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Prologue

The boy wasn't anything like he'd expected. Certainly, he had the glasses, and when he turned, Severus could see those damning green eyes staring wide eyed back at him, but the similarities ended there.

Blue dreadlocks? What on earth was the boy thinking?

Nor was that the only oddity. Harry walked with a slight limp, his shoes undone and on the wrong feet. His tie was askew, and upon further examination, Severus saw that his robes were inside out. When he got closer to the head table, Severus could see that his eyes were not only wide, but they were slightly glazed. Somewhat alarmed at the child's appearance, he spared a glance down the table at Albus, only to see him staring down at Potter with a similar look of surprise.

Abruptly stopping in front of the hat, Harry cocked his head to the side as though listening to something no one else could hear. A moment passed where no one spoke, they only stared, barely breathing as they waited for something to happen.

That something happened when Harry laughed. It was little more than a giggle, but it frightened Severus deeply.

Something is wrong with the boy, was his repeated thought.

It was at that point that Minerva reached out to touch Potter on the shoulder. They watched as he looked up and blinked in what seemed like surprise.

"Hi," was the boy's strangely innocent reply. "Do you like cats?"

The student body responded to that with a burst of nervous laughter. Of all the things to ask their Transfigurations professor!

"Put this on," Minerva answered instead, handing Potter the Sorting Hat, her lips creased in worry.

Harry put the hat on as in instructed, not bothering to sit on the stool.

Severus would have dearly liked to hear what went on between Harry and the Hat, especially after hearing its decision.

"SLYTHERIN!" The hat called out after some deliberation.

And then something happened that Severus had never witnessed.

"Minerva, if you would?" The Sorting Hat asked out loud.

Minerva looked back at the head table with a shocked expression before regaining her composure. She quickly took the hat from Potter's head and then when the boy didn't move, she turned him around and gave him a gentle push in the right direction.

Chapter 1 – First Meetings

'The headmaster has issued a decree that all house heads are to have one-on-one sessions with all of the first years. As if this weren't bad enough, he also informed us that they are to occur once a week until the end of the year.'

Severus paused and took a measured sip of firewhiskey. His letter's recipient was a very old friend of his named Hadwyn Long. Both a healer and a dragon worker, Hadwyn often sent him bizarre stories of his daily experiences, and Severus had a feeling that the upcoming school year would likely be just as strange, if not stranger.

'Despite all evidence to the contrary,' Severus continued, 'the headmaster insists that it has nothing to do with the strange sorting of Harry Potter into Slytherin of all places. He also insists that his decision has nothing to do Potter's supposed sanity—or lack thereof. Of course, I asked him in private whether he had any care for my continued sanity, but he was strangely serious and refused to discuss the topic in any more depth. I daresay that this will be an interesting year.'

. . .

Date: 3 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: I want to let you know that you are welcome to come to me at anytime. You don't have to be limited to only these scheduled times.

Morag: Thanks, ma'am. I appreciate it.

Initial impression: 'Morag seems nervous, which is perfectly understandable, but there is also an air of sadness around her that I can't quite put my finger on.'

Sprout: How are you settling in? Do you like your roommates?

Morag: They're both pretty nice. Hannah and Susan been really friendly with me.

Sprout: And Sally-Anne?

Morag: Ah, she's just shy I think.

Sprout: Have you heard from your family?

Written notes: 'It seems that I have inadvertently stumbled onto the issue. Morag immediately slouches farther down in her chair, and frowns quite unhappily at my inquiry.'

Morag: Some. A bit. I've already gotten one note from my mum . . .

Sprout: But?

Morag: It's silly.

Sprout: Not to me. Tell me.

Morag: My sister didn't get a letter.

End Notes: 'I didn't get much out of Morag after she admitted that her sister didn't receive a Hogwarts letter, but she did let it slip that they are twins. I know that this sometimes happens, but I do wish that it wouldn't. She is really rather distressed.'

 

. . .

Date: 3 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: And how are you settling in, my dear?

Hannah: Quite well, thank you.

Initial impressions: 'Hannah seems like a well-adjusted and happy child. I hope she proves to be a good friend to some of those who haven't yet settled in.'

Sprout: How are you liking your roommates, Ms. Bones and Ms. Perks?

Hannah: Oh Susan is very nice. She's already suggested that we study together, and I think that's a splendid idea. We talked Sally-Anne into studying with us, because she seems a bit lost. I don't think she likes it here yet.

Sprout: And how do you feel about being here?

Hannah: Hogwarts is lovely! It's so mysterious and silly and there's so much history in it. I can't wait to learn more about it.

End Notes: Hannah seems to be doing very well indeed. You can find the rest of this session's transcript farther down on the scroll, but it is more of the same. I think Hannah will be a strong leader in Hufflepuff as she gets older.

. . .

Date: 3 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: How are you settling in?

Justin: Well enough, I suppose.

Initial impressions: 'Justin is painfully formal in his interactions with both me and the other children. I suspect that Morag's conclusion that he is shy is quite spot on. I fear that some of the other children will find him stuck up, though.'

Sprout: Have you heard from your family?

Justin: [laughter]

Sprout: Are you well dear?

Justin: My family groomed me for Eton, and now that I'm not going there, they no longer have anything to talk about with the neighbours. I think it's probably rather quiet in the house now.

Sprout: Do you think they're disappointed in you?

Justin: I can hardly think otherwise.

End Notes: 'A home visit may be in order. Perhaps I shall introduce them to some of the other muggle borns' parents. I hate the thought that my badger is suffering.'

. . .

Date: 4 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: You look tired. Are you not sleeping well?

Lisa: Not very well, no sir.

Initial impressions: 'She is completely exhausted, yet unable to sit still. Strange.'

Flitwick: Perhaps a check up with Madame Pomfrey would be advisable.

Lisa: [shakes her head in the negative]

Flitwick: Tell me what's happening then.

Lisa: Padma gets up too early. Mandy grinds her teeth. And Sabrina talks in her sleep.

Written notes: 'I must remember to speak to Poppy regarding Ms. Brockleburst's teeth grinding.'

Flitwick: Ah, I see. I can see why that might make for a poor sleeping situation! Here, let me show you a very simple charm for blocking sound . . .

End Notes: 'I wonder if she will have new complaints next week?'

. . .

Date: 4 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: I see from your records that you are muggle born and that you live with your grandmother. Tell me, how are you adjusting to life here at Hogwarts?

Sabrina: The food is great. Gram is a great lady, but sometimes it's better that I cook if I want to eat. I really want to learn more about cooking charms. I mean, I know that I can't use them at home until I come of age, but . . .

Initial impressions: 'She is avoiding something. Perhaps I should find out what happened to her parents.'

Flitwick: There are some simple cleanup charms that can be learned wandlessly. Depending on your power usage and frequency of casting, you can usually get away with using them at home, provided no one sees. Here, write this down . . .

End Notes: 'She seemed unexpectedly relieved when I allowed her to continue on the cooking angle.'

. . .

Date: 4 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: Ah, Mr. Corner, how is Hogwarts suiting you?

Initial impressions: 'Michael is difficult to read. He is friendly to a fault, but quietly intense—not entirely unusual in Ravenclaw. I wonder what he's interested in.'

Michael: I think that I'm fitting in pretty well. Terry and Anthony are really nice, and we've already started studying together in some subjects. The girls want to join us, but Mandy and Lisa are bad at being quiet and since we study in the library most of the time, that really doesn't work. I don't want to come off as callous, but most girls really annoy me.

Flitwick: You only mentioned Ms. Turpin and Ms. Brocklehurst. How do you feel about Ms. Fawcett and Ms. Patil?

Michael: Eh, Sabrina's alright. [He shrugs.] She doesn't talk much, but she studies a lot. I don't think she's interested in studying with us. Padma usually studies with her sister, though if I had to spend that much time with a Gryffindor, I'd probably wig out. [He laughs.]

Flitwick: Already annoyed with Gryffindor?

Michael: They're impossible to work with. You always know when they come into the library because Madame Pince has to shush and threaten them a whole lot.

End Notes: 'Michael has taken on the persona of many Ravenclaws with far too much enthusiasm, especially regarding our less than wholesome qualities. It is worth keeping an eye on.'

. . .

Date: 5 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Well Mr. Weasley, how do you like Hogwarts thus far?

Ron: It's great. I mean, I miss mum and dad and my little sister, but I like seeing Fred and George more often.

McGonagall: And your brother, Percy?

Ron: Yeah well, can't win everything, can I? Hey, I'm not really serious!

Initial impressions: 'Sometimes I envy Severus with his Weasley free house.'

McGonagall: How do you like your classes?

Ron: Eh, they're ok. I like learning as much as the next bloke, but I wish there was more bang and boom and less thinking and theory and blah blah blah. No offence, ma'am.

McGonagall: None taken. Have you made any friends yet?

Ron: No best mates yet, if that's what you mean. I was really hoping that Harry Potter would be sorted into Gryffindor, but now he's a Snake and I'd probably receive a howler for being friends with a Slytherin.

McGonagall: I very much doubt that. Your mother and father think very highly of Professor Snape, as well as a number of other Slytherin associated people. Perhaps you would like a list?

Ron: Uh no thanks, ma'am.

End Notes: 'I do tire of this ongoing enmity between the houses.'

. . .

Date: 5 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: How is Hogwarts suiting you thus far?

Neville: Sometimes it's too loud for me, and I keep getting lost no matter how hard I try.

McGonagall: I suspect you'll get used to the noise level, and to be honest, I sometimes find myself still lost within her walls.

Neville: That's not really very comforting, ma'am.

Initial impressions: 'Neville is very shy and rather un-Gryffindorlike. I wonder what the Sorting Hat saw that I have not yet. Then again, I thought that Percy Weasley would have done well in Ravenclaw. Actually, I still think that.'

McGonagall: How do you feel about your classes?

Neville: I liked Herbology a great deal, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the midnight astronomy classes.

McGonagall: They are hard to get used to. How do you feel about your classmates?

Neville: [He shrugs.]

McGonagall: Come now. You must have an opinion.

Neville: I don't think they care for me very much.

McGonagall: Just the Gryffindors or everyone?

Neville: Mostly the Gryffindors. And the Ravenclaws. The Hufflepuffs are okay, and so are some of the Slytherins.

Written notes: 'Neville feels comfortable around some of the Slytherins? Now that is a surprise.'

McGonagall: Which Slytherins are those, may I ask?

Neville: Some of the girls. Harry Potter. That's mostly it.

McGonagall: What do you think of Harry?

Neville: He's . . . different. He told me that the plants talk to him and he can tell which ones like him by the way they smell.

McGonagall: That is unusual.

End Notes: 'Neville might have done well in Hufflepuff. I've only had him in one class thus far, but the first class is rarely a good judge of how things will be later on. I do find it somewhat encouraging that Harry has talked to at least one person in my house. Perhaps things are not as dire with him as they currently seem.'

. . .

Date: 5 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: How are you adjusting to Hogwarts?

Parvati: Pretty well. I wish Padma had been sorted with me, but I'm glad I wasn't sorted with her.

McGonagall: And why is that?

Parvati: I'd never make it being surrounded by nerds all day. [She laughs].

Initial impressions: 'Lazy.'

McGonagall: How are you getting along with your classmates?

Parvati: Lavender is fun. Hannah Abbott seems pretty nice. In fact, all of the Hufflepuffs do. But the Slytherins are weird. They always look angry and they can't take jokes at all.

McGonagall: I suggest that you attempt to treat them with respect and leave them alone otherwise. Slytherins are not fond of being laughed at.

End Notes: 'Then again, neither is anyone else, but at least a Hufflepuff won't hex your feet off if you laugh at them too much.'

. . .

Date: 8 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Initial infirmary check-up: Healthy, despite being a bit overweight. Poppy tells me it's mostly muscle.
Roommates: Harry Potter and Blaise Zabini (Gregory Goyle, Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott are in the other first years boy's room. I thought it advantageous to separate them).
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 5 September, 1991.

Initial impressions: 'I suspect that his father has told him to befriend Draco Malfoy, and likely at any cost. Crabbe Sr. and Malfoy Sr. have a number of lucrative business arrangements. Merlin only knows what would happen if Draco was left to fend for himself.'

'Vincent Crabbe seems less than an intellectual and more of a hired bodyguard, but there are likely more subplots wrapped up in his mind than just that. I have spoken with his professors and they inform me that he is quiet and does not interact in the class whatsoever. They have warned me that unless his written work is superb, then his academic progress will suffer. He has already been assigned tutors.'

Snape: You will be here every week until the end of the school year, minus the holidays. I do not accept lateness from anyone, especially my own house. You are to tell me the truth. Trust me that I can sniff out a lie faster than anyone in this entire school. You will not like what happens if I find that you are lying. Understand?

Vincent: Yes sir.

Snape: Tell me something, do you like Draco Malfoy?

Vincent: Um, not really, sir.

Side note: 'I thought not.'

Snape: You may dispense with the sirs, Mr. Crabbe.

Vincent: Yes, si—yes, okay. Can you call me Vince then?

Snape: Vince. What do you think of Harry Potter?

Vincent: He's a bit funny, you know? He doesn't talk to anyone, but he talks to himself sometimes. Twice this week I caught him trying to leave the dorm without his shoes. He didn't seem mad that I made him go put them on though. Actually told me 'thanks' the second time. More than I ever get from Malfoy.

Snape: Thank you for helping him, Vince. You know how important it is to present a good face to the public.

Vince: Yeah. Some of the Gryffindors were making fun of him, but he didn't even seem to notice. Made Malfoy mad though. He thinks Harry is scared of them or something.

Snape: Which class do you like best so far?

Vince: Magical Protocol, but that's 'cause I already know most of what they're teaching. Mum made me learn.

Snape: Any class that you already know is going to be a struggle?

Vince: Uh, your class sir. I get mixed up with all the ingredients. And transfiguration. She makes me a bit nervous. I don't think she cares for Slytherins much.

Snape: I have already set up a tutoring schedule for you and Mr. Goyle both—separate from Mr. Malfoy, I might add.

Vince: Thanks. And thanks for not making me room with him.

Snape: You are most welcome.

End Notes: 'It is an unfortunate situation that Vincent Crabbe finds himself in. I can only hope to alleviate some of his stresses, but the rest of it is ultimately up to him.'

. . .

Date: 8 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Initial infirmary check-up: Physically healthy. Emotionally withdrawn, perhaps depressed.
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode, Daphne Greengrass, Pansy Parkinson (I am considering splitting this room into two. It seems like more trouble than it is worth).
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 7 September, 1991. It did not seem to go over well.

Initial impressions: 'I believe that Ms. Granger is what is referred to in the muggle world as a 'tomboy.' Her overall appearance is very androgynous, and at this age it is difficult to determine her gender without prior knowledge. She wears only the male form of the white uniform shirts, her shoes are plain leather, and I doubt she owns a single skirt. Her hair is very short and roughly cut, almost as if she did it herself.'

'Furthermore, she does not speak to anyone. She moves through the hallways silently, her eyes on the floor, her hand clenched into a fist around the strap of her bag. Though, it is important to note that she is not helpless or as shy as she seems otherwise. This past Tuesday, she showed that she carries her wand in her other hand at all times and has the reflexes of an angry cat. Mr. Davies and Mr. Stebbins instantly regretted the firework that they threw near her head. With only a whisper and an angry swipe of her wand, Ms. Granger cursed them both with the Fire Bindings Hex, something that is difficult for most upper years to master.'

'I must admit that I am rather impressed with her magical skill. On the other hand, I find her demeanour to be one of worry and will be adding extra wards to her bedroom. It may be worthwhile to meet her parents as well. They may be able to shed light on the reasons behind her depressed behaviours.'

Snape: Ms. Granger, I am going to need you to respond to my questions here. You might be able to get away with silence in the rest of your classes, but that will not go over well in this setting. These meetings are designed to help you, and if you refuse to cooperate, I may be forced to owl your parents.

Side note: 'That got a response. I do not enjoy threatening my snakes, but sometimes it is for their benefit that I must do so.'

Snape: So I ask again, where did you learn the Fire Bindings Hex?

Hermione: [mutters] In a book.

Snape: From our library?

Hermione: Is there another magical library handy nearby?

Side note: 'I actually prefer the angry sarcasm to her previous silence.'

Snape: Indeed, there is. There are many, if only you know where and how to look.

Hermione: [shrugs]

Snape: Do you enjoy reading?

Hermione: Yes.

Snape: If you would like, I could arrange for you to borrow books from some of the other libraries close by.

Hermione: And what do you want?

Snape: Your continued interaction in these meetings.

Hermione: What kind of libraries?

End Notes: 'Despite what she'd like me and the other professors to believe, Hermione Granger does enjoy learning and if given the chance, will likely devour every book she gets her hands on. I too can appreciate the escape that a good book provides. I will request that Madame Pince copy me on all of Granger's book choices.'

. . .

Date: 8 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Initial infirmary check-up: A touch anemic.
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott (Harry Potter, Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini are in the other room)
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average (I wonder how he would respond if I were to tell him of these results?)
Last owl received from family: 7 September, 1991

Initial impressions: 'A spoiled brat with no apparent redeeming qualities, other than his slight aptitude for Potions. He has potential for great emotional depth, but currently those emotions seem to be limited to anger and jealousy. If not for his familial history, I would almost endeavour to say that he should have been put in Gryffindor. He has the subtlety of a falling rock.'

Snape: You know better than to lie to me about anything. I will find out and so will your father.

Draco: Yes sir.

Side note: 'He thinks he can fool me into thinking he's an obedient and first-rate student. I nearly expect him to stand up and click his heels together with each sir. I sometimes wonder which is more difficult, Weasleys or Malfoys?'

Snape: Cut the act, Draco. I know who you are.

Draco: What do you mean, sir?

Side note: 'Innocent expression, my arse. Sometimes I hope that they have a chance to read these transcripts. It would make my life easier in so many ways. Of course I'm not serious about that Albus.'

Snape: Fine. Play your game, but remember I have interacted with many more people and the posturing of an eleven year old will never frighten me.

[Silence]

Snape: Tell me why you became so angry at Harry Potter in the hallway after Potions.

Draco: He laughed at me.

Snape: At you?

Draco: [Flushing]. He looked right at me and said, "What are you?" And I told him where to put it. And he laughed.

Snape: Perhaps he didn't feel like getting detention.

Draco: Why would he get detention?

Side note: 'See? An idiot.'

Snape: For breaking one of the main rules of the house of Slytherin.

[Silence]

Snape: Which you clearly never read despite my telling all first years to do so. Another detention.

Draco: For me! Why? That's completely unfair.

Snape: Slytherins stick together. Slytherins are a family. Slytherins resolve fights in private. Did it not occur to you that perhaps Harry wasn't even looking at you?

End notes: 'Only seven more years of this. Seven more years. Only seven more years.'

. . .

Date: 8 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: Aunt and Uncle, cousin
Siblings: None
Initial infirmary check-up: Malnourished, poorly healed bones in his left leg, right arm and more scar tissue than can possibly be healthy on someone so young. Poppy has sent a report into Wizarding Children's Services for likely abuse and they are looking into it now. She has also suggested that we find him a mind healer. Although there is no lasting physical damage—likely because his magic healed him—Poppy believes that the mental confusion was caused by brain injuries, and possibly numerous ones. There was no sexual abuse found on any of the scans.
Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from family: None. Considering his infirmary check-up results, I should hope that he doesn't receive anything from them.

Initial impressions: 'To tell the truth, I am surprised that Potter managed to get to all of his classes more or less on time this week. Of course, that doesn't mean that he necessarily arrived with his proper textbooks or even his bag, but at least he was physically present. After spending much of my time worrying about where he was, I've also decided that it might be worthwhile to attach a tracking charm to his person.'

Snape: Come in, Mr. Potter [hand on his shoulder].

Side note: 'After seeing him respond to Minerva's touch, I decided to keep in physical contact with him as much as possible during his session.'

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape! Wow, you gots lots of shiny stuff in here. What's that?

Snape: Essence of murtlap. It's used in reducing . . .

Harry: Scar tissue! Yeah, I read that in my book.

Snape: I'm very pleased to hear that, Harry. Where is your Potions textbook now?

Side note: 'I ask only because Mr. Crabbe informed me that Harry had lost it.'

Harry: Oh, it's in the girl's bathroom.

Snape: Which one?

Harry: The second or . . . third floor? I forget.

Snape: Why is it in there?

Harry: 'Cause my friend Draco threw it in there.

Side note: 'Where should I start?'

Snape: He threw it in there? Why did he do such a thing?

Harry: 'Cause it was a game? I dunno. Hey, you gots really long fingers. [He gets up from his chair next to Snape and perches on the sidearm of it].

Snape: [Transfigures the armchair into a small sofa]

Harry: Wow, you're really warm. [sniffs Snape's robes] And you smell like healing potions. Why? Poppy made me take lots and lots and they tasted really bad, but you smell really good. I think you should add sunflower seeds to your next skele-gro batch, 'cause it'll make it taste better and then when she rebreaks my arm, I won't want to throw up.

Snape: Sunflower seeds?

Side note: 'I've examined the properties of the sunflower seed and I think Harry's idea has some merit. Although, how he came up with it is anyone's guess.'

Harry: Yeah. Three. Maybe four. I forget. Hey, did you know that I get my very own bed and it's just next door to Draco's room? I tried to visit him, but they kept saying he wasn't home, but he was, because he was hiding under his covers. I could smell him. You think he knows he smells like trees? I like trees. I like beds. Did you see my shoes? They're my very own. I put my name on the bottom of them, see? [Lifts foot for Snape to examine briefly].

Snape: I do see. How do trees smell?

Harry: Like the sun and desks and a little like thorns and stinging nettles. You think Draco will be at breakfast tomorrow? Vince says he will be, but that I won't have time to talk because I'll be eating the whole table. He's funny, don't you think? I can't eat a table, but I tried to eat my door once because I was so hungry. It didn't taste very good and I chipped a tooth. Do you think Draco would like my picture of him? I was going to show it to him, but he ran into it with his wand and it caught fire and I burnt my hand. See? [Shows Snape his burnt hand].

Snape: [Briefly frowning, summons a vial of burn paste and starts to cover Harry's hand with it]. You should have told me immediately that you were hurt.

Side note: 'Detention number three for Draco. I wonder how he would like it if I randomly caught his homework on fire?'

Harry: That tingles. It almost feels like the stinging hex that Draco wouldn't have sent at my head. He promised that it wasn't him. It just came from his wand because, because he was hexed first by a stupid Gryffindor. Did you know that Ron is a Gryffindor? He lives in a big tall tower. He shares a room with Neville. Did you know that Neville likes plants too? Plants talk to me sometimes, but sometimes they're allergic to me and I make them sneeze.

Side note: 'I think I'll just have Draco clean the entire dungeons by hand. With his toothbrush.'

Snape: [putting the burn paste away and summoning a vial of scar reducer]. This might be a bit cold, Harry. Let me see your left leg.

Harry: [lifts his trouser leg and reveals an angry red scar that runs up and down the length of his calf, wrapping around the back of his knee]

Snape: How did you get that scar?

Harry: Uncle thought I was a frog at dinner and tried to pull my leg off.

Side note: 'Definitely not sending him back to that house. I know of a few curses that remove body parts as well. I doubt you'd mind that much, Albus, especially if I didn't tell you. Ever.'

Snape: [rubbing the ointment into Harry's leg]. You should tell me or Vince if anyone tries to hurt you here at Hogwarts.

Harry: [eyes drooping sleepily] Okay 'fessor [drops his head on Snape's shoulder and then wraps thin arms around Snape's torso].

Side note: 'To say I was a bit surprised would be an understatement of vast proportion.'

Harry: I like it here. Don't send me back, please? [A few moments later and he is asleep].

End note: 'We will not be sending him back. I'm not entirely sure that Vernon Dursley will be alive at the end of next week either. Just a prediction—one that I had nothing to do with. Absolutely nothing. Nothing traceable anyway.'

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 – Week 2

Sabrina Fawcett spent the night alternating between nightmares and sleeplessness and was tired of waiting for her housemates to wake. She got dressed and then crept out of the tower.

She squeaked in surprise at the sight of Harry Potter standing outside the entrance.

"What are you doing here?" She asked, going up to him.

Her shoulder bumped his and she watched in amazement as his demeanour changed from slightly listless to animate.

"Hi Sabrina!"

"What are you doing here?" She repeated.

"Oh, I asked the castle to help me find a friend and here you are!"

Despite herself, she giggled at his answer. "You asked the castle?"

"Sure! She talks to me sometimes. Wanna go to breakfast?"

Feeling oddly brave and slightly spontaneous, Sabrina shrugged and then on a whim, she linked her arm with his and nodded. "Sure."

Harry led her to the Great Hall, teaching her several new shortcuts along the way. She felt a thrill at learning something that many of her year mates were unaware of.

. . .

Date: 10 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Ongoing impression: 'Morag is settling into the routine well enough, but her mask isn't always as complete as she would like to think it is.'

Sprout: Any post from your family this week?

Morag: Two letters from my mum and my dad. They mentioned that Megan is still angry at me.

Sprout: Megan, that's your sister's name?

Morag: Yes ma'am.

Sprout: I think she's holding you overly responsible.

Morag: [shrugs]

Sprout: Truly Morag, it's not your fault that magic decided to manifest inside your body and not hers.

Morag: She told me before I left that she thinks magic is a bunch of hooey anyway.

Sprout: You know that's not true.

Morag: [shrugs]

End Notes: 'I think I will go through with that visit. Perhaps Minerva will accompany me and we'll show Ms. Megan exactly what is real and what is not.'

. . .

Date: 10 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: What did you think of your lessons from this past week?

Hannah: I liked your class and Professor Flitwick's very much, but Professor Snape scared me!

Sprout: He does have that effect at times. He merely is trying to emphasize the importance of not underestimating the dangers of his class. In all of the years he has taught here, he has not had a single student death, or any major injuries.

Hannah: I still don't like him.

Sprout: That's quite all right dear. You don't have to.

Ongoing impressions: 'She is indignant over Severus' class. I would be amused if it weren't so very true.'

Sprout: Are you still getting along with your roommates?

Hannah: Yes ma'am! Susan is a bit like the sister I never had, and Sally-Anne is slowly starting to open up to us. Did you know that she lives on a farm and that she has ridden horses since she was three?

Sprout: She did mention something of the sort to me during our last session.

Hannah: It really is fascinating. She said that they do most of the work the muggle way, because of her father, but whenever her grandmother visits, they take a break and use magic the whole time.

End Notes: 'Hannah makes me nostalgic for my first days at Hogwarts.'

. . .

Date: 10 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: Any news from your family?

Justin: My mother writes me like clockwork. She informs me that her and father have decided on a story to tell everyone about me.

Sprout: And that is?

Justin: That I'm studying abroad. She wanted to know if it's possible to make my post look as though it came from America.

Sprout: An easy enough charm.

Ongoing impressions: 'Justin seems resigned to his fate.'

Sprout: Tell me, how are you feeling about your classes?

Justin: Easy enough, I suppose. A lot of it is just memorization at this point, it seems.

Sprout: It does start that way at first, but your later classes will build on what you are learning now.

End Notes: 'Perhaps I shall meet Mr. and Mrs. Finch-Fletchley this week too.'

. . .

Date: 11 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: You look better than you did last week. Are you sleeping better now?

Lisa: Some. That silencing charm really worked well. Almost too well, actually. I nearly missed my first class the next morning because I forgot and set my alarm on the other side of the charm.

Ongoing impressions: 'An easy enough mistake to make.'

Flitwick: I suppose the rest of your roommates probably heard it though.

Lisa: They thought it was funny.

Flitwick: But you didn't?

Lisa: They won't quit talking about it.

Flitwick: Ah well, these things happen. Soon you will all be too busy to talk of much except school work.

Lisa: I hope so.

End Notes: 'I believe I'll look up her file and see if she is an only child.'

. . .

Date: 11 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Tell me child, what happened to your parents? It only says in your file that they are deceased. Did you know them at all?

Ongoing impressions: 'She is instantly tearful.'

Sabrina: They died in, in a fire. Two years ago.

Flitwick: My deepest condolences, Ms. Fawcett.

End Notes: 'She shut down after the mention of her parents.'

. . .

Date: 11 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: I saw you studying with Sabrina Fawcett this week. How did that go?

Michael: She's okay . . . for a girl.

Ongoing impressions: 'Immaturity abounds.'

Flitwick: How do you feel about Gryffindor this week?

Michael: They're not all loud. Neville is okay, and so is that prefect Weasley boy. Other than that though . . .

Flitwick: I'm glad you can see that they're not all alike.

Michael: I've heard several times that Hufflepuff is the house of the duffers, but then what does that make Gryffindor? The house of the idiots? [laughs]

End Notes: 'I wonder how he feels about Slytherins?'

. . .

Date: 12 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Explain the five points you lost in Potions this past week, please.

Ron: Aw, Professor, that wasn't my fault at all!

McGonagall: You might be surprised to learn how many times . . . a day . . . I hear that same sentiment.

Ron: It was just because Neville's potion blew up and I didn't stop him from making a mistake. I didn't even know he had made a mistake, honest Professor.

Ongoing impressions: 'Severus, really? Expecting the youngest Weasley boy to keep his eyes on anything but his own cauldron is asking for trouble.'

McGonagall: Hmm. I'll accept that. Have you had any luck on transfiguring your needle?

Ron: Not really, but it did catch fire at one point. Is that bad?

McGonagall: What do you think?

Ron: [Silence]

McGonagall: Have you had any interactions with Slytherins this past week?

Ron: Uh, I caught Crabbe coming out of the girl's bathroom.

McGonagall: Pardon me?

Ron: He said that he went in there to get Potter's textbook. Something about Malfoy, I wasn't really sure.

End Notes: 'Did you know of this, Severus?'

. . .

Date: 12 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: How do you like Potions thus far?

Neville: I don't—ma'am.

McGonagall: Care to elaborate?

Neville: Professor Snape . . . [in a whisper] he scares me.

McGonagall: He scares many students.

Neville: And potions class is so dark. I can hardly see the board, let alone my notes.

McGonagall: Have you spoken to Professor Snape of this?

Neville: Um no.

McGonagall: I suggest doing so. He is usually fairly good with working with students.

Ongoing impressions: 'Are you reading this Severus? I just said a nice thing about you. Now prove me right.'

McGonagall: Anything else you wish to speak to me about?

Neville: Um, is it true that Granger is a girl?

McGonagall: It is. Is there doubt?

Neville: [He shrugs.] Some of the girls have started calling her an 'It.'

McGonagall: Can you give me their names?

Neville: Um, Parkinson, Greengrass and Lavender mostly.

McGonagall: Thank you, Neville.

End Notes: 'See this, Severus? I'll give Ms. Brown detention with you if you like.'

. . .

Date: 12 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: Is it true that Lavender has been calling Ms. Granger an 'It?'

Parvati: Uhhh.

McGonagall: That's enough of a confirmation. I have heard no reports of you joining in, and I shall hear of nothing either, understood?

Parvati: Yes ma'am.

Ongoing impressions: 'Who can be more frightening? The mother lion or the other cubs?'

McGonagall: Other than that, how has your week been?

End Notes: 'The fact that her name was not mentioned in the previous report does say something for her character.'

. . .

Date: 15 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 7 September, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'Vincent Crabbe continues to surprise me. Although he has largely stuck to Malfoy's pestilent side, he has managed to slip away a few times and assist Harry Potter. I wonder what the two have to say about each other this week.'

Snape: Thank you for retrieving Harry's textbook from the girl's bathroom this week, Vince.

Vince: You're—you're welcome.

Side note: 'A blush? My oh my, I should compliment him more often. I wonder if his parents ever do.'

Snape: Did anyone give you any trouble?

Vince: I ran into Weasley on my way out, but he just looked at me funny and didn't say anything at all.

Snape: How are your classes going?

Vince: Eh. Dad said I'm not s'posed to show up Draco at any point, so if he can't answer something, then I can't either.

Side note: 'This is ridiculous.'

Snape: So do you know the answers then?

Vincent: Sometimes. [shrug] Sometimes not. I don't think much in class.

Snape: Now that is precisely the opposite of what you should be doing. Take notes, listen, observe—no one has said anything against you doing those things. Work within the system, Vince. Get what you can, and we'll work out the details separately. Understand me?

Vince: Uh, yes sir. [He smiles].

End notes: 'Vince is clearly not used to the idea of anyone being on his side. I will do what I can to remedy that, but I hope that I am not the only one.'

. . .

Date: 15 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode, Daphne Greengrass, Pansy Parkinson (I am still considering splitting this room into two. It already is more trouble than it is worth).
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 14 September, 1991. She read part of it and then set it on fire.

Ongoing impressions: 'Though capable of standing up for herself, she could benefit from the presence of a friend. Perhaps I can get one of my older Slytherins to mentor her.'

Snape: You seem to be greatly interested in the topic of defence. Tell me, do you enjoy fire?

Hermione: What kind of question is that?

Snape: I ask because there is an entire branch of magical study devoted to the uses of fire, not only related to defence. I could help you get started in that field if you were so inclined.

Hermione: [shrugs]

Side note: 'She wishes to come off as uncaring, but I can see the interest glinting in her eyes.'

Snape: You might be interested that Ms. Parkinson and Ms. Greengrass have been assigned detention with me for the next week.

Hermione: Why?

Side note: 'She really does not seem to know.'

Snape: For name calling. Do you not recall them referring to you as an 'It' earlier this week?

Hermione: [shrug] Been called worse. If that's the worst they can do, then I don't really give a damn.

Snape: Have you so little regard for yourself?

Hermione: [suddenly sitting upright, making eye contact]. And you enjoy being referred to as a giant bat?

Snape: It is a cultivated image. One of my own choosing.

Hermione: [shrugs] Maybe I am an It. Maybe I'm not human. Maybe I am a monster. I told you. I. Don't. Give. A. DAMN.

Snape: I have seen monsters. I have even worked with them on occasion. Trust me, you are not one.

Hermione: All monsters start out small. Maybe you just haven't known me for long enough.

Snape: Do you truly aspire to be one?

Hermione: [silence]. This is a ridiculous conversation.

Snape: I think you do not give yourself enough credit.

Hermione: I think you give yourself too much. [Glare].

End Notes: 'Regardless of her anger, I like her. Therefore, I hope she doesn't choose to do anything rash.'

. . .

Date: 15 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott (Harry Potter, Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini are in the other room)
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 15 September, 1991

Initial impressions: 'Far too full of himself. Even a week of detention hasn't mellowed him out. He still believes he is worth more than I am. This week he has begun spreading the rumour that I am his godfather. He has failed to mention that if that were true, he would not be the little snot he is today.'

Snape: You skipped out on the last hour of your detention with me last night. Must I constantly watch you as though you were a toddler?

Draco: [Blushing]. I finished all the tasks you assigned.

Snape: In name only. Tell me, if I told you eat from cauldron three, would you do so?

Draco: It's so gross! I can't get it clean without magic!

Snape: I think that cauldron three will be yours until the end of the week. Perhaps that will encourage you to clean things the way I have instructed.

Draco: That is completely unfair. My father will hear about this. You have no right!

Side note: 'Yawn.'

Snape: Actually, I have every right. I am the professor. You are the student. You have disobeyed me multiple times and it isn't even October yet. Believe me when I tell you that your father would be very unhappy to learn of this turn of events.

Draco: You haven't owled him yet?

Side note: 'He has far too open expressions. I have seen more deceitfulness in the face of a Gryffindor. No Minerva, I will not reveal which one.'

Snape: Tell me what you thought you were trying to incite when you stole Mr. Longbottom's Remembrall.

[Silence]

Side note: 'At last, the fool shows some wisdom and keeps his mouth shut.'

Snape: Yes, I do know about that. Here is my theory. I think you wanted someone to follow you up into the air so that you could show off like some kind of idiot Gryffindor. And then no one took you up on it. How did that make you feel, Draco? Worthless? Uninteresting? If you would like your very own dunce cap, I'm sure I could find one for you. We could even paint it red and gold—.

Draco: [interrupting]. Just shut up, okay? I understand. It was stupid.

Snape: Yes. It was. It was behaviour unbefitting of a Slytherin. I think for detention this week, I'll have you skinning stink lizards as your punishment. I might warn you to wear something you don't like, as the smell is rather difficult to get rid of.

Draco: I hate you. And I hate Harry Potter. And I hate the Gryffindors and all the stupid smiling Hufflepuffs!

Snape: Finished?

Draco: I still hate you.

Snape: So you've said. Anything new to add?

[Silence]

End notes: 'Minerva, I have a proposition for you. Give me the Weasley twins and I'll let you have Draco Malfoy. I wonder what his father would say about that!'

. . .

Date: 15 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: Aunt and Uncle, cousin – family is being investigated. Findings thus far are not encouraging. I doubt he will be listed as living with them for very much longer.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, the bones in his leg and arm have been rebroken and set correctly, and he is taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom.

Albus believes that a mind healer would be too risky at this point. I can see his point, but at the same time, it worries me that he may not be receiving the attention he needs.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: Hagrid, inviting him to tea. I know, because Hagrid showed up to collect him personally at the end of my class.

Ongoing impressions: 'Tracking charms have proven useless in his situation. I don't know how he is doing it, and I very much doubt that he knows either, but he is somehow dismantling them almost as soon as they are applied. I hope this isn't more meddling by you, Albus.'

Snape: [keeping a hand on his shoulder once again, directs Harry to the couch in the centre of his office].

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape!

Snape: Hello Harry.

Harry: Did you know that we can fly on brooms? I tripped over mine, but ended up flying up a bit anyway before Vince grabbed my leg and pulled me back down. You know Vince, right? He's really nice.

Snape: He's a good boy. I'm pleased to hear that he kept you from getting hurt. Did you enjoy your tea with Hagrid?

Harry: He's really big!

Snape: Yes, it's familial.

Harry: And he has a dog and his name is Fang and he drooled all over my robes, but it didn't matter because it wasn't aunt Petunia's floor, so I didn't get a beating. And I was sorta scared of Fang, 'cause I thought he might be like Ripper and chase me up a tree, but there weren't no trees to climb, and he didn't chase me anyway. Maybe he likes me?

Side note: 'Sometimes Harry's ramblings hurt my head.'

Snape: Hagrid and his dog are very nice. I see no reason for them not to like you.

Harry: Do ya think Hagrid will ever get a dragon? He really wants one.

Snape: Dragons are not pets. It would be good for him to remember that.

Harry: Can you tell Quirrelly not to look at me so much? I don't like it when he touches my desk either. It makes it vibrate funny.

Snape: How does he look at you?

Harry: Like Uncle Vernon, but it smells worse.

Side note: 'I have no earthly idea what this means, but I suggest we look into it, Albus.'

Harry: Did you see that I get to wear my very own trousers every day? I put my name inside them just so everyone knows they're mine. You don't think anyone will wear them by accident, do you? [concerned, wide eyed look]

Snape: They know better than to touch anything of yours.

Harry: How comes Hermes don't ever smile? He just glares and is unhappy and the castle thinks he's really a she, but he doesn't want to be. Why can't he be a he if he wants to be?

Side note: 'Upon further contemplation, I believe he is referring to Ms. Granger here. Though, where he got the name Hermes is anyone's guess.'

Snape: Hermes? Who is this?

