the muscles to strain and become damaged. As a result he walked with a permanent limp.

"Black is ready to see you, Auror Scrimgeour." Rufus nodded and followed the guard deeper into Azkaban. He had been here plenty of times, and learned not to pay attention to the screams of the prisoners, or the ghastly affects of the Dementors. He had been trained to ignore them.

The guard paused outside a thick metal door that had one small window in it at the eye height and the other one near the bottom.

"Would you prefer for one of us to be in the room as well, sir or do you prefer privacy? We shall be waiting outside of the door. There are charms in place in the room to prevent Black from breaking out or to try and harm you. You may use magic if necessary but I have always found that Black will cooperate easily when somebody speaks calmly to him."

"Yes, Black was always the more intelligent of the bunch here. Very well, I thank you for your concern. I shall call if I have need of you or if something comes up." Rufus straightened his robes and then felt for his wand beneath his sleeve.

He knew that with one movement of his wrist he would hold his wand in hand. It was a comforting thought.

He stepped into the room, for a moment pausing as he allowed his eyes to adjust to the lighting. The room was small, a toilet in one corner and a bunk bed, on which Sirius Black sat. The blue eyes didn't hold a touch of insanity that Rufus had come to expect when dealing with people in Azkaban.

The dark hair was shabby but Black's eyes narrowed as they gazed upon Rufus. Black didn't utter a word and Rufus raised an eyebrow before he said.

"My name is Rufus Scimgeour and I am here to go over your testimony from when you were caught. A new investigation has been opened into your case after certain events have come to light that should be further investigated before the Wizengamot will review your case again."

"What happened?" Black's voice was a croak but the other man didn't seem bothered by it.

"Peter Pettigrew has been found alive. He was hiding at Hogwarts. He has been brought in for questioning concerning the Potter's deaths."

Emotions flickered across Black's gaunt face quickly but the man didn't blurt anything out before he softly said. "And the Ministry sends the Head to conduct an interview with me? It sounds more like a job for a high ranking auror but not the Head of the department. It is too bad that you are the one who has to fix the Ministry's mistake but I suppose it can't be helped. Go ahead; it isn't like I have anything better to do."

"Would you consent to testifying under Veritaserum and submitting yourself to Legilimency?"

Rufus fingered his wand and eyed Black. The other man merely smiled thinly and said. "There isn't anything I can do about it if you wanted to have me testify so what do I have to lose? Do your best! I have nothing to lose. But please get a competent Legilimens on this because I hate to deal with a headache."

And despite everything Rufus barked out a laugh and smirked. This would actually be a fun job for once.

Hp

When the first knock on the door came, Severus ignored it. He was too busy with his grading and research. His mind was still busy trying to comprehend the duel that was to take place tomorrow. In the moments after the invitation, he had waited for the commotion to settle.

It had taken the combined efforts of himself, Fillius and Minerva to get the students back to dinner or their common rooms or simply on his way. Severus had resorted to sneering, handing out detentions and other things before he swept to the safety of his office.

An office where he was still sitting, hours later. He had busied himself in his work. He knew he should not worry about the duel tomorrow. He was a competent dueler and years of rising in the ranks of the Death Eaters had given him skills that would serve him well tomorrow. But there was a feeling that he couldn't shake that he was forgetting something.

Quirrell had seemed strange when he had come back from his year abroad for research. He was changed. Of course, a year abroad on one's one would change anybody but there was something sinister about the younger wizard, something that Severus couldn't place and he didn't like that.

He glanced up irritably when another knock came. He wasn't here. Perhaps if he didn't answer then the obnoxious student would go away.

He tried to focus on the essays in front of him. When another knock came he rose from his seat in a flurry of robes. Damn those students. Couldn't he have one evening in peace? His day had been hectic, with the discovery of Pettigrew and all.

The fourth knock came when he was halfway to the door and Severus opened the door as he hissed. "What is so damn important that you must bother me now?"

Potter nearly fell into the room but he managed in time to catch himself before he would stumble against Severus and would most likely throw them both of balance. The green eyes blinked up at Severus before the young Gryffindor said.

"You said that I could talk to you about…about everything that happened…"

Harry looked ragged. The thin cheeks were flushed and Severus had no doubt that Harry had run to get down here. He raised an eyebrow.

"I expected you after dinner." He said. That moment his stomach growled to remind him that he hadn't eaten dinner either.

Harry flushed again and then said. "The students pushed me away from you. I tried to wait by the Marble Staircase but Professor McGonagall sent me upstairs to the Common Room. Ron was there and he was pretty upset by what happened. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley have come to collect him and bring him home for the weekend. Hermione was busy studying for the Charm's test but I can't focus…"

"Ah yes, I did promise you that chat, didn't I?" He stepped aside to let Harry enter. His ward did so with weary eyes at Severus.

"You aren't busy? I can always come back another time."

"No, I am never too busy for you, Harry. Now, come and sit down. I believe that you already ate dinner, correct?"

After a moment contemplating his office, Severus instead gestured for Harry to go through to his living quarters. The large table would do well for them to eat dinner. His office desk was too crowded with scrolls and other things that he kept there.

Harry grinned and then said. "Yeah but I haven't had dessert yet."

"The world will surely end if you do not have dessert." Severus rolled his eyes. Merlin, help him during the summer when he had to feed Harry without the help of House Elves. Perhaps he could persuade Albus to lend him a pair.

Having ordered dinner and seated himselfat the table he looked at Harry who was anxiously fidgeting in the chair opposed him, eyes to the table thatrose up to meet Severus' time and time again before Harry looked away again.

Taking a delicious bite of the stew and potatoes the House Elves had delivered to him, Severus gestured for Harry to eat his pudding before he said. "Now, what has gotten you so anxious?"

Harry finished chewing before he swallowed and blurted out. "You are going to say no, aren't you? To the duel tomorrow! Surely you won't compete."

Severus nearly choked on his food and his eyes narrowed as he swallowed thickly and snarled. "And sacrifice my honor, Potter! I believe that you are mad…"

"But you cannot win…" Harry cried out.

"I thank you for doubting my skills but I will have you know that I am more than capable of defending myself! If this is what you came to discuss then why don't you go back to your friends in Gryffindor? I'm sure they are a much better audience than I am to joke with about my skills."

His voice was sharp but Harry's eyes were frightened as the boy whispered. "You don't understand, Severus! He is different! He isn't the stuttering Defense Professor that everybody thinks he is. There is something dark surrounding him. He scares me, Severus! He is going to hurt you! He nearly said so when Draco and I went to his office…."

Harry was upset and Severus frowned. He reached forward and laid a careful hand on Harry's arm as he said. "You have told me about that and while I talked about this with the Headmaster, he cannot find a reason why Quirrell would be so different in private that he is when he is around other people. He will not be able to harm me."

"But he can….I wasn't supposed to survive You Know Who but I have…"

"You have a point." Severus conceded. He pushed his empty plate away and then moved his chair closer to Harry. He took a sip of his wine before he said.

"Now, there is nothing for you to worry about. Quirrell cannot harm me. Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Madam Pomfrey and all the other teachers are going to be there to step in. Professor Flitwick has agreed to be my second so that he can step in. It is merely for show and since the Headmaster is present nothing will happen to me."

Something warmed inside of him because Harry worried about him. It hadn't happened that many times that somebody worried about Severus' safety. He ruffled Harry's hair and asked with a smirk.

"I think it does not bode well if even my ward does not trust in my skill. Do you think me unable to duel?"

"But Professor Quirrell might resort to underhand tricks or fight dirty…." Harry fell silent at the look Severus gave him and the older man smirked.

"Perhaps you have forgotten that you are talking to a Slytherin? We invented dirty fighting." Harry flushed and then nodded.

"Yeah, sorry I forgot….I keep forgetting not everybody thinks as Gryffindors."

Biting back the comment that Gryffindors did know how to fight dirty, Severus said instead. "Now there is no need to be insulting. I have done nothing to be accused of being a Gryffindor."

And as Harry laughed, Severus allowed himself to be put at ease because despite his reassurance to Harry, he was a bit worried about the duel tomorrow.

Hp

Feeling full from the pudding, Harry did accept the cup of tea Snape gave him. The older wizard had set up the chess board for them and was now teaching Harry how to play. It brought to mind the evenings he spent with Ron trying to teach him the very same thing.

"Severus?" The Professor hummed in the back of his throat as he contemplated his next move and Harry asked.

"That man, the rat who was a man…"

"Animagus is the word you are looking for, Harry. It is a wizard who has the ability to transform into an animal, such as Professor McGonagall. She can transform into a cat."

"Yeah well, anyway, that man, who was that? Remus looked as though he wanted to tear that man's head off."

"Harry, what do you know of your parents' murder?" Snape was watching him now and Harry shrugged.

"Only what Hagrid and you have told me, That You Know Who came on Halloween's Eve and killed my dad first and then my mom stood in front of me as he tried to kill me. He killed her and then he tried to kill me but he couldn't…"

"Your parents were in hiding. A charm had been placed on their house to prevent anybody from seeing it. Only those who knew of the charm could access their home. All this information was kept by a person, the Secret Keeper. Unless the Secret Keeper decided to divulge the information then the information could not be come by. Everybody assumed that Sirius Black, your godfather and your fathers best friend was the Secret Keeper but it was Pettigrew. And he was the one who betrayed your parents to the Dark Lord."

Harry didn't even know what to say. A rage overtook him but he sat silent. Snape seemed to guess what was going on because he said. "That is why Black went after him and after learning of this, I cannot blame him for doing so. I would have done the same myself if only it had been my right."

Harry glanced up sharply at that. Snape looked away for a moment before he continued. "There is more that you should know, Harry. The Dark Lord did not go after your parents because they had defied him and were fighting him but because of you. A prophecy was made, one that I overheard and since I was in the service of the Dark Lord at that time, one of his followers, I went back to him. He interpreted that prophecy and decided that you would be the one it concerned and set out to try and settle it. Little did he know that it would lead to his downfall…"

Snape fell silent, as silent as Harry was. The Professor looked away again before he glanced back at Harry and spoke in a whisper. "Your mother and I had been childhood friends but because of a mistake I made, she ended the friendship. To the end of her life I tried to make it up to her. When I became aware that it concerned her family that the Dark Lord planned to murder, I pleaded with him to reconsider but the Dark Lord does not concern himself with those that follow him. In the end, it drove me to rethink my ways and go to Albus in hoping that he could protect her family. He failed in that regard, as you know."

So Snape had known his mother. Carefully he asked. "But if you hadn't told You Know Who, would somebody else have done so?"

Snape nodded as he said. "I was not the only Death Eater at that place that night. There were others. We were all new and therefore the prophecy would have been carried back to the Dark Lord no matter what, because of the glory it would give us. But had I know that it meant Lily, I would have hexed anybody that would have dared to even breathe a word. But I have tried to atone for my mistake, especially my belief that Albus or the Dark Lord could be trusted."

Snape's expression was terrible to behold and Harry swallowed thickly before he asked. "Did Professor Dumbledore not try to protect my mom and dad and me?"

Snape barked out a humorless laugh before he said. "Oh yes, he tried but he failed. He could not prevent the Potters from placing their faith in the wrong man, though I cannot fault him for that but there were other measures he could have taken to protect them. He could have had them moved out of the country, given them new identities and complete new lives but he did not. But what I cannot forgive him for is failing to protect you. He knew very well that your family was abusive and yet he sent you there and did not even check upon you once. I should not have allowed myself to be placated by gentle words and false promises. I swore an oath to protect you and it is one I intend to honor."

Harry could only nod breathlessly before he asked. "But will that mean that you won't fight tomorrow in the duel? If you are injured, who is going to take care of me then?"

Snape stiffened and then said. "With Pettigrew behind locked doors, I imagine that Black's trial will simply be a formality. He will be released, with a hefty sum and I have no doubt that the way will be paved for him to gain custody of you."

"But I don't want Black! I want you!" He jumped to his feet, standing besides Snape's chair as the older wizard stared down at him.

"You would willingly stay with me, when you can have your godfather to take care of you. A man that is an Animagus and one of the biggest pranksters Hogwarts has ever seen?"

Harry nodded. He didn't know what to say. Who said that Black wouldn't be nice to him? He had never even met him. Harry knew that Severus had his best intentions at heart. He liked talking to the older wizard and being consoled by him.

"I understand if you don't want me but I had hoped that when these two months were up and…"

A hand gently tousled his already messy hair as Snape softly said. "I have thought about what is going to happen when the initial two months are up and I will have to file for permanent guarding papers. I have also thought about what it would mean to have you in my life as not only a student but as a ward. Of what it would mean to my job and the changes I would have to make to accommodate you. I have spoken with Lupin and Professor McGonagall about you and what I should do. Lupin knows Black and therefore he can predict to a certain extent what may happen. I have also said to Black that I am your temporary guardian. I have considered this a great deal and I always seem to reach the same conclusion."

Snape was silent and Harry steeled himself for what was going to be said now. Snape would indicate that he would have to find a new guardian and Harry would have to start all over again. He trusted Snape and knew the older wizard would never harm him deliberately. He, if he was being honest, had started to consider Snape as a father.

You foolish, foolish boy, Harry! You know better than to expect things like this. Why would Snape want to make room in his life for an obnoxious brat…?

"I have found that no matter what things I may consider, such as Black, the Dark Lord, the Death Eaters, the Ministry, the Weasleys, your stay here at Hogwarts or the direction my life may go into with or without you, that I would rather be your guardian than to see you under somebody else's wing. I will only step away should it be in your benefit but I fear that it may not be the case for I have grown too fond of you. I cannot, in all good conscious and imagination, imagine my life without you as my ward."

Breathlessly Harry glanced up. "You mean it?"

"Have you ever known me to lie, Mr. Potter?" And as Harry wordlessly shook his head, he grinned and threw his arms around Severus' legs. It was good to be wanted.

Hp

The students were excited for the upcoming duel and therefore they chatted loudly. Harry glanced up towards the Head Table. Snape's face was impassive as ever; Dumbledore didn't look worried, Professor McGonagall looked as stern as ever and Quirrell looked as he always did, nervous to be eating with so many people.

He sighed and refocused upon his meal. His visit with Snape had gone better than planned and Harry felt the warmth in his chest again; he took another bite of his toast. He couldn't eat because he was too worried about what was going to happen.

The duel was scheduled to take place during noon and only the first classes of the morning were to be held, the classes after lunch were cancelled. Everybody was to be served a lunch in the classrooms so the Great Hall could be made ready for the tournament.

He was so deep in thought that he didn't even notice the owls landing that brought the Daily Prophet to him. Hermione paid the owl and took the paper, folding it open before she muttered.

"Oh dear…"

Ron, who was seated next to her, leaned over to read whatever it was that was on the front page. The redhead choked upon his food before he said. "Harry, you've gotta see this."

Aware of the chattering that had suddenly increased around him and the way his name was mentioned quite a few times, he leaned over the table only to read:

Breaking News: Headmast er for Hogwarts and Minister of Magic Finally Have Something In Common: A Tale Of Spectacular Failure By Rita Skeeter.

Harry Potter, or more commonly known as the Boy Who Lived, and grew to fame quickly after his notorious defeat of He Who Must Not Be Named ten years ago, has started at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Normally, that would not be cause for concern because this reporter knows that Harry Potter longs for nothing more than to be treated as a normal 11 year old boy.

But once again, he proves that he isn't such. After being placed on the doorstep of his muggle family by Albus Dumbledore on the very eve his parents were murdered, Harry lived there as their house elf for the next ten years. Instead of being pampered as he should have been after having been through such an ordeal and losing his parents at such a young age, he learned to call the Cupboard Under The Stairs his room and not to talk back to his aunt and uncle.

The next ten years were filled with abuse for the young boy who had lost his family and only longed for a family to call his own as he was denied that again. He was denied the very basic of care and was often used as a servant by his aunt and as sport for his uncle and nephew.

Now while these crimes may reflect badly upon the muggles he was placed with and ignorance on their part in dealing with a magical child, this does not excuse the behavior shown by Albus Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge.

On a normal base, magical children who are placed with muggle families are kept watch over by the Ministry for Child Services. Counseling and guidance is offered to those who have questions or need help in dealing with a magical child.

And yet, nobody ever checked upon Harry Potter, in all those years that he was gone from the magical world. One may excuse this as safety measures taken by Albus Dumbledore but one cannot help but notice that he failed to protect Harry Potter from his relatives.

It seems that the Minister for Magic sees eye to eye on this with the Headmaster of Hogwarts when it concerns Potter. Both are unwilling to comment on the litigations that both have been remiss and simply wrong in their behavior concerning Potter's home situation.

But not all is hopeless for Harry. For two shrewd members of our society have taken up the gauntlet and decided to fight Harry's battles for him. Severus Snape, claimed spy by Albus Dumbledore would never have needed a reason to go against the man who had kept him out of Azkaban, so why has he agreed to take custody of Harry?

Is it his similar past or can the Head of Slytherin House not stand idly as Harry Potter returns time and time again to an abusive household? We may never know.

But this reporter knows that while Harry was certainly too young to fight the monster that killed his parents, he is also too young to fight the legal battle that will take place. It is lucky for him that not only Severus Snape but Molly Weasley, Arthur Weasley, Minerva McGonagall and one of the most powerful men in our society, Lucius Malfoy have decided to fight it for him.

While all of these people were at opposite's side of the war, Harry Potter seems to have drawn them all together. And with the discovery of Peter Pettigrew and the possible release of Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, this reporter is sure that we have not seen the end of this battle and she is sure that the outcome will not be in favor of Albus Dumbledore or Cornelius Fudge.

Beside it was a picture of Harry throwing up his hands to protect himself. It wasn't half bad, Harry mused. Below it was a picture of both Severus and Mr. Malfoy arguing with Professor Dumbledore and the Minister of Magic. One could see how they disagreed with one another.

Harry glanced up towards the Staff Table. Dumbledore looked saddened when he glanced at Snape but the Potions Master was doing his best to ignore the Headmaster. One glance around the Hall showed students glancing at Harry before throwing angry looks towards Dumbledore.

He searched for Draco's tell tale blond hair and when he spotted it, the Slytherin leaned back in his seat and glanced at Harry, grinning at him before winking. And as Harry found that he was still nervous about the upcoming duel, he knew that he didn't have to fight Fudge and Dumbledore, because other, more qualified people were doing that for him and it felt bloody amazing.

Hp

Severus slowly breathed out. He wasn't nervous, like hell. He had survived a war, had stood before one of the most evil wizards of all time, and had been on trial in front of the Wizengamot. He had fought countless wizards and witches in his time and this was a mere duel. And yet, he was concerned.

Shields and safety charms had been conjured to protect the students but still, Severus had a bad feeling about this.

"Severus?" The soft call of his name had him turning around. Albus was standing behind him and for once the blue eyes did not twinkle.

"Headmaster." He greeted.

"Severus, my boy, are you quite ready for this duel?"

"I have fought stronger people then Quirrell before, Headmaster." Severus was not prepared to forgive Dumbledore for his mistakes just yet. The Headmaster glanced sadly at him before he said.

"I will remain in the Hall to referee the duel. Should there be any problems, I expect to be notified."

"You will. Just keep the students safe that is all I care about."

Severus ignored the Headmaster. He needed to focus and get into the right mindset for this duel. He could not afford mistakes. Quirrell may not have that much magical strength but any man could win a duel with the right moves.

He took another deep breath and then as he carefully sheathed his wand in his wrist sheath, he walked out of the classroom. The sound of chatting students filled the Entrance Hall but Severus didn't glance up at them once.

He stepped into the Great Hall. It was transformed. Gone were the House Tables and the staff table. There was a long stage on which the duel would take place. Minerva, Lupin, Fillius, Hagrid and most of the other faculty members were present for the duel. They were standing in front of the students, wands at the ready.

Shields may have been cast but it would not be the first time a stray curse managed to go through a shield. He glanced around at Quirrell and inclined his head as he saw the Defense Teacher who stood at the other end of the stage.

Quirrell wasn't dressed in his usual attire either. Only the purple turban was present, as always. Severus had chosen to wear shorter robes that were more form fitting. His hair was tied back in a low pony tail to keep out of his face.

"Are you ready, Severus?" The squeaky voice of Fillius Flitwick was behind him and Severus turned to the charm's Professor. He was glad that Fillius had agreed to be his second. It was an honor but it spoke of the trust between them.

"I am. I have prepared to the best of my abilities. If I should go down, be prepared to step in."

Fillius nodded and then said. "Good luck. "

He merely nodded; already his mind was focused upon the duel. He glanced about the room. The students were chatting softly to themselves but one anxious face peered up at him, silently urging him to be careful. The green eyes were frightened and Severus allowed himself to smirk.

He inclined his head at Harry, hearing the unspoken message Harry send him. He would not willingly put himself into danger but there were some things that he needed to do.

He took a deep breath and then proceeded up the stairs towards the stage. Quirrell did the same from the other side. Severus eyed the small Professor.

"Sonorous!" Albus' voice was soft as he intoned the spell before he said, his voice rising through the hall effortless.

"On this day, the duel between Professor Quirrell and Professor Snape shall take place. The challenger is Professor Quirrell and Professor Snape has accepted. Professor Snape has picked Professor Flitwick as his second; will you pick somebody as well, Professor Quirrell?"

Severus was glad to see the confused expression on Quirrell's face. It slid away after a moment, being replaced by an indifferent one as the Professor said coldly. "I have no need of one."

"Very well. No dark curses, no curses with the intent to kill. If an opponent is knocked out, the second will take over or the duel is finished. You may begin."

Dumbledore clapped his hands and they bowed to one another for a mere second, and then the first curse was shot. Severus barely had the time to throw up a shield.

So it was going to be Non Verbal Spells now was it? Two could play that game. He shot a stunner towards Quirrell, watching as the other wizard jumped away before twirling his wand. A hasty Protego conjured up a shield as a hex slammed into it, making it quiver.

Severus frowned. Obviously Quirrell was stronger than he looked. He slowly strengthened his shield and made it invisible before he sent a tickling hex towards the other Professor. At the last moment when Quirrell sought to dodge it again, he flickered his wand to make it change direction. It hit Quirrell full in the chest and the Defense Professor went down in a fit of giggles.

Severus allowed a smirk to grace his features but it didn't last long as a muscle cramping curse hit his leg. Groaning softly he dropped to one leg to run his wand over his muscles, muttering a healing charm to make them relax.

Quirrell had gotten to his feet again and he sneered. "You think you can defeat me, Severus. But I know you! I know your heart, traitor."That voice belonged to his darkest nightmare and Severus felt himself freeze.

"No, it cannot be!" But Quirrell merely smiled coldly, not a hint of the stuttering Professor upon his features.

There was something else there; something viler and darker than Quirrell and Severus forced himself to remain calm. He had no way of knowing if he was correct but the rumors he had heard for years said that the Dark Lord had survived.

Severus was unprepared however when he was blasted of his feet by a blast curse. The magic dampening charm Albus had cast over the room dampened the magic and reduced the curse to a blast yet it did manage to knock Severus off his feet.

He sat up immediately, groaning softly as the students cheered. Quirrell looked around the room with suspicious eyes, fingering his wand. So now he knew that they couldn't throw powerful hexes at one another, thus not lethally harming their opponent.

For that Severus was glad, if it was true what he feared, one powerful blast would reduce him to ashes. But why hadn't he sensed it? Harry hadn't complained about his scar either and even the Headmaster hadn't said anything.

He got to his feet, grimly facing a smirking Quirrell who said. "If I cannot rely on the power of my curses then I shall simply revert to older, darker methods. Be prepared to lose your magic, Snape!"

Severus cast a warning glance towards Dumbledore as the Defense Professor's wand began to move in a complex pattern. Something was wrong. He could feel the very magic in the room deepen, drawn together for a dark purpose.

Dumbledore stared at him grim faced and then Severus knew he had only moments to act. He had a faint idea of what curse it was and he knew if that curse struck, he would be dead. So he settled upon a course of action as he dodged another hex, a bone shattering one thrown his way.

"Prepare to die!"

The words were hissed but Severus wasn't the only one who heard them because he could see Minerva's eyes widen as she too understood the intent behind the curse. The curse would rob him off his magic and made him a Squib. He would die before that could happen.

He took a moment to glance at Albus, knowing that the curse needed time for the magic to be gathered. He needed to act before that. The Headmaster raised his wand, nodding at Severus, telling him that he would support Severus.

Severus raised his wand before him and cried out, feeling not only his power but the combined magic of Albus and Minerva as well. "Impedimenta!"

The combined power behind the blast threw Quirrell off his feet and off of the stage. He hit the wall with a loud sickening thud that echoed through the silent hall. The prone figure sprawled down in an ungainly heap upon the floor as Quirrell was knocked out.

Shocked murmurs went up around the hall but as Poppy moved forward. Albus cast another charm at the shields surrounding the students and then gestured for Severus to approach Quirrell together with him, Minerva and Fillius.

"Headmaster, we have to remove Quirrell's turban because I fear that he may have cracked his skull." The Mediwitch already had her wand out to take the turban off but she frowned as her wand trembled in her hand.

"Is something wrong, Poppy?" Albus asked.

"It seems to be stuck . I cannot get it off. The magic protecting it is too strong."

"Why on earth would Quirinus enchant his turban to stay on his head? Unless he was too afraid that it might topple off. He must be bald underneath." Severus pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers to ward of his headache at Fillius' words. Sometimes he wondered how dimwitted the Professors were at this establishment.

"I shall try."When even Albus failed to get the turban off, Severus knew that something was wrong. Quirrell didn't stir and the Headmaster frowned with concentration as he sought to break the spell. The ancient wizard swayed and Severus steadied him with a careful hand on his elbow.

"Perhaps we can simply shake it off. Sometimes it takes brute force to accomplish things instead of magic." Minerva was quick to reach out but Severus shook his head.

"I shall do it. I'm younger and stronger then you. You do not know what he has protected himself with and if he lashes out, then you are quicker to protect me than I am to protect you. Protection spells are not my forte."

Minerva's eyes narrowed but she nodded her consent and Severus knew that he would hear about this again.

You try to act the gentleman for once and it will blow up in your face.

"Shall I hold him down? He won't struggle and wound you. I am immune to more spells than you are because of the werewolf curse."

"Very well, Lupin. Go ahead."

But Severus didn't even come near the turban because as he laid a careful hand on Quirrell's shoulder, pain seized up his arm and immediately his Dark Mark was aflame with pain and dark magic. He pulled back as if struck and recoiled, crying out softly as he crawled his left arm against his stomach, hiding it protectively.

Darkness tinted his vision because he suddenly knew just what was hiding underneath, or rather who. He backed away, keeping his eyes upon the still figure. He was unaware that somebody was holding his elbow, keeping him quite steady as he breathed heavily to try and keep himself from seizing Harry and fleeing the castle immediately. They were all in grave danger.

"My dear Severus, are you quite alright?"

"Albus, cast a holding spell upon him, immediately. You were right. He isn't what he appears. Call the aurors and dismiss the students…" He groaned as he swayed. His Dark Mark was unusually active, not surprising but he had forgotten the pain it caused when The Dark Lord was displeased with his followers.

Quirrell may be unconscious and that meant that The Dark Lord had no hold over him to make him do his bidding but he had other ways of making his displeasure known, such as through the Dark Mark now that Severus had touched the body he inhibited.

Another arm around his waist steadied him and despite himself Severus leaned his weight upon Lupin. He steeled his mind against the pain but he was satisfied when Albus immediately did as he asked.

"What is he hiding underneath that…?" Minerva did not even have time to finish the sentence because as the holding spell took hold, designed to hold a person's magic and keep them unconscious, Severus found himself relax.

He tore himself away from Lupin with a snarl, though it was diminished when he swayed again and Lupin's hand at his elbow was the only thing keeping him upright but he forced himself to say the dreaded words.

"Not what but who! The Dark Lord is sharing Quirrell's body!"

Cliffhanger from hell obviously. Cue dramatic music and you're all set. Now I need ideas on how to deal with Voldemort. So please post them. Happy New Year to everybody and the best wishes for the year 2011. Hopefully there will be lots of writing.

In the next chapter: Hogwarts is thrown into chaos as teachers and students alike realize they have been housing a Dark Lord. Is this a time to shine for Albus Dumbledore and Cor nelius Fudge or will Severus have to step in to take care of things? And what about Harry? Will he be safe at Hogwarts or will Severus make use of old friends to get his ward to safety? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I'm sorry for the delays but as I've said before, a lot has been going on lately and sadly my time for writing isn't my own anymore. I want to thank my beta for the great, great job she has done. Let's begin.

Gasps went up around him at Severus' words and immediately, instead of asking if Severus was sure, Albus took charge. It was one of the few times that Severus was completely sure that Albus trusted his word. Within a few moments the Headmaster cast a more powerful binding spell upon Quirrell, binding him effectively.

"We shall move him to an empty classroom and cast a spell upon it that will drain magic. Minerva, I shall require your assistance with that. Severus, you shall go with Poppy. Fillius take the Head Boy and Girl and enlist the help of the prefects to return the students to their Common Rooms and then summon the Minister. Tell him to bring his best people but do not say what the concern is. We must take action immediately so that he will not escape again!"

The glint in the normally calm and merry twinkling blue eyes was dangerous and Severus began to understand why Dumbledore was feared by so many people. With a wave of the wrinkled hand and Quirrell was bound. Holding out his arm so Minerva could take it, Albus took the end of the rope and Apparated.

As much as Severus was concerned, one of the few perks of being Headmaster was that one could Apparate anywhere within the castle, wards be damned.

Severus tried to remain steady on his feet but he allowed himself to stumble , knowing that Lupin was hovering nearby and would come to his rescue. He didn't care how he appeared before the students or what their opinion was, at the moment his only concern was for Harry and for that, well, his reputation needed to take a back seat.

He was right because a strong arm was wrapped around his waist and his elbow was held in a gentle but firm grip. He allowed himself to lean against Lupin, dark eyes fixed upon the Mediwitch as she began to make her way across the room to his side. He only had precious seconds and he needed to act. Glancing up at Lupin he hissed.

"Lupin, listen! I do not care about our feelings concerning our mutual past but I have a favor to ask of you."

Lupin's eyes gleamed as he said. "Name it, Severus."

"I want you to take Harry and leave! Go to Malfoy Manor. Lucius Malfoy will help you if you tell him what has happened. Please remain at Harry's side. I will join at the nearest available opportunity but I do not want Harry at Hogwarts. If something happens, he will be the first one the Dark Lord will seek out! Protect him, for Lily's sake, I beg you."

"Consider it done, Severus! And there is no need to ask me to do it for Lily; I would have done it simply for you or for Harry. He shall not be alone and I shall contact the Weasleys! They may know of another place where Harry will be safe."

"I will settle the debt and return the favor should you ever be in need of my protection…" He began only to be cut off as Lupin whispered.

"Severus, I consider you my friend and there is no such debt between us. If anything, I would gladly do this to settle the debt that I own you when you never once let it slip what I am." Severus only nodded once. He couldn't say anymore because Poppy reached him.

She took his arm and he stood up straight, suddenly feeling a lot better. Lupin nodded and Severus allowed himself to be led away. He glanced back to see Lupin disappearing among the muttering students and while Severus may not have cared much for Lupin in the past, he was grateful for the man to be able to see past their shared past. He vowed he would do the same, if not for the friendship Lupin offered but for Harry's sake as well.

HP

"Where are we going, Professor? Is this alright with Severus? Where is he?" Harry followed Remus down the deserted corridors. He wasn't so sure he was allowed out. Everybody had been ordered back to their common room but Remus had come for Harry.

They had been walked back to their common room by Percy Weasley, who seemed a bit unsettled by the disappearing act Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall had done in the middle of the Great Hall. Ron had said it was called Apparating and that it was impossible within Hogwarts according to Hermione so why the Headmaster would do so with an unconscious Quirrell and where they were going, nobody knew.

Professor Lupin had requested that Harry come with him and Percy hadn't argued. Probably because Remus was a teacher and he would take him to Severus. It didn't make any sense whatsoever to Harry when they walked out of the castle instead.

"Wait," He tugged on Remus' cloak and the older man turned to face him, amber eyes alert and curious. "Where are we going?"

"I'm taking you to a safe location. Hogwarts is a dangerous place for you to be right now."

"But where? And does Severus know about this? I'm not supposed to go somewhere alone…"

"I shall be accompanying you to the Malfoy's, Harry. Severus is the one who ordered it. You are right not to go off with people you do not know. But we must hurry. I shall explain properly when we arrive." Remus held out a battered tennis ball for Harry to take. Harry stared at it, confused.

Remus' eyes were kind even when the lines in his face were hard as he said. "It is a portkey. It will deliver us to Malfoy Manor."

Harry nodded. He took the tennis ball, feeling Remus' hand close around his before they were pulled away in a whirlwind of colors.

Hp

They landed in the beautiful gardens with the Manor looming over them. Harry glanced about. He had never been to Malfoy Manor before but Draco had shown him pictures of the beautiful property.

"Come along, I have no desire to find out firsthand what kind of security measures Lucius takes when it comes to protecting his home from unwanted intruders." Remus moved towards the big wooden doors that loomed in the distance and Harry was quick to catch up.

He didn't know Lucius that well but Draco had said that nobody could enter their house. He may have been exaggerating. Remus rang the doorbell and the door was opened by a small creature that was wearing a long white pillow sleeve. It had long bat like ears and great bulging eyes. It was the strangest creature Harry had ever seen.

"We are here to see Lucius Malfoy…"

"Do you have an appointment with Master Malfoy?"

"It is alright, Tibby. I believe that unexpected arrival of Mr. Lupin may have trigged my wards. You may leave now. I am sure that Mr. Lupin will be more than capable of telling me how he secured a portkey into my private garden."

Harry followed Remus as the older man stepped inside. Lucius didn't have a wand in hand but the way he stood reminded Harry of Severus whenever the older wizard was alarmed. The grey eyes shifted to Harry as he entered and Lucius' demeanor changed from wary to truly alarmed as he said. "What is going on?"

"Believe me, Lucius that I would not have brought Harry here unless it was truly an emergency. Severus gave us the portkey. He is unable to come at the moment but he will join us as soon as he is able." Harry glanced up to see the sneer on the handsome face but Lucius glanced at Harry.

"Does Dumbledore know you are here?"

"Nobody does except for Severus and the people in this room."

"Then perhaps you would share the reason of your coming here?"

"Lucius, what is going on?" The soft feminine voice was a welcoming distraction because Lucius brightened immediately. Harry glanced around to find a beautiful woman making her way over to them. She had long blond hair, a few shades darker than Lucius' and was slim. Her eyes were blue and she smiled warmly at her husband. "I thought you would treat guests better, Lucius. My apologies for my husband's behavior, he does not deal with surprises well."

"It is our fault for dropping in unexpectantly. We should have announced our arrival. My name is Remus Lupin and this is Harry Potter. Severus sent us."

"I gathered that much…." Narcissa smiled down at Harry and said. "Perhaps, dear, you and Professor Lupin can talk in private and I shall take Harry into the kitchen for some tea. Why don't you adjourn to the study?"

Harry had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing as he saw Lucius' lips tighten before the older wizard said, making it seem as though the words cost him everything to say. "Shall we retire to my study, Lupin, to talk in private?"

Remus nodded and Harry glanced up as Narcissa said. "Shall we see about getting some tea and biscuits, Harry?"

"Yes please, ma'am." Narcissa smiled and said.

"You may call me Narcissa, Harry. Now, do you want chocolate biscuits or the regular kind?"

And as Harry followed Narcissa to the kitchen, he couldn't help but glance back at the two men they left in the hallway. Something was up.

Hp

"Now, what is this about?" If Remus had thought that Lucius would be kind and do as his wife suggested, he was mistaken. Luckily he had never assumed that in the first place. He shifted his weight slightly and glanced up at the other man. The grey eyes were narrowed in contemplation and Remus said.

"Are you sure that we cannot be overheard, Lord Malfoy?"

This time the grey eyes narrowed in anger and Lucius hissed. "Do not dare to appear on my doorstep, werewolf, and assume control over my house! My house is secure, as you well know."

