“I changed young Mr. Dursley’s features so that he looks like Harry – but only to Petunia and Vernon. Everyone else sees him as the whale he is. The charm I used is so strong that I believe apart from me only Harry will be powerful enough to break it,” Albus confided, his eyes twinkling madly. “Oh, look, Minerva, afternoon lessons are going to start in ten minutes.”
“Oh, yes, I have to run,” his wife replied. “Don’t think you get away with your pranks easily, Albus. We will still talk about this matter later,” Minerva threatened, while she stepped into the fireplace.
During the afternoon, Harry woke up and seemed to be relatively conscious for the first time since Albus had brought him to Hogwarts 24 hours ago. Poppy sat on the edge of his bed and made him drink a few potions, noticing that he relaxed visibly. When she put a cool hand on his hot forehead, he flinched away, but then he suddenly opened his beautiful green eyes, only to close them again immediately. ‘Probably it’s too bright for him after spending six months in a dark cupboard,’ Poppy thought and dimmed the lights. “Now, Harry, I have turned off the lights, try to open your eyes again for me, please.”
The little boy slowly opened his eyes again, noticing that the light didn’t hurt his eyes as much as before, and looked around anxiously. “Wha?” A hoarse cry of surprise escaped his dry lips. ‘I feel better than before. Maybe my mummy has come back?’ he wondered. “Mummy?” he tried.
“You are at Hogwarts, my dear, and I’m your Aunt Poppy. Do you remember me?” Poppy asked in a very kind, soft voice.
Harry wrinkled his forehead, obviously thinking pensively. Somewhere he had seen that woman before, and he remembered her voice, too. She was good, and she wouldn’t hurt him. But where was he? This was not the place his was always thrown into. He was lying on a bed; it was so soft and comfy. Although he still felt ill, his bottom didn’t hurt as much as before and his stomach didn’t either. Everything smelled so good here. And suddenly he remembered. The woman, Aunt Poppy, had made him better before when he had a bad cough and his mummy had taken him here to see her. Suddenly his eyes started to twinkle and he tried a small smile on his Aunt Poppy.
‘He is smiling at me,’ Poppy thought. She couldn’t believe her luck. Did he remember her? “Do you remember me?” she asked the little boy softly.
Harry smiled at her and gave her a short nod, followed by a groan.
“Oh, my poor dear, you mustn’t move your head. Otherwise it will hurt. You are sick and have to stay here in bed for a few days,” Poppy told him in a calming voice. “Now, is it all right to touch your forehead for a moment, my boy? I’m not going to hurt you.” Inwardly sighing relieved when he nodded, she put a cold cloth on his forehead and advised the boy, “Go to sleep for a while, that will make you feel better. I will still be here when you wake up. You’re going to stay with me, and I’ll always be here for you. You will never go back to the bad place where people throw you in cupboards.”
Harry still looked at her. He hadn’t understood everything she had told him, but he had understood enough. Yes – he wanted to stay here with the nice woman, and she had told him to sleep now. So he would do that. He obediently closed his eyes and drifted into the world of dream.
Harry had just fallen asleep and Poppy had returned to her office when Aberforth joined her. He owned a pub in Hogsmeade, the Hog’s Head, and it was time for him to leave for his pub. “I take it we’ll be staying in your quarters here for the next weeks or months, Poppy, right?” he asked softly.
“Yes, I think we have to stay here, at least until the beginning of the holidays. It’s only six weeks, but his condition should be a lot better then, so that we’ll probably be able to stay at home.”
Aberforth and Poppy owned a small house in Hogsmeade. In fact it was the building that was the nearest to Hogwarts, not far from the Shrieking Shack. As it was important for the Hogwarts staff to be able to contact Poppy at any time, the house was connected to the Hogwarts internal Floo system, so that it didn’t matter if Poppy spent the nights in her quarters or at home. For Aberforth however, it was easier to return home to where he could directly floo from his pub than to floo home and then once more step into the fireplace in order to get to Hogwarts during the night.
Suddenly Albus entered Poppy’s office. “How is he?” he asked anxiously.
Poppy smiled and told him that Harry had been awake for a few minutes and had obviously recognized her.
“Oh, that’s great progress, I suppose,” Albus said, his eyes twinkling.