Harry: Hey, do you think I'll ever be big like you? [abruptly pulls Snape's arm over his shoulders]. Vince said I gots to eat my vegetables and I might get to be as big as a shrimp instead of the fly size I am now. I don't wanna be a shrimp, I wanna be a big bat like you. You think I can be?

Side note: 'For whatever reason, this very nearly evoked an emotional response in me.'

Snape: You still have time to grow. I think you might become bigger than a shrimp if you continue to eat well and take your potions every day.

Harry: [settles more comfortably against Snape] When I get big like you, I'm gonna wear long robes and then maybe everyone'll call me a bat too, and I can say that I'm your pet bat so that no one ever messes with me ever again.

[Less than five minutes later and Harry is asleep]

Snape: No one is allowed to mess with you either way.

End note: 'A little birdy told me that Vernon Dursley is getting sacked at work tomorrow. I claim no foreknowledge of this. In fact, I claim very little of anything you might be suspicious of, Albus. After all, I am a Slytherin.'

Chapter Text

Harry moved quickly but silently down the hallway. Draco's note had said for him to come to the "third-floor corridor on the right-hand side" just as soon as he was up, as he had something to show him. The note had also mentioned that he was going to be hiding, and that Harry would have to look for him, like a game.

Harry liked games and the idea of hunting for Draco was rather exciting.

The first two doors he tried were silent and open to empty classrooms full of dusty and broken furniture, but the third door he tried was locked. Putting his ear to the door, he thought he could hear something that sounded as though it were walking back and forth across the floor, and he grinned as he imagined Draco's surprised face.

Just as he started to twist his magic into place, he heard the whispered voice that he had begun to associate with the castle in his head.

"Tread lightly," it whispered lightly across his mind.

His face crumpled up in confusion. Why'd you say that?

No answer. Sometimes the castle wasn't very forthcoming on such things.

Now a bit more wary, he pushed his magic into the lock and undid it with a flick of his fingers. The door swung open with a slight creak and he stepped into the darkness. His night vision was very good, especially after years of being locked in a dark cupboard, and it didn't take very long for him to see that the thing staring back at him was not Draco.

His breath caught in his throat and he tried to step backwards, but his limbs didn't seem to want to move. The thing in front of him was beginning to growl and move towards him, but he still couldn't make his body work. The head on the right lunged forwards just as a hand clasped over his shoulder, yanking him backwards and slamming the door in the face of the monster.

He turned to see who had rescued him and his eyes went wide at the sight.

"Hermes!" He cried out weakly, throwing his arms around his saviour. Hermes withstood it for a moment and then untangled himself, pushing Harry back against the wall and waving a finger in his face.

"You could have been killed! What did you think you were doing going in there?"

"Dr-Draco said to come here! He said to find him!" Harry said, nodding vigorously up and down. "Do you think that thing ate him?"

Hermes ran a hand down his face and gave an impressive sounding growl. "No, that thing didn't eat him! But it nearly ate you because Draco is a twisted little shit!"

Harry only stared back, not sure exactly what to say.

"Come on, let's get out of here," Hermes said, grabbing his arm and pulling him down the corridor to the stairs.

They only stopped again when they were a few floors away. Hermes moved them into an empty classroom and locked the door with a flick of his wand.

"All right, listen to me," he said, putting his hand on Harry's shoulder.

Harry nodded obediently.

"Draco is not your friend. He doesn't like you. He only wants to hurt you. Are you following me?"

"But Draco's not like that!" Harry argued.

Hermes growled again and Harry blinked at the sight.

"Let's try this again," Hermes said, after taking a deep breath. "If Draco tells you to meet him somewhere, don't. If Draco wants you to go somewhere with him alone, don't. Understand?"

Well, that wasn't such a bad order.

Harry nodded slowly.

"What are you supposed to do if Draco asks you to walk with him?" Hermes asked.

"Uh," Harry said, biting his lip until his memory kicked in. "Not to."

"Good," Hermes answered, relaxing a bit. "And if he tells you to meet him somewhere?"

"Not to?" Harry asked softly.

"Yes. Very good."

Harry grinned. He liked getting things right.

. . .

Date: 17 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Update: 'Minerva and I made a visit to the MacDougal household this past week and met Morag's mother and father. Her mother is a rosy cheeked woman who spends a great deal of her time in the kitchen, judging from her well worn apron and the smudge of flour upon her cheek. Morag's father was still at work when we arrived, despite it being after suppertime. Mrs. MacDougal informed us that he works as a "Four-Man in the local Fact Story," whatever that means. I did not ask. Minerva seemed to understand though, so I left it at that. I am not as familiar with muggle traditions as I should be perhaps.

We also met Megan, Morag's twin sister. They are quite identical, although Megan's face took on a distasteful moue after learning of our origins. She is quite jealous of Morag's magical status, I fear. Mrs. MacDougal (her given name is Susan) asked us in for tea, and after discussing the traditional topics (the weather, the local price of ale and something called "Rug Bee"), we got down to the matter at hand.

"Ms. MacDougal," I said, turning to Megan. "Morag is aware of how unhappy you are with her, and in turn it is turning what should be a good experience into more of a stressful one. Could you not be the least bit proud of your sister? I know how difficult it is to be separated from a loved one, but your anger is quite disheartening to my student."

Megan's eyes became quite tear filled at my words, and she answered with, "But I want her with me! Morag doesn't care about that."

"Dear, she does care about it. She misses you greatly, and I'm sure if there was some way to sneak you into Hogwarts, she would have already done it."

This made both Megan and her mother laugh, as was the intent.

"Surely you aren't just sitting about, doing nothing here?" I asked at that time.

"I go to school too," Megan answered, sticking her chin out a bit defiantly.

I think I sensed a bit of Gryffindor in her.

"And what subjects are you interested in?" Minerva asked.

"Maths, mostly."

"Is she any good?" Minerva asked, turning to Susan.

"First in her class," Susan answered proudly.

"Well then, there's something you can be very proud of. Every subject has a bit of magic to it, a bit of wonder, and your maths is no exception," I said.

This seemed to make both mother and daughter pause a bit, and from there the conversation went a bit more smoothly.'

Sprout: Professor McGonagall and I went and talked to your family this past week.

Morag: [she blushes] I know. My mother and my sister already wrote me.

Sprout: And?

Morag: My sister says she's sorry for making me feel so horrid. She said she just missed me, but she said that your visit made her see how miserable she was making me. Oh!

Sprout: What is it dear?

Morag: Megan said that they're moving her into an advanced class for maths. She's going to be studying business math—accounts and transactions and whatnot. Isn't that exciting?

Sprout: Quite.

End Notes: 'I haven't a clue about any accounts or transactions or whatnot, but if my Badger is excited, then the least I can do is be excited for her.'

. . .

Date: 17 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: How has this past week been?

Hannah: Well, I enjoyed the flying lesson a great deal. My mother never liked the idea of us being in the air, so she didn't let us even near broomsticks. I felt a bit like the muggle students during our lesson.

Sprout: Was that frightening or exciting?

Hannah: [She thinks for a moment.] It was a bit of both, I think. I'm glad that I'm not a muggle born, because I'm not sure I could handle entering a completely new world. And to do that and be expected to learn! I think I understand why people like Justin and Dean Thomas are a bit quieter than the rest of some of us. It's almost like they don't even speak the same language or something.

Side note: 'I know that I certainly felt this way when talking with the MacDougals.'

Sprout: That's very insightful, Hannah. Do you think this will change the way you treat them?

Hannah: Well, maybe not treat them, because I really do try to be nice to everyone—as much as I can, you know. But I think that I might be able to understand why someone might get confused during an explanation that makes perfect sense to me.

Sprout: A very important perspective to have, dear. I think a great many of problems in society are caused by simple misunderstandings.

Hannah: [She nods]. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.

End Notes: 'I am very happy that Hannah was sorted into Hufflepuff.'

. . .

Date: 17 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: How was your week?

Justin: It was all right I suppose.

Sprout: You suppose?

Justin: [He shifts in his seat]. Well, we had our first flying lesson this past week, and . . . I didn't like it very much at all.

Sprout: Not all magical people enjoy flying, dear. I enjoy watching other people fly, but I don't care for it much myself.

Justin: Why don't you like to fly?

Sprout: I don't enjoy the sensation of having my feet off of the ground.

Justin: [He nods]. Did . . . [he shifts] . . . other people ever make fun of your flying?

Side note: 'Ah. I wonder who it was. I hope it wasn't another one of my Badgers.'

Sprout: Not my flying per se, but some people laughed at me for being afraid.

Side note: 'One of those people was my older brother, but I believe that bringing up the subject of family to Justin mightn't end well.'

Justin: [He hesitates] . . . Michael Corner—he's a Ravenclaw—he said that I looked a bit like a flying pig.

Sprout: And Madame Hooch didn't say anything to him about such a distasteful comment?

Justin: [He shrugs]. I don't think she heard. Either that or she felt the same way.

Sprout: She has more class than to think such immature things about her students. Mr. Corner should have been reprimanded at the very least. Did any of your housemates say anything about it after?

Justin: Not really. I think I saw Susan glare at him, but I might have been imagining it. Just wishful thinking, you know?

Sprout: I am sorry that your experience was not a good one. If this happens again, you should tell Madame Hooch immediately, and if she doesn't respond in an adequate manner, then I will.

End Notes: 'I believe I'll have a word with Filius later.'

. . .

Date: 18 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: Have you learned anything new this past week?

Lisa: Um, well I learned that I need to study more for Potions.

Flitwick: Ah yes, that is a common enough problem for most students, regardless of their year.

Lisa: I just hope I can get a better understanding of it soon. I don't like feeling like a dummy.

Flitwick: As long as you remember that feeling like one is not the same as being one. If you continue having difficulties though, I suggest you talk to Professor Snape. He may be able to clear up any lasting misunderstandings you have.

Lisa: Are you sure he would help me? I'm not one of his precious Snakes.

Side note: 'Is that a bit of resentment I hear?'

Flitwick: Just be thankful that you are not a Gryffindor, child. Professor Snape is particularly . . . demanding of them in his class. I think though, as a Ravenclaw, there is no reason for him to treat you with anything but patience.

Lisa: I hope so.

End Notes: 'Tsk tsk tsk, Severus. Frightening my students like that is not very conducive towards their continued understanding in your class. I do wish you would learn to be a bit more inviting to those outside your own house.'

. . .

Date: 18 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Have you learned anything this past week?

Sabrina: I think that I'm starting to get the hang of transfiguring a needle to a matchstick.

Flitwick: Wonderful! Has Professor McGonagall said anything of your progress?

Sabrina: [She blushes]. She showed the rest of the class my matchstick and complimented me.

Flitwick: I'm very happy that you're beginning to understand Transfiguration. A great many of students, regardless of their intelligence levels, have difficulties with that class. The important thing now is that you continue to practice practice practice!

End Notes: 'I will ask her more about her family next week, perhaps. She should be allowed to have this moment of success.'

. . .

Date: 18 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: I received a disturbing report about your behaviour this past week.

Michael: [He stiffens]. Oh?

Side note: 'I hope that he does not attempt any kind of retribution towards the boy who went to Pomona about this.'

Flitwick: I do not stand for bullying or name calling from any member of my house, and you are no exception.

Michael: Me, sir?

Side note: 'You know Severus, just because someone is not in Slytherin does not mean that they haven't any Slytherin traits.'

Flitwick: Do you think me an idiot?

Michael: [His eyes widen]. No sir!

Flitwick: Then don't treat me as one. I'm not going to ask you to justify your behaviour, let alone discuss it. I only wish to make sure that you don't do anything of the sort again. Name calling is every bit as painful as actually physically striking someone.

If you haven't been on the receiving end of such a thing, then let me enlighten you. I was ridiculed repeatedly throughout my early years for the blood my forefathers chose to mix. I would hope that a Ravenclaw, a member of the house that I am the head and representative for would choose not to stoop to such . . . plebeian levels. Am I clear, Mr. Corner?

Micheal: [He lowers his head from its previous defiant level]. Yes sir. I'm—I'm sorry sir.

Flitwick: I am not the one for whom you should apologize to.

End Notes: 'That was oddly satisfying. Although I should note that I do not enjoy castigating any student, especially my own, but behaviours like his can only get worse unless they are addressed as early as possible. I hope that I do not have to discuss this matter again with him.'

. . .

Date: 19 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Professor Snape informs me that you and Mr. Malfoy have been fighting in the corridors again.

Ron: He starts it. Always riding me about my family, saying we live in a shack and we share the same shirts and bullsh—er, stupid stuff like that.

McGonagall: He is trying to get you in trouble by getting you riled up. Your life—and mine—would be a great deal simpler if you would simply learn to ignore him. He is seeking attention any way he can, and every time you give into his taunts, he gets what he wants. Mr. Weasley, might I suggest that you do not give him what he wants. Ignore him and walk away.

Ron: [He turns red]. If I turn my back on him, he'll attack me from behind.

Side note: 'Not that I necessarily believe Mr. Weasley, but you do have to admit that it sounds like something Mr. Malfoy would do. He is a coward, and I would hope that is something you are already aware of.'

McGonagall: Then might I suggest that you practice your defence?

Ron: And then Snape shows up and takes points just because I kept Malfoy from killing me!

McGonagall: Professor Snape, Mr. Weasley. If Professor Snape is present, then Mr. Malfoy should think twice about attacking you, especially with anything dangerous. Might I also add that you are both first years and likely incapable of producing deadly levels of magic?

Ron: Well he's a Slytherin and you know they're all taught dark magic from infancy. [He crosses his arms over his chest and stares back defiantly]. There never was a dark wizard that didn't come from Slytherin. They're all bad over there and Snape is the one who teaches them how!

McGonagall: Mr. Weasley, I would think very carefully if I were you about what you are saying. Accusing a professor of dark magic is a very serious charge, and should you be wrong, it is likely that you would be expelled.

Ron: [Swallowing hard.]

McGonagall: Furthermore, I wasn't aware that you felt Mr. Potter to be capable of such evil. He is, after all, the Boy Who Lived, and I very much doubt that he would align himself with someone who supported the murder of his parents.

Ron: [Silence.] It's not his fault he got sorted into Slytherin. And you know how he is. He wouldn't even notice if they were doing dark magic. He's kinda slow.

Side note: 'Enough of this idiocy.'

McGonagall: Mr. Weasley, are you aware of what the word, "slander" means?

Ron: Uh, not entirely.

McGonagall: Slander is considered to be anything malicious or false that is spoken about a person. In other words, verbal lies. What you have said about Professor Snape, and also Mr. Potter, is considered slander. There is no truth to either statement. Professor Snape is not dark and Mr. Potter is not stupid.

Ron: I didn't say that!

McGonagall: Did you mean a different sort of descriptor then? Perhaps 'dummy' would better fit your thoughts for Mr. Potter?

Ron: No ma'am.

McGonagall: Dummy, idiot, retard . . . these are all words that are used to describe individuals that are thought to be mentally slow. They are not acceptable words in any setting, not only because they are hurtful in their own right, but because they cast judgment on the person as a whole, ignoring the diversity of their skills.

I do not wish for you to make such comments about Mr. Potter or anyone else in this school. Am I understood?

Ron: [He slowly nods].

McGonagall: Good. Now go do your homework.

End Notes: 'I despise name calling of any variety.'

. . .

Date: 19 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: How is your wrist?

Neville: [He shrugs with a smile.] Madame Pomfrey fixed it in about a minute. It wasn't too big of a deal.

McGonagall: I'm glad to hear that. Professor Sprout has been singing your praises all week, by the way.

Neville: [He blushes.] Why would she do that, ma'am?

McGonagall: You seem to have a remarkable talent for plants, Mr. Longbottom.

Neville: [He shifts uncomfortably in his seat.] They just make sense to me, ma'am.

McGonagall: It's not a criticism, Mr. Longbottom. You should be proud of your progress in Herbology. Not everyone can say the same thing about that class.

End note: 'Or any other, for that matter.'

. . .

Date: 19 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: How are you getting on with your classmates this week?

Parvati: Pretty good. The flying lesson was fun, though Malfoy tried to be a prat.

McGonagall: Yes, I heard about that. I am very pleased that none of you responded to his taunts and stayed on the ground.

Parvati: Yes ma'am. Do you know if Neville ever got his Remembrall back?

McGonagall: Yes, he did. Mr. Malfoy also received detention with Professor Snape.

Parvati: [She shudders]. I'm glad that wasn't me. Lavender said that he had them cleaning out cauldrons the entire time, with him looming just beside them.

Side notes: 'Ah Severus, never a dull moment, eh?'

McGonagall: Professor Snape does not stand for any disobedience from his students. As long as you remember that and act accordingly, then I doubt that you will ever have to experience one of his detentions.

Parvati: I hope not.

End Notes: 'A better week for one of my cubs at least.'

. . .

Date: 22 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 19 September, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'Although he has continued to stick with the odious entity that is Draco Malfoy, Vincent has also made time this week for studying with Harry, and to a lesser extent, Gregory Goyle.'

Snape: Did your mother write to you about anything of interest?

Vince: Eh, she just tells me what I already know. I'm supposed to obey my father's words. I'm supposed to not get caught with anything. I'm supposed to eat my vegetables. You know, mum stuff.

Side note: 'Perhaps in your family . . .'

Snape: And how goes your relationship with Harry Potter?

Vince: He's talking a bit more. Sometimes it doesn't make sense, but sometimes it does. You know he went missing early Monday morning, right?

Side note: 'I wasn't aware that leaving the dorm early constituted a missing status.'

Snape: Did he? Do you know where he was?

Vince: [He shrugs]. Haven't been able to get it out of him, that's why I mentioned it to you. He seems to really like you. Whenever we go into the Great Hall, he always points up at where you all sit and says, 'See? There's my 'fessor.'

Snape: [He gives a slight smile]. I shall ask him about it then. Thank you for letting me know.

Vince: [He smiles back].

End notes: 'I wonder what James Potter would say of his son's respect for me?'

. . .

Date: 22 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode (I have indeed split the girls into two rooms. After some contemplation, I decided that Ms. Bulstrode was the most likely to survive being alone with Ms. Granger)
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 19 September, 1991. She set it on fire without opening it.
Last owl received: 19 September, 1991. It was delivered by the white snowy owl that belongs to Harry Potter, I believe. Ms. Granger opened it and actually read it, before tucking the note away in her backpack. Given the date, I surmise that it likely was sent as some kind of celebratory note for her birth day, although I do not know for certain.

Ongoing impressions: 'Feisty does not even begin to describe her.'

Hermione: You shouldn't let Harry Potter wander around by himself.

Snape: Oh? And why is that?

Hermione: [With a glare]. He gets into things that he shouldn't.

Snape: Such as?

Hermione: [She hesitates for the briefest of moments]. I saw him leaving the forbidden third floor corridor.

Side note: 'And why were you there?'

Snape: When was this?

Hermione: Early Monday morning. I was going to the library.

Snape: From the dungeons? That is a strange route.

Hermione: [She glares and crosses her arms defensively]. I like to take different ways through the castle as much as possible. I don't like not knowing what's around the corner.

Side note: 'The first complete truth she has ever voluntarily told me.'

Snape: Literally or figuratively?

Hermione: Either.

Snape: And Mr. Potter, was he unharmed?

Hermione: As much as ever.

Side Notes: 'Hm, she sees him somewhere around the Forbidden corridor and then later he sends her a note on her birth day. Forgive me Minerva, but I can't help thinking that the two are related.'

Snape: Did he say anything about why he had been there?

Hermione: [She scowls]. He said that Draco Malfoy told him to meet there.

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. Indeed. I promise you that I will get to the bottom of this matter.

End Notes: 'Draco and I are about to have a little chat, and then if he's still alive, we'll discuss punishment.'

. . .

Date: 22 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott (Harry Potter, Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini are in the other room)
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 22 September, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'More repugnant than his father in some ways, and certainly more absurd overall.'

Snape: Good afternoon, Draco. [He smiles].

Draco: [His eyes narrows and he stiffens almost imperceptibly]. Good afternoon, sir.

Snape: Oh, let's dispense with the formalities, Draco. [He moves his chair close enough that their knees are now touching].

Draco: [He tries to scoot farther back in his seat, but there is very little room to move]. S-Sir? What are you talking about?

Snape: We're on the same level, aren't we Draco? Friends? Chums even, you might say. [He reaches out and grasps Draco's right hand].

Draco: [His face, although already pale, turns nearly yellow]. I don't understand.

Snape: Of course you don't. [His hand tightens down around Draco's].

Draco: [He winces]. Should I go clean the cauldrons better?

Snape: Should you go? No, I think not. I would much rather have you here, in my sight. [He says the last word with a hiss].

Draco: [He shivers]. Why? Have I done something wrong?

Side note: 'I don't know, Draco. Define wrong. Is it wrong to send one of your housemates to their death? Let me think . . .'

Snape: You have done many things wrong. It's only the third week and look how wrong you already have become.

Draco: [He shakes his head and his free hand trembles]. I'm sorry about Longbottom's stupid Remembrall, all right?

Snape: Draco, while idiotic, that little transgression isn't what we are discussing.

Draco: Then what? [He wheezes the last word].

Snape: [He squeezes Draco's hand even tighter, enough to cause a real wince, and then pulls it towards himself]. Did you, or did you not attempt to murder one of your housemates? [They are now face to face].

Draco: I-I-I don't know what you're t-talking about.

Snape: [He pulls a letter out of his inside robe pocket and reads from it]. 'Harry – Meet me tomorrow morning on the third floor corridor, on the right side. I'll be hiding, so you have to find me. I have something to show you. Draco.'

Draco: You—You're making that-that up. I wouldn't. I don't—I don't know what you're on about, but-.

Snape: Oh your father will most certainly be hearing of this, but not from you. I wonder what I shall tell him. That you attempted to murder one of your housemates? That you attempted to murder the Boy Who Lived? That you wrote out your transgression on a plain piece of paper that anyone could read?

You know better than most how much work your father has put into regaining his status in our world. I wonder how he would feel if it were all unravelled by the actions of his dim-witted offspring?

Draco: I—I. You can't tell him that!

Snape: And precisely why not?

Draco: Please, please sir. Please don't tell him. He'll kill me. Please.

Side note: 'I sincerely doubt that Lucius would be foolish to kill his own son. Although, that certainly would take care of many of my problems.'

Snape: I fail to see why that should be a concern of mine.

Draco: [Breathing hard; his eyes shifting back and forth as he visibly thinks]. You—you wouldn't let one of your Snakes be killed, would you sir? You said—You said that you protect us, right sir? Right?

Snape: That is precisely what I am doing now. Not letting one of my Snakes be killed by you! [Abruptly he stands, releasing Draco's hand as he does].

Draco: [Falling back hard against the seat cushions]. I didn't know that it'd kill him! I just wanted to scare him a bit!

Snape: Exactly what part of, 'die a painful death,' did you not understand? If you want to have a firsthand experience with that, I'm sure I could oblige. [He says with a growl].

Draco: [He begins to cry silently]. What are you going to do?

Snape: [He is silent for a moment as he stares angrily down at Draco]. As much as I would enjoy seeing you suffer at the hands of your father, I doubt that it would actually solve anything in the long run.

Side note: 'Other than provide me with hours of entertainment.'

Snape: Instead, I think we'll start with a public explanation from you to the rest of the Slytherins of what you did, and then in that same setting let you publicly apologize to Mr. Potter. You'll receive instructions of when this shall take place later this evening. And don't look so relieved, Mr. Malfoy. This is only the beginning.

Draco: Yes sir. [He nods energetically].

Snape: Get out of my sight. Your presence is giving me a headache.

End notes: 'So many wonderful ways to punish and so little time.'

. . .

Date: 22 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: Me, informing him of his change in guardianship.

Ongoing impressions: 'Perhaps it would be worthwhile to assign a house elf to stay with him at all times that he is not otherwise under supervision.'

Snape: [keeping a hand on his shoulder, directs Harry to the couch in the centre of his quarters].

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape! I like the carpet in here. It's really soft!

Snape: Hello Harry. I enjoy the carpet as well.

Side note: 'Especially after hours of being around children like Draco Malfoy.'

Harry: Did you know that there's a three headed dog on the third floor? It's really scary!

Snape: I do know. He is a Cerberus.

Harry: Hermes says I'm not allowed to go anywhere with Draco anymore.

Snape: [He pauses]. Yes, Hermes is most correct. Draco does not have your best interests in mind.

Harry: Hermes said that Draco isn't my friend. Is that true? [He stares up at Snape with wide, guileless eyes].

Snape: Hermes has told you the truth. Draco is not your friend. He tried to hurt you.

Harry: Like Uncle Vernon? [He whispers]

Side note: 'Damn it.'

Snape: If he had succeeded, he would have hurt you just as badly or even worse than your uncle.

Harry: [He sniffles].

Snape: [He puts an arm around Harry's shoulders and pulls him into his side]. But I won't let him hurt you again. You're safe now.

Harry: [He nods and wraps his arms around himself]. I don't have to go back to the Dursleys no more?

Snape: You do not.

Side note: 'At some point we stopped discussing Draco and moved onto Harry's ex-family.'

Harry: Is Hagrid still my friend?

Snape: He is.

Harry: And Vince too?

Snape: Yes.

Harry: And you're still my 'fessor?

Snape: [He gives a small smile]. Indeed I am.

Harry: All right. [He suddenly leans over and hugs Professor Snape]. Did you know that I get to go eat at the table every day?

Snape: I should hope so.

Harry: And I get to go to class and make potions and play duck and cover every time Neville blows his up?

Snape: We all do.

Harry: [He closes his eyes]. And didja know that I get my very own 'fessor and that I gets to live with him instead of the Dursleys? And he can't get rid of me, 'cause I'm a Snake and he's a Snake and that makes us family? [He yawns]. Did you know that I get my very own family? My 'fessor's in it and so is my Vince and my Hagrid and my Hermes . . . [He breathes deeply as sleep finally overtakes his body].

Snape: Asleep again? [He smiles].

End notes: 'Did you know that I get my very own Harry?'

Chapter Text

23 September, 1991

"Hi Miss Mary!" Harry said in greeting to Mary Towers, one of the 7th year prefects.

"Hello Mr. Harry!" She answered just as brightly to the boy. As the oldest of four children, Mary was well suited towards working with those younger than her. Although it was only the fourth week of school, she had already taken a shine to Harry.

"My 'fessor said I should sit with you!" Harry added, plopping down on the sofa next to the older girl. They were in the Slytherin common room, awaiting the weekly house meeting.

"Oh he did, did he?" She asked with a devilish glint in her eyes. A moment later she dove down upon Harry's stomach and sides, tickling him until he squealed with laughter.

After she had stopped and Harry had wiped the tears from his eyes, they both leaned back and Harry slipped his hand inside her own. He liked Miss Mary a great deal.

A moment later, Professor Snape came into the room, Draco Malfoy trailing mulishly after. The students quieted down at the sight of their head of house, just in time for Harry's cheerfully called out, "Hi 'fessor Snape!" to break cleanly through.

His greeting was met with giggles from the other students. Professor Snape turned from his path to the centre of the room and went over to pat Harry on the head lightly before continuing on.

"That's my 'fessor," Harry whispered none too quietly to Mary afterwards.

"Shh, I know," Mary answered with a smile.

They returned their attention to the centre of the common room, where Professor Snape was introducing Draco Malfoy to the rest of the snakes.

"Mr. Malfoy has something to explain to the rest of you," he said with an unusually stern expression.

Snape stepped back to loom next to the wall as Draco explained his scheme to get Harry up to the Forbidden Third Floor Corridor. The rest of the students were frowning and scowling by the end of the explanation and Draco had started sweating. Although Harry was one of the youngest Snakes, many of the older Slytherins had already begun thinking of him as their special little brother, and the idea that someone would purposely try to harm him was unthinkable. It was bad enough being the least liked house within Hogwarts, but to have one of their own turn against them . . . well, it just wasn't acceptable.

"Sorry, Harry," Draco finished up with, not looking up from the floor.

"You don't get to call him 'Harry,' you sleaze!" Gondoline Oliphant called out.

"He's not your friend!" Someone near Hermione shouted.

Draco scowled but adjusted his statement nonetheless. "Sorry, Potter."

Professor Snape stepped back into the middle of the room. "I won't tell you how you ought to treat Mr. Malfoy, but I might remind you that we will still present a united front to the rest of the students," his black eyes swept over the room with a meaningful look.

A muttered chorus of "Yes sirs" was his response and he gave a nod to their voiced agreements.

. . .

Date: 24 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: How is this week going for you thus far?

Morag: It's a lot better than the last few weeks! I'm so glad you went and talked to my family.

Sprout: I'm just relieved that it made a difference for you here. Aside from that, has anything interesting occurred?

Morag: Actually . . .

Sprout: What is it dear?

Morag: It's really very odd.

Sprout: What is?

Morag: Well, Draco Malfoy sat next to me in History of Magic yesterday.

Sprout: And?

Morag: Well, he never voluntarily sits next to the 'Puffs. The only Slytherins who ever do that are Harry and sometimes Granger, but she rather scares me, and I can't concentrate when that happens.

Sprout: So there were no other seats, I'm assuming?

Morag: No, that's just thing. There were other seats, but they were all within the Slytherin side and he just looked at them and kept walking.

Sprout: Did he behave himself once he was seated?

Morag: Yes, yes he did. He didn't even fall asleep, although goodness knows most everyone else except Granger and Susan do. You know how History of Magic is.

Sprout: I most certainly do.

End Notes: 'What did you do to Mr. Malfoy that you're not telling us about, Severus?'

. . .

Date: 24 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: How has this past week been?

Hannah: Well, fairly good, but . . .

Sprout: Yes dear?

Hannah: The Slytherins are acting a bit odd.

Side note: 'Severus, I reiterate my previous question.'

Sprout: Odd in what way?

Hannah: Well, they've been a bit quieter lately, and they've been going around in a big scowling crowd more often than usual.

Sprout: Are you quite sure that they've been scowling?

Hannah: Either that, or they've just been really angry about something. I can't exactly tell.

Sprout: Wouldn't it be more worthwhile to try asking them?

Hannah: Oh no, I couldn't do that.

Sprout: Why ever not?

Hannah: They're Slytherins, Professor Sprout! I'm a Hufflepuff.

Sprout: And?

Hannah: Well, surely you know how they feel about us. Hufflepuffs are barely worth any notice as is. But I'd rather they ignore us than treat us like the Gryffindors.

Sprout: And if you were to ask them a question, they would notice you? Is that what you're trying to tell me?

Hannah: That's precisely it!

End Notes: 'Perhaps we should consider forming inter-Hogwarts Quidditch or studying teams. This is quite ridiculous. I don't remember the house divide being quite this substantial when I was a girl.'

. . .

Date: 24 September, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: How was your week?

Justin: Does it really matter all that much?

Sprout: It does to me.

Justin: [He chews on his lower lip]. Well, Michael Corner apologized to me. Does that mean that you said something to Professor Flitwick about what I told you?

Sprout: I told him that someone said something to me. I didn't tell him who.

Justin: [Some of the colour comes back into his cheeks]. I guess that's all right then.

Sprout: I don't believe that name calling is acceptable, no matter the age or situation. I would also never purposefully betray your trust. Your safety is very important to me.

Justin: [He nods]. It's not as though I'm unused to being the butt of other people's jokes.

Side note: 'Oh dear.'

Sprout: I am sorry to hear that.

Justin: [He shrugs] Just one of those things, I suppose.

Sprout: It shouldn't have to be.

Justin: Well, you get used to it after a while.

Sprout: I sincerely hope that we can get you unused to it. My Badgers should feel safe and proud of themselves.

End Notes: 'I dearly hope that I am not the first teacher ever to address this issue for him.'

. . .

Date: 25 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: Has Potions been any more productive this week?

Lisa: [She smiles]. Some.

Flitwick: Did you talk to Professor Snape?

Lisa: Eventually.

Flitwick: And what did he say?

Lisa: He told me that there's a first years study group that meets every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to look over that week's Potions' curriculum.

Flitwick: Wonderful! And have you gone yet?

Lisa: I just came from there.

Flitwick: Which houses are represented?

Lisa: So far just Slytherin and Ravenclaw, but you might be happy to hear that I was not the only Ravenclaw there!

Flitwick: Oh? Who else?

Lisa: Wendy Tower. She's one of two older students that help lead the group. Her older sister is one of the Slytherin prefects!

Side note: 'This is quite a pleasant surprise, Severus!'

Flitwick: Wendy Tower is quite a competent Potions student. You're lucky to be learning under her tutelage.

End Notes: 'Well done, Severus.'

. . .

Date: 25 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Are you continuing to acclimate yourself to life here at Hogwarts?

Sabrina: It's different than my grandmother's house, but it's a good kind of different, I think. I know that first years aren't allowed to try out for the Quidditch team, but I really enjoyed watching the tryouts this week.

Flitwick: Do you think you'll try out for a position next year?

Sabrina: I don't see how. I'm here on scholarship and it's not as though I'd be able to practice anywhere except Hogwarts.

Flitwick: Oh, I don't know. There have been other students in the past that haven't been able to buy a broomstick, and one has always come through.

Sabrina: Really, Professor Flitwick?

Flitwick: Indeed, child.

End Notes: 'Interesting that she referred to it as her Grandmother's house, and not her home.'

. . .

Date: 25 September, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: I hope your week has gone smoothly this time around.

Michael: Yes sir. I apologized to him. He seemed really surprised.

Flitwick: Yes, he probably was. For those of us frequently on the receiving end of verbal abuse [Michael flinches], apologies are usually less than forthcoming.

Side note: 'Yes, I chose my wording on purpose.'

Michael: I'm sorry sir, again. I guess that I wasn't really thinking.

Flitwick: Make your apologies by continuing to treat others well. Don't worry about my past woes. [He gives a smile]. They are in the past, after all.

Michael: Do . . . [he rubs his hands together nervously] Do you ever think about those people that used to um, bully you, sir?

Side note: 'More than I'll ever mention to you, Michael.'

Flitwick: Not as much as I used to, lad.

Michael: That's good, sir. [He nods earnestly].

Flitwick: But even though my own suffering has largely come to an end, there are other students who continue to suffer. Not just from their peers, but from their parents and from society as well. You would do well to remember that. Sometimes doing nothing is every bit as bad as being the abuser.

Micheal: Yes sir. [He says in a whisper].

End Notes: 'I hope I have given him something to think on. Somehow it is more meaningful for him to hear that one of his professors was mistreated than to actually mistreat one of his peers. It is as if he never thought about the long lasting consequences of his actions. And knowing youth, that is probably exactly how it is.'

. . .

Date: 26 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: How has your week gone? Staying out of trouble, I hope. Nothing official anyway, or I'm sure I would have heard about it by now. [She eyeballs him rather severely].

Ron: Er, well actually, Malfoy hasn't set a word to me at all since last Friday.

McGonagall: Wonderful. And the rest of the Slytherins?

Ron: Nothing, ma'am. It's been a bit unnerving in some ways, and rather nice in others.

Side note: 'Interesting, Severus. What have you done to your snakes, I wonder? And would you be willing to share your magical cure with the rest of us?'

McGonagall: Anything of interest you wish to tell me about? Have you become closer to anyone this week? I noticed you talking with Mr. Finnigan and Mr. Thomas this past week at mealtimes.

Ron: Eh, they're all right. They've gotten to be rather good friends with each other, and I don't think they like me quite as much.

McGonagall: I'm sure you're being too hard on yourself. You know of course that you do not have to limit yourself to being only friends with those within our house?

Ron: I know.

McGonagall: I'm quite certain that there are other first years within the other houses that have not found best friends within their housemates. I think particularly of the girls in Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. They have gotten rather friendly with one another, and I'm sure you would get along well with the other first year boys if you would just try. Why not talk more to Harry Potter? He seems very nice.

Ron: Maybe I will.

End Notes: 'There you go Pomona. I have attempted to promote more inter-house connectivity. Never say that I don't try.'

. . .

Date: 26 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: How has Potions class been this past week?

Neville: Worse, I think.

McGonagall: I ask because Professor Flitwick has informed me that there is a study group that has formed for the specific purpose of studying first year Potions.

Neville: Isn't that only for Slytherins, ma'am?

McGonagall: Ah, so you have heard of it! And no, it currently is composed of Slytherins and Ravenclaws.

Neville: [He squirms]. I don't know how well that would go.

McGonagall: It might encourage you to know that it is run by a 4th year Ravenclaw by the name of Wendy Tower.

Neville: Doesn't Professor Snape drop in every so often?

McGonagall: I don't know, but I would think that his presence would be a bonus, not a hindrance.

Neville: He terrifies me, ma'am.

McGonagall: What exactly do you think it is that he is going to do to you?

Neville: Yell.

McGonagall: Perhaps you should consider telling him—[she holds up a hand]—in a letter, I was going to say, that his yelling at you only makes you more nervous. You never know whether or not he would be willing to work with you unless you try.

Neville: He won't.

McGonagall: Try, Mr. Longbottom. Show some of that Gryffindor courage that the hat saw within your head.

End note: 'Because as of yet, I have not seen it.'

. . .

Date: 26 September, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: Anything of interest you feel like telling me about this week?

Parvati: Um, flying was unusually quiet. No one said much of anything except Harry Potter.

McGonagall: And what did he say?

Parvati: He laughed and said, "Look Vince! I'm pointed the right way this time!"

McGonagall: [She laughs]. Was he not the previous week?

Parvati: No. He tripped over the broom and ended up flying up backwards.

Side notes: 'Oh my.'

McGonagall: I take it he didn't get hurt though, like Mr. Longbottom?

Parvati: It didn't look like it. He just laughed and then Crabbe grabbed his broom and kept him from flying too far up.

McGonagall: That was certainly kind of him.

Parvati: For whatever reason, they seem to be pretty good friends. Crabbe walks everywhere with Harry. Like, he's always with Malfoy too, but Harry actually talks to him.

McGonagall: Mr. Malfoy does not speak to Mr. Crabbe?

Parvati: Not unless he's ordering him to do something, and lately he's been talking to Goyle more, I think.

End Notes: 'Hm, peculiar to be sure.'

. . .

Date: 29 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 27 September, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'He may not talk in class, but by Merlin, I am going to teach him how to listen.'

Snape: How has this past week been with Mr. Malfoy and Harry? Every time I look, you seem to have one or both with you.

Vince: [He gives a very grim smile]. This week has been very . . . interesting, sir.

Side note: 'I do not doubt this for a moment.'

Snape: How so?

Vince: Well, none of the rest of the Slytherins have been willing to talk to him much. They'll say stuff to me and some to Greg, but they're pretty much pretending that he doesn't exist.

Snape: And how has he been taking that?

Vince: Um well, he seems pretty pissed off, but he hasn't done much yet to respond to it. I think he's waiting for a chance to do something back.

Side note: 'I agree.'

Snape: And Harry? How has he responded to this situation?

Vince: Well, every time Malfoy comes anywhere near him, Harry says, "I'm not allowed to talk to you. My 'fessor says so. Nope nope nope. Not allowed to say anything at all."

Snape: [He smiles slightly]. Very good. And how are you handling this ongoing tension?

Vince: [He shrugs]. Mum and dad get like that sometimes too. I just keep Harry from getting in trouble and try not to miss anything that Malfoy does. It's kinda funny actually. I'll probably see it if he does anything to Harry, but if he tries anything with me, he'll get away with it 'cause I won't notice.

Snape: Hopefully, in that situation, I will notice for you.

End notes: 'I look forward to this week's meeting with Mr. Malfoy.'

. . .

