Chapter 2 : Adversative
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“Soo…?” McGonagall prompted nervously. “How is he doing?”
“Better than he was. Poppy just finished with him. Besides the broken collarbone and general malnourishment and neglect he appears to be all right,” Snape scoffed.
“Oh thank heavens you were able to get him out of there, Severus. If I had known I would have gone myself, or at the very least sent Arthur,” Molly cried.
Snape nodded at Molly and the looked at Dumbledore saying with venom in his voice, “I would hope that none of us could have imagined him being in a situation as bad as he was.”
“Is it true that they had him locked in a cupboard under the stairs? Ron had said that it was a possibility, so I’m guessing that it has happened before,” Molly said with a tear.
“I found in him a small bedroom upstairs that was locked from the outside, bars on the windows and a flap in the door that was used to pass what meager rations that ‘could be spared’ to him,” Snape snarled.
Snape was finding it incredibility difficult for him to check his anger at the headmaster who was staying surprisingly quiet. He was becoming increasingly sure that the old man had been very much aware of the conditions in which Harry had been enduring throughout the years. While it was true that Snape could not confess to having much love for the boy throughout his previous year at Hogwart’s, he could admit that he may have been wrong in his assumption that his attitude was due to a spoiled and pampered life like his father’s had been.
“I think the question that needs answering right now, is what do we do with him now? He can’t possibly stay here at the school for the next month or so,” McGonagall asked.
“He can come stay with us. We can just take him along with us when he head to Diagon Alley to get his books and things with everyone else,” Molly suggested.
“Goodness me, my dear,” McGonagall said. “Surely you have enough on your plate already, especially with your youngest starting this year as well. Are you sure you could manage one more?”
“Don’t be silly, Minerva. It won’t be any trouble at all. What is one more body at this point? Our house may be a bit cramped, but I think we can make him feel quite comfortable there. We’d be more than happy to have him,” Molly insisted.
“It is settled then,” Dumbledore spoke up finally. “You can head down and collect him from Madam Pomfrey whenever you are ready. I am most certain that he will be most pleased with the arrangement. Does he have his belongings with him already?”
“Not yet, sir,” Snape replied. “I figured that getting him to a healer was essential over gathering his luggage. I will, however, return to Privet Drive and retrieve his things.”
As well as have a little chat with the Dursley’s while he was there Snape thought angrily.
“You can bring it right to The Burrow then if you wouldn’t mind, Severus,” Molly said.
“Very good,” Dumbledore said as he stood.
“I would like to have a word with you, Albus, before returning to that house,” Snape said quietly.
Dumbledore nodded and sat back down. He waited until McGonagall and Molly had left the room before speaking.
“I know that you angry, Severus, but I need you to know that had I thought that Harry had been in any real danger I would have intervened immediately,” the old wizard said quietly.
“So ‘real danger’ does not include being locked away, starved, beaten up by his cousin and then denied medical attention?” Snape spat at him.
“While the troubles that Harry has experienced at the hands of his relatives are truly unfortunate, yes, I feel that they have not done any lasting damage to the boy,” Dumbledore replied calmly.
“Unfortunate?! You made me promise that I would keep Lily’s son safe and now you tell me that he has been mistreated his whole life?!” Snape bellowed.
“I feel that I must point out to you, Severus, your behavior towards him last term was that of a bully just as much as others’ have been. So much so, in fact, that you encouraged students from your own house to despise and taunt him,” Dumbledore reminded him sternly.
“I was there when I needed to be! Who was is that kept him from getting thrown from his broom when Quirrell was jinxing it?” he yelled.
Dumbledore smiled. “But not when you overheard him and his friends planning to rescue the stone themselves.”
Snape was now completely infuriated. “I gave them plenty of warning of what would happen if they were found out and about after curfew again! It is not my fault that he is a determined delinquent intent on breaking any rules set down for his own protection!”
“Oh do use your head, Severus,” Dumbledore said, as his voice grew harder. “Of course he wouldn’t listen to you since he was determined that you were the one trying to steal the stone. Your hatred of him was more than evident for him from the first moment that he stepped into this school something that was enough of an issue, by the way, that he felt the need to question me about it.”
Snape opened his mouth to try to dispute this claim but was cut off with a wave of his hand.
“Now,” Dumbledore continued, “I am perfectly comfortable admitting that I, along with the rest of the staff, had seriously underestimated him as long as we also admit that we failed him. He tried to warn us that someone was trying to steal the stone, but was brushed off. This of course left him with no other option, in his mind, than to act. Believe it or not, his actions and behaviors in the chamber as well as the events leading up to it all were a direct result of how he has been treated and raised by his muggle relations. We must wonder where we would be if it had been anything different,” he finished sadly.
“But –“ Snape started.
“No ‘buts’ Severus,” Dumbledore interrupted firmly. “If you feel this strongly about the situation then it is time for you to make a decision. You can continue hating him because of who his father was and keep seeing his behaviors as a mirror of James or you can open your eyes and allow yourself to see how much more alike he is to his mother. Only then will you be able to decide how best to fulfill your promise to protect the boy,” he said with a tone of finality.