Remus held up his hands as he rapidly said, amber eyes darting around the hallway. "I do not speak of your previous alliances, Lucius, I speak of hidden ears that would like to find discriminating evidence to bring you down. You are aware as the clever man that you are, that some people have not forgotten your role in recent years and would love to bring you down, people in high places who are not fooled by your attempt to bribe your way into the good graces of our foolish Minister."

"What are you implying, Lupin?"

"That your house is not as secure as you may think and that the matter of which I speak is not for other ears. We need a secure location, Lord Malfoy, only then will I speak of the matter. You won't get rid of me sooner."

"Very well, follow me then but this better be good."

"Oh trust me; it's going to rock your world." Remus muttered as he fell into step besides the older man. He glanced about. The Manor was beautiful, well decorated and spacious. It was a home one could be proud of and would love to have, but not him.

There had been times when he would have liked to have a big house filled with children but since then he had learned better. These days all he wanted was a home in which he could relax, plenty of space and a steady job. Those were hard enough to find for somebody like him.

He didn't envy Lucius and he didn't begrudge the man his attempts to rebuild a life for himself but sometimes he had to wonder. He had done nothing wrong in his life and yet he couldn't hold down a job or secure a house for himself without a ministry official standing on his door to make sure everything was safe and Lucius, a known Death Eater was one of the gentlemen of society.

He sighed, sometimes it was unfair. But right now that was moot anyway. He was here on a mission.

They entered Lucius' study, a large room with a fireplace and a desk. The walls were adorned with bookcases and a large family portrait hung over the fireplace. The large windows offered a view of the garden.

"Now, what is this about?" Remus knew he should not press his luck by suggesting that they sit down so he merely said.

"Are you familiar with Professor Quirrell who teaches Defense against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts?"

Lucius blinked and answered. "I have heard of him, yes but I have not had the pleasure to meet him yet. Is that what this is about? And this could not have been said out in the hall?"

"It concerns him, yes. Actually it is because of him that I am here with Harry. Something has happened, something has come to light that urged Severus to take Harry out of the safety of Hogwarts and to place him somewhere else."

"Stop speaking in riddles, Lupin and tell me what happened!"

"I have to ask something first, Lucius. Will you offer Harry sanctuary, no matter what may happen?"

"Of course I would…"

"You would never turn on him or reveal his location even under the threat of torture?"

"Lupin, what is this about?" Remus was glad to see that Lucius was looking slightly alarmed.

"I have to ask one last question, did Voldemort, in all his time ever boast of the skill to take over another's body with his mind?"

Lucius looked thoughtful before he said. "He did not boast about such a skill but it was well known that he possessed extraordinary and unnatural skills when it concerned mind magic. Some of us believe, myself included, that the Dark Lord was able to posses someone. But I have never seen it happen first hand."

"Then it would not surprise you that he would do so, if his body was destroyed."

Lucius shook his head before he curtly said. "Is that what this is about? Some wild claim that somebody is sharing his body with the Dark Lord's mind?"

"It isn't a claim. It is a proven fact. Quirrell is sharing his body and mind with Voldemort. It is easier if I were to show you the memory."

"You would willingly share that memory with me?" Meeting the grey eyes in a stare Remus nodded. He would not willingly put himself in the hands of Lucius Malfoy but at the moment that was a moot point. They would need to work together to keep Harry safe from harm, any harm.

So it was with these thoughts in mind that Remus put his wand to his temple and allowed the memory to fall into the Pensieve.

Hp

It cannot be! How could Dumbledore miss those signs? It is like Quirrell has two personalities. Normally he is a stammering fool, somebody who is incompetent to teach a class let alone be a Professor…Hell, he has two personalities.

Lucius poured three fingers of Firewhiskey in a large glass and drained it before he poured a more acceptable two fingers. He had never been one to drink this early in the day but current events called for it. He poured another glass for Lupin and walked over to the other man who was seated in front of the fireplace.

He was still reeling from all that he had learned in the past hour. He understood now why Severus would send Harry away from Hogwarts.

He sat down in one of the chairs, his mind still abuzz with everything. "And Dumbledore knows what he is doing."

"We can hope. But if we know Albus then Severus did a good thing to get Harry away from Hogwarts."

"And what will be our next step? You said that Severus will be joining us at the nearest opportunity but I think that he will not want to stay here for it will be the first place that they will seek out Harry."

"Perhaps we can inform the Weasleys what has happened. If Fudge gets words of this then he will try to force it to his hand and we cannot allow that to happen."

Why do we have t o drag the Weasleys into this? He knows that Arthur and I do not see eye to eye on many things. Actually, the man has been trying to get me arrested for years, but trust a Gryffindor to force us to put aside our differences.

Lucius didn't allow his thoughts to show on his blank face as he watched the other man seated opposed him. The amber eyes were regarding him and then Lupin said. "It is remarkable the strange effect it has on people when they are suddenly forced to protect a child. Alliances spring up that have never been considered, enemies become friends and the other way around. People are forced to work together with people they have loathed before…"

Damn the wolf, he has a point. I suppose that if Narcissa catches wind of this, she will force my hand anyway. It will all come down to inviting the Weasleys here anyway. Perhaps I should make the first move; it would be beneficial for further relations with a powerful family. And these days you may never know who Draco will bring home as a wife. Blood purity doesn't count for a thing anymore and if things ever come to a head, it won't be as messy as the last outcome of the war was .

"I shall floo Arthur Weasley then. I think he will be home around this time if I know his schedule."

And as Lucius rose, he smirked at the dumbfounded look on Lupin's face. I was good to know that he still could surprise the werewolf.

Hp

Molly Weasley hummed softly to herself as she bustled about the kitchen. Today was the sort of days that she liked best. Everything was peaceful, Arthur had a day off from work and Ginny was at a friend's place for the afternoon. Bill and Charley had recently sent letters saying that they were doing well and Molly was just waiting to finish baking the cake before she would sit down with a cuppa and write back to them.

Percy, Fred, George and Ron were at Hogwarts and as far as Molly was concerned, no news was good news. It meant that they were staying out of trouble and doing well. She would have to have a chat with Arthur later today about everything that had happened to Ron recently.

Their youngest son had quite the scare and who wouldn't be frightened when you found out that the pet rat you have been given a home for all these years was in fact the escaped criminal Peter Pettigrew. Ron had been rightly upset and they had even taken him home for the night. However the next day, after a letter from his friends Ron had said he had wanted to return to Hogwarts. While Molly had been reluctant to let him go, she knew that she would have to allow him to go back.

It was nice to see that Ron had made friends. Out of all her children she had been the most worried about him. He was a shy child and while he played with his brothers it was good that he made some friends of his own.

She waved her wand to clean up the kitchen counter and to put the kettle on. Perhaps Arthur wanted a cup of tea as well.

She turned as the charm sounded that indicated somebody wanted to fire call them. It was probably somebody from the Ministry looking for Arthur. She wiped her hands on the towel and put away her apron before she approached the floo.

"This is Molly Weasley, who is calling?" She fixed a smile on her face. It didn't matter who was calling, they would get a warm welcome here.

"This is Lucius Malfoy calling for Arthur Weasley, is your husband at home, Mrs. Weasley? There is some urgent business we have to discuss."

Molly knew of the bad blood between Arthur and Lucius but she hadn't suspected the other man to call them at their home, on Arthur's day off none the less.

"What can I say this is about?"

Lucius' face revealed itself in the flames and Molly frowned when she noticed that Lucius looked uncharacteristically worried and grave. The permanent sneer was gone from his lips and the grey eyes regarded Molly warily. "I know we have not been on the best of terms, madam, but I am willing to put that aside for our current task. I ask of you to get your husband so that I can say what I have to say to the both of you."

It was the earnest tone in the deep voice that made Molly realize that something was wrong. She nodded once and left the room. Arthur was in his study and Molly quickly moved towards the room. Her husband glanced up when she entered and smiled but it sunk when he noticed how worried she looked.

"Mollywobbles, what's wrong?"

"Lucius Malfoy is waiting for us to join him in front of the floo in the kitchen. Arthur, this is serious. I have no idea what the man wants but for him to fire call us privately, that is worrisome."

Molly had never forgotten the dark times when Voldemort had reigned and neither had Arthur. Her husband straightened and then took his wand as he said. "Then we shall see what he wants. Do not worry, Molly, he cannot harm us."

She nodded. She was not worried but something in Malfoy's tone struck her as strange. Combine that with the finding of Peter Pettigrew and she was on her guard. She had good instincts and prided herself on that, especially with being the mother of the infamous Weasley twins.

And at this moment, her gut was telling her that something was happening, something that could upset the peaceful life they had created and she didn't want any of that. She followed Arthur into the kitchen.

Arthur took charge immediately as he crouched down in front of the fireplace. Molly could see her husband's wand where he held it behind himself and she took comfort from the fact that Arthur would not hesitate to hex Malfoy should the need to defend them arise.

"I know it is unexpected that I would fire call at your private home and not your office but this does not concern business or the ministry. It concerns Harry Potter. Am I right in believing that you are aware Severus Snape has assumed guardianship of the boy?"

"Yes, Harry and Ron are friends and we have heard about that. Ronald said that there was a duel planned for today between Severus and Professor Quirrell. Has Severus been injured?"

"No, there were unforeseen circumstances in the duel but Severus is well under the circumstances. I would ask of you to join me in my home so we can discuss what has occurred. "

Molly shared a look with Arthur as her husband said. "Not until we know what this is about, Lucius."

"The Dark Lord is sharing Quirrell's body and Severus needs Harry to be protected. Severus asked me to summon you so we can discuss the events and what to do next."

"And you are certain of this? If this is a bad joke, Lucius, I swear, I will take you up to the Wizengamot and I will see you in Azkaban for life. I swear."

"Would you think me to joke about something like this?" The grey eyes narrowed in anger and Molly moved forward as she said.

"There has been nothing but hatred between our families for generations, Lucius, you must understand our skepticism. But we shall come through. Where is Harry at the moment? He must be terribly confused by all of this and as Severus is not at the Manor at the moment, he must be lonely and…"

"You are free to join my wife and Harry in the kitchen. But you are also free, madam, to join us…"

"If you mean that I should make sure that you boys behave instead of tearing each other's throats out then I am sure I'll come in handy…"

A ghost of a smile was on Lucius' lips as the man said. "Remus Lupin is here and I am sure that your husband and myself can behave nicely for a few hours, especially if the fate of the world is at stake. Or the world as we know it. I can rely on you to come?"

"Yes, we shall be there. We just have to make some arrangements for our daughter to spend the night away from home. We shall be there within 15 minutes."

It seemed to satisfy Lucius because he disappeared from the floo.

"What if it is true, Arthur? What do we do then?"

"Then we shall fight, Molly. We have a lot at stake here. We cannot allow the Dark side to win and if that means working with Lucius Malfoy then so be. If it is for the protection of our children and Harry Potter then we shall do so. Come, let us floo Ginny's friend and ask if she can stay there for a while. And then we shall figure out if this is true or not."

And as Molly did as Arthur suggested, she knew that Lucius was right, because truly, why would the man lie about something like that?

Hp

Severus had to do a double take to make sure that he had Apparated to the right Manor. Surely it had to be because he was so tired. He glanced around, the peacocks that were strutting about the garden, the portraits that hung around the hall, everything seemed to say he had come to the right place but Arthur and Molly Weasley looked so out of place that Severus had to make sure that they were really there.

"Ah. Severus, how good it is to see you. Are you alright?" Molly would always try to mother somebody who was younger than herself and Severus knew that he was no exception. He tried not to grimace and told himself that the woman meant well.

She is a typical Gryffindor…well perhaps not entirely because she did manage to raise the Weasley twins so she must have some cunning to keep them in contr ol. I know for a fact that the only thing that works to keep them in line is to threaten to send a letter home to their mother. This woman in front of me put the fear of god in them and I bet that she is a force to be reckoned with.

Severus had to hide his smirk when he noticed how overwhelmed Lucius looked. Lupin on the other hand looked smug, or as smug as the Gryffindor could look. It seems that I was correct to put Lupin in charge of protecting Harry. He is the perfect man…wolf...well whatever for the job. Now I just need to locate my ward.

"I am well, Madame, as well as the circumstances allow." He tried not to touch his left arm where a heavy bandage was bound over the Dark Mark. It had bled profusely and even now Severus was still a little bit shaky on his legs, even if he tried not to let it show.

It was nothing a good night sleep and a hearty meal couldn't fix. The fear however of feeling that dark, menacing presence again, would take longer to shake he knew. Arthur approached him and held out his hand to shake.

"Lucius said that you would be here as soon as possible. It is good to see that you escaped unscattered from the duel. I have known Quirrell for a while now and it comes as a great shock to know of such a bright young man to fall to the clutches of evil."

"Brighter men than Quirrell have been unable to resist. How did you meet him?"

"We have been in touch regarding one of his lectures concerning Muggle technology in the Wizarding world. It was refreshing to see somebody who was genuinely interested in the field. We spoke a lot before he went on his travels." Arthur shook his head sadly.

"One cannot help but wonder that if he would have simply stuck to Muggle Studies then perhaps none of this would have happened. But it is foolish to think that way. We shall simply have to come up with a solution to keep Harry safe."

If we can keep him away from Fudge that may be a lot easier then we may think it is. To keep him away from Albus' influence will be harder but with Lupin he re and perhaps eventually Black then we shall have a solid case.

"Shall we retire to the library? I will have the house elves deliver snacks and refreshments to us there." Lucius was a gracious host and he knew how to make people feel welcome, even when the man hated them with a passion. Lucius could carry himself in society and he could converse with almost anybody. It was something that Severus envied.

Molly and Arthur made their way upstairs to follow the house elf Lucius had summoned to show them the way. Remus lingered for a moment before he nodded at Severus and followed the others. Lucius was the only one who stood near Severus and thus he was able to catch Severus as the Potions Master stumbled.

Severus tried not to lean against Lucius but the older man held his arm firmly and waited until Severus straightened. "You will find Harry with Narcissa in the kitchen. There is plenty of food and Dobby will cater to you should you wish for something. We shall wait until you join us again, Severus."

Severus wet his dry lips as he caught the grey eyes and said. "I wish to thank you for taking Harry in, Lucius. You were the only one I could think of on such short notice and where nobody could gain access to Harry."

The grey eyes softened and Lucius smiled. "Do not mention it, Severus. You would have done the same had we been in that position. And you are not the only one who will be in danger when the Dark Lord returns. Everything we have worked for to rebuild will be destroyed when he returns and I refuse to allow Draco or Narcissa to fall prey to that."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Lucius…"

"I was not aware that we were racing ourselves."

"It is a phrase, Lucius, a muggle one at that. It means that we should focus on the situation at hand."

Lucius raised an eyebrow and said. "With Fudge in charge and Albus at Hogwarts, it won't take long before all hell will break loose and the Dark Lord will be at the head of it."

"Then it will be our job to make sure that we are at the right side. Now I believe that you mentioned food." Severus couldn't deny that he was feeling peckish and the chance to see Harry again and make sure that his ward was well was what he needed at the moment. Harry provided clarity and a sense of home that he hadn't felt in a long time.

It was good to know who he was doing this for. Who he was fighting for. He was needed and he had to provide for somebody and he had never known that before. For the first time in his life he could understand Lily's sacrifice and the reason why she had done what she had done. To have a child that needed him and to be one's family, he had never had that before.

He had never felt that his mother or father had needed him nor wanted him but Harry…in the short months that Harry had been his ward he had come to mean so much to Severus. And to be truthful, he wasn't even sure how to go back to living his life without the young Gryffindor.

"Yes, I did. I'm sure that you can find your way to the kitchen." Lucius smirked, especially when [!] Severus' stomach chose that moment to growl loudly.

With a last pat on the shoulder Lucius started to walk towards the library. "Lucius?"

The older man turned and regarded him. Severus felt a bit foolish as he asked. "Could you do me a favor? I…"He cleared his throat and began again. "…if I wish to file for adoption papers for Harry and I would need to put in references from other people….I wanted to ask you if you and Narcissa would be willing to…well…."

He realized he was stammering but Lucius merely smiled and moved back to stand in front of Severus as he rested a hand on his shoulder and said. "Of course, we will, Severus. Besides you have some experience with children being a Professor and being Draco's godfather."

"Thank you, Lucius." Severus was more touched then he would have liked to admit. He would need all the help he could get. But first he needed to check upon Harry.

Hp

Harry glanced around the kitchen. It was a spacious room but he could tell that Narcissa didn't spend a lot of time here. She even said so and asked one of the house elves to prepare tea for them both. Narcissa was kind and gentle and soon they were talking softly to one another. She asked questions about the subjects he liked at Hogwarts and even Quidditch.

It was nice to talk to somebody without having to be afraid that offense was taken when he said something or that the other person would become angry. He liked it when Narcissa smiled and laughed and soon she was sharing funny stories about Lucius and Draco and even some about Severus.

Harry was listening so attentively that he didn't even notice when somebody entered. Narcissa however did and she smiled as she rose to her feet to welcome the tall stranger. "Severus, what a surprise. We were wondering when you would arrive."

Harry knew better than to run to the Potions Master but he couldn't help himself, so glad he was to see his guardian. He didn't want to admit it but he had been worried about Severus. He knew something was going to happen and it did. He stopped short of the tall man and glanced up. He would show his guardian that he was well behaved and patient. Like Draco was when Lucius was around.

His green eyes sought for any wounds on the Potions Master but other than the tight lines in his face he appeared well. The next moment Severus turned to regard him and Harry couldn't help himself. He launched himself at Severus.

The older wizard caught him and held him close, long fingers stroking his back as Harry mumbled into Snape's neck. "You came."

"Of course I would. Did you think I would abandon you?" Harry blinked up into the dark eyes before he hastily shook his head.

"No, of course not. Are you alright now, sir?"

"Nothing a good night sleep and a decent meal won't cure. Have you eaten yet?" Shyly Harry shook his head. He hadn't been very hungry.

Harry was content to stand in front of the Potions Master as Severus said to Narcissa. "Lucius has invited Arthur and Molly Weasley and together they and Remus Lupin have retired to the library. I'm sure that it would be most beneficial if you were to join us. If only to keep Lucius under control."

Narcissa laughed and said. "I have known my husband a lot longer than today and he does have a dreadful temper when it concerns other people. But I have my ways of keeping him under control."

She smiled and then said, blue eyes softening as she gazed at Harry. "Take your time and eat something with your ward, Severus. He has been most worried about you."

"I wasn't worried." Harry immediately shook his head as Severus glanced down at him. Severus sighed softly and then rose from his crouch, putting a hand on Harry's head. Harry glanced up as his guardian

The dark eyes weren't focused on him and Snape was cradling his left arm as if it pained him. Harry wondered if it did. He had no idea what had happened during the duel but he remembered the fear he had felt when Severus had backed away so suddenly and had nearly collapsed. He had wanted to go to his guardian but Fred or perhaps George, he wasn't sure, told him to remain with them.

There had been protection spells and shields in place to protect the students who were watching the duel but still…He had wanted to go to his guardian and to make sure Severus was alright.

But Snape was here now. He didn't look any different than this morning. He was still scowling and he may look paler but it was hard to tell with the sallow tint of his skin.

"Harry?" Harry glanced up as Severus said. "Is there anything in particular that you want to eat?"

"I don't know…I'm not very hungry…" The Potions Master fixed him with a stern glance and Harry flushed before Severus said.

"Let me guess, Narcissa served biscuits with her tea." Harry tried not remember the delicious cauldron cakes Narcissa had set before him. They may have something to do with the fact that he wasn't hungry but he wasn't going to tell Snape that.

The older man merely shook his head as he said. "I know from personal experience how Narcissa can get when she thinks that somebody should eat more. You probably thought that you did not want to offend her. I suppose I should count myself lucky that you have at least eaten something, even when it is merely sugar and nothing nutritious."

"I also had a slice of cake."

"Even worse! I am going to install some rules about eating sweets before eating a proper meal."

"It was wholegrain cake."

"It does not make it alright, Harry."

You look sometimes as if you skip meals and I know what it is like to feel hungry, well to starve actually. To think that you can eat anything, even moldy bread….To have your stomach hurt so much that you can't even remember the last time you ate…

" Harry?"

" Sorry." Harry resurfaced from his dark thoughts with a smile. He glanced down at the steaming bowl of soup that stood in front of him. Mouth watering at the sigh, Harry did remember to blow before he took a sip but he still managed to scald his tongue.

He dropped the spoon into the soup again and instead asked. "What happened when you touched Professor Quirrell? I was right wasn't I about him seeming like another person. He didn't appear to be like the normal Professor at all when he teaches us in class. He never takes up his wand then and never shows us any spells..."

Harry stopped speaking when he noticed that Snape was watching him carefully. He swallowed and managed another bite of soup before he asked. "Sir?"

"You were right, Harry…Professor Quirrell does have another personality…In fact he is sharing his body with somebody else…."

The dark eyes were not focused on him but on something else. Snape's jaw clenched together and his hand gripped his left forearm and Harry got a bad feeling in his stomach, he didn't want to know who was sharing Quirrell's body.

The dark eyes returned to hold his own and Snape whispered. "The Dark Lord is sharing Quirrell's body."

And to Harry it seemed as though the world was coming to an end.

Another semi cliffy. Now, I'll tell you I'm not happy with this chapter. Half of the things I wanted in it, didn't go in it. But anyway. What do you guys think Fudge and Dumbledore should do [!] with Quirrelmort? Review please.

In the next chapter: With Severus still recovering and Harry having received such bad news, can Severus calm his ward and keep Harry from doing foolish things? How will Lucius cope with the Weasleys? Will they be able to see eye to eye on things in order to protect a small boy or will the famous family feud drive them apart? And what will Sirius think when he learns that his godson is in more danger than [!] anybody of them ever thought possible? And what will Albus and Fudge decide to do with Quirrell? Will they get resistance from an unexpected source? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thank you for the reviews. Sorry for the lack of updates but my school life has been hectic. I'm not sure yet when the new update will come but we shall see. Let's begin.

Harry's eyes widened as he glanced up at Severus. His guardian was watching him; taking in every reaction Harry was capable of making. His thoughts were racing a mile a minute, ideas spinning in his head. One more ridiculous then the other.

He had to leave. He couldn't stay here! What were they doing here, eating soup calmly? He was going to bring danger to everybody here, Severus; Draco's parents….He couldn't stay.

A hand came to rest upon his own and a voice instructed. "Harry, calm yourself."

"But…but…." He took a calm breath and then shock gave way to anger as he leaned forward and focussed on Severus. "You're lying! He's dead! He has to be! Everybody says that I defeated him!"

Severus raised an eyebrow before he whispered voice dangerously soft. "You think I would lie about something like this, Mr. Potter! I suggest that you realize what nonsense you are spouting and desist at once before I will punish you for your accusations! Do you think I would lie about something like this?"

The implications behind the words made Harry stop and think. He took a deep breath to try and calm himself. Hands turned his chair so he was facing Severus and the Professor said, leaning forward slightly.

"I would never lie about something like this, Harry. Do you think that I, as traitor and spy for the Light side, would welcome him back? That anybody except for the truly dark, would?"

"But what…what does it mean?" Harry stammered out. He chewed on his lip.

"At the moment, we are dealing with the situation as if he was back to his own power. Professor Quirrell has been contained by Professor Dumbledore. I can only assume that the Headmaster is dealing with this. However, should something go wrong, most likely with the involving of the Minister for Magic, we are taking our own precautions? And one of them is getting you away from Hogwarts."

"But why have you taken me here then?[Won't Mr. Malfoy and Mrs. Malfoy be in danger?" Harry didn't want to be responsible for harming Draco's parents.

"They are in as much danger as the rest of us. We are trying to figure out what our next step is but we shall remain here for this evening. I assumed that you would have liked to know what was going on before you worried yourself about me needlessly." Severus' tone was dry.

Harry raised his eyes to the pale face before him. Snape looked no different then he did otherwise but Harry had noticed the faint tremble in his hand when he picked up his cutlery. Severus hadn't been harmed, now had he? He swallowed thickly. Perhaps the older wizard didn't appreciate that Harry was worried about him.

"But you are alright, aren't you, sir?" Harry was careful of how he phrased the question, not wanting to appear insolent.

"I am as well as can be expected at the moment, Harry. We shall remain here for the moment. I do not want you to return to Hogwarts so we shall stay here tonight."

Harry nodded. He pushed his plate away. Anxiety and fear was making his stomach churn and he wasn't hungry anymore. Ever since he found out that Voldemort had been responsible for killing his parents he had assumed that he had been defeated when he had attacked Harry's home during Halloween ten years ago.

Harry had never believed he could defeat a Dark Lord as a child. He was not powerful enough. He had never believed that Voldemort had died that day either but to know that the man had been teaching him for the past few months and could have killed him if he wanted to sent shivers down his spine.

"Nothing can harm you here, Harry. This is a very secure location and Lucius has some of strongest privacy wards in the country up around this house. Nothing will come in here without his knowledge and by extension mine." Severus' hand on his head was reassuring.

"Now, do you really intend to let a fine dinner go to waste like that?" Harry glanced down and took another spoonful of his soup. The soup was excellent but he just wasn't all that hungry.

He sighed. A hand tapped against the bowl and Snape continued. "I expect to see you eat until this line."

Harry glanced around the side of the bowl to see a line had appeared around a quarter full of the bowl. It wasn't all that much left and he nodded. Slowly eating he watched as Snape went back to his meal as well. The older wizard was eating with an obvious appetite.

Harry broke some of the bread off and dipped it into the soup. It was delicious. He took a sip of the pumpkin juice Snape had requested for him. He even startled himself when he suddenly yawned widely.

Snape glanced up sharply and a smirk made the thin lips twitch as he said. "I think that it may be time for bed."

"I'm not tired yet!" Harry protested. It wasn't a complete lie but he was feeling tired all of a sudden. Hands picked him up and settled him upon a hip and feeling safe and secure, Harry drifted off.

Hp

Severus closed the bedroom door behind him. He leaned against the wall for a moment, unconcerned with the beautiful corridor in which he found himself. Taking a deep breath he breathed out for a long moment.

His dark mark ached and Severus resisted the urge to clamp a hand down over it. He didn't glance down towards the thick bandage that covered his left forearm. The meal had done him some good but not as much as he would have liked. He was weary.

He ran a hand through his hair before he pushed himself away from the wall. There were people waiting for him and decisions to be made. He spared a thought for Harry. His ward had been distressed by the news, not that Severus could blame him. It had taken barely a moment of thought to add a calming draught to the pumpkin juice Harry was having.

Perhaps Harry would sleep until the meeting had ended. Severus surely hoped so. He glanced up as he came to the library. The doors were slightly ajar and Severus could hear soft conversation inside. It surprised him that it was fairly civil. Taking a deep breath, Severus opened the doors and stepped inside.

He hardly had eyes for the room though it was a beautiful room. It had a high ceiling and was filled with bookcases. Two large windows gave a nice view of the garden and a desk stood in front of him. Severus knew Lucius rarely worked from here but he did like to have a drink with friends here in front of the fireplace in the leather chairs.

More chairs had been added today, a mismatch of chair just as much as a mix match of people. There were comfortable chairs, leather ones and even a sofa that had been Transfigured by the Weasleys.

"Ah, Severus, is Harry alright?" Molly glanced up at him, her blue eyes concerned as she took a sip of her tea. She sat up a bit straighter as she regarded him and Severus nodded.

"Yes, he is asleep at the moment." There was a seat left between Lucius and Arthur. Severus was not surprised to see it being empty. He glanced at Lupin as he sat down. The werewolf's amber eyes were watching him but Lupin didn't say anything, merely took a sip of his scotch.

"Isn't it a bit early for drinking?" He remarked.

"Some days it can be encouraged, such as today." Lucius rose easily to his feet and busied himself for a moment before he handed Severus his own glass of scotch. Severus took a grateful slip, feeling the liquid burn down his throat and into his stomach. He closed his eyes for a moment.

When he opened them again everybody was regarding him. He held the glass in a hand and then Molly leaned forward. "Is it true, Severus, what Lucius had told us?"

Trying not to show his surprise that the Weasleys and Malfoys were on first name basis, he merely inclined his head and answered. "Yes, it is true, Madam. I would not lie about something like this."

"I know, Severus and we were not trying to make you appear as one but you must understand the implications behind this. If…if Fudge or perhaps I should say when Fudge does not deal with this accordingly and let You Know Who escape then we have some serious problems." Arthur had never been one to display disloyalty to the Minister of Magic but everybody in the room knew what a fool Fudge could be when he was power hungry.

"At the moment Quirrell is contained by Albus. We can only hope that Albus has more sense than to let Fudge take control." Severus glanced up sharply at Lupin. The werewolf was grimacing as he swallowed a mouthful of scotch and then continued. "Albus knows better than to try and let as important as allowing Quirrell to get away happen."

"Albus must be under a lot of pressure." Narcissa remarked with a smirk that could rival Severus' own.

"No more than usual. He knows what he is getting himself into and if I know Albus then he certainly knew that there was something going on with Quirrell, even if he did not know exactly what. Albus is too much of a puppet master to truly let chance take a gamble away from him, especially with something like this. No, he knows he has fallen out of favour of late and when the press gets wind that Voldemort was residing in a body of Hogwarts Professor, well things do not look good for Albus." Lucius topped Severus' glass off until the Potions Master put a hand over his glass. He couldn't afford to get drunk right now.

"That Rita Skeeter article wasn't pretty." Arthur shared a glance with his wife. Severus hadn't known that the article was going to appear in the Prophet today. He had hardly glanced at a paper this morning due to everything that had been going on.

"I believe that I saved the Prophet for you to read, dear." Narcissa rose gracefully to her feet. Severus noticed how Lucius' eyes followed his wife as she left the room.

"I thank you all for answer our call so swiftly. The events that happened today were unexpected and we need to come up with a plan of action. There is no certain way for us to know the future but we must go out from the worst case scenario." Severus spoke slowly.

"And what is the worst case scenario, Severus?" Arthur regarded him and Severus inclined his head.

"While there are variations of a bleak future I think that we can all agree that if the Dark Lord returns to power and assumes the position he held in the past before he was defeated would be a considerably worst case scenario. We need to find a way to deal with this before it comes to this. If that means working together to do so, then so shall it be. Unless you have objections?" He raised an eyebrow.

"I believe that we are all here with the same goal and that is to prevent the Dark Lord from gaining power and becoming as powerful as he was years ago. We all have families to protect and we have worked hard to rebuild our world from the darkness that destroyed it a decade ago. We need a plan and we need people who are likeminded and who are willing to take up the fight, even if it means going against the Minister's wishes." Lucius gave Severus a nod.

Lupin leaned forward as he softly said. "I believe that the first priority is to protect Harry. I think it may be a good idea to contact Sirius Black and tell him what happened. If word gets out that Voldemort is still alive, and it will, Pettigrew's trial will take a back seat and Sirius will spend longer in Azkaban."

"I hate to say it but Remus has a point. Black must be warned. While he cannot do much since he is still incarcerated." Severus hated admitting that the werewolf had a point.

"I know of a person that we can contact and trust. Kingsley Shacklebolt is an auror who worked closely with the Order of the Phoenix during the war. If there is anybody who can be discreet and help us then it is him." Arthur took another sip of his firewiskey. He glanced at his wife for a moment but silence fell between the group.

Severus had heard of Shacklebolt before. He was one of the finest aurors in the force and he had risen quickly through their ranks after the war. He had never met the man when he had been spying during the war. He had only been in contact with Albus and nobody else because he had been unsure of how he would be received.

"Is there a way to contact him without raising suspicion? Lucius cannot just walk into the auror headquarters and it would look suspicious if Severus were to appear there suddenly as well seeing as he has no business there as a Professor. I do not know what your relationship is with auror Shacklebolt or if there is any reasonfor there to be contact a the Ministry." Narcissa slipped back into the room. Severus suspected that she had been there for a while.

She handed the Daily Prophet to Lucius before she surveyed the room to see if everybody had drinks before she sat down in her seat.

"Perhaps I can be of assistance here. I have done some freelance work in the past few years in the field of Defence against the Dark Arts and I have been in contact with the auror headquarters then. Now seeing as I work for Hogwarts as an assistant Professor and I suppose now, seeing as Professor Quirrell is unable to teach class anything soon, I'm the Defence Professor for the moment. I know that the fifth years get information from their Head of House regarding career choices so perhaps it is a wise idea to contact the auror squad for a demonstration and a lecture."

Remus leaned back in his seat, a smile on his scarred face as he laid his suggestion for them to judge. Lucius was the first to comment.

"Professor Lupin's ideas have merits but at the moment, we need to get in touch with Shacklebolt quickly. But first we need to make sure that we know what the Headmaster is up to in regards to Fudge and Quirell." Lucius drained his glass and held it in his hands, turning it around a few times. His grey eyes were glancing around the room.

Severus cleared his throat and softly said. "If you are willing to watch Harry for the night then I can return to Hogwarts…"

Even before Severus could finish his sentence Lucius shook his head. "No, old friend. You are not well enough to return to Hogwarts. And how would you explain Harry's sudden absence and your presence at Hogwarts without you searching for him. It would be suspicious."

"Perhaps I can go. It would not look suspicious if I were there. To be honest it would be even more suspicious if I were absent." Severus bit back a growl and he refocused his attention on Remus. The werewolf's amber eyes were watching him.

"You would be comfortable to report back to us any decision Albus Dumbledore makes." He raised a sceptical eyebrow.

Lupin's lips thinned as he said. "For years I have stood by and let other people harm others while I did nothing! I refuse to do so any longer! I know that Albus Dumbledore is a manipulative old man! He may mean well but that does not mean that he can excuse any past mistakes. And we need to make sure that he does not make any mistakes in this situation. I am quite sure that we can count on the support of Minerva McGonagall in this."

"You do know what you have to do, right Lupin? You have to report everything to us, even the things that you think are not important." Severus had been a spy for most of his life.

"Yes, Severus, I do know what is required of me. Besides being a spy is kind of cool." Lupin grinned and this time Severus snapped.

"It is not cool, Lupin! This is a small mission in regards to spying on the Dark Lord per example. If you blow your cover you can get killed! This has nothing to do with being cool or…" Severus rose to his feet for a moment but the room suddenly spun around wildly. Only Lucius quick assistance saved Severus from falling to his knees.

He was being pressed back in his chair and he felt somebody's hand on his head as a voice instructed him to put his head between his legs. "Easy now, Severus. You are in no state to return to Hogwarts."

Feeling his face flush uncomfortably with showing so much weakness in front of all these people didn't make Severus feel any better. He caught his breath as the voices around him resumed their conversations.

After a moment when he felt better, he slowly raised his head. Nobody paid him any attention except for Lucius, who was still seated beside him. Lucius hand was resting on his shoulder and Severus suspected it was as much to keep him in his seat as it was to prevent him from toppling over.

Lupin regarded him for a moment as he rose and then said. "I will return to Hogwarts now. I will report as soon as I hear anything. Give Harry my best, Severus and take care. We shall meet again when a decision has been made?"

Arthur rose as well. "I shall see about getting in touch with Kingsley. We will be at our home if you need to get in touch with us. Severus, should you need another secure place for Harry to stay, we shall only be a fire call away."

Severus nodded his thanks. He knew he had done the right thing in contacting these people. They would not allow Harry to come to harm. He smiled. Perhaps this was what it felt like to have family.

"Who will contact Black?" He glanced around. Lupin couldn't be in two places at once and they needed him at Hogwarts now.

"Perhaps I can go and visit my dear cousin." Severus was surprised to hear Narcissa speaking up. Her blue eyes were hard as steel as they met Severus' black ones. "Lucius cannot go because it would raise suspicion if he were to visit Azkaban while I have family privileges. I have been to Azkaban before on family visits, including Sirius when he had to be notified of a death in his family. He is the head of the Black family."

"Very well, then it is settled. Professor Lupin shall go to Hogwarts and report back to us, Arthur will contact Kingsley Shacklebolt and Narcissa will visit Sirius Black. I will act as contact for you all and make sure that the information reaches every one. Severus and I will see about coming up with a plan after he has rested. Then I hope that we shall see each other again in the near future with some good news."

Lucius rose to his feet and Severus wanted to do the same thing. He finally managed with difficulty and he stood swaying. Molly embraced him carefully, telling him to get well soon. He merely nodded, thanking her.