Date: 29 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode (I have indeed split the girls into two rooms. After some contemplation, I decided that Ms. Bulstrode was the most likely to survive being alone with Ms. Granger)
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 26 September, 1991. She took it, but did not open it. I wonder when we shall see it again?

Ongoing impressions: 'She intrigues me, but worries me as well. There are times that she seems to be studying everything around her, and other times that she fades away into her own little world. It discomfits me when she withdraws. I prefer her snark to her apathy.'

Hermione: Let me read this to you. [She pulls out a muggle letter from her ever present backpack].

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow, but does not say anything].

Hermione: "Dear Hermione," [she says in a nasally pinched voice]. "Your father and I are wondering how you've been. You won't respond to any of our notes and we're thinking about writing your professors. Love, blah blah blah." Have they?

Snape: Not as far as I am aware.

Hermione: Let me read the one before this. "Dear Hermione, we hope you're having a very lovely birthday. You're our precious little girl, and we love you. Blah blah." And the week before, this is my favourite. [She glares at him over the top of the letter to emphasize exactly what kind of "favourite" she considered it]. "Dear Hermione, are you aware that you left all of your pretty skirts and dresses here at home? We will ship them to you if you would like, or you can just bring them with you the next time you come home."

Snape: I am guessing that you forgot those clothing items on purpose?

Hermione: I told them I didn't want them to buy them. They thought I was exaggerating when I said I'd rather burn them than wear them.

Snape: They aren't aware of your penchant for burning things?

Hermione: It's a phase.

Snape: Ah. I see. And how long has this phase lasted?

Hermione: Since I was little. [She says with an angry sneer].

Snape: And your being anti-feminine? Is that a phase as well?

Hermione: [She rolls her eyes and drags a hand through her short hair]. Of course it is. Hermione couldn't have her own personality, could she? Had to be a perfect little copy of mummy. Mummy's little angel, little darling; someone to play dress up with, someone to mould into the perfect little girl.

Side note: 'Not the first who has resented such treatment, and not likely to be the last.'

Snape: How did they respond to your getting a letter for Hogwarts?

Hermione: I don't think that they're even aware of where I am. Mummy probably tells herself that I'm at some little girl's school for learning how to be stuck up and prissy. And Daddy probably lets her think that. They see things how they want to see them. They don't give a shit about what's really there.

Snape: And what is really there?

Hermione: [She smiles coldly]. Well that doesn't really matter, does it.

Side Notes: 'I wonder if she even knows.'

Snape: It does to you. It does to me.

Hermione: [Her smile widens until it is much closer to a grimace]. If there's no one to see it, then it doesn't matter. If no one sees me, why should I bother?

Side Notes: 'Why should she bother being herself, or why should she bother living? This is the question that keeps me from sleeping.'

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. Because you see it. Because your classmates do. Because I see you. And perhaps, someday your parents will as well.

Hermione: It doesn't really matter.

End Notes: 'But it does. In fact, that may be the only thing in your life that does matter.'

. . .

Date: 29 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott (Harry Potter, Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini are in the other room)
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 29 September, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'A silent contemplative Malfoy is always cause for concern.'

Snape: How has your week been?

Draco: As though you give a damn.

Side notes: 'Oh the poor misunderstood thing. It is so very sad having to live through the consequences of one's actions.'

Snape: As you so inelegantly put it last week, you are one of mine. So yes, I do care.

Draco: You prefer Harry Potter to me.

Snape: Well, Harry Potter has not yet tried to arrange the murder of one of his housemates—at least not to my knowledge.

Draco: He's not even aware of most of his housemates.

Side notes: 'Neither are you.'

Snape: Have you ever heard the term, "Ignorance is bliss"?

Draco: Is that a muggle phrase?

Snape: [He smiles in a thoroughly chilling way].

Draco: [He twitches in discomfort at the sight]. Will I ever be done with detention?

Snape: I don't know. Will you ever learn to follow my rules?

Draco: [He bites the inside of his mouth but otherwise does not respond].

End notes: 'So I thought.'

. . .

Date: 29 September, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: Wizarding Child Services, informing him of the change in guardianship (essentially the same note I sent him last week)

Ongoing impressions: 'I am searching for an appropriate house elf to assign to his side. It mustn't be one that is too subservient, or he may accidentally send it away without meaning to.'

Snape: [keeping a hand on his shoulder, directs Harry to the couch in the centre of his quarters].

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape! It smells like you in here!

Snape: Hello Harry. How exactly do I smell?

Side note: 'I'm almost afraid to ask, but I do want to hear what he has to say.'

Harry: Like fire and smoke and cinnamon with a little wind and just a bit of lemon.

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. That seems very specific.

Harry: [He shrugs]. I couldn't always see who was outside my cupboard, but I could always smell them.

Snape: And how did your uncle Vernon smell?

Harry: [He frowns and Snape automatically curls a protective arm around his thin shoulders]. Like burnt bacon and skin, and like petrol and alcohol.

Snape: That seems like an unpleasant mix.

Harry: [He nods vigorously].

Side note: 'I sincerely hope that the burnt skin was not Harry's own, but I fear that it probably was.'

Snape: And how did your aunt smell?

Harry: Like mascara and perfume and bile.

Snape: It is not surprising that you are as skinny as you are. I would find it difficult to eat under such circumstances.

Harry: [He shrugs].

Snape: What is it?

Harry: They didn't like to feed me too much. Said I cost too much.

Side note: 'I have seen the finances of these would-be relatives, and I can't imagine Harry costing more than the stipend they were paid to take care of him with. Although, if I were to guess, I would say that Harry probably never saw more than a tenth of that money—if that.'

Snape: They were paid money to help take care of you. It should have been more than enough to feed and clothe you.

Harry: [A strange light of understanding passes through Harry's eyes at Snape's words]. Said they hadta take food outta Dudley's mouth for me. Said that I was a burden and I hadta earn my keep. Said I wasn't worth the scraps they put in the dustbin.

Snape: [He swallows hard, his dark eyes flashing dangerously at Harry's words]. They are wretched excuses for humans. You are worth all of that and more. Much more.

Harry: [Wraps his hand around Snape's much larger one]. They still not my family, right?

Snape: Correct. And they will never be again.

Harry: And you still is?

Snape: Yes.

Harry: And I don't gots to earn my keep with you? I gets to be your little bat and I gets to wear my own clothes and have my own bed?

Snape: [He smiles with eyes that are suspiciously damp in appearance]. Yes.

Harry: And I gets to have my own shoes and my own 'fessor and my own Miss Mary and you gets to hold my hand and watch me sleep and not let anyone get me? [He yawns].

Snape: Yes. [He brushes a hand over Harry's eyes]. Sleep now.

Harry: 'Kay. [He closes his eyes and within minutes he is fast asleep, tucked into the side of his professor].

End notes: 'I hope that the Dursleys rot for the rest of their lives.'

Chapter Text

'Dear Hadwyn,'

'How would you describe your skills as a healer? Would you say you are competent in the field of mind magics? I know that your work with dragons is similar to that of a human mind healer, but do you personally feel that you are potentially capable of working with mentally . . . I do not care to say "disturbed," but I do not feel that "broken" necessarily qualifies it either. Do you consider yourself competent in working with mentally affected persons? Particularly children?'

'In other news, I have finally found an appropriate house elf to assign Harry. Strangely enough, it was Hagrid who suggested this one. His name is Cadillac, and like his name, this elf is a bit . . . atypical.'

. . .

Date: 01 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: Any more strange behaviour from Mr. Malfoy this past week?

Morag: [She rolls her eyes]. Only that he's started muttering to himself. And hissing.

Sprout: Hissing? [She raises an eyebrow in a style reminiscent of Professor Snape].

Morag: He's just doing it to be a jerk. He's trying to scare Harry.

Sprout: Potter?

Morag: Yeah. He looks at Harry more than he does the teacher. 'Course, in History of Magic, that's not that hard.

Sprout: Professor Binns has been known to induce somnolence. [She smiles].

Morag: What's that mean?

Sprout: Sleepiness.

Morag: Oh, right. Well, it's pretty obvious to everyone that Malfoy is just trying to get a rise out of someone. [She shrugs].

Sprout: And has he?

Morag: Not really. Harry doesn't even notice most of the time. The only one who really does is Granger, and like I said . . .

Sprout: She frightens you. May I ask why?

Morag: Well, she always smells like smoke, like a fire or something, even when the only fire is the one in the fireplace. She also doesn't ever seem to blink. She just stares at people, never blinking, until you get nervous and turn away. I don't know a single 'Puff who will sit next to her, let alone talk to her. Even Hannah is scared.

End Notes: 'I would think that Ms. Granger's behaviour requires more attention than Mr. Malfoy's at this point.'

. . .

Date: 01 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: Tell me about Ms. Granger.

Hannah: [She stiffens]. What would you like to know?

Sprout: What do you think of her behaviour in your classes?

Hannah: It's . . . odd.

Sprout: More so than the rest of the Slytherins as of late?

Hannah: [She slowly nods].

Sprout: How so?

Hannah: [She hesitates]. Well, until I heard her referred to as 'Ms. Granger,' I really did think she was a boy. I mean, she sits like a boy even. She never crosses her legs, you know at the knee like we're supposed to, but rests her ankle on her knee instead, like a boy would.

Sprout: Is that all?

Hannah: No, she's . . . also strange in other ways. She watches everyone all the time.

Sprout: Morag told me that she stares a great deal at the other students around her.

Hannah: Well, not everyone really. It's mostly just the girls.

Sprout: Just the girls?

Hannah: I mean, she glares at Malfoy, but most of the Slytherins do now, so that's not too strange. But she really does just stare at the girls most of the time.

Sprout: Have any of the girls said anything about it?

Hannah: Not any of the girls . . .

Sprout: Who?

Hannah: Um, Ernie said something.

Sprout: And what happened?

Hannah: She just looked right through him as though he wasn't even there. And then one of the broken desks behind him, you know on the other side of the room? Well, it just caught on fire, just a little bit though, but it was the spot directly behind him, as though she really had been looking straight through him, as though he really didn't exist. No one has said anything to her since that.

Sprout: And the other Slytherins? Do they ignore her as well?

Hannah: Um . . . [She visibly thinks]. Harry Potter doesn't. Ignore her, I mean. And Bulstrode, I think that's her name. She doesn't ignore her so much as she just doesn't say much, so I can't really tell.

Sprout: Thank you for sharing this with me, Hannah. You've been a great help.

End Notes: 'Has Ms. Granger revealed any of this to you, Severus?'

. . .

Date: 01 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: How was your week?

Justin: Somewhat surprising.

Sprout: How so?

Justin: Longbottom approached me yesterday.

Sprout: Regarding?

Justin: He asked me if I was any good at potions.

Sprout: What did you tell him?

Justin: I told him that I was a muggleborn and—[abruptly he laughs (it is a real laugh)].

Sprout: [A surprised smile appears on her face]. What?

Justin: I told him that I was about as knowledgeable as the next bloke. That is to say, not at all.

Sprout: And how did he respond?

Justin: He seemed rather relieved at my words. He told me about a study group that has been formed to study first year potions.

Sprout: Within Gryffindor?

Justin: No, that's just the thing. It's mostly composed of Slytherins, and a couple of Ravenclaws. In fact, a Ravenclaw leads it.

Sprout: [She looks surprised]. And are the two of you planning to join it?

Justin: [He bites his lip for a moment before answering]. Yeah, I think we are.

End Notes: 'Perhaps this is the beginning of a positive change for Mr. Finch-Fletchley. I do hope so.'

. . .

Date: 02 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: How was your study group this week?

Lisa: It was good. It's gotten bigger, even.

Flitwick: How big?

Lisa: There are . . . 4 Slytherins, 2 Ravenclaws—if you count Wendy, and now there is a Hufflepuff and a Gryffindor as well.

Flitwick: A very diverse sounding group!

Lisa: If you ignore the fact that it's mostly boys. [She smiles good naturedly].

Flitwick: Are you and Ms. Tower the only two? Or are there any more from those that just joined?

Lisa: No, Finch-Fletchley and Longbottom are the two that just joined. Bulstrode is the only other girl, though she doesn't say much.

Flitwick: And how are you getting along with so many Slytherins?

Lisa: It's fine. I'm just glad that Granger isn't there.

Flitwick: Why is that? She seems like a very intelligent girl to me.

Lisa: I suppose that's true.

Flitwick: But?

Lisa: She's creepy.

Side note: 'I suppose your Badgers are not alone in their opinion of Ms. Granger, Pomona.'

Flitwick: What do you mean by that?

Lisa: Well, in Herbology, she's always asking questions about the poisonous plants.

Flitwick: For example?

Lisa: Like, 'How many can you eat before you succumb to its venom?' And, 'Is the entire plant deadly or just its roots? What would happen if you ingested the rest of it? How sick would it make you? Unable to walk or just vomiting?'

Flitwick: Oh, oh my, Ms. Turpin. Thank you for telling me this.

Lisa: One more thing, Professor. I think she could tell she was worrying Professor Sprout, so she stopped asking her those questions directly and started asking the class itself.

Flitwick: And what did they respond with?

Lisa: Well, if you try to remain silent, then she just stares at you for the rest of the class period. I mean, we might be working on plants, digging them up and whatnot, but she just keeps staring the whole time.

End Notes: 'Are you aware of this Severus?'

. . .

Date: 02 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Are you enjoying the Ravenclaw Quidditch practices? Ms. Chang mentioned that she saw you at some of them this past week.

Sabrina: Oh, they're just so exciting! I bring my homework with me when I have to, but otherwise I just go and watch. And take notes. I take lots of notes.

Flitwick: So it sounds! Are there any positions in particular you could see yourself playing?

Sabrina: Chaser. Or Keeper. I like the strategy involved. I like watching the Beaters too, but I don't think I could swing hard enough to really make a difference.

Flitwick: Well, they do get a great deal of practice that helps build up those particular muscles. I think that our current beaters, Mr. Inglebee and Ms. Coleridge, weren't nearly as strong when they started.

Sabrina: I noticed that there weren't any 6th or 7th years on the team. Is that because it's too difficult to keep up your studies and play Quidditch too? Or is that just chance this year?

Flitwick: A bit of both, really. There are, if I'm remembering correctly, no 7th years on any of the house teams this year, but both Slytherin and Hufflepuff have at least one 6th year on each of their teams.

End Notes: 'Strategies indeed. I wonder if Ms. Fawcett has noticed that the oldest player on our team is a beater? Maybe she would be willing to learn more about that position if she thinks she has a chance of making it on the team as early as next year?'

. . .

Date: 02 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: How has this past week been for you, Mr. Corner?

Michael: [He hesitates].

Flitwick: Yes?

Michael: Well, I made a mistake yesterday, sir.

Flitwick: In what way?

Michael: [He rubs his hands together nervously]. I was just trying to help out a house mate.

Flitwick: What happened exactly?

Michael: Well, Granger was . . . bothering Anthony in Herbology. He was just ignoring her, which is what I should have done, I guess. And I stepped in and told her that we weren't afraid of her, of a, of a . . . [he trails off, a bit miserably].

Flitwick: Of a what, Mr. Corner? What did you call her?

Micheal: [He winces and then takes a breath and explains very quickly]. I told her that we weren't afraid of a freak like her.

Side note: 'Oh my.'

Michael: I'm sorry. [He drops his head].

Flitwick: And how did she respond?

Michael: That's the thing, sir. She didn't, not really. She just stopped talking to Anthony and turned to me and . . . [he twists his hands in the air]. She smiled, and it was a ghastly sort of smile, the sort that I would very much prefer never to see again, if you get my meaning, sir.

Side note: 'I do indeed, lad.'

Flitwick: [He lets out a soft sigh and nods].

Michael: Are you angry at me, sir?

Flitwick: I'm more disappointed, Mr. Corner. And, given the events of late, I am also worried that your actions could somehow set off Ms. Granger in a negative form.

Micheal: What do you mean?

Flitwick: It has recently come to many of your professors' attentions that Ms. Granger is possibly not the most stable of students present at Hogwarts.

Michael: [His eyes widen slightly]. What do you think she might do?

Flitwick: That would be the problem, wouldn't it? We don't know. With that thought, I would appreciate it if you would let me know if Ms. Granger's behaviour continues in this pattern. And please, let us keep this between us, all right Mr. Corner?

End Notes: 'Oh dear, Severus. Have you spoken with her parents as of yet?'

. . .

Date: 03 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Have you approached Mr. Potter this week?

Ron: Well, I . . .

McGonagall: Yes, Mr. Weasley?

Ron: I tried, but . . .

McGonagall: But?

Ron: Well, he's got that house elf hanging around with him now, and . . .

McGonagall: Out with it, Mr. Weasley.

Ron: Well, it's a bit difficult to approach him with a ruddy house elf staring you down the entire time. [He says this entirely in a mutter].

McGonagall: Come now, Mr. Weasley. It is not as if you are asking him out on a date. There is no reason to be so flustered.

Side note: 'Some of these new Gryffindors haven't quite grown into their house traits yet.'

Ron: [He blushes].

McGonagall: So this is it? You would rather give up entirely without trying?

Ron: I didn't say that. [He crosses his arms defensively in front of his chest].

Side note: 'I am tempted to make this an assignment, but I rather think that would work better for Filius.'

McGonagall: What of Mr. Finch-Fletchley? Mr. Goldstein? Mr. Zabini?

Ron: Justin is a dweeb. Anthony won't even look at me. And Zabini, well he's a Snake. He'd rather spit at me than have a conversation with me.

Side note: 'Oh not this malarkey again.'

McGonagall: Mr. Weasley, I believe we have already discussed the dangers of stereotyping the other houses.

Ron: [He shrugs].

McGonagall: I find it difficult to believe that you would rather be a tag-a-long with your brothers than make your own friends.

Ron: [He huffs a bit, but does not say anything more].

End Notes: 'The Weasley twins and Ronald Weasley in exchange for Mr. Malfoy. What do you think, Severus?'

. . .

Date: 03 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: Did you attend the study group?

Neville: Yes. [He says this with a slight smile].

McGonagall: And were you still surrounded entirely by Slytherins and Ravenclaws?

Neville: Actually, I . . . Actually, I asked Justin Finch-Fletchley to come with me. [He says in a rush, his cheeks a bit pink by the end of his account].

McGonagall: Very well done Mr. Longbottom!

Neville: [His blush extends to his ears]. I just, I wanted to show you that I do deserve to be in Gryffindor.

McGonagall: [Her eyes widen slightly]. I never said that you didn't.

Neville: [He fidgets slightly, dropping his gaze to his hands]. I know you didn't—not directly—but . . . you're not the first to, well you know, think that I wasn't good enough for something. My gran . . . [He trails off and briefly looks out the nearest window. His hands are trembling]. She's a good woman. I mean, especially to have taken me in and all when my parents . . . [He clears his throat loudly]. But my dad, he was her son, you know? And he, well he was everything I . . . I don't seem to be, and my gran, she doesn't have to say it either, but . . . [His voice drops off into a whisper]. But I know. I know she doesn't think very much of me.

McGonagall: Mr. Longbottom, I am sorry if you have gotten the impression that I think you are unworthy of Gryffindor.

Neville: [He shrugs and swallows hard, not quite meeting her eyes]. It's a bit funny, you know? Like when people don't think of you, they don't notice you and then . . . they say stuff just right in front of you.

McGonagall: What have you heard? And from whom?

Neville: I'd really rather not name names, ma'am. Just people saying things about me not fitting in and not being a proper Gryffindor, whatever that means. [He gives a surprisingly bitter smile].

McGonagall: I think you have the makings of a fine Gryffindor.

Neville: Thanks. [He does not smile and after a moment, he looks back out the nearby window].

McGonagall: I mean it.

End note: 'He is more aware of his surroundings that many others in my house.'

. . .

Date: 03 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: Of all your Gryffindor year mates, who would you say you get along best with?

Parvati: Lavender.

McGonagall: And of the boys?

Parvati: Um, I'd say Seamus or maybe Dean. They're a bit like the Weasley twins. [She laughs]. They show up everywhere together.

McGonagall: [She gives a small smile]. And what are your opinions of Mr. Weasley and Mr. Longbottom?

Parvati: [She hesitates briefly]. Neville is all right. He's a bit quiet, so sometimes it's easy to forget he's there.

Side notes: 'So I've heard.'

McGonagall: Are you speaking from personal experience?

Parvati: What do you mean?

McGonagall: Have you accidentally found yourself talking in front of him when you didn't mean to?

Parvati: [She chews the inside of her lip for a moment]. I mean, I didn't say anything about him. I just forgot he was there and then I looked up and he was looking at me.

McGonagall: When was this?

Parvati: A couple of times this past week.

McGonagall: And Mr. Weasley? What is your opinion of him?

Parvati: He talks a lot to his brothers.

McGonagall: Only his brothers?

Parvati: Well, Dean and Seamus say things to him, but he rarely ever seems to say things to them first, you know?

McGonagall: Is he shy?

Parvati: I . . . I don't think so. I don't understand him, really.

McGonagall: Thank you for sharing your opinions, Ms. Patil.

End Notes: 'Not as worrisome as Ms. Granger is shaping up to be, but I still find myself concerned for two of my lions as well.'

. . .

Date: 06 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 30 September, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'A scholar he may not be, but I'd be lying if I said I thought him unintelligent.'

Snape: Tell me about this past week.

Vince: [He shakes his head and gives a sigh]. Where would you like me to start?

Side note: 'One of those weeks? Lovely.'

Snape: How has Harry been this week?

Vince: He's pretty good. That house elf that follows us around now, he's helping Harry from getting lost so much. I still make sure he gets his shoes on and his tie tied, but Caddy—that's Harry's nickname for the house elf—is helping him keep up with his homework and assignments better than me.

Snape: Good. I am gratified to hear that his addition to your lives is a beneficial one.

Vince: Yeah. [He gives a small smile]. I'll take all the help I can get.

Side note: 'You are not the only one who could use assistance. The difference is that you actually acknowledge your need for it.'

Snape: And Mr. Malfoy? Is he still his usual bothersome self?

Vince: [He snorts]. More annoying than usual, actually.

Snape: I wasn't aware that it was possible for him to become more so. [He gives a small smile].

Vince: Well, he's trying to get Harry to react to him now, but he's being really stupid about it. Like, he's started hissing at him whenever he passes by, but all that Harry ever says is, "Not making no sense, Draco's not making no sense. Nope nope nope." And then Draco gets even more pissed off and ends up storming off. [He says with a soft laugh].

Side note: 'Hm. Could Harry possibly have experience in understanding a hissing snake?'

Snape: Mr. Malfoy may be inexperienced, but that does not mean we should dismiss him as a threat. You would do well to keep your eyes on him as much as possible, Vince.

Vince: I do. [He nods seriously].

Snape: Anything else that made this week particularly memorable?

Vince: [He hesitates].

Snape: If it is about Ms. Granger, then I am aware that she has been exhibiting some stranger behaviour as of late. I merely wish for you to tell me about what has happened.

Vince: Well . . . she has been a little weird lately.

Snape: I'm listening.

Vince: She . . . she won't talk to anyone except for Bulstrode and sometimes she says stuff to Harry, but it's only things like, "Don't forget to eat your vegetables," and "Be careful on the stairs." Course, Harry doesn't know how to disobey, really. He just nods and does what she says. I'm just glad that she's not being mean to him too.

Snape: She is being unpleasant to others, then?

Vince: She made that Brown girl cry on Friday right before Potions. Told her she was gonna cut off Brown's hair when she wasn't looking and make it into a potion to steal her brain or something weird like that. I think Brown got more upset with the idea of her hair being cut off than anything else.

Snape: Did she say what she was going to use?

Vince: Yeah actually. She did. She said she was going to cut it off with a rusty blade. She even pulled it out and showed it to Brown. It was rust coloured, but I don't think it was because it was old. I think . . . well, it looked like it was covered in dry blood.

Side note: 'Ms. Granger . . . what is going on in that complex mind of yours?'

Snape: Did Ms. Granger do anything to anyone else this past week?

Vince: Just asked some creepy questions in Herbology and caught a desk on fire in History of Magic.

Side note: 'Oh, is that all?'

Snape: What sorts of questions?

Vince: Asking things about poisonous plants and which ones will kill you and stuff like that. She kinda weirded out the Ravenclaws, I think. One of them even called her a freak. I don't think she liked that, but I wouldn't either. Some of the older students in the other houses have said things like that about Harry too, and even though he doesn't always say anything, I think he notices.

Snape: How can you tell?

Vince: [He shrugs]. He just gets sort of clingy. Doesn't like to be by himself when he's like that. I think he's scared, and I figure he's got good reason to be—especially if his family is half as bad as you say they were.

End notes: 'We are his family now, and although a bit strange, we are still far better than the Dursleys ever could be towards him.'

. . .

Date: 06 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 02 October, 1991. Like the week before, she took the letter but did not open it. I suspect I shall hear about it soon enough.

Ongoing impressions: 'If she is trying to cause me to worry, then she is fulfilling her desire. Hogwarts has not had a suicide in five years, and I would prefer that the streak not be broken.'

Snape: I hear that you had quite the interesting week.

Hermione: If you know so much, then why am I here now? [She asks with a sneer].

Snape: Your behaviour as of late is worrying to the professors here. Some of them think you should be sent home for your own safety.

Side note: 'No, none of you have said it, but I can read between the lines. And if I am correct in my suspicions, then you're about to learn why that won't work either.'

Hermione: [Her lips twist up into a frightening parody of a smile]. So I should go back into the loving arms of my dearest parents? [She barks out a laugh that sounds more like a sob]. You won't send me back there.

Snape: And why is that?

Hermione: Well, because you can't keep watch over me there, Severus Snape. [She smiles coldly].

Snape: Humour me and explain. [He leans back against his chair and crosses his legs].

Hermione: My dearest muggle parents don't even know what to watch for—and you are watching, aren't you? I can tell.

Snape: And what am I watching for?

Hermione: [The corner of her mouth curls up]. Why, for me to die of course. You think I'm about to commit self killing, or suicide as it's known in the Latin. You won't send me to my parents' house, Mr. Snape. Even if you told them the dangers, they would ignore you, thinking they know me so much better, what with their heads up their arses and all. It's lovely how wilfully blind they choose to be. I could cut my wrists in front of them, and they would think it was an accident. No, you won't send me home, Mr. Snape. You don't dare.

Snape: And do you dare?

Hermione: Dare what? [She crosses her arms over her chest defensively].

Snape: To die? To cut your wrists or poison yourself? Are these your plans?

Hermione: Not yet. [She smiles, but there is less anger and more sadness in her face this time].

Snape: [He abruptly leans forwards, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands]. And how do you feel knowing that you are being watched?

Hermione: [She hesitates briefly]. I . . . it's silly actually, but I rather like it.

Snape: Good. I'm not going to stop now, so you'd best get used to the idea that I have eyes everywhere.

Hermione: And do you like what you see? [There is a dead look in her eyes suddenly.]

Snape: [His eyes narrow]. Figuratively speaking only, Ms. Granger.

Hermione: Oh, but of course. [Her eyes regain their previous tenacious sparkle and she smiles].

End Notes: 'I sincerely hope that she did not mean what it sounded like. This child has enough going on without the added bonus of abuse.'

. . .

Date: 06 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 02 October, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'After dealing with Ms. Granger, I almost look forward to my meeting with Mr. Malfoy. Almost.'

Snape: Tell me, Mr. Malfoy. Is there anyone here at this school whom you consider to be a friend?

Draco: Malfoys don't have friends. We have acquaintances.

Side notes: 'Oh spare me the Malfoy rhetoric. Merlin knows I hear enough of it from Lucius.'

Snape: And how would you clarify your father's relationship with me? [He raises an eyebrow].

Draco: A lucrative business arrangement.

Snape: Your father's words, no doubt. But Mr. Malfoy, I'm interested in your opinion, not your father's. So tell me, am I friends with your father?

Draco: [He hesitates].

Snape: Remember, I am only interested in your opinion on this matter.

Draco: Do you consider it a friendship?

Side note: 'Ah, a good answer, Mr. Malfoy. One that I would have already expected you to have used if you are half the snake you purport to be. Minerva, your Mr. Longbottom has more cunning than my Mr. Malfoy at this juncture. Perhaps that is why the hat took so long with him.'

Snape: I don't need to know my opinion on the matter; I am requesting yours. Let's try this again, Mr. Malfoy. Tell me what a friend is.

Draco: Someone you spend time with . . . voluntarily so.

Snape: And? Are you more or less equals in the relationship?

Draco: [He licks his lips]. Yes. One could say that.

Side notes: 'Yes, one could. One is, even.'

Snape: Thus that rules out Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle as being your friends. Am I right? [He does not wait for confirmation]. They are not your equals, at least not according to you. What of everyone else in the first year, with particular attention to the other Snakes? Miss Parkinson? Miss Bulstrode?

Draco: I don't voluntarily spend time with them.

Snape: Why not?

Draco: Pansy . . . because she is convinced that we are to be married at some point later on.

Snape: She is lying?

Draco: No, she . . . [He breaks off and gives a very dark smile]. She is misinformed. And as for Millicent, talking to her is like talking to a brick wall.

Snape: I thought that was like talking to a Hufflepuff? [He raises an eyebrow].

Side note: 'Of course I am not serious, Pomona. Not entirely, at least.'

Draco: [His smile broadens]. No, brick walls are Gryffindors. Millicent isn't quite that dense. She just . . . we have nothing of interest with which to discuss.

Snape: Nothing in common, perhaps?

Draco: Yes, that.

Snape: What of Mr. Zabini? Mr. Nott? Ms. Granger, perhaps?

Draco: Zabini . . . [He sighs dramatically] . . . Blaise is a possibility, I suppose. The Zabinis have no business with the Malfoys, but they are fairly well off, almost enough to be interesting. Theodore is far too studious to make conversation with. I think he might ought to have been sorted into Ravenclaw. Honestly, if not for his father's connections, no one would have noticed his presence there.

Snape: And Ms. Granger?

Draco: Even if I were interested in talking to her—which I most assuredly am not, given her blood status—she has already made it clear that she has no interest in making conversation with boys.

Side note: 'Interesting.'

Snape: And if she happened to be a pureblood, would your opinion remain the same?

Draco: [He hesitates for a brief moment]. She is unstable. Father says never to make business with people who cannot tell their ins from their outs.

End notes: 'Lucius would do well to remember that rule himself.'

. . .

Date: 06 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'A puzzle wrapped in a glass box, trapped under a rock at the bottom of a well travelled river.'

Snape: [keeping a hand on his shoulder, directs Harry to the couch in the centre of his quarters]. Cadillac, you may take your leave of us. I will call for you personally when you are needed again.

Cadillac (the atypical house elf): As you request, Master Snape. Goodbye Master Harry. [He pops out of existence].

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape! Bye Caddy!

Side note: 'Regarding our atypical house elf: So far as we can determine—and by we, I mean Hagrid—Cadillac was reared alongside the children of a minor aristocrat in the early American colony days by the title of "Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac." This man married the daughter of a wizarding merchant in Quebec, Canada in 1687. As part of the woman's dowry, and in order to bolster the young family, her father gave the couple a female house elf and a male house elf. However, something happened to these two house elves—Hagrid could not determine what, and it's likely that Cadillac simply does not know—and by 1689, at the time of the birth of Laumet's first child (his eldest daughter, Judith), there was an orphaned baby house elf that needed to be raised as well. Perhaps not knowing any different, Laumet simply brought up the house elf alongside his daughter, teaching him manners and the proper means of communication that most house elves seem to lack. Laumet's marriage was particularly fertile, and by the birth of his youngest, there were six daughters and seven sons, and a qualified house elf/nursemaid that later became known simply as "Cadillac."'

Snape: Hello Harry. How do you like Cadillac?

Harry: He's really smart! He knows all about all of the portraits in the castle and he said that if he's ever not around, that I can just ask them for help and they'll show me where to go and how ta get there!

Snape: Are there any portraits that you particularly like?

Harry: I really like the Fat Lady up in that really tall tower! She always asks me for a password and then I tells her that I don't live there, just visiting! And she turns pink whenever I say that, and Caddy says that if I ever have my hat on around her, I should tip it just ta be polite. He said that she's a lady, and she oughta be treated like one. [He nods earnestly].

Snape: That seems like sound advice. [He says with a small smile].

Harry: [He nods again]. And now that Caddy walks around with me, Vince doesn't always have to, but he still does a lot. Caddy showed us another portrait of Salazar down like three floors from here! And it's just beside a dungeon that Caddy says used to hold dragon pox victims back in the 1750s.

Snape: I wasn't aware that there were any portraits down there at all.

Harry: [He bounces up onto his knees and grips Professor Snape's bicep]. It's hidden behind a wall that's only pretending to be a wall! It's really a hallway and it leads to this room that has all these super dusty beds. And 'fessor Salazar's picture is down there and there's a big snake in the picture with him and it tolds me that it watched all those magic folks die way back in the day, and—.

Snape: [He holds up a hand to stop the ever quickening stream of chatter]. The snake told you this, Harry? [His voice is very calm, but his eyes are unblinking as he waits for Harry's answer].

Harry: [He nods and blinks with an extremely guileless look]. Uh huh! And when we left, he said to tell Caddy thanks, because it wasn't every day that he got to talk to a nice little boy like me! He called me a nice little boy, 'fessor Snape! Isn't that neat! That's means I'm nice, right?

Snape: It does. You are a very nice boy. [He smiles gently].

Side note: 'It does seem that my suspicions about Harry are turning out to be true. But two parseltongues this century? It does seem a bit too much like a coincidence to be anything but related.'

Harry: [He blushes]. I think you're the bestest nicest 'fessor ever. [He rubs the side of his face against Snape's arm and then leans over and wraps his arms tightly around his middle].

Snape: [He rubs a hand over Harry's thin shoulders]. Thank you, Harry.

Harry: You know what I think? I think that the Dursleys, I think they lied ta me when they said that I cost a whole lot. [He stares up at Snape with wide green eyes]. I think they lied and Ms. Engelbrecht said I wasn't to ever lie, and they did, and so shouldn't they get in trouble now?

Snape: Who is Ms. Engelbrecht?

Harry: She was one of my primary teachers! Before I came here. [His arms are still wrapped around Snape's middle, even though his head is tilted upwards towards Snape's face]. So aren't they s'posed to get into trouble now?

Snape: The Dursleys, Harry?

Harry: Uh huh.

Snape: They are in trouble.

Harry: For lyin'?

Snape: [He hesitates briefly]. Yes. And other things as well. You do know that some types of lying are acceptable in certain circumstances, correct? [When Harry doesn't answer immediately, he continues]. Sometimes you have to tell different truths in order to remain safe. Have you ever done something like that? You will not be in trouble if you have. [He quickly adds].

Harry: [His face crumples into a look of consternation]. Sometimes I told Dudley stuff that wasn't 'xactly true, so that he'd leave me alone. Stuff like that?

Snape: [He smiles]. Yes. Precisely like that. If you think you are in danger and need to tell a different truth in order to remain safe, then I want you to do so, but always tell me the real truth later. Can you do that for me?

Harry: Yup! [He answers energetically]. I can do that just for you!

Snape: Good. [He leans over and presses a light kiss to Harry's dreadlock covered head].

Harry: [He smiles happily and then lets loose a small yawn]. Can I just takes a little . . . nap here, 'fessor Snape?

Snape: Of course you can. Did you not sleep well last night?

Harry: [His eyes are now shut and he's wiggling in closer to Professor Snape's side]. Just dreamed . . . [He yawns again and then slurs his next few words] . . . about the green light again. There's . . . [He sighs quietly] . . . a lady and I can't make her stop.

Snape: Stop what, Harry? [He whispers very softly].

Harry: [He doesn't answer].

Snape: What can't you make her stop doing? [His voice is slightly more insistent].

Harry: [He sighs sleepily] . . . Screaming . . . can't make her stop screaming . . . and then it gets too quiet and I wake up with my head hurting.

Snape: Oh child. [He leans back and closes his eyes tightly against the rush of memories that threaten to overwhelm him].

End notes: 'I fear that I feel a headache coming on as well.'

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 – Week 6

'Dear Severus,'

'I actually prefer to work with children as opposed to adults in the field of mind magic. Their minds are far more pliable and responsive than many adults' are. Is this an official invitation to Hogwarts? Let me know.'

'Hadwyn'

. . .

07 October, 1991
Dumbledore's Office, Staff Meeting

"If we might come to order, professors," Dumbledore's twinkling visage stared down the table at which all of his teachers sat.

The conversations on either side of Severus immediately stilled and he felt relieved at the sudden hush.

"I am pleased that each of the four houses have continued to hold regular sessions with all of our first years. Except for a few irregularities, I believe that this is the smoothest beginning to a year we have ever had," Dumbledore said, before pausing, as though he expected some kind of argument or discussion.

Of course, he does know us fairly well, Severus thought, none too quietly. From the brief smile that passed over his employer's face, he would assume that his thought had been picked up on.

"Severus," Dumbledore said then, turning in his direction with an overly enthusiastic smile.

Severus felt his innards still in anticipation to his employer's sudden attention.

"Tell us your progress with Ms. Granger."

"Anyone who has read the transcripts of our sessions should be able to see very clearly what kind of progress I have made," Severus answered testily.

"Ah, but those transcripts have only been made available to the other heads of houses," Dumbledore revealed, causing Severus to raise an eyebrow in mute surprise.

Well, that's certainly one less thing to worry about.

"Does that mean that you do not have access to them?" Severus asked, rather bluntly for the people sitting around him.

"Well, I do, but—," Dumbledore began to say, his eyes dimming slightly.

"Then you should have clarified," Severus interjected.

"This is beside the point," Dumbledore deflected, the twinkle in his eyes flaring up brightly.

Severus stared unflinchingly back at Dumbledore until someone nervously cleared their throat, effectively breaking the spell between them. Severus lifted a corner of his mouth and nodded slightly at his employer, silently conceding the point—for now.

"Ms. Granger, although most certainly a cause for concern, is far safer here than she would be at home. Her parents, whom I have plans to meet with sometime this week, are not equipped to deal with the subtle and complex levels of her undeniable distress."

"You do not deny that she is in distress then, Severus?" Poppy asked, turning calculating eyes in his direction.

"I think that is one thing with which we can all be in agreement on," Severus said, turning and making brief eye contact with Filius, Pomona and Minerva.

"And you think that her parents are incapable of recognizing such a threat?" Poppy asked, her eyes unwavering from his own. "Would you say that are incapable of any other such necessities in the girl's life?"

"It is uncertain at this point; hence the reason for a physical visit."

Poppy nodded in understanding, letting his answer stand. However, Severus had little doubt that the woman would begin asking her own questions soon enough if his visit proved less than enlightening.

. . .

Date: 08 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: Any more strangeness from Ms. Granger this week?

Morag: No. History of Magic went back to boring again.

Sprout: And your sister?

Morag: Studying a lot. Now that I'm not there, she finally gets to have all of our parents' attention, but she told me in a letter that it's not really as great as she had thought it would be.

Sprout: [She smiles knowingly]. I suspect not. Attention works two ways, not just one.

Morag: Yeah, she said that Mum has gotten really critical of her lately, and that even dad is finally taking a notice.

Side note: 'And does he not normally take notice of you and your sister?'

Sprout: Does your father work a lot?

Morag: Well, he has to. Mum quit her job when she had us, and a few years ago she had a miscarriage—oh! Please don't tell her I said that. I'm not supposed to talk about it.