‘Just like Harry’s eyes did when he smiled at me,’ Poppy thought and replied, “Yes, it is progress, however, he is still very ill.”
“I have come to talk about the guardianship papers,” Dumbledore changed the topic.
“Then I had better leave you to it,” Aberforth stated and turned to the fireplace.
“No, Abe, I have to tell you something, which concerns you too. You know that only the two of you and Severus know that Minerva and I are married.” Seeing their affirmative nod, he continued, “However, so far, nobody knew that Lily was in fact our child.”
“What?!” Aberforth burst out, and Poppy let out a loud gasp.
Albus sighed deeply. “You know, it was just around that time when Voldemort started to actively act, and it would have been too dangerous for Minerva and especially for Lily, should people have known of their relationship to me. Therefore we gave her to a Muggle family, which we knew because Minerva’s parents were friends of their parents, and they promised to raise her like their own child. And in fact, they did raise her very well. Unfortunately, the war with Voldemort continued so long that we couldn’t manage to tell Lily about the fact that we were her parents.” He took a lemon drop out of one of his robe pockets, unwrapping it slowly, before he added, “Please keep this information to yourselves for the moment.”
“Yes, of course, Albus,” Poppy replied, stunned. ‘Why is he telling us this now?’ she thought confused.
“I’m telling you this now,” Dumbledore continued as if he had read her thoughts, “because I want to state Minerva’s and my name as Grandparents in the guardian papers. This is mainly a measure to ensure that the Ministry cannot lay claim to having the guardianship over Harry.” He showed the already filled out parchments to Poppy. “You just have to sign here, Poppy, in order to apply for the guardianship.”
“Do you think it’s really safe to announce your relationship to the boy?” Aberforth asked.
“Yes, it is. Voldemort is dead. I’m sure because I found his body in the Potters’ house and destroyed it completely. The second point is that any Death Eaters would want to harm Harry anyway because he is the one who killed Voldemort – they wouldn’t want to harm him because he is my grandson. So yes, it is definitely safe.”
As soon as Poppy had signed the parchment, it rolled itself up and vanished from sight. The confirmation copy from the Ministry arrived in front of Poppy later that evening.
During the rest of the week, Harry spent most of the time sleeping. Minerva and Poppy sat at his bedside every free minute, but Harry was still too ill to interact with them. From the next week onwards, his physical condition slowly began to improve. Poppy still had to confine him to bed as he was very feverish due to his lung infection, which had improved but was still far from good. But she started to try feeding Harry proper meals instead of only milk and noticed that the boy seemed to enjoy eating different things. He especially liked it when Poppy or Aberforth took their meals together with him. To Poppy’s astonishment, he was very good using a spoon and didn’t make a mess of his bed. ‘Lily must have started early teaching him to eat properly,’ she thought, watching the little boy eating mashed carrots.
Harry still took two or sometimes even three naps during the day, but apart from these times he was more responsive than Poppy had dared to hope. He seemed to recognize Minerva and Albus and even tried to call them ‘Gany’ and ‘Gada’.
To Severus he didn’t talk at all, although the man came to visit him from time to time and often brought potions for him that helped make him feel better. As Poppy feared that Harry would probably often get ill due to the damage on his lungs and on his immune system, she had made Severus promise to spend some time during the holidays working on efficient healing potions that could be fed to such a small child.
Whenever Poppy had time, she sat down on the edge of Harry’s bed and talked to him. Due to the negligence by his relatives, his speaking abilities were exactly where they had been half a year ago when his parents were still alive. This was no problem as he seemed to pick up new words very fast. However, Harry only tried to speak to the few people he knew from before his stay at the Dursleys. Neither Rolanda Hooch nor Severus Snape had been able to coax the child into talking to them.
“He seems to be afraid of talking to me,” Severus said, when he and Poppy were having tea in her office together with Minerva and Albus. During the afternoon, he had taken care of Harry while Poppy had been busy healing a few students after a Quidditch accident. “I can imagine that his relatives didn’t allow him to speak or cry or make any noise at all. He probably feels safe with people he met together with Lily and is unsure in front of all others. It’s not that he is afraid of Rolanda or me, he just doesn’t speak with us.”
“You’re probably right,” Poppy admitted. “Normally, babies cry loud when they are in pain, hungry or their nappy is full. Harry, however, never cries loud. He only whimpers or cries silently. Perhaps the Dursleys punished him whenever he made any noise, be it crying or talking.”