Within a few moments they were alone, Lupin had left through the floo and Narcissa saw Arthur and Molly out of the door. Severus could feel his knees threaten to buckle and he slowly sat down in his chair again. The world was spinning and he felt weariness settle into his bones as his head began to pound.

He closed his eyes for a blissful moment until a hand touched his own and he glanced up. Lucius was glancing down at him and then extended his hand. "Come, Severus, it is time that we get you to bed. A good night sleep will put some color back into your cheeks."

He merely nodded and allowed Lucius to pull him to his feet. The older wizard pulled Severus' arm over his shoulder and slipped an arm around his waist so he could support Severus. It reminded Severus of the many nights that they had returned from a Death Eater meeting, weary and wounded. Only now Lucius was taking care of him and not the other way around.

Thus he did not protest and he wasn't even surprised as Lucius led him to Harry's room. He merely smiled in thanks and finally gave into the darkness as he lay down beside Harry and for a moment forgot all about Dark Lords and only thought about his ward that slept peacefully beside him.

Hp

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore liked being a Headmaster. All days were different and he had seen a lot in his long tenure as Headmaster. This day however, or rather this term had not been one of the best for Albus. It had started with the discovery of young Harry being abused. Then came the discovery of Peter Pettigrew hiding here at Hogwarts, though why he was hiding in the boy's dormitory and as a rat was even beyond Albus. And now he nearly had a Dark Lord on the loose.

Albus pinched the bridge of his nose. He glanced at the door that led to one of the unused classrooms. Quirrell was being held in there. Albus had placed him there himself and he stood guard over the room. Nothing could get in or out of the room without his knowledge.

Sometimes there was a certain advantage to being one of the most powerful wizards in the country. He leaned against the wall behind him, glancing up as Minerva McGonagall came to stand beside him.

The deputy Headmistress had been checking upon the students to see if everybody made it to their common rooms alright. "Are there any missing students?" He inquired.

"Not as far as I can tell. Because of the pandemonium the prefects are still recounting the student numbers." Her Scottish accent was slightly more pronounced due to her distress but otherwise she appears as calm as she ever did.

"Have you heard anything from Severus?" Albus was worried about the younger man. Severus had been even paler then usual and he had been unsteady on his feet. Albus had seen the Potions Master return from Death Eater meetings in poorer conditions so it worried him that Severus was not here at the moment.

"I believe he is still in the Hospital Wing. Else I do not know where he may be." Minerva crossed her arms over her chest before she glanced at the door. "Is Quirrell secure?"

"Yes, he is being kept in a magic draining room and kept in a magic induced slumber. He will not be waking up until I want him to wake up." Albus did not let pride color his voice. He had made too many mistakes in the past that concerned pride and he would not do so now. Too much was at stake.

"And you are sure that He Who Must Not Be Named will be powerless to rouse Quirrell?"

"Minerva, my dear, how many times must I tell to simply say his name. To be afraid of a name is to be afraid of a thing or a person. While Tom Riddle or Voldemort may have been very powerful and frightening, there are worse things out there to be afraid of."

"You are only saying that because he was afraid of you, Albus." Minerva's eyes narrowed in a glare.

"Alas, Tom was never afraid of my abilities but he simply doubted that he was powerful enough to defeat me. Had he been more self-confident, he would have tried to take over Hogwarts sooner. If he had not fallen when he attacked the Potters, I am afraid that it would have only been a matter of time before he would have marched onto Hogwarts." Albus shivered with the memory of those dark times. He would never again let it come to that. His hand tightened upon his wand that he kept in the pocket of his robe.

Albus shook himself firmly. He smiled at Minerva and said. "From what I know of possession, Voldemort cannot do anything as long as Quirrell is not conscious. But we must be careful not to allow anybody in there who cannot protect his mind. Nobody can touch Quirrell because I do not know how powerful Voldemort is. He always had extraordinary skill in mind magic."

"And that makes you think of Severus? You cannot send him into that room, Albus. I would advise against anybody going in there with a Dark Mark. You saw what happened to Severus when he touched Quirrell earlier." Minerva had a point, Albus had to concede. He was worried about his Potions Master.

Severus was not the sort of man to show any weakness in front of others and for him to stumble like that, it must mean that Severus had been wounded or more wearier then he had let on. "Perhaps I should ask Poppy. I am concerned about Severus. This is normally so unlike him to be away this long."

"Yes, he does hate being in Poppy's clutches." Minerva had to supress a smile. Albus could clearly remember the last time Severus had to spend several days in the Infirmary when there had been an explosion in the Potions classroom during one of his lessons. Poppy had come close to a nervous breakdown and Albus to losing a Potions Master.

The Headmaster glanced up sharply as Remus Lupin and Poppy Pomfrey made their way down the corridor. He smiled and lowered his wand. "Ah just the witch I wanted to see. Not that I am not glad to see you Remus, but I was just about to send a Patronus your way Poppy, to enquire how Severus was doing."

Albus smiled at both of his faculty members as they shared a look and Poppy eventually said. "I had assumed that Severus would have come across you because he left my Infirmary hours ago. I wanted to keep him a while longer because the poor man looked ready to fall over but he said that he had things to attend to."

"I have not seen Severus but then again I have not left my post here. Perhaps he went to the Slytherin Common Room to check up on his students." Albus frowned. He could think of no other thing that Severus could attend to. Severus took his duty very seriously and he may be a stern taskmaster but he looked after his students.

For most of the Slytherins, who came from families that demanded a lot of them, Severus could provide sternness and a guiding with a firm hand. He provided a guardian for many of the Death Eater children at Hogwarts who they could confide in without being fearful that their families would hear.

"I am sure he will turn up soon." Lupin smiled at them. There was a flash of light as a scroll seemed to appear from mid-air and hoover in front of Minerva. The Head of Gryffindor house grasped the scroll and her eyes quickly scanned the parchment.

"Any news, Minerva?" Albus could tell whenever Minerva was surprised. Her lips had thinned as she pressed them together in a tight line.

She glancedup sharply and her eyes were as sharp as they were in her feline form as she said. "Nothing is wrong, Albus. I was merely rechecking what my prefect wrote of the numbers."

"So there are no missing students?"

"Of course not. Do you honestly think that I would let a student out of my sight after everything that happened today?" Her tongue was as sharp as cat's nails and Albus found himself recoiling.

"Of course not, my dear…"

"Good, now if you will excuse me, I need to check upon something. Remus, would you be so kind to accompany me?" And even before Albus could protest, he was left alone with Poppy and Minerva and Remus had left the corridor. He could only stare after them in confusion.

Hp

"Am I correct that you had something to do with the disappearance of Harry Potter?" Remus knew it would be pointless to lie to Minerva so he merely nodded. "And why did you?"

"Because Severus asked me to. He didn't think Hogwarts was a very safe place at the moment for Harry." Remus had never been one to hide the truth or to twist it so it served his own ends. He had lied in the past to protect himself and those he loved but he knew an ally when he saw one.

"Perhaps I should ask Severus why he thinks that we cannot protect Harry here at Hogwarts." Remus bit back a smirk as he said.

"But for that you will have to find Severus first."

"Severus left Hogwarts as well? "Minerva seemed taken aback and Remus nodded. He glanced around the corridor. It was deserted but he added a privacy spell just the same. He had no desire to be overheard by Albus or other people.

"He didn't think it was a particular safe place to be and he wanted to make sure that Harry was safe and secure before he came back."

"And why is he not here then?" Minerva's gaze sharpened.

"He wasn't well enough to come. He nearly collapsed when he tried to Apparate so we thought it best if he were to rest." Remus did not want to give out too many details. He was not sure if Severus trusted Minerva enough.

"You are not going to tell me where Severus is, are you?" Minerva glanced up at him and Remus merely smiled down at her. He shook his head.

"Nope." He didn't offer any other explanation. He had learned at a young age to keep his secrets and he would not betray himself or his friends now. Severus had trusted him enough despite their past to help Harry and him and Remus would not betray that trust.

In the past he had overlooked mistakes made by his friends because he wanted their friendship but he would not do so again. He knew a good man when he saw one and Severus was a good man. He wanted what was best for Harry and Remus would rather kill himself then allowing any harm to come to either Severus or Harry.

"I suppose I will have to wait until Severus contacts me. Is there anything we can do in the mean time?"

"Well…." Remus glanced around the corridor again and then gestured to an empty classroom. He waited until Minerva had closed the door behind her before he said. "You must be aware of what is going on at the moment. I mean with Quirrell. We have to prevent Voldemort from escaping and I for one do not believe that if we allow Fudge to take charge that it will be for the best of the wizarding world."

"As much as I would like to disagree I find that I cannot, Remus. Fudge may be the Minister for Magic but he is not the kind of man who we can trust to deal with a situation like this. He will most likely make a mess out of things and allow You Know Who to escape, which is not what we need. Albus may be one of the strongest wizard of our generation but he cannot do this alone. I believe that you are also aware of this, aren't you, Remus?"

"You aren't the only one who thinks like that."

"Then perhaps, young man, you can humour and old witch and tell me of the others who have been thinking alike."

Remus smiled and as he gestured for the Head of Gryffindor House to come closer, he knew he had found another ally for their cause.

Hp

Sometimes I do wonder how our family could have fallen so deep. Most of my surviving family members are in Azkaban for crimes committed and my other sister married a muggle and we do not have any more contact. This is not how I envisioned the family Black to come back to glory.

Narcissa sneered at one of the guards that quickly opened the door to her.

"Lady Malfoy." Sometimes it did pay to be the lady of a pureblood family, Narcissa mused. It certainly got one into places that one hadn't seen before. Such as her cousin Sirius in Azkaban. This was one place that she avoided, even when her sister was imprisoned here.

"Are you here to visit your sister, Lady Malfoy?" The Head guard was courteous to her but Narcissa shook her head.

"No, I'm here to visit my cousin Sirius Back." The guard escorted her inside and nodded at her.

"If you would be so kind to wait here. I shall see if your cousin is available for visitors."

"It is of the uttermost impotence that I visit him. It is in regards to family issues." The guard merely nodded as he gestured for Narcissa to wait. She shifted her weight slightly to her other foot.

When she had left the Manor Lucius had been most concerned about her. It was one of the few times that she had gone to Azkaban alone. She had been there before to visit her sister and to tell her that their parents had died. The second time had been when she had given birth to Draco. She may loath her sister and may not want anything to do with her, but protocol demanded that she let her sister know what significant things happened in her life.

She took a deep breath and glanced around. This was not a welcome place and she could feel herself reacting to the presence of the Dementors. She shook herself and tried not to give into the nightmares and fears that were at the edge of her mind.

Dreams of finding Lucius and Draco murdered, of losing her family and everything that they had worked for. She shook her head firmly. This was not what she was here for. This is what they had to fight, she had to prevent these things from happening and she could.

She straightened slowly and glanced about again. She had to speak to Sirius. He had to be warned. He may not be able to do anything but perhaps he knew of another safe place Harry and Severus could go to and Draco as well if things went from bad to worse.

"Lady Malfoy, Sirius Black is ready to receive you, if you would come this way."

Narcissa nodded and stepped towards the head guard. She would be composed because if it was one thing she could do it was to hide her feelings.

Hp

"Black, you have another visitor." The guard's bark made Sirius glance up from his meagre meal. He frowned. Who was it this time? He put the tray away and glanced around his cell. He had no way of knowing if he was looking presentable.

He took a moment to think on his situation. For years he hadn't seen anybody and ever since Snape's and Remus' visits, people kept coming to see him. Most often Scrimgeour came to visit and talk to him, especially about the upcoming case.

He smoothed his hair back and then backed away into the middle of the room. The charms to bind him were familiar to him and he glanced up. He knew the drill by now.

The guard stepped inside first, wand held at the ready. Sirius merely stood there. His eyes widened as he saw who had come to visit him.

Narcissa Malfoy? What is she doing here? In all these years she has never come to visit me, except when my mother died, not that it was such a shame.

If there was one thing Sirius had learned here it was how to hide his true feelings and thoughts. He merely inclined his head at his cousin and said. "Cousin Narcissa, what a pleasure to see you here."

"The pleasure is all mine, cousin. I have come to bring you news…" She narrowed her eyes at the guard that stood in the room. "News that is best given in private…." She let the silence in the room deepen.

"I have to make sure that the prisoner won't harm you…"

"He is bound and there is a magical damping field in the room. I have my wand on me and I would like to think you were smart enough to confiscate his wand before you brought him here…" Narcissa's sneer rivalled Lucius.

The guard looked at her reluctantly and then nodded. "Very well then, I shall be outside guarding the door. You have half an hour, make it quick."

Narcissa merely nodded and then waited until the door fell close behind the guard. It gave Sirius the time to study his cousin. She looked as well composed as ever, but she looked older. Her blond hair was tied back from her face in an elegant knot and her robes were immaculate. They were dark so the filth from the floor didn't show on them. Her blue eyes were cold and hard as she looked at him.

Sirius knew his own appearance was nothing to write home about. He was thin as a rail because the food that they served here was often spoiled. Luckily he could digest it quicker as a dog and it made him less prone to any illness. His hair was unkempt and long and he had grown a beard.

They had allowed him to bath, or more accurately had cast cleaning charms on him when the Head Auror had visited him. They would not do that for family who visited. Sirius hoped that Scrimgeour visited again soon, he liked being clean.

He frowned when Narcissa uttered a spell and then turned to regard him. He didn't struggle out of the bonds and merely waited until she began.

"I have come with a reason…"

"Yes, I did gather that you did not come for a friendly chat and tea. So who died this time?"

"Nobody, well not yet but I do come with bad news. Severus sent me…"

"Did something happy to Harry?" Sirius' heart started beating rapidly. He cursed himself.

"Harry is fine, as fine as can be expected. But discoveries were made that put him and the world in great danger." Sirius frowned. He waited until Narcissa glanced back at him and then whispered. "He Who must Not be Named has been found…"

"You're kidding, right?" That was one thing that Sirius had never expected and he had thought that Narcissa would be the one to escape the famous Black madness, it seemed that she hadn't. Though, to be honest, Sirius would be a little bit insane if he was married to Malfoy.

"Sadly, I don't, Sirius…." Narcissa smiled but it didn't reach her eyes and then she began her story. Sirius listened in growing confusion.

How had this happened? How could Dumbledore miss something like this? I know the Headmaster is getting on in years but for him to miss something like this….The old man must be going senile.

"And Severus contacted Fudge? What does Dumbledore expect him to do? Sweep it under the carpet! Can you just imagine what will happen when they put Quirrelmort in Azkaban? His followers will have a field day."

"And you honestly think that we will let him. Really, cousin, the years in this place have not done your intelligence any favours. Do not try to be thicker than you have to be." Narcissa drew closer to him. Sirius glanced at her.

"So I should just put the fate of the world in your hands and sit back and wait like a good dog?"

"That is exactly what you are doing to do, cousin. Peter Pettigrew has finally been found and you have a chance of getting out of here. Do not mess that up, Sirius. We will need all the help we can get if all hell breaks loose."

"Perhaps you should make sure that all hell doesn't break loose."

"Oh don't worry, cousin, we are going to do exactly that, or make sure that all hell breaks loose at the right place and at the right time." And as Sirius barked out a laugh, he knew that sometimes being a little bit insane was a good thing. Narcissa merely smiled thinly at her cousin.

Hp

"Albus, the Minister is here." Minerva's voice betrayed nothing as she came to stand beside him. Albus smiled at her. He would have offered her a lemon drop but they were up in his office. And really, there were more pressing concerns at the moment than lemon drops, such as a very dangerous unconscious Dark Lord in the other room.

"Albus, what is the meaning of this? You summon me to Hogwarts without so much as by your leave or an explanation…" Cornelius was flanked by two Aurors. Albus peered at them. He didn't recognize them. But that didn't mean anything. There had been so many students here in his years as Headmaster that he had trouble with remembering them all.

These two looked remarkable young and Albus fought a sigh. He had never paid that much attention to the auror squads.

"I have asked you to come for a reason, Cornelius. It is a matter of grave importance and one that we need to work together on to keep our world the way it is."

Cornelius merely stared at him. There were times when Albus had to admit that Cornelius might not be the brightest of Ministers. He would have been a better choice but he had turned it down after the war. He felt that he was needed more at Hogwarts.

Yet there were times when he wondered if he could have done a better job than Cornelius Fudge. But the truth was that he didn't know. He knew he was a good leader when there was conflict and strive, he was a warrior but he could not see himself leading the wizarding world effectively. He had to make too many decisions.

At Hogwarts, the school ran itself, unless Lucius Malfoy was stirring up trouble again. Lord Malfoy was known to do that when he was bored. But Albus had learned how to deal with the younger man. But this was not the time nor the place to be thinking about this.

"Then what it is, man? Spit it out, I have other things I need to do." Cornelius was hot-headed, perhaps not the best quality in a Minister but Albus decided to let that go at the moment.

"An issue has risen with our Defence against the Dark Arts Professor..."

"An issue you couldn't handle alone?" A smug expression appeared on Cornelius' face at finally finding something that Albus was incompetent at. Albus could feel his blue eyes hardening as he said.

"It is an issue that threatens everything that we have worked for in the past 10 years, Cornelius! It threatens the peace that has settled over our nation. If we take the necessary steps now to contain this threat then the world will remember us as heroes. If we stand by idly and do nothing, then the world may not remember us at all."

Cornelius was looking a little pale and Albus said. "Beyond this door, is a magic dampening spell put upon this room by me. It is to prevent the rising of Professor Quirrell, who we have learned today, shares his body with the spirit of Tom Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort…"

I suppose it is another cliffy :P. Now, I need ideas badly, especially in how to deal with Quirrelmort. I have a faint idea, but that is all I have. Feel free to email me or send it in a review. Of course, reviews are always appreciated because they let me know if I am doing a good job.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I'm so sorry for the delay in updates but a lot has been happening. Let's begin.

"That cannot be. He Who Must Not Be Named is dead!" Fudge's face was a pale mask. Albus sighed.

"If he were truly dead, I'm sure that I would not have to put a magic dampening spell upon the room to prevent him from escaping, now would I?" He rarely if never tried his hand at sarcasm. Severus was quite fond of it and Albus could understand the appeal. "Quirrell is kept asleep so that Voldemort cannot take over his mind. Voldemort may have a lot of abilities but rousing a person from a potion's induced sleep is luckily not one of them."

Fudge swallowed thickly before he cleared his throat and said. "But wait a minute, so you have been harbouring a known Dark Lord under your roof all year, now have you?"

"Perhaps we should discuss that another time. I think that we have a more pressing concern at the moment." Albus gestured at the door. He had cast the spell himself, this was a task he didn't trust other people to do.

"I will not enter that room without any security. I'm calling for my best Aurors. My safety is important…"

"I believe that the safety of the entire wizarding world is at stake here." The soft voice was a welcoming distraction as Remus Lupin joined them. Fudge cast a glance at the substitute Defence teacher as the werewolf said. "Headmaster, Minister."

The amber eyes were aglow with what Albus would have called mischief if he didn't know better. But he did and if he knew one thing then it was that Remus had never been amused in a dire situation, unlike Sirius Black who could make a joke in any situation.

Perhaps Albus hadn't done right with any of them. He had handled it wrong when Sirius and James had played that prank on Severus and he thought it was just boys being boys. He had known that they would grow into fine men. But the war had forced them to mature quickly. He had hoped that they would have been granted peace for a longer time than the past 10 years they had.

They were not ready for war. Harry was not ready to assume the task appointed to him. But perhaps if they were quick, there would be no need for a second war. The past decade they had spent rebuilding and while the Aurors could deal with a threat, they would need to make certain that no mass panic would erupt now.

"I'm a very important person in the eyes of the Wizarding wold, Professor…."

"This is Remus Lupin. I hired him to be the substitute Defence teacher. I did not expect him to be quite so in demand already." Albus smiled at Remus. The other man didn't smile back though. Fudge was glancing between them before he said.

"Is there a fireplace I can make use of to give a call to my Aurors so I can summon them? And perhaps it would be prudent to lift the anti-Apparition wards, Dumbledore, so that they can be here faster."

"There is a reason that those wards are in place, Cornelius and you know that just as well as I do. It is to keep the students safe and people from entering that do not belong here. But it serves another purpose, a purpose that you are well aware of as well. It is so that nobody can Apparate out!" Sometimes Albus wondered how Cornelius had made Minister. And people had wanted him to become Minister after the war. Perhaps he should have said yes.

Instead he merely beckoned and said. "For now, my wards will hold Quirrell. I am sure that we can use Professor Flitwick's office. You can call for backup there. Perhaps if I may make a suggestion, why not ask for Kingsley Shacklebolt?"

"You are not in the any place to make suggestions, Dumbledore!" Albus was taken aback by the fierce tone of Fudge's snap. He was used to Severus' harsh tones and on occasion, Minerva's but Cornelius had always been polite.

He merely raised an eyebrow behind his glasses which were perched on his nose. "We should not be discussing this here. Come; let us take this to Professor Flitwick's office. I have sealed off the corridor but you know students, they have a way of figuring out everything."

"Yes, perhaps that is a good suggestion. About the first one that you have made so far, Dumbledore. I will contact the Auror department there and tell them to send a squad in to bring Quirrell to the Ministry." Fudge seemed pleased with himself and Remus quipped.

"Actually, we call him Quirrellmort now. It sounds catchier than You Know Who or Quirrell." The last Marauder's eyes twinkled in amusement before he said. "I will go and find Professor McGonagall. I'm sure that the Minister wants as many competent wizards and witches around him until his Aurors arrive."

The smile Remus gave both was too sweet and Albus wondered, would this mean more trouble for him?

Hp

Remus took a moment to run a hand over his face. Today promised to be another long day. But first he needed to make a floo call. He slipped into his office, closing the door behind him as he warded it before he moved towards the fireplace.

He grasped the tin can of floo powder and tossed some in. Shouting out Shackebolt's name, he stuck his head in the flames. He had been in contact with Shacklebolt in the past, not only during the war but also afterwards. Due to the werewolf laws, he had been unable to get a job but Shacklebolt had given him the odd assignments.

"Remus, what brings you in my grate today? Tired of teaching already?" Kingsley's voice was welcoming as the man pushed back his chair so he could sit closer to the fireplace.

Remus was careful not to snort. He didn't want to end up snorting up ash. "Hardly, it isn't boring at all. I'm quite sure that there is even more excitement at Hogwarts than there is in the Auror department. But I'm quite sure that you have heard about some of this, the discovery of Peter Pettigrew."

"I was one of those who brought him in. Scrimgrour didn't want too many people knowing about this. I am not even supposed to tell you this." Kingsley's grin was easy.

"It would be hard to hide it from me. I was one of those who discovered Pettigrew. But I can understand it, trade secrets and all. So where is Scrimgeour now? Is he in his office?"

"No, he is called in as a witness for the Black trial. Black is called to stand in front of the Wizengamot today."

"Today? I thought that was not until a week from now. But that is not what I came to call on you for. Quirrell challenged Professor Snape to a duel and during the duel something dreadful came to light. I am not sure if you were one of the Aurors on sight when the Potter's were murdered but we only found Voldemort's body. It is the general belief that he is dead but Albus Dumbledore always believed that Voldemort disappeared. I think that we finally found him…."

"What do you mean that you have found him?"

"Quirrell has been sharing his body with an evil spirit. An evil spirit that is remarkably like Voldemort. Dumbledore put him under a spell that keeps Quirrell unconscious so that Voldemort cannot control him."

"On whose word do you have it that it is Voldemort in there?" Perhaps it was a skill that the Aurors learned but Kingsley didn't look as shocked as Remus would have expected.

"Severus Snape!"

"He was a known Death Eater."

"He was a spy for our side and is the guardian of Harry Potter. But that is not the point of discussion right now. As I said before, Dumbledore placed Quirrell under a spell and he summoned the Minister for Magic. Fudge asked to summon the Aurors but I wanted to let you know what happened. I think that Fudge wants to bring Quirrell in for questioning and it may not be the best idea to let him leave Hogwarts. Despite Dumbledore's faults he is a powerful wizard and he can keep Quirrell under control."

Kingsley shifted to the other knee and then said. "And what precisely do you want me to do?"

"I do not expect you to stand down or something like that. Orders are orders but perhaps we can reason with Fudge. I am going to try and I doubt that I will be the only one. If I am being honest, I do not trust Fudge any more than I trust Dumbledore, but Dumbledore is the more powerful wizard. It would not do if the followers of Voldemort learn that he has not died and in fact inhabits a body. Trust me; we do not need that and I am not sure if the Ministry is the place to put Quirrellmort."

"Quirrellmort?"

"We had to come up with a name…" Remus smiled. He grinned at Kingsley as the tall man shook his head. "It is confusing to name him either Quirrell or Voldemort when he is neither. I will send you my memories of the events so that you can watch them. I do not have the time to explain everything."

Kingsley nodded at him. "Send them through the floo. It will be easier and I can view them immediately."

"Yes, there is a knock on my end so I will send them through now. Contact me or Minerva McGonagall if you have made a decision or else I will see you if Fudge summons the Aurors." Nodding at Kingsley, Remus pulled his head out of the fire.

He waved his wand at the fireplace before he called out to the person knocking on his door. He opened the door to reveal Minerva standing there. The Scottish witch smiled at him as he held open the door for her. "Imagine my surprise when I got a Patronus message from the Headmaster, asking what kept us. I was not even aware that you were looking for me. Did you get distracted perhaps?"

She glanced pointingly at the still smouldering fireplace. Remus resisted the urge to smile sheepishly. It was not point denying it.

"Sort of. I had to send an important floo message."

"Was this to the same person that you disappeared to when Quirrellmort was discovered?"

Remus fought his grin but it was not use. It seemed that everybody had taken over the name. He sobered after a moment and said. "I often find that the fewer people who know of a secret, the less chance there is that it are discovered. I trust you, Minerva, I trust you with my life but this concerns the life of other people and they have trusted me with that and I will not betray that trust. This secret is not mine to tell and I will not tell it."

"I suppose that the life you are talking about is Harry's, am I correct? I will not pester you for details, young man; I know who I have to pester instead. If he was only around. Now perhaps we should attend the meeting with Albus and Fudge. You never know what they will get into when you leave them alone long enough."

"Well, there is on consideration. Fudge won't be able to overpower Albus." Remus held open the door for Minerva. He warded the office behind him. The students were kept in their dormitories but he didn't want anybody snooping in there. He didn't entirely know the workings of a spy but he was quite sure that Severus kept his office and personal items under similar wards and for some reason, it did feel good.

Hp

He was being chased by somebody. He couldn't see who it was because the person wore a dark cloak. He was also wielding a wand, a wand that had a green glow at the point. It was a green glow that Harry had seen before. He remembered a green light and screams but he didn't know what it was, only that it frightened the hell out of him.

He couldn't run fast enough to escape the cloaked person. They were always one step behind him but Harry couldn't see his face. He didn't know where his wand was. He couldn't fight off his attacker…he….

He woke up with a scream, sitting upright as he looked around the dark room. He didn't know this room. He had no idea where he was. He didn't have his glasses on.

The next moment a hand reached out to touch him and Harry nearly jumped three feet in the air. He turned to the person and then a deep voice said. "Easy, Harry…"

Harry knew that voice. He choked back a dry sob and crawled against his guardian. Immediately the arms closed around him as Severus asked, his voice a little less sleepy then he had been before. "What's the mater?"

"I had a nightmare….There was somebody chasing me…"

"You're safe here. There is nobody here but me. Malfoy Manor is one of the best protected properties in Great Britain." A hand carefully carded through his hair and Harry shivered. He didn't want to remember that scream ever again. "Nobody can touch you. I would have woken up before that…"

"Everybody can die, you too…" Like my mum and dad. They died too…that is what that scream was…it was somebody screaming when they died…

The thought was unexpected. Harry had heard stories about how his parents had died; well he had heard the truth since he had entered the Wizarding World. There had been mentioning's in books and he had wanted to know. He needed to know the truth. He had wanted to know why they had died.

Harry blinked at the sudden light that came on. Snape's eyes were dark but very sharp and the thin lips pressed together in a tight line as his guardian said. "Harry, I cannot promise you that I will not die because it is folly to make a promise I cannot keep but I will promise you that I will not try to die before my time…"

His lips tightening in their own line, Harry pulled away and said. "I'm sure that my mom and dad thought the same thing."

The dark eyes widened slightly before Snape said. "I will guarantee you that I will not die in the same fashion as your parents did…."

"My parents died to protect me from Voldemort…" Harry started when Snape clasped a hand over his left forearm and snarled.

"Do not say his name in front of me…"

The sharp tone was so unlike the Potions Master that Harry fell silent. He stared up at Snape, green eyes wide. Snape was normally in control and while he could be strict and sharp when he wanted to, especially in class, ever since Harry had become his ward, he had been friendlier towards Harry.

Snape took a deep breath and glanced down at himself. He tugged up the sleeve of his robe and it was only then that Harry realized that Snape was still wearing the clothes he had duelled in. Harry stared down at the bandaged forearm. There was something else bound over the pale arm, a wire of some sort and he glanced up at Snape.

"This bandage covers my greatest shame. It is the Dark Mark. It is the Mark of the Dark Lord. He marked all of his followers with it and we used it as a way to recognize each other. He used it as a way to summon us to his side. Some in our ranks believed that if you said his name, you would gather his attention onto you so he could use the mark as a way to spy on us. I'm not sure if that is possibleat the moment, ashe is dormant in Quirrell's body but I would rather not attract his attention here so if you will please refrain from saying his name in front of me."

"But Professor Dumbledore said that by refusing to use his name, we will create more fear of well…him." Harry was puzzled. If he knew somebody to be fearless then it had to be his Professor.

"And he is right, in that aspect at least. But I have learned that if it can be prevented to attract his attention, then we should do so. Until we know for certain. So refrain from saying the Dark Lord's name in front of me and in front of Mr Malfoy."

Confused, Harry nodded. He knew better then to ask for a reason for everything. There must be a reason that Snape wanted him not to say Voldemort's name in front of him. And with everything his guardian had done for him, Harry could certainly honour this one request.

"Alright, now can we get back to sleep?"

Harry worried his lip in between his teeth for a moment before he blurted out. "Do you really think that we're safe…as long as Quirrell is out there with You Know Who inside of him?"

After a long moment Snape's lips curled into a smile. "Yes, as long as Albus Dumbledore is in charge of keeping Quirrell contained and asleep in that special room that he prepared, then we should be fine. Because no matter what, the Headmaster is a very powerful wizard."

Finally satisfied, Harry nodded and yet he couldn't help but hope that Dumbledore kept a close watch on Quirrell and kept him locked up.

Hp

"I will not have it. My safety is at stake…"

"And the safety of the entire wizarding community! But then again, what are the lives of thousands if the safety of the Minister is at stake." The snarl burst from Remus without even trying. He wasn't the only one taken aback by the ferocity of it. Minerva looked a little bit proud as well and Dumbledore, well the blue eyes twinkled.

Fudge's mouth opened and closed a few times as he tried to think of a retort. The small man paced the room for a moment before he said.

"I demand that we let the Wizengamot decide that…."

"Perhaps if you demanded less and thought more, Minister, then perhaps we would not be having this discussion." Remus snapped. He paced the floor himself and then Minerva stepped in.

"Minister, we are bickering with you about where to move Quirrellmort but instead we should be talking about what to do with the threat that has aroused with the discovery of Quirrellmort. The near future is what is important now and for the moment Quirrellmort is subdued and it will stay that way as long as he is kept in that room. We will have a harder time to subdue him when Quirrellmort is out there. Our future is in danger. The very future that we have tried to rebuild from You Know Who's rise of power over a decade ago. Do you really want to put that on the line so you can move Quirrellmort because you don't feel safe with him being here?"

Minerva's Scottish accent became more pronounced when she was angry or in distress. Remus paced the floor again and then said.

"Perhaps we should move this discussion someplace else if the Minister does not feel safe…"

"There are students here. It does not only concern my safety that Quirrellmort is here! We need to make a plan to move him!" Fudge rounded on Remus. The werewolf stood his ground and merely raised an eyebrow. Play it cool, Remus but make him see sense. It wouldn't do to move Quirrellmort now though he does have a point with the safety of the students.

"We need to make a plan but not to move him at the moment. We need to have a permanent facility to hold Quirrellmort. But if you do not feel up for the task, Minister, despite safety reasons or anything else, then perhaps you need to let competent people deal with this."

Fudge saw red, Remus was sure of it. His cheeks flowed with color and he marched up to Remus as he hissed. "In case you forgot, werewolf, I'm the Minister of Magic and you have no right to speak to me like that! You are an animal who has no rights…"

"And yet I have more courage than you to stand up for what is right and to put the lives of others before mine!" Remus didn't even see the spell coming and it drove him to his knees as his jaws clenched together to keep from gagging.

It spoke of the owner of the spell that the first hex that came to mind was a heaving hex. Fudge wasn't very powerful but Remus could feel his stomach rebelling. It rolled around unpleasantly and his eyes watered.

But before his lunch could make reappearance a wrinkled hand touched his shoulder and the spell ended immediately. Remus didn't even see Dumbledore's wand. "That was unnecessary, Cornelius. I will not have my staff members being hexed by anyone, Minister or not." Remus gathered his strength and stood up.

I really hope that spies doesn't keep getting hexed. Severus always seemed to manage just fine. Perhaps I really need to work on my reflexes.

Fudge didn't look apologetic in the slightest. "I see that we have reached a stalemate. I will summon my Aurors. We need expert expertise on this because I fear we will continue to butt heads."

And whose fault is that? You refuse to see reason. I will freely admit that this is not the best place to keep a Dark Lord, especially with the students present but there is no other secure place. Azkaban is filled with Death Eaters and they will only be too eager to help Quirrellmort. No, we need another secure location. One that isn't at the Ministry or Hogwarts.

"As I have said before, you are more than welcome to floo for one of your Aurors. The fireplace is available here." Albus kept a hand on Remus' shoulder as he gestured towards the fireplace that sprang to life immediately.

The Minister gave him a long look before he nodded and walked towards the fireplace. Remus really hoped that Kingsley would come through for them

Hp

Kingsley Shacklebolt had been working for the Aurors for years. He had started out as a young recruit, fresh out of Hogwarts and worked his way up through the ranks to where he was now, a senior Auror. He had worked together with James Potter and Sirius Black, Frank and Alice Longbottom, all casualties of the war one way or another.

He had liked to think of them as friends. He liked to keep in touch with his friends, even when they were dead. He still liked to remember them fondly. He had been very surprised when he had been contacted by Remus Lupin just hours ago.

He had met Remus a few weeks ago when he had been called out to Hogwarts to arrest Peter Pettigrew. While rumours had reached him during the war of Pettigrew's involvement and he had heard stories of James and Sirius, he had always refrained from judgement.

But the story that Remus had told him had nearly been too insane for words. He knew better than to dismiss those tales because Remus Lupin had always struck him as a sane fellow, despite the werewolf curse that plagued him. But when he had received the floo call from the Minister himself, to summon him as most senior member of the Auror squad in the office to Hogwarts, he had been surprised.

Scrimgeour was busy with the Sirius Black hearing which was scheduled today so Kingsley did what was requested of him. He floo'd to Hogwarts.

He had expected that it would only be Fudge there to welcome him but there was also Remus Lupin, Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore. He glanced around, wondering if there was any suspect that needed to be arrested.

He stepped gracefully from the fireplace and nodded at the Minister. "Minister Fudge, you called for me here. What can I do for you?"

He had heard the tale before from Remus but that didn't mean that it was any more believable now. But if there was one thing that he knew about Fudge was that he may be dramatic and that he could ignore some of the serious problems in the wizarding world but he never purposely lied if it could be helped. He suspected that Fudge told him what had really happened because it couldn't be ignored any longer.

"And you have him under secure lockdown here?"

"Professor Dumbledore has placed a magic dampening spell over the room where Quirrellmort is kept in and the room is locked with a powerful spell that only Professor Dumbledore can break…." Fudge began to talk but Remus cut in.

"But Minister Fudge seems to find that it isn't safe enough that Quirrellmort is stuffed inside a room which cannot be accessed [!] by anyone except Professor Dumbledore inside a castle nobody can Apparate in or can access without going through wards so we have been called in here to find a suitable place to put him otherwise."