Sprout: Certainly not, dear.

Morag: I think—I think that my mum had planned to go back to work, but then that happened and she isn't quite over it.

Sprout: And how long ago was this, exactly?

Morag: Um, about four years, I think.

End notes: Four years after a miscarriage and Mrs. MacDougal has still not moved past that time? I wonder if Morag is aware of how unusual that is.

. . .

Date: 08 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: How is this week going?

Hannah: Did you hear that William Cadwallader made the Hufflepuff Quidditch team?

Sprout: I did hear that. [She smiles]. Chaser, isn't he?

Hannah: And as a 2nd year too! Isn't that exciting?

Sprout: Very.

Hannah: Oh, and I made an Exceeds Expectations on my paper for Professor Snape!

Side note: 'One could argue that every paper turned in for you Severus is Exceeds Expectations. You don't expect much out of my first years, do you?'

Sprout: Congratulations! What was the topic?

Hannah: He asked us to discuss all of the possible methods of preparation for the ingredients that we've used so far this year. He told the whole class that my paper was the best!

Sprout: And how did your classmates respond?

Hannah: Well, the Hufflepuffs all congratulated me, even Justin—that's good, don't you think? That means that he's getting more comfortable being part of the house, don't you think so? [Her eyes are wide as she waits for Sprout's answer].

Sprout: That's very good. [She says with an encouraging smile]. What of the Ravenclaws? How did they respond to Professor Snape's announcement?

Hannah: Oh, you know how they are.

Sprout: What do you mean?

Hannah: They're so smart, but they're pretty obvious when they're angry about something. That's why Ernie walked me to my next class.

Sprout: Oh my! [She puts a hand to her heart]. Were you afraid they were going to react in a violent way?

Side note: 'Filius, this is why competition isn't necessarily a good thing.'

Hannah: Well, did you hear that Lisa Turpin hexed the Patil sisters yesterday in Defence Against the Dark Arts?

Sprout: [She gasps]. I had not heard that. Why ever did she do such a thing?

Hannah: She said that Parvati was a cheat for answering Professor Quirrell's question correctly. She said that there was no way some stupid Gryffindor would know an answer when none of the Ravenclaws knew it. And her curse hit Padma too because they always sit so close together.

Sprout: And who did you hear this from?

Hannah: I overheard Sabrina Fawcett telling Michael Corner about it.

Sprout: Shouldn't Mr. Corner have been in that particular class?

Hannah: Well, he would have been, but he spent the afternoon in the infirmary after Brocklehurst accidentally transfigured his arm into a pincushion.

Side note: 'Filius – perhaps Ms. Brocklehurst could use a visit to the optometrist?'

Sprout: Is Mr. Corner recovered now?

Hannah: Oh yeah. Madame Pomfrey fixed him right up.

Sprout: And what of the Patils?

Hannah: I heard from Ron Weasley that they had to spend the night in the infirmary, but he didn't know any details except for the fact that all of Parvati's hair had fallen out.

Sprout: Oh dear.

End notes: 'You look to be having a very interesting week this time around, Filius. I can't say that I envy you.'

Date: 08 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: Ms. Abbott seemed very pleased that you congratulated her on her Potions' paper.

Justin: [He turns slightly pink and mumbles something incomprehensible].

Sprout: What was that?

Justin: Well, she deserved it. I mean, if Professor Snape is impressed, then there has to be a reason.

Sprout: Ah, quite right. Tell me, were the Ravenclaws acting menacing towards Hannah after Professor Snape's class?

Justin: [He nods and chews on his lower lip briefly]. They were saying some mean stuff about her too.

Sprout: What sort of things?

Justin: You know, the sort of things that Ravenclaws say about Hufflepuffs . . .

Side note: 'I do know, but I'd like to hear them from your own mouth.'

Sprout: What sorts of things are these?

Justin: [He shifts nervously in his chair]. Well, things like how Hufflepuffs are just duffers that don't fit anywhere. And how Hufflepuff was made to fit the leftovers—the stupid leftovers. [His cheeks pink angrily at the thought].

Sprout: You know that's untrue, don't you?

Justin: [He swiftly nods]. Just because I'm don't have to study every minute of every day to feel good about myself, doesn't mean that I don't study and that I don't know how to think.

Sprout: [She smiles gently]. Well said, Mr. Finch-Fletchley. Though of course, I'd be careful about whom I said that in front of.

Justin: Of course. [He said with a stiff nod].

End notes: 'There's our badger fighting spirit!'

. . .

Date: 09 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: We did not have time to speak at length on Monday, but I want you to now explain to me exactly what happened in your Defence Against the Dark Arts class.

Lisa: [Her face instantly turns bright red]. It's not a big deal.

Flitwick: I beg to differ. Your magic caused the Patil twins to spend the night in the infirmary and lost Ravenclaw twenty points. Now, I want to know exactly what happened.

Side note: '10 points for each of them, Quirinus?'

Lisa: [She huffs angrily]. She's a liar, that Patil girl!

Flitwick: [He raises his eyebrows at her outburst]. Which one precisely are you referring to?

Lisa: Parvati!

Flitwick: And why do you say that?

Lisa: There's no way she could have known that answer. No one in the class did.

Flitwick: Is it not possible that—?

Lisa: [Interrupting]. No! Parvati doesn't even own a Defence book! She shares her sister's!

Flitwick: [He gives a soft sigh]. What was the question about?

Lisa: Professor Quirrell asked if anyone knew how many sub-branches were in the department of underage magic! It's only mentioned once in our index, and all it says there is that we're to refer to the second year DADA textbook.

Flitwick: What was the answer Ms. Patil gave in class?

Lisa: [She frowns]. She said there were six.

Flitwick: Given that my memory of the structures within the Ministry of Magic are a bit fuzzy, I must ask, was that the right answer?

Lisa: Well, yes, but—.

Flitwick: [He interrupts]. And you did not look this answer up until after this class?

Lisa: [She glares back at him]. Professor Quirrell made me write it out by hand one hundred times during my detention with him.

Side note: 'Ah, I see your point. Not likely to forget it anytime soon, are you?'

Flitwick: Now, explain to me exactly how Ms. Patil was cheating?

Side note: 'From what you heard, Pomona, I'm not entirely sure I want to hear what she's about to say.'

Lisa: There's no way she could have known it when none of us did.

Side note: 'Ravenclaws? Oh dear.'

Flitwick: Us?

Lisa: Ravenclaws. Parvati's a Gryffindor. There's no way she could have known the answer when even her own sister didn't know.

Flitwick: [He frowns]. I must say, that is certainly judgmental of you to say such a thing.

Lisa: [Snarling]. With all due respect professor, you don't know the first year Gryffindors very well. I don't know how they are in the other years, but the ones in my classes are dumber than a bag of rocks. They're dumber than that Slytherin boy, Crabbe something or other. They're slower than a sack of Flobberworms. They're—.

Flitwick: [He holds a weary hand up in interruption]. Yes, I get the point. Perhaps Ms. Patil had outside experience with the department of underage magic?

Lisa: [She gives him a haughty look]. Outside experience that her identical twin sister didn't have?

Flitwick: It is possible. That aside, there was no reason to hex them. I am rather disappointed in your lack of self-control.

Lisa: [Crossing her arms]. It wasn't like I decided to hex them. I was just so angry. My magic just got the better of me.

Flitwick: [He gives another sigh]. I suppose you will know better next time.

Lisa: [She gives a non-committal grunt].

Flitwick: And to make sure you don't forget this experience too quickly, I am also assigning you a week's worth of detention with Professor Snape.

Lisa: No! [Her eyes are suddenly wide]. You can't do that!

Flitwick: Can't I? [He raises an eyebrow, but his eyes are flashing with a quiet violence.]

Lisa: I mean—why can't I have detention with you?

Side note: 'A Slytherin you are not, my dear. Neither could you be a Hufflepuff, considering that you hexed one of your own.'

Flitwick: I fear that you would not learn the necessary lesson with me. I want to make sure you remember that it is not acceptable to hex other students merely because you are angry with them—particularly when you have no proof.

Lisa: [Pouting].

Flitwick: I may be kinder than some of the other professors, but I am not a pushover. Your pitiful demeanour will win you no points here.

End notes: 'Despite the less than optimal argument she tried to give me, I must admit that she does have a bit of a point. How did Ms. Patil know the answer when even her sister did not?'

. . .

Date: 09 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: How has your past week gone?

Sabrina: It's . . . been interesting.

Flitwick: I can imagine. Would you care to elaborate?

Sabrina: Well, I'm roommates with both Lisa and Padma, and I really think they're going to hex each other in their sleep sometime soon.

Flitwick: Oh dear. Perhaps it would be advisable to separate you girls into two rooms.

Sabrina: No! Don't do that!

Flitwick: Why ever not, child?

Sabrina: I don't want to be stuck with just Padma or Lisa for a roommate. I mean, Padma would probably be okay, but then Mandy would be stuck with Lisa, and I don't want her to be stuck with her either.

Flitwick: [He has a thoughtful expression]. If I weren't worried for their safety, I'd almost think putting both Ms. Patil and Ms. Turpin into a room together might be beneficial.

Sabrina: [She shakes her head in the negative]. It's a bad idea, professor. That's like sticking a Gryffindor and Slytherin in a room together and making them be friends.

Flitwick: [He raises an eyebrow].

Sabrina: Madame Pomfrey had to regrow all of Padma and Parvati's hair. And they have really long hair. And the only thing that Lisa says to Padma is "Cheater!" and all Padma ever says back is, "I didn't cheat, you little twit!"

Flitwick: Hm. Well, thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Sabrina: [She sighs]. You're welcome.

End notes: 'I may need one of your extra strength headache draughts by the end of this week, Severus.'

. . .

Date: 09 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: I imagine that you've had a rather interesting time this past week.

Michael: [He nods]. Remind me never to piss—er, annoy Lisa. She's scary with a wand!

Flitwick: That she seems to be, lad. [He nods in return]. Have you seen any more trouble between them since the Patil girls were released from the infirmary?

Michael: Well . . . they're refusing to sit on the same side of the room during classes, and that's pretty intense. [He scratches the side of his neck thoughtfully]. Lisa's been asking rather snotty questions of her all week too.

Flitwick: Such as?

Michael: Like, when we turn in our assignments for a class, Lisa hisses to Padma something about, "You sure you did this one by yourself? Or did you cheat here too?"

Flitwick: Oh dear. On a different note, how have your classes been progressing regarding Ms. Granger?

Michael: I think I almost prefer her to Lisa. I mean, Granger's kind of scary and weird and stuff, but at least I know what sorts of things to do not to set her off.

Flitwick: And those are?

Michael: As long as I don't make eye contact with her or try to say anything to her, then she pretty well leaves me alone.

Flitwick: That may be the best solution at present. Thank you for letting me know.

Michael: You're welcome, sir.

Flitwick: And how is your arm?

Michael: My arm sir? [A look of incomprehension is upon his face].

Flitwick: Ms. Fawcett informed me that you had to go to Madame Pomfrey because Ms. Brocklehurst accidentally transfigured your arm into a pincushion.

Michael: [He laughs]. Oh that. I had forgotten all about that. Madame Pomfrey fixed me right up, sir. I was only there for an hour or less.

Flitwick: That is very good news indeed!

End notes: 'Perhaps I shall assign Ms. Turpin some more detention with you Severus.'

. . .

Date: 10 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: What can you tell me about what happened in DADA on Monday?

Ron: [He rolls his eyes dramatically and sighs]. That Lisa Turpin is something else. When Padma got the answer right, I thought Lisa's head was going to explode.

McGonagall: Hold on. [She raises a hand to stop Ron from speaking]. I thought I heard that it was Parvati who got the answer right?

Ron: [A look of confusion passes over his face]. I thought . . . [His eyes clench in thought]. I guess you're right. That makes sense that Lisa would go so crazy over the idea of a Gryffindor getting something right when a Ravenclaw didn't, but I really did think I saw Padma answer the question.

Side note: 'Curious and curiouser.'

McGonagall: They are rather identical.

Ron: Yeah, that's probably it. [He looks unconvinced].

End notes: 'I think my conversation with Ms. Patil this week shall be a rather interesting one.'

. . .

Date: 10 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: How have your classes gone this week?

Neville: You mean, other than when Lisa hexed the Patil sisters?

McGonagall: [She smiles]. You can speak about that if you wish.

Neville: [Shaking his head]. Ravenclaws really are a mess. I think my gran was one, and if she wasn't, then she sure does get along well with them.

McGonagall: Actually, I believe that she was a Ravenclaw. And why precisely are Ravenclaws a mess? It's not that I don't believe you [she smiles again], but I want to hear your reasons.

Neville: They have to be right. And even if they aren't right, then they still try to make other people think that they are. It's so . . . [he stops, unable to decide on a word].

McGonagall: Annoying? Frustrating? [She raises an eyebrow and leans back in her chair]. Infuriating?

Neville: Yeah, infuriating. [He nods]. [He nods, and then grimaces as something suddenly occurs to him]. Then again, Ravenclaws are not the only ones who can be like that.

Side note: 'No, they are not. Very insightful, Mr. Longbottom.'

McGonagall: No?

Neville: Gryffindors are like that a lot too.

McGonagall: Anyone in particular?

Neville: Lavender. Sometimes Ron. Some of the older Gryffindors too, but I don't know all of their names. [He shrugs].

McGonagall: And what do you think of Hufflepuffs, Mr. Longbottom?

Neville: They're pretty nice. Hannah always smiles at me, and so does Ernie. They just don't talk to many of the people outside their own. It's kind of hard to talk to them.

McGonagall: And the Slytherins?

Neville: [He shifts uncomfortably]. Well, except for Harry, they're pretty hard to talk to also.

McGonagall: Would you say that you and Mr. Potter get along well?

Neville: I think that we do. Sometimes it's kind of hard to tell with him.

McGonagall: And the rest of the Slytherins?

Neville: It's funny really.

McGonagall: What is?

Neville: Well, if it weren't for how they are with Harry, then I'd just say that they were scary.

McGonagall: But?

Neville: But they're really careful with him. He calls all of them by their first names, even the older years. And they almost always smile back at him and wave, like he's some kind of exception to the rule.

McGonagall: The rule?

Neville: Yeah, the rule that says all Slytherins must glare and frown unless something unfortunate happens to someone else.

McGonagall: [She smiles].

Neville: It's not just that either. It's like . . . [He visibly thinks for a moment]. It's like he's off limits for everyone to touch, and if you get in his way or mess with him, then suddenly you have a face full of angry Slytherin house.

McGonagall: A very apt description, Mr. Longbottom.

Neville: Yeah well, I've seen people try and it never ends very well. [He shrugs].

End notes: 'I wouldn't try it, myself.'

. . .

Date: 10 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

Side note: 'Sometimes a hunch is all that is needed to unravel the truth.'

McGonagall: I imagine you must think you're rather smart.

Parvati: Pardon me, ma'am? I don't know what you're on about, but—.

McGonagall: [Interrupting]. Oh, but I think you do.

Parvati: [She pales and gulps].

McGonagall: I wonder, are you aware that Ms. Turpin has already been assigned two weeks of detention for her actions against you and your sister?

Parvati: Two weeks! That's not enough! Did you even see what she did to us? [Her eyes are flashing angrily].

McGonagall: And what about what you did to her?

Parvati: I didn't do anything to her!

McGonagall: Ah, I see. [She leans back in her seat and crosses her legs imperiously]. You didn't do anything. Your sister didn't do anything. At least, not individually.

Parvati: No.

McGonagall: Who thought it up?

Parvati: I don't know what you're talking about.

McGonagall: [She purses her lips and then suddenly smiles].

Parvati: [She sees the smiles and shifts nervously in her seat].

McGonagall: Let me tell you a story about two students I once knew. They were twins, identical twins in fact, and once upon a time, they thought it would be great fun to switch out places in their classes. They were, like you and your sister, assigned to two different houses you see, and each was rather interested in what it would be like to be part of another house for the day.

Parvati: That's . . . That's very ingenious.

McGonagall: Mm-hmm. I imagine they thought so as well. Perhaps they did it when they were younger as well? [She raises an eyebrow and looks directly at Parvati].

Parvati: [She whispers]. Perhaps they did.

McGonagall: Would you like to know which professor caught on to their act first?

Parvati: [Her eyes are wide as she waits for the answer].

McGonagall: [She leans in close and narrows her eyes dangerously]. Me.

Parvati: [She squirms as her breath stutters in and out]. I-I-I—It wasn't my idea!

McGonagall: No? [She leans back and resumes her previous relaxed pose].

Parvati: Well, not entirely! Padma, she has these sorts of ideas, you see. [Her eyes are darting nervously back and forth]. She likes to learn . . . about everything, really. It's really quite tiresome, sometimes!

McGonagall: Hmm.

Parvati: And I—I didn't really want to do it, but she can be quite convincing when she wants to!

McGonagall: So it was all her fault?

Parvati: Well . . . [She squirms].

McGonagall: Did you know that bravery comes in many forms? It's bravery that helps us fight battles, but it's also bravery that helps tell the truth.

Parvati: [She swallows hard].

McGonagall: Now tell me the truth. [Her eyes narrow in warning].

Parvati: [In a whisper]. It was her idea, but I was the one that made her go through with it.

McGonagall: [She smiles coldly]. See now, that wasn't so hard.

Parvati: What are you going to do to us?

McGonagall: Hmm. [She drums her fingers on her leg]. I believe that for starters you and your sister should tell Ms. Turpin the truth.

Parvati: [She shudders].

McGonagall: And then I believe I shall assign you detention also with Ms. Turpin. Both of you.

Parvati: [She whispers]. For how long?

McGonagall: As long as Ms. Turpin has detention. And I should warn you, she's still working on her self-control; so it's likely that she will continue getting detention until that little issue is worked out. [She smiles again].

End notes: 'Parvati and Padma decided to switch places on Monday for DADA. And so it was Padma who answered the question; a Padma dressed up in Gryffindor colours. Ms. Turpin was correct when she called her a cheat, but not for the reasons she thought.'

. . .

Date: 13 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 12 October, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'There is more to Vincent Crabbe than initially meets the eye. The question now is whether he is doing it on purpose, or whether he really thinks he is as worthless as his image seems to indicate.'

Snape: How has your week progressed?

Vince: [He shrugs].

Snape: Vince? [He asks in a very soft voice].

Vince: Harry's . . . well, he's rather taken with the Quidditch team.

Snape: And?

Vince: It just seems a shame, I guess. [He gives a one shouldered shrug before dropping his hands in his lap despondently].

Snape: What does?

Vince: Just that he'll never get to play.

Snape: And why is that?

Vince: Well, 'cause the guys really want to win. I mean, they're pretty good to Harry, letting him watch their practices and all, but they're never going to let him on for real.

Snape: How is his flying?

Vince: It seems okay.

Snape: But?

Vince: But, well you know how he is. How is he going to pay attention that long? It's not like he's particularly coordinated on the ground or anything. I just don't want to be the one to tell him he can't do something.

Snape: Don't be.

Vince: Pardon, sir?

Snape: Don't be the person who tells him he can't do something. He listens to you, Vince. And as long as you don't stop him, then anything is possible for our young Harry.

Vince: Do you really think that sir? [He asks, squinting dubiously up at Snape]. I mean, no offense sir, but that seems like something a Gryffindor would say.

Snape: Hope is not limited to only one house. Belief in one's self or another is part of progress, part of the ambition to make things happen. Slytherins are known for craftiness and skill at making things happen by any means possible. Believe in him, Vince. Show him that you have confidence in him, and let the rest of us work out those details.

End notes: 'Believe in him and learn to believe in yourself as you do, child.'

. . .

Date: 13 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 13 October, 1991

'I visited the Granger family at their abode yesterday, the 12th of October, 1991. Despite the fact that they verbally welcomed me into their house, there was little sense of real welcome in their voices or demeanour. Everything was very stiff, very formal, and dare I say it . . . overly pastel. I allowed them to serve tea, and then I got to the point of my visit. I inquired about Hermione's behaviour in the past months, and they assured me that she had been nothing but cheerful and excited about the prospect of attending a new school.'

'Hermione was diagnosed by Poppy as being depressed during her initial evaluation. At the time of evaluation, it was an already established level of behaviour. In other words, either the Grangers were attempting to lie to me, or they really were as delusional as Hermione claims them to be. I'm not quite sure which option I would prefer to believe in.'

'At that point in my visit, I asked them if I could make use of the facilities. Mr. Granger directed me towards the nearest toilet and I went in that direction with no intention of actually using said facilities. Instead, I opened several doors in hopes of finding Hermione's room, which I eventually located at the end of the hallway.'

'Although the carpet and walls were painted in that overly garish shade of pink that Mrs. Granger seems to prefer, the rest of the room was largely done in primary colours—something that was strangely comforting to the eye after enduring the rest of the house. On the walls there were several framed certificates of achievement, and on many of the shelves there were varying sizes of trophies stating more or less the same. They were, I should note, largely covered in dust.'

'The only other things featured within the room were piles and piles of books. Some were on the aforementioned shelves, but primarily they surrounded the bed and desk in varying heights.'

'"I see you've discovered Hermione's room," Mr. Granger's voice interrupted my perusing of one of the piles. I had purposely left the door open in hopes of being discovered. Sometimes the best way to have a conversation is to force it, and I had a feeling that the Grangers were the type of people who would need to be forced.'

'Given that Mrs. Granger was no longer with him, I decided to ask the same sorts of questions as before, but in the hopes that I would get a more honest answer this time. Although the answers I received were largely the same, there was a level of doubt present within Mr. Granger's voice and visage that I had not perceived from Mrs. Granger earlier that same morning.'

'"Tell me, Mr. Granger," I said, feeling the need to be rather blunt. "Have you ever been worried for your daughter's level of contentment in her life?"'

'He began to answer, but Mrs. Granger chose that moment to walk in, therefore spoiling my chances at getting a straight answer. She informed me that she planned to go through Hermione's room and turn it into a place fit for a young lady. I asked about what would happen to the numerous books spread out across everything, and she told me that she would likely donate them to the local library.'

'"And Hermione," I prompted. "Does she know of your plans?"'

'"I hardly think it matters. She is far too old for these childish flights of fancy, and it is high time for her to grow up into the young woman that I have raised her to be." With that overly pompous statement, she then attempted to usher me out, stating that she and George (Mr. Granger) had several appointments that they were going to be late for if they didn't leave right at that moment.'

'I should also note that Mr. Granger's face showed only surprise at her announcement; indicating that either these appointments had not been mentioned to him, or else they were nothing more than lies. One should really talk one's plans over with one's significant other before lying point blank to a stranger—particularly a Slytherin stranger.'

'"If it is all the same to you, madame, I would much prefer that we not adjourn this conversation so hastily," I countered with, much to her most obvious disdain.'

'"It is not," she sniffed in a manner very similar to Mrs. Malfoy's own cheery disposition. "This conversation, while amusing at its outset, has reached its logical conclusion and it is time to move on. I'll show you to the door." And then she very neatly and calmly kicked me out.'

'Of course we are not done with the conversation, but I think that the next time I visit, I shall bring Poppy and perhaps a few empty crates.'

Snape: I'm not certain whether I should be pleased for your relatively calm week or worried.

Hermione: [She smiles]. A quiet Slytherin is a naughty Slytherin? [The question is asked in a sing-song voice].

Snape: What do you think? [He raises an eyebrow and smirks].

Hermione: I hardly think that telling the truth would be beneficial to my continued plans.

Snape: A very Slytherin answer. [His smirk becomes a small but real smile].

Hermione: Did you have any doubt? [She smiles a very feral grin].

Snape: I've learned better than to make assumptions about anyone.

Side note: 'For instance, despite your overly Gryffindorish tendencies Minerva, you have still managed to commit more than a handful of truly Slytherin acts through the years.'

Hermione: Hm. [She nods thoughtfully]. What about when you know you're right?

Snape: It depends on the situation.

Hermione: And did you still feel that you were right about me after meeting my parents?

Snape: Did they tell you that in their letter to you?

Hermione: They told me that a very unpleasant man came to visit them. I'm only assuming that they meant you.

Snape: [He smiles and nods]. Touché. I must admit that the feeling was largely mutual.

Hermione: Imagine living with them.

Snape: I would prefer not to.

Hermione: [She snorts].

Snape: Humour me for a moment, if you would. If you could use three words to describe your mother, which ones would you use?

Hermione: [The corner of her mouth curls up into a partial smile]. Hm, because I'm feeling so generous right now, I'll play along.

Snape: Thank you.

Hermione: [She rolls her eyes]. Three words to describe Mother [she sighs] . . . disingenuous, rancorous—no wait, that's me . . . I'll keep disingenuous, but change the second one to treacherous, and finish up with specious.

Side note: 'For those of you not as familiar with the dictionary: A) disingenuous means lacking in frankness, candour, or sincerity; B) treacherous means being deceptive, untrustworthy, or unreliable; and C) specious means apparently good or right though lacking any real merit. Likewise, her three words can all also be attributed as negative Slytherin traits.'

Snape: And your father?

Hermione: Oh dearest daddy . . . [she says with an imperious sneer]. Spineless, insipid and utterly worthless ought to do it.

Side note: 'If you don't know these words, simply imagine Quirrell at his most pathetic, and I think you'll have the sort of image Ms. Granger was trying to portray.'

Hermione: Perhaps you should add 'noxious' to my dearest mummy's list as well. Wouldn't want to leave out any adjectives, would we?

Snape: Have you always felt this way about them?

Hermione: What way would that be? [She smiles a mirthless smile].

Snape: Such utter contempt for them?

Hermione: [She is silent for a moment and her face twists into a frown] . . . No actually, I used to think they actually cared for me. Clearly I was simply a stupid little prat who didn't know any better.

Snape: But you do now?

Hermione: Know better?

Snape: [He nods].

Hermione: [She nibbles on her lower lip and then shakes her head angrily, her eyes glaring down at the floor away from Snape's gaze]. I'd like to think so. [She finally growls out].

Snape: If they don't care for you, then what do they care for?

Hermione: [She gives a bitter bark of laughter]. Their image. Their place in society. Their standing. Their belief that they can be normal, that they can be perfect, even with a little worthless freak like me . . . [she trails off, still glaring at the floor].

Snape: And what makes you so worthless?

Hermione: [She shakes her head]. I'm done now. I want to go now. Stop talking to me! [She shouts, jumping to her feet].

End notes: 'After setting fire to the wooden chair she had been sitting in, Ms. Granger stormed out the door, slamming it loudly behind her. She was not seen again until the next morning at breakfast. Worryingly, I do not know where she was—not for certain, at least. I do have a theory, but as of yet it is still untested . . .'

. . .

Date: 13 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 09 October, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'When Hermione Granger is not causing trouble, she is still interesting. The same cannot always be said for Draco Malfoy . . .'

Snape: Tell me Mr. Malfoy, do your parents love you?

Draco: What sort of question is that?

Snape: [He leans forwards menacingly]. Mine. [He leans back in his chair again].

Draco: [He gulps nervously]. Of course they do.

Snape: If you were to . . . oh say, have a horrific accident and be physically dependent upon them for the rest of your life, would they still love you?

Draco: [His eyes widen]. That's an awful question.

Snape: Would they, Mr. Malfoy? Do not make me ask again.

Draco: [He gulps again]. I think they would.

Snape: If you had been sorted into Gryffindor, would your parents still have loved you?

Draco: [He pales]. Mother would have.

Snape: And your Father?

Draco: I-I think he would have been disappointed. [He says this in a whisper].

Snape: But he would have still loved you despite your failure?

Draco: [He pauses]. I think Mother would have convinced him to.

Side note: 'I think my sessions with Mr. Malfoy are being influenced by my meetings with Ms. Granger.'

Snape: Is there anything you can think of that would ever cause your parents to stop loving you?

Draco: [He looks down at his lap as he visibly ponders the question]. Perhaps, if I did something so horrific that it truly embarrassed my family name.

Snape: What would be horrific enough for that?

Side note: 'After all, if Lucius Malfoy is still part of the family after all that he did as a Death Eater, I'm not sure I can imagine anything that would be very much worse than that. Especially for a child.'

Draco: Well . . . [he draws the word out] . . . it'd be worse if I were to do something like start dating a mudblood like Granger. [He shudders dramatically].

End note: 'That would be worse that your father's crimes against humanity? Mr. Malfoy, you live a very sheltered life indeed.'

. . .

Date: 13 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'A surprise with every overenthusiastic hug he bestows on me.'

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape! [He bounces in next to Caddy the house elf. Caddy waits until he is seated next to Professor Snape and then he quietly walks out of the room and apparates with a small pop].

Snape: Hello Harry.

Harry: Did you miss me? [He turns wide imploring eyes up at Snape].

Snape: Let's see here. Given that I saw you just at breakfast this morning, I must say that no, I have not.

Harry: [His mouth turns down in a slight pout]. Not even a little?

Snape: [He sighs and gives a small smile]. Perhaps a tiny bit, but I most certainly have not missed any of the other students.

Harry: [He gives Snape a relieved smile]. That's all right! You're my 'fessor Snape! [His grin increases as he leans his head against Snape's robed arm].

Snape: Harry, tell me, did your relatives allow you to have blue hair when you lived with them? [He looks down at Harry's wild blue dreadlocks with a raised eyebrow].

Harry: Nuh-uh. [He vigorously shakes his head in the negative]. Uncle Vernon said that I'm not allowed to be sportin' no stupid hippy shit. Not under his roof! Nope nope nope.

Snape: He swore at you frequently, did he?

Harry: [He shrugs].

Snape: Explain to me how you changed your looks so suddenly then? Dreadlocks, as I understand, typically take a fairly long time to . . . cultivate.

Harry: [He wraps his thin arms around Snape's significantly larger one]. Well, 'cause I wanted them to, that's how. [He nods, looking pleased with himself].

Side note: 'Does he mean what I think he does?'

Snape: If you were to want say, shoulder length black hair, could you have it as well?

Harry: [He looks up at Snape's hair and suddenly he grins enthusiastically]. Yup! [Without warning, Harry's blue dreadlocks begin morphing into straight black hair and growing down to his shoulders. Within a minute, Harry's hair looks extremely similar to Snape's own 'do].

Side note: 'A parseltongue and a metamorphmagus?'

Snape: [His own eyes somewhat wider than usual]. It's a very nice look for you.

Side note: 'Anything is better than the blue dreadlocks.'

Harry: [Clapping his hands together]. Yay!

Snape: Tell me Harry, what does your original hair look like?

Harry: [He suddenly drops his head and looks at his lap]. Don't like it.

Snape: [Touching his free hand to Harry's chin, he lifts the boy's head up]. Why not?

Harry: Uncle Vernon said that it looked like a rat's nest and that he was the 'sterminator. Don't wanna show you. 'Kay? [He looks back at Snape with wide frightened eyes].

Snape: [He nods in understanding]. You don't have to show me. [He says very softly]. That wasn't very nice of him, you know.

Harry: [He shakes his head back and forth]. Didn't like me. Wanted me dead. I heard him say that to aunt 'Tunia. [He nods very matter of factly, his lip between his teeth].

Snape: [He grits his teeth very briefly and then relaxes]. I think you should know, I don't like him very much either.

Harry: 'Cause you're my 'fessor Snape? [His voice is hopeful].

Snape: [He nods resolutely]. Because you are my Harry.

Harry: [He smiles even as his eyes tear up. He hides his face in Snape's shirt and hugs his professor very tightly around the middle].

Snape: No one is allowed to hurt you, not ever again. Never again. [He murmurs these last two words against the top of Harry's now dreadlock free head].

End notes: 'The head of Slytherin has spoken. Thus it shall be. And if you think otherwise, I challenge you to try otherwise.'

Chapter Text

14 October, 1991

The knock on his door was loud and startling early the next morning. Severus opened it with a snarl, but his face melted into a look of relief when he saw who it was.

"Hadwyn," he calmly greeted the other man with.

"Oh Severus, you old fool. Don't think you can get away without a hug from me!" Hadwyn stepped forwards and gathered the thinner man up into a large bear hug.

"Would you put me down!" Severus shouted, smacking Hadwyn's large head with his hand.

"Oh fine. Ruin all the fun," Hadwyn answered with a grin. The man's face was rough and wind burned; his reddish beard now marked with a few streaks of silver. It gave the other man a look of authority, and made his face very striking.

"Hmph," was all Severus said before turning and summoning Hadwyn's bags from the hallway into his quarters proper.

Sometime later, after Severus had made tea and they had moved past the initial pleasantries—such as they were between a man like Hadwyn and a man like Snape—Hadwyn finally asked the question that Severus had been waiting for all morning.

"Tell me about Harry."

Severus sighed and looked at Hadwyn with a serious expression.

"That bad?" Hadwyn asked incredulously.

Severus frowned and shook his head in reaction to his question. Harry wasn't bad, not really, but rather it was the situation they had been forced into that was the problem. That and his blasted relatives. This he relayed to Hadwyn as clearly as he could, knowing that the man would understand him better than most. They had, after all, been friends for many years.

Hadwyn had seen him at his worst and yet had still chosen to remain his friend, even when others had given up on him.

"When will I get to meet the lad?" Hadwyn finally asked; a mite bit more cheerful than his last question.

"Right now, if you like," Severus answered, not explaining any more as he stood up and led Hadwyn to the closed door beside his own bedroom door.

Severus knocked lightly, but upon hearing no response, he opened the door to show Hadwyn the room's contents.

"He sleeps here?" Hadwyn asked in a soft voice after seeing the boy curled up in a ball in the midst of several blankets.

"Only on Sunday nights," Severus answered, closing the door as they went back into the hallway. He explained Harry's tendency towards falling asleep at the end of his counselling sessions and how it had simply been easier to let him sleep there than wake him up.

"Doesn't he sleep in his dorm?" Hadwyn asked, following Severus back to the main room.

"His roommates inform me that he has nightmares a great deal, and I fear that he is often too frightened to go back to sleep after waking up from them. I am modifying one of the dorm's wards in order to see if I can't be alerted whenever he is in such a situation, but I could use your help if his nightmares really are as frequent as they seem to be."

"We could take shifts, or be on call on different nights," Hadwyn mused thoughtfully. "I take it that he already trusts you, especially if he's willing to fall asleep here."

"It does appear so," Severus answered carefully. "Plus, he is quite . . . taken with the idea of being my ward. He and his relatives did not get along, and I suspect many of his nightmares are about them and their treatment of him."

"Bastards," Hadwyn swore.

Severus knew the other man felt the same way he did about people who mistreated children. It was one of the reasons they were still friends after all these years.

"Very much so, I'm afraid," Severus agreed softly.

. . .

14 October, 1991 – That afternoon

Snape: Harry, I want you to meet someone. This is a very old friend of mine named Hadwyn Long. He's going to talk to you a bit every week just like I do.

Harry: [Twisting his hands nervously]. I still talks to you too? [His eyes are wide and frightened].

Snape: Of course. [His voice is very calm and soothing]. You are still my pet bat. [He smiles gently].

Hadwyn: [He snorts lightly at Snape's words].

Harry: [Looking very relieved]. Kay! You're gonna stay with me? [He looks at Snape in questioning and then sneaks a quick glance at Hadwyn].

Snape: Yes, unless you want me to leave.

Harry: Stay! [He latches his arms around Snape's closest and much larger arm and scoots in as close as he can get to the older man].

Snape: Hadwyn? Feel free to start. [There is a small smile on his lips].

Hadwyn: Hello Harry. Is it acceptable that I call you Harry?

Harry: [Hiding his face against Snape's arm]. It's my name. [He says in a soft and unusually shy voice].

Hadwyn: [He smiles gently]. And it's a very nice name. It starts with an 'H' just like mine does.

Harry: [He smiles a little up at Snape].

Hadwyn: I like H's. A lot of my favourite words start with H's.

Harry: [He relaxes his grip on Snape's arm minutely].

Hadwyn: Horses and hair, helping and hats, heat and handsome . . . do you like any 'H' words, Severus?

Snape: [With a small smile down at Harry]. I'm fond of Harry's name as well.

Harry: [He smiles a little more].

Snape: My favourite 'H' words also include: Harmonics, harpsichord, haulm, hebenon, hekistotherm, haematology, hippocras, histology, hobbledehoy—.

Harry: [Interrupting with a wild giggle]. That's not a word, 'fessor Snape!

Snape: [Pretending to be indignant]. It most certainly is.

Harry: Nuh-uh. [He shakes his head in the negative, but then cocks his head to one side in a questioning fashion after a moment of thought]. Is it?

Snape: 'Hobbledehoy – awkward; gawky youth.'

Hadwyn: [He snorts with laughter]. I suppose if anyone were to know that word, it'd be you, Severus.

Harry: [Peering in interest at Hadwyn]. Why d'ya call my 'fessor that word?

Hadwyn: You mean, 'Severus?'

Harry: [Nodding].

Hadwyn: Why, because that's his first name.

Harry: Really? [He glances back to Snape for confirmation].

Snape: It is. [He says with a nod].

Harry: 'Kay! [He accepts the answer easily and then uncurls a little from Snape's side].

Hadwyn: Harry, what are some of your favourite 'H' words?

Harry: [His face scrunches as he visibly ponders the question]. I like . . . [He chews on his lip until Snape pulls it out of his mouth]. I like da words, um, hardy . . . ands hardworking! Ands . . . heliotropic. [He nods proudly]. Ands . . . hemlock! Yup yup yup. [He nods again].

Hadwyn: Why those words, Harry? What about them makes them special?

Harry: 'Cause, 'cause they're important outside words!

Hadwyn: [Looking somewhat confused]. What are 'outside words?'

Snape: I believe he means words that pertain to the outside world.

Harry: [Flashing a brilliant smile at Snape]. Yup yup yup! [He claps his hands together happily and swings his legs off the edge of the sofa].

Hadwyn: [He smiles a bit at them both]. What does heliotropic mean, Harry? Severus, you are not allowed to answer. [He says with a wink].

Harry: But, what if he wanted to answer! [He asks with wide eyes].

Snape: Harry, I do not want to answer.

Harry: But, but you might've before, but you can't now, 'cause he said so and what if! [He is visibly upset now and flapping his fingers agitatedly].

Snape: [Turning to look Harry in the face]. Harry, shh. [He takes Harry's hands in his own and grips them securely, squeezing them gently in a way that has proven to calm Harry in the past]. Did you see Hadwyn close one eye when he said that to us?

Harry: [Still shifting uncomfortably in his seat]. Uh huh. [His voice is soft and uncertain, and he only has eyes for Snape].

Snape: That's called a 'wink,' Harry. It is a way of indicating that one is not being as serious as their words seem to indicate. [Seeing that his words aren't getting through to Harry, Snape tries again]. Hadwyn did not want to hear what I had to say, but he did not want to be cruel about it. He winked at me so that I knew not to take his words in an offensive way. Does that make any sense?

Harry: [His brow is down as he processes what Snape has said]. Yesss. I thinks so. [He nods once, a bit uncertainly].

Snape: Good. Now, do you remember what Hadwyn asked?

Harry: Asked me what 'heliotropic' meants. [He replies dutifully].

Snape: And what does it mean?

Harry: Growin' in da direction of the sunlight. [He replies promptly].

Snape: Well done, Harry. [He smiles proudly].

Harry: [He smiles back shyly and relaxes at Snape's praise. Finally he is able to turn back towards Hadwyn, although he does not re-establish eye contact].