Snape stared at the wizard incredulously for several long moments before he turned and stormed out of the office.
As he sat in the darkened living room waiting patiently for the Dursleys to return home, Snape thought about what Dumbledore had said to him. Was Harry more like Lily than James? He certainly looked like a splitting image of his father. Was it really possible that he was anything like the kind-hearted woman that he had loved so long ago?
The sound of keys turning in the door turned his attention back to his current task. He heard the cheerful chatter of the three of them as they entered the house.
The first person Snape saw was a rather round looking child whom he could only guess was Harry’s cousin, Dudley. It was quite obvious that he had never missed a meal in his entire life.
“Who are you?” Dudley stuttered.
Before Snape could answer, a scrawny tall woman came into the room just behind her son. The surprise on her face quickly contorted to anger and she that recognition registered on her face.
“You! What are you doing here?” Petunia spat at him.
“I assure you Tuney, this is the last place that I would care to be spending my summer holiday, “ he replied caustically, smiling at the sight of the woman’s grimace at the use of her childhood nickname.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” shouted an exceptionally large man that he could only assume was Vernon Dursley.
Snape took a deep breath, trying to squelch his anger and then said, “I am Professor Severus Snape from Hogwart’s Scho—“
“Don’t you DARE talk to me about that place! I should have known that you were one of THEM,” Vernon interrupted.
“THEM?” Snape asked with a dangerous glint in his eyes.
Vernon must have recognized the threat that had been spoken in that single word, because he wisely changed the direction of the conversation.
“What did that boy do now to bring you here?” he spluttered.
“Surely nothing that would warrant being locked in a room, being fed only through a hole in the door and denied adequate medical attention for a broken collarbone,” he said in a low growl as he took a menacing step toward the three of them.
“I – I – I had no idea that he had broken anything,” Petunia said with a stutter.
“Of course you wouldn’t have known. That may have meant that would have actually needed to acknowledge his presence,” Snape replied snidely.
“Now see here, how we handle that boy is no concern of yours!” Vernon yelped bravely. “We were not asked if we wanted to take him, but instead just woke one morning to find him dumped on our doorstep with nothing but a note. We should have just sent him off to an orphanage, but instead graciously took him in and—“
A blast from the hallway next to where the Dursley’s had been standing caused the three family members screech in terror. As Vernon had been talking, Snape had been studying the small locked door under the stairs. He guessed that this was the cupboard that Harry had said his school things had been locked up in. However, he had also not forgotten how Harry had referred to it as “his” cupboard.
“What are you doing destroying my house?!” Vernon screamed as his face started turning purple.
Ignoring them all, Snape walked past them and peered in the small space. He pulled the large trunk out from where it had been jammed in there. Without the large trunk filling the space it was quite obvious that this had once had a small person dwelling in it for quite a significant amount of time.
Several old ragged towels were placed upon the floor and a threadbare thin blanket was carefully folded and placed upon another small blanket that Snape guessed had been used as a pillow. Several pieces of paper with child-like drawings on them were hung up around the space. The most telling piece of evidence was the paper upon which had been written “Harry’s room” in a child’s handwriting. As he watch a spider scurry across the makeshift bed, he decided that he had seen quite enough.
He stood and spoke quietly trying to keep the angry tremor in his voice to a minimum. “I have come to collect Mr. Potter’s belongings. He will be spending the rest of the holiday recuperating at the home of one of his classmates. He will be leaving for school from there. This will, I trust, allow you a respectable amount of time to arrange for more suitable living arrangements for Mr. Potter should he be required to return to your home after this term.”
Upon hearing this Vernon quickly spoke up, “There is absolutely nothing that is needing to be arranged for that little freak’s living arrangements!”
“Is that so?” Snape said with a sneer.
With a quick flick of the wand that had been concealed in the arm of his robe, Vernon vanished.
“AAAAACK!” yelled Petunia. “What have you done with my husband?”
With a nod of his head in the direction of the space that he had just examined, Petunia let out another screech of horror. The cupboard door that Snape had just blasted open was now fixed and locked as it had been when he had first arrived at the house. Only now, from the inside of the cupboard there was a grunting, cursing and frantic man’s voice as he realized where he was.
“Let me out of here at once,” bellowed Vernon from with the cupboard.
Snape, who was quite amused that he had even fit into the cupboard replied snidely, “I am afraid that I can not let you out. I haven’t got the key.”
Then paying no attention to she crying and screaming, Snape busied himself getting Harry’s belongings and school things together and into the trunk. He smirked to himself when he realized that Petunia and Dudley tried in vain to set Vernon free from his cramped prison.
Without another word to any of them Snape rushed upstairs to grab the owl cage with the great snowy owl and then hurried back down heading straight to the front door of the house.
“Where are you going?” Petunia cried. “You need to release him from there!”
Snape turned to look at this hysterical woman and for a moment saw her as she had been so long ago when they had been children. He could vividly remember how she had brought Lily to tears so many times by her taunts and name-calling.