The Minister's eyes narrowed in a glare but Remus seemed to brush it off. Kingsley nodded at Remus and then paced the floor before he said.

"Right, is there a specific reason for that, Minister?" He had learned through the years what he had to do to make sure that Fudge felt comfortable and felt like he was being heard. It was the best way to get the Minister to do something or see a different point of view.

"The safety of the students is compromised and not to mention my safety. What if, Merlin forbid, the worst should happen and the wards and magic dampening spell aren't enough and Quirrellmort gets out. The students will be put at risk. We must make sure that it doesn't happen."

"Of course, and you are completely right, Minister. It is a good point to rise…." Kingsley shot a glance Remus' way to keep him quite. "But wouldn't it be more dangerous to move Quirrellmort and risk waking him up? What if somebody found out about him being moved and they would attack? We would be defenceless while here we can fight back?"

Fudge paused in his pacing and then he glanced back at Kingsley. "Yes, that is a valid point as well. But we do need to come up with another idea or find another place for Quirrellmort. He cannot stay here forever."

"Perhaps not in this form, no." Remus' voice was so soft but it caught the attention of everybody in the room. Kingsley turned to stare at the werewolf. The Defence Professor was leaning against the wall and he glanced up, seemingly surprised that he had the attention of everybody in the room.

"Well…" He smiled sheepishly and then continued. "We know that Voldemort… oh stop flinching, it is just a name…could shift forms. He could take over other people, so why not assume that he could do the same to animals? I'm sure that he would have experimented with it. If we can force his spirit to leave Quirrell's body and take over that of an animal, that should buy us some time."

"But what if he gets out then? There are dangers to the plan." Fudge gaped between them both and Kingsley hid his smile.

He looked at Professor Dumbledore. The Headmaster was looking out of the window, thinking hard it seemed. Remus was leaning back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest and Professor McGonagall had drawn up a chair and was seated on it.

"Perhaps if I can give my opinion?" Kingsley's deep voice was soft in the room but it seemed that everybody looked to him at once. Kingsley looked at the Minister and Fudge nodded.

"Professor Lupin's idea has merits, but that does not solve the immediate situation at hand. If we can even force the spirit of You Know Who into another body, we have to make sure that he can never escape into anything else. That alone will involve a tricky branch of magic, which I have no doubt that Professor Dumbledore is capable of it…."

"But it has never been attempted before, even by somebody as powerful as me. This should not be considered lightly, not by any of us. I will need assistance from other powerful wizards, especially wizards who have been in the service of Lord Voldemort."

"You better not be thinking of pulling people from Azkaban, Dumbledore because I will never consent to that!" Kingsley fought the urge to roll his eyes. Fudge was red faced as he faced the taller Headmaster. Professor Dumbledore merely smiled at the Minister before he said.

"Of course not, my dear Cornelius. I was merely thinking of enlisting other people to help, people who have renounced Lord Voldemort because they were put under a spell. Individuals such as Professor Snape, who was spying for us and Lucius Malfoy, who claimed to be under the Imperius spell and thus could not have been held accountable for his actions. I'm sure Mr Malfoy will be available to help me, especially when the life of his son is at stake." Dumbledore twinkled throughout the whole speech.

Fudge looked pensive. "Yes, that is all very well and I'm quite sure that Mr Malfoy would be keen to help, but that still does not solve our current problem."

"Yes, I was getting to that, Minister." Kingsley cleared his throat. "Perhaps it would be wise to leave Quirrellmort here for the moment. As far as I have gathered he is stored in a room that cannot be accessed by anybody but the Headmaster am I correct? If I work together with [!] Professor Lupin to guard Quirrellmort I'm sure that we can settle this in a matter of days. Or come up with a more permanent solution to moving him."

"Fine, then it is decided that Quirrellmort will remain here for the moment?"

"Yes, as long as the students are not at risk. Students have a way of getting into all sorts of rooms they are not supposed to be in." Professor McGonagall rose to her feet as she glanced between all the men in the room. Kingsley wisely held his mouth. Professor McGonagall had been a force to reckon with when he was in school and he suspected that age hadn't mellowed her much.

"And I still say that we need to move Quirrellmort, for the sake of the students." Fudge looked about and Kingsley felt the urge to sigh but Professor McGonagall beat him to the punch as she cleared her throat and stared at Fudge.

The already small man seemed to become even smaller. "Have you not been listening the previous hours, Minister Fudge or have your wits been so altered by arse kissers that always do your bidding that you think that I will say yes simply because you are the Minister for Magic?"

She actually waited for an answer and Fudge glanced around the room, too weary to answer. Minerva met the Minister's gaze coolly before she said.

"To answer your question, the answer is no! I am quite sure that you will find people capable of moving Quirrellmort but I will simply tell you no! I do not trust you with this; I do not trust Albus with the task of moving Quirrellmort except guarding him. I do not trust either of you, and you know why? It is because of this."

This was the article that had appeared in the Evening Prophet that had come out an hour ago.

Double failure for Headmaster Dumbledore and Minister for Magic Fudge.

People who have kept up with this newspaper have realized in previous years that the current Headmaster of Hogwarts and the Minister for Magic do not always see eye to eye. But there was one thing that they did agree with and that was the case of Harry Potter.

People have always suspected that Harry Potter was brought up by his loving family but nothing was further from the truth. Harry Potter was abused! This was discovered by Potions Master Severus Snape when Harry Potter confided into his mother's childhood friend.

Harry Potter was brought to his family's home by none other than Albus Dumbledore on the night of his parents' murder. Mere hours after the disastrous attack upon the Potter's home, Harry was left on the doorstep in nothing but a blanket with a letter explaining the situation to his Muggles family. That this family despised magic was not deemed of importance except for the safety of Harry Potter.

That Harry would never be safe but hurt by his uncle and aunt and their son, would, if Dumbledore had his way, never be brought to light. When Cornelius Fudge wanted to adopt Harry Potter as a Ministry ward, the Headmaster put a stop to that quickly enough. By telling the Minister that Harry Potter would be safer at the family home because of the blood protection Lily Potter cast upon her son when she died, Dumbledore made sure that his secret stayed buried.

But this reporter can tell you that Harry suffered dearly for the agreement these two men agreed upon. A full list of his injuries when Harry Potter came to Hogwarts can be found on page 2. The full details of Harry Potter's life with his Muggles family the Dursleys can be found on page 3. The full account of what can transpire next as Severus Snape battles for guardianship of Harry Potter can be found on page 4.

Kingsley had read the article. It wasn't anything that Rita Skeeter usually wrote because it was very truthful. But as he noticed the looks on both Fudge's face and Dumbledore's, he had to smile. It seemed that Minerva McGonagall had the power for once as the Minister said.

"Alright, so what will we do then?"

And Kingsley had to consent; Minerva's smile was very catlike.

Hp

Sirius' days had always been filled with routine, but that routine was gone now. Ever since the visit from Scrimgeour, his routine was gone. And today was going to be completely different. He had been called to stand in front of the Wizengamot.

This would be the first time that he would appear in front of the Wizengamot. He had never had a trial, at least not a trial as it should have been when he had murdered somebody. The trial had been quick, the Aurors had arrested him and then he had been sentenced to Azkaban, all in the space of one night.

And now he was summoned to stand in front of them. He wanted to scratch at his jaw but the manacles that tied his wrists together prevented him from it. They had trimmed his beard and cut his hair to make him look more presentable. If this was the way things would go when he was called to the Wizengamot, he liked that. It meant he got washed more often than normally.

He glanced up when they called his name. The Auror that stood before him was a recruit, one that would wet his pants by the looks of it, if Sirius as much as growled at him. He merely smiled at the boy and went willingly.

He was escorted into the large room where the Wizengamot was holding trial. It was a circular room, filled with benched where various witches and wizards were seated. They stared down at him but Sirius paid them no mind. He had other things to worry about.

He sat down in the chair but the manacles that hung down the sides stayed down. Perhaps they decided that he had been manacled enough already.

"Sirius Black, you have been called in here today because your trial has been reopened after evidence that Peter Pettigrew has been alive all these years has been discovered. We will revisit the evidence of your previous trial to come to a new sentence." One of the older wizards stood up.

"Yes, you can hardly sentence me to Azkaban for murdering somebody when that person is not deceased." It came out a little louder than he expected but he smiled sweetly with it.

"Yes…well, the evidence in the previous trial was very minimum…" Apparently he had upset the Wizengamot spokesperson because the man appeared to shuffling his papers around. Sirius sighed and then said, not sure if he was allowed to talk.

"You may find that there was no trial so there shouldn't be much evidence of anything." He was a sarcastic person by nature but if life in Azkaban had taught him anything, it was not to speak before his turn.

He merely smiled sweetly when heard a chuckle being muffled as a cough. Perhaps he had more friends in here than he knew. Scrimgeour appeared to be biting back his own smile.

"Mr Black, would you be so kind as to tell us in your own words what happened that night." Sirius sighed. It wasn't as if they didn't know what happened that dreadful night when James and Lily had died. The pain was still as fresh as it had been that night so many years ago and he welcomed it.

"You're not going to dose me with veritaserum? To make sure I'm telling the truth? I'm a Black, I could very well have gone mad in Azkaban, lesser men have done so without madness running in the family." The fact that he hadn't gone insane was because of the transformations into a dog.

"Do you think it will be necessary?" The question was bounced back at him and Sirius thought about it for a moment. He had been an Auror and he had attended trials before. In every trial veritaserum was involved and given to those questioned. He didn't want another sham of a trial so if that meant taking a potion, a potion he would take.

"I have been telling the truth all along but nobody believes me. They did not even offer me the decency of a trial. I want this done right."

"Black is right. We owe him that much. Very well, I'm sure the council can be suspended until the veritaserum can be found." Scrimgrour approached Sirius. The Head of the Auror headquarters held a mug in front of him as he asked.

"Would you care for some water?"

Nobody had ever asked him that and he wondered what was up. He was a little bit thirsty and he nodded. He doubted that Scrimgeour would put something in his drink.

He sipped of the cup as it was placed in his hands. It felt good and it soothed his throat. He was used to going long times without water but if somebody offered, well who was he to turn that down?

He contented himself with glancing around the room until the doors of the room opened to reveal a young man, holding a bottle of the clear liquid that was veritaserum, he was holding it though as if it was made of pure gold. Perhaps to some people it was. To Sirius, it would be the ticket to the truth and hopefully to freedom.

It tasted as he imagined and Sirius tried not to smile insanely as he relaxed into the compulsion to tell the truth. He kept a part of him guarded. He didn't want to tell all of his secrets. So when they asked him to relive the night his best friend had died and made Harry an orphan, he told them everything he knew.

Silence reigned after he was done talking and despite the dulling effects of the potion, he could still feel the emotions as though they had been yesterday. They cut into him but Sirius relived the pain, allowing himself to feel it and remind himself that he was still human.

"And you never knew that Peter Pettigrew was an animagus?" The next question was to be expected and Sirius contemplated his answer.

If he answered truthfully he would give his own cover away and he would also endanger Remus. He couldn't do that. Making an effort he said.

"No, I never knew for sure. He bragged about it but that was the thing with Peter he bragged a lot and when we asked him to transform, he was unable."

"And you never thought to mention it?"

"What was there to mention? He could never give us any proof of it and I didn't think that it was that important. I believe I killed him, in case you were wondering. There was nothing left of him and I was mad with grief. I didn't know if I thought what I saw was real."

"But you had been trained as an Auror and in training they teach you how to mentally make a copy of everything that you see."

"Yes, but that wouldn't have helped. You would not have believed me anyway. I was labelled as mad and I suppose I was in those days. I was thrown into Azkaban without a trial and ignored there. They don't care for the ramblings of a prisoner. It actually surprises me that you do." Sirius wasn't going to take his anger out on them but the potion gave voice to his thoughts very easily.

That was why it was controlled so heavily and its use regulated. It wouldn't do to have everybody abuse it.

The members of the Wizengamot shifted in their seats and murmurs arose in the room, cutting through the quiet. The spokesperson, Stephen Griffin if Sirius was correct in remembering his name didn't smile as he fixed his attention on Sirius.

"We do now. We are reopening the investigation into the alleged murder of Peter Pettigrew. I do have one more question for you before we conclude the session for today."

Sirius nodded, one more question, it was hardly worth getting out of bed for but he did have a change of scenery and he wasn't going to give that up. It did get lonely and repetitive to stay in the cell and go through the same ritual day in and day out. He wasn't allowed out of the cell, hardly even for the few visitors that did come.

"What are your plans should you be given your freedom?" The question caught him completely off guard and Sirius sat blinking at Stephen for a long moment. Long enough for even Scrimgeour to lean forward and take notice.

"I really don't know." He finally managed. "I never thought about it."

"You never imagined your future should you be free?"

"No, there wasn't any need to. I was given a life sentence, remember?"

"Then perhaps this is another question, did you believe that Peter Pettigrew was alive?" Sirius hesitated but the potion pushed him into spilling the truth.

"Yes, I have always believed him to be alive. He was always good at fleeing and while I have been trained as an Auror, it doesn't mean that I can always rely on my memories. And memories have been known to fade over time. That time…my best friend and his wife had just died, I was mad with grief and before long; I thought I had imagined it that he was alive. But it was something that kept me sane during my time in Azkaban, saner than anybody else."

"Very well, that answers the question of why you are relatively sane after having spent so much time in Azkaban but that doesn't answer the question about any future plans. I refuse to believe that you never once considered or dreamed about what the future could bring for you, should you get your freedom back." Stephen was nothing if not determined, Sirius found. But he liked the other wizard.

"I have plans for a family of my own but most I dream of freedom. Of being free to go everywhere, of spending time with Harry Potter, my godson."

"And you intend to lay claim on your godson?" Sirius had no idea where this was going to lead but he couldn't fight the urge to answer.

He snorted before he said. "I'm a Black; I have never had any reason to look after myself. My mother disowned me the moment I sided with Dumbledore in the war. She always said that I was a disappointment because I was sorted into Gryffindor and not into Slytherin as a Black should have been. The moment I could move out, I went to live with the Potters. They were very kind in taking me in. Even then I never had to look after myself. I may not be relatively sane, because let's face it, madness does run in the family but I know that I'm not mature enough to take care of a teenager, not even for the summer."

"So am I to understand from this little speech that you do not intend to lay claim on your godson and let him stay with his guardian?" Sirius shook his head with a smile.

"Yes." He had to be careful not to give anything more away. He could feel the compulsion to tell the truth further and he fought against it with everything he had. They didn't need to know that he had been visited by Severus Snape and Remus Lupin. It wouldn't be terribly hard to find out who had visited him but he wasn't going to be the one to tell them.

"Very well then. That concludes today. We shall adjourn and resume tomorrow. Auror Scrimgeour, perhaps you would be so kind to escort Black back to his cell." With a clang the manacles around Sirius' feet and hands fell away and he could stand. They were replaced by the ones he had worn when he had walked in but Sirius enjoyed the stretch of his muscles.

He waited until the Head Auror had stopped next to him. He was glad that Scrimgeour paced his steps to match Sirius because he couldn't do much except for shuffle his feet forward. He was led towards the Apparition point which wasn't very far.

"I think that you need to start making plans for your future, Black, because unless this turns sour, you could be a free man in a matter of weeks."

And perhaps for the first time in years, Sirius allowed himself to feel a small spark of hope.

I hope you liked it. So what do you want to see? So what will Minerva have planned?

In the next chapter: The Wizengamot calls in other people to act as witness in Sirius' trial, Remus is called in to testified, can our Defence teacher protect his own secret and that of his friends? Sirius has some thinking to do as the chance for freedom is suddenly a lot closer then it appeared beforehand. What will Lucius Malfoy think as Kingsley Shacklebolt provides an ally for the cost of protecting Harry? And what can Harry tell his worried friends as their letters reach him? Will Minerva be able to come up with a suitable plan for Quirrellmort?

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I'm sorry for the lack of updates but I think that you all know I'm a junior in college and that means a lot of work if I want to graduate next year. I'll try to update when I can. Let's begin. This chapter takes place a week after the other one

School life resumed quickly as the students adapted to the new schedule. Potions had been cancelled due to the continued absence of Professor Snape and Professor Remus Lupin filled in for Professor Quirrell who had mysteriously disappeared. Speculation among the students were high as to where the missing professor had gone. On top of that Harry Potter had disappeared as well.

Only a handful of people at school knew where the Gryffindor was. The other students were speculating loudly and often. Especially during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today's breakfast was no exception as Remus drank his coffee and ate his toast at the teacher's table. He kept a wary eye on the students as some of them glanced up at him before ducking back down to whisper loudly to their friends. His hearing was sensitive due to his werewolf side but even he couldn't tell what they were saying because of the noise in the Great Hall. He decided to let them go.

"So the latest story is that I killed Quirrell because I wanted this job so badly." He grinned at Minerva as she dropped in the seat beside him.

"Then what do the students think happened to Severus?"

"They think he kidnapped Harry, fled the country and is currently living somewhere in the Caribbean. That is the latest version of the story." He passed the plate of bacon to her but she shook her head. He passed the teapot which she did accept.

"Students will make up anything, I suppose. He still refuses to come back until Quirrellmort has been dealt with?" Remus was the only one who was currently in contact with Severus. He had volunteered, partly to gain Severus' trust and partly because it was easier to have one person at Hogwarts stay in contact with Severus than many people. This was also done because of safety reasons. Remus found that Severus' paranoia was rubbing off on him. He hoped that he could outgrow that or at least gain a healthier sense of paranoia.

"With good reason. If something happens and we can't get rid of the Mort part of Quirrell then Harry and Severus are not safe at Hogwarts. Harry is Severus' first priority right now. I agree with him that something needs to be done about Quirrellmort. We can only keep him asleep for so long." He took another bite of his toast.

Minerva looked weary and she took a sip of her tea, sighing gratefully. "Yes, so far I have not been very successful in finding any method of getting rid of possession in any of the books I have read through. Some books suggest a host body to put the spirit into, which is an option I have not yet explored fully. Killing Quirrell is not an option, regardless of any mortal concerns, because You Know Who's soul will flee to another host body."

"But you are looking into a possible host body? It has to be a lower life form because otherwise he will simply control it and escape. We cannot allow that to happen."

"Tell me something I don't know, Remus." Minerva finished her tea and poured herself another cup. Remus surveyed the hall in the meantime.

"It looks like Harry's friends are getting anxious for news. It has been three days in a row that I've caught them outside Severus' office trying to break into it to gather news. It is a good thing that Severus has such strong wards or otherwise he would have come back to an office in disarray." He nodded at Hermione as she looked up at the Staff Table.

"Perhaps it would be best if I called them to my office to discuss any news we have of Harry. It would ease their mind and I'm sure that Harry would benefit from any letters from his friends. Not that we tell them everything of course but just enough that they can keep Harry up to date."

"I suppose that it can't hurt. But perhaps we need to remind them of Severus' temper, should he come back to find his office vandalized."

"Ah yes, Severus' temper, a dreadful sight to behold. Now perhaps we can talk of something a little bit differently than any dreadful news since I still want to get some enjoyment out of this day." Remus nodded at her. He could understand that she wanted to talk about anything else.

"Sirius' trial has begun. He was called to the stand a week ago. The trial is due to resume this week with witnesses but we don't know who yet. I've not been able to visit…" Remus nodded at the owl that dropped a letter neatly in his lap. He frowned at the Ministry's seal.

"That looks like an important letter that you have there, better open it quick." Minerva poured herself another cup of tea. Remus did as she suggested, his frown only deepening as he read the letter.

"The Wizengamot wants me to testify in Sirius' trail." Remus glanced up at Minerva as she held out her hand for the letter. He handed it over after a moment. It was something that he had thought could happen but he had never actually expected it to happen. He was called to court and to testify for or against Sirius, he didn't know. The Wizengamot would surely ask for his side of the story of what had happened the night that Peter had supposedly died or they would even want to know what had happened when they had found Peter.

It made him slightly nervous but he couldn't refuse. He was the only one who could tell the truth. Severus was in hiding and he wasn't going to come out just because the Wizengamot called. He owedit to Sirius to at least give his side of the story. Sirius deserved a fair trial, especially after the mockery of a trial that he had when Lily and James had died.

It had been a dark time for all of them and especially for Remus. He had been mad with grief and then to realize that Sirius had betrayed them all had been the final straw for him. It had taken all of his willpower not to give over to the wolf. He had to remind himself that he still had a cause to fight for. He had Harry to protect, even when he had not been allowed to take care of the boy; he still had a duty to him. And Harry had needed all the protection he could get.

"I suppose the correct protocol would be to send an owl back to tell them I will come." He fed the owl a piece of bacon. The owl hooted happily and nibbled on it, shuffling its feathers for a moment. It seemed to be waiting for something. Remus carefully petted it with a finger. He had no desire to be pecked.

"When the Wizengamot summons you there is no reason to send anything back. But if it makes you feel better, then do so." Minerva handed him the parchment back and Remus scribbled his answer on it before tying it to the owl's leg and sending it off with another piece of bacon.

He hoped that it would be alright and that he wouldn't get baited by the Wizengamot into revealing more about Sirius than he should.

Hp

Minerva glanced up from the notes she had taken from the books that she had found in the Restricted Section. Most of the information she needed was not in these books. There were darker rituals and spells that were not safe for students' eyes, even if they had been put in the Restricted Section.

She pressed her lips into a thin line at the thought of where those books could be. No doubt Albus would have some in his library but at the moment she wasn't very comfortable with asking for his help. Perhaps the Malfoys had some in their library. She would have to call on Lucius.

It may be a good to check on Severus. He's been out of the loop and I'm sure he'll appreciate any news that I can give him.

She found that she missed Severus' dry wit and his brilliance. He would have been able to help her with the Quirrellmort situation and would have figured out a solution by now. But he had other duties and she had to consent that Harry was a very important duty. Children had been a duty that she had never had to luxuary to experience. She adored teaching teenagers, even when they were unwilling to learn but she had never found the urge to settle down again after she had turned Dougal down.

She had adored him and had been willing to spend the rest of her life to be with him. He was a muggle and she had worked for the Ministry at the time. She could however not break the International Stature of Secrecy and throw away all of her ambitions for love. She had so many plans and even if she had adored Dougal she had decided to remain true to herself instead. She had never found love again but she hadn't minded that.

Minerva was pulled from her musings as a knock on the door came. She waved her wand at the parchments that had been strewn across her desk and packed them away. Nobody needed to see this.

She pushed her hair back into her usual tidy bun and cleared her throat before she called. "Enter."

She was not surprised when Hermione Granger opened the door, nor when the young witch was followed by Ronald Weasley. Apparently her letter had been delivered. She smiled at them and gestured for them to enter. Ronald closed the door behind him and together they came closer.

Minerva pointed at the two chairs that stood in front of her desk and said. "Mister Weasley and Miss Granger, you are not in trouble. I asked you to come here so I can give you news about Mr. Potter….

"You heard about Harry?"

"Is he okay?"

"Where is he?"

"We haven't heard anything about him and now Professor Snape is missing too…"

Minerva cleared her throat and smiled in satisfaction as both Gryffindors fell silent. Apparently she still had it. "Mr. Potter is fine and Professor Snape as well. If you would be so kind to let me finish then perhaps I can give you the information that you seek. I will only give you information that will not endanger Mr. Potter or Professor Snape so I will not tell you his whereabouts."

Ronald opened his mouth to protest but before he could say anything Hermione reached over to hit him on the arm. They shared a look between them and with a grumble Ronald finally sunk down lower in his chair but kept quiet.

"We promise, Professor."

"Very well then. As you may have been aware Professor Quirrell was injured during his duel with Professor Snape. This incident convinced Professor Snape that Hogwarts is not the safe place it once was and he decided to take Harry away to a safer place. And no Mr. Weasley I will still not reveal the location of them both. It isn't safe to give out that information. But rest assured that both are as well as can be expected…"

"But for how long will they be away? Cause Harry needs to study if he wants to pass his exams…"

Merlin save me from overachieving students. I was once like that and it brings back a lot of fond memories.

"There will come a time Miss Granger that you will learn that there are more important aspects in life than passing one's exams. They are not until the end of the year and Harry has plenty of time to study before them, as do you. At the moment Harry's safety is a bigger concern than his academic results."

Minerva frowned at the girl because she could see that she wanted to ask what was more important. This time it was Ronald who nudged her and said. "We understand, Professor. Is there anything we can do for Harry?"

"I'm sending him his homework and I'm sure that the owl has some room for letters should you want to send Harry some." She smiled at them. Hermione seemed pleased by this even when she still looked like she was on the verge of wanting to ask something. Ronald had relaxed a little.

"And you really can't tell us what happened to Harry? I mean Hogwarts is the safest place in the world…"

"At the moment not for Harry Potter. Do not forget that there are still old followers of You Know Who that will want to harm Harry. You all know that Hogwarts is not the safe place it once was. Just a few weeks ago Peter Pettigrew was found posing as your rat. It escaped all of our attention that there was an unregistered Animagus right under our noses. Professor Snape felt it was in Harry's best interest to remove him as soon as possible to a safer location."

"But will he return?"

"I hope that he does but I do not know if Professor Snape will deem it safe enough."

"Even when he's here to watch over Harry?" Hermione fidgeted in her chair and Minerva favored the girl with a smile.

"Even then. But I think it was one of the reasons why he took Harry away because he had been injured by the duel…"

"Yeah, that is another question I have been meaning to ask you, Professor. What happened? I mean, it looked like something went wrong. Professor Quirrell was way too strong and he used spells that bordered on the dark. If my dad caught me using those he would snap my wand, no doubt. Hell, my mother would wash my mouth out with soap if I even thought of those spells." Ron's eyes were huge as he stared at her.

Ah so they have caught on that there was something going on. I think that more students may have been aware that Quirrell was not in charge during that duel but a different and much more sinister voice was driving him to try and kill Severus. I'm glad he did not succeed. I don't think that Harry would have been able to handle his guardian dying as well.

"Mr. Weasley I have no idea of what you are talking about. The duel was fought between two very capable and powerful wizards and despite precautions things can happen. Now I'm sure that you both have homework that needs to be finished and letters to write so I can send them off tonight."

Apparently her students knew a dismissal when they heard one because they both rose and told her good day before closing the door behind them. Minerva smiled in the privacy of her own office.

Harry should count himself lucky with friends like that. Now I hope that they don't try to get into trouble because knowing them both they have a knack for it and I do not have the time to save them out of it this time or to deal with any more surprises. This school year has been far too eventful already and it isn't even Christmas yet.

Hp

Harry was bored; there was no other word for it. He had explored the mansion, even tried to get inside some of the locked rooms until Snape caught him at it and shooed him along with a stern look He had not been allowed to explore the grounds. It wasn't as if somebody would snatch him up here anyway but Snape had been firm.

Staring at the books in the library he wasn't allowed to read and couldn't understand anyway, Harry sighed loudly. He laid his head on his crossed arms. He was bored. He'd never had nothing to do. At the Dursleys he always had to clean and if there was nothing to do then Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia would come up with something for Harry to do, no matter how pointless it was.

Even at Hogwarts he was never bored because there he could explore the castle, read a book, do homework or play a game of chess with Ron. There was always something to do.

He sighed again, earning himself a glare from Snape as the Professor looked up from the book he was reading.

"Uhm Severus, can I ask a question?"

"May you ask a question would be the correct phrase you're looking for."

Harry rolled his eyes before he said. "Okay, may I ask a question?"

"I believe you just did." Snape's smirk was visible above his book and Harry muttered to himself before he said.

"May I ask two more questions then?"

"You may, Harry."

"What happened to the Dursleys? Do they know that I'm not going back there this summer?"

"That is more than two questions but I suppose I shall answer them for you." Severus closed the book he was reading and laid it on the table besides his chair. The older wizard crossed his leg over the other as the sharp eyes regarded Harry. Harry kept silent. He knew how much Snape hated being interrupted and the Professor usually took the time to think of his answer before he gave it.

"After our visit I have contacted the authorities regarding your, well, shall we call it upbringing? We have left enough clues for them to draw their own conclusions and Ministry officials have been notified. The Ministry has a special department regarding magical children that grow up with Muggle parents. Research shows that children who grow up with Muggle guardians or parents have a higher chance of being abused than magical children who grow up with magical parents. This department keep an eye on things. But needless to say, you slipped through the net. I believe it is partly due to the fact that Dumbledore was listed as contact person. Dumbledore has always been a busy man who believes in the good of people and it blinds him to their faults." Snape's eyes lifted to meet Harry's and his guardian continued.

"I know that there is an investigation taking place and that they may be charged with neglect and abuse. If that happens there will be a trial. Should they be found guilty then it can mean incarceration and Dudley can possibly be taken into foster care if both Petunia and Vernon are put in jail. I have a contact at the Ministry that is keeping us up to date on the procedures but these take time. It has only been a few weeks since we took you out of there."

Harry frowned. That wasn't really what he had wanted to know. He eyed Snape for a long moment before he asked. "Have you or any of the other Professors visited the Dursleys?"

Snape glanced up from the book he had reopened. "No, I don't see a reason for that."

"Not to take revenge or anything?"

"No, visiting them is not worth the effort. There are other more subtle ways to get revenge. And no, I'll not tell you those. Let's just say that they will pay dearly for what they have done to you."

Harry knew it was the end of the conversation because Snape didn't look up at him again. He stared down at the table. He didn't know how to feel about this. He bore no love for the Dursleys, not after the way they had treated him. They were not his family anymore but he still didn't want to see them hurt. He didn't want Dudley to lose his parents.

"Is it for sure that Dudley will be taken into foster care?"

"Are you feeling pity for him?"

Harry was quick to shake his head no but Snape closed his book again and finally said. "Because if you do feel pity for him, regardless of what he has done to you, it shows a level of maturity that I do not find often in people your age. I'm not saying that he cannot be blamed for the way he threated and hurt you, but in part it is due to his upbringing and monkey sees makes monkey do. But this makes you the better man and for that I'm proud of you, Harry."

Feeling an unexpected burst of warmth in his chest, Harry hid his grin by bowing his head. He knew Snape was his mentor and guardian and with that came these sorts of things but whenever Snape said he was proud of Harry, it was still hard to believe.

He glanced up at the creaking of the chair. Snape had risen to his feet and crossed the room to sit at Harry's table. "Is it really that hard to believe that I would be proud of you?"

"Well you hardly ever give praise."

"I give praise when it is deserved and truthfully not everything that you do deserve praise. You know that I have high standards and you are doing really well all things considered and with everything that has happened you should know that I'm proud of you. I'll apply for the guardianship paper today with help from Lucius and Narcissa. The Ministry will need statements from various sources to make sure I'm capable of being your guardian."

"So there is a chance that they will turn you down? Cause I don't want any other guardian. They won't see me…"

"Calm down! The probation period went well and there is no reason for them to turn me down when I apply for a guardianship. They know my past, all of it. Lucius is quite a powerful ally to have in the face of the Ministry and I have Minerva's and Poppy's support as well. Let's just say at the moment the guardianship is the least of our worries. So you just focus on your homework and I shall worry about becoming your guardian." Snape ruffled his hair before he rose to his feet to go back to his chair.

"But I'm bored." The words spilled out before Harry could help himself. Snape turned back to stare at him and Harry could see the gleeful smirk on his guardian's face. Any hopes he had of actually investigating the grounds were lost in Snape's smirk and he groaned aloud.

Hp

Remus took a deep breath as he waited outside of courtroom 10. He paced the floor slightly, feeling nervous. Not that there was any cause for it but he couldn't help how he felt. He felt like his first day at Hogwarts. Like he didn't belong and that somebody would call him on it.

He would have to be careful not to reveal everything. They couldn't know that Sirius was an animagus as well or James. He would have to pick his words carefully. They couldn't use Veritaserum on him because it wouldn't work on a werewolf.

"Remus Lupin?" Remus turned around to find an elderly but energetic looking man approaching him. He was wearing the traditional robes of the Wizengamot but he held out his hand.

"I'm Stephen Griffin and I will present this trial. Thank you for coming."

"No problem. It is nice to see that Black is finally getting a fair trial. It wouldn't be good for the Ministry's image or that of the Wizengamot if an innocent man is incarcerated for a murder when the person who was supposed to be dead is still walking around. I know that those were hard times but it was no reason to skirt your duty and sentence people without any trial."

He continued to smile and Stephen grinned. "I'm glad that you're not afraid to tell the truth. It will make it easier when we call you to the stand. Seeing as Veritaserum is not going to work on you I will have to rely on good faith. Yes, I have done a thorough background check and you never really made it a secret that you are a werewolf. Not everybody may agree with me that I called you in as a witness but you're the only one that knew Pettigrew as well as Black and can give us a detailed account on what happened."

Remus nodded. He hoped he could answer their questions. But he wasn't going to tell secrets that were not his to tell. He wasn't going to reveal Sirius' secret or that from James. Those he would take to the grave.

Like a proper spy. He had to hide a grin at the thought.

"Shall we?" Stephen gestured with his hands towards the now open doors of courtroom 10. Remus nodded and fell into step beside the older man. He straightened his shoulders. He had chosen to wear his best robes, which was not saying much because this morning he had to patch up holes.

They paused outside the doors for another moment as Stephen said. "I'll call you to the stand when it is time for your testimony. I'll be the only one asking questions. You can wait in the stands until I call you forward."

Remus nodded and followed the man inside as the bell chimed that called everybody into the chamber. He chose a nearly empty bench on the other side of the Wizengamot. This gave him a good view of the room.

The entire Wizengamot was in session and all places were filled. The single chair that stood in the middle of the room was occupied. Remus gave Sirius a nod. The man looked saner now that his hair had been cut and his beard groomed. Not that Sirius had ever looked insane. The man may appear wild with a bushy beard and long hair but anybody who looked into the blue eyes could see just how sane Sirius was.

It was a testimony of strength that Sirius had never given into the insanity that Azkaban was known to bring out in people and which ran in his family. Sirius must have really believed that he was innocent else he couldn't have been this sane. Luckily for him he was proven right.

Remus focused when Stephen called the room to attention. Apparently he was the only witness called to the stand. Well considering that they couldn't really ask Ron Weasley to testify because nobody had noticed that the boy's rat was in fact an Animagus. This was hardly the fault of the Weasleys because with so many children pets weren't easy to come by. Nobody would notice that a rat had started living longer than its usual life span.

Remus glanced up when his name was called and Stephen gestured to the empty boot opposed the Wizengamot. He rose from his bench, brushing down his robes before taking place in the stand. He noticed that some of the Wizengamot members were muttering amongst themselves. One, a female with blond hair, Amelia Bones nodded at him.

He cleared his throat and nodded at Stephen, telling him that he was ready.

"Please state your full name and profession for the Wizengamot."

"Remus John Lupin, I'm currently employed as the Defense against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts. I'm substituting for Professor Quirrell. I also volunteer as a Potions Professor whenever Professor Snape need me in the laboratory. I'm also a werewolf but that is not by choice and neither is it a profession since sadly I do not get paid to turn into a raging beast every full moon."

Stephen nodded.

"Very well, and if my records are correct you were bit when you were a child?"

"Yes, I was sadly."

"But despite that you were accepted into Hogwarts, correct? Because at that time they did not have the Wolfsbane Potions that could control you during a full moon."

"Yes, I was. I was lucky that I got in. Professor Dumbledore had just been elected as Headmaster and he paid my parents a visit to deliver my letter and tell them that special allowances were made for me. For example what is now commonly referred to as the Shrieking Shack was built especially for me and the Whomping Willow was planted because of me. This was to give me a safe place to turn every full moon. The Whomping Willow was not only to protect me from escaping but to protect any curious students to stumble upon me when I turned."

Remus saw no reason to lie. These were facts and he knew that Stephen would have done his research.

"And at Hogwarts that is where you met Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew?"

"Yes, I met them on the Hogwarts Express. We happened to be sorted into Gryffindor together with James Potter. I think that they warmed up to me instantly because we started hanging out, not just because we had the same classes. They were my best friends all throughout Hogwarts."

"Did you ever notice any rivalry between Pettigrew and Black?"

"They were boys, teenage boys; yes there was a certain rivalry. James and Sirius were popular and they knew it. They were handsome and smart and Pettigrew was less so. He ran with us but only because we were the only people he knew and who tolerated him. Sirius and James both had the arrogance of boys that had been given the world by their parents and expected that it would continue that way all through Hogwarts."