Hadwyn: Thank you for your answer, Harry. I apologize for confusing you.

Harry: [He stares up at Hadwyn's face from under the dark locks that he is still wearing in the style of Snape's own]. 'Kay. 'Pology 'ccepted. [He says softly after a moment of thoughtful silence].

Hadwyn: Where did you learn that word, Harry?

Harry: In da book for Herbology. Oh! Another good 'H' word! [He wiggles happily, although he does not pull his hands free from Snape's grip in order to clap].

Hadwyn: Do you like to read?

Harry: [Nodding enthusiastically]. Ms. Engelbrecht said that reading is the bestest thing in the whole wide world, 'cause you can goes anywhere but never leave your bedroom. I never had no bedroom, but I didn't tell her, 'cause Uncle Vernon woulda been angry. [He nods and then brings his legs up under his body].

Hadwyn: Ms. Engelbrecht?

Snape: One of his primary teachers. This is the second time you've mentioned her, Harry. Did you like Ms. Engelbrecht?

Harry: [He looks up with wide guileless green eyes straight into Snape's face]. She tolds me that I wasn't a retard. She said that I just thought different and that I didn't haveta take the same way to get the same idea as other peoples did. She said that I wasn't stupid like Uncle Vernon said. She said I coulds be my own person and have my own thoughts, 'cause they were mine. Right, 'fessor Snape?

Snape: She was correct. She sounds like a very smart person. [He says, transferring Harry's hands to one hand and curling the other around Harry's shoulders].

Hadwyn: I think this was a very good first meeting, but it looks like you're starting to get tired, Harry. Would you mind if I talked some more with you next week?

Harry: With my 'fessor Snape?

Hadwyn: [Nodding with a smile]. With Professor Snape, yes of course. We wouldn't want to leave him out.

Harry: [Shaking his head in the negative]. 'Fessor Snape is important. We can't forgets him.

Snape: [He rolls his eyes but squeezes Harry's shoulders gently with one arm regardless].

Hadwyn's Ending Notes: 'Harry seems quite taken with Severus, more so than I imagined when he explained their relationship. And Severus, for his part, has become quite enamoured of Harry as well (although I doubt he would ever give voice to such a thing).

As Harry stated during our meeting, he is not retarded. I went and looked up the definition of "heliotropic" within the first Herbology book, and the explanation that Harry gave was close, but not word for word what was stated in the text. Thus, it seemed that he remembered the definition without having to explicitly memorize it. I also don't think he was lying when he stated he read the book, so there's another point in his favour.

Furthermore, after talking with several of his teachers, I have learned that his written work—although nearly illegible at times—is actually rather good, and is indicative of a rather intelligent mind behind the complex behaviours that make up Harry. It also seems that none of his professors are worried about him cheating, since the comparisons and correlations he makes in his written work are incredibly unique.

Next week, I hope to explore more of Harry's past, and if time allows, perhaps delve a bit into his mind as well.'

. . .

Date: 15 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: I miss my mother, Professor Sprout. [She frowns]. And my sister.

Sprout: Oh dear. Come here child. [She gathers Morag up into a hug and then lets her sit back down]. Christmas isn't really that far off. It shall be here before you know it and then you can be with your family again.

Morag: [She sniffles a bit]. It's silly, I know. I'm just being a baby about it all.

Sprout: Nonsense! If you think you are the first student ever to be homesick, then you are very much mistaken. Why, Mr. MacMillan was telling me just last week how he missed his friends at school.

Morag: [She is a bit tearful but it is clear she is trying not to cry in front of a professor]. It's silly, really! I like it here better than I do at home, truly I do. Megan is the outgoing one. She's the one who's friends with everyone, and most of the time I just feel like the odd one out, but I still want to see her and see my mummy and hug my dad.

Sprout: It isn't silly in the least. For as much as they harp on you lot being young men and women, what you really are is just boys and girls, and young ones at that.

Morag: What can I do then?

Sprout: You can study and you can make friends, and you can write letters to your family like you've been doing. And then, in the evenings or the weekends, when you're particularly lonely or homesick, then that's when you find one of the prefects and tell them that. They've been trained to help younger house members just like you, and if they can't help you, then you come to me! That's what you do!

Morag: [Still sniffling]. All right. [She nods hesitantly]. If you think so.

Sprout: Oh I do, child. I have my upmost faith in you, Morag.

End notes: 'She just hasn't found her place quite yet, but I have confidence that she will soon.'

. . .

Date: 15 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: How have the Ravenclaws been towards you this past week?

Hannah: [She laughs]. Oh, I think they've forgotten all about me! Lisa Turpin and Padma Patil are so angry at each other; they're hardly aware of anyone else!

Sprout: Oh yes. I heard about that. I can hardly believe that they decided they could fool all of us into believing their stunt.

Hannah: And did you hear who it was that figured it out?

Sprout: Wasn't it Professor McGonagall?

Hannah: Well yes, but Ron Weasley was one of the only students not to get tricked! I think it's because he has twin brothers of his own, and so he's used to seeing the differences!

Sprout: [She smiles warmly at Hannah]. And who told you that about Mr. Weasley?

Side note: 'Gloating on himself, likely. Eh, Minerva?'

Hannah: Oh! Professor McGonagall told us all about it in Transfiguration. She wanted to make sure that we didn't get tricked again and she pointed out to us that Ron was one of the ones who didn't get fooled.

Side note: 'Forgive my hasty assumption, Minerva.'

Sprout: Well, that was certainly good of her.

Hannah: [Nodding enthusiastically]. It seemed almost like a 'Puff thing to do, don't you think Professor Sprout? Sharing the honour and whatnot?

Sprout: A bit, yes child.

End note: 'Minerva, how Hufflepuffish of you! Ha ha ha. I've wanted to say that for years.'

. . .

Date: 15 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin: Professor Sprout, I have a question. Well, really it's more of a supposition, I suppose . . . [He trails off, muttering to himself for a moment before falling silent].

Sprout: Yes, Mr. Finch-Fletchley? I'm listening. [She smiles gently at him].

Justin: If they can have moving staircases at Hogwarts, why can't they have escalators?

Sprout: Escalators?

Justin: Moving stairs.

Sprout: That seems like it would be rather dangerous! What if a stair were to move out from under your foot and you happened to fall through? My, I knew the muggle world was dangerous, but—.

Justin: [Interrupting with a smile]. No, that's not it at all. Look, escalators just move the entire surface of the staircase itself. So you can step on the bottom step and it carries you to the top without your having to climb the individual stairs.

Sprout: [Looking much relieved]. Oh, that's much better. I was about to forbid you ever to go on another one. [She laughs good naturedly].

Justin: So, back to my question. Why can't Hogwarts have them if they have moving staircases?

Sprout: [Looking thoughtful]. I would guess that it's simply because no one in the magical world had ever seen such a thing. Are they a very new invention?

Justin: Hm. I think so. I mean, at least in the past hundred years or so, I'd wager.

Sprout: Then that would be your answer. [She answers with a smile]. Hogwarts is an ancient castle and the implements inside her walls take a long time to be modified. It's also highly advanced magic that simply isn't known to everyone.

Justin: Oh. Why not?

Sprout: It's an upper level subject that many students aren't interested in learning. It's based on several other areas of magic, and you must have a very good grasp of how each of the basic components work before learning how to master the finer points.

Justin: Who teaches it?

Side note: 'This is the most interest he's shown to anything yet this school year.'

Sprout: It's a double apprenticeship between Professors Flitwick and Snape.

Justin: [He raises his eyebrows and lets out a low whistle]. I can see why not many kids would want to try that.

Sprout: If you're interested in possibly learning how to work with magical structures, then the best advice I can give is to study extra hard in Charms and Transfiguration, and then later in Runes and Arithmancy. Professors Snape and Flitwick will show you how to weave that together in order to learning magical warding, and then teach you about advanced methods of magical modification.

End note: 'The last student that successfully completed that training was Bill Weasley, and I don't think I need to expound on his qualities.'

. . .

Date: 16 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: I told you I was right.

Flitwick: At least partially. [He smiles].

Lisa: I don't understand why I still have to be punished when I was right.

Side note: 'For a Ravenclaw, you certainly are behaving rather obtusely.'

Flitwick: Oh? Have you already forgotten how you hexed your two of your classmates and caused them to spend the evening in the infirmary recovering? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Early memory loss. Never a good sign. [He says with a wink].

Lisa: Stop making fun of me!

Flitwick: I'm not doing anything of the sort.

Lisa: They were the ones who tricked me, who tricked all of us! They should be getting all of the punishment!

Flitwick: And ignore your transgressions in light of theirs? I think not. And before you say another word, I believe you know that they are getting punished alongside you. Parvati has been assigned to attend every detention you are given related to this ordeal. And Padma has been given detention with Filch for the next week.

Lisa: It still isn't right.

Flitwick: Actually, this response is fairer to you than what would have happened had Professor McGonagall not unravelled the mystery to begin with.

Lisa: I can't believe a stupid Gryffindor solved this whole thing. Of course [she gives a bitter laugh], it was a stupid Gryffindor who started it all, so it might as well be one that ended it.

Side note: 'I've had quite enough of these idiotic rivalries.'

Flitwick: I don't want to hear you say such a thing about Gryffindors or any of the other houses ever again.

Lisa: But, but they are!

Flitwick: That is enough. [He says with a glare]. I will not allow you to insult one of my colleagues or any of my other students.

End note: 'I promise, the next student that makes a comment about Ravenclaw being superior to any of the other houses will wear a dunce cap for the rest of the week. This has gone past utterly ridiculous.'

. . .

Date: 16 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Tell me, do you still believe that your roommates are about to kill each other?

Sabrina: [She rolls her eyes]. I think Lisa just needs to get over this. Maybe you should lock Lisa and Padma in a dorm room together and let them fight it out. Without their wands, though.

Side note: 'It's beginning to sound like a good idea.'

Flitwick: Perhaps it would useful for them to write letters to one another?

Sabrina: [She shakes her head in the negative]. At this point, it's more Lisa's problem than it is Padma's. She's the one who has gone all dramatic over everything. It's like she thinks that her problem is bigger than everyone else's problems. I tell you . . . [She trails off and her eyes lose some of their focus].

Flitwick: Child?

Sabrina: . . . she needs perspective. [She finally says]. Something to compare her problem to and then see that it's not that big of a deal. She thinks that she has an injustice? She needs to meet someone who really does.

Flitwick: Very insightful, Ms. Fawcett. [He nods thoughtfully]. Let me see if I can't put something together. Thank you for giving me this idea.

Sabrina: [She smiles shyly]. You're welcome, professor.

End note: 'Very insightful indeed. Now, I wonder if I can get you to tell Ms. Turpin about how you lost your family to Death Eaters . . . that is an injustice of a different variety. Or how Harry Potter was so badly mistreated that he actually suffered brain damage from his time spent at the hands of his relatives. Or how Neville Longbottom will never get to speak with his parents. Injustices all.'

. . .

Date: 16 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: How has this week gone, Mr. Corner?

Michael: You mean, other than Lisa trying to get everyone to take sides against Padma? Not bad. [He laughs].

Flitwick: Yes, I've heard about some of that. [He pointedly rolls his eyes].

Michael: [He laughs]. That seems like something a kid would do, professor. I don't think I've seen a professor do that before.

Flitwick: I'll let you in on a little secret, Mr. Corner. Professors may be older, but they aren't always any more mature than the students.

Side note: 'I've seen each and every one of you roll your eyes during something at staff meetings. Don't try and deny it!'

Michael: That just seems . . . odd. I don't know. Logically I know that each of you must have been kids at some point, but . . . but I can't imagine it.

Flitwick: I think there are those of us who prefer not to recall that time in our lives. Just like the students that you go to class with, there are some of us who did not have a good childhood and who did not have an easy time of it while growing up.

Michael: [A thoughtful expression is now on his face]. Like you, sir?

Flitwick: [A tired smile comes upon his face]. I wish I were the only one to have experienced bullying and mistreatment at the hands of others. However, I am not.

Michael: That's also rather hard to think about. It doesn't seem like any of the professors—except maybe Professor Quirrell!—could have ever been bullied. You all just seem so, oh I don't know, you just seem so confident and competent with what you do.

Flitwick: It is often the adversity that we face growing up that makes us stronger as adults. Then again, sometimes it is that same adversity that gives us hidden weaknesses related to those troublesome times in our youth. Think on it child.

End note: 'I keep hoping that with enough prodding, Mr. Corner will grow up into an advocate for his classmates instead of a detriment to them.'

. . .

Date: 17 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

Ron: Thank you.

McGonagall: Whatever for?

Ron: For telling the other classes about me. [His face is as red as his hair as he talks]. You know, about how I saw it was Padma instead of Parvati.

McGonagall: It was simply the truth.

Ron: Yeah well . . . [he scratches his arm idly] . . . you didn't have to do it, so thanks. There've been a lot of people talking to me this week that I've never even heard from. It's been nice.

McGonagall: I'm glad that I could help.

Ron: Do you know anything about why Harry Potter has started wearing his hair like Professor Snape? Do you think he's doing it on purpose?

Side note: 'If it's supposed to be a secret that he's a metamorphmagus, then he shouldn't have changed his hairstyle so drastically or so very suddenly.'

McGonagall: I believe that it was Professor Snape's method of testing a theory.

Ron: [He looks confused]. What theory could he test and how did he test it?

McGonagall: He thought it might be possible that Harry was a metamorphmagus.

Ron: [His mouth suddenly forms an 'O' as he processes what McGonagall said].

McGonagall: And he tested the theory by asking Harry to change his hairstyle into something completely different.

Ron: [Laughing weakly]. That's pretty different.

McGonagall: Quite. [She smiles].

Ron: But Harry doesn't have to keep it like that, does he?

McGonagall: I don't believe so, no. Why do you ask?

Ron: [He shrugs]. I just want to make sure that Snape—er, Professor Snape isn't forcing him to do something he doesn't want to do.

McGonagall: Hm. I doubt Professor Snape would do that to anyone, but especially not one of his own snakes. You may not be aware of this, but Professor Snape has turned into something of a mentor for Harry.

Side note: 'I hope that's not privileged information, Severus. It seems like it will clear up more problems now than cause more in the future.'

Ron: Oh. You mean that Harry likes that greas—er, that he likes Professor Snape?

McGonagall: Careful, Mr. Weasley. I won't stand for you to badmouth one of my colleagues to my face. These sessions may be private, but that does not give you a license to denigrate any of Hogwarts' professors—especially without specific cause.

Ron: [Paling]. Sorry professor. [He says in a whisper].

McGonagall: As to your question, if I were to make an assumption based on what I've seen and heard, then I would say that Harry likes Professor Snape very much.

Ron: [Shaking his head]. I don't see how, Professor McGonagall.

McGonagall: [Looking over her glasses at him]. Yes, I imagine you wouldn't.

End note: 'And nor do I feel like spending the time necessary to enlighten you on such a thing either.'

. . .

Date: 17 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: How is your week progressing? Have you learned anything new in your Potions study group?

Neville: Just that everything I'm doing is wrong.

McGonagall: Well, we all must start somewhere. Sometimes the best way to learn new things is to tear everything that we think we know down and start anew.

Neville: [Nodding slowly]. I guess that makes sense. Did you know that there is a plant in the greenhouse that only responds to Harry?

McGonagall: I did not. What does it do?

Neville: It sways in his direction whenever he's nearby.

McGonagall: [A small smile appears on her face]. Is it the purple one in the corner?

Neville: [His eyes widen in surprise]. How did you know that?

McGonagall: Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape both elicit responses from it as well.

Neville: What kind? And why is that?

McGonagall: Hm, I believe that the plant begins making a low whistling sound whenever the headmaster visits it, and twists in circles whenever Professor Snape is nearby. As to why it reacts to only those people, I believe it has something to do with their magical power levels.

Neville: [His mouth drops open]. Does that mean that Harry is really powerful? I know that the headmaster is one of the most powerful wizards of our time.

McGonagall: So it does seem. [She nods as she speaks].

Neville: That's so strange that he can be so powerful and so different at the same time.

McGonagall: It's simply a reminder for you not to judge a book by its cover.

Neville: Ma'am? What does that mean?

McGonagall: It means that simply because something appears one way to us, say a book with a dull cover, it does not mean that it is that way. Appearances can be deceiving. One mustn't make judgments on books—or people—based solely on appearances or partial impressions. I think you can understand that.

Neville: [He nods slowly, his face scrunched in thought].

End notes: 'Judge not lest ye be judged—my father said that one to me repeatedly throughout my childhood.'

. . .

Date: 17 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

Parvati: I'm not talking to you.

McGonagall: Really? It certainly seems as though you talked to me just now.

Parvati: [She huffs in irritation and turns away from McGonagall].

McGonagall: I find it interesting that the ones who are at fault are always the first to blame other people for their misfortunes.

Parvati: [She rolls her eyes and grits her teeth].

McGonagall: [Smiling]. You know, I convinced Professor Flitwick not to assign your sister as much detention as I gave you. Despite the fact that it was her idea, it was you that made her go through with it. While something ought to be said about her giving into your desires, the real focus is still on you. How does that make you feel?

Parvati: [She shakes her head but remains silent].

McGonagall: Hm. Still not talking? Would you care to stare angrily at me for a spell?

Parvati: [She glares back at McGonagall].

McGonagall: Ah, I was right. [Her smile increases in intensity].

Parvati: Would you just be quiet!

McGonagall: You were the one who decided to be silent. You said nothing of the sort about me.

Parvati: You are so annoying!

McGonagall: Why thank you Ms. Patil!

Parvati: [Her jaw drops a bit]. I just insulted you!

McGonagall: One woman's insult is another woman's compliment. So, thank you Parvati.

Parvati: Gah!

End note: 'She has nothing on the Weasley twins in full blown anger, nor on their mother. In fact, after dealing with Weasleys for two generations, I can honestly say that there isn't much that scares me—at least, in terms of Gryffindor personality traits.'

. . .

Date: 20 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 18 October, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'He attends every tutoring session without fail. He keeps Harry Potter by his side regularly. He puts up with Malfoy without losing his composure. And still his professors and most of his classmates think him worthless.'

Snape: How has this past week been for you?

Vince: [He sighs]. A little more interesting than usual.

Snape: [He narrows his eyes]. How so?

Vince: A few of the Gryffindorks, Brown, Finnigan and Thomas mostly, have started messing with Harry.

Snape: [His voice drops lower]. In what way?

Vince: [He shifts uncomfortably]. Throwing things at him in the hallways, calling him names, laughing . . . lousy stuff like that.

Snape: And how are your fellow Slytherin year mates reacting to this behaviour?

Vince: Well, Blaise has been standing up for him pretty well, I think. You know he doesn't talk too much, right? Well, he's been putting himself in front of Harry when we go down the hallways, intercepting a lot of the stuff. It's mostly coming from those other first years, so we really only have problems when we get to where we're going.

Snape: And Mr. Nott?

Vince: Mostly just glaring back at them a lot. He hasn't said much, but I think he did hex Finnigan once. So that's something. Nott just . . . he doesn't watch out for much other than where he's going. He's not really one to worry about other people. [He shrugs].

Snape: [He nods]. And the girls? Ms. Parkinson and Ms. Greengrass?

Vince: [He rolls his eyes dramatically]. If it weren't for the fact that Finnigan and Thomas were Gryffindorks, I bet they'd be joining in. They're always smiling when anyone makes fun of Harry, even though they don't really join in. They don't do anything to stop them and I think in some ways, that's almost worse.

Snape: I agree, Vince. Watching and doing nothing is almost always worse.

Vince: [He nods in agreement]. Yeah. Millicent Bulstrode is the only other one who ever does anything and she usually reacts with her fists first, which I know you said is not a good idea, but at this point, I don't really mind. I know Thomas is scared of her and probably Finnigan too, if his expressions mean anything.

Snape: And Mr. Malfoy?

Vince: The same as Parkinson and Greengrass, except that sometimes he does join in. He just doesn't do it very loudly. I think he's afraid you might hear.

Side note: 'He better be afraid.'

Snape: What of Ms. Granger?

Vince: She doesn't walk with us.

Snape: Ever? [He raises an eyebrow].

Vince. Never. [He shakes his head in the negative].

Snape: Is she waiting at the classroom when you get there or does she arrive after?

Vince: Usually she shows up just after we go in, almost as though she's hiding nearby and watching or something. I get that feeling sometimes, but I hardly ever see her. If she's hiding, then she's doing a really good job of it. Like you do.

Side note: 'I would hope that I do a better job of it just for the sake of principle.'

Snape: Thank you for informing me of this Vince. How is Harry holding up?

Vince: He doesn't say a lot about it, but I can tell it's stressing him out a little. Whenever they call him names, he starts saying stuff like, "Not s'posed to say that to Harry! Nope nope nope. Bad words. Bad words!"

Snape: [The corner of his mouth lifts up in a sad smile]. That they are, Vince. Bad words. I'll see if we can't put a stop to this atrocious behaviour.

Vince: [He shrugs]. I don't know what you can do. You can give them detentions, but they'll keep it up. They're just mean like that.

Snape: [Nodding]. Yes, I understand that.

End notes: 'Bullies enjoy causing fear. It's why they do what they do. We must now find an effective way to scare them back.'

. . .

Date: 20 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 16 October, 1991. She disappeared from the rest of her afternoon classes after receiving this letter.

Ongoing impressions: 'A sharp wit, an intelligent mind and a horrible sense of betrayal are what currently make up Ms. Granger.'

Granger: [Scowling]. Do we have to do this today?

Snape: Would you care to explain where you were on the afternoon of the 16th?

Granger: [Her scowl deepens and her fingers twitch in the direction of her wand].

Snape: I do not wish to get into a duel with you Ms. Granger.

Granger: Afraid of losing? [She sneers].

Side note: 'Bravado of this calibre is usually thought of as defiance. I however, know better. She is trying to hide her emotions behind her anger, but I fear she may break if she doesn't release them soon. I do not wish to see Ms. Granger broken.'

Snape: I wouldn't want to hurt you, child.

Granger: Try me.

Snape: Maybe another time. [He suddenly reaches into an inner pocket of his robes and pulls out a few small somethings].

Granger: [She flinched when Snape moved his hand inside his robes, but relaxed whenever he removed the mystery items]. Playing games now? [She raised an eyebrow in an imitative manner].

Snape: Your mother tried to get rid of these this week. I happened to be in the neighbourhood and managed to save them from their unfortunate fate.

Granger: [Her jaw is thrust forward as she listens to Snape and her arms are crossed over her chest tightly].

Snape: [Putting the small objects on the floor, he murmurs the spell necessary to resize them and suddenly there are three mid-size crates resting in between him and Hermione.]

Granger: [For a moment, there is silence only tempered by the sound of overly fast breathing from Hermione.]

Snape: Would you like me to open them?

Granger: [She shrugs and then hesitantly nods].

Snape: Very well. [He waves his wand over the three boxes and they are abruptly open].

Granger: [Sliding, almost falling out of her chair towards the boxes, she kneels on the floor and begins looking through the contents of each box, her speed increasing as she realises exactly what they hold. Finally, she sits back up, her face almost unreadable, and her jaw clenched in an effort to keep control of herself].

My mother said that she got rid of my books. She said that there wasn't anything I could do about it.

[She stops for a moment, swallowing hard as her body trembles almost imperceptibly].

Snape: [Standing up, he gracefully kneels down to the floor on the other side of the crates full of Hermione's childhood books]. It wasn't right for her to try and get rid of your treasured belongings.

Granger: [Shaking her head in the negative, her eyes tearing up. She quickly looks away from Snape's steady gaze]. I can't take them home. What will I do when summer comes? [Her voice wavers, although her eyes are now clear].

Side note: 'I'm not yet entirely sure that you will be returning to that house.'

Snape: We can find a place for them here in my office.

Granger: [She stares at him in an assessing manner for a moment and then gives a small nod]. Can I put them in my dorm room?

Snape: I can do that for you. I'll even show you how to ward them, although I don't know if you are yet capable of reproducing the spells. I know that these are important to you, child. I won't let them be taken again.

Granger: [She slowly nods, swallowing hard and clenching her jaw]. Thank you.

Snape: [He extends his head in a nod of acknowledgment]. You are most welcome.

End notes: 'To destroy or get rid of a child's most treasured belongings for the paltry reason of trying to make them grow up? I cannot state in words how much such a thing disgusts me.'

. . .

Date: 20 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 16 October, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'A coward, through and through.'

Snape: [Scowling]. I've heard reports that you have been verbally abusing one of your housemates while in the hallways.

Draco: [Paling]. I don't know what you're talking about.

Snape: I've had just about enough of your lies, Mr. Malfoy. Either you tell me the truth right now or we fire call your father right now. Which would you prefer?

Draco: What do you m-m-mean by verbal abuse? [He stutters nervously].

Snape: Don't play the idiot with me! [His dark eyes are flashing dangerously]. I would have thought you had already learned your lesson the last time you tried to harm Harry Potter, but it is clear that you are slower than a troll. Must I spell everything out for you? Do not talk to him! Do not heckle him! Do not interact with him in any way, shape or form! Do you understand me?

Draco: [A mulish expression is on his face]. Yes.

Snape: Yes, what?

Draco: Yes, sir.

Snape: This is the last time, Draco. No more talking, no more special favours. If you cross the line again, I am going to find a way to make you understand. Am I clear?

Draco: Yes, sir. [He answers with a scowl].

Snape: Draco. This atrocious behaviour is unbecoming of a Slytherin. It is unbecoming of a Malfoy. I do not think your father would be pleased to hear that you have been consorting with Gryffindors for the purpose of belittling your housemates. You are worth more than this. You are better than this. As Slytherins, we should try and rise above the plebeian behaviours of the other houses.

End notes: 'It is the sense of entitlement that causes the most trouble in Draco. He believes he is owed the world, but unfortunately, no one told the world.'

. . .

Date: 20 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'It is bad enough to face adversity from one's classmates, but to face it from your housemates as well . . . I hope I can put a stop to this now.'

Harry: Hi 'fessor Snape! [He immediately curls up next to Snape and puts his arms around Snape's own. Caddy walks back out and apparates with a barely noticeable pop].

Snape: How have you been? Have you been enjoying the weather outside?

Harry: [He shrugs and rubs his face against Snape's arm]. I mades a tree dance earlier today.

Snape: [Both of his eyebrows raise]. Did you now? Which one?

Harry: The big red and gold one near Mr. Hagrid's house. [His eyes are wide and nearly glowing as he waits impatiently for Snape's response].

Snape: How did it dance?

Harry: It waved its big arms 'round and wiggled. [He nods].

Side note: 'Harry is happy to see me, but he did not seem happy when he first came in. I suspect that his classmates are still troubling him as he moves through the corridors. I don't like seeing him like this. I want him to be happy and to feel safe in his home.'

Snape: [A thoughtful expression comes over his face]. Do you think you could make it dance again?

Harry: Yup!

Snape: Would you like to show me?

Harry: [He jumps up and claps his hands together]. Cans I!

Snape: [Standing up and holding out a hand to Harry]. Yes. Show me your tree.

Side note: 'Harry and I walked upstairs and outside holding hands the entire way. Although we were stared at by many of the students, none dared to voice any comments in my presence. Harry shied away from a few of the Gryffindors though; giving me an idea whom to target for my next plan and backing up Crabbe's account in the process.'

Harry: Here 'tis!

[He pointed at a big tree standing just on the far side of Hagrid's house. Although it was dark outside, there was enough light coming from the house and the moon that they were able to see the tree without having to cast any spells.]

Snape: It's a very big tree.

Harry: Yup! Watch! [Pulling his hand free of Snape's own, he walked all the way to the base of the tree and stopped, patting it on the side of its trunk]. Hi tree!

Side note: 'The air shifted around us when he touched the tree. A slightly warm breeze flowed around me, moving a few of the tree's limbs but not touching any of the nearby plants.'

Harry: [Swaying in front of the tree]. Wake ups now! [He jumped up and down a few times].

Side note: 'While not the strangest thing I've ever seen, this act by Harry and effects caused by it certainly ranks up there. The tree, without any wind, began to sway before my very eyes. The limbs began to move in a manner reminiscent of the Giant Squid and before I knew it, I was standing in front of a tree and a little boy both wiggling in a similar fashion. Eventually, the tree's leaves started to glow with a strange reddish light and any worry I might have had for the situation was suddenly erased when I heard Harry begin giggling.'

Harry: [Coming back to stand next to Snape]. Cans I hold your hand again? [His smile was evident in the weak light from the tree. It was still moving without Harry's direct involvement, but its limbs were beginning to slow].

Snape: Certainly.

End notes: 'We walked back in at this point, and I ended up carrying a sleepy little eleven year old to the extra bed in the guest room of my quarters. This is the seventh week of this trend, and although it seemed a bit strange at first, I must say that it is now a routine that I've grown fond of.'

Chapter Text

21 October, 1991

Their potions class had just let out when Ron heard a cry of a pain and the sounds of laughter echoing around the hall he was in. Turning around, he saw Harry Potter on the floor, his face crumpled and tear streaked. Standing in front of him were Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas. They were laughing and pointing at Harry, and it didn't take a genius to see that they were the ones responsible for tripping up the smaller Slytherin.

"Harry fall down!" Seamus was catcalling in a babyish voice, his cohort laughing raucously as he did.

Ron watched as Harry carefully pulled up his trousers, revealing bloody knees under each. Looking down, Ron realised that the dungeons were one of the worst places to fall down. The stone floor was uneven in some places, and completely unforgiving to the flesh of children. He'd scraped both of his palms a time or two tripping down the stairs, but never in front of a crowd of witnesses.

"Look at the little retard!" Dean laughed out.

Harry was trying to wipe away the blood with his hand, his expression moving quickly from frustration to one of distress when the blood refused to simply stop.

"Hard!" Harry cried out, patting the floor underneath him. "Hurts!" He added, looking up at Ron with a miserable expression. "Sticky!" He continued, holding up a blood covered hand. His lower lip trembled and it was all too clear to Ron that the other boy was about start crying again.

Ron looked around, trying to spot Crabbe or even Professor Snape, before remembering that Crabbe and Goyle had been forced to stay behind and clean up the mess they had made in their cauldron. Snape was likely staying behind as well in order to supervise. Could he go and get them while Harry was alone with Seamus and Dean? Would Harry be safe?

Seamus was raising his wand towards Harry again and suddenly Ron felt ashamed of himself. He stepped forward without another thought and caught Seamus' arm.

"Stop it," Ron heard himself saying.

"Get out of my way, Ron," Seamus growled, pushing back against his hold.

"You're not my friend, Finnigan," he growled back, tightening his grip.

"Don't tell me you're trying to defend the retard, Weasley," Dean interjected, waving an idle hand towards Harry.

"Don't. Call. Him. That!" Ron yelled; pushing hard against Seamus until the other boy's back hit the wall.

"Why you—," Seamus raised his fist, but Ron beat him to it, punching the other boy soundly in the nose and watching him drop to the floor in some satisfaction.

Ron turned around to deal with Dean, only to realise that the other boy had already been dealt with. Granger stood over the now securely tied up and gagged Gryffindor, her wand pointed down at him and a feral expression on her face.

Seamus began moving under Ron and he turned to do something, when suddenly Granger pointed her wand and muttered something that sounded like "incarcerous." Ropes shot out of her wand and he watched in amazement as they wrapped themselves securely around Seamus too. With both boys tied up, Ron nervously turned around and faced Granger.

Only eight weeks into their term and Granger was already a legend among the first years (as well as some of the older students).

And there she is right in front of me!

"That was a nice punch you hit him with," Granger said, her voice more of a growl than anything else.

"Thanks," Ron managed. "I've never heard of that spell you used. What was it?"

"Yeah, you wouldn't have. Not with that idiot Quirrell," was all that Granger said in reply.

Ignoring the two trussed up—yet completely conscious Gryffindors beneath them—both Granger and Ron turned and knelt down next to the still distressed Harry.

"Hard!" Harry repeated, pointing at the floor. "Sticky. No get off!" He pounded the floor angrily.

"I think he's frustrated that he can't say what he wants," Granger remarked from beside him.

At that comment, Harry nodded enthusiastically, clapping two blood covered hands together loudly.

"Why can't he say what he wants to?" Ron asked in confusion. He'd only heard rumours of what was wrong with Harry Potter, but nothing definitive.

"Something's wrong with his brain. He got hurt too many times probably and it messed up the way his brain works," Granger replied testily back.

Ron's eyes were wide as he processed what the girl opposite him had said. "Who would have hurt him like that?"

"His relatives, I'm guessing," Granger growled softly, digging in her pockets for something. "Do you have a handkerchief? I want to get him cleaned up."

"Yeah," Ron answered slowly, digging inside his robe for the small piece of cloth. His mind was still lost in what Granger had said. How could his relatives have hurt the small boy in front of him so badly that it had caused brain damage?

Granger finally produced a handkerchief just as he pulled out his own well worn one.

"Aguamenti," the girl said, pointing her wand at the two pieces of cloth. A jet of water shot out of her wand and wet both handkerchiefs as Ron watched on in amazement.

"Do you know everything already?" He asked, feeling rather stupid.

"Don't be an idiot," she answered, handing him one of the wetted cloths. "Of course I don't know everything."

Wordlessly, they then turned to Harry and started getting him cleaned up. His knees had finally stopped bleeding and they simply cleaned the blood off his shins and hands the best they could. Before they had a chance to finish, Ron heard the swish of robes and suddenly the sound of running feet coming towards them.

A black shadow dropped down beside them and he heard Harry happily call out, "'Fessor Snape!"

Ron didn't think he'd ever be happy to see Professor Snape, bleeding or not, but it was obvious that the little boy in front of him was more than delighted to see their tall looming Potions instructor.

"What happened here?" Professor Snape's voice was low and icy, promising instant death to anyone who did not instantly comply with him.

"Those two happened," Ron answered in a quavering voice, pointing to the still bound boys beside him.

"Traitor!" A muffled sounding Seamus managed to shout out around his gag, his nose still trickling blood.

"Muffliato," Snape snapped out, filling the bound Gryffindors' ears with buzzing in order to continue their conversation in privacy.

In a quiet voice, Ron explained, along with Granger, what had happened to the little boy now sitting on Snape's knee.

"Sticky, hard," Harry added in a tired voice after they finished talking.

Ron watched as their dreaded Potions professor morphed before his eyes.

"The floor is rather hard, isn't it, Harry," Snape answered softly, patting Harry's head gently before standing up with him still in his arms.

"Hard," Harry agreed, nodding back. His arms attached themselves around Snape's neck and Ron watched in silent amazement as his professor rearranged Harry so that the small boy was perched on one of his black robed hips.

"Sticky," Harry added, his lower lip sticking out unhappily as he looked at his not quite clean hands.

"Tacky, Harry. Blood is typically considered tacky instead of sticky," Snape corrected softly, cleaning Harry's hands with a softly spoken scourgify.

"Tacky," Harry amended, leaning his head tiredly on Snape's closest shoulder.

Snape turned toward his office door, Harry in hand, only to stop and look back at them.

"Well come along Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley. We have a report to file with the headmaster."

"What about them?" Ron asked softly, pointing at the two bound boys still laid out on the floor behind him.

"Them?" Snape asked disdainfully, his black coal eyes barely deigning to flick down at the bullies below him before returning to Ron's face. "I think they can wait," his lip curling cruelly on the word.

Ron looked down at the angry boys below him and shrugged. Snape had spoken. There wasn't much left to do except follow his instructions. He left his housemates on the floor behind him and followed Snape and the two first year Slytherins into the man's office.

. . .

Early in the morning on the 22nd of October, 1991

Hadwyn: I heard you had quite a day yesterday, Harry.

Harry: Uh huh. [He is sitting mostly in Snape's lap].

Hadwyn: Did those boys scare you?

Harry: Uh huh. [He nods slowly. His face is partially pressed into the front of Snape's robes].

Hadwyn: You had every right to be scared. I would have been scared too. I don't like it when people hurt me.

Harry: Bad. [He nods]. Owie. [He points to his now bandaged knees that are hidden underneath his pyjamas].

Snape: [He gently rubs a hand through Harry's long black hair].

Hadwyn: Have other people hurt you before, Harry?

Harry: [There are tears beginning to show in his eyes]. Uh huh. [He sniffles].

Snape: [He pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket and hands it to Harry]. Here, Harry. Blow your nose.

Harry: 'Kay.

Hadwyn: Were any of those people your family members?

Harry: Uncle Vernon. [He nods slowly; his eyes darting around the room as though he expects his uncle to pop out and hurt him for admitting it].

Snape: He isn't here. He's not allowed in here. I won't let him hurt you again. I promise. [He says to Harry with a look of determination and promise in his eyes].

Harry: 'Kay. [He says in a whisper].

Side note: 'It's clear that the incident from yesterday has rattled Harry. I don't think that today is the day to try to delve into his mind. He almost shut down yesterday and I can honestly say that he is not yet back to rights. His language, while not optimal in typical times, has been reduced down to mostly one word answers. It is my belief that he, like most people, does not think well when he is frightened, and in his case, this extends to his ability to make language.'

Hadwyn: Harry. [He says with a slight smile]. Who do you trust most?

Harry: 'Fessor Snape. [He claps his hands softly while smiling back up at Snape].

Snape: [He smiles gently back at Harry].

Hadwyn: Do you think that you might have made some friends yesterday, despite what happened?

Harry: [His head is cocked to one side as he thinks about what has been said].

Hadwyn: Do you think Ms. Granger might be your friend? She has helped you twice now.

Harry: Hermes! He's nice.

Side note: 'He, Severus?'

Hadwyn: And Ronald Weasley? Could he be your friend too?

Harry: Tall. [He nods]. Safe. [He nods again].

Hadwyn: Harry, why do you say Ms. Granger is a boy?

Harry: 'Cause. Is. Not girl. [He shakes his head in the negative]. Hermes. Better boy than girl. Not girl. Like Harry. We're Slytherin boys! [He claps his hands happily].

Hadwyn: Thank you for explaining that Harry.

End notes: 'That's the most I've heard from Harry in the past two days. I am encouraged, if only tentatively.'

. . .

Date: 22 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: How are you faring this week, Morag?

Morag: [She shrugs].

Sprout: Is this the longest you've ever been away from home?

Morag: [Nodding]. Sometimes Megan and I would spend time at my grandmother's, but at least we were still together.

Sprout: Perhaps it would be helpful for you to start a calendar to count the days down.

Morag: Yeah, that might help some. [The tone of her voice indicates that she really doesn't believe it].

Sprout: You know, when I was in school, sometimes I would keep a diary and record all of the interesting things that happened to me. Then I would take it home and show my mother and we would talk about them.

Morag: [Smiling a little]. Actually, that's kind of a cool idea.

Sprout: [Smiling back at Morag]. Your sister could do the same and then you could share at Christmas, or perhaps even the end of the school year itself.

Morag: Hey! That's a great idea! Thank you so much Professor Sprout.

End notes: 'Not a bad idea if I do say so myself.'

. . .

Date: 22 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: Did you hear what happened yesterday?

Sprout: What have you heard?

Side note: 'And are you certain I wish to know?'

Hannah: Vicki Frobisher made the Gryffindor Quidditch team!

Sprout: In what position?

Hannah: Seeker! And she's only a 2nd year too!

Sprout: Very impressive. Are you looking forwards to the Quidditch season this year?

Hannah: Absolutely! My mum played Chaser in her day, but since she was a Ravenclaw, I don't know if you'd know her or not.