“Feel lucky, Petunia, that this is all I am doing. I am certain that every one of you deserve far worse based on how I suspect all of you have treated Mr. Potter. If you would prefer me not to leave, I am sure that I can demonstrate to your offspring the errors of his treatment of the boy,” he finished with a cold smile.
Petunia paled. “You wouldn’t dare touch my son.”
“Wouldn’t I?” he countered dangerously. “That monster of a child deserves so much more than even my twisted mind can conjure. However, If I ever hear of him laying another hand on Lily’s son I will reconsider my restraint.”
Without waiting for a reply, Snape turned and walked out of the house with Harry’s trunk in tow. When he reached the street he had to stop and calm himself.
We had allowed himself to get too angry. He had always prided himself on his abilities to keep his emotions under careful control. However, the combination of the painful reminder of his own childhood and the complete lack of human decency that these vile muggles had shown towards a mere child was enough to nearly push him to his breaking point. The fact that this child was Lily’s son just made it nearly unbearable for him. Even if the child had proven himself to be maddeningly annoying the previous year, even he deserved better than this.
Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he mentally steeled himself in preparation for his next task…a visit to the Weasley house and the home of least favorite twin delinquents. He released Hedwig to fly ahead, certain that the owl would prefer to fly as opposed to apparating. Then juggling the empty owl cage and the heavy trunk, he spun on the spot and disappeared.
Gratefully sipping on the steaming cup of tea, Snape looked around The Burrow curiously. It was, he decided, a very comfortable kind of home. Very different from the house that he grew up in or even from the house that he currently resided, but it was clean, albeit cluttered, and quite obvious that there were far too many people dwelling there. Somehow though, the house still managed to maintain an atmosphere of warmth and comfort, which even allowed the normally on edge and stern professor a moment of much needed relaxation.
“I can’t tell you how grateful we are that you were able to get Harry out of that place, Severus,” Molly said as she entered into the small living room and sat down across from him with her tea. “I truly feel horrible that we didn’t move to do something sooner.”
Snape shook his head. “Do not blame yourself. I do not think that any one could have imagined that things were as bad as they were. I can only hope that another alternative can be found for his living arrangements before next holiday.”
“We can keep him here,” Molly insisted. “We added a cot in Ron’s room for him for now, but I’m a certain that we can arrange for something more permanent for him before the end of term.”
Frowning Snape said, “There is no reason that you should be burdened by having yet another mouth to feed. I am positive that there is another option that would be much less of an imposition.”
Smiling Molly said, “At this point I honestly don’t think that one more mouth to feed will even be noticed. Especially with as little as he eats. I tried to get him to eat some supper when he arrived and he barely even finished half of his sandwich! And yet he is nothing but skin and bones!”
“Yes,” Snape said thoughtfully. “Unfortunately he was pretty much kept on the edges of starvation, so it would not be wise to try to get him to consume an excess of food right away. Try to limit his sweets and encourage his to drink fruit juices. I believe I have the ingredients in my stores for a nutrient potion. I can brew up enough until he returns to the school and can bring by for you tomorrow.”
“Oh thank you so much. You are so kind to him. I think we are all lucky that it was you that was sent to retrieve him,” Molly gushed making Snape feel most uncomfortable. “You must come by tomorrow and help us celebrate his birthday. It was unfortunately last week, but we can’t let him go without anything.”
Snape shook his head. “No. No thank you,” he corrected. The last thing that he needed was to find himself in the midst of some boisterous and over-indulgent party.
Anxious to change the subject Snape asked, “How did he seem tonight?”
Molly thought for a second before saying, “Pretty well I guess. He spent some time out de-gnoming the garden with the twins and Ron but he still seemed to be favoring his right shoulder though.”
He shut his eyes as the image of the horrific sight of the bruised and broken shoulder invaded his thoughts. Fighting against the rising anger he said quietly, “Poppy had said that there was quite a bit of damage to the muscle and tendons in the arm. She also had said that he bone had started to heal out of place before she could fix it. So he most likely may be experiencing some tenderness still, but it should not last long. If it become worse please like me know and I’m sure I can brew up something that will make him more comfortable,” he finished as he stood and readied to leave.
“I will. Are you sure you don’t want some supper before you leave? Arthur has been working such crazy hours all wrapped up in these raids that he could be home at any time now and I have been keeping food warm for him,” Molly asked as they walked toward the door.
Shaking his head Snape replied, “No thank you. I really must be going. It has been a long day and much like your offspring, I should be sleeping right now. Thank you for the tea. I will return tomorrow with the potions for Mr. Potter.”
He bowed slightly, said his goodbyes and made his way out to the lane. As he stood glancing back at the oddly built house that seemed as though it was only held together with magic, he felt certain that Mr. Potter would be able to heal well here. It was just the sort of place that would allow him to see how families were supposed to be. He only hoped that the time spent with the twin jokers would be kept to a minimum to assure that he doesn’t start assimilating their behaviors. Maybe he should make just that suggestion when he returned to the house tomorrow. Molly Weasley seemed like a reasonable enough of a woman to be able to understand his concerns.
Feeling satisfied and overly tired, he disappeared with a pop.
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