He glanced up at Sirius for a brief moment only to see the other looking away. Azkaban must have given Sirius plenty of time to think. It was foolish to think that he had matured a lot because truth be told, Sirius did not have the time to do that. Azkaban was a horrible place and if there was one thing that it brought out it was the nasty memories. Memories that had no business being remembered on a daily basis.

If Sirius got out then he may need years of therapy. But he hoped that Sirius did take the time to think about his behavior during his Hogwarts's years because a lot had changed and Severus was playing an important role in Harry's life and Remus knew that if Sirius wanted to be in that life he would have to accept Severus as Harry's guardian.

"And this fast friendship between the four of you continued all throughout Hogwarts?" Remus nodded.

"Yes, it did. They were my best friends."

"So you shared everything together, ate together, went to class together and slept in the same dorm room. I know from my own time at Hogwarts that it was what friends in the same house did. But then I have another question, if you shared this much, how did you manage to keep it hidden that you were away from your dorm for three nights a month?"

Remus smiled as he said. "I didn't. I never said I did. Yes, in the beginning I did keep it hidden or I tried to. But it didn't work. It is impossible to keep it hidden that you're gone three nights every time it is a full moon. At first I lied and told them that I had to go home but it didn't take them long to do the math. Like I said, Sirius and James were smart. They confronted me about it when I came back from my monthly trip and I told them the truth. I imagined that they would mock me with it but they never did. Instead our friendship became only tighter and stronger."

He took a deep breath. That moment had meant everything for him and his opinion about himself had changed. He hadn't believed that he was worth any friendship because his parents hadn't accepted him being a werewolf. But James, Sirius and even Peter had accepted him and they had even found a way to be with him during his transformations, not that he could tell them that.

"So they protected your secret?"

"Yes, they did. They never went with me to the Shrieking Shack. The teachers all knew I was a werewolf and there is not doubt that some of the students knew it too. If my friends could figure it out then there were others who could do the same."

"Very well. So you would say that you knew Sirius and Peter pretty well?"

"Yes, I would." Remus sat up a bit straighter. He glanced down at Sirius briefly. Sirius met his eyes head on.

"And you never noticed anything different in Peter's behavior?"

"No, I never did." Remus shook his head. He had never noticed anything, none of them had. They hadn't noticed that Peter had been taken by Voldemort. They had a spy in their midst and they had never expected it to be Peter. Peter who was afraid of his own shadow but who was a rat in more ways than one.

He had been beating himself up for weeks about that. If only he had tried harder with Peter, included him more in the group and being a better friend to him then perhaps they could have avoided this and James and Lily would still be alive. But it was no good. It hadn't been his decision and now he could only do the right thing. And that was to keep Sirius' secret and give him the testimony he deserved.

"He never confided in you or the others that he was an animagus?"

"No, Peter was always following us around and I counted him as a friend. But James and Sirius could be mean to him and I valued their friendship too much to truly stand up to them. Perhaps if I had Peter would have confided in us about being an animagus."

"Alright, now this concerns the night that James and Lily Potter died. I imagine that it can be difficult but please tell us about that period."

"Very well. James and Lily knew that they were hunted by Voldemort…" He ignored the flinches and the gasps. "So Professor Dumbledore thought it would be best that they go into hiding and use the Fidelius charm. At first they appointed Sirius as their secret keeper but apparently Sirius convinced them to pick Peter instead. Peter betrayed them which led to their death."

This generated more gasps than the use of Voldemort's name. Stephen leaned back in his chair as he said. "Thank you, Professor Lupin, that will be all."

Remus nodded and rose to go back to the bench. He had given them plenty to think about and that was what he wanted.

Hp

Harry stared at the letters in his hand before glancing back up at the owl that was flying back to Hogwarts. It had been one of the school owls and he had wondered what it had brought him. He thought it was a letter for Severus so it had surprised him when the owl had landed in front of him with a letter attached.

He opened the letter, grinning as he read the letter from his friends. Ron and Hermione had written to him. There were about a hundred questions in them, Hermione's influence no doubt and he wondered how he was even going to answer half of them.

He didn't know how to tell them anything at the moment. He didn't know how much they knew even though he doubted that anybody had told Ron and Hermione anything. They usually shared everything between the three of them. They had been his first friends and he didn't want to lie to them.

He sighed and folded the letter. He wanted to write back to them immediately but he had to ask what he could write. He didn't want to put his friends into danger. Perhaps they were better off not knowing…

He wondered if it was alright to disturb Severus. His guardian and Mr. Malfoy had locked themselves into Mr. Malfoy's big office. He didn't want to disturb them if it wasn't necessary.

"Harry, do you need something?" He glanced up at Narcissa. She smiled at him and he nodded. He shuffled his feet for a moment before asking.

"Yeah, I…Ron and Hermione sent me this letter because they want to know if I'm okay. I don't know what to tell them."

"Ah yes that might be hard. You would not want to tell them the truth. Perhaps you can tell them that you are fine and under protection right now? I doubt that I have to tell you not to reveal your location in the letters?"

"No, I know but then how did the owl find me? If Ron and Hermione didn't know where I was then the owl couldn't have found me, right?"

"Owls are trained with various spells that lets them find nearly anybody. Anybody that is not under a Fidelius charm that is. Owl training is a very specialized job. It takes years of training before a good level can be achieved. But you will learn more about that at Hogwarts during your third year when you start picking your classes for your professional career."

"But what if Severus won't allow me to go back to Hogwarts?" Harry didn't want to go to any other school.

Narcissa smiled at him and then gestured him towards the kitchen. Harry followed her, sitting down by the table. Narcissa sat down opposed him and waved her wand to summon parchment and a quill.

"Now, I suggest that you write your friends back. And tell them whatever you want to tell them without telling them everything. Think you can do that?"

Harry could try. It would certainly be a challenge. Hermione was the brightest witch of her age and if anybody could find clues then it was her. He would have to be incredibly careful. He didn't want to give everything away but he didn't want his friends to be in danger.

"Is everybody in danger at Hogwarts?" He glanced up at Narcissa. She smiled at him for a moment before she nodded.

"It all depends on whether they can move Quirrell to another place. They cannot let him wake up because You Know Who's spirit will take over. We cannot allow that to happen. There are places at Hogwarts that nobody can find. Your friends are not in any danger. We will not let anything happen to them, I promise. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley will not allow their children to be in danger."

Harry nodded though he wasn't sure if he was fully convinced. Not every adult cared about their children. He was lucky that both the Weasleys cared so much and the Malfoys. He could see it in all the ways they tried to protect their children. He knew Professor Snape cared about him too. The Professor had always protected him, even to go as far as to nearly getting killed.

Pop

Harry glanced up sharply at the odd creature standing in the kitchen. It was small; it came to about his shoulder with big ears and a wrinkled parchment like skin. He had to look twice at what it wore. It was a pillow case at least that's what it looked like. Its large eyes fixed on Harry before it turned to Narcissa and bowed, saying.

"Mistress, Professor McGonagall is fire calling. She is asking for permission to use your library."

Narcissa nodded at the creature and said. "Thank you, Dobby. Please tell her to come through into the kitchen."

The creature nodded and then disappeared with a pop. Harry turned wide eyes upon Narcissa.

"Dobby is our house elf. He's a servant and he is in service of our family. His family has been tied with ours for centuries. They wear pillow cases as a sign of servitude to a family. House elves do the chores and they have magic of their own that they can use. They are magical creatures, one of many."

Narcissa rose as the kitchen door opened. Harry barely had time to turn around when a shocked Scottish voice said. "Harry, what are you doing here?"

That is it for now. Slightly shorter than it normally is but this was all that my time allowed me to write. So I hope you liked it. Review please.

Next chapter: Minerva confronts Severus about his chosen action and the Potions Master can find himself involved in research project to find a solution for Quirrellmort. Sirius' trial is still underway but it has taken an unexpected turn because of Remus' revelations. And what exactly will Harry tell his friends as not only Hermione and Ron are worried but Draco as well? That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: I'm incredibly sorry about the late update. But yeah busy and all that stuff. Won't bore you with that. Summer break is here so that means I have some writing time, until the end of August cause then I'll be leaving for my internship in Australia. But anyway, let's begin.

Harry forced a smile to his face as he faced Professor McGonagall. He fought the urge to shuffle his feet and hide himself away.

"Hi, Professor." He finally managed to say. What could he tell her? He couldn't tell her the truth and Severus was not here. How was he going to get out of this? Professor McGonagall would drag him back to Hogwarts and Harry would be in detention till his seventh year.

"Harry is our guest here, Minerva. Severus asked us to watch over Harry as he ran some errands and made arrangements for a more permanent location. Please take a seat, would you like some tea?" Narcissa took over quickly and smiled at the Transfigurations Professor.

Professor McGonagall's eyebrow rose and Harry was reminded of the first lesson he had received from her. She had been strict, he swallowed thickly. Narcissa was in trouble.

"I take it that Severus is staying here as well then? With his reputation and Harry's well known name and looks it may be a challenge to find something suitable for their needs. Especially if you take Severus' paranoia into account." Harry had to bite back a laugh. Sometimes Professor McGonagall knew his guardian too well.

Narcissa too was smiling as she gestured to the kitchen table. Both women sat down and Narcissa ordered tea and biscuits. Harry pulled up his own chair and Narcissa said.

"I'm glad that Lucius is less paranoid then Severus is but we have some luck that wealth can buy a lot of privacy and our wards are most excellent. And so far you are the only one who has come looking for Harry and Severus. I am surprised that Professor Dumbledore has not come to inquire about his favourite student."

"Yes, Albus is rather occupied. That is a relief in of itself. Since the very public trial of Sirius Black and the discovery of Peter Pettigrew at Hogwarts none the less, Albus has received countless of letters from shall we say concerned parents. He has been rather busy with answering their concerns and especially concerning the Ministry's sudden interest in our school. I suppose it is for the better that Harry is away from Hogwarts…"

"Ah finally something that we can agree on." Harry glanced up at the sound of Severus' voice. The Potions Master stood in the doorway and he nodded at Professor McGonagall.

"Ah, Severus. It is good to see you again. I take it that you are well."

"I am better than I was a week ago. But I do not think that my wellbeing is the reason why you would come so far for a visit?" Severus chose the seat next to Harry and poured them both a cup of tea.

"You know me too well, Severus. No, it is not. Though I have to admit that I have been worried about you. But I also confess that the less I knew about your whereabouts the easier it would be for me to lie to Albus. …"

"Out with it then, what is the reason for your visit?"

Harry took a sip of his tea and hid his grin in his cup as his Head of House winked at him. She knew his guardian as well as he did.

"Well, Severus, I have come across a predicament that I hope that you can offer a solution to. But perhaps this is not a suitable discussion fit for young ears." Harry groaned. It seemed that he was always sent away when something important was going to be discussed.

He turned pleading eyes towards Snape. Not that it would get him anywhere. His guardian was immune to pleading eyes, even when tears were involved. But Harry was sure that if it was important then Snape would tell him about it.

"No let him stay!" Harry wasn't the only one who turned shocking eyes towards Snape.

Hp

"No, let him stay." Severus met Minerva's gaze with one of his own. He would not send Harry away. This concerned Harry as well and Harry needed to hear the facts so that Severus did not have to repeat himself again.

Minerva made a great show in rolling her eyes and nodded. "If you think it is the best then I suppose I shall speak with Harry present. But you know how I think about having students present when this is a discussion best had between adults."

Severus exhaled sharply through his nose. He had no desire to have this discussion. Minerva and he always disagreed on their behaviour towards the students and right now, he did not need a repetition of that discussion. They had agreed to disagree on the subject but it still continued to be raised between them.

When he stayed silent, Minerva sighed and said. "Very well then. As you may have been aware You Know Who has survived in Quirrell's body. After the duel Albus put Quirrell in a magical induced sleep. At the moment Quirrellmort remains that way so that You Know Who's spirit cannot escape into another host body should we decide to kill Quirrell. But we have reached an impasse. I have no idea what to do with Quirrellmort. Killing him will give You Know Who the opportunity to flee into another body and we risk losing him. We can force him maybe into a lower life form and then contain the life form because as a spirit his energy level is limited. But I do not have the magical strength necessary to force that evil spirit into another body. Otherwise there are no solutions…"

Ah so that is why she's here. They need my help and my expertise. I suppose that the time for peace is over and Minerva has helped me in the past. If Albus had stood here, I would not have been certain of my answer but the old cat has done more for me then I dared to ask for. And it would be of great help to me and to Harry if the Dark Lord is finally defeated.

"Of course you would come to me. I would not expect anything else. I'm surprised that you have waited so long. You are right that should you kill Quirrell the Dark Lord will simply flee into another body. That is not something that we can allow because we risk the chance of losing him. Spirits can travel miles in search of another body and they can be easily lost. Forcing him into another body may work but I will have to consult the library because there are most certainly rituals for that. Dark rituals but rituals none the less."

"And you are certain that dark magic is the only solution?"

"We are dealing with a Dark Lord, Minerva. What did you expect? To chant at him in the hopes that he will go away on his own?" He sneered and Minerva rolled her eyes.

"Of course not, young man! Now, can you find a solution you think for our current predicament?"

"Well we are at Malfoy Manor, I'm certain that Lucius has plenty of dark magic tomes hidden away. I will have fun snooping them out. It is not like I have anything better to do because even my ward behaves himself well at the moment." Severus smirked.

"Oh, if you are bored, Severus, I have several young Gryffindors who would love to hear about news from Harry. I shall send them over at the nearest chance that they can be safely moved from Hogwarts and will not be missed. I am certain that I can rely on your help, Narcissa?"

"But of course, Minerva, with pleasure." And as Severus felt his smirk disappear he wondered how these two women had roped him into babysitting Gryffindors. He glanced at Harry and saw the bright smile on his ward's face and sighed. Anything to keep Potter happy, even if it meant suffering for him.

Hp

Lucius Malfoy was a man who enjoyed his days of solitude. Well, however much solitude one could get when living in a Manor removed from the real world, and not have it barge in on him or pounce on him when he entered his own kitchen. He liked to have order in his days.

He preferred to wake up slowly; going down to the kitchen or dining hall for some breakfast and some much needed coffee before beginning the day. He needed time to wake up. Therefore Lucius was less than amused when he walked into his kitchen on this fine Tuesday morning to find Minerva McGonagall waiting for him.

On any given day, after again some much needed coffee, he didn't like to deal with this woman but as of this moment he liked it even less. Especially because he had not had any coffee or time to mentally prepare himself. Minerva McGonagall was a force to be reckoned with and Lucius needed his wits about him. Wits that were currently not functioning.

That was the main reason he stared at Minerva McGonagall for nearly a full minute as he entered the kitchen. The Head of Gryffindor House smirked at him and said. "Good morning, Mr Malfoy."

"Good morning, Professor." Lucius nodded back politely and immediately went to the counter to grab a large cup of coffee. He drank it as black as he could get and Narcissa smiled at him, knowing better than to bother her husband.

Lucius ignored the smirk that Severus sent him and ignored his old friend as Severus pushed his mug towards Lucius, asking for a refill. His blue eyes narrowed in a glare, he didn't deserve coffee. He hogged the coffee pot to himself, making a mental note to tell the house elves not to give Severus any more coffee.

The dark eyed man's eyes narrowed in the same glare and soon they were involved in a staring match. Lucius was not going to give in. His house, his coffee. Narcissa cleared her throat pointingly and Lucius held Severus' eyes for a moment longer before finally giving in and pouring his friend a small layer of coffee in his cup. He didn't deserve any more.

Narcissa cleared her throat again and Lucius sighed and poured Severus a full cup. Sometimes his wife could be a force to reckon with. And Lucius was not foolish enough to attempt to try and dominate her. Narcissa could be quite scary when she wanted to be. He thought that even the Dark Lord would have been afraid of his wife.

Taking the first sip of coffee was like heaven and he was sure that he nearly moaned. He tried to bite it back. He didn't need everybody to see it. It was almost as though he could feel his brain firing to life and he sat down beside Narcissa, leaning over to rest a hand on her shoulder.

"Now what are you discussing?"

"Well, a way to rid a spirit of a body and force it into another body, preferably a lower life form. Perhaps you have some books concerning this?"

Lucius raised an eyebrow at Severus' veiled suggestion. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Ah, no books on dark magic, Lucius, that I may borrow?" Severus raised a pointed eyebrow and Lucius smirked.

"Ah, those books. Why didn't you say so? I will show them to you later, away from prying eyes." He winked at Minerva who scowled at him. Yes, he still enjoyed riffling her up. He was a Slytherin and a certain rivalry needed to be kept up between the two houses, despite the friendship springing up between Harry and Draco.

"Yes, because you managed to store them in such a secret place." Lucius glared at Severus. He knew that the Potions Master had discovered his secret hiding spot but the wards were still in place and they had not been disturbed. Even Severus was not such a fool as to try and disturb Lucius' wards.

"Have you known You Know Who to possess such talents that he can take over or share bodies?" Minerva pinned Severus with a glare. Probably still upset that Harry was present for the discussion, Lucius mused. He took another sip of his coffee and shrugged.

"There were always rumours about the Dark Lord's talents and we were not even aware of his extraordinary abilities. It was rumoured that he had an uncanny ability to guess what a person was thinking, almost as if he was reading their mind. But we know that to be Legilimency but we have never heard that he could share another body." Lucius glanced at Severus.

He had been close to the Dark Lord and he had learned of the talents the Dark Lord possessed. The Dark Lord was a powerful wizard and there was no saying what he could do or had learned himself. Lucius had been loath to find out. He had wanted to prove himself to the Dark Lord and be a loyal Death Eater but a part of him had been afraid of the Dark Lord, with good cause.

"Perhaps you know more about this?" He nodded at Severus.

The Potions Master crossed his arms over his chest and contemplated his hands for a moment before he answered. "I do not know more about this, Lucius. You were closer to the Dark Lord than I was. You were nearly his right handed man. But to answer your question, the Dark Lord did boast about his powers and that he had powers that the world had never seen before but he never showed them to us. I think he had several more secrets up his sleeve that he never told us about. It is quite hard to imagine what powers such a powerful wizard can wield." Severus took a deep breath before he said.

"Perhaps it would be wise if Harry did not attend this discussion…."

"But you said…"

"I know what I have said, Mr Potter and as your guardian I have changed my mind. This is for your protection and while you may seem mature beyond your years this is not a conversation meant for your ears. There are some things a child does not need to know." Lucius had to hand it to Severus that the man was firm and strict.

Lucius glanced at Harry. The young teen's green eyes were fixed on his guardian but instead of becoming angry like Lucius had expected Harry finally nodded.

"If you promise that you will tell me about it later? I mean, should I ever have to fight him I have to know what he can do." Determined green eyes rose to meet black eyes and one of Lucius' blond eyebrows rose. He could almost see Severus' lips thinning but he wondered how the Potions Master was going to navigate this road.

"Should you ever find yourself facing the Dark Lord I pray that you use that common sense that I know you possess and run like the very hounds of hell are chasing you. But should it ever be necessary then you can be assured that we will make sure that you are well prepared. But do you remember what I told you?"

"That whatever You Know Who can do to me will be nothing compared to your wrath." Lucius had to choke back a smirk. Harry grinned at Severus and when his eyes met Lucius', Lucius winked. Severus sighed and then finally said.

"You know me too well, Mr. Potter. Now run along. I am sure that Professor McGonagall came here bearing some homework for you to work on." Severus glanced at Minerva and both Professors smiled at Harry's groan.

"Yes, I am sure that I can find some work for Mr Potter to do."

"No, it is fine. I'll make myself useful in the library." Harry immediately went from the table. Lucius was amazed. If only he knew such tactics for Draco. He frowned, now that was not entirely fair. Draco was a good boy and he had been brought up well. He listened and did as he was told but recently Lucius had noticed that he never spoke back to Lucius as he had done as a child. While it was a good sign that Draco did as Lucius requested a part of Lucius was sad to see his beloved son nearly afraid of him. Lucius had not given Draco any reason to be.

"I am sure you will. Why won't I make sure that you will not do anything foolish?" Severus rose from his seat and walked after Harry, closing the door behind him.

"It seems that being a guardian agrees with Severus. I have never seen him interact with a child in the way that he interacts with Harrry. And here I was afraid that Severus would not see beyond the fact that Harry was a Potter and not his own person, free from his parents' influence." Lucius poured himself another cup of coffee and because he was feeling kind, one for Severus and one for Professor McGonagall as well.

"Yes, it suits him. I think that soon it will be time to apply for the guardianship papers for Severus and we are more than happy to act as witnesses should he ask us. It is time that Severus started his own family." Narcissa poured herself another cup of tea.

"I always assumed that he was going to be the eternal bachelor."

"Do not expect him to settle down with a nice witch now. It must be somebody special to gain his attention…"

"Gossiping like old witches are we now?" Severus sounded amused and Lucius had too much grace to blush. He merely toasted his friend with his cup and took another sip with a sigh, yes, despite everything life was good.

Hp

Harry fought the urge to kick at something in frustration as he was left alone in the library. He bit back a growl. Severus had promised him that he could stay for the whole conversation and now the impossible man changed his mind.

You trust in him to know what is right for you. He kept his word and allowed you to stay for part of the conversation. It may be that there are certain things you do not need to hear. He has promised to keep you safe and he has not gone back on that promise. Perhaps this is another way to keep you safe.

Harry forced himself to calm down. It was strange to have somebody actually look out for him. Especially after years of being forced to look out for himself. He glanced about. He had spent countless hours in the library in the past few weeks.

He quickly went to his favourite spot in the window sill. He didn't feel like reading. He had spent too much time in this room as it was doing either his homework or reading.

He sighed loudly and drew up his knees to his chest and rested his arms and head on them. The very picture of a bored teenager. He was just contemplating something to do or how to sneak out of the house and towards the gardens when suddenly a voice spoke up from the doorway.

"I know that look. You are plotting something. It is a good thing that your friends are coming over in an hour to prevent you from doing any mischief." Severus' voice was amused and Harry smiled.

"They are going to be here already?"

His guardian nodded. Harry knew that Severus did not like spending much time amongst Gryffindors but he accept it for Harry. "And they can stay the entire day?"

Again Severus nodded and then stepped into the room. "I shall suffer their presence if it means that you will stay out of trouble. And it will give the adults some time to talk in private without me having to worry about you."

Harry rolled his eyes. "I appreciate the gesture." He told his guardian. But his smile burst free again. Ron and Hermione were his two closest friends and it had felt like forever since he had last seen them. He could barely contain himself now, how was he going to spend an entire hour waiting for them?

Severus smirked and then said. "You seem impatient, Mr Potter, are you looking for something to do?"

"Oh no, I am fine. I am sure I can entertain myself for another hour." Harry grinned. He would happily read a book if it meant that he didn't have to do any homework.

"There is no need, I have made arrangements that your friends can come over soon. You shall have the library all to yourselves. This is a privilege, Harry and I do not think that I will have to remind you that this is not your home and that we are guests here. So you better behave yourselves. You are responsible for your friends and do not make me regret the decision to trust you with your friends in here alone, so behave yourselves."

Harry nodded solemnly. "I won't disappoint you, Severus."

"I know, Harry but I have learned that a warned man watches his steps extra carefully. Now, I will send your friends through the moment they arrive. Should you need anything, just knock on the kitchen door." With a last nod and a fleeting smile Harry was left alone to wait until his friends arrived.

Hp

Sirius glanced at the courtroom during the recess. The members of the Wizengamot were talking amongst themselves and glancing in his direction now and again. The bench where he was sitting was empty but opposed him were benches that were filled with people.

He could see a blond woman scribbling away with a large green quill. She glanced up at him and when she noticed him watching flashed him a toothy smile. He distrusted her immediately.

"You must be hungry." One of his guards set a tray down in front of him and Sirius could feel his mouth water. He wondered how he was going to eat. He was shackled so it would be hard to try and get the food in his mouth without spilling it.

"I will make sure that he does not do anything stupid." The welcoming voice of Scrimgeour made Sirius glance up.

"I believe that I have always been known for doing stupid things. You should have met me in my youth." He extended his hands and Scrimgrour tapped them with his wand. The shackles fell away but Sirius could feel an electric current running along his wrist. He knew without a doubt that if he tried anything he would regret it. Not to mention that it would ruin any of his chances of ever becoming free.

"So how do you like the trial so far?" He reached for a piece of toast and forced himself to eat calmly. Stuffing his face was not going to look well for him and he had to remind himself of his manners.

"It is interesting, especially the revelations Professor Lupin has made in regards to Pettigrew."

Professor Lupin, never would have thought that anybody would refer to Remus that way. He's smart enough to become a Professor and it seems to suit him. He always enjoyed teaching people and he has an easy going manner about him that draws people in. It is such a shame that there is such prejudice [!] against him for being a werewolf. He does not deserve any of that. That is something that they need to change in the Wizengamot and not worry about trivial things such as blood purity.

He surfaced from his thoughts again to find Scrimgeour watching him. The expected look on the auror's face made him realize that he was waiting for something. His blank look must have said it all because Scrimgeour smirked and said.

"I asked how you felt it was going."

"I can't really say. I think it is going well but at the same time it could be going downside for me as well. I can't really tell until I hear the verdict. I know that the Wizengamot despises me on pure principle so I have no idea if they can be swayed to see the truth. All I know is that I do not want to return to Azkaban."

"Then you better be on your best behaviour. But a large portion of the trial is still underway. Soon they will ask the auror that was at the Potter's house that night to testify."

Sirius knew that the trial was going to be painful, especially being forced to relive the murder of his best friend. He'd had plenty of time to mourn both James and Lily but the pain had never gone away. It did not help that he had been stuck in a building and being forced to spend time with beings that forced him to relive his worst memories. Transforming into a dog eased the sharpest edge of the pain but there were nights when the pain was so intense that he had no choice and howled his pain to the night sky.

"You were the auror on duty that night weren't you?" Sirius had been on duty that night as well but the moment he had heard of the attack he had Apparated away, not caring for any of the circumstances. He didn't care if he lost his job; all he cared for was his best friend and nothing more.

He wasn't even sure who had taken him in after he had cornered Peter. He had been so insane with grief and pain that he could only laugh hysterically as he watched Peter slip away and the aurors descend upon him.

"Yes, I was. I was also there the next day when we captured you. I shall give my testimony next and you shall also be forced to give your testimony. They may even call professor Lupin back to the stand."

Sirius nodded. He was glad that Scrimgeour was honest with him. The Head of the Auror headquarters had always been a patient man, despite the rumours going on about him and his nasty temper. During the academy it was one of the hardest things for Sirius to learn, that he had to curb his own temper and his desires to do things his own way. He would die for those he called family and especially his friends but he had never really cared for other people. That was something that he had to learn, that and take responsibility for his actions.

Yet the auror academy had been one of the happiest times in his life because he could spend his day doing what he loved and the best thing of all, he could spend times with his best friend. Even then Remus had been hard pressed to find a job and the werewolf had chosen instead to teach himself more about Defence and the Dark Arts. It would not increase his chances at a job, not with his condition but Remus liked to keep busy, especially with the fact that he had not been able to get into any University.

For a moment Sirius felt the old rage resurface. He had wanted to change the world for the better for Remus, so that Remus was offered a fair chance at a job and to have a life and not to be condemned for something that he could not help. He was a werewolf, yes, but he was also one of the gentlest and kindest men that Sirius had ever met. He was a better man than Sirius would ever be but Sirius prayed that he had the time to show Remus that he could be a better man as well.

Hp

The wait seemed forever but finally Harry heard the murmur of soft voices, and Ron's voice rising above it, that signalled his friends were here. He put the book down that he had been pretending to read. He needed something to pass the time.

"I am quite sure that father will allow me to be alone with all of you in the library. We won't break anything because the thing is, if we do, it is on my head." Draco's soft voice was the first to greet Harry as the library door was opened.

"It is worth to break something just to get Malfoy in trouble." Ron grinned but Harry shook his head. He grinned when he noticed that Draco elbowed Ron on his way in. But Hermione's face was priceless. Her mouth fell open as she walked in and Harry knew it wasn't because of him. It was because of all the books she saw. He could see her eyes widen and she exclaimed. "You're going to be my new best friend, Draco."

Ron looked gobsmacked and Draco a little bit unsure of how to handle this. He glanced up at Harry and his eyes brightened as he said. "Well, at least Potter looks well."

"Yeah, mate, you don't look half terrified or half to death. I at least expected something a little bit different." Ron grinned and Harry nodded back. It was good to see them again.

Hermione was still glancing around as Harry approached Draco and Ron. Ron bumped his shoulder and Draco nodded at him. "You guys are looking good as well. So everything good at Hogwarts?"

"Yeah, same old, same old. Homework, annoying Professors, lots of stress, that sorts of things. You didn't really miss much. I guess you can be glad to be stuck here. It is better than being at school."

"You think it has been easy here. I'm stuck here with Severus. If somebody is strict then it is him."

"Yeah, mate, but still better than being at Hogwarts." Ron glanced at Harry meaningfully and Harry shrugged.

"I guess, the food is better here though."

"No way! My mum can hardly cook better than they do at Hogwarts." Ron turned to Draco. "Anyway we can lunch here?"

"You just had your breakfast."

"I'm a growing boy…"

"You'll be growing sideways soon if you keep this up." Harry burst out laughing at Draco's comment. He clapped them both on the shoulders as he walked back to the chairs that stood near the fireplace. He sat down and Draco said.

"I am sure that we can order biscuit and tea." That was enough to make Ron stop glaring and sit down beside Harry on the couch. Draco chose the chair opposed them and Hermione was still drifting along the bookshelves, admiring the books. Harry doubted she would join them anytime soon.

"So what's the story at school?" He asked carefully.

"That depends on who you ask. If you ask some people they will insist that Snape fled the country with you in order to adopt you because the Ministry turned him down. Another story is that Snape wants to become the next Dark Lord. Another one is that Snape is going to marry Professor McGonagall and they become your parents. Yeah don't ask who ever made that up." Ron rattled off a bunch of stories.

"But nobody guessed the truth?"

"Mate, we don't even know the truth." Ron shot him a look.

Oh, now that changes things. I had hoped that they would at least have guessed what happened. I'm not even sure if I should tell them. I don't want them to worry for me or to be afraid when they go back to Hogwarts. Especially when they know what is hiding there.

Harry fidgeted with his shirt, should he tell them or not? He had never had friends before and he was loath to hide things from them but he didn't want to scare them. Perhaps he needed to talk to an adult before he said anything.

"You all left so quickly after the duel [!]. Professor Snape was wounded, we all saw that and there was a lot of chaos. The next moment I knew, you were gone. Welooked for you and we even tried to break into Snape's office, until McGonagall caught us that was." Ron grinned at Harry.

"The only thing we could think of was that something terrible had happened. Professor Snape looked absolutely terrified. I have never seen him look like that. Not even when Neville creates another explosion. He may look livid but now he looked as though his darkest nightmare had come to life."

Yeah it had happened after a fashion. I mean, I can't think of anything worse happening actually…

Hermione was watching him and she said. "You know what happened, right?" Harry nodded.

"And you are keeping it from us?" Ron glanced him and Harry shrugged.

"Perhaps it should have occurred to you, Mr Weasley that Mr Potter isdoing that for a reason." Ron gave a little eep of surprise at the sound of Snape's voice. Harry rolled his eyes. His friend should really have expected that they would not stay alone for very long. Severus would hardly even allow Harry alone in the library during the first few days.

"Of course, Professor. There was never any doubt about that. We are just worried about Harry and about you also Professor." Hermione smiled at Snape, a feat that Harry would have applauded. Ron still appeared vaguely terrified of the Potions Master. Draco on the other hand seemed to have settled on the silent approach as he crossed his arms over his chest.

"That is all very well. But be aware that sometimes not everything is being told to you. This is a decision made not by yourselves but by adults. People older than you and there is a reason for that. If I had my way then Harry would not have learned of this either." Severus crossed his arms over his chest, mirroring Draco's pose.

"So you can't tell us anything?" Ron asked. Severus smirked.

"I can tell you a lot of things, Mr Weasley,I shall not tell you anything about this one subject." Ron groaned and said.

"Okay, guess not then. Suppose we shall have to find something else to talk about. I vote Quidditch." Harry grinned at Hermione's soft muttered "boys"; yeah it was good to have his friends back again.

Hp

Severus watched his students bustle about themselves. Granger looked bored and he had not expected anything less from her. The girl was clever and while Quidditch was a popular sport, he shared the girl's desires to rather talk about something else.

"Professor." He glanced down at Granger.

"Yes?"

"I am sorry that we tried to break into your office. We just wanted to learn news of Harry." Severus raised an eyebrow.

"You tried to break into my office?" He lowered his voice slightly and the girl immediately looked away. "I really hope that you did not succeed because the consequences would not be pretty."

"No, Professor, your wards were too strong and not even Gryffindor wit could get us into your office." Severus nodded at her and the girl rose to her feet to browse part of the library again. Severus really hoped that Lucius did not hide his books on the darkest of magic in between the normal books. It would not do for any of these children to get their hands on those books.

He glanced up when the very man himself came to stand beside him . Draco hardly glanced up because he was so busy talking with Harry and Ronald. Lucius observed them with a smile as he said,

"I am glad to see that Draco has finally met some friends. It will be good for him to have some other influences than those who only seek to gain my approval by befriending my son. I know that Weasley does not have those ambitions. Though it will take some getting used to see him surrounded by Gryffindors I am sure in the end it shall be worth it."

"Just think of it like this, Lucius. I shall be able to influence Harry so therefore we shall balance everything out eventually." Severus nodded at Harry as his ward glanced at him.

"Yes, speaking of which. A Ministery owl is awaiting you in the kitchen with a letter. I shall join you in a moment but I need to take a detour to my office for an important book that shall aid McGonagall's research. My memory was spiked the moment Minerva mentioned the fact that You Know Who can switch bodies. But I shall fetch the book and you can see for yourself."

Lucius's hand brushed his and Severus nodded. The older Malfoy left the room and Severus turned to regard his students.

"Behave yourselves for a while. If you need anything just call for one of us. If I find this library damaged in any way, you will all be in detention until your Seventh year." He could see the way that Weasley gulped and he allowed a smirk to twist his lips. There was something to be said of scaring students.

He exited the library and went back to the kitchen. Sure enough there was a large barn owl waiting for him. He poured himself another cup of coffee first before he approached the owl. The bird stuck out its leg, allowing Severus to take the letter before flying off again. Severus looked at the rolled up peace of parchment, the Ministry seal clearly marked on it.

He broke the seal and unrolled the scroll.

Dear Professor Severus Tobias Snape,

This is a letter confirming that we have received the guardianship papers. Under normal procedures an interview would be held to test to see if you are fit as a guardian for Harry James Potter. Due to the many recommendation letters we have received from various esteemed members of our society such as Lucius and Naricssa Malfoy and Professor Albus Dumbledore concerning your claim we feel that this interview will not be necessary.

His heart felt suddenly ten times lighter. It seemed that even Albus had come through for him.

Unfortunately there has been another claim for the guardianship of Harry Potter. Due to the sensitive nature of the claims this other party makes about your past we would still like to do an interview. This is merely a precaution to make certain that Mr Potter's welfare and interests are well looked after. Please present yourself at my office on Monday at 11 AM. Please send back the owl with a reply to confirm the appointment.

Severus could only stare at the letter in shock. Somebody else had stepped forward to challenge his claim? He growled, nobody was going to take Harry away from him that was for sure. He would prove he was worthy of Harry because he knew one thing, he wasn't going to give Harry up, for anything.

That is it for now. I hope you like it. Please review.

In the next chapter: Severus desperately wants to find out who the other person is who has challenged him for the right of Harry's guardianship but he may not like what he finds. Sirius is in for a rough day as he is called to the stand to relive the worst night of his life. Lucius comes across some old books that mention a way to get rid of Quirrellmort but he has a hard time getting all the necessary ingredients for the ritual. And how can Severus keep the news from Harry that it may not be as straight forward that he will remain Harry's guardian. That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I'm so sorry for the lack of updates but as some of you may have heard, I was away for six months for my internship. I moved to Australia and I had a blast. I recently returned home (5 days ago) and the jetlag is kicking my pretty behind. So I'm back to writing, let's begin.