Sprout: What was her name when she was in school here? And when did she attend?

Hannah: Rachel Haines. And she would have been in school . . . um, I think she said she graduated in 1976? Were you here then?

Sprout: [With a nod and a smile]. I was. I think I remember your mother. Ask her in your next letter home whether she broke her nose in a game against Slytherin.

Hannah: [Her eyes wide]. I will!

Sprout: If I'm remembering correctly, that game was completely wrought with fouls and your mother broke her nose after one of the Slytherin beaters attempted to get away with skinning.

Side note: 'Skinning is a foul where the opposing player deliberately flies in such a manner as to collide with another player.'

Hannah: [Her jaw drops open slightly]. Well, I hope that that other player got in trouble!

Sprout: Oh, she did. [She smiles fondly at the memory]. Do you think that you'll ever try out for our Quidditch team?

Hannah: [She bites her lip]. Erm, I don't think so. I like watching it, but I don't think I could actually do it.

End notes: 'Ah well, not everyone that attempts Quidditch finds themselves a success at the sport. On the other hand, you never know until you try.'

. . .

Date: 22 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin: Did you hear what happened yesterday?

Side note: 'This seems strangely familiar.'

Sprout: What happened yesterday?

Justin: Michael Corner blew up his cauldron in Potions!

Sprout: Oh my! Was anyone hurt?

Side note: 'And why did Hannah not mention it to me?'

Justin: Well, Terry Boot got a face full of magical stain remover, and Snape had to rush him straight to Madame Pomfrey. His eyebrows came off and he was screaming that the stuff was trying to eat his nose, but that's all I know.

Sprout: [Her eyes are wide]. Do you know what happened?

Justin: [He shakes his head in the negative]. Michael was fairly upset afterwards though. Snape made him go see Madame Pomfrey a little later instead of going to his next class.

Sprout: I would imagine so! I hope that there is no lasting damage for either boy.

Justin: Hm, I don't imagine there will be. From what I've heard, Madame Pomfrey can fix just about anything.

Sprout: I'm sure she would enjoy being told that. It is still important to remember to exercise caution when dealing with dangerous chemicals and ingredients though. I hope that you and your classmates continue to be careful.

Justin: I happen to agree with you. I don't want to burn off anything, even something as minor as my eyebrows.

End notes: 'If only all students were as careful as you.'

. . .

Date: 23 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: Did you hear what happened on Monday?

Flitwick: [Raising an eyebrow]. Many things happened on Monday. Which of these are you referring to?

Lisa: [Scowling a bit]. Snape—.

Flitwick: [Interjecting]. Professor Snape.

Lisa: [Rolling her eyes slightly]. Professor Snape made me and Parvati clean the floor of his classroom and some of the leftover potion from Michael's cauldron burnt a hole in my gloves!

Flitwick: [Serious now, his eyes wider]. And what did Professor Snape do?

Lisa: Banished my glove and cleaned my skin with this really nasty potion!

Flitwick: What do you mean by nasty?

Side note: 'For instance, this conversation is quickly spiralling in that direction.'

Lisa: It smelled horrid! And it made my skin all slimy feeling!

Flitwick: But how was your skin afterwards? Did Mr. Corner's potion harm your skin? Did Professor Snape's potion have lasting negative effects?

Lisa: Well, the slimy feel didn't go away until I washed my hands with water, and Professor Snape didn't let me do that for nearly an hour.

Flitwick: [Huffing impatiently]. But was your flesh harmed by either potion in the end? Did you have to go to Madame Pomfrey?

Lisa: Hm? Oh no. It was fine.

Side note: 'And so the point of this story was what precisely? That Professor Snape made the two of you clean?'

Flitwick: That's very good to hear.

Lisa: No it's not!

Flitwick: [He squints at her in some confusion]. It's not?

Lisa: Professor Snape banished my burnt glove! I don't have any proof on my hands now either! And my parents are going to make me pay for a new set of gloves out of my own pocket money!

End notes: 'Oh the horrors. I suppose now would be an inconvenient time to bring up the fact that this entire experience is a result of her lack of self-control.'

. . .

Date: 23 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Sabrina: Did you know what I found out two days ago?

Flitwick: [Raising an eyebrow]. No?

Sabrina: Michael Corner has a crush on Mandy Brocklehurst!

Flitwick: Pardon?

Side note: 'Does Mr. Corner know this?'

Sabrina: [Nodding]. Uh huh. He was making googly eyes at her on Monday all through Potions. That's why his cauldron exploded.

Flitwick: Is it now.

Sabrina: Yes sir! And Mandy, she said that she wouldn't mind if he asked her out, but that she wouldn't be able to formally accept until next year, because her parents don't want her dating anyone yet.

Side note: 'Smart parents.'

Flitwick: And has he?

Sabrina: Sir?

Flitwick: Has he asked her out?

Sabrina: Oh, not yet. Maybe you should ask him when you meet with him!

Side note: 'I may indeed, but not in the way you think.'

Flitwick: Perhaps I shall.

Sabrina: [Suddenly looking mournful]. I don't suppose you could tell us even if you did.

Flitwick: [Smiling slightly]. Alas, no. Tell me though, if Ms. Brocklehurst were to accept his . . . invitation . . . what sorts of things would result from it?

Sabrina: Oh, well they'd be a couple. And they'd hold hands a lot and make faces at one another when they thought no one was watching, and then Professor Snape would probably find them in the broom closet late at night and deduct points.

Flitwick: [Nodding thoughtfully].

End notes: 'That sounds about right.'

. . .

Date: 23 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: Tell me about what happened in Potions with Ms. Brocklehurst on Monday.

Michael: [Rolling his eyes and sighing loudly]. The girl is completely stuck on me.

Side note: 'Please forgive my mental chortling.'

Flitwick: Oh?

Michael: It's really getting annoying! She follows me around constantly, and refuses to leave me alone! I told her I just wanted to focus on my school work, but she didn't seem to get the point. I'm trying not to be mean to her, especially after what we've been talking to as of late, but it's driving me nutters, honestly. I mean, it's her fault that my cauldron exploded on Monday!

Flitwick: How so?

Michael: She was supposedly trying to be helpful by chopping extra daisy roots for me, even though I explicitly told her I didn't need help. She wasn't even my partner!

Flitwick: What happened?

Michael: She pushed a whole pile at me from across the table and I pushed them back, but she pushed them again when I wasn't looking, and a few extra dropped in my cauldron right before I added the ginger root. Then Terry saw the extra pile of daisy roots and thought they were supposed to be added just 'cause they were there, and then my cauldron exploded! Agh!

Flitwick: Did you tell Professor Snape about this afterwards?

Michael: I tried, but Mandy was trying to smother me in these wretched hugs as though I was the one who got hurt and I suppose, I freaked out a bit. So Professor Snape made me go to the infirmary for a calming draught. [He gives a loud sigh].

Flitwick: [Hiding a smile]. I could have a word with her if you'd like.

Michael: [Looking up with a very hopeful expression]. Would you sir? That would be most excellent of you if you would!

Flitwick: I will. [He nods with a slight smile].

Michael: [Giving a sigh of relief]. Oh thank you sir. She's really driving me barmy. I don't know how the older guys like Duncan Inglebee and Rocky Tuberville can put up with being hounded by girls all the time.

Flitwick: I believe it's a learned skill. [He adds a wink at the end of his statement that Michael completely misses].

End notes: 'Ah the days of hormonal bliss. How much I do not miss it, let me count the ways.'

. . .

Date: 24 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: [With a stern but slightly mystified expression]. I have a statement from Professor Snape asking that you be given a room separate from Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas.

Ron: [His eyes suddenly wide]. That's—wow. Snape—I mean, Professor Snape sent that? Truly?

McGonagall: [With a nod]. He did. Does this have anything to do with why Seamus and Dean had a meeting with Professor Dumbledore Monday night? Or why they have detention with Filch every evening from here until February?

Side note: 'All I know is that they were caught bullying Harry Potter. You failed to mention anyone else's involvement, Severus. I know that you wouldn't forget something like this by accident.'

Ron: Um, yeah you could say that.

McGonagall: How exactly are you involved in this situation, Mr. Weasley? [Her eyes narrow suspiciously].

Ron: I just uh—happened to report them.

McGonagall: I don't know why Professor Snape decided to leave out the details of this incident, but let me give you a little advice. You are a wretched liar.

Ron: [Shrugging]. Professor Snape decided it would be safer if we weren't written up officially.

McGonagall: We?

Ron: Me and uh, the other person who reported them.

McGonagall: [Rubbing a hand down her face tiredly]. Did he tell you why it would be safer?

Ron: Well, 'cause he didn't want us to get in trouble too, since we were um, since we weren't exactly following the rules of the hallway.

Side note: 'Again with the reference to "we." Severus, what in Merlin's name happened in that hallway?'

McGonagall: Were you fighting?

Ron: Um . . .

McGonagall: [With a weary sigh]. Never mind. Forget I asked. What do you suppose Mr. Finnigan and Mr. Thomas will tell me when I meet with them?

Ron: Probably that they're really sorry. [He grins suddenly].

McGonagall: [Narrowing her eyes suspiciously]. And why will they not tell me what happened either?

Ron: Um, I think it had something to do with not being expelled. [He shrugs again].

McGonagall: Ah. So Professor Snape made some sort of deal with them.

Ron: Uh, something like that, yeah.

McGonagall: And no one is allowed to speak of it?

Ron: Right!

McGonagall: Mr. Weasley, in some ways I fear that you may be more annoying than even George and Fred.

Ron: [Grinning]. Thanks.

McGonagall: Go away Mr. Weasley. You have given me a rather frightful headache.

Ron: Yes ma'am.

McGonagall: You don't have to look so happy about it.

Ron: I'll work on that. [He grins again before ducking out of her office].

End notes: 'Severus, we are due for a little chat. However, in the meantime, I shall take your advice and place Mr. Longbottom and Mr. Weasley in a room by themselves.'

. . .

Date: 24 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: You may be pleased to know that I have decided to give you and Mr. Weasley a room apart from Mr. Finnigan and Mr. Thomas.

Neville: Thank you!

McGonagall: What have they done to make you so pleased about this sudden development?

Neville: Well, they haven't really done anything to me, but they certainly have made the room smell something awful after coming back from detention every night.

McGonagall: [Raising an eyebrow]. What precisely have they been doing at their detentions?

Neville: Erm, I think it has something to do with dragon dung. And cleaning out toilets without magic. Oh and bedpans. [He nods to himself]. Lots of bedpans.

McGonagall: And are they themselves covered in . . . [she purses her lips irritably] . . . excess fluids when they return to the dorm every night?

Neville: Sometimes, but . . . mostly it's just the smell. Seamus also said something about cleaning out a backlog of old septic tanks way far down in the dungeons, but he didn't give too many details.

McGonagall: I would imagine that it was better that he didn't.

Neville: [Nodding fervently].

McGonagall: And how has their behaviour been in regards to Mr. Weasley?

Neville: Um, that's sort of been rather odd, really. I don't think they can look at him.

McGonagall: You mean they're not allowed to look at him?

Neville: Well, that too I guess, but when they try, they give this strange sort of twitch and then their cheeks turn red and they run off to the loo.

McGonagall: [Raises an incredulous eyebrow].

End notes: 'You cursed them Severus? Really?'

. . .

Date: 24 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: Tell me, how are your detentions with Ms. Turpin going?

Parvati: She is a prat. [She says with a huff].

McGonagall: Oh?

Parvati: She said she wanted to get a new pair of dragon hide gloves from her parents, so she soaked one of them in a puddle of corrosive potion goo leftover from an explosion in her class that morning. It was a pile of goo that Professor Snape specifically told us to stay away from!

McGonagall: What happened then?

Parvati: Well, as soon as it started smoking, she put it on and then started screaming to Professor Snape that her fingers were melting off. [She rolls her eyes in annoyance]. I mean, how stupid can you get? And she's a Ravenclaw!

McGonagall: And what did Professor Snape do?

Parvati: Oh, he was really scary! His face turned white, like whiter than usual, almost like he was going to explode or something, and he told me that I was to get out and take the evening off while he dealt with 'Ms. Swamp in Her Ears.' [She snickers].

McGonagall: And how did Ms. Turpin fare?

Parvati: Well, Professor Snape doesn't yell, so I couldn't really hear what he was saying, but Lisa had tears in her eyes when she finally came out.

McGonagall: Did she see you? I'm assuming you were still in the hallway when she left.

Parvati: She didn't see me, but a few minutes after she left, Professor Snape came back out into the hallway and said that if I really wanted to waste my evening, he was certain he could find a few more cauldrons for me to clean. He didn't even see me! He just looked at the wall and talked to it, but he used my name!

McGonagall: [With a slight smile]. Yes, Professor Snape does have a gift for finding hidden people.

Parvati: He's scary!

McGonagall: He knows. [Her smile increases].

End notes: 'I'm glad to hear that it was not my Lion who acted so foolishly—for once at least.'

. . .

Date: 27 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 25 October, 1991.

Vince: I want to apologize.

Snape: For?

Vince: Not being in the hallway when Harry needed me. [He hangs his head]. At the very least, I should have called for Caddy to wait with him. I didn't think I'd be that long.

Snape: He's never been hurt in the dungeons before. You couldn't have known that this would be the time. As you've already said though, next time you'll know to call for Cadillac.

Vince: He could have been really hurt! [He puts his face in his hands].

Snape: But he was not. Ms. Granger and surprisingly, Mr. Weasley happened to help him out.

Vince: [His eyes wide and slightly bloodshot]. Is that who it was? Harry wouldn't tell me.

Snape: Yes, I decided that given the number of students—albeit the small number—who are against Harry, I decided that it would be safer for Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger not to suddenly be thrust into the limelight, as it were. I did not wish for them to face retribution at the hands of someone like Mr. Malfoy or Mr. Flint.

Vince: Granger could handle it.

Snape: But Mr. Weasley likely could not. Not only might Mr. Weasley face anger from those members of Slytherin who are against Harry, but there is also a strong possibility that he might face persecution from members of his own house for helping out a Snake.

Vince: [Nodding thoughtfully]. And how are you keeping Thomas and Finnigan quiet?

Snape: [With a slight smile]. I have placed a magical deterrent in both of their psyches that keeps them from even looking at Mr. Weasley or Ms. Granger, let alone talking about them.

Vince: [His jaw dropping]. You cursed them, sir? How did you get away with that?

Snape: Well, that would have been the other reason for keeping this situation as quiet as possible. The bylaws of Hogwarts state that if given the choice, non-harmful curses are preferable to expulsion.

Vince: [He snorts suddenly and has to cover his mouth].

Snape: Do you agree to keep this to yourself as well?

Vince: [With a serious nod]. Yes, sir.

[There is a pale silver flash of light in the room as his words are accepted into the pre-existing binding agreement].

Snape: Then it should be noted that anyone who reads this transcript will have to agree as well.

End notes: 'So there.'

. . .

Date: 27 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 24 October, 1991.

Snape: I would like to thank you for helping Harry on Monday.

Granger: [Flashing Snape a sharp grin]. I didn't do it for you.

Snape: I would have been surprised if you had.

Granger: Harry's been nice to me. Always.

Snape: [He nods seriously]. I once had a friend like that.

Granger: He's not my friend. I don't have friends.

Snape: What do you consider him then?

Granger: [Briefly she falls silent]. I suppose he's my brother. In my new family.

Snape: [Nodding]. And is he the only other one in your new family?

Granger: [Pursing her lips as she stares him down]. Maybe. Maybe not. I haven't decided yet.

Snape: I have taken extra steps to insure that Mr. Finnigan and Mr. Thomas will not attempt retribution with either you or Mr. Weasley.

Granger: [She sneers cruelly]. Too bad. I would have enjoyed teaching them another lesson.

Snape: I'm sure you would have. I was, however, more worried about Mr. Weasley's fate.

Granger: That kid's a mess.

Side note: 'I shall fail to point out that you are both children in my eyes, as well as the eyes of the other faculty here.'

Snape: How so?

Granger: [Shaking her head]. Sticking up for a Snake with no thought for how he's going to cover his own tail.

Snape: Not thinking ahead is a well-documented trait of being a Gryffindor.

Granger: [She snorts in disdain]. Gryffindors start wars. Snakes find ways out of them.

Snape: Ideally. [He smiles slightly].

Granger: [Hesitating briefly]. Someone needs to teach that Weasley boy how to protect his arse.

Snape: Are you volunteering?

Granger: Well, I'm certainly not going to put any stock in the so-called abilities of that idiot Quirrell.

Snape: A wise decision, likely. While well established in the theory of defence, Professor Quirrell lacks somewhat in the area of practical methods.

Granger: [She raises an eyebrow]. That's not all Professor Quirrell lacks.

End notes: 'The session abruptly ended here, because Ms. Granger stood up and announced that she had better things to do. Still, I count this session as a success.'

. . .

Date: 27 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 27 October, 1991

Snape: You've been surprisingly quiet this week. I haven't even had to add any new detentions to your list.

Draco: [Snorting]. Considering I have detention until after the New Year, I can't see how that matters much.

Snape: I cannot imagine you wanting to be in detention every evening for the rest of your first year?

Draco: First year is so boring, it's not as though I'm missing much. Can't play Quidditch, now can I. [He scowls petulantly].

Snape: And I suppose you enjoy ruining so many of your trousers and robes with leftover Potion spills?

Draco: I can always buy more. I do feel rather bad for those classmates of mine who cannot afford such paltry items as clothes. [He laughs].

Side note: 'Yet another reason you annoy me. The more you continue on in this vein, the more you remind me of James Potter and Sirius Black. I wonder how disturbed your father would be if I made that comparison in his presence?'

Snape: [With a sneer]. Perhaps your detentions are not . . . challenging enough.

Draco: [His cheery disposition suddenly turns sour]. You needn't take me so seriously.

Snape: Trust me when I tell you that I do not. [His smile is cold].

Draco: [Shifting uncomfortably in his chair]. Is it true that Harry Potter was attacked by a pair of Gryffindor miscreants? Perhaps you should be angry at them instead of one of your own.

Side note: 'Oh I am. I expect it from them. I should not have to deal with it from you as well though.'

Snape: They have already been dealt with. Perhaps you would be interested in helping them clean out the toilets in the lowest dungeons? They haven't seen the light of day since late in the 18th century, I believe.

Draco: [Shuddering slightly]. What do you want from me? I do my work. I study. I do those disgusting detentions for you every night. [He sneers]. What more do you want?

Side note: 'Many things. Respect for me and your classmates for starters, but I know that won't ever happen without some kind of major breakthrough.'

Snape: For now I simply want your obedience. I want to be able to turn my back on you without fear that you will somehow find a way to torment one of your housemates.

Draco: Torment? You wound me, Professor Snape!

Snape: Torture? Make miserable? Persecute? Bully? Harass? Are any of these words familiar?

Draco: [Scowling darkly]. And yet when one of my housemates does the same to me, you turn a blind eye their way! They can do anything to me and I can't do anything to them!

Side note: 'Considering almost all of those situations were precipitated by some kind of distasteful comment on your part, I can honestly say that your statement is false.'

Snape: Would you like a list of the things you have done to result in retribution from your housemates? Or I could just save time and send them directly to your father. I'm sure he would . . . enjoy your humorous tale of woe.

Draco: [Crossing his arms defensively]. As if he would believe such lies.

Snape: Would you like to put that theory to the test?

Draco: [Hesitating].

Snape: I thought not.

End notes: 'Persecution is never as much fun for the persecuted as it is for the persecutor. You would do well to remember that, Mr. Malfoy. I will make you understand this.'

. . .

Date: 27 October, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: Hagrid, asking him for tea on Friday the 25th of October, 1991.

Harry: 'Fessor Snape! [He shouts before running into Snape's quarters and jumping into his professor's lap].

Snape: Oof! Harry, you must be more careful with your old professor. [He smiles gently].

Harry: Not old! [He frowns up at Snape, his long black hair tousled and messy from playing outside].

Snape: Old enough, Harry. [He wraps his arms around Harry's thin back, pulling him into a more comfortable position on his lap].

Harry: Nuh uh. [He shakes his head in the negative]. Dids you know that Bumbleydores is really really really old?

Snape: [He snorts]. Dumbledore, you mean?

Harry: [Nodding his head]. What I said! Bumbleysnores. He's really really really old. Like older than McGon'gall!

Snape: Is she old? [He grins mischievously].

Harry: Old! But not as old as Bumblebore. [He shakes his head]. Nope nope nope.

Snape: Is there anyone older than Dumbledore?

Harry: [Visibly thinks]. Don't think so. Maybe the Queen. Yup. Maybe the Queen.

Snape: The Queen of England?

Harry: Yup yup yup. She's really really really really old.

Snape: And are you old?

Harry: Nope! Vince says I'm still fly sized! And not no older than a tadpole. Nope nope nope. [Shakes his head in the negative]. Or maybes a baby bat. [He adds with a big grin].

Snape: Do you know what baby bats are called?

Harry: What? [His eyes are wide and his hands are clasped in anticipation].

Snape: Pups.

Harry: So I'm your pup! [He is visibly delighted].

Snape: [Smiling despite himself]. For as long as you'd like to be, yes.

Harry: Yay! [Claps happily]. Was Fang a puppy?

Snape: Hagrid seems to think that Fang still believes himself to be a puppy.

Harry: Even though he's really big? [His eyes are wide].

Snape: It's not the size that matters. It's the belief.

Harry: So I cans be your pup even when I'm really big?

Snape: [Raising an eyebrow]. How large are you planning on being?

Harry: Your size? [His face is hopeful].

Snape: [With a slight smile]. And how big is that?

Harry: Big! Like a tree!

Snape: That reminds me . . . Harry, have you ever made a tree dance before?

Harry: Nuh uh, nope nope nope.

Snape: What made you decide to have this particular one dance?

Harry: Um . . . [he thinks]. I saws it movin' in the wind and thens the wind stopped and I wanted to see it move some more, but it didn't, so I asked it to and it did. [He nods, looking very pleased with his answer].

Snape: Did the tree say anything?

Harry: Uh, not 'xactly . . .

Snape: Can you explain what you mean?

Harry: Well, it dids a wiggle, and it bounced, kinda in my head like, and it sorta sounded like it said "Boogey!" but, maybes that was just my brain? [He appears confused]. I dunno know. Vince-y said that trees don't talk none, and so I probably just imagined it like, since he knows what he's talkin' about more than me usually. And 'sides, he said, why would a tree say "Boogey?"

Side note: 'Any opinions?'

Snape: Did it seem happy to be dancing?

Harry: [Nods vigorously]. Oh yes! It gots all giggly and happy and made its own self glow big and bright. [He nods some more].

Snape: How have you been sleeping since what happened on Monday?

Harry: [Abruptly sombre and he curls up into a smaller ball within Snape's lap]. Scary dreams. I keeps fallin' and sometimes it's them boys and sometimes it's my Uncle Vernons and sometimes it's this bad dude with silver stuff all down its tummy and mouth and he makes me feels all cold and I wake up sick and can't go back to sleep. [He shudders].

Side note: 'Unicorn blood?'

Snape: What do you mean by sick?

Harry: [Looking ashamed]. I messes my bed up. [He hides his face in Snape's robes].

Snape: [Putting a hand up to cradle the back of Harry's head]. I'm not angry with you little pup. [He says softly, his mouth next to Harry's ear].

Harry: [Peeking upwards with bright wide green eyes and whispers]. I been calling my Caddy to helps me. He's been gettin' me new sheets and stuffs. [He nods hesitantly]. Is that okays?

Snape: It's very smart of you, little pup. [He says, drawing a hand gently through Harry's wild mane of hair].

Harry: [Relaxing a fraction and smiling up a tad]. Smart?

Snape: It was very smart of you to call someone who could help you as well as Cadillac.

Harry: He saids, he saids I could call him whenevers I needed him. [He nods].

Snape: And I'm proud of you for listening to him and doing what he said.

Harry: [His smile stretches across his face suddenly]. Prouds of me? For being smart? Me? Your own little pup?

Snape: [With a nod of his own]. Yes, I'm very proud of my smart little pup named Harry. H-A-R-R-Y, that spells proud. [He smiles gently].

Harry: [Clapping his hands together happily]. Oh! I knows that word!

Snape: And if you ever need to talk to me, little pup, you can ask Cadillac to get me. Do you understand?

Harry: I cans ask for you? Like Dudley would? [His eyes are wide and surprised].

Side note: 'Like his cousin would ask for his mother or father, I believe he means.'

Snape: Yes. [He nods resolutely]. Precisely like that.

Harry: [His smile is suddenly relaxed and he twists so that his ear is resting against Snape's shoulder].

I cans hear your body beatin' out its own rhythm. [He whispers, stretching his arms out around Snape's neck and back].

Snape: Is it a nice rhythm? [He asks softly].

Harry: [Nodding with his eyes closed]. It's real nice. [He yawns]. I likes it a lot.

Snape: Good. [He strokes his long fingers through Harry's hair softly].

Harry: [In a whisper]. Trees gots rhythms too, but nones are as nice as yours.

Snape: [Suddenly giving a grin of his own]. Go to sleep little pup.

Harry: [He gives a happy sigh]. 'Kays.

End notes: 'I suspect that there are many things in Harry's life that have rhythms that he simply has not told us about yet. Though, I must admit that I am pleased to hear that mine is the nicest.'

Chapter Text

28 October, 1991
Healer: Hadwyn Long
Student: Harry Potter
Accompanying Guardian: Severus Snape

Hadwyn: Harry, I want you to stretch out on the sofa and—yes, that's right, put your head on Severus' lap. [He waits as Harry finishes shifting before continuing]. Now, turn your head this way and I just want you to look at me.

Harry: [In a whisper]. You gonna look into my insides?

Hadwyn: [With a smile]. Not quite that far.

Side notes: 'I try not to have any preconceived notions of what to expect when going into a new mind for the first time. It was just as well in this case, considering that sinking into Harry's mind is unlike any other thing I have ever experienced.'

'Pushing through the darkness at the top level is to be expected, with a very few exceptions here and there (primarily serial killers and newborn dragons, for whatever reason). However, below that level is the point that most people tend to keep their thoughts sequestered at. One tends to encounter an audible voice dictating that mind's current thoughts. In other cases, an actual physical presence is encountered and conversations can be initiated.'

'In Harry's case, that first glance was akin to stepping out from a well lit pub into a busy street, only to have the Knight Bus suddenly drop atop your head. Harry's mind is brightly lit with flashing lights, overly pungent aromas and bizarre clanging sounds that serve to completely throw off the passive viewer. Luckily, I am anything but.'

'If this is what he encounters on a daily basis, then I would say that it is no surprise that his behaviour is as odd and as sporadic as it appears to the typical observer. The sheer level of incoming stimuli that he apparently works through every day is tiring to shift through and must be experienced in small doses, lest exhaustion take over and trap you there with him.'

Hadwyn: Harry? [He whispers as he comes out of Harry's mind].

Harry: [Blinking owlishly]. 'Fessor Snape? [Also in a whisper].

Snape: Harry? Hadwyn? Are you two quite all right?

Harry: Think so. [He sits up and then wedges himself tightly against Snape's side].

Hadwyn: [After glancing briefly towards Snape]. How does your head feel?

Harry: [Rubbing his face against Snape's side]. Wiggly.

Hadwyn: [Raising an eyebrow].

Snape: The same as it did when you talked to the tree?

Harry: [Eyes brightening]. Yeahs.

Snape: [Nodding, he rubs a hand over Harry's head].

End notes: 'Harry seems no worse than usual after our first—albeit brief—encounter. Severus seems to have had an epiphany of some sort. I plan on asking about it later, preferably after I have downed one of his headache potions. Harry's mind has worn me out a bit, I fear, but that is not completely unexpected. The first venture into an unknown mind setting is typically wearying, but gets better with subsequent visits. I shall hope that this trend holds true here as well.'

. . .

Date: 29 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: So how are you liking your classes this week? Do you consider any of them to be a favourite yet?

Morag: Uh, well . . .

Sprout: Yes dear?

Morag: I really am starting to like charms.

Sprout: Wonderful!

Morag: Did you know that there are charms to do just about anything in your daily life?

Sprout: Which ones have you learned about so far?

Morag: Well, Professor Flitwick hasn't really gone over many of the ones in the book yet, but I've been reading ahead a little.

Sprout: And? [She smiles encouragingly].

Morag: It seems like for every chore that my mother does—or every chore that a regular muggle family has to spend its time on, there are wizarding charms that do exactly the same thing. Like, you can teach your bed how to make itself, or charm your scrub brush how to clean your pots without any supervision! Isn't that amazing? I do wonder though . . .

Sprout: What do you wonder?

Morag: Well, I don't know what the magical world knows about movies, but there was this animated one called Fantasia. It's been out for about 50 years or so—according to what my mother says in the last letter I got from her. There's this part where one of the characters in a piece called "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" gets a hold of his Sorcerer's magical hat and charms the brooms to do his work.

Sprout: I take it that this adventure of his does not end well? [She asks, leaning forwards in her chair a bit].

Morag: You could say that. [She smiles]. The brooms don't know when to stop and nearly wreck everything in the end. Luckily, the sorcerer comes back in time and fixes the apprentice's mess.

Sprout: Ah. [She smiles]. And you were wondering if this sort of thing ever happens in our magical world?

Morag: Well, I know that the story in Fantasia is just a story, but it does seem pretty possible, don't you think?

Sprout: It does. [She nods]. In fact, I know of more than a few students who have gotten in trouble when they didn't watch a new spell closely enough.

Morag: You do! Were any of them muggle borns?

Sprout: Muggleborns and half-bloods and purebloods. It doesn't matter what someone is, eventually everyone makes mistakes.

Morag: [A thoughtful expression appears on her face]. I wonder if it would help any for new students to be shown something like that scene in the Sorcerer's Apprentice? Maybe not the movie itself, but something like a show or a play!

Sprout: It might help in some cases, but for many witches and wizards, mistakes must be experienced firsthand for the lessons to really sink in.

End note: 'A nice diversion from our usual repertoire.'

. . .

Date: 29 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: My mum says to tell you that she did break her nose in that game, but it was because she got hit with a curse from the Slytherin Keeper right before that.

Sprout: Oh my. [She puts a hand up to her mouth]. Did she mention whether or not that person ever got in charged for it? Cursing another player during an official Quidditch game is often grounds for dismissal for that student from the team, if not the establishment itself.

Hannah: [Shaking her head]. She said that the person's parents were very influential in the Ministry, and she never could get the charges to stick.

Sprout: [Narrowing her eyes thoughtfully]. Did your mother mention who this person is?

Hannah: [Shaking her head]. She said it didn't matter, because they eventually threw their lot in with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and died in his service.

Sprout: Ah. I see. [Her posture droops a bit].

Hannah: Were there many like that?

Sprout: Hm?

Hannah: Were there many of your students like that? Ones that went dark and that you never heard from again?

Sprout: Some. [Her voice is faint and her eyes are staring off at the wall behind Hannah's head]. But going dark wasn't the only reason we stopped hearing from people. [She shakes her head and the light comes back into her eyes. She glances back in Hannah's direction]. There were those who left the country, heading for supposedly safe areas like America, while others simply just disappeared.

Hannah: [Her eyes are wide]. Did you ever find out what happened to those who disappeared?

Sprout: [Giving a weak smile]. Unfortunately, yes. Most died. Of those, a good many were tortured for information, I suspect. I didn't see a great many of the bodies afterwards, but I saw enough. [She pauses, thinking]. I probably shouldn't have mentioned that. [She smiles apologetically].

Hannah: [Shaking her head in argument]. No. I want to know. My aunt and uncle both died in the war, but no one ever says anything about how or why they did. I don't even know what side they were on.

Sprout: It wasn't just a question of being Light or Dark. [She murmurs softly].

Hannah: How do you mean?

Sprout: Many of the major family heads decided which direction they'd be going, leaving those younger members no choice but to go along or be kicked out of the family. Sirius Black was one of those, but of course, it's hard to ignore the pull of one's family forever. In addition, there were more than a few that tried to remain neutral, although I can't say that it always worked out for them.

Hannah: Sirius Black . . . he's in Azkaban, isn't he?

Sprout: He is. [She nods]. I taught him. [She closes her eyes briefly and gives a sad laugh]. It seems almost like yesterday that he was here, making jokes and carousing around with his friends.

Hannah: Who were his friends? Would my mum have known any of them?

Sprout: [She opens her eyes and blinks a few times before speaking]. Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew and of course James Potter. Of those, only Remus Lupin is still alive, though I have no idea where he is. I daresay that if two of my friends were killed because of the actions of another friend, I'd likely not still be around either.

Hannah: [Nodding slowly]. Maybe I'll ask my mum about them. See if she knows anything. [She shrugs].

Sprout: [Smiling sadly]. Tell me what she has to say, if you would. I'd like to hear it.

Hannah: Sure. [She smiles back].

End notes: 'Given the actions of those in the war, it still surprises me that Hogwarts even has any students in this generation.'

. . .

Date: 29 October, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: How goes your week?

Justin: I keep being amazed by the constant discussion of Halloween.

Sprout: Oh? [She smiles gently]. Do your parents not celebrate it?

Justin: Not any more than the typical Muggle family—probably less, actually. My mother has never been very enthusiastic towards holidays that cause any sort of mess, and Halloween seems to be the epitome of mess making.

Sprout: In what way?

Justin: [He raises an eyebrow for a brief moment before continuing]. Rotten eggs, slimy creatures, shaving cream . . . really, a typical Muggle Halloween is rather similar to a bad Potions class. [He gives a bitter bark of laughter].

Sprout: Have your housemates explained what Halloween is like in the magical community?

Justin: Mostly. [He smiles coolly]. Either way there seems to be an awful lot of unhealthy food consumption, and I am already on a rather strict diet. I'd prefer for my willpower not to be tested so thoroughly, if it's all the same to everyone else.

Sprout: Are you not planning on attending?

Justin: The thought has crossed my mind. Hence, why I'm bringing it up now. Does one need special permission to not attend a feast?

Sprout: [Looking thoughtful]. What will you eat instead?

Justin: Probably a granola bar and some fruit. My mother sends the granola bars to me by the box it seems like, some weeks.

Sprout: Will that be enough to satisfy your appetite?

Justin: [Gazing back at the slightly plump witch with an analytical eye]. Look, I don't know how much you know about muggle diets, but the whole point seems to be centred around not satisfying your appetite. [He smiles grimly].

Sprout: [Narrowing her eyes at him in concern]. Have you spoken with Madame Pomfrey about your eating habits? I think that she should at least be informed.

Justin: [Briefly scowling]. I fail to see why. It's not as though I'm starving. I mean, look at me. I'm a walking quaffle. [He snorts at his own joke].

Sprout: [Beginning to frown]. I think that you've exaggerated your plight a bit. I would prefer not to make it mandatory, but I can if you still refuse to talk with Madame Pomfrey.

Justin: Must I? [His voice has taken on a whining quality].

Sprout: How about we think of it like this? You are excused from the feast if you voluntarily visit the infirmary and get a check-up. [She smiles gently at his unhappy face].

Justin: You know, you can be rather Slytherin like sometimes.

Sprout: [Her smile spreads across her face]. I believe that I shall take that as a compliment.

End notes: 'And yes Mr. Finch-Fletchley, I am actually familiar with Muggle diets. I also have had more than a handful of students, both male and female, develop eating disorders over the years in various attempts to become thinner.'

. . .

Date: 30 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: I do not care for the fact that you lied to me last week.

Lisa: [Narrowing her eyes defensively]. What do you mean?

Flitwick: [Frowning]. Do not play coy with me. For instance, I know that you purposely soaked your gloves in corrosive potion in an ill-thought out attempt to con your parents into buying you new ones.

Lisa: [Her jaw drops open for a brief second, before closing with an audible click]. Did that little whiner Parvati Patil tell you that? [She asks with a scowl]. You really shouldn't believe what that girl says. She's a liar and—.

Flitwick: Stop! [His anger causes a few empty glass vials to explode and a stack of books to topple over with a loud crash].

Lisa: [She flinches backwards into her chair].

Flitwick: I do not wish for you to lie to my face with such ease. [He says in an angry hiss].

Lisa: [Shocked into silence].

Flitwick: You underestimate me because I am small. You are not the first, and you are by far not the last. [He shakes his head angrily]. Perhaps you're used to being smarter than everyone else around you? Hm? [He raises an eyebrow reminiscent of Professor Snape]. Let me try to get something through to you now, Ms. Turpin. I am smarter than you.

Likewise, Professor Snape is smarter than you. He told me of your attempt to garner pity for yourself while in his classroom for detention. Do you think he doesn't layer his classroom and office with recording spells? He is a Slytherin, Ms. Turpin. That's not a euphemism for blind.

[He pauses and takes a few deep, steadying breaths]. I do not appreciate you using your intellect in an effort to mislead your teachers, especially me.

Lisa: I'm sorry. [She whispers].

Side note: 'Sorry to be caught, likely as not.'

Flitwick: [Shaking his head slowly as he glares back at her]. I want you to write a six inch scroll of apology for both Professor Snape, as well as for your parents.

Lisa: [She flinches at the mention of her parents].

Flitwick: Do make sure that you explain what happened and why you thought it would work. [He smiles in an altogether unhappy manner]. You are dismissed, Ms. Turpin. Bring your missives to class on Friday.

End notes: 'Just because I am not forceful and direct all the time does not mean I cannot be at all. I simply prefer not to do so. I did not enjoy this session any more than Ms. Turpin did, but it was needed. I hope that she chooses a better path from here, but only time will tell.'

. . .

Date: 30 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Are you looking forward to Halloween?

Sabrina: [She shrugs one shoulder].

Flitwick: Sabrina? [He asks in a soft voice].

Sabrina: Is there a way to look up how many orphans were created by the last war? [She asks after some more silence].

Flitwick: Not in such a direct manner, but you could go to the Office of Records and search for children whose parents are listed as murdered—particularly those who died from say, 1970 to 1985 or so.

Sabrina: [She nods. Her eyes are very distant though].

Flitwick: Why do you ask, child?

Sabrina: [She shrugs again, blinking a few times furiously]. I don't see why we must celebrate something that means so much pain to one of my friends.

Side note: 'I am not certain I understand what she is trying to say to me, but I shall take a guess and hope that it is correct.'

Flitwick: Halloween?

Sabrina: [She nods, biting her lips as she looks away]. Harry lost his parents Halloween night, and look what has happened to him since. I don't think I want to go to the feast on Thursday. I don't think I can. [This last sentence is whispered].

Flitwick: [He climbs down from his stool and reaches out his hands to gently grasp her own]. Child.

Sabrina: [She glances in his direction; her eyes filled with tears that have not yet fallen]. You know—You know about my parents, don't you? [She whispers].

Flitwick: [He slowly nods]. I know that they were killed by Death Eaters in the early 80s, but I do not know any more than that.

Sabrina: [She swallows hard, nodding almost as though she is unaware of the movement]. I love how delusion people can be. Harry Potter defeated Lord What's-His-Name and suddenly all of his followers disappeared too. Ha! [Her laugh is bitter].

Side note: 'And rightfully bitter.'

Flitwick: [Nodding]. The people involved know better, but for the others, the ones who only read about it in the papers or heard through word of mouth, it's easier not to question the lies that they have been fed. [He squeezes Sabrina's hands lightly]. It's easier not to care. [He adds softly].

Sabrina: I wish I could stop caring. [She whispers].