“Maybe we should use Legilimency on him in order to know what the Dursleys really did to him,” Albus suggested.
“You don’t want to…” Minerva started to protest horrified, when Albus interrupted her.
“No, not me, but I know that Severus is a master of Legilimency. He is even better than me, and maybe he could carefully try to assess Harry’s mind.”
“But it might hurt, and then Harry would never speak to Severus,” Poppy spoke up.
“Oh, I don’t care at all,” Severus commented briskly. “He’s the son of bloody Potter.” He spat the name with disgust.
On the next day, Albus received an owl from the Ministry. The Dursleys would get a trial, and the date had been fixed on Friday the same week. “As the trial against the Dursleys is in three days time, I would like to ask you to try to use Legilimency on Harry whenever you have time today or tomorrow,” he told Severus at breakfast.
“I don’t know if I can manage the first time because I need him to look straight into my eyes. However, as he is a baby, he won’t comply if you tell him to do so. Therefore, I should probably start trying today,” Severus replied annoyed.
After his last lesson in the afternoon, Severus went straight to the Hospital Wing to see if Harry was awake. “I think he is awake, but please try not to hurt him, especially as he isn’t very well yet,” Pomfrey advised him and handed him a chocolate frog. “Here, Severus; you can give it to Harry when you’re finished.”
Severus gave her a comforting nod and entered Harry’s room. “Hello Harry,” he said, his voice lacking any hint of malice.
Harry didn’t reply, but the edges of his mouth went slightly up, and he looked straight at the tall man, who had sat down on the edge of his bed. Severus took the chance and told the boy, “Please look at me for a moment; it is important.” Then he unobtrusively cast the spell, “Legilimens.”
Horrible images replayed in front of his eyes. Harry was lying on the floor of his cupboard. He only wore a T-shirt and a huge nappy, and his bottom was very sore, because he had been left in his dirty nappy for nearly two weeks. Something brown was even coming out of the edges of the nappy, and when he accidentally touched it, his tiny hands went brown, too. It stank and hurt and he just couldn’t handle it any more. His mummy had always come immediately as soon as he had alerted her to the fact that something was in his nappy. She had never let him wait. So he started to cry. However, the only thing that happened was that his uncle entered the cupboard, pulled Harry out and smacked him into the face. Then he talked to the small boy, shaking him all the time while he did so. ‘Shut up. It’s horrible enough to have a freak in the house; we don’t want to hear anything from you. Now, shut up.’ He threw the baby back onto the floor full force.
Severus pulled off. He couldn’t handle more. He looked at the boy, noticing that he was watching him, frightened. “Harry, I am sorry, but I had to see what your relatives did to you,” he explained, not expecting the boy to understand a word of it. “If I upset you, I am very sorry. Does your head hurt?”
Harry gave him a small nod and continued watching him. Severus pulled a phial of a light pain relieving potion, which he had especially brewed for the boy, out of his robes and made Harry drink the potion. Harry relaxed visibly. Then Severus pulled the chocolate frog out of his pocket and gave it to the boy. “Do you know chocolate frogs?” he asked softly.
Harry nodded again. Aunt Poppy had given him one of these a few days ago, and Harry had liked it very much. He couldn’t remember eating something so delicious ever before. When Severus offered to take the frog out of the package for the boy, he nodded again. However, Harry only managed to eat two bites of the frog, before he gave it back to Severus to have it put back into the package. Severus asked him if he liked it and if he was already full, and Harry nodded to all questions.
Severus had never cared about the boy. He was just the son of James, his archenemy. However, seeing the small, vulnerable child, he couldn’t help remembering his own childhood. No child should have to live through abuse and everything he had experienced. The brilliant green eyes caught his attention once more, and he began to see Lily in them. This boy was the child of Lily, he realized, the only person he had every loved. He vowed that he would help her child to have a better childhood and to grow into a young man that was worth his mother.
“You know, Harry,” the professor finally told the child, “Everyone here cares a lot about you, and they are glad to have you here. It’s no problem to talk. You may talk as much as you like, you may also cry if you hurt or don’t feel well or laugh when you are happy. You don’t have to be quiet. You may call me ‘Uncle Severus’ if you want to,” he added.