"I call Sirius Black to the stand." Sirius was not sure if he would ever get used to this. Finally, after all these years somebody was listening to him. When he had been caught there had been no trial for him. He had been sent immediately to Azkaban, like so many in those dark times.

He glanced around the room. All of the Wizengamot was present for this trial and Sirius swallowed. He felt more alive than he had in a long time, including those short moments that he spent in his Animagus form. He had yet to see Peter Pettigrew and for that he was glad.

This was his chance to be on his best behaviour and to show that he was more than ready to integrate back into society. He was not insane and only the knowledge that he was innocent had kept him sane during those long dark years in Azkaban. Not even the Dementors could suck that knowledge out of him. But he was quite certain that when he saw Pettigrew he would kill him again. Just to be sure that he was really dead this time.

So all in all it was a good thing that he didn't see Pettigrew at this moment because he was not sure what he was going to do. Scrimgeour was seated on the front row and the Auror rose to assist Sirius in going to the stand. Apparently they trusted him enough that they would not take his confession with him shackled in a chair.

With a clang the shackles fell away and Sirius waited with rising to his feet until Scrimgeour had a hand under his elbow. The auror helped him up and towards the stand. Sirius relished the chance to walk on his own again and to be trusted to do so. It was better than the crushing despair that was his constant companion in Azkaban. It was refreshing to be able to think clearly without having to resort to the limited emotional range of his canine side.

He breathed in deeply and then took a few steps. It wasn't long until he was standing on the stand in front of the Wizengamot. The shackles attached themselves to the posts and Sirius breathed in deeply. He had no desire to cause a scene and he was not going to panic just because he was tied up again.

"We shall administer the Veritaserum." Sirius nodded. He didn't enjoy being given the potion but he understood the necessity of it. The Wizengamot would not believe his testimony otherwise unless they saw him take the potion themselves. So be it. He could play along if it meant that Pettigrew was brought to justice.

"I understand." He said. He opened his mouth to allow Scrimgeour to administer the three droplets of the potion. He swallowed.

The potion had no taste but immediately his mind began to cloud over and he had trouble keeping [!?] his thoughts. They kept escaping and he had to force himself to focus all his attention on what was going on in the room. He could not afford to be distracted right now. Not only his life hung in the balance but that of Snape and Harry as well.

"For what crime were you sentenced to a life sentence in Azkaban?"

The question startled him but it focussed his mind.

"It was believed that I killed Peter Pettigrew. "He kept the answers short. He had no desire to further give them information.

"How long had you known Peter Pettigrew?"

"Since my first day at Hogwarts. We sat in the same train compartment and we were sorted into the same house together."

"And would you consider him a friend?"

"At first no I did not. He tagged along with the rest of us. But he began to show himself as a friend and as one of us. Yes, I would consider him a friend. Otherwise I would not have persuaded James to make Peter the secret keeper."

Murmurs erupted in the room and Sirius closed his eyes for a brief moment. This was one of the biggest regrets in his life. He had been the one to convince James to go with Peter instead of him. Voldemort had been after him for a while and he had been certain that it would create the necessary diversion for James and Lily to disappear. He had never expected that Peter, little coward Peter to actually serve Voldemort.

"So Peter Pettigrew was the Potter's secret keeper?"

"Yes, we changed it at the last minute. We thought it would be safer. I was already hunted down and people assumed that I was actually a servant of Voldemort. We saw no problem with keeping these rumours going. The Death Eaters had started hunting us and we had assumed that it would take the focus away from James and Lily if people assumed I was the Secret Keeper."

"And you are saying that Pettigrew was the one who betrayed James and Lily to You Know Who?"

"Yes, I am. He was a servant of Voldemort."

"Do you have proof for that?"

"If you ask me if I have seen if he has a Dark Mark, no I have not. I am not in the business of asking my friends to show their wrists to ask if they have been marked by a Dark Lord. I trusted my friends." The last part was almost a whisper.

He had thought that Peter had been too much of a coward to serve under Voldemort but he had been so wrong. He had assumed that Peter would not have any reason to betray his friends but what was friendship worth to the other man if he betrayed it for fame and glory? He had no idea what the reason was why Peter had joined the Death Eaters and why he had betrayed James and Lily. He could think of why he had done it but he longed to think that their friendship was worth more than just simple means to rise in the ranks of his enemies.

"But only the Secret Keeper could have given away the location of James and Lily." He cleared his throat and resumed his story. He was lost in the past and the emotions threatened to overwhelm him. He longed to escape into his dog form to get away from the pain but he forced himself to stay here and deal with it. It was time that he did that.

"When you heard of the attack what did you do?"

"We all placed wards on the property to alarm us in case of an event like this. I woke up to the wards being breeched and I immediately Apparated to Godric's Hollow. But it was already too late. The house was visible and in ruins. The house could only be visible if both of the people the spell was tied to were dead. The spell had been tied to James and after that it would go to Lily so I knew that she was dead as well. Dumbledore was there. But I was nearly insane with grief. I remember that I kept shouting that I would get him and that this could not be happening. I even forgot the most important part and that was to check if Harry was alright. I trusted Dumbledore when he said that he would take care of the boy. That way I could start hurting down Pettigrew."

"What do you remember of the night?"

"I remember the heat of the flames and the eerie light of the Dark Mark over the propertyBesides that I do not remember anything from the moment I left until the moment I cornered Pettigrew in the alley. That was the moment that everything became clear again."

He had blocked out most of the night and he had tried for years to get the night back but nothing.

"Perhaps you can tell us about that night then?"

Sirius took a deep breath and began. "I do not recall how much time had passed, but I hunted him down with the determination of a hound on the trail of its prey. Peter was my prey and I was going to get to him before anybody else could I needed an answer for why he had done it and I knew that Remus would rather have gone back to take care of Harry than to make certain that the one responsible for James' death would pay. But I would make the one responsible pay that was my promise to Harry as his godfather."

"What happened further when you cornered Pettigrew?"

"I hunted him down as a human…"

Sirius immediately realised that he had misspoken as the room fell silent. He held his breath and then the expected question came.

"How else would you have hunted him down?"

"I would have hunted him down in my Animagus form. He made his escape in his Animagus form."

He could hear murmurs in the hall and knew the questions that were being asked. Somebody rose to their feet to leave the room and Sirius knew what they were looking for. However Pettigrew and he would not be in the register of the Animagus. That is what they were going to check. He had given away his secret. Then so be it, because he had not only given away his secret but Pettigrew's secret as well. Perhaps they could prevent Pettigrew from assuming his rat form and escaping.

"Please continue."

Sirius took another deep breath and licked at his dry and cracked lips. "Very well, so I managed to corner him and we exchanged words. He did not look remorseful at all. He did not care that he was responsible for the death of his friends. I remember that he kept saying that Voldemort was too powerful and it would only take time before he would rise and the darkness would consume us all. I pulled my wand with the intent of hexing him but he was too quick for me. He cast an explosive hex and transformed. I managed to curse of his toe but he had already escaped I was too late…"

There was silence in the room and Sirius wondered if he was done. He could not remember anything else he would have to share. He glanced up when Scrimgeour approached. The auror held out a flask of water and Sirius drank gratefully when it was held to his lips. He tried not to gulp everything down like he wanted do.

He nodded gratefully at Scrimgeour as the man stepped away. He licked his lips to get all the drops that were still clinging there. Water was scarce in Azkaban. It would be given but it would be so easily taken away. If he would ever be released then this would be one thing he would never take for granted.

The silence seemed to grow tenser by the second until the door to the courtroom opened and a young wizard entered. He carried a piece of parchment and approached Stephen. The man glanced up sharply and nodded before he regarded Sirius.

"I sent young Mathew here to find the information concerning the registration of the Animagus. You are not registered, are you?"

"No, I am not."

"Was there a reason for this?"

"I can make up plenty of excuses but there are none. I always thought it to be funny to be an unregistered Animagus. It was dangerous but we never saw the harm in it."

"Had you registered then we would have known that Pettigrew had not died because a tracking spell is put on an Animagus so we know if the Animagus is well or deceased. This could have been prevented."

"Had I been given a fair trial then I could have told you this beforehand and I would not have spent the last decade behind bars." It came out sharp because it was the truth. "Yes, we all broke the law by becoming unregistered Animagus' but we were young and foolish. It has led to the escape of the one responsible for the murder of my best friend and his family. Do you honestly think that whatever you can do is going to make it better? I failed my godson by not keeping his family alive and by not being the godfather he deserves. I was blinded by grief and rage and I hunted a man down. I would do it again if presented the chance. The only thing I regret is not killing Pettigrew!"

Sirius took a deep breath before he continued. "I will never forgive myself for what I have done but do not pin on me that you lot did not give me a fair trial back then. There are plenty of pretty excuses for both of our sides but we both were in the wrong and I think that it is time to correct that. But you can never give me back the most important thing and that is James. The only thing you can give me back is my freedom so that I can spend time making it up to Harry for neglecting him all these years as my godson."

He sat back down to the silence of the room. Let them think on this one.

Hp

"Now I suppose that you have not yet come up with a plan to get rid of Quirrelmort?" Minerva had never been one to be subtle. She was Scottish and did not believe in that. She was direct because she found that it had always worked best when working with Albus.

The Headmaster looked up and graced her with a smile. "No, my dear, I am afraid I have not. It is quite a conundrum we are facing."

She glanced around the room. There were books stretched out all throughout the room. Ancient tomes that she had not seen in generations. Albus looked distracted as he sat sipping tea.

"Yes, it is not every day that we encounter a Dark Lord inhabiting the body of one of our Professors." She remarked dryly, waving her wand to transform a piece of parchment into another chair. She glanced at the chair critically and then changed the black to red. She sat down with a sigh and gave a nod when Albus held up the teapot.

"How far are you with any plans?"

"I have gathered information but nothing that can be put into a plan just yet. It is an obscure business this Dark Lord and dark magic thing." Albus looked old and worn. Minerva hummed under her breath before she said.

"Have you heard about the legend of the Chamber of Secrets?"

"Of course I have. I was at the school when it happened. As were you."

"Did you ever figure out who was responsible for opening the chamber? Hagrid was sent away but he could never have done it. Hagrid is a wonderful man but he does not have an evil bone in his body and he would not have set a monster loose in the school, especially one who was responsible for killing an innocent student."

"I have my suspicions but they remain that. I do not have enough proof to accuse that person and he has not been seen for many years. Nor has he been heard of."

Minerva sighed. Albus remained cryptic as ever. She narrowed her eyes and said. "You do not happen to know how to open the Chamber?"

Albus appeared shocked but she knew better. If the Headmaster wanted he could be a very good actor. He had managed so many secrets over the years that Minerva sometimes wondered if Albus was ever honest with anybody, even himself. He was a manipulator, even when he told everybody that he wanted the best for everybody. He did but sometimes his choices were not what was best for everybody.

"If I had known that, do you honestly think I would share this knowledge? I have my suspicions as well as on the location of the Chamber but they are just that, suspicions."

"And what of the monster then? Do you have any suspicions about the species?"

"Yes, but once again they remain suspicions. Are you trying to imply something, Minerva?"

"No, I would never dare. No I was merely working on a plan. It would be a good benefit if we could put Quirrelmort somewhere he cannot be easily found. The Chamber is an obscure legend and there are only a handful that remember what took place at Hogwarts fifty years ago If we could find the Chamber then we could put Quirrelmort there until we can find a way to deal with him."

Albus took a sip of his tea and regarded her as he said. "It is a better plan than any of the plans I have come up with so far. The only disadvantage is that I cannot open the Chamber. I do not know how. The only one who knows is the one we are trying to defeat."

"Are you implying that You Know Who was responsible for opening the Chamber all those years ago?" It was a good thing that Minerva had set her tea down because she was quite sure that she would have dropped it.

Albus gave a nod and answered. "Yes, though he was not in the guise of Lord Voldemort at the time. He was known as Tom Riddle and he was starting to gather his power and make himself known to everybody. He was not entirely innocent back then but he was not as evil as he is now. He is the only one who knows how to open the Chamber. I can guess but even then I lack the means necessary to open it and command the monster. Tom Riddle was a parselmouth and I do not know anybody else who has that particular talent." Albus looked downright sorry and Minerva sighed.

"So if we found a parselmouth we could open the Chamber."

"In theory, yes we would be able to. I think that I can find the entrance to the Chamber through the viewing of my memories and of encounters of the events with Armando Dippet. I'm quite certain that we can get to some kind of solution."

Minerva inclined her head and rose to her feet. "Then I shall let you get back to your work."

Albus gave her a nod before he cleared his throat and said. "Minerva, I assume that you would tell me if you know the whereabouts of Severus or Harry, wouldn't you?"

Taking a deep breath, Minerva sat back down in her chair. She fixed Albus with a look and said. "I would not, in fact. You know that you have done wrong by both Harry and Severus and I cannot fault Severus for taking Harry away from Hogwarts. I think that the only thing you need to be concerned with at the moment is to find a way to deal with Quirrelmort."

Albus looked away, but not before she saw the pain in the blue eyes of the Headmaster. She pressed on ruthlessly anyway and said. "I would not risk Harry near Quirrelmort either That man is dangerous, even when kept in a magical containment facility. I hardly trust myself around him. And I am a Professor. I am trained. I really do not see why Harry should be forced to be near Hogwarts at this time. He's safer where he is right now. And you know just as well as I that if Severus does not want to be found, he cannot be found, not even by you."

"I suppose you are right. He's a master in hiding."

"He's a master spy, you mean. He had to make due with the things that life handed him. I am not saying that Severus is a saint because he did make some bad choices. But he has paid for those choices. It does not surprise me that he has a backup plan for situations like this."

"So he could have even left the country? I doubt he would have done that. There is a hearing scheduled to hear his guardian claim. There is somebody who challenged it."

Minerva narrowed her eyes at Albus. There was something that he was not saying. She was unsure if a letter had been sent to Albus asking for a recommendation of Severus as a guardian. The Ministry would have to. He was the only one listed as Severus' employee.

"You know who challenged Severus?"

"I was not told of the identity of the person but I can hazard a guess. It could be Cornelius, though why he would do such a thing is beyond me except to win over the public. Ever since that article the public has not been too kind for him."

"Well deserved though."

"Yes, rather fitting I thought… There are of course no surviving Potters, unless a Black has stepped forward to lay claim on Harry but even then Sirius would be the first in line. The Weasleys would not do such a thing…"

"And neither would you, I am assuming." Albus gave her a wounded look but she knew he had considered it. She had known him for a long time. He sighed and then answered.

"I thought about it but in all honesty what can I offer the boy that Severus cannot. Severus is young, I am not. He has a chance to build a life, I do not. I am Headmaster of Hogwarts and I am busy. Too busy to spend time raising a teenager. I am not what Harry needs. Besides, like this I can spoil the boy if Severus allows me to remain in his life."

"Perhaps a chat with Severus is in order." Minerva remarked dryly, getting to her feet once again.

"Yes, if only I can find him." And with a last smile at the Headmaster, Minerva closed the door behind her. If Albus wanted to find Severus, he would have to try harder himself. She was not going to help him and besides, it was almost fun to see him try.

Hp

Severus glanced down at his letter for what felt like the 100th time. He flexed his fingers, the only sign of frustration he would allow himself to show. He hmphed and shifted in his seat.

"Would master Snape care for some more tea?" The house elf was unwelcome and Severus fixed it with a black gaze. The house elf looked ready to bolt and it wrung its hands anxiously. He shook his head and instead said.

"No, but could you fetch Master Harry for me? I need to talk to him."

The house elf looked relieved to have been given something to do as it disappeared as though Severus was going to murder it at the nearest instance. Which was not far from the truth. He felt too rattled by the letter. He had assumed that everything was going to go fine for one instance but he should have known better. Life always found ways to make things difficult for him, as was the case with Quirrelmort. The Defence teacher had to be possessed by the Dark Lord, not by any other bloody spirit but the one spirit that made Severus want to grab Harry and flee the country.

The sound of running shoes and happy screams could be heard before the kitchen door flew open. Harry and his friends came barging in, breathless with laughter. Apparently they had been racing. At the sight of Severus' scowl they stopped and sobered up but still exchanged looks between one another. For one brief moment Severus felt guilty for tearing Harry away from his friends. Surely this news could wait but then the boy stepped forward and asked.

"You asked for me…."

He was interrupted by the house elf that appeared in the room. It flung itself on the floor and begged. "Please do not give me clothes, Master Snape. Dobby shall go and throw himself off the stairs for failing in bringing all children here instead of just Mr Potter….."

Rolling his eyes at the dramatics of the house elf and the horrified look on Harry's face, Severus said. "You did alright. I had forgotten that Mr Weasley and Miss Granger were still present. Lucius would not have liked to have them in the library unattended so you did right in bringing them to me. Go and prepare dinner and for Mr Potter's sake do not throw yourself off the staircase."

The house elf shot Severus a grateful look, beamed and promised. "Master Snape is too good for Dobby. Dobby shall go fetch hot tea, biscuits and hot chocolate."

Before Severus could say anything the house elf had disappeared again. Severus pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. He prayed that the headache he could feel starting to build would hold off for a bit longer until he had dealt with this situation. He opened his eyes again and gestured to the kitchen table.

"I suppose that you can all take a seat since that house elf is determined to bring hot chocolate." The children scrambled to do as he said. Severus forced himself to take a deep breath. It was more than alright to be annoyed by the situation but it would not help him any if he took it out on Harry.

"I did ask for you, yes. I received a letter about my application to become your guardian. Somebody is challenging my application and I was asked to attend an interview."

It was so silent that Severus wondered if Harry had understood him. He was on the verge of repeating himself when Harry blurted out.

"I want to attend! I want to tell them that they can't take you away from me. They have to understand! I'm not going to live with anyone but you…" Harry glared at him as if daring him to disagree with him. Severus opened his mouth to answer when the house elf popped back into the room with a tray with tea and hot chocolate.

The tray wobbled as Severus shot the elf his darkest glare. The elf gulped, sent the tea to the table and disappeared with a loud bang. Only Severus' quick reflexes saved the tray from crashing into the table. He set it down carefully and sighed. Another reason not to get a house elf. They would only interrupt him at moments he could not use it. If he was busy working on an important potion for example and they would disturb him.

He poured the Gryffindors hot chocolate, hoping in vain that it would calm Harry down. Harry was glaring at him for all he was worth and Severus met his ward glare for glare. "It isn't as though I mean to send you away, Mr Potter. But I must attend this hearing. If the Ministry decides that I am not a suitable guardian for you then there is a chance that they will send you to another family…." Severus took a sip of his tea to wet his throat. Before he could continue, Harry pushed back his chair and declared hotly.

"Fine, I'll go and pack my stuff if you are so determined to get rid of me. You know what, Professor, I thought that you would at least fight for me but I guess I was wrong…."

Severus' mouth fell open as Harry banged the door behind him. He turned back to Weasley and Granger. Weasley was glaring at him and Granger was giving him a look of pure sympathy. "What the hell just happened?" Severus bit out.

"I think Harry is convinced that you are not willing to fight for him…."

"I just barely survived a duel with a Dark Lord to protect him! I'm not going to go to the hearing because it is fun. I'm doing it for Harry, because I do want what is best for him and I…"

"You want what is best for him but do you also want him in your life?" Severus was taken aback by the question but the answer came without a thought.

"Of course I do, I've grown fond of the bloody brat."

"Then tell that to Harry, while we go back to Hogwarts."

And before Severus could say anything Granger and Weasley had floo'd to Hogwarts.

Hp

Harry ignored the knock on his door. He buried his face in his pillow. He should have known better. He was such a fool. Why would Professor Snape want to keep him? He was just a brat that took up space and time. Time the Professor could spend on his potions, instead of on Harry. He was a fool for hoping.

He heard the door open and the soft footfall of the Professor as Snape approached the bed. He ignored the other wizard. He wasn't going to answer the Professor. He didn't want anything to do with the man…."

"Harry?"

He ignored the soft call of his name. He didn't have to answer a man that didn't want him.

"Mr Potter, at least do me the courtesy of looking at me when I am trying to explain something to you. Harry turned his head the other way instead. Snape sighed behind him before the Professor said.

"Fine, I will simply speak to your back instead to tell you what I plan to do at the hearing. I do hope that your new family can give you some better manners because the Fates certainly know that I have tried and failed miserably."

"If you plan to say that you're going to get rid of me, then you can save your breath, Snape! I don't want to hear it."

"Where do you get the notion that I do not want you? Have I not put my own life on the line to protect you? If I wanted to get rid of you then I simply would have given you up to the Dark Lord and let him have his way with you. I would have been rewarded. I plan to fight whoever thinks that they can simply take you away from me. Nobody takes you away! I am only giving you up if you want to go. However we do have to take into account that perhaps there are people better suited to take care of you than a bachelor with a Dark Mark."

Harry turned to face the Professor. Snape looked a little blurry and Harry righted his glasses with two hands before he said. "But I don't want anybody else but you."

Snape sighed and said. "That is all very well, Harry but I do not know how much the judge will take that into account. I am the first person you have been with outside of your own family and you can easily become attached to the wrong person that shows you kindness. In the short term I may be a good guardian for you but I may be unable to care for your wellbeing in the long term. There are things you may be missing out on when you are staying with me, such as maternal love and the influence and wisdom of a woman. I do not see myself marrying or committing to a relationship simply to please your needs…."

"But I can always go to Mrs Weasley if I need some mothering. She is very good at that."

Snape seemed to bite back a smirk as he nodded. "Yes, you do have a point there. There certainly is a big enough support system to oversee all your needs and desires. Perhaps it is time to muster the troops and to tell them that a new problem has sprung up, one that must be dealt with immediately."

"So you're going to go to the hearing?" Harry had to know.

"Of course, Mr Potter, if only so that I do not hear about it until the end of my days that I failed to go to a hearing concerning you." And a relieved Harry hugged his Professor gladly, at least this was right in his world.

Hp

Hermione wasn't sure she would ever get fully used to working a floo. It was a magical ride through a fireplace. She was literally hopping from one fireplace to another. How strange was that? She should tell her parents about this, if only she could. She was quite sure that they would never believe her. They hadn't believed her when she had told them that she saw buildings or people dressed funnily.

Her parents were very sweet and at first they had indulged her because she was their only child and they were very busy with their work. But there had been a time when they had taken her to therapists to try and figure out what was wrong with her. One of them had suggested that Hermione was only doing it because she wanted attention. After that Hermione had learned to keep her mouth shut.

It had been a relief when the Hogwarts letter came. It had explained so much and while her parents had been sceptical at first, they had honoured her wish to go. Especially after the visit of Professor Sprout to explain things to her family, had her parents been convinced. This was the world where their daughter belonged. It had pained her parents that they did not believe her when she had told them that she was seeing things but they were happy for her. She took to her new world like a fish in the water.

She stepped out of the fireplace gracefully. Professor McGonagall turned around to regard her and nodded. "Miss Granger, please wipe your feet."

Hermione did as the Professor requested and stepped aside to let Ron through. When he did, she asked. "Professor, could we have a word?"

"Concerning?"

"It concerns Professor Snape and Harry. They received a letter that a hearing is scheduled to judge if Professor Snape is worthy as Harry's guardian Harry couldn't stand it if he was taken to another family that he doesn't know. Isn't there anything we can do?"

"I can understand your reasoning and your plight, Miss Granger and I applaud your efforts but there is nothing we can do. We are not to interfere with the Ministry and only if we are asked as witnesses in the case then we can plead their case. I am a teacher and a colleague of Severus and therefore I am a biased towards him. I have known him since he was a student here. They will ask for my opinion but I do not know if they will value my opinion. But I do know that the more people that know Professor Snape and Harry well give an opinion, the better the case will be built."

"So it would be a good idea to send letters to our parents and ask for their support?"

"I am quite sure that Professor Snape would prefer if nobody were involved but I think that it is time for Gryffindors to show Slytherin that we can be as sneaky as them." Hermione smiled at her Professor. Her Head of House was a very nice witch, one with a spine of steel and Hermione for one was glad that she was in Gryffindor because Gryffindors stood by their friends and she was going to help Harry and Professor Snape. Because honestly they deserved happiness.

Hp

"You sure that we can just burrow an owl?" Ron's voice was a whisper as he glanced up at the owls that hooted softly in their sleep. The rafters were filled with them. He had never seen so many owls in his life.

"Unless you can summon an owl right now, then yes we can burrow one. I just don't know how to send a letter to my parents."

"No offense, Hermione, but I'm not sure how your parents can help. Unless they can find a way to get Harry's muggle family persecuted in the muggle world then there is nothing that they can do…."

"Oh Ron, you're brilliant!" Ron was not prepared for Hermione to hug him. She beamed at him as he asked.

"What did I say?"

"Well, you just gave me an idea of what my parents can do. If there is a case that a child has been mistreated by his family then this needs to be reported to the police and the proper authorities. We cannot do that because we are underage but if I send my parents a letter together with the details of what Harry has been going through, then they can report the Dursleys."

"Oh, of course. That would be brilliant. I was going to ask my dad because he works for the Ministry and he may know which people to approach in the muggle world. But perhaps we can try both ways. But won't your parents mind receiving an owl?"

"No, I have been sending them letters nearly every week now. They write back as well. I was even thinking of getting my own owl. Hey, do you think Harry will mind if we burrow Hedwig?"

The snowy owl came as if summoned. She landed with a soft hoot on the table that Hermione was using to put the finishing touches on the letter that they were going to send to the Weasleys. It was quite a long letter and Hermione rolled it up to a neat scroll.

Hermione regarded Hedwig as she tied a ribbon around the scroll. The owl extended her leg, hooting softly at her. She had only seen Harry handle the owl. Even when she was growing up she had never really been around animals. Hedwig sat there patiently waiting for her, hopping about and hooting.

Ron, as if sensing her hesitation, took the scroll and said. "So what should we put in your parents' letter?"

Glad to have something else to do, Hermione immediately began to write the letter. "That should be easy. I will just explain briefly what has been happening. I've only hinted at it…"

"You tell your parents everything that we talk about?" Hermione glanced up to see Ron's sceptical expression. She could feel herself blushing as she said.

"Yeah, of course. I am an only child and I didn't have that many friends when I grew up so yeah, why wouldn't I? My parents appreciate it when I tell them what is going on my life. And in a situation like this you have to agree that it is very convenient…"

"Yeah, I'm not saying that. I'm surprised I guess. I wouldn't tell mom everything that is going on at Hogwarts. That would only get me in more trouble."

"But you tell your brothers?"

"Yeah, I guess when they catch me. I've been pretty close to them but Fred and George are always together or they were always teasing me. Bill and Charlie were a lot older than me. I just never had anything with Percy. But I have always been on my own." Ron shrugged at her.

"I would love to have a big family." Hermione had missed having somebody to play with or talk to when she was growing up. Her parents had been at home when they could be but they were busy a lot. It had been lonely growing up.

"It isn't all that it is cracked up to be. Mom and Dad have pretty much seen everything that I've done or could do. They aren't all that impressed which can make it hard. And I have never owned a single thing in my life. Even my wand is a hand me down. But yeah, I wouldn't trade them in for the world. There were always people to play with growing up." Ron grinned at her, apparently caught up in some of the adventures he and his brothers had created.

"I had a wonderful family as well, even without siblings. My parents love me and support everything I do. Everybody deserves a family like that."

"Yeah, especially Harry. So let's send these letters off and set things in motion." And as they did that, they joined the team of people determined to help Harry and Severus become the family they deserved to be.

That is it for now. I hope you liked it. Review please.

In the next chapter: Sirius' trial continues as Sirius makes the request to look the murderer of his best friend in the eye, but will that request be honoured? Minerva approaches Remus with an unusual idea to force Quirrelmort to take another shape, can our two clever Professors figure out how to work this magic? Severus prepares himself to do the impossible and ask for aid, only to find that help is already underway. And Petunia gets a nasty surprise as she opens the door one morning. That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: So the wait wasn't that long as the previous one I hope. I currently have some free time on my hands so why not write. However my muse has gone on an extended vacation so I am trying to scrape together my focus for this story, so bear with me please. Thanks for the review. Let's begin. Not betad

Petunia Dursley was a woman who was fond of a normal day. She did not like surprises. She like to get up at a certain time each morning to get started on her morning cleaning while Vernon was still asleep. After that she started on making breakfast for Vernon while he was in the shower. She knew exactly how he liked his eggs and his toast. She made his coffee and set the table in exactly the way she knew he liked. It pleased her when he came out looking smart in his suit and gave her a slight smile. They made little small talk as they ate together and she loved it when Vernon handed her the pieces of the paper she liked to read best, the entertainment section. She liked to spend time with just the two of them.

Vernon would give her a squeeze of the shoulder and a kiss on the cheek before he left for work. She would smile because she knew that it was his way of showing her he loved her. After breakfast she cleared the table and took her own shower before making the bed and cleaning the bathroom. Then it was time for the morning coffee and she checked the mail and watched a morning show before it was time to get do the groceries and get started on dinner. She had some more chores that she needed to do, such as cleaning the kitchen and the living room. She tried to keep Dudley's bedroom as neat as she could without altering it.

She tried not to think about how much she would like a phone call or a card from Dudley. He was having such a grand time at school that he must have forgotten to send letters. She did not feel hurt or sad over that her little boy had forgotten about her. He was on his way to becoming a man and that was what counted.

She also tried not to think about the Boy. He had his uses such as cleaning and cooking breakfast and dinner. But the house was now her own. She did not have to pretend that everything was normal in her house while hiding the Boy. No, everything was normal now. She did not need to pretend any longer. Vernon was also a lot more relaxed because the Boy wasn't in the house. It was amazing what one such change could accomplish.

In reality she should have done this years ago. She should have put her foot down and instead have called Social Services to come and pick that Boy up. It would have been better. She would not have as much expenses and she would have had the perfect family with Dudley and Vernon. She would not have been reminded of the horrible choice her sister had made so long ago and the consequences that had carried over into Petunia's life. No, it was good that that Boy was with his own people now and away from her family.

Petunia sighed as she pulled off her cleaning gloves. She needed a cup of tea and a sit down for just a moment. After that she was going to start dinner. She had everything planned out, how long it would take and how she would prepare everything. She was so lost in her planning that she almost missed the ring of the doorbell.

She rose to her feet and quickly smoothed down her skirt and pushed back her hair, making certain that her appearance was flawless. You never knew who stood in front of her door.

She was therefore a little bit taken aback when she saw two police officers standing in front of her door. The police officers registered before she noticed the young woman dressed smartly standing on her doorstep.

"Mrs. Dursley?" There was no smile on the woman's face. Instead there was a grave expression and her grey eyes were not friendly but hard. Petunia glanced from the woman to the police officers before she nodded and said. "Yes, I am."

She cleared her throat because her voice came out high. "Is my husband alright? Did something happen to my darling son?"

"No, we are not here for your husband or your son. They are fine. We are here for another reason. Is it true that this is the residence of one Harry Potter?" There was not a hint of friendliness in the woman's voice. Petunia's lips thinned. It seemed like they could never get rid off the boy.

After everything that they had done for him and he still messed up their lives even when he was not here. She took a deep breath and answered.

"Yes, he is my nephew. What has the boy done now?"

"I think that it is better that we speak inside, Mrs. Dursley." The woman's voice became nearly icy. She exchanged a look with one of the officers. Petunia could not decipherer the look but it didn't make her feel at ease.

"I do not see why we should speak inside. We can handle this out here just fine."

"Mrs. Dursley, you strike me as the sort of woman who does not like her personal business to be known to her neighbors, now correct me if I am wrong but I do think that we need to say this inside. Unless you would like to discuss a case of child neglect and abuse on your front door where the whole neighborhood can hear you then I am perfectly fine with that."

Petunia was sure that she was imagining things but she knew one thing for sure, this day was not going to be normal ever again.

Hp

Sirius had never like Azkaban, he really did not. It was grey and depression and that was without the presence of the Dementors, but some moments it offered him quietness and a moment on his own to think. So each day when he returned to his cell, he waited until the evening meal and the last rounds of the guards before he shifted into the dog form and curled up.

In this form his emotions were simpler but his mind was still human and sharp. He could progress the day's events. He had barely shifted into his dog form when there was a commotion out in the hallway. Sirius barely had the time to shift back into his human self before there were guards at his door.

"There is somebody here to see you, Black. It is an important guest so make yourself presentable."

It was after visiting hours and normally the guards would not allow anyone but the Minister for Magic into Azkaban.

Sirius frowned as he moved towards the door. It must be one bloody important person to make the guards this agitated and to allow himself visitation rights after dark. He glanced up as he pulled back his dirty hair. He couldn't make himself any more presentable then he already was. He glanced up as four guards escorted somebody over to his cell. He had been right. The only one important enough to warrant a visit this late was the Minister for Magic.

"Good evening, Mr. Black." Sirius had never liked Fudge. The man had always struck him as being a coward and one who preferred others to do the dirty work for him.

"Evening." Sirius kept his tone clipped and polite. He knew that in some cases it helped him to get what he wanted and needed. Fudge was a man who seemed to appreciate that and Sirius was not above using it. He had been raised well enough by his parents to understand that sometimes the world worked like this.

"What can I do for you, Minister?" However he had learned not to waste time on small talk. Azkaban was not a pleasant place and he knew that the Minister must not like to spend much time here.

"I think that the better question is what I can do for you, Mr. Black. As of the situation right now, with your reopened trial and the find of Peter Pettigrew, you have been incarcerated innocently for years. The public will expect, if this news gets out and it will, that you are compensated. You expressed a desire today in the courtroom to be a godfather to your godson Harry Potter. It may delight you to know that Harry started Hogwarts this year." Sirius did not trust Fudge one bit, neither did he like the smile the Minister was giving him. It was too easy a smile of a man who was used to getting what he wanted.

"He turned 11 this year so I assumed that he started at Hogwarts. I have not reached out to him and I doubt that he knows of my presence." He lied through his teeth. He knew more about Harry at this moment then he had done in the past 10 years.

"Well, you may have been aware that because of your incarceration, Harry was send to live with his muggle family. However his family, as if often the case with magical children with none magical folk, they could not provide the care that Harry needed and even tried to discipline him when he showed magical powers. This was discovered and one of the Professors at Hogwarts was assigned to Harry as his temporary guardian. Now the two probation months are up and the Professor will apply for permanent guardianship of Harry. However I do not feel that this person will be the best guardian for Harry."

Sirius hated the way that Fudge spoke Harry's name in such a familiar way. If he had a say then Harry would not have anything to do with Fudge. He merely inclined his head and asked. "I appreciate that my godson is in good hands. Could you tell me who the man is?"

"I am afraid I am not able to do that, privacy rules and all that." Fudge gave him a smile. "However we had anticipated that you wanted to become Harry's guardian should you ever regain your freedom, which has a very high chance. Therefore I have taken the liberty of filing guardianship papers under your name to combat the other claim."

"You did what?" This time his surprise was not faked. Sirius was seething. How dare that idiot? Sirius didn't know when or if he was going to be released and he had no desire to take care of Harry in such a way. He was not a good father figure. He was better as the cool uncle who visited and who took Harry to take cool day trips and spoiled him rotten.

Fudge was a little taken aback by Sirius reaction and eyed the guards. Sirius forced himself back under control and said.

"I appreciate your effort, Minister but we are getting ahead of ourselves. I do not know if I will be released and this would reflect poorly on the Ministry."

"Whatever do you mean, Mr. Black?"

"First you wrongly incarcerated an innocent man for 12 years, allowed a known Death Eater to walk the streets in an unregistered Animagus form, failed to check up on the Boy Who Lived and allowed him to be abused by his family and then gave the boy's guardianship to a man who has not lived in society for the past decade. You will look incompetent. If I will be released then I will need time to set my affairs in order and to be honest I do not think I will have the time to be playing guardian to a 12 year old teenager, especially one that has been abused by his family. I am not a parent and I do not have the necessary skills to suddenly be one. I think I take me enough effort to settle back into society. I think it would be best if you allowed the other person to be the guardian and give me visitation rights." Sirius was surprised that he managed to handle that so smoothly.