Flitwick: Don't. [His voice is insistent enough to make her really look at him].

Sabrina: It wouldn't hurt so much if only I could stop caring.

Flitwick: Apathy doesn't listen to reason. It stretches over into all parts of your life, not just this one. And then, perhaps twenty years later, you look up and realise that you have wasted your life and for nothing.

Sabrina: [She brings her knees up and releases Flitwick's hands to wrap them around her legs]. I try not to get stuck thinking about them—thinking about what my life would've been like with parents instead of, instead of . . . [She sniffles loudly].

Flitwick: [He hands her a handkerchief and waits for her to blow her nose]. Instead of what, child?

Sabrina: [Looking up at the ceiling]. Instead of being a leftover, only a reminder of what should have been to everyone else around me. If they hadn't been raising a baby, they could have run. If only I could have been born later, they'd still be alive. Stupid stuff, I know.

Flitwick: But important to you, isn't it?

Sabrina: [She twists her lips bitterly]. More along the lines of things we'll never know. [She shrugs and then wipes shaking fingers down her trousers]. I think I'm done talking for today.

Flitwick: As you wish. [He says softly].

End notes: 'Not the most linear of conversations, but perhaps one of the more revealing. I wonder what we will discuss next week? Will she pretend this conversation never occurred? Or will we find a way to work through it?'

. . .

Date: 30 October, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: How has this week progressed? Any more trouble with Ms. Brocklehurst?

Michael: No. Whatever you said to her must have really worked.

Side note: 'I merely reiterated the importance of keeping up with one's studies . . .'

Flitwick: Good. [He smiles]. Are you looking forwards to the upcoming Quidditch season?

Michael: Sure. I'm not particularly obsessed about it or anything, but I enjoy a good match. I've heard that the games here can be particularly brutal at times.

Flitwick: That they can be. Do you follow Quidditch outside of Hogwarts as well?

Michael: My family is rather partial to the Falmouth Falcons. [He says with a cheeky grin]. Although, my dad secretly follows the Holyhead Harpies. I think he likes the idea of watching a bunch of girls beating up on so-called tough Quidditch guys.

Flitwick: [Is startled into laughter]. And is your mother a strong woman as well?

Michael: [He visibly thinks for a moment]. You know, now that you mention it, she is. My dad is a big guy and all, but when she flicks her wand just so, he knows it's time to give up on whatever they're arguing about.

Flitwick: Is your mother also a fan of Quidditch?

Michael: Big time! She's already bought our tickets for the Quidditch World Cup three years from now, and she's already started making predictions about who's going to be in it.

Flitwick: Oh? Any chances for Britain?

Michael: Not a one! [He laughs].

Flitwick: I enjoy watching the Americans, but I do hope that they don't make yet another appearance this next World Cup. They are a touch too showy for my tastes.

Michael: Mum likes them to a point, but not enough to buy tickets whenever it's hosted there. Besides, she said that flooing internationally with anyone under 13 isn't really worth it.

Flitwick: Well, it sounds as though you are in luck for next time then. [He smiles].

Michael: Hope so.

End notes: 'I think that I would enjoy meeting his parents one of these days—particularly his mother.'

. . .

Date: 31 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Are you looking forward to the feast tonight?

Ron: Oh wow, am I. If even half the things that Fred and George have told me about this feast are true, then I'm going to be happy. I just want to eat until I explode and then sleep until I wake up. Too bad Halloween couldn't have been on a Friday this year.

McGonagall: [Raising a critical eyebrow]. Yes . . . too bad for you, Mr. Weasley. I do hope that you will take care not to each too much at the feast. I'm sure you would not enjoy spending your night in the infirmary.

Ron: Aw, don't worry so much about my stomach. [He pats it proudly]. I can take it.

McGonagall: [She looks away and quickly rolls her eyes]. I understand that your class is learning the Levitation charm in Professor Flitwick's class this week. How is that going for you?

Ron: [He groans softly]. Fred and George made fun of my pronunciation all week, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head. I've even started dreaming about it.

McGonagall: [Smiling slightly]. Then how did Professor Flitwick's class go today?

Ron: [He blushes suddenly].

McGonagall: [Her smile broadens]. Please elaborate, Mr. Weasley.

Ron: Well . . . turns out my brothers knew what they were talking about, 'cause I was the first one to get it right. [He finally admits in a mumble].

McGonagall: Oh, well done Mr. Weasley. [She nods in his direction].

Ron: It was a bit embarrassing, really. Professor Flitwick made me help the other students around me—well, except for Thomas and Finnigan, of course.

McGonagall: Ah, of course. Did any of your housemates benefit from your tutelage?

Ron: [A look of befuddlement comes across his face]. Pardon?

McGonagall: [She sighs softly]. Did you help any of your housemates better learn the charm?

Ron: Oh. Um, yes. A bit, I think. Even Neville got it a bit towards the end. I think if he could have just said it a bit stronger, you know, maybe more confidently, it would have been fine.

McGonagall: [She looks vaguely impressed]. I'm glad to hear that you were able to help Mr. Longbottom so much, Mr. Weasley.

Ron: [He turns pink again]. Aw well . . . [He scratches the back of his neck]. It wasn't much.

McGonagall: On the contrary Mr. Weasley. There are many of those in your year who would not be willing to do the same. Therefore, I must thank you. And I think 5 points to Gryffindor for aiding a housemate ought to show you that I'm serious.

Ron: [His faint blush blossoms into a deep red burn across both cheeks, ears and down onto the back of his neck]. Well—thanks. [He grins again].

End notes: 'I am encouraged by this session.'

. . .

Date: 31 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: Are you looking forward to the feast tonight?

Neville: Sure.

McGonagall: It is a very impressive sight. Professors Flitwick and Dumbledore put it together every year with a few of the best Charms students from the upper years helping out.

Neville: Do . . . Are the students, are they allowed to give their ideas on what sorts of things are displayed? [His voice is soft and hesitant].

McGonagall: [She smiles gently]. They are, to a degree. They invited to the planning sessions and are allowed to make suggestions about any of the features that they have ideas about.

Neville: That's pretty cool.

McGonagall: It is indeed, Mr. Longbottom.

Neville: Do you know who got to help this year?

McGonagall: Actually . . . [She abruptly stands up and rifles through a few things on her desk before suddenly pulling out a spare piece of parchment from one pile]. Yes, here it is. [She sits back down]. The students that helped this year are Dominga Ruthven, Mary Tower and Harriette Ehrenberg.

Neville: No boys?

McGonagall: Not this year. [She sends the parchment back to her desk with a flick of her wand].

Neville: Dominga . . . isn't she in Gryffindor?

McGonagall: Yes. And Ms. Tower is a Slytherin and Ms. Ehrenberg is Ravenclaw. I'm sure that if you were to ask any of them about the magical aspects of tonight's feast, they would be able to tell you more about what they did.

Neville: I might. [He gives a thoughtful nod].

End notes: 'Thus far the only academic interest Mr. Longbottom has shown in anything has been Herbology. I hope that this conversation helps to spark a new interest for him.'

. . .

Date: 31 October, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

Parvati: Thank you for letting me come to the feast tonight.

McGonagall: Well, thank you for informing me of Ms. Turpin's less than honest methods.

Parvati: She's just . . . grr! Her first pair of dragon gloves were nicer than mine. And now she's going to get a new pair. I know—[she holds up a hand to stop McGonagall from interrupting]—she has to pay for it herself, but her pocket money is at least twice what mine and Padma's are.

McGonagall: Her parents would do well to punish her in other ways than just making her purchase a new pair of gloves. She could have seriously injured herself with her foolish behaviour.

Parvati: I heard that Professor Flitwick is pretty angry with her at least!

McGonagall: Indeed? [She raises an eyebrow].

Parvati: Yeah, apparently he's going to go meet with her parents and bring along Madame Pomfrey to talk about what could happen when potions experiments go wrong!

Side note: 'This has all the markings of a rumour gone out of control.'

McGonagall: Even though it wasn't actually a potions experiment?

Parvati: Well, that's just the rumour going around the school. [She shrugs]. I dunno, it could be worse than that!

End notes: 'If only it could be . . .'

. . .

31 October, 1991 - Evening

Harry didn't get lost very often, especially since Cadillac the house elf had been added to help Vince in his unending task of keeping the smaller boy on track. As a result, the few times that he still managed to get lost despite their better efforts were of particular interest. The most notable of these was Halloween evening, directly after Quirrell announced that there was a troll loose in the dungeons.

Harry smelled something as their prefects were leading them away from the Great Hall. It was a odour unlike anything he had ever smelled before. He was naturally sensitive to sensory stimuli, but that wasn't the only reason his senses were heightened. His many years spent in a locked and dark cupboard had forced him to utilize his sense of hearing, touch and smell to a greater extent than any of his peers.

Thus, at the introduction to a smell never before experienced, he was naturally intrigued and simultaneously frustrated that the direction that the Slytherin crowd of students was heading in was away from the strange odour.

It wasn't hard to slip away from the crowd. In all of the excitement surrounding a loose troll, no one looked at him as he quickly dropped to the back of the group. In less than three minutes he was alone and trotting down an unknown corridor. Intent on finding the mystery scent, he completely ignored the familiar smell that was slinking at a farther distance behind him.

Several corridors later, he suddenly stopped and stared at the row of classrooms across from him. He slowed his pace and continued down the hallway, sniffing the air constantly as he went. However, it wasn't until he was standing outside a bathroom that he felt he had finally come upon the source of the unusual smell.

Fearlessly, he pushed the door open and stepped into the room. Standing in front of him was a huge grey . . . thing. His mind blanked as he tried to determine a descriptor that would do for the creature in front of him. It was holding a bat—a large bat, but not the sort of bat that his favourite professor reminded him of. He smiled at the silly thought and took a few steps farther inside.

The . . . thing grunted at him and he did what came naturally. He waved at it.

The grey creature blinked in befuddlement back down at him. Harry remembered talking with the tree and he reached out his senses like he had done then.

"You's big," he said and thought, nodding cheerfully.

The grey creature looked down at itself and then back at him. It grunted something that sounded like agreement in his head.

"You lost?" Harry asked, once more saying it aloud and in his mind.

Another grunt of mild agreement was his response.

"Harry help!" He said encouragingly, thinking helpful thoughts at the large greyish mass in front of him. He reached out a small hand and moved close enough to touch the thing's monstrous hand.

The grey creature in front of him watched him with a puzzled expression, not even twitching when Harry wrapped a small fist around a large pinkie and tried to pull him forwards.

"This ways," Harry nodded again, grinning happily when the . . . thing started to follow behind him.

. . .

Hermione watched in amazement as Harry exited the girl's loo with a docile troll lumbering slowly behind him. The troll almost didn't make it through the doorway, but then at the last second, magic flickered through the air and the entrance enlarged itself to fit around the thing's massive body.

She wrinkled a nose as the smell that pervaded the space around the troll's unwashed flesh rolled over her. Harry led the troll down the hallway, pausing only a moment to wave at her from where she had hidden herself in a dark passageway. She blinked in surprise, but then nearly dropped her jaw as the troll waved its other hand at her too.

She'd have to find out how the hell Harry was doing this, and she'd have to do it soon. It seemed like a kind of mind control, and while she was pretty sure that Harry would never try to hurt anyone—particularly Hermes—she still didn't fancy the idea of being at anyone's mercy.

. . .

Date: 3 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 30 October, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'One might even say he has his priorities misaligned. He has no care for anything academically related, but he does care a great deal about Harry Potter and to a point, Draco Malfoy. I admire his patience with both parties, but I do wish he could find something in himself to feel proud of as well.'

Snape: I did not have a chance to talk with you very much after Harry sent the troll on its way, so I thought I might try and remedy that now. How long was it before you realised he was gone?

Vince: [He sighs]. I've been trying to figure that out too. I feel like I've goofed up two weeks in a row, and I'm really sorry.

Side note: 'He looks like he hasn't gotten much sleep this week.'

Snape: As I have said before, Harry is his own person and as much as we would like to control his actions, sometimes we cannot.

Vince: At least he has pretty good luck.

Snape: That we can both agree on. [The corner of his mouth creeps upwards into a small smile].

Vince: Have you ever heard of a troll that didn't eat a human? I mean, how the hell—er, heck did Harry manage to lead a troll out of the castle without getting hurt anyway?

Snape: I haven't the foggiest. I am hoping that my session with him will help to alleviate some of the confusion.

Vince: He hasn't said much to me about it either. [He frowns]. Didn't the headmaster talk with him afterwards? Did he learn anything?

Snape: [Sighing]. Only that Harry is allergic to lemon drops.

Vince: [He snorts in amusement]. What happened?

Snape: The entire right side of his body swelled up and Professor Dumbledore had to fire call Madame Pomfrey for assistance.

Vince: [He dramatically rolls his eyes]. Only Harry would survive a troll and then almost get done in by a lemon drop.

Snape: Yes, that does sound rather correct.

Vince: Wow.

End notes: 'Wow indeed, Mr. Crabbe. At present, I know no more than you, but I hope that I can do something about that shortly.'

. . .

Date: 3 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 29 October, 1991. She has reverted back to burning them.

Ongoing impressions: 'Someone close to her betrayed her trust, and none of my suspicions as to how that could have happened mean anything good for her.'

Snape: Can you explain why you returned to the Slytherin common room so much later than everyone else Halloween night?

Hermione: [Smiling slightly]. I got separated from the group.

Snape: Indeed. Did you happen to see Mr. Potter while you were separated?

Hermione: [She pauses, levelling a critical glare on Snape]. Actually, I did see him.

Side note: 'Progress?'

Snape: Was he the reason that you were . . . separated?

Hermione: [She chews on her lip for a moment before suddenly relaxing]. No one saw him leave.

Snape: It was a bit of a madhouse, or so my upper year prefects told me.

Hermione: He didn't just get lost. He left. On purpose.

Snape: Do you have any theories as to why he would have done such a thing?

Hermione: I think he smelled it—the troll. I saw him sniffing the air.

Snape: Could you smell anything from your vantage point?

Hermione: Not until we got farther on.

Snape: Did you consider stopping him?

Hermione: Considered it. [She says, chewing on her lip again].

Snape: But? [He raises an eyebrow in questioning].

Hermione: [She shrugs]. I wasn't sure that was where he was going.

Snape: But you had a theory.

Hermione: I wanted to see what he'd do. I didn't think he'd walk right up to the thing and say hi!

Snape: If he'd been in danger, would you have intervened?

Hermione: [She chews on her lip and crosses her arms over her chest].

Snape: [He leans forwards]. Granger?

Side note: 'I'd prefer not to end the conversation with a poorly timed reference to her femininity.'

Hermione: I would have. [She levels brown eyes on his own dark ones]. I take care of my family.

Snape: Even if they do not do the same for you? [He asks in a low voice].

Hermione: [Stiffening].

Snape: Do you want me to call you Hermes as Harry does? [He asks in a near whisper].

Hermione: [Her eyes widen].

Snape: I would, if you'd like me to. At least here in our sessions together. Would you like me to do that?

Hermione: [She doesn't answer].

Snape: Think on it, child.

End notes: 'She set nothing on fire this time at least. And she answered a few questions.'

. . .

Date: 3 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 2 November, 1991

Ongoing impression: 'One of the first to show fear at the mention of the troll. One of the first to arrive at the common room. One of the first to receive detention for trampling over the backs of other students in his haste to escape.'

Snape: [He pinches the bridge of his nose]. Cunning. Ambition. Determination. Cowardice is not a trait of Slytherin, although you seem to believe otherwise.

Draco: [Blustering]. Just because I don't run headlong into danger, it doesn't mean that I'm a coward! You want someone like that, maybe you should talk to McGonagall. [He sneers].

Snape: [He drops his hand to his lap and glares back at Draco]. You put three of your own housemates in the infirmary when you decided that your survival was more important than theirs.

Draco: Yeah! Well you didn't mention self-preservation in that list either! And that's definitely one of the traits!

Snape: Oh, self-preservation is most certainly one of the characteristics of Slytherin. Of course, you didn't think of how your housemates would react later when they learned that you were the one to stomp on their backs. You didn't think of how you would preserve your image once they learned of your cowardly actions.

And now, Mr. Malfoy, I feel I should warn you that I will not protect you from their revenge, beyond ensuring that you are not permanently harmed from their actions against your person.

Draco: [He scowls darkly]. Then, feel free to ignore my reactions as well, sir. [He hisses coldly].

Snape: [He suddenly smiles].

Draco: [He squirms in discomfort at the frightening expression on Snape's face].

Snape: Enjoy your week, Draco. [He says, still smiling coldly].

End notes: 'I wonder what he would do if I were to charm all of his clothes in Gryffindor colours this week? Perhaps I will borrow those twins of yours, Minerva.'

. . .

Date: 3 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'Strangely powerful and bizarrely innocent, despite all that has occurred in his lifetime. Hadwyn has just begun his research into how his mind works, and I can only hope that his actions help Harry, rather than hinder him further.'

Harry: [Running into Snape's quarters, he suddenly falters as he gets within arm's reach of Snape and ends up bouncing on the sofa beside his professor, instead of directly on his lap]. 'Fessor Snape? [His question is asked in a hesitant voice].

Snape: Harry? What's wrong?

Side note: 'I would hope that he doesn't think I'm angry at him over the troll incident—although I was initially, until it was established that he had been safe the entire time.'

Harry: [Setting a hand down on Snape's knee]. You's hurt. [His lower lip trembles].

Side note: 'How can he tell?'

Snape: It is nothing to worry about, Harry. I assure you, I am being well taken care of.

Harry: But—yours leg. [He points at Snape's leg]. It hurts. And, ands it feels like fire. Ands—[he reaches up and touches Snape's brow]—you're hurtings. You gots a fever—a little one, but it's still hot!

Snape: You needn't worry about me, Harry. It is healing. There is nothing you can do to help.

Side note: 'I feel as though I may have just made a grave mistake with that statement.'

Harry: [He shakes his head in the negative]. I helps my 'fessor! [He stands up and then drops down to the floor, wrapping his body around one of Snape's legs]. I makes better!

Snape: Harry. [He says calmly]. Get off the floor please, child.

Harry: I help! [He glares back up at Snape and starts squeezing his arms tighter].

Snape: Harry, what—stop that, Harry!

[There is a ripple of magical energy that suddenly expands out from Harry's body].

'The quill recording this session is experiencing magical difficulties. It will resume as soon as possible. Please stand by.'


Chapter Text

Just after midnight on the 4th of November, 1991

Snape opened his eyes to find himself laid out on his sofa. He blinked, trying to remember the last moments before everything had gone blank.

"I help!" Harry had yelled, glaring up at him and squeezing his injured leg even tighter.

It had made the burning in his flesh increase painfully, making it difficult for him to remain calm.

And then something strange had happened. He remembered light—a great deal of it—expanding out from Harry's small form. He remembered the disturbing sensation of being wrapped in that same light, and the sudden frightening awareness that he couldn't breathe. The burning in his leg had reached new proportions of pain, and distantly he'd heard the frantic scratching of a quill on the parchment beside them.

Then . . . nothing.

"'Fessor?" Harry quipped softly from beside his head.

"Harry?" He answered just as softly, turning his head slowly to look into piercing green orbs.

"I make better," Harry answered happily; his face breaking into a smile as he fully observed the conscious Snape.

Slowly he pulled himself upright, immediately noticing the distinct lack of pain in his leg. Frowning, he reached down and rolled up his trouser leg, revealing his still bandaged leg. He unwrapped the bandages slowly, and then his eyes widened as he finally took in the sight of the appendage itself.

It was healed.

Shakily, he traced a thin finger down the outer edge of his flesh, where the bite had caused the most damage. There was nothing but a faint pink line visible from where his skin had knitted itself back together, but even that was hardly noticeable.

Carefully, he rolled his trouser leg down once more and then turned stunned eyes back to Harry.

"Harry . . ." he started, before trailing off, unsure exactly how or even what he wanted to say to the miraculous boy standing in front of him.

"My 'fessor feel betters?" Harry asked him, hands clasped together as he peered closely at Severus.

Severus nodded. "I do feel better, Harry," he answered. He patted the cushion beside him and then watched as Harry happily clambered up onto the sofa beside him.

"We Snakes, right 'fessor Snape?"

"We are," Severus nodded, wondering where their conversation was headed.

"So dat makes us family, right 'fessor Snape? Good family, right?" Harry's bright green eyes peered up at him trustingly from where he was perched on his knees just beside him.

"Yes, that makes us family," Severus answered, reaching out a long fingered hand and wrapping it carefully around Harry's much smaller one.

"The best, right?" Harry's voice was significantly softer this time, and on a whim Severus gently pulled the boy into his lap.

"The very best," Severus said softly, wrapping his other arm around Harry's middle and squeezing gently.

Harry leaned his head back on Severus' chest and then glanced sideways up at him. "I makes my 'fessor betters 'cause we family, so my 'fessor can take care of me too," he said, nodding to himself. "I makes my 'fessor better 'cause he's mine and I'm his and I think I loves him."

For a moment, Severus could do no more than breathe after hearing Harry's words.

"You think so, Harry?" He finally managed to ask, pointedly ignoring the wheeze in his voice.

"Uh huh," Harry nodded. "Can't remember lovin' no one else, but no one's ever been like my 'fessor, so I was thinkin' that if I feel about my 'fessor like he feels about me, then that's gotta be love, right?" Harry paused but didn't look like he was done speaking yet. "So if my 'fessor can loves me, then I can loves my 'fessor too," Harry said, smiling happily as he finished talking.

Severus' heart clenched hard at Harry's proclamation of love for him—for him, damn it.

"Thank you for telling me, Harry," he finally managed to say. "And thank you for healing my leg," he added a moment later.

Harry nodded with a smile, his eyes finally shutting from where he was securely pressed up against Severus' chest. Severus wasn't actually certain how the boy was still awake, considering the great expenditure of raw magic he had let loose thus far that evening.

"I go to sleeps now, 'fessor Snape," Harry murmured against his chest a few minutes later.

"Goodnight child," Severus whispered.

. . .

Later that same day

4 November, 1991
Healer: Hadwyn Long
Student: Harry Potter
Accompanying Guardian: Severus Snape

Hadwyn: Thank you for meeting with me again today, Harry.

Harry: [With a shrug]. My 'fessor says you might be ables to make my brain work better. My 'fessor's real smart. [He nods].

Hadwyn: He is, isn't he? [He glances at Severus with a smile].

Snape: [He rolls his eyes, but not while Harry is looking]. Do you want him to lie down again, Hadwyn?

Hadwyn: Yes. Like you were before, Harry.

Harry: 'Kays. [He moves down into place, dropping his head lightly into Severus' lap a moment later].

Side note: 'The shock of Harry's mind is still surprising, but slightly better if only because I know what I'm getting myself into this time. Typically, when encountering a new mind for the first time, I try to establish a connection with it, if only to ensure that it is aware that I am not a threat (hopefully preventing it from expelling me magically).'

'Harry's mind is busy, just as busy as it was the last time I visited, and the sheer amount of incoming data is very close to being overwhelming. Standing in the primary level of his mind is like standing in an overpopulated train station; bodies of thought push on me from every side, each vying for attention just as heartily as its neighbour.'

'Time doesn't seem to have a meaning here. I can see memories of today's breakfast, thoughts of the Slytherin dorms, rows of identical houses, an older woman with a house full of cats—and a few kneazles if I'm not mistaken, the sounds of a thin screechy voice screaming profanities, a multitude of Snape-like figures standing around watching, and images of a giant whale of a man with a purple-red face stumbling drunkenly towards me.

'The sky overhead is shifting in colours; first cloudy, then midnight, then sunny, followed by a dark gray slate coloured ceiling, blinking lights, flickering candles, trees overhead and then abruptly black with storm clouds. It's a myriad of madness if one were to stare at it long enough, and I learn to ignore it quickly after the first few revolutions.'

'"Harry?" I try asking thoughts around me. There should be at least some kind of central node or platform that these ideas are originating from. I would prefer to have Harry's mind meet up with mine, but if that's not possible, then I can at least attempt to follow these thought illustrations backwards.'

'It is enough for now. I have no idea how long I've been there. It could have been minutes or hours. There isn't a reliable way to tell, and the feel of frustration that meets that thought is stronger than I expect. It seems that Harry, at least on an instinctual level, agrees with me.'

Hadwyn: Harry? [He is blinking hard]. How long was that, Severus?

Severus: Just under two hours.

Hadwyn: Harry, how do you feel?

Harry: [He stares down at the floor for a few moments before shaking himself]. Kinda itchy.

Hadwyn: Your head or inside your mind?

Harry: I think my mind? Maybes?

End notes: 'I think that Harry simply does not have the language necessary to describe how he feels. It's not particularly uncommon actually. We are not taught words for explaining how it feels to have unfamiliar presences in our heads.'

. . .

Date: 5 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: Did you see the troll?

Sprout: Unfortunately, I did.

Morag: Was it huge?

Sprout: [She nods].

Morag: Bigger than Hagrid?

Sprout: Rather so!

Morag: Wow. That's just—I'm still having trouble believing I'm in a magical world, even after all this time.

Sprout: [She nods]. Just like the muggle world, there are dangerous creatures and wonderful ones. Some are more common, while others are only found once in a blue moon. Of course, some—like trolls—are actively ignored. There aren't too many students—or adults for that matter—who will actively seek a troll out.

Morag: But isn't that what Harry Potter did last week?

Sprout: From what I understand of Halloween night, Mr. Potter didn't purposely go looking for the troll itself. He merely encountered a side effect of it.

Morag: Have there ever been any wizards known especially for being able to work with trolls?

Sprout: [She thinks]. Some are better equipped for dealing with them. For instance, there is a particular area of study that is devoted to controlling trolls through magical means, but there aren't too many wizards who are very well versed in that branch of magic.

I believe that Professor Quirrell is the only wizard in this area who has taken any of the necessary coursework in that field, and even he is not yet a Master.

Morag: Professor Quirrell? You mean he can do magic at all?

Sprout: [She purses her lips]. I know that he is not a very impressive individual, but I do wish that you'd refrain from denigrating him in my presence.

Morag: Sorry Professor. [She looks honestly contrite].

Sprout: Some people are not very good public speakers, but that shouldn't detract from their worth overall.

End notes: 'Then again, some people are better theorists than empiricists.'

. . .

Date: 5 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: Are always games played against Slytherin rough? My mum says that they have no sense of right and wrong, or what fair play is. [She is a bit nervous as she speaks].

Sprout: I wouldn't say that. In addition, I wouldn't automatically say that all Quidditch teams, regardless of what house they are in, always have particularly strict moral compasses.

Hannah: [She looks a bit surprised to hear this]. Even Hufflepuff?

Sprout: Even Hufflepuff has not been completely free of the drive to win no matter the cost. We may have seen less of that particular trait, but it has still been there. It is possible that some of our house members believe that Quidditch is the one thing where they can prove their worth to the denizens of the other houses.

Hannah: But that's so stupid! We're worth as much as the other houses already! [Her cheeks are a bit pink with righteous anger].

Sprout: [She smiles a bit]. I agree with you, but there are those—particularly among the testosterone-driven population—that have an undying need to prove their worth among the other students at this school.

Hannah: [Exasperated]. Why does it always come back to boys!

Sprout: Well . . . [her smile suddenly blossoms], they do make up half the school. It's bound to happen sooner or later.

Hannah: [She rolls her eyes]. I guess that explains why the Hufflepuff team is all boys this year.

Sprout: Actually, it's fairly unusual for our team to be made up entirely of one gender, although it does happen from time to time. I believe the last time we had an all girl's team was in the late 70s – the 1970s, that is of course.

Hannah: [She glances at Sprout shyly]. Did they kick arse?

Sprout: Quite. [She smiles in a pleased fashion at Hannah's question].

End notes: 'I wouldn't mind seeing an all girl's Quidditch team again either, regardless of the house. Wasn't there an all girl's Slytherin Quidditch team back in the 17th century? I have heard interesting rumours about them, Severus. Perhaps you could enlighten us . . . ?'

. . .

Date: 5 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin: I don't think I shall be mentioning the presence of a troll to my parents.

Sprout: [Her lips quirk at his words]. I don't blame you for not. By the way, I got your results from Madame Pomfrey.

Justin: [He is instantly tense]. Oh?

Sprout: She says you're doing fine with your diet, but to be sure not to skip on the protein.

Justin: [Relaxing slightly]. Oh. All right.

Sprout: Did you think I was going to make you stop your diet?

Justin: [Eyeing her critically]. Yes.

Sprout: I wouldn't do that unless it was actually endangering your health. There have been students in the past that have become far more obsessed with their eating habits than is strictly healthy. A few have even had to spend time in St. Mungo's recuperating after going too far in the effort to be "thin enough."

Justin: [He purses his lips]. I thought that was just a problem with girls.

Sprout: [She gives a sad smile]. It is not. In my experience, the need to change one's body is a problem faced among boys and girls, regardless of the age. I think I should add that there is no such thing as being thin enough; there is only healthy and unhealthy.

Justin: Have any of those boys ever been in Hufflepuff?

Sprout: Yes.

Justin: [His eyes narrow thoughtfully]. I would think that this wouldn't be such a big deal in the wizarding world, what with robes and all.

Sprout: It is not as noticeable perhaps, because of robes, but the problem still exists since it's an issue with how one perceives one's self.

Justin: Well, I don't think you'll have to worry about me. [He grins suddenly]. I'm just trying to get into the healthy range.

Sprout: And Madame Pomfrey outlined precisely what that was?

Justin: [He nods]. She showed me a chart about heights and weights and how they correlate. She also said that I ought not to worry too much, since I was likely to get taller. Do you think there's an examination spell that can tell me how much taller? [He raises an eyebrow].

Sprout: I doubt there is one that can say exactly how much taller you'll get, since there are more factors than just your familial history to take into an account. The devil's snare can be very prolific in growth, but only if it encounters the correct conditions.

End notes: 'I do think we'll be revisiting this topic again, and likely sooner than later.'

. . .

Date: 6 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: I don't know why you think I'm going to talk to you any longer.

Flitwick: Would you prefer to stare at me? I assure you, I think I can withstand it. [He gives a small smile].

Lisa: [With a petulant scowl]. Can I leave then?

Flitwick: Hm, I think not.

Lisa: [With an angry huff, she crosses her arms and slumps down in her seat].

Flitwick: Did you receive a response from your parents yet?

Lisa: [She narrows her eyes]. You already know I did. You got a response from them too.

Flitwick: They mentioned that you would be getting a fuller display of their unhappiness come Christmas. I simply wanted to ensure that you would be able to withstand their anger.

Side note: 'It's not that I think the Turpins will abuse their daughter, but I'd like to make completely sure.'

Lisa: [Surprised]. You think they're likely to beat me? I don't know what kind of family you hail from, but mine is not about to resort to something so . . . so plebian.

Side note: 'Perhaps Mr. Malfoy should make friends with Ms. Turpin.'

Flitwick: [Smiling gently]. I didn't think it was likely, but I wanted to make certain.

Lisa: I know that some muggle families beat their children, but to suggest that a wizarding one would do so is almost an insult! Magical families appreciate their offspring!

Flitwick: [Sighing]. Not always.

Lisa: [She stares distrustfully back at him].

Flitwick: Perhaps you should research the phenomenon.

End notes: 'Ah, youth. For someone who believes she knows everything, she certainly is rather ignorant.'

. . .

Date: 6 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Sabrina: Do you suppose that the Sorting hat is aware of the problems faced by muggle-borns in Slytherin?

Side notes: 'Of all the potential questions she could have asked me, I wasn't actually prepared for that one.'

Flitwick: Hm. I think that at the very least, it is aware that muggle-borns are often not well met in Slytherin.

Sabrina: Was Slytherin really only in favour of only in letting purebloods to Hogwarts? That seems like more of a rumour to me, because surely he would have been smart enough to realise that without new blood, the old blood will eventually die out, right?

Flitwick: [Sighing]. While there are those who believe that muggle-borns and half-bloods bring "inferior" magic to the gene pool, thereby diluting its potency, that's not the only reason for the purebloods of Slytherin's day to have wanted to limit their interactions with muggle-borns.

Muggle-borns at that time were, as a result of the different hygienic standards set by those outside the wizarding community, typically less healthy, less clean and generally more disease ridden than their wizarding counterparts.

In addition, if a child of a muggle family were to be discovered to have magical ability, then it was likely that the family would either disown said child, or even go so far as to try and murder it.

Sabrina: [Her eyes are wide with surprise].

Flitwick: Therefore, since I don't know any better, I can't make any judgments about why Slytherin preferred to align himself with purebloods. If we could find his portrait, we might be able to ask him, but that would only work if he were willing to speak to anyone.

Sabrina: You mean his portrait is lost? In Hogwarts or somewhere else?

Flitwick: Hogwarts, I believe. That is where it was seen last.

Sabrina: [She nods].

End notes: 'I don't mind spending time explaining that history to someone. I personally believe that it is not spread around enough.'

. . .

Date: 6 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Michael: Do trolls and other wild creatures get into the castle very often around here?

Flitwick: Not very often. [He answers with a mild smile].

Michael: But it does happen then? [He raises a critical eyebrow].

Flitwick: Infrequently.

Michael: What was the last occurrence?

Flitwick: Of a troll or something else?

Michael: Both. [He grins].

Flitwick: Generally I don't keep such knowledge at the forefront of my mind, but given how inquisitive you and your housemates are, I went and did a little research into the matter.

Michael: [His smile widens].

Flitwick: Let's see here . . . the last troll that managed to make its way into Hogwarts was in . . . [He scans through a stack of notes that he pulled from the desk behind him] . . . 1907, winter that is. Apparently it was cold and thought Hogwarts would be a pleasant place to warm up. [He raises his eyebrows in a meaningful way towards Michael].

Michael: [He bursts into surprised laughter]. I doubt that the students felt the same way!

Flitwick: No, they did not. [His face is abruptly sombre].

Michael: [Gulping and serious now]. What happened to it? [He whispers].

Flitwick: [He squints down at his notes for a moment]. It was killed.

Michael: [His eyebrows rise until they are hidden under his bangs]. H-How?

Flitwick: Pardon?

Side note: 'I understand what he wants, I'm just not certain he truly wishes to be given the answer to his question.'

Michael: [He clears his throat]. H-How was it killed?

Flitwick: [He licks his lips and then looks Michael in the eye directly]. It was disembowelled.

Michael: [His face turns a bit green]. Surely that was—I mean, wasn't that a bit of overkill?

Flitwick: Trolls are dangerous creatures, Mr. Corner.

Michael: But, but couldn't they have just stunned it or you know . . . [he begins breathing faster], tied it up or knocked it out or something?

Flitwick: [His shoulders droop a bit before he answers]. And then what would they have done with it?

Michael: [He opens his mouth, but no sound comes out] . . . released it maybe? [He finally manages to say].

Flitwick: Where? Into the wild where it would likely wind up killing some other hapless people?

Michael: [He only shakes his head]. I don't know—I guess, I guess you're right.

Flitwick: [He gives Michael a strained smile]. The problem is that there isn't a suitable place to put them, Mr. Corner, and despite trolls being magical creatures, they are still only that. Creatures. Dangerous creatures – at least according to the Ministry of Magic.

Michael: [He nods slowly, as though in a daze].

Flitwick: Would you like to learn about any of the other wild creatures who have found their ways in Hogwarts throughout the years? [He asks in a gentle voice].

Michael: [Wordlessly he shakes his head "no"].

Flitwick: I wish I could tell you better things, child.

End notes: 'Tell the truth and let them make their opinions. I've long believed that to be better than telling a half-truth and then making them believe something foreign to their own experiences.'

. . .

Date: 7 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

Ron: What do you think of Granger? You think she's stable?

McGonagall: [Silence as she pauses thoughtfully]. I think she is a troubled young girl with a potentially brilliant mind.

Ron: She uh, she offered to teach me defence – you know, to make up for what Quirrell's not teaching us.

McGonagall: [She purses her lips]. And you're wondering if you'll be safe if you take her up on her offer?

Ron: Pretty much. [He smiles sheepishly].

McGonagall: Why is she offering at all? She does not seem like the type to voluntarily spend time with anyone, let alone a Gryffindor.

Ron: Uh well uh, she just did is all.

McGonagall: [Gives him a stern look of disbelief].

Ron: Said I was pretty pathetic too. Didn't want me getting tripped up in the halls, I think.

McGonagall: [Her face softens]. Has someone been targeting you, Mr. Weasley?

Ron: Hm? Oh no ma'am, nothing beyond the usual with my brothers. Just I think she was trying to be careful in case I ever did get into trouble. That's all. [He nods].

McGonagall: [Her eyes narrow in suspicion]. And is trouble something you plan on purposely seeking out?

Ron: [His eyes go wide]. No ma'am!

McGonagall: Hm. Well, see that you don't. As for Ms. Granger, I think that it may be safe to take her up on her offer, but only if you tread carefully with her. She seems like she could use a friend. Though do try to keep from insulting her, Mr. Weasley. Besides, if you're the one she has offered to help, then I think it would be rude to turn down that help.

Ron: I wouldn't want her to think I was being rude on purpose!

Side note: 'No, we only allow accidental rudeness here.'

McGonagall: I daresay that would be an unwise move on your part, Mr. Weasley.

End note: 'Not to mention what she might do in retribution should you turn down her offer.'

. . .

Date: 7 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

Neville: Ma'am, how did Harry get the troll out of the castle?

McGonagall: [She sighs]. We're not entirely sure.

Neville: We're?

McGonagall: The headmaster and the other faculty and staff.

Neville: Don't you have any idea at all?

McGonagall: [Her lips purse irritably]. I can tell you what happened, but not how. By all accounts, Harry simply walked up to the troll, had a conversation with it and then led it by the hand out of the castle.

Neville: [His eyes are wide, and his mouth is in an "O" shape]. How could that be possible? Doesn't anyone have any ideas?

McGonagall: We have plenty of ideas, Mr. Longbottom. What we are decidedly short on though is facts.

Neville: What do you think happened?

McGonagall: I think . . . I think that Mr. Potter's altered mental state allowed him to make connections with the troll where a typical human being would not be able to manage.

Neville: [He nods]. That makes a lot of sense. There's plenty of history to back your theory up too.

McGonagall: Not all of which is true though.

Neville: Like how Professor Dumbledore's brother claimed he could talk to goats? [His eyes are wide, his demeanour overly innocent].

McGonagall: [Mild pinkness abruptly suffuses her cheeks]. Somewhat like that, yes Mr. Longbottom.

Neville: [He smiles].

McGonagall: One would think you asked that question just to try and get a reaction, Mr. Longbottom. [Her eyes narrow in accusation].

Neville: [Unruffled]. I overheard my Gran say something about it, but she refused to give me any kind of straight answer afterwards.

McGonagall: Probably a good idea. [She looks sternly back at him].

Neville: [Suddenly twisting his fingers together nervously]. Can I go now?

McGonagall: It's "May I go, Mr. Longbottom."

Neville: Um, right. May I go now?

McGonagall: [Narrowing her eyes]. I suggest you do it quickly.

End note: 'Not a question I expected to get thrust upon me during a session with this boy, for certain. And yes, my wording was not accidental.'

. . .

Date: 7 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

Parvati: Do a lot of students stay over the holidays?

McGonagall: It differs from year to year, but there are usually at least a few from each house, if not more.

Parvati: Why do students stay?