Harry glanced at the man warily, his lips stayed unmoving, while he noticed his nappy getting wet and uncomfortable. A few minutes later, when Severus was just thinking about leaving for dinner, the tiny mouth opened. “Uncy Sewwy.”
The teacher raised an eyebrow and threw the child a questioning look, but he didn’t say anything more. “Very good, Harry. You know, in order to learn to speak properly, it is important that you try and talk as much as possible.”
Green eyes were watching him. Suddenly a small voice reached Severus’ ear. “Hawwy tawk hawts. Dwoat sowy.”
None of them had noticed Poppy, who had been standing in the door for a few minutes. She was stunned. Never had Harry spoken so many words at one time. “What do you mean, Harry? It hurts to speak because your throat is sore?” she asked, kneeling in front of Harry’s bed. When he nodded, she quickly checked on him and fed him his potions. Fortunately, Harry wasn’t afraid of her using a wand. ‘Maybe he still remembers Lily doing magic,’ she thought, relieved.
Harry leaned back into his cushions and threw a pleading glance at Poppy, before he said, “Aun Poppy, nappy pwease?”
“You need a new nappy, my dear?” Poppy questioned, before she magically changed his nappy and commended the boy, “that was very good, Harry. Please tell me every time you need a new nappy, so that you won’t get sore again.”
“Fanku,” the little boy mouthed gratefully and closed his eyes, drifting off immediately.
Severus excused himself and went down to the Great Hall, where dinner was about to start.
“Albus, I would like to meet you and Minerva in Poppy’s office tonight,” he addressed the Headmaster, who was sitting on his left side. “Could you please bring your Pensieve?”
“Of course, my boy. Did you discover anything interesting?” Albus enquired interestedly.
“I will show you tonight,” Severus whispered gravely, absentmindedly chasing a potato around his plate.
A few hours later, Severus put the memory, which originally had been Harry’s memory, into the Pensieve for Minerva, Poppy, and Albus to watch. While his friends were viewing the baby’s horrible experiences, Severus gathered two Calming draughts from Poppy’s stock. Suddenly however, he heard strange sounds coming from Harry’s room. Hurrying over to the nursery, he saw that the boy was obviously having a nightmare. ‘Oh my… what can a small boy, who isn’t even two years old, can have to get nightmares about?’ he thought, horrified.
“Harry,” he said, carefully stroking the boy’s cheek, pulling back immediately, when the boy flinched back unconsciously. “Wake up, child, it’s only a bad dream.” He spoke to him for a few minutes, until Harry finally opened his eyes and, seeing Severus sit on the edge of his bed, started to cry silently.
“Now, Harry, I’m going to touch you, my boy, I won’t hurt you,” Severus announced in a very soft voice and tried once again to stroke the boy’s cheeks. This time Harry didn’t flinch but leaned into the comforting touch. “Your dream, Harry, was it about your uncle, who hurt you all the time?” Severus questioned carefully, and received a small nod in return. “Do you often have such bad dreams?” Severus tried to ask, but as Harry only looked at him warily, the professor proceeded to speak to the boy about the huge castle he was now living in. Listening to the soft, silky voice of the man that wouldn’t do any harm to him, Harry finally fell back to sleep.
Severus returned to his friends, who were as shaken as he had been in the afternoon.
“However,” Minerva suddenly spoke up, “it is amazing that it was our Severus, who managed to coax Harry into speaking more than one word at a time. Well done, Severus.”
“Why, Minerva, thank you,” her younger colleague replied, smirking.
Finally, the day of the trial arrived. Albus and Poppy went to the Ministry in order to represent Harry – Albus as his grandfather and Poppy as his guardian. In the meantime, Aberforth was looking after Harry.
The trial took place in a relatively small room under exclusion from the public. First of all, Albus had to explain how he had found Harry. After a short description Albus showed the jury his memory of the event in his Pensieve. Then he told how Harry had been treated during his six-month stay at his relatives and suggested that the jury should watch Harry’s memory in the Pensieve.
At this stage, the Dursley’s solicitor spoke up. “How could you get a memory from a one-year-old baby? To put a Legilimency Spell on a baby is definitely abuse! I request that the guardianship to be given back to the Dursleys!”
I'm still looking for a beta - I hope there aren't too many mistakes ;-)
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