Fudge appeared deep in thought and after a moment the man nodded. "You make a good point, Mr. Black. I did not think. When you put the events in such a light it does make it appear as though the Ministry is incompetent and we handled the situation poorly…"

Sirius tuned out the other man. They had handled it poorly and were incompetent but he would rather piss Fudge off when he was out of this hell hole then when he was in it. He had some ideas as to what he could do. He had plenty of time to think of his revenge and plans.

"But surely there is something else that we can offer you for now? We shall settle upon a compensation on another date. When the results of the court case are in."

"For now you can do me a favor."

Fudge appeared delighted and nodded. "Anything."

"Get me a seat on the trail of Peter Pettigrew. I want to look the bastard in eye who did this to me." And he allowed the other to see his wolfish grin. This would be something that he would like very much to see the bastard who killed his best friend and for ruining his life and that of his godson. That would really make his day.

Hp

"Professor Lupin, do you have a moment for me?" Remus glanced up from his grading. The hallway was crowded with students going from one class to the next, but at this moment Minerva was standing in the doorway to his office. The Head of Gryffindor house looked enthusiastic, as much as she could possibly do.

"Of course I do, Professor McGonagall." He pushed his parchment away. The only reason that Minerva could possibly be this excited was because of a breakthrough in her research considering Quirrelmort. She came in and closed the door.

"Now, Professor Lupin, you have been friends with James, Sirius and Peter for years, correct? And how many times have you had to cast a spell to help them obtain their Animagus form?"

Remus sputtered as he quickly capped his ink jar. He glanced up at Minerva to see her smile and he knew he had been caught. "Plenty of times. How did you know?"

"Albus may have turned a blind eye but that does not mean that we were all so unaware. I was Head of Gryffindor house and a lot sharper then I am some of these days so nothing escaped me, young man. Especially when Madam Price informed me that books on Animagus transformation went missing and the next week a book on human animal transformation. It is a little bit suspicious, do you not agree?"

Remus could only nod sheepishly. They had been lucky so many times that they had never been caught but they had been even luckier that none of the transformations had ever gone wrong.

"I suppose that it would have been a matter of time before somebody found out. We were young and foolish. But I don't think that you are here to discuss my school days."

"No, I am asking this because I want to know who cast the spell that forced James and Sirius into their Animagus form before they could master the transformation themselves."

"I did. James and Sirius were too preoccupied with their own transformation and Peter could not master the spell that well. Not without intense meditation first. I was the only one who could oversee the transformation and be able to apply the counter spell."

"How long until you countered the spell?"

"For Sirius the longest was a weekend. He ran off because his dog senses overcame his mind and it took us a good day to find him and another day before we could figure out how to transform him back. But I am imagine that you can force somebody to stay in an animal shape for as long as you want."

"In theory yes. If that person has not master the ability to send their mind forth to another body then yes this is possible." Remus frowned at Minerva.

"You mean Voldemort?"

"Yes, I am. You mentioned that Sirius was overcome by the senses of his body as a dog. However this correlates with the strength of character of the person that you are transforming. I do not know how strong You Know Who's spirit will be when we would transform Quirrell's body into another shape. I imagine that he would try to escape and we would be able to contain him in something. However in what or how I have not yet found a way."

"Perhaps we can force him into another body. A body he will not be able to control such as a reptile or a rodent. This is a tricky situation if he will flee again then we have lost him and we cannot allow that."

"We would need a secure location. One that cannot be found by anyone and that is secured by magic…."

"Well I know of such a location…" Remus took out an old book that he had borrowed from the library this morning. He had wanted some light reading and had therefore checked out a book about the Founders.

"Which is?"

"The Chamber of Secrets."

Minerva gave him a skeptical look and said. "Remus, if such a chamber exist, and I am not saying that it does, how do you propose that we find it?"

"We find the descendant of Salazar Slytherin. It is believed that the Chamber was last opened about 50 years ago by that decedent. You were at the school as was Albus. We simply have to figure out who else was at this school then…."

"Hagrid was a student at this school. In fact he was suspended and kicked out of Hogwarts because it was believed he had opened the Chamber and let the monster out which led to the death of a student."

Remus gave Minerva a skeptical look. "And you believe this? Hagrid is a lot of things but there is not a mean bone in his body. He was a third year and Salazar hid his Chamber with the most difficult of magic. One would have to be very crafty and clever to find it and Hagrid is clever but not crafty. He would not have been able to stumble upon it by accident. Not Hagrid. I refuse to believe that."

Minerva's lips thinned and she looked away. "You do make a valid point there, Professor. It seems that we made a good choice in picking you as the new Defense Professor. It is always good to see things in a new light. Very well then, let us go to see Albus Dumbledore."

"Why are we going to see the Headmaster?"

"Because if there is anybody who knows You Know Who's real name then it will be him." Remus nodded and rose to his feet. It would be good to see the Headmaster.

Hp

Albus glanced up from his desk as a knock sounded on his door. He called out a cheery "enter" but his heart sank as Remus and Minerva walked in. He tried to smile, hoping against his better judgment that it would be about something else besides Harry Potter. He knew he had made mistakes and he would atone for them but right now he would prefer to speak about anything else but that.

He invited his Professors to sit down with a wave of his hand. "Would you care for some tea?"

"I think that would be acceptable considering what subject we are going to discuss." Minerva gave a nod and Albus gave the order to his house elves.

"Now what can I do for you?" He glanced from one Professor to another.

"Do you know the true name of Voldemort?" Albus was taken aback by the question. He had not seen this coming.

"I do but why would you care to know this?"

"Minerva was trying to come up with a way to deal with Quirrelmort. She thought about transfiguring Quirrell's body into another shape such as an animal shape or force Voldemort's spirit into the body of an animal. But we would need a room in which this can be done. I was recently reading about the Chamber of Secrets and we know that it can be opened by the decedent of Salazar. The last time the Chamber was opened was 50 years ago, when Voldemort was at school. Would it be presumptuous of us to assume that he had something to do with this?"

Albus sighed. He knew that this day would come. He rose to his feet and went to his Pensive. Taking it out he set it on the desk. "You are correct in assuming so. However we never found any proof. I was a Transfigurations Professor myself at that time and Minerva my apprentice but it was around that time that Voldemort, or Tom Riddle as he was known back then, attended Hogwarts that strange things happened. People were under attack by a creatures, a creatures nobody knew existed and a girl was killed and an innocent boy send from Hogwarts."

"Could you tell us more?"

"It is better if I showed you, I think." He put his wand to his temple and focused in recalling the correct memories in the correct sequence. He put them in the pensive and nodded at them. "Go ahead. I shall be here when you get back."

It was always strange to see two people sitting in the same chair but knowing that their minds were someplace else. He glanced around the office and rose to give Fawkes some treats. The phoenix trilled at him and he smiled, stroking the magnicifient feathers. He heard a gasp and turned around to see Remus shaking himself almost like dog and Minerva arching her back. She reminded him of her Animagus form in that instance.

"How did you obtain this information, Albus?" Minerva looked at him almost suspiciously and he poured some tea while he answered.

"Though a lot of research and searching. Voldemort covered any evidence of his former identity well. He does not want anybody to think he is human and mortal and thus hides his identity and any trace of it. It took me the better part of a year to uncover the true identity of Voldemort and link it to the bright young man who once asked for a job here. While there was never any evidence that he was responsible for opening the Chamber he is a decedent of Slytherin though."

"But Riddle is not a magical name."

"No, but he is a decedent through his mother, Merope Gaunt. This family, while the line ends with Voldemort, is a direct decedent from Salazar. The family fell from grace a long time ago but they considered themselves a very proud family and wanted to keep the old practices in honor. This means that all of them were Parselmouth which is a dominant gene and is passed down. I do not know how Tom knew how to open the Chamber but it would make sense that he would try to open the Chamber."

"Do you happen to know where the Chamber is located or how we can open it?" Remus leaned forward as he took his cup.

"No, I do not. I assume that only a Parselmouth will be open to locate and open it." Albus took a sip of his own tea and added some sugar after his grimace. It wasn't sweet enough for his taste. He found that when he was getting older his sweet tooth was getting worse. He tried to not overindulge himself.

"Do you happen to know anything about the Chamber itself?" Remus took a biscuit as well. Minerva was silent, sipping her tea. Albus knew that she was following the conversation but she kept her thoughts to herself.

"I only read about it in the journal of Salazar but I have never seen the Chamber. It mentions a large room, several smaller rooms in which he conducted his research and I think that he even had a room in which he slept. He build the room itself, embedded magic into the very stones he used in that room. That means that whatever magic was used in that room could not get out. Magic could be contained in that room without anybody noticing it. There are rumors of another room where magic is worthless. It as though the very magic is sucked out of the room. However there are only rumors of nothing more." Albus took another sip of his tea.

"If we could force You Know Who…"

"Voldemort, Minerva. Being afraid of a name increases the fear of the thing itself." Albus almost enjoyed the look Minerva gave him. It was almost like old times.

"Fine, Voldemort, if we could force his spirit into another living organism that would be wonderful. However it will be hard. He's strong and it would be difficult to force his spirit out of Quirrell's body and into another lesser organism. I have not yet thought out the how or which magic to use but could it be done?"

"I think it could be done. By putting him in a room that contains magic or a room that sucks all the magic out of the room we would be able to force Voldemort's spirit out of Quirrell's body. However we have to make it worth his while to get into another body. As a spirit he may not have a lot of power but he is able to inhabitant another body. We would have to make it worth his while to inhabitant that body. He would have to get something out of it. This is fruit for thought."

"I think that we may need to order lunch then." And as Albus met Minerva's grin he nodded and hoped that in time everything would work out for the better between them and things would get back to normal.

Hp

Severus was a man who was used to waiting and being secretive about his plans and actions. He was a spy, had been a spy for the most part of his adult life and he knew how to hide and pretend he was something he was not. It was a way of his life and he liked it and had adapted to it. He was used to doing things on his own and only having to answer, well in truth to two masters but he was responsible for his own actions. He had never had to ask for help, except for that one time. But now….

He glanced over at Harry. The young teen was going over his Transfigurations homework. He was now responsible not only for his life but for the life of Harry as well. He needed to make plans. Plans for a future that could change within a flash and he needed to think quickly.

I need help. I can run and hide Harry and myself very thoroughly so that nobody can ever find us. But that would mean having to start over a new life at the other end of the planet but I do not want to tear him away from his friends. He finally found a home and he has friends that love him and he has a support system. I cannot take him away from all that, not without breaking something in him. Therefore, that if I go down that road I need allies. I think I know of who to ask.

"Harry?" His ward glanced up at the sound of his name. "You are aware of the reason we are not at Hogwarts right now?"

"Yeah, because of Quirrelmort. It is too dangerous."

Quirrelmort, who came up with that name? It must be some of the students.

Severus managed to hide his sneer with difficultly and Harry grinned. "I like the name better then You Know Who or He Who Must Not Be Named. That name sounds so ridiculous. I bet that his parents didn't name him Voldemort. Nobody would name their child that. I think that he changed his name because his real name would not impress anyone which is fine I guess, superheroes do the same thing. Superman chose his own name but why would a Dark Lord think of a different name so that people get so fearful that they even cannot say his supervillain name? I mean that doesn't make much of an impression. You want people to remember your name and trembling in fear when they say it. You kind of took it overboard when people are too afraid to say it."

Severus had to blink several times through that dialog. The maddest thing was that Harry may have a point.

"Thank you for that enlightening comment, Mr. Potter. The reason I started this conversation was for another reason altogether. If I told you that we could not return to Hogwarts and that you may have to live somewhere else what would you…."

"I would say no. I want to stay with you." At that moment Harry reminded him so much of Lily that Severus felt his heart clench. He swallowed it away and said.

"What if it would kill you to return to Hogwarts and…"

"I want to stay with you! I don't care what you do, Sev. You can't get rid of me that easily." One black eyebrow rose at the old familiar nickname.

"What if you were to live in another country under a different name and…."

"Still staying with you at Hogwarts." Harry crossed his arms over his chest.

"Perhaps if you would allow me to finish my sentence you would realize that I would be right there with you." Harry stared at him for such a long time that Severus hastily amended. "I doubt that it will come to this but should we have to get you to safety, I have contacts in other countries that are willing to help us."

I just need contacts that are willing to help us here.

"I think it would be neat to live somewhere else. Can we live as muggles? You could be a chemistry Professor…." Harry grinned and Severus shook his head. He rose from his seat and said.

"Why don't you write your fantasy down? I have a floo call I need to make. "

He left the room to the sounds of Harry's whoops of joy. It only took him a few steps towards Lucius's private office. He had asked this morning if it was alright to use the floo connection there. He took out the powder from the jar on the mantelpiece and dropped to his knees on the floor before the fire.

He tossed the powder in and called out "The Weasleys" before sticking his head in. He looked out at a messy kitchen before a young girl glanced down at him. He could tell she was a Weasley because of the long red hair. Her brown eyes were friendly and he asked. "Are your parents at home?"

"Who can I say is calling?"

"It is Professor Snape from Hogwarts."

"Oh are Fred and George in trouble again?" She smiled a pretty smile as he got up and said. "I'll go and get mum."

Severus waited and surveyed the kitchen. You could tell that the Weasleys spend most of their time here. It was homely kitchen, build for a large family and so very different from what Severus had when he was growing up. He glanced up when Mrs. Weasley came into the kitchen. She smiled as she knelt down and said.

"I send Ginny upstairs. I do not think that this is a conversation that she should be present at. Does it concern Fred and George or does this concern Harry?"

"This concerns Harry and myself actually. I have a request to make. You mentioned before that you were more than willing to help Harry and I should we ever need it. As you also know Harry is in more danger now than he ever was before but there has also been a claim made by somebody against my request for being Harry's guardian. The hearing is scheduled for next week and I do not know the identity of the person who opposes me but I need to know, would you and your husband be willing to assist with anything in regard to helping Harry and I, even if it means putting your own name on the line? There is a chance that Harry and I may have to flee the country and should that need arise I'll not hesitate to take it but this could mean that your family would be at risk. The Ministry does not take kindly to people fleeing."

"I would have to discuss it with Arthur but I could state with certainty that we would not be opposed to helping Harry and yourself in any way we can. Our family is safe and Arthur knows who he can and cannot trust. He knows that Fudge would jump at any chance to get his hands on Harry and Albus is no better than him. We will assist you in any way we can."

"I do not know how I can ever repay you, Molly…"

"Severus, my dear, I know that this may be strange to accept but Gryffindors tend to do these things for free for those that they consider family." Mrs. Weasley gave him a smile and Severus grimaced. He would have to accept that with adopting Harry as his own, he would be gaining a family.

He cleared his throat. He felt a little bit uncomfortable. Molly smiled at him and continued.

"We are willing to take on the Ministry themselves for you, my dear. We already heard the latest news that there has been another claim made on Harry and Arthur is investigating it as we speak."

Severus' eyes narrowed and his lips thinned as he asked. "And how did you learn this news?"

"I shall not say. But rest assured that there are people who care very much for you and Harry."

"If I learn then I shall…"

"You shall do nothing, Severus Snape, except accept the help that we are offering you! I know that you are used to handling things on your own but a lot of people think alike and raising children is a hard enough job without people wishing to harm you and take your child away. You focus on Harry and we shall do the rest."

"Yes but…"

"No buts, Professor Snape. Take it from a woman who has raised 7 children!"

"Yes, I understand but…"

"Have you gone deaf, Professor?" Molly's tone was hard and Severus found that he could only nod his agreement. He suddenly understood why Fred and George listened to their mother so well. She was a force to be reckoned with.

"No, I have not, Madam and I understand you perfectly." He finally managed to ground out. She nodded at him.

"Good, now young man I suggest that you start planning this back up plan of yours. Give my love to Harry."

"Ill and Molly, thank you." And Severus pulled back immediately. He rose to his feet and glanced around for Lucius. He had some planning and plotting to do as only a Slytherin could.

I hope you liked it. This is a bit shorter than normally but I had to write this in between writing my thesis and do other stuff for uni so yeah, sorry about that. Please let me know what you think.

In the next chapter: Petunia has to think very hard when she is suddenly presented with the consequences of her actions. Arthur's research finds out a very surprising name of the person who is trying to claim Harry and Sirius gets another visitor. Can Sirius right the wrong that Fudge is doing? Albus, Remus and Minerva research the Chamber of Secrets and Severus goes to Lucius to come up with a backup plan for the future and our two Slytherin plan like only Slytherin can plan. That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: I am so sorry that I haven't updated in nearly six months. I have been incredibly busy. I started a new job (yes I am an adult now) and I graduated uni. So as you can hopefully understand I was incredibly busy. So let's begin. This is unbetad

Petunia never liked feeling nervous. She tried not to show how anxious she was feeling. She wrung her hands, longing to clean something but instead she regarded the woman and the police officers. They looked out of place in her neat living room and even more in her life. This could not be happening, surely it must be a dream, a nightmare.

However the people sitting in her living room proved her otherwise. She took a deep breath and then fell back on what she knew and that was how to be a good host. So she cleared her throat and asked.

"Before we talk, can I get anyone anything to drink?"

"No, I do not think that will be quite necessary, Mrs Dudley." The woman's tone was cold and she gestured to Vernon's chair. Petunia did not like being told what to do in her own home. She pushed her lips together and regarded the woman. The woman did not seem to have one ounce of manners and Petunia disliked her instantly.

"Perhaps you would be so kind as to give me your name?" She was not going to give the woman the satisfaction of appearing without manners. She was a lady of this household and she treated her guest right, no matter the reason for their visit.

"Of course, my name is Carolyn Smith and I am the police liaison with child services. Recently a report was made by a concerned party about your nephew. They mentioned some concerning aspects which prompts us to investigate."

"And what are they claiming?" Petunia did sit down. She was not going to be fazed by this. She had done nothing wrong. In fact, she had given that boy a home when he did not have anything. She had fed and clothed him, send him to school. So yes if he did not have his own room, so be it, they hardly had enough room as it was and all have to made sacrifices, such was life. She was not sorry that he had to clean. Everyone did their chores around the house. She was not going to apologize for that.

"That Mr Potter was abused by being beaten regularly by your husband, he was malnourished, denied basic health care, and worked manual labor not fit for any child and other disturbing things. Do you deny these claims?"

Petunia met Mrs Smith's gaze without flinching. Her mind was racing. How had they known? I told Vernon that I would look the other way if he did not leave any mark. That boy is a nuisance, he is still causing trouble even when away at that freak school. I should have never taken him in.

There had been a few times when she had regretted taking in the boy but only the promise that she had made to the Headmaster had kept her from putting the boy out in the streets. She always buried the feeling of shame when she thought of her sister. Lily had made her own choices when she married that man. He had only been a little bit better than that Snape boy.

Petunia had been glad to learn that her sister had not married that monster but her relief had only lasted a while until the Headmaster appeared on her doorstep with her nephew. She had done the best she could do under the circumstances and she had worked hard for this life she had now. She wasn't going this destroy that.

She drew herself up and said. "Might I enquire who made these ridiculous claims?"

Mrs Smith smiled coldly and said. "You may but I shall not answer you. We protect the identity of those who makes such a reporting but we investigate each claim."

The woman did not appear to be helping Petunia at all. She felt cold all over and stood up. "I shall make some coffee, would anyone care for any?"

"No and we prefer it if you stayed in the room so we can get this visit over as soon as possible." Petunia had wanted to use the time in the kitchen to call Vernon but even that was not granted. She sat back down with a huff and said.

"Am I under investigation here?"

"Yes, you could say so." Petunia regarded the police officers. They met her stare with one of their own. There was not hostility but Petunia did not feel very safe. She took a deep breath and said.

"I would like to call my husband." She was aware of her rights and she deserved a phone call. She had not been placed under arrest so there was nothing that they could do to her in her own home. She glanced at the woman again. She breathed in deeply, trying to keep her bearings. She needed Vernon, he would know what to do. Loath as she was to disturb him, she knew he hated interruptions but this was something which he would want to know about.

"Of course, you may. Seeing as he is under investigation as well we would like to speak to him at one point. However before you do that we would like to see Mr Potter's room and perhaps if the offer is still available we would like a cup of tea."

Petunia pushed her lips together, her mind spinning a mile a minute. She could not show them the cupboard. And another room was not available. It was Vernon's workroom and he never liked if anyone came in there. Petunia never cleaned in there either, she did not want to disturb him or his space. Perhaps she could show them Dudley's room.

She rose from her seat and said. "I shall get you your coffee. Can I get the gentlemen the same thing? Excuse me, I shall be right back." She fled the room into the kitchen.

The kitchen was her sanctuary, her domain. This was the place where she felt the most comfortable. She had only allowed the boy to cook here but nothing more. This was where she felt the most comfortable and preferred to spend most of her time here. She took a deep breath and then reached for the phone. It was time to call Vernon and this was not a conversations she was looking forward to.

Hp

Arthur hummed softly to himself as he glanced at the parchment in front of him. He glanced up at the young woman who had given it to him. Emily Mathew was an old year mate of his and a friend of Molly's. She worked at the Ministry, at the Department of Family Ties, and had agreed to give him the file on Harry. She had owned him a favor when he had helped out her brother who had charmed a lawn grower (or whatever you called those things) to cut the grass for him and it had spun out of control.

"Can you find what you are looking for?" She smiled at him as she put a cup of coffee before him.

"I think I do. Thank you." He nodded at the cup of coffee. He went back to the parchment. All he needed was the name on the application. Those things had to be made public when they were filed so in case there was a complained. Arthur had used Dumbledore's influence to file the application for Severus and had managed to keep it under the broom.

Arthur frowned at the name he saw on the application sheet. That would not be right. He glanced back up at Emily and asked. "Emily, would you mind coming here for a moment?"

"Sure, what is the matter?"

"I was wondering if it is possible for a one incarcerated in Azkaban to file for guardianship."

Emily frowned at him and then glanced down at the name on the application. She straightened and thought for a long moment while she said. "I do not know this for certain because I will have to look up the details but I believe that in some cases it is done. If the prisoner's is undergoing trial and it is most certain that he will be released it can be done. Though it is rare to hear about this. I did hear about the Black trial which will be ongoing soon but I do not believe that it is already set in such a way that he will be released. This cannot be right."

"Do you think that somebody could be filing it in Black's name? I mean he could not file it for himself." Arthur frowned at the name. He did not think that Sirius would do such a thing when he had known him during their time in the Order but Azkaban was known to change a person.

"Yes, somebody could but I do not know a lot of people who wield that kind of power. It would have to be someone high up who can influence this. At the top of my mind I cannot think of anyone. I can try to find out for you if you would like but I would need more time. I do not know how long you have?"

"I am quite sure that we have a few days. This application will go to a hearing but it would be nice to know who we have before us. If you can find out any information that you can I will be very grateful." He handed the parchment back to her, drained the cup of coffee and rose from his seat. He had to get back to work as well and he had plans to visit a certain man in Azkaban later today and get to the bottom of this.

Hp

Lucius fought the urge to run his fingers through his hair. He did not like messing up his hair so instead he reached up to tie his hair away from his face. It bought him a little time away from the parchment on his desk. He would give anything not to have to go over this contract dawn up by one of his business partners about a venture on the continent into research of the use of ancient magic.

It was an interesting concept but his business partner could be frustrating and Lucius was not in the mood to deal with the man. Normally they had a meeting once a month but with the man being overseas instead they settled for sending letters. It was frustrating enough to deal with the man once a month but Lucius had no patience for the endless and long sentences the man used to describe something which only took one word.

He glanced up at a knock on the door and called out an enter. He didn't care what the interruption was, anything was better then what he was dealing with now. He rose to his feet when Severus entered.

"Am I interrupting?" Lucius shook his head immediately.

"No, of course not. I was merely dealing with some work."

"You were working?" Severus sounded skeptical and Lucius' eyes narrowed into a glare. He fought a growl and gestured to the chairs that stood in front of the fireplace. Severus shot him a smirk and sat down.

"To answer your questions, yes I was. It may surprise you but I do work on occasion."

"You do not need to explain yourself, Lucius, I believe you. What were you working on?"

The project did not need long to explain and Severus' eyes lit up with interest. The Potions Master listened as Lucius even outlined his problems with his business partner. "He sounds like a dunderhead." Severus eventually said and Lucius smirked. Trust in Severus to speak the truth.

"I suppose he is but he is the one that I have to deal with. However I doubt that you came to speak to me about my business partner." He shot a smirk to Severus.

"No, in fact I came to talk to you about something else. Now this is a hypothesis but I have to think of this. If the situation with Quirrelmort does not resolve itself and Merlin forbid, the Dark Lord gets out, Harry and I would have to flee the country. I imagine that we would settle on the mainland but we would need identities and a place to settle. Now during the war I made arrangements for myself to do exactly this should things turn sour. Luckily I never had to make use of those arrangements."

"No, you turned spy instead." Lucius could keep the bitterness from his voice but it was a struggle. He had never liked it when he had learned that Severus had been a spy for the Light side for months before the Dark Lord disappeared. It bothered him that Severus never confided in him or had offered him the same change. Lucius had been looking for a way out ever since Draco had been born. It had become too dangerous to be a Death Eater and the Dark Lord became madder with each passing day and thus more dangerous.

Severus' dark eyes met his own and then the other wizard said. "I did, with danger for my own life. I could not tell you out of fear of the Dark Lord knowing. If he found out, both our lives and the lives of Narcissa and Draco would have been forfeit. Would you have that on your conscious, Lucius?"

Lucius sighed and shook his head. "No, I would never do such a thing, even if it meant guaranteed safety for my family. You are a braver man then I ever was, Severus. But enough of that, please continue with your hypothesis."

"Yes, as I was saying, should the need arise for Harry and myself to flee to the continent I would have to establish a new identity for the both of us, not to mention we need gold to establish a new identity and buy a house somewhere. I would need to leave at the drop of a hat. This means that we need to have contacts in place so that we can utilize them should the situation arise."

"You would flee the country instead of fighting?"

"It is means protecting Harry from harm, then yes I would. If the war has taught me anything is that battles cannot only be fought and won by being on the frontline. The frontline is the line that takes the most direct hits and I do not fancy making Harry a casualty. He is my first and top priority and he must be protected at all cost and if that means fleeing to fight another day, so be it. I have never seen the appeal of being all Gryffindor and fighting on the front lines. I am Slytherin enough to know that part of myself."

"Yes, I have never seen the appeal either. Plus one of the benefits is that you can abide your chance to plot your win." Lucius crossed his legs and nodded. "Yes, I can see the appeal."

"Yes, now the only problem is to make that situation not a hypothesis anymore and into a possibility. And for that I would require your help."

"What is it that you require?"

"Your help as a fellow Slytherin in to plan this." Severus smirked and Lucius grinned. Now this was a lot better than the deal with his business partner. This was something he would enjoy. He leaned forward and said. "I think that we need coffee for this."

And Severus smirked and nodded and Lucius called his house elf. Having ordered coffee and having it delivered he asked. "So what is prompting this?"

Severus sipped his own coffee before he scowled and answered. "I received news that there is another one competing for the guardianship of Mr Potter. I should be hearing more soon but make no mistake, I will be taking Harry away the moment the situation becomes too dire, no matter the situation."

"That is your plan? To run?"

Severus shot him a smirk and said. "Oh no, I plan to disappear so completely that only a select few know of my existence and I shall Obliviate those as well, thereby hiding completely."

Lucius felt his eyes grow wide as he hissed, leaning back as he said. "You would not do such a thing?"

Severus' dark eyes locked with his and Lucius felt fear pool in his belly for a long moment. It was gone in the next but Severus looked deadly serious, dangerous and powerful. "I will do anything in my power to protect Harry, even if it means Obliviating you, so yes, the fact that you even have to ask means that you do not know me as well as you thought you did."

Lucius chuckled as he poured them both more coffee and answered. "Oh I know you very well, Severus. I have just never seen this side of you before. I never expected that you had this side to you."

Severus glanced away, but not before Lucius could see the flash of pain in his face. He leaned forward, and said. "Severus?"

The Potions Master's face remained turned away but Severus' eyes met his. Lucius smiled and said. "I am not going to ask you about your story but I know that flash of pain can only come from losing someone you care about greatly. I know that you can be fiercely protective of those that you call your own but let me give you some advice. It is not the best approach to Obliviate those that know you and can and would be more than willing to help you in a pinch. Should the need arise we can provide additional help. I have become rather good at keeping secrets."

The moment was long and Severus swallowed a few times before he said. "You are right I suppose. I should not burn all bridges. However be assured that I will hesitate to take the appropriate measures should it concern Harry's safety."

And as Severus looked him straight in the eye, Lucius hoped it would never come to that because if he knew Severus, and he did, the man would stop at nothing to protect his own.

Hp

"How could you do this?" Any joy that Sirius felt at seeing Arthur Weasley disappeared the moment the other man opened his mouth. He looked furious and livid and Sirius was confused.

"How could I do what?" He wondered what he had done wrong. Well he could think of a thousand things but if it had anything to do with the reason why he had been send here then Arthur had not needed bother coming. He had not heard from the man for over a decade so that must not be the reason why Arthur was here.

There were so many questions that Sirius wanted to ask. He wanted to know about the Order and ask how Molly was doing. He wanted to know more about Harry. For him life had stopped the moment he had been incarcerated while for everyone he had ever known life had gone on.

"How could you do this to Severus?" Arthur was rarely angry but this time he looked livid. His eyes were nearly spitting fire and Sirius would have taken a step back if he hadn't been behind bars.

"Did what? Can you please explain me what it is you are accusing me of?" He sighed. The past few weeks he had received so many visitors and they all wanted different things.

Arthur stopped pacing and drew himself up to his full height as he said. "Do you deny that you are applying for the guardianship of Harry? Do you really think that you can offer him what he needs? Melin, Sirius, it isn't even sure if you will be released! I get that you wish to be a part of your godson's life but this is not the way to do it. I understand that you do not like Severus but let me tell you this as a parent, Severus is what Harry needs and he can provide for him. You cannot!"

The words were hard and Sirius felt his temper flare. He forced himself to take a deep breath. It wouldn't do to lose his temper now and give away his chance to explain. Arthur was a clever man and he could help Sirius. "I did not." He said. "I was set up! For Merlin's sake, Arthur, you work for the Ministry. You have to be aware that one cannot apply for guardianship while incarcerated in Azkaban."

"If not you, then who would do such a thing?"

Sirius rolled his eyes and said. "We only know one man who would do such a thing."

Arthur's eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms over his chest. Knowing he had the others full attention, Sirius said. "Minister Fudge came to visit me a few days ago. He wanted to repay me for condemning me to Azkaban and sentencing me as an innocent. Therefore he decided that it was in my best interests and I am sure in Harry's to apply for guardianship. The guardianship would be in my name but as long as Pettigrew' trial continues and by extension mine, he would have full control and power to act as Harry's guardian. Trust me when I say that I do know what is best for Harry."

"So Fudge is behind this?" Sirius nodded.

"You would honestly believe I would do such a thing?" He wanted to know. He had always believed that Arthur was a friend of him. He could understand why the man had not come to visit him. Sirius would do the same in his position. He did not expect people to flock to him now that Pettigrew was discovered alive but even then.

Arthur ran a hand through his hair and he said. "I do not know anymore. Being in Azkaban can change a man."

"Yes, it does. It matures someone and makes them realize what is really important." Sirius had had too much time to think in Azkaban and not all of it had been good. One could only live in one's head for so long before insanity beckoned. Sirius had been happy that he could shift in his dog form. Things were easier then.

"I suppose it does. So I should be looking at getting to the bottom of this thing with Fudge. If Fudge is really interested in taking control then we do have a situation on our hands. Half of the Wizengamot is eating out of his hand and we cannot have him gaining control of Harry. At this moment the Wizengamot does not like what happened with Pettigrew and how Fudge could overlook such a thing. How he could send someone to Azkaban without a trial. They are not happy with him at all. I suspect that at this moment he is willing to do anything to secure his place and he thinks the means to that end will be Harry. The general population was not pleased when they found out that Harry Potter, darling of the wizarding world was found to be living with family members who were abused. They want an explanation on how the Ministry could have overlooked that. Things are not looking well for Fudge at this moment."

"And you are not worried that people are going to question where Pettigrew was hiding all this time?" Sirius had not heard where the other Gryffindor had hidden all these years.

Arthur looked away. He appeared uncomfortable and he finally said. "He was Ron's rat. He lived in our house all these years. I believe Bill or Charlie bought him as a pet. We always assumed that he was a regular rat, one that lived a bit longer than normal rats but we never expected him to be an Animagus. I am sorry, if I had known then I would have…"

"Arthur, stop! You didn't know! There are no signs and I knew Pettigrew for years. The man is cunning and smart. He picked a wizarding household for a reason. He was waiting for a sign of Voldemort. One whisper of his return and he would have bolted. He was cunning but he was a coward and he preferred hiding out instead of fighting. He was a Slytherin in Gryffindor's colors."

Sirius didn't blame Arthur. He had shared a dormitory with Pettigrew for years and he knew how the man thought. He was a coward and only cared about himself. His survival was the most important to him and he would do anything to obtain that goal. Even betray his friends. He smiled and said. "So stop beating yourself up over this. Now if you wish to have anything to focus on, how about finding a way to stop Fudge from gaining the guardianship of my godson? Cause I can't believe I would ever say such a thing but I believe that a Slytherin as cunning, smart and slippery as Severus Snape is the best thing that could ever happen to my godson."

And despite his grimace as he spoke those words, he grinned as Arthur laughed.

Hp

"Albus, exactly what are we looking for?" Remus glanced up at the Headmaster. They were in the Headmaster's personal library. There were so many books in here, titles than he had never seen and never heard about. Well that was not entirely true, there were text that he had heard about, Dark texts that were only rumored to exist and he would have loved to get his hands on as a student.

"Any reference to the Chamber of Secrets and most specifically the location." Albus smiled at him and Remus sighed.

"Yes, I got that. I suppose the question should have been, where do we start?"

The room was large and filled with books. Remus would have loved to spend a lifetime here but they didn't have time. He glanced around.

"The room belonged to Salazar Slytherin. Does he have a diary here or a journal that may contain some clues?"

Albus smiled and clasped him on the shoulder. "My thoughts exactly. All the information that we have on the Founders. I shall look at Godric Gryffindor's journal. I think that you must be aware of friendship between Gryffindor and Slytherin."

Remus nodded. It was a tale told to everyone. "Yes, I saw. Very well. I shall write down any reference that I find about any possible location or any mentions of the Chamber."

A wave of his wand and je conjured a table. He put his stuff down and pulled out parchment and a quill before he approached the bookshelves. He crouched down. In front of him was the many journals that Salazar Slytherin had written. The Founder had written a lot in his life but even then he was still shrouded in mystery.

Normally Remus would have enjoyed the chance to get his hands on one of the few remaining diaries of one of the Founders but at this moment it was an exercise in frustration. There were a few cryptic message that could be mentioning of the Chamber but there was no clear location. Remus fought the urge to throw the diary across the room.

It is a priceless artifact and you do not toss those across a room. No matter how much you frustrated you are….

"You look like a man who could use a cup of strong tea." Minerva was a welcoming distraction and Remus smiled as he closed the diary.

"I will take anything stronger than tea that you have to be honest."

Minerva's lips lifted in a smile as she said. "I doubt that Albus would like if you would spill Scotch on the journals. And I would mind very much if I were to share my expensive Scotch with you and you would spill it. However should you feel that you need it at the end of the day then you may visit my office and we shall share a drink by the fire?"

Remus sighed and he reached for the tea. He closed his eyes in obvious relief. The tea was refreshing and it did make him feel better. He was more of a coffee drinker himself and he had forgotten how well tea always made him feel. He leaned back and pushed his notes towards Minerva.

"Perhaps you can take a look and tell me if I am missing something. I feel as though I have been staring at this for forever but I cannot make any headway with this."

Minerva made a sound in the back of her throat as she read through some of the paragraphs and asked. "What exactly are we looking for?"

"I started out with any mentioning of the Chamber but I thought that it would like suspicious if he were to refer to his own Chamber of Secrets. Then I started looking for any mentioning of a secret room within the castle, even if it was a secret storage room." He poured himself another cup.

"During my time as a student at Hogwarts I heard stories and rumors that a few years, before I started a student had been killed and the Chamber had been opened. I didn't believe it of course but at the time it was said that a student was expelled because he was believed to be responsible for it." She almost muttered to herself. Remus veered up.

"Minerva, on average, how many students are expelled from Hogwarts?" Minerva glanced up at him and frowned.

"By my knowledge there has ever been only one student expelled. He was rumored to be responsible for opening the chamber of…." Her eyes widened and she pushed her chair back. "Dear Merlin, Remus you are a genius. I could kiss you right now."

"Thank, I think. But how are we going to find that student? I mean why would you wish to hang around the wizarding world if you cannot perform magic anymore? If you are not allowed, where will you go to fit in?"

"You remain in the one place that is your home. You remain at Hogwarts." Remus's eyes widen. He thought of all the people who were at Hogwarts.

"Do you mean Filch?" He followed Minerva out of the library. She glanced back over her shoulder and said.

"No, my dear Mr Lupin, I mean Rubeus Hagrid." And as Remus swallowed and followed Minerva out towards the groundkeeper's hut, he knew he was not going to look forward to this conversation.

I hope you liked it and that it was worth the wait. The next chapter should be up sooner. Ideas are welcome. Please review.

In the next chapter: Minerva and Remus go to visit Hagrid to get to the bottom of the Chamber and its location. Arthur summons everyone together to talk about the latest development in regards to the guardianship. Severus has trouble controlling his temper when he learns about the person who is behind it all. However he isn't the only one. And can Petunia deal with having an angry Vernon at the house? And Harry is sick of all the secrecy and demands answers. That and more in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.

Note: Thanks for the reviews. I am glad that you liked the last chapter so much, I know that there may have been some overlap in chapters and I apologize for that. I have just been so busy lately with my new job, the master I have applied for and have been accepted to that these details slip through. Since then I have moved to a new country and I am currently typing this in my own apartment. Bear with me cause the next few months are going to be busy cause I will be starting my master program. Anyway let's begin.

Rubeus Hagrid liked his job as a groundkeeper at Hogwarts. Hogwarts was the only home he had known and he liked doing his job that made a difference. He liked his job anyway. He liked being outside and interacting with the students. He cared very little for how they regarded them. He knew that they assumed he was stupid because he was a groundkeeper and had been kicked out of Hogwarts. However they did not know the real story behind it and he preferred to keep it that way.

His time at Hogwarts had been one of the best times in his life but he preferred not to think of that dark time when he was kicked out. His wand had been snapped and it had felt as a part of himself had died. He had been lucky that Professor Dumbledore had argued with the Headmaster and offered him a job and a place to stay. He would not have liked to imagine his life if Professor Dumbledore had not done that. He may have ended up in Azkaban.

But he hadn't and it wouldn't do to dwell on it. He was here and he had build a good life for himself. He was at a place which he loved, had a decent job that took him outside most of the time and he had made friends with most of the staff members. True they did not visit him often and he was not often in the castle because most of his duties did not take him into the castle but there were times during the term when he visited the Professors, such as Minerva, the Headmaster or any of the other Professors. However it was not all that many times that people visited him so therefore he was pleasantly surprised when he noticed Professor McGonagall and the new defense Professor Remus Lupin walking towards his cabin.

He grinned and opened the door, calling out "Hello, care for a cuppa?"

Professor McGonagall looked grim but Lupin's lips twitched into a smile. He glanced at the other Professor before nodding, in what almost seemed relief.

"I suppose tea would be a good idea to have with this discussion." Hagrid frowned but stepped back to invite them in. He walked to the kitchen to fill the kettle before he put it over the fire. He would need to build the fire again. He glanced over at his pink umbrella but he could not in good conscious do it with the Professors here.

"Shall I get the fire?" The young Professor asked and Hagrid nodded. Magic was easier but he had paid his price for it. He had learned to do things in a different way as well and that was not all that wrong.

"So, Professor, back for more mischief?" He grinned at the other man and Lupin had the good grace to blush. He glanced back at Professor McGonagall and she shook her head and snorted.

"I fully blame you, Black and Potter for giving me all these grey hairs."

"I am sure that it is not entirely our fault, Minerva. Surely there were some other students who had something to do with this."

"You were certainly the worst."

"One can argue that…."

"Was there one week or even one day which one of you did not spend in detention?" Hagrid sat back and enjoyed the bickering between them. He had always enjoyed that and it felt good to hear it, to be a part of it.

"Well if you are using this as the basis for your opinion then I cannot fault your reasoning. However I still argue that there are worst students out there but I think that we may need to agree to disagree on this. However we were never expelled from Hogwarts." Hagrid nearly poured the hot water from the kettle over his hands as he poured the tea.

"That was not a very smooth transgression, Mr Lupin. I believe that we shall have to work on your skills whenever you are discussing a topic. However you did get us to the point rather quickly and for that I would almost give Gryffindor points."

Hagrid passed the tea around and sat down, letting his own mug cool off as he spoke. "Guess I know the nature of the visit now… And here I thought ya'll came for chatting."

"We are sorry, Hagrid, we would have come for a visit if the situation was not so dire. I am not sure if you have heard of the latest events regarding Professor Quirell?"

"I believe that the whole school knows what happened during the duel with Professor Snape. Is he alright?"

Professor McGonagall shared a look with Lupin and answered. "As far as we know yes he is. However he has decided, that for the time being, it is safer that he is away from Hogwarts with Harry. In the mean time we have captured Professor Quirell and he is being kept in a magical induced coma due to safety concerns…"

"Such as?"

The Professors shared another look and then Lupin said. "We may as well be truthful with him if we expect him to be of help to us. I find that being truthful and honest is the quickest approach. Quirell is not alone. He is sharing his body with the spirit of Voldemort. Severus touched him after the duel and found this out the hard way. We are keeping him in statis so that Voldemort cannot escape and cannot use Quirell as a means of transportation to find and kill Harry. But we are kind of stuck. We can't keep him at Hogwarts where he is now and we need to find a place to keep him long term. Now in our research we have come across the Chamber of Secrets, however the location and the way to open it are in fact, well, secret. Now we do know that during your time at Hogwarts the Chamber was rumored to have been opened and that this was the reason you were expelled. So yeah, it is the reason why we are here."

"Aragog had nothing to with the Chamber!" Hagrid had not forgotten how he had been framed by that Tom Riddle. He was quite sure that the nasty man had been behind the attacks on the muggleborn students at the time. It hadn't hurt so much that he had been expelled from Hogwarts but what had hurt more was that people thought he had been capable of hurting innocent people because of his mother's nature.

"Aragog?" Hagrid flushed at the look on Professor McGonagall's face, despite being older then her she still made him feel as a first year student.

"It was my pet acromantula during my years at Hogwarts. I gave it a name and raised it from the time it arrived. I hid it in a cupboard…"

"But surely not that is not the rumored monster that lives in the Chamber?" Lupin leaned forward and Hagrid shook his head.

"No, I mean I am sure that the Chamber has been opened before and students were attacked. Besides Aragog would never hurt anyone living at the castle. Besides most victims of the monster were found to be turned to stone and while Aragog can do a lot, he can't do that…"

"No, I would not think so. But how many victims were there?"

"Oh, now don't go and ask difficult questions. I don't know but I am sure that Professor Dumbledore can help you. He was teaching the Transfiguration class during that time. However I do know that after that girl was killed in the girl's bathroom Hogwarts was going to be closed until he turned me in."

"Who is he?"

"Tom Riddle…He was always at Hogwarts because he had no home….So I guess he would not benefit from Hogwarts closing. "

"You said Tom Riddle?" Both Lupin and Professor McGonagall leaned forward. Hagrid could not read the look on their faces but he nodded, taking a sip of his cooling tea he said.

"Yeah, he was a Slytherin prefect during my third year. He always watched me. That bloke was creepy. He had a special relationship with Headmaster Dippet. He was different when he was in front of a Professor. He almost appeared as though he was a…I don't know how you call them, oh yeah now I remember, an actor."

"Or you mean like he had a secret identity?"

"Yeah exactly. I am sure that he is responsible for opening the Chamber."

"It would fit right into the alley of something Lord Voldemort would do. Why not experiment on students by opening an age old Chamber and releasing on students before you try to take over the Wizarding World." Remus finished his tea and he sat the mug down hard. The man actually growled before he got up to pace and continued.

"But where is the entrance to this thing? It must be near where this girl was killed. Monsters are rare but they cannot walk about unseen through Hogwarts, especially through the girl bathroom. It is a particular place for a killing. But who could it be and where?"

"Well such a violent death could possible lead to a person being stuck as a ghost, unable to move on, however it is rare that this happens. Perhaps Albus knows more about this. However I do think that we need something stronger then tea, Hagrid, if you would be so kind." Professor McGonagall looked grim as she took sat her tea mug down.

Hagrid grinned and said. "Course, Professor, I have just the stuff." He went to one of his cupboard and took out a bottle of Ogden Firewiskey. He had been saving this bottle for a special occasion or for when he needed it. This sounded like the perfect occasion.

He uncorked it and poured each of them a generous two fingers. Professor McGonagall toasted them and took a sip, her face pinched as the stuff burned its way down her throat. Hagrid could almost imagine the burn, especially when he took his own sip. He grimaced before setting the mug down. He held out the mug to the still pacing Lupin but the other man was muttering to himself, lost in thought.

"Remus, please sit down. You are driving me mad watching you pace like this." Professor McGonagall put her empty mug down and Hagrid wordlessly filled it. The alcohol had put two spots of color in the elderly witch's cheek. He wondered what kind of days she had been having if she drank the stuff down this quickly. To make conversation he asked.

"How is young Harry doing?"

"As far as we know he seems to be doing well. He is at a secure location together with Severus so I suppose that it counts for something. However we are unsure of how he is really doing with all of this. A lot has changed for him in the past few months and he must be feeling overwhelmed."

"Yes, I am sure he is. I told him that he was always welcome for a visit. But I do think that Professor Snape is an excellent candidate for a guardian for Harry. He may not be willing to admit it but he is just what Harry needs and that goes the other way as well."

"Don't let Severus hear you say that. He will deny it with the last breath in his body. Though anyone who sees how he fights for Harry will know the difference. But then again Severus always has been a very private man. I think Harry would benefit most from that alone…"

"Yeah, if I know Harry Potter he does not like being in the spotlight. Why can't they just leave the boy alone…" Hagrid knew that Harry was famous, who wouldn't be after killing the Dark Lord when they were just a baby but really, Harry Potter was an 11 year old wizard who just wanted to make friends and live a normal life, well as normal life was going to get when going to a wizarding school in order learn magic.

"The wizarding world has always been fascinated with people who can do the impossible and they need their little celebrities, and Harry was responsible for the disappearance of one of the darkest wizards of all time. It is no wonder that they are so obsessed with him. The public is keen to know what else Mr Potter is capable of.

"Well I understand if you can't say where Professor Snape and Harry are right now, Professor but if they need help all they have to say is the word. I got some contacts out there on the content that are more then happy to help out." Hagrid poured them each the last of the Olgen. The bottle was gone but it was for a good cause. Lupin was still pacing and had not even touched his mug. Hagrid was contemplating dividing it between Professor McGonagall and himself when Lupin turned with a shout, seized the cup, drained it and said.

"I got it! And this stuff burns.

"By Merlin, man", spit it out!"

"It it is Moaning Murtle. She was the one who got killed."

Hp

Arthur knew better then to floo directly into one's house, it was not proper manners so instead he placed a floo call to Lucius' office. He was not sure if the man was in or away on business but he had to try. What he had discovered, he needed to share it as soon as possible.

"Lucius?" He called out.

The footsteps that came his way made him realize that Lucius was in fact in. The man crouched down in front of him a moment later as he said. "Arthur, what is the matter?"

"We need to call everyone in here because I have discovered the identity of the person who has laid a claim against Severus' guardianship."

"And pray tell, who is this person?"

"I would rather tell it to everyone at once but since you asked it is our beloved Minister for Magic. Could you go and collect Severus and Narcissa? I shall go and fetch Molly and Professor McGonagall if they are available. Can we make use of your library again?"

Lucius swore, for a moment not the composed gentleman that he usually appeared as. Arthur understood how he felt however, it was something that he had done when he had learned the identity of the one who was behind this. Lucius ran a hand through his hair and took a second to compose himself as he turned away and said.

"Yes of course. However if I may be so bold, perhaps I should prepare an owl to send to my lawyer on the continent in case we need legal advice. I have studied law myself but not nearly enough in this subject to help us through this particular situation."

"It would be a good idea to draft the letter before we send it out. Yes, I do think that you are correct in this assumption. I shall firecall Minerva and Remus to see if they are available. Shall we meet back here in about an hour?"

"Yes, that sounds like an excellent plan. I will make certain that the wards will let you through." And with a last nod, Arthur his head out of the floo. He glanced around at his office and quickly found a piece of parchment on which he wrote that he was out of the office before flooing home. It was easier to fire call Hogwarts away from the Ministry. He was never sure if his fire calls were monitored and there was no reason why he would need to contact a Hogwarts Professor?

The floo journey home was uneventful but Molly immediately came out of the kitchen. His wife wrung his hands as she asked. "Arthur! You are home early, is something wrong?"

"No, Molly, everything is as well as can be expected. However if you are not busy I would ask you to accompany me to the Malfoy Manor."

"The Malfoy Manor, whatever for? I know that we are working together with them to protect Harry and Severus but honestly there is no reason to suddenly be friends with them."

"Oh, it is not for any friendship kind of reasons. I may have told you that there was claim laid against Severus' guardianship of Harry and I did some digging and I found out the identity. But I would prefer to have this conversation with everyone involved without repeating myself a few times." He smiled at Molly's eye roll and leaned in to give her a kiss.

"I am your wife!" Molly put her hands on her hips and glared at him.

Arthur laughed and said. "I know, darling but it is easier if everyone gets angry all at once. Prepare yourself while I floo call Minerva and ask if she can join us."

However when he floo'd Minerva's office there was no one there to answer. He frowned, it was around lunchtime and normally he caught her at her office but apparently she had other business to attend to. It must have to do with Quirrelmort and while Arthur agreed that it was an important matter he preferred to keep everyone in the loop. However they each had their task to protect Harry so he would do his. In the meantime he would send a letter after they had all come together. He glanced at Molly and said.

"Ready?"

And at his wife's nod they floo'd to Malfoy Manor

Hp

"Severus?" Severus glanced up from the book he had been pretending to read in the library at Lucius' voice. He was bored and frustrated, unable to focus. During the term he would have killed for a moment to simply think and read however after a few days of being in Lucius' home and he was bored, Merlin forbid.

Harry it seemed was not bored because he was happy enough to explore the Manor grounds. The grounds were well guarded and protected and since Severus intended to give Harry a lesson later this afternoon it was in his interest to let him release some pent up energy. It made for an easier to handle ward and hopefully a less then frustrated Severus.

"Yes?"

"Arthur asked for a meeting. He found out the identity of the person who has made the claim for Harry's guardianship." Now that peaked Severus interests. He closed the book and rose to his feet.

"And he wishes to discuss this now? He is quick to discover that. That man must have friends in amazing places." He gestured to Lucius to proceed him. He had wondered who had laid a claim against his guardianship of Harry. Not everyone could just do such a thing. He may not know a lot about this sort of thing but surely not everyone could apply for guardianship. In fact, he was not even sure if he would be a suitable guardian.

I may not be the most suitable guardian for Harry but I am a better guardian than anyone else. I know him and I have been in a similar situation so I know how to deal with him. Plus I can offer him the protection necessary from the Dark Lord. If I have learned anything from my days as a Death Eater it is how to keep one away from the Dark Lord.

However that was a discussion for another day. He would not hesitate to take Harry and leave the country, formal guardianship be damned, if the situation demanded it. However if he would like to have a shot at a future then he needed to make the proper formal arrangements and that meant seeing it through to the end, including the hearing.

Severus entered the library and frowned at seeing both Molly and Arthur Weasley. This many Gryffindors gathered in one room usually did not mean anything well for Slytherins. However it was distributed pretty evenly with Lucius and Narcissa present.

He nodded at Arthur and Molly and took his seat next to Narcissa.

"I am sure that you have recovered?" Molly smiled at him.

"Yes, sleep and some proper food goes a long way."

"And how is Harry doing?"

"Harry is as well as can be expected at this moment. He is as energetic as a teenager can be. He misses his friends though but that cannot be helped at the moment. However I do not believe that we have all been called together to discuss Harry?" He accepted the cup of coffee Narcissa poured him.

Arthur cleared his throat and said. "Well Harry is part of it but we are not here to discuss Harry per se, more so that it relates to him. I have been doing some digging in whoever laid put in a request for guardianship of Harry and it yielded some interesting and unusual results I should say."

Severus frowned but he forced himself to be patient as Arthur took a sip of his tea. There was no point in rushing the other man.

"I started out by tracking down the application itself. Everyone has a right to see a copy of the application the moment it is send it. The name on the application was that of Sirius Black…"

"Black?" Severus spat. He nearly trembled with rage as he growled. "That mutt promised that he had no interest in becoming Harry's guardian. If he thinks that I am going to willingly put Harry in the paws of a man who spend the past 12 years in Azkaban and who has not matured ever since then he has truly gone insane…."

He would have continued if Arthur had not held up his hand and said. "Severus, please, allow me to continue before you get angry. Trust me, you have every right except you are angry at the wrong person. My first thought was the same as yours so I went to Azkaban to confront Sirius. He told me a very interesting tale about a particular visit he had from our beloved Minister for Magic."

That broke through the red haze of fury that had nearly overcome Severus. He had been plotting to kill the mutt in different ways but he frowned and focused on Arthur's words.

"And pray tell, what was discussed during that visit?" Lucius nearly purred. If Severus had not known the other man so well he would not have caught the steel in the cultured voice.

Arthur sighed and ran a hand through his hair before he set his cup down. He leaned forward and said. "Nothing we are going to like very much. Fudge came because of the fact that Peter Pettigrew was discovered which means that Fudge is in part responsible for sending an innocent man to Azkaban without a trial. Now I can think on how that is going to reflect on him the moment the general public finds out. So therefore he visited Sirius to do damage control. He made Sirius an offer because he knew that he was Harry's godfather to apply for guardianship. Sirius turned it down. He is brighter then you give him credit for and he knows that there is a high chance he may be released from Azkaban, he is not what Harry needs in a guardian. However, apparently Fudge went behind his back and put in a request for guardianship of Harry in Sirius' name since only one with a lot of political power can make such a request in the name of one who is incarcerated. So if it is granted then Fudge will have full access to Harry because it could be months for the trial to take place to decide if Sirius is released or not. And all this time Fudge can do whatever he wants with Harry, including taking him out of Hogwarts and placing him at another school."

There was silence when Arthur finished talking because honestly, what was there to say? The picture the other man described was one that could very likely happen. How was he going to proof that he was the best choice of a guardian for Harry?

Fudge had the full disposal of the Ministry behind him while Severus stood alone, he was a known Death Eater who had turned spy and a thoroughly unpleasant man. How was he going to proof that he knew what was best for Harry and that he could provide for his ward.

"Fudge is not doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He is only doing this so he can say that he is the guardian of the famous Harry Potter. He does not care for Harry and he certainly does not know what a boy needs let alone one who has been through what Harry has been through." There was such venom in Molly's voice that Severus was reminded of how protective she was of those she called her own. Apparently Harry and I have been included in her bunch of children as well.

Normally that would bother him more but he knew he needed every help he could get. His temper was already flaring and he growled.

"Oh he will not get away with this! That man is unfit to take care of a plant, let alone an 11 year boy with severe abandonment issues who has been abused by his relatives. I struggle with Harry and I know what he is going through." He rose to his feet, ready to storm to the Ministry, demand entrance and show Fudge what he thought of his ridiculous idea.

However before he could even so much as take a step Lucius rose to his feet in a swirl of his robe and said. "Sit down and calm down…"

"Do not tell me to calm down, Lucius!" Severus snapped. His temper was frayed thin and he was ready to blast anyone."

"Storming over there is not going to help your case, my friend. Take a deep breath and try to think rationally, no matter how hard it is right now. Here have another cup of coffee. I have already send a message to my lawyer on the continent for advice on the situation. Hopefully we shall have an answer soon on how to legally play this. We will have to proof that Fudge would not be a suitable guardian for Harry, no matter the situation and that Severus would be. Which I am sure is doable."

"I am a Death Eater, Lucius, one who turned spy and who teaches Potions at Hogwarts and uses fear as a teaching tool! I am not know for my sunny character." Severus bit out. He drained his cup. It had helped some.

Lucius laughed and said. "Oh we all know that. But it is not your past or your sunny character here that we need but this is about what is best for Harry and that my friend is you. We all know that you are highly suitable as a guardian. Not only because you have been in a similar situation as Harry but also because you are able to protect Harry to any of the dangers will he face. Fudge does not understand that. If the past has taught us anything it is that Fudge is a coward who would rather stick his head in the sand then take action. And you are not like that! Therefore you are already a better suitable guardian."

"Perhaps it would be wise to take a small break? Why don't you take a walk, Severus and see about Harry? I think tempers are frayed for each of us." Narcissa did not betray any emotion but one could see the fury behind her cool appearance. Feeling like he was being dismissed as a child, Severus instead took a deep breath and nodded. Yes it would be good to see about Harry.

Hp

The Malfoys sure have a big garden. It is no wonder that Draco was always bragging about it at Hogwarts.

The thought caused Harry to sigh as he stretched out on the bench he had been sitting on. Even Malfoy's company sounded good right about now. Merlin, he was bored as in like really bored. The Professor had promised him a lesson this afternoon and even that sounded good.

He perked right up when he noticed the Professor calling his name and walking towards him. He grinned and bounded up towards his guardian.

"Hello, Severus, is it time for our lesson?"

"I cannot believe that you are actually asking me this but no not yet. I merely stepped out from a meeting I have been having with some people."

"Like who?" Harry was practically bouncing on his feet and Snape rolled his eyes.

"You are very curious for a child, have you never heard that curiosity killed the cat? Perhaps I should ask you to run a lap since you seem to have so much energy." Snape did not seem so irritable though so Harry merely grinned.

"I'll promise to behave myself if you simply tell me."

"Fine, Mr and Mrs Weasley are here. There happy now?"

"But why are they here?" Harry frowned. It didn't make any sense. Mr Weasley surely had to be at his job for the Ministry or whatever it was that he worked. And Mrs Weasley had things to do as well, like take care of Ron's sister and whatever it was that she did during the day.

He glanced up at Severus to see the older man's face was a mask. He had never been able to read the Professor but in the past few weeks as he had spent more time with the man and had gotten to know him he had learned to see the little signs that the Professor was unable to hide. Like when the man glanced away briefly before he said.

"We are discussing the situation with the Dark Lord…"

"That is not all is there?" He didn't like it when people lied to him. Snape had never lied to him.

"It is not something that you need to concern yourself with, Harry."

"But it is for my own safety then why shouldn't I concern myself with it as you said…" Harry ground out. He hated being kept in the dark, literally and figuratively. His eyes narrowed into a glare at the Professor as he said. "You promised never to lie to me…"

"I do not recall ever making that particular promise, Harry." The Professor put on his Potions Master's voice. The one that was silky and dangerous and would have made any first year shake in his trousers but Harry was his ward. He wasn't so easily scared by the man. He refused to be scared of his ward.

For years he had been scared of Dudley and uncle Vernon but not anymore. He would not settle for being afraid of his guardian.

"Fine, perhaps you didn't promise per se but please, can you please tell me?"

"I really do not see any reason why you would need to know. We are very capable of protecting you, Harry and there is no reason for you to do anything else but follow my orders when I tell you something."

"But you would always explain why? It makes it easier to follow your orders as you say if I do know the reason behind it." Harry sighed and stared up at his guardian. He hoped he was persuading the Professor. He glanced down at the floor.

The Potions Master's sigh ruffled his hair and the man finally said, placing a hand on Harry's arm. "Why is it that you must always choose the moments to be wise that I cannot use. Fine, I will explain what is going on. You would hear about it anyway soon enough. Come along." Snape pulled him to a bench in the sunshine where they sat down. Harry's stomach sank. He had a feeling that he was not going to like this.

Snape ran a hand through his long hair as he glanced out across the yard. Harry swung his legs and waited. He knew better then to rush the Professor.

"As you may be aware I have applied to be your guardianship. Before one is granted guardianship there is a probation period if you wish of about two months. Within those two months one who can proof that the guardian is unsuitable can lay a claim against the guardian and a hearing is called into place. A few days ago I received a letter saying that there is a claim laid against me. The hearing will be in a few weeks. "Snape paused and Harry's heart sank.

His fingers clenched in the Professor's robes as he said. "But I don't want anyone else as my guardian. I want you! You have been good to me and I love you…"

Snape ran a hand over Harry's head as he said. "Breath, Potter! Let us not get ahead of ourselves. Now calm down…"

"But what if I lose you?"

"Then we shall deal with that when the time comes. But you will not get rid of me that easily…"

"But who would lay a claim against you?" Harry forced himself to take a breath. He didn't want to lose Snape. The Professor was good to him and well maybe not kind he was quite sure that the Professor loved him, in his own way.

Why does it always have to be like this? I just found a family, a family of my own, someone I don't have to share who can take care of me and somebody is trying to take it away from me.

"It appears that the Minister for Magic has taken a sudden interest in your wellbeing and he wishes to secure the guardianship for you for your godfather."

Harry's mind was spinning with information. Why would Fudge of all people be trying to become his guardian? He had never met the man and certainly had no desire to be living with the Minister for Magic. That man sounded boring. No he would rather be with his Professor and live a life at Hogwarts.

"And that is the only thing you are keeping from me? I mean but why would he want to be my guardian? He doesn't even know me."

"It is not about being your guardian, Harry. It is about the power that comes with that. Fudge would like to be in charge of the one who defeated the Dark Lord and…"

"But he isn't dead."

"Yes, well Fudge does not quite believe in that. He is a man who prefers peace then combat and he will do anything to protect that peace. And I mean anything. Even apply for guardianship in the name of your godfather."

"But my godfather is in Azkaban. He can't properly take care of me." Harry rose to his feet and paced the length in front of the bench. He could not sit still.

"True. Even out of Azkaban it would be a bad idea. Besides the fact that your godfather is unable and an unfit guardian this hearing will most likely be attended publically, which means that any followers of Quirrelmort will know to target you."

"Does he still have followers? After all these years?" Harry was glad that Snape was being honest with him but perhaps he would rather not know what was going to happen. What was that saying again, ignorance was bliss?

"Harry, calm down! Whatever is going to happen, we will deal with it, together! The Dark Lord may still have followers but you have people who protect you! I will take care of you and I will protect you" Harry embraced his guardian as if holding on for dear life. The Professor's arms closed around him a moment later and Harry heard the man's voice rumble through his chest. "Nobody is going to take you away from me without a fight. This is my promise to you! And it can be one that you may remember forever, regardless if I am to be your guardian to you or not, I will always be there for you!"

And despite Harry's fear the promise of the Professor did manage to ease his worry a little bit, his Professor would not give up on him without a fight.

Hp

Vernon had been having a good day. His day had started out well when the newspaper was on time, Petunia had cooked him an excellent breakfast, that dratted freak was still out of the house and everything was just normal. He had thoroughly enjoyed going out for his normal bacon and egg roll, perhaps even sharing some jokes with his colleagues before heading home to a home cooked meal by Petunia. It should have been a perfect normal day.

However until that one phone call. The phone call he had never and should never have received. The phone call that put him on his way home as soon as possible.

His assistant Nancy had said that he had an urgent call from his wife. Normally Petunia never called him, therefore it was surprising that she did so now. However this was a phone call that he had to take. He had stormed out of the office a moment later and was in his car, breathless as he pulled away from his parking spot.

That damned boy is still trying to punish us. We fed him, clothed him and gave him a roof over his head. If he were here now I would…

Okay let's calm down, Vernon, there is no reason. We haven't done anything wrong and the police will see that it is a mistake instead.

He forced himself to breath evenly and pay attention on the road. He needed to get home first before he could do anything else. He pulled into his street a few minutes later and parked in the drive way. Getting out of the car he straightened his tie and clothing and then took a deep breath before he walked towards his house. He pretended that he was not in a hurry even when he noticed the police car in front of his house.

The neighbors were already watching and he was not going to provide them with any further gossip by hurrying home. No instead he waved and nodded before he opened the door and called out. "Petunia, I am home."

His wife came to him quickly as he closed the door behind himself. She was anxiously wringing her hands as she hissed. "It is that boy. He has done this! I thought that we got rid of him once he was off to that school and we could finally live our lives in peace. If he thinks that he is welcome here then he is wrong…"

"Hush, we can always deal with that later. Now what exactly did the police say?"

"Mr Dursley, is that you? Would you mind coming in here?" The door was opened by a woman. She didn't smile at his greeting but merely extended her hand and said. "My name is Carolyn Smith and I am the liaison for the police with child services. I am here because we have been contacted by someone about the treatment concerning your nephew. Your wife mentioned that she would call you and I am glad that you could come her on such a short notice."

"And you have a permit to search the property?" He drew himself up to his full height. The woman merely regarded him coolly and said.

"Why? Would I need one?" She shot back and held the door open before she said. "It is just a chat, Mr Dursley. However if you refuse to speak to me, and you have that right then I will have the police arrest you on suspicion of abuse."

Vernon nearly sputtered and growled. "We have never abused the boy…."

"We shall see about that." She merely said. Vernon's temper rose but he forced himself to remain polite and calm. Only the boy had managed to get under his skin so much but he could never handle being accused of something he knew he had never done.

He turned to Petunia and said. "Would you be so kind to bring us all some coffee, my dear while I entertain your guests?"

He patted her hand and then went inside. Mrs Smith was seated in a chair while the two policemen stood in the corner. They glanced at him but otherwise made no movement towards him. They merely returned his nod and Vernon sat down in his favorite chair. He felt out of his debt and he didn't like feeling like this, not in his own home.

"So where shall we begin?" He fixed a smile on his face that he was quite sure looked fake but he didn't care. He wasn't here to make nice with the police but to get the truth across.

Mrs Smith shuffled some papers that were on her lap and said. "Perhaps we can wait for your wife. It is easier for me to do the questioning in one regard then it is to do the both of you. The police officers will act as witnesses. Vernon grit his teeth but he forced himself to breath and be calm. He had clients who were determined to get under his skin. He refused to give them the satisfaction and apparently this woman did not know who she was dealing with, well if she thought that he could be so easily scared then she had another thing coming.

They sat in a tense silence until Petunia returned with a tray filled with coffee cups, sugar and milk. She put the tray down and passed the coffee around before sitting down in the chair next to Vernon. Vernon bit back a smile when he noticed that Petunia had not put out any biscuits. These people didn't biscuits as far as he was concerned and he was glad that his wife agreed.

"Thank you for the coffee, Mrs Dursley." Mrs Smith began before she put her cup down on the coaster that Petunia had put down on the table. His wife hated when there were scratches on the table. "Now, we have received an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen that your nephew who lived with you has been abused and we always take these mentions seriously and follow up on them. Therefore I have prepared some questions for you that I would like honest answers to. If I suspect that you are lying I will take you into custody for child abuse. I am going to record this session."

She put a recording device on the table after speaking into it. Vernon leaned forward and said.

"I want it put on the record that I have never abused my nephew. He is a troubled child who has acted out on many occasions and who does not abide by any rules that we have set before him. The boy does not have any regards for authority…." He was just gathering steam when Mrs Smith coldly interrupted him and said.

"Just answer the questions, Mr Dursley." Vernon fell silent, fuming.

"You were the home address of one Mr Harry James Potter, the son of your sister Lily Potter and James Potter who died in a car crash on the 31st of October 1981. Your nephew came to live with you on the first of November 1981?"

"Yes, that is correct."

"Did you receive money from the council to take care of your nephew?" Vernon glanced at Petunia. She was responsible for keeping details on the money that came in and went out and she would know the answer to this question. She pushed her lips together and said.

"Yes, we did. I used it to give the boy clothing and feed him."

"So the account that we received that the boy was obviously malnourished are not true then?"

"And from who did you receive this account if I may ask?"

They had certainly never taken the boy to a doctor. Why would they?

"From Dr Poppy Pomfrey. She is a school nurse at the school Mr Potter attends and during the physical exam that is required she found that he was underweight for his age and had some growth problems that can only be contributed to not receiving the proper nourishment when he was growing up. There were also signs of old bruising and broken bones that did not heal properly, not to mention the state of Mr Potter's appearance and his glasses which were hanging together with tape."

"Well, teenage boys grow so fast that it is hard to feed two very hungry boys plenty to keep energized and happy. Plus as mentioned before Harry got into a lot of fights and his glasses were damaged now and again. We do not have the money to keep repairing his glasses or getting new ones…"

"No, but you will let him do chores that he should not be performing such as cooking and cleaning for your entire household from the age that the boy was four years old?"

"And who told you that?" Vernon knew that this was a mistake when he uttered the phrase. He could almost see how the police officers started as he rose to his feet to tower over the other woman. He sat back down and merely said. "That was obviously a false account…"

"I do not think so, Mr Dursley. Have you ever seen the need to disciple Mr Potter for any misbehavior?"

"No more so then any other child."

"So you deny any claims that the boy could not walk on occasion after you were done with disciplining him?"

"Yes!" His temper was close to a boiling point and he snapped out. "I have only seen the need to raise my hand to the child when he disobeyed my orders or refused to listen."

"Plus whenever Harry was mean to my other son Dudley." Petunia added. She reached out to touch his hand and Vernon knew it was to calm him down. His temper was still simmering but he took a deep breath and forced himself not to blurt anything out.

Mrs Smith didn't say anything but she wrote something down and then said. "I would like to see Mr Potter's bedroom." Vernon nearly swore. He was glad that they had moved the boy when those dratted letters kept coming.

"Yes that is agreeable." Petunia smiled tensely and rose to her feet. Vernon decided to follow them. They had not managed to get a decent bed for the brat since the letters had kept arriving. He wanted to make an excuse when the door to Dudley's second bedroom was opened.

We can say that we were remodeling the room but….

"So this is Mr Potter's bedroom?" He could almost hear the disbelieve in Mrs Smith's voice. Vernon didn't step into the room but he smiled at her as she came out of the room and he said.

"Yes, we were just waiting for his new bed to arrive. He outgrew the old one and we already sold the other one….sadly our money does not grow our trees…." He joked and smiled at her but the look she gave him could have frozen the artic as she said.

"You fully expect me to believe that you do not have the money to provide your nephew with a proper bed but he does have all of these expensive toys?"

"Those toys are not his! They are for Dudley! That freak is not allowed to touch them." Vernon grabbed Petunia's arm as he smiled at the blond woman and said.

"I am sorry, my wife suffers from anxiety and a lot of stress can bring these on. Have you taken your medication yet, my dear?"

"No, I believe that for the first time your wife is speaking the truth." She snapped, not believing a word he was saying. "Show me his real bedroom."

Petunia pulled herself away from Vernon and hissed. "You want to see where we let that unwanted burden sleep! Then come along and I'll show you. I told that man that we didn't want anything to do with my sister's family. She married that freak and got herself killed, why should we have to care for her offspring? My life was perfect before that brat came along. I had a perfect husband and an absolutely sweet child. He ruined it all. Why should we be responsible for clothing and feeding him? I thought that we were rid of people like her the moment that she left for her that school but no, the moment she needs something is the moment that she thinks of me but I am not even worth a Christmas card…."

The moment that Petunia opened the door to the closet under the stairs was the moment that Vernon knew it was all over. The police officers appeared the moment Mrs Smith spoke the words. "Mr and Mrs Dursley, I am arresting you both for suspicion of abuse on your nephew Harry Potter."

And Vernon knew that sometimes Karma was real and it was a bitch.

I hope you liked it. That is it for now. So that was a long chapter to make up for the lack of updates. I don't know when is the next time I'll be able to update since I am starting my master degree but hopefully soon. So bear with me, review of course.

In the next chapter: Remus and Minerva go to visit Moaning Myrtle to ask her about her death and may finally get a breakthrough in the whereabouts of the Chamber of Secrets. With the guardianship hearing moving closer and closer, Lucius and Severus are moving on with a plan as Narcissa comes up with an unusual backup plan. The hearing causes Severus to reach out to ask a favor of an Albus Dumbledore. Can Dumbledore for once do the right thing and not manipulate the situation to his own advantage. That and more in the next chapter.