McGonagall: Hm, some stay because their families are out of the country. Some stay because they enjoy the peace and quiet. Sometimes there is an event that is taking place over the holidays, so more students stay in order to participate. [She suddenly frowns]. Then again, some stay because they know they will have a better Christmas here than they will at home.

Parvati: They don't miss their parents?

McGonagall: Not all students live with their parents. Might I ask what has brought on this round of questions?

Parvati: [She twiddles with a strand of hair]. I just remembered last week during Halloween how Harry Potter was orphaned that night. Will he be going home during the holidays?

McGonagall: He will not be.

Parvati: [She raises her eyebrows]. You already know?

McGonagall: Professor Snape . . . [she hesitates very briefly] . . . has already informed us about Mr. Potter's decision.

Parvati: Oh. Well that's good. I guess. This is where his parents went to school after all. Though how Professor Snape can have a conversation with him is anyone's guess . . . [she trails off when she notices McGonagall staring darkly at her]. What?

McGonagall: Professor Snape doesn't have any problems communicating with Mr. Potter.

Side note: 'Not a lie, precisely, but I didn't want her to continue thinking that Harry was some kind of idiot.'

Parvati: Oh well, I guess that Professor Snape knows how to talk to him or something, because we haven't figured it out yet.

McGonagall: [Still looking severe]. We?

Parvati: Oh, Padma and I.

McGonagall: She has begun speaking with you again?

Parvati: Well, yeah. [She blushes under McGonagall's unblinking stare]. It took some talking, but we're okay now, I think.

McGonagall: Hmm, I suppose you are to be commended for that.

End note: 'Although it would probably be better for Padma Patil without the influence of her sister clouding her judgment.'

. . .

9 November, 1991 – Saturday morning
1st Quidditch match of the season
Slytherin/Gryffindor

Harry was seated in the stands beside the other Slytherins, cheering and shouting as their team scored again and again with the quaffle. He didn't quite understand everything that was going on, but he knew that they were ahead and that all they needed to do to win was find the snitch. He'd been watching carefully, but he hadn't seen it all since Madame Hooch had released it at the beginning of the game.

On one side of him sat Vince and on the other side was Millicent Bulstrode. They had apparently decided to surround him, to make sure he was safe. He wasn't entirely certain what he needed to be kept safe from, since he was surrounded by his Snake family, but he appreciated that they cared enough to do something like that for him.

Of course, he couldn't put all of that into words—let alone most of it—but it didn't stop him from trying.

Abruptly, the incredible sound surrounding him just died down. He looked around in confusion, and then pulled on Millicent's sleeve.

"Milly, why's all quiet?" He asked, speaking in a whisper.

She pointed to the sky and said, "Look at Terrence. Something's happening to his broom."

Harry looked in the direction she was pointing and his eyes went wide in shock. Terrence Higgs' broom was bucking and twisting back and forth, almost as though it was trying to throw its rider off!

Silently, they watched as the Slytherin's seeker slowly lost hold of his broom. Harry drew his legs up to his chest and started rocking back and forth; muttering to himself as he did, "Don't like this! Don't like this!"

And then, a great shout went up from the stands as Terrence suddenly lost hold of his broom completely and began hurtling towards the earth.

"No!" Harry yelled and then without thinking, he began running down the metal stands, intent on getting down the stairs to find his 'fessor.

Behind him he heard Millicent and Vince yelling some unusual words – he'd have to ask his friend what "son of a dementor's whore" meant later on. He just hoped he could remember.

There was a pop of displaced air beside him and suddenly Caddy was running down the stairs beside him.

"Young master Vincent told me to keep you within my sights, young master!" Caddy told him in a loud voice as he hopped down the steps keeping up with him easily.

"Gotta finds my 'fessor!" Harry bellowed back.

The rest of the trip down was a blur. All Harry wanted to do was find his 'fessor and then see Terry. Terry had been really good about talking to him about how important a Seeker's job was within a Quidditch game, along with the sorts of strategies that were typically used. He liked Terry a lot and didn't want to think about what it would be like if something had happened to his friend.

. . .

Date: 10 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 7 November, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'A rather mature young man – more so than he appears to the casual observer. Now to figure out what makes him tick, and what he wants from life.'

Vince: Is Harry still waiting in the infirmary?

Side notes: 'Harry has refused to leave Mr. Higgs' side ever since I brought him in on a magicked stretcher. He seems to be under the misunderstanding that Higgs will not recover without his stalwart presence at his side.'

Snape: Yes, unfortunately. I made him leave last night in order to sleep in the dormitories, but directly after breakfast he went back and has not left since, I believe.

Vince: Why won't he leave? He won't answer me with anything other than, "Terry is family! Family is important!"

Snape: [Giving a small smile to his young Snake]. To Harry, family is very important.

Vince: [Dropping his gaze to his feet]. His family never really cared much about him, did they?

Snape: [He sighs and his previous smile disappears]. No, they did not. Thankfully, Harry will never have to return there. We are his new family, Vince.

Vince: [He nods swiftly, swallowing hard]. He really likes Terrence. He's been really good to Harry, talking to him about Quidditch when the rest of the team just sort of put up with him.

Snape: In a way, we are all brothers to him.

Vince: 'Cept you. [He suddenly grins and looks up through eyes that are vaguely red rimmed]. You're his daddy.

Snape: Pardon? [His eyebrows raise and he swallows hard].

Vince: Aw come on. You don't know? You're his most important person in his life. If you say something can be done, then by Merlin, Harry's going to figure out a way to do it, because you said so.

Snape: That doesn't mean that I am to be his father.

Vince: [Raising an incredulous eyebrow]. You're his guardian, at least according to Hogwarts and Slytherin rules. He doesn't have any other 'fessors. Only you. Everyone else he calls 'Pr'fessor.' Besides, it's not like you want him to think of you as an Uncle. He still has nightmares about his other uncle.

Snape: How did you get to be so astute, Vince?

Vince: [Suddenly turning red]. It's not so hard to see when you're used to wanting the same thing.

Snape: Vince. [He says softly].

Vince: Yeah well, mine's still alive. Doesn't make it any better though. [His smile is bitter and abruptly he stands up]. I gotta leave now. I don't fancy crying in front of you.

Snape: Vince! [He calls out as Vince runs out the door].

End notes: 'Now that Vince has put it so bluntly, I can see what he means. Is this what denial feels like? What's worse, I don't think I mind the idea of having Harry as a son. And Vince, I only hope you can tell me more later about your own situation.'

. . .

Date: 10 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 7 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'I'm not sure if she is angry at her family for something done to her, or because they did not do something to save her when she was in need of saving. Beyond that, all I have are suppositions and half-formed hypotheses.'

Granger: Are you sure it's safe to leave Harry by himself all day in the infirmary?

Side note: 'She wishes to come across as uncaring, but this question of hers shows otherwise.'

Snape: What have you heard? Do you think he's actively in danger?

Granger: [Narrowing her eyes defensively]. Draco Malfoy's not the only one who doesn't like him, you know.

Side note: 'Alas, but I do know. A Slytherin hears many things, even the adult ones.'

Snape: I have heard . . . murmurings here and there in the hallways, but nothing finite. I will tell you this however—the infirmary is one of the most warded places in the castle. Hogwarts herself is very protective of the students and those found in the infirmary, and has not—to my knowledge—ever allowed anyone to be attacked there.

Granger: [She relaxes slightly]. Why do you call the castle a girl?

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. It is traditional to do so. Buildings and large craft are typically given a female pronoun. Feel free to research it, if you wish. You will probably not find one single definitive answer though.

Granger: [She frowns]. Terrence Higgs' broom was cursed yesterday. It had to have been someone who was in the area, especially at that power level.

Side note: 'She did not say it in the form of a question, but her eyes are watching me as though to see if I agree.'

Snape: [He nods]. I concur with your hypothesis, Ms.—Mister Granger.

Granger: [The slightest smile creeps onto her/his face].

Snape: I would ask for you to tell me if you see anything or anyone acting peculiar, please.

Granger: [S/he nods slightly]. I can do that. And by the way . . .

Snape: Yes Mr. Granger?

Granger: [Hir smile increases]. I decided that you can call me Hermes . . . if you want. [S/he whispers].

Snape: I would like to, Hermes.

End notes: 'Progress is progress.'

. . .

Date: 10 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 8 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'I look forward to seeing what afflictions he will show up with this week.'

Draco: [He skips into Snape's office with a dark glare toward his professor. He cannot stop hiccupping and his hair is bright red with gold streaks. His nose has been transfigured to look like a pig's snout, and his hands are webbed. When he turns to sit, one can see that he now has a long hairless rat's tail sticking out from under his robes (which are pink)]. Don'th say *hic* anythingth.

Snape: [Blinking mildly, but he manages to keep his smile hidden]. Hasn't anyone ever told you that bright pink and red clash, Mr. Malfoy?

Draco: Shuth *hic* upth. [His tongue is forked and it is causing an unfortunate lisp]. *Hic*.

Snape: I healed Mr. Urquhart's jelly legs within moments of your casting it, although I can see that his curse has not worn off yet. Tell me, have you found your tail to be of any use?

Draco: Shuth *hic* *hic* upth. I don'th *hic* wanth *hic* *hic* to hear *hic* ith from you's *hic* *hic* *hic*.

Snape: Would you like to end this now and apologize to your house like a good little snake? [His face finally morphs into a cold grin].

Draco: [Still glaring]. I'dth *hic* ratherth eath a *hic* cockatrice *hic* *hic*.

Snape: I'm sure that could be arranged.

End notes: 'I do hope the Weasley twins are still taking pictures, Minerva. In the meantime, does anyone have a cockatrice I could borrow?'

. . .

Date: 10 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'Given that he is still refusing to leave the infirmary, I have decided to move his session there for tonight. Hopefully Mr. Higgs will have awoken by next week and this will no longer be a concern.'

'As to him wanting me as a daddy . . . the idea is beginning to grow in my mind.'

Harry: [His feet are swinging off the side of the hard chair he has been sitting in for most of the day]. Is my Terry gonnas be okays, 'fessor Snape? [His eyes are big and green as he stares hopefully up at Snape].

Snape: [Transfiguring another hard chair into a semi-plump armchair, he sits down and indicates that Harry should join him]. I would hope so, Harry. [He pulls Harry off of the arm of the chair and into his lap].

Harry: [He curls up into a tiny ball, resting his head against Snape's chest as he does so]. I coulds make betters, 'fessor Snape. [He whispers]. I can fix?

Snape: No Harry. [He lays a hand on Harry's arm]. This isn't like fixing a bite or a broken bone. Terrence is in a magical coma. What he needs now is time.

Harry: [His face droops into a mournful frown]. What ifs he's all lost-like? What if he can't finds his way backs? Terry is family. [He nods and then wipes a hasty hand under his glasses where his tears have started to form].

Snape: [He rubs a gentle hand through Harry's hair]. Then we'll help him find his way back. Terry is a snake and we don't forget our snakes.

Harry: Nevers! [His eyes are sad, but his voice is defiant].

Snape: Hermes was worried about you, Harry. Sh—He doesn't like how you're sitting here all alone. Do you think you could ask Hermes to sit with you sometime? [His voice is mild, but his eyes are intense].

Harry: I can asks! Hermes is family too. [He nods enthusiastically].

Snape: Hermes says you are his brother.

Harry: [A smile passes over his face]. For always and evers. Just likes my 'fessor Snape. Loves my Hermes. Loves my 'fessor. Yes yes yes.

Snape: [In a whisper]. I love my Harry.

Harry: [Relaxing into Snape's chest]. Forevers.

Side note: 'It is not a question, but I feel like agreeing nonetheless.'

Snape: Forever.

End notes: 'He didn't say the word, but he said the meaning. Vince is right. Perhaps it is time to start learning how to make this a reality.'

Chapter Text

Chapter 11 – Week 11

11 November, 1991 – Early morning

A FEEBLE MINDED SAVIOUR!

Internal sources have revealed a shocking truth to this reporter. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, did not achieve that status unharmed. In fact, my sources have revealed that he is little more than a feeble-minded simpleton living under the protection of the shadowed house of Slytherin . . .

Severus threw the Daily Prophet down onto his dining table, his face contorted in fury. Around him, various vials and books began rattling as his usually under control magic began to react to his barely constrained anger.

"Severus?" Hadwyn's familiar voice broke him free of his fugue and he turned towards the other man with a snarl.

"Have you seen this drivel?" He growled, throwing the paper at his friend.

Hadwyn scanned the front page quickly, his face darkening impressively as he read. "I suggest," he said a few moments later through gritted teeth, "That we talk to Dumbledore right now."

. . .

Hearing raised voices from the other side of Dumbledore's office door stopped Severus and Hadwyn in their tracks. Severus raised one long finger to his lips and then together they both leaned in to listen.

"I won't have this school pandering to the so-called needs of someone who needs to be in St. Mungos, Albus! As Lucius Malfoy pointed out just this morning, who knows how much the other children's educations are suffering as a result of him!"

Severus had heard enough. He knocked sharply on the door and then entered before Dumbledore had a chance to get a word out. Hadwyn came in behind him, hulking more like a large angry lumberjack than the mild mannered healer he normally chose to show himself as.

"Ah Severus; I thought I'd be seeing you sometime today," Dumbledore greeted him with. The older man's mouth turned up in a slight smile, even if the twinkle in his eyes was a bit dimmer than usual.

"Snape," Fudge sneered, looking coolly back at them both, although his eyes flashed suspiciously to Hadwyn more than once.

"Cornelius, this is Mr. Long, an associate of both Madame Pomfrey and Professor Snape."

Fudge gave a short nod to Hadwyn, but did not say anything.

More the better, Severus thought, purposefully letting his distaste for the man temper his expression.

"Minister Fudge believes that Mr. Potter is . . . incapable of attending school as a typical student," Dumbledore stated slowly, his eyes staring back at Severus in a purposeful manner.

"Incapable in what way?" Hadwyn's calm deep voice broke through Severus' growing rage over Fudge's visit.

"Mentally," Fudge answered, interjecting himself into the foray when Dumbledore tried to explain. "There are allegations that the boy may be unsuitable to enduring a vigorous academic environment."

Severus was quite certain that there were many students in the past—and the present—that currently fit that description, although he kept that observation to himself.

"Whose allegations are these?" Severus asked instead, his voice barely more than an icy hiss of contempt for the political rat standing so imperiously before them.

"Most noticeably, Lucius Malfoy," Fudge shot back coolly, the sheen on his forehead the only sign that Severus glower was getting to him.

"Ah, and I suppose his word was the only one, or are you bringing this subject to light alongside other less reputable claims as well?" Severus managed, his teeth not quite gritted.

"Students have written their parents complaining. I am here as an investigator," Fudge answered haughtily.

"Perhaps work better left to the aurors?" Hadwyn asked, pushing himself into the conversation with a scowl that nearly matched Severus' own.

"Yes well, one must not forget the kind of image that sort of thing would produce!"

"Unfairly bias against Harry Potter, The Boy-Who-Lived? Or maybe the Ministry is merely trying to find a new scapegoat, hm?" Severus growled, stepping forward into Fudge's personal space.

The smaller man gulped and carefully slid backwards, running his back into the front of Dumbledore's desk. "You do not dare to try and threaten a Ministry official!" he blustered back, the sheen on his forehead beginning to turn into visible droplets of sweat.

"But you are here threatening one of Severus' snakes," Dumbledore's calmly spoken accusation caught them all off guard.

Severus, for one, had not expected the headmaster to visibly side with him on anything, particularly not this matter, and particularly not to Fudge.

"His snakes," Fudge spat, clearly not impressed. "You know as well as I do that Harry Potter's parents would have demanded his resorting were they still alive. It's disreputable to have allowed the boy to be sorted into Slytherin in the first place."

Severus narrowed his eyes and was about to set into Fudge full tilt when Dumbledore's voice intervened once more.

"You will not demean any house of Hogwarts, Cornelius," Dumbledore's tone was chiding, but his face was immobile in its anger. "Either state your business, or leave."

"Fine," Fudge reddened, but then straightened his spine and turned his back on Severus and Hadwyn as though they no longer were important enough to concern him.

Severus bristled at the implied insult, but kept his mouth shut at Hadwyn's light touch to his shoulder.

"I have come here to inquire—nay, to see proof of Mr. Potter's so-called magical understanding, and then have a meeting with him afterwards to discuss the results."

"As a first year, you do understand that his magical understanding is only very rudimentary, do you not, Cornelius?" Dumbledore's brow was furrowed, even though his eyes had regained their customary twinkle.

"As the boy-who-lived, he should be at least on par with his classmates, if not exceeding far beyond them," Fudge all but snapped back.

"He is only a boy, Cornelius," Dumbledore countered, his tone revealing more than a little melancholy.

"He has not been only a boy since the fall of You-Know-Who nearly a decade ago!" Fudge very nearly screamed back.

"He will not be meeting with you alone," Severus stepped forward once more, into Fudge's sight.

"And I suppose you will want to be there with him?" Fudge laughed coldly back at him.

"I will," Severus answered with narrowed eyes, his hand itching for his wand.

"I don't see how your presence concerns him," was Fudge's cool response.

"I am the boy's head of house, and his legal guardian," Severus growled back, leaning forward in a way that he knew to be particularly intimidating. "You will have this meeting with me present, or you will not have it at all, are we understood?"

Fudge stared back up at him as though he had never truly looked at him, and then with a bitter snort, he conceded with a quick nod.

"We will be discussing this in more depth at a later time, Albus," Fudge hissed as he made his way back to the floo.

"That went well," Hadwyn remarked with a long sigh as soon as Fudge had left.

. . .

Later that day . . .

"I'm not so certain that we should have a regular session, Severus," Hadwyn said, his eyes betraying his worry for Harry.

"And what shall we do instead? Hold a tea party and work on our manners?" Severus retorted bitterly.

"Now that you mention it . . ." Hadwyn answered with a small smile to show that he was teasing. "I'm certain my mother would say that mine needed work."

"Your mother would," Severus said with a raised eyebrow. Changing tactics it seemed, he added, "Despite popular opinion, Harry is not an idiot."

"And you think I don't know that?" Hadwyn strode over to where Severus was standing and planted himself in front of his face.

"Fudge doesn't know."

"Fudge is an idiotic little twit," Hadwyn responded.

"You're going to have to do better than that to cheer me up," Severus answered morosely, finally taking a seat on the sofa that Harry would soon be curled up on.

With a sigh, Hadwyn sat down beside him, his eyes narrowed as he stared off into nothing, a speculative expression on his face.

"Who's going to judge Harry's skills?" He finally asked.

Severus leaned his head back on the cushion behind him and closed his eyes, trying to recall what Dumbledore had said to him earlier in private.

"His current teachers are going to be present, but there will also be various 'qualified employees' from the Ministry present."

"Wonderful," a sarcastic sounding Hadwyn answered with. "Hopefully no one will be there that Harry has an instant disliking to."

Just then, there was a knock on the door and moments later, Harry came bounding into the room.

"Hi 'fessor Snape," was Harry's unusually calm declaration.

Severus felt his lap invaded then by his ward, and he opened his eyes to find bright green ones staring intently back at him.

"You's sad," Harry whispered, reaching up and touching his fingers to the side of Severus' stubbled cheek.

"Tired," Severus tried to dissuade him.

But Harry was having none of it. He shook his head in disagreement and wrapped thin arms around Severus' neck. "Sad."

. . .

11 November, 1991
Healer: Hadwyn Long
Student: Harry Potter
Accompanying Guardian: Severus Snape

Hadwyn: I feel I should tell you both that I'm starting the recording quill now.

Harry: [He nods, not taking his attentions away from Severus].

Severus: [He nods as well].

Hadwyn: Why do you think Severus is sad, Harry?

Harry: [His lower lip protrudes slightly]. Looks, feels, smells. [He nods].

Hadwyn: That's a very concise description, Harry. What do you do when someone is sad?

Severus: [He raises an eyebrow, looking at Hadwyn and then back at Harry].

Harry: [He visibly thinks for a moment]. Hugs. And kisses. [He smiles happily]. And sometimes candy, but my 'fessor doesn't like candy, I don't thinks.

Hadwyn: Who taught you about what to do when someone is sad? [At Harry's blank look, he tries again]. Where did you learn that you should give hugs and kisses to sad people?

Harry: [He pauses and then turns back to Severus, almost apologetically]. Auntie would gives Dudley hugs and loves when he was hurt or sads. Dids I do bad? [His wide green eyes are worried as he stares intently back at Severus].

Severus: [Brushing his lips over the top of Harry's long, soft head of hair]. No, you did very well, Harry. Did your aunt ever give you love like that?

Harry: [He shakes his head "no"]. Only good little boys get loves.

Severus: [His face is abruptly unreadable].

Hadwyn: And are you not a 'good little boy,' Harry?

Harry: [He shakes his head again]. Good little boys have daddies and mummies that want thems and give them rooms and homes and says they're theirs.

Side note: 'A surprisingly intuitive response.'

Severus: [He frowns and tightens his arms around Harry]. You have a room here, Harry. [His voice is surprisingly rough].

Harry: It's the nicest. [He nods, looking up at Severus with a smile].

Severus: [His forehead furrows]. I believe I've already said you were mine, Harry.

Harry: And you's mine! [He nods energetically, clapping his hands lightly].

Severus: I think you're a very good boy. [He says in a whisper].

Harry: You're the bestest nicest goodest 'fessor evers. [He hugs Severus quickly].

Severus: [He looks strained]. I might as well do this in front of witnesses. [He says in a low mutter]. Harry, I need your honesty. Can you do that for me?

Harry: [His eyes are very wide and nearly shining]. Oh! I can do anything for my 'fessor. I cans!

Severus: Harry . . . I want you as my son; I want to be your father.

End notes: 'I feel that this conversation has gone into the more personal range now, and therefore will be ending the quill's dictation.'

. . .

November 12th – Early morning – Greenhouses
Those present include: Professor Sprout, Harry Potter, Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt

"Kingsley, I do hope you're taking notes," Professor Sprout said sternly.

"Yes, ma'am," he answered lightly, dropping a wink at the small boy standing partially behind her.

"I knows what that was!" He thought he heard Potter exclaim, and he smiled gently at the child.

He had heard stories about the boy, but until meeting him a few minutes earlier, he had not truly believed any of them. Now however, he was willing to make his own opinions, Fudge and his cronies be damned.

"Mr. Potter—Harry, please tell Mister Shacklebolt about some of the plants that we have learned about thus far this year," Sprout instructed, eyeing Kingsley closely as Harry stepped closer.

"You's not a p'fessor?" Harry craned his head up to see Shacklebolt, his green eyes wide.

"No, I am not," he stated simply, crouching down to Harry's level.

"Am I a p'fessor now?" Was Harry's next question, his voice wondering.

"In a way, yes," he smiled. "But only for the week."

Harry shrugged idly and then grinned. "'Kays. I can do thats." The boy reached out one small hand and latched it around a few of Kingsley's fingers. "Come this ways," Harry said, nodding happily as he led the man over to the nearest row of plants.

Kingsley quickly made his way to his feet, and found himself standing beside what looked like a set of muggle Venus fly traps.

"Can't put your fingers inside their mouths, nope nope nope," Harry said, shaking his head in the negative. "But, you cans scratch under their chins, here," the boy added, gesturing with his free hand to a spot that Kingsley thought could loosely be considered a "chin."

"They likes that," Harry nodded, looking back at him briefly.

"And why should you do that?"

Harry blinked up at Kingsley as though he had asked a preposterous question. "Well, 'cause it makes them happy."

"Why is it important that they're happy?" Kingsley tried again.

Harry tilted his head to the side and thought for a moment. "If they happy, then they grows."

"And?"

"And they sheds the leaves, and my 'fessor can uses them for his potions that make people's tummies better," Harry said at last, nodding several times back at him.

Kingsley only had one question. "Who's your 'fessor?"

He felt, more than saw the smile that crossed over Professor Sprout's face at his inquiry.

"Oh, my 'fessor Snape! He's the bestest, goodest, nicest p'fessor ever," Harry answered brightly, smiling hugely up at him.

"Is he?" Kingsley asked mildly, exchanging a glance with Professor Sprout.

"Oh! He is, he is," Harry nodded, automatically taking Kingsley's hand as they started walking back towards the castle. "He's my head of house, ands he's my 'fessor, and he's my friend, and he says that I'm a good little boy and dat I never has to go back to my aunt and uncle, 'cause Slytherins are a family and we take cares of our owns," Harry chattered on in a similar vein until he had deposited Kingsley back at Professor Sprout's office and then trotted on his way.

"Well?" Pomona finally asked him after they were sure they were alone.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's passed this part," Kingsley said with a grin. "I just hope that Severus isn't going to kill him before the end of the school year."

At his words, Pomona smiled. "Oh, I don't think there's any danger of that."

. . .

Date: 12 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: Why were you with that man and Harry this morning?

Sprout: A large black man?

Morag: Yes, him. [She suddenly looks pensive]. Harry's not in trouble, is he?

Sprout: [She hesitates briefly]. I hope not.

As for your original question, the man is an auror from the Ministry. Minister Fudge has decided to submit Harry to academic testing to ensure that he is capable of learning.

Morag: [She frowns and turns away before finally asking]. It's a bit odd though, don't you think?

Sprout: What is, dear?

Morag: Well, not having been raised in the wizarding world myself, I only know what I've picked up in the past few months, but it seems that Harry Potter gets the short end of the stick more often than not.

Sprout: [She sighs]. Yes, it does seem like that, doesn't it.

Morag: I think they should just leave him alone and let him go to school like the rest of us.

Sprout: As much as I'd like to agree with you, I'm sorry to say that it just isn't possible. Harry's important to our world, and as a result, it's made him a bit of a target.

Morag: He's just a kid. [She says with a stubborn look].

Sprout: [Smiling slightly]. You are all children.

Morag: [She shakes her head in the negative]. He's the smallest in our class by far. He's really innocent and almost like a little kid, not an eleven year old. Something happened to him, didn't it? Something bad?

Sprout: [She hesitates longer this time].

Morag: Just because he's some great saviour of the wizarding world, it doesn't mean that he doesn't need to be taken care of. [She crosses her arms and frowns].

Sprout: I do agree with you, dear. There is simply nothing that can be done at present.

Morag: [Shaking her head]. When my sister and I were in school together, my mum never just sat by and let stuff happen to us. She'd call up the school and complain, and if that didn't work, she'd go over their heads. Do you think . . . do you think she could contact the ministry and do the same thing, but for Harry?

Sprout: [A smile creeps slowly onto her face as she considers the idea]. There certainly would be no harm in trying.

Morag: [She relaxes]. I'm owling my mum tonight then. I think she'll like having a way to be involved in my life now.

End notes: 'I think she's right. It is also suddenly more apparent why the Sorting Hat placed her in Hufflepuff. She's hardworking, yes, but loyal as well, and not only to her housemates. It's interesting how these sorts of things can be revealed in times of stress/persecution.'

. . .

Date: 12 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: [She smiles shyly]. I looked up the all-girls Quidditch team that you were telling me about last week.

Sprout: [With a smile]. And?

Hannah: They were Slytherins!

Sprout: So they were. Does that bother you?

Hannah: [She hesitates]. Not really. I think it's rather nice, actually.

Sprout: In what way?

Hannah: It shows . . . it shows that Slytherin girls are just as tough as the boys, and maybe sometimes tougher.

Sprout: [Smiling broadly]. It's not just the Slytherin girls that are tough, Ms. Abbott.

Hannah: [She ducks her head and looks at her nails for a moment]. My mum has never really said it, but I've always got the idea that she thinks girls are supposed to be gentler, or nicer or something than boys. I like . . .

Sprout: What do you like, dear?

Hannah: [She blushes slightly]. I like the idea that girls can be strong and loud and . . . oh, I don't know, annoying! [She laughs nervously].

Sprout: [Laughing with her]. Yes we can. And if anyone should ever give you grief for this idea, I encourage you to refer them to me.

Hannah: All right. [She nods seriously, although her smile is present].

End notes: 'I think it might be advantageous to contact a few Hogwarts alumni and see if they would be willing to speak to the girls in my house. Actually, now that I think of it, I think that the entire group could benefit from such a discussion.'

. . .

Date: 12 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin: Is it true what I've been hearing about Harry Potter?

Sprout: And what is it that you've been hearing, Mr. Finch-Fletchley?

Justin: That the Ministry has decided to test him to see if he's ready for school; that is, academically speaking?

Sprout: [With a sigh]. More or less, yes.

Justin: Good.

Sprout: [She raises her eyebrows]. Pardon?

Justin: I think it's a good idea. If we were in a typical muggle school, that would have already been done, and he wouldn't be here. He'd be somewhere else where his needs can be better met.

Sprout: What sort of "somewhere else" do you mean?

Justin: [He shrugs]. A different school. Or at least extra help in his classes. Something.

Sprout: As it happens, the minister has proposed sending Harry to St. Mungo's.

Justin: [He purses his lips for a moment]. I suppose that with the magical world's almost medieval attitude, that's likely the best option he can offer.

Sprout: If he were to go there, he would be treated more like an invalid than like the child he is.

Justin: But they would help him, wouldn't they? Or at least attempt to, instead of ignoring him.

Sprout: [Turning pink]. We do not ignore Mr. Potter here.

Justin: No. [He smiles coldly]. We just pretend that he can learn the same way as everyone else, without taking into account the idea that perhaps he can't learn at all. Face it, professor. If Harry Potter were anyone else, he would have already been declared broken and sent on his way.

Sprout: I disagree. And even in your muggle world, I don't think they refer to children as "broken."

End notes: 'I'm not sure which has made me angrier; the idea that Harry is broken or that we are not doing anything to help him.'

. . .

November 13th – Mid-morning – Charms classroom
Those present include: Professor Flitwick, Harry Potter, Auror Alastor Moody

"Whys you gots a wood leg?" Harry asked Moody shortly after being introduced to the gnarled older man.

Beside him, he dimly registered the sound of a quickly drawn in gasp, but he paid it no mind. Mr. Moody was still staring at him, and he didn't want to accidentally miss the man's response.

"Blasted off by an unhappy dragon," Moody answered with a growl a moment later.

Harry's eyebrows shot up at his answer.

"Did it hurt lots?" Was Harry's honest reaction as he stared back at Moody, nearly unblinking.

"More'n I can tell yeh about here lad," Moody said, eyeing Flitwick carefully.

"Harry," Flitwick squeaked, forcefully choosing to change the the subject before it got even more uncomfortable. "Why don't you show Moody some of the charms you've learned so far this term?"

His eyes still overly wide, Harry nodded and pulled out his wand. Turning to a pile of books, his brows went down and a little pink tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth in an obvious show of concentration.

He pointed his wand at the pile of books and flicked it upwards. Obediently, the books rose into the air at his silent command, rising almost to the ceiling before floating gracefully back down.

"Harry," Flitwick asked, his eyes now almost as wide as Harry's had been earlier. "Why didn't you say the words like we've been practicing?"

Harry shrugged and looked back towards the two men staring at him. "I dunno. Didn't needs it, I think. 'Sides! It worked betters without," he nodded, smiling at long last.

"Can't deny that," was Moody's gruff response. "Can yeh do any other charms yet? They don't have ta be quiet."

Quickly Harry showed that he had also learned a heating charm, and also one that instantly tied his shoelaces. The first he did with the words, but the second was silent once more.

"Where did you learn that charm, Harry?" Flitwick asked, looking at him curiously.

"My 'fessor taught me!" Harry said proudly, smiling happily. "Auntie never helped me wit' thems, so my 'fessor showed me a real fast way. He saids that I cans do it almost faster'n him now!"

Moody merely raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything to Harry's declaration. Kingsley had told him about who Harry's "'fessor" was, and had also issued him a warning not to demean the man within Harry's hearing.

After seeing Harry successfully perform silent magic, he privately agreed with Kingsley's warning. The boy was unusual to be sure, but not incapable of learning; no matter how much the minister might try to fool them into thinking so.

. . .

Date: 13 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: It doesn't happen very often, you know.

Flitwick: What doesn't?

Lisa: Abuse of children in the wizarding world. [Her arms are crossed and her chin juts forward in an interesting mix of anger and stubbornness].

Flitwick: Ah. [He leans back, putting his hands palm down on his legs]. It also isn't reported very often either, considering the social stigma that is associated with such a thing.

Lisa: Well, it shouldn't happen at all.

Flitwick: There I will agree with you wholeheartedly, child. Do you understand yet why wizarding abusers can get away with more than their muggle counterparts?

Lisa: Because they're more careful?

Flitwick: [He sighs]. In a way. Magic also allows for invisible injuries. And since the abusers themselves are not likely to turn themselves in, it falls to the rest of us to determine those various . . . mysteries.

Lisa: [She frowns]. And the abused don't turn their abusers in, because . . . ?

Flitwick: Would you? If it were your father or mother? Do you understand what it is to be abused? What if you had no other experiences to compare to?

Lisa: [She continues to frown back at Flitwick and then abruptly she turns away]. I think I need some more time to think about this.

Flitwick: As you will, child.

End notes: 'Not encouraging, but better than last week.'

. . .

Date: 13 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Sabrina: Professor Flitwick?

Flitwick: Yes child?

Sabrina: Do you keep up with the news from outside of Hogwarts, even outside of the wizarding world?

Flitwick: Not as much as I should perhaps. Why?

Sabrina: Well . . . [suddenly speaking in a rush] . . . I don't know if you heard about this, but there was a shooting in an American university a week or so ago where one of the students killed some professors.

Flitwick: [His eyebrows are raised almost comically high]. How old was the student? [He manages after a moment of shocked silence].

Sabrina: My grandmother says he was an adult, something like a master's student? I'm not really sure what that is, but . . . I guess it still made me think a bit, you know?

Flitwick: About what, precisely? [His voice is noticeably softer].

Sabrina: I guess . . . well, I know that they say that muggle electronics won't work around Hogwarts, but what about their weapons? What about, you know, what about guns? [She asks the last question in a near whisper].

Flitwick: The wards surrounding Hogwarts should recognize a gun as being a potentially harmful object, and thus cause the castle to confiscate such an item before ever allowing it to enter its walls.

Sabrina: [She bites her lip]. What if the wards were down? Is there—are there ways to fight, or I guess really, are there ways to defend against guns? I mean, in a magical sense, that is . . . [She trails off].

Flitwick: There are a number of magical shields that can deflect or halt a projectile object's trajectory. Of course, you are a bit young to learn such things now, but rest assured that they will be addressed later.

Sabrina: If . . . If I can be killed by something like a gun, then why am I too young to learn how to fight against one? [She is blushing a bit by the time she finishes her question].

Flitwick: Child . . . [he looks unhappy]. It is not because I think you are incapable of learning how to work such defensive magic; rather, the problem is that at this age, you simply lack the magical power needed to effectively wield such a thing.

Now, if you ever are confronted with such a dangerous piece of muggle technology . . . [here, his eyes become rather hard] . . . I suggest you keep low and try to escape as soon as possible. It goes without saying that you should contact an adult as well, when you have a chance that is.

Sabrina: [Wide-eyed, she nods her understanding].

End notes: 'Oh what a world we continue to live in!'

. . .

Date: 13 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: It occurred to me after you left last week that I might have accidentally mislead you.

Michael: Sir? [He raises an eyebrow in confusion].

Flitwick: When I stated that trolls were no more than dangerous creatures, I meant that it was the Ministry that classifies them as such.

Michael: So . . . [he licks his lips], you don't think they're just dangerous creatures?

Flitwick: I believe that for the most part, if we as wizards leave the so-called "dangerous creatures" alone, then they will largely leave us alone in turn. I do believe that most trolls are dangerous, but I also think that these situations must be taken case by case.

A man can be a dangerous creature too, don't you think, Mr. Corner?

Michael: [He blinks in thought for a moment]. Uh yes sir. But what about vampires and hags and werewolves, sir?

Flitwick: The majority of the time, a werewolf is merely a man. And if he chooses to lock himself up at night during the rest of that time, then it would seem that he is clearly trying to make a concerted effort not to harm other people.

Why then . . . [Flitwick leans back and crosses his legs], is a man who wields a wand in a dangerous way, say against muggles? Why is he still a man and not labelled a "dangerous creature" as well?

Michael: [His brow furrows and he looks down at his hands]. I don't know sir.

Flitwick: [With a sigh]. I don't understand it either, Mr. Corner. And that would be the problem with being an adult.

Michael: Sir?

Flitwick: Unlike in school, especially at this stage of your education, there are no definite right or wrong answers. We can say that murder is wrong, but then are almost always mitigating circumstances.

Michael: I guess . . . well I mean . . .

Flitwick: Yes child?

Michael: It's sorta like discipline here, don't you think?

Flitwick: In that . . .?

Michael: Well, like fighting in the hallways isn't allowed, but if you get attacked from behind or someone pulls their wand on you and there're no teachers around, then you pretty much have to fight back, you know?

Flitwick: I do know. [He gives a slight smile].

Michael: But still, I guess vampires usually don't have a lot of choice either, huh? I suppose they do some, but it'd be sort of hard to go up to a random stranger and say, "Hey, mind if I drink your blood?" [He laughs, but then suddenly falls silent]. Does the ministry really care if vampires drink from muggles?

Flitwick: They say that they do, however I'm not sure they can ever really keep a close eye on such goings on.

Michael: I think—I think I'm going to need to do some more reading on this stuff.

Flitwick: Until next week, Mr. Corner. [He nods].

End notes: 'I feel as though I have just handed him an apple from the forbidden tree of knowledge. I can only hope that he chooses more wisely than the characters in that story did.'

. . .

November 14th – During lunch – Transfiguration Classroom
Those present include: Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter, Madame Amelia Bones

"Now Minerva, according to Professor Quirrell, that's the man's name, yes? According to him, at this stage in DADA, everything is merely theory. My niece Susan confirms this, and so I managed to convince Minister Fudge that there was no reason to evaluate Mr. Potter's skills in that field," Madame Bones said, keeping one eye on the older woman in front of her. The other half of her attention was on the small boy hiding partially behind McGonagall.

"That's a relief at least," Minerva answered with a stiff nod. "Now what do you say we get on with this before we miss lunch, hm?" She asked, changing her usually stern countenance with a smile.

"Too true," Amelia replied with a kind smile of her own. "All right there, Mr. Potter?"

"Yes'm," the boy behind McGonagall said in a low voice.

"He can be a bit shy around strangers," Minerva said quietly, shooting her a significant glance.

"Well Mr. Potter," Amelia said, crouching gracefully so they were on nearly the same level. "Did you know that Susan Bones is my niece? She's in some of your classes, is she not?"

This seemed to encourage him a bit, as she had hoped, and she watched as the boy took a few careful steps away from Minerva.

"She's in my Defence class," Harry offered quietly. "She is, she is," he added with a nod.

"Susan, you mean?" Amelia answered softly, reaching out her hand in what she hoped would be interpreted as welcoming.

"Uh huhs," Harry nodded more vigorously, stepping a little closer to her. "You smells real nice."

"Mr. Potter!" Minerva chided from above them, but Amelia merely laughed softly.

"And what do I smell like, Mr. Potter? Or is it Harry?"

"My 'fessor calls me 'Harry,'" Harry offered, coming in close enough to bump shoulders with her. "You smells like lemon and flowers and nutmegs. You do, you do."

"Good flowers, I would hope?" Amelia asked.

"Uh huhs. Honeysuckles and nice ones like thats. Miss Bones, I has a question," Harry said, ducking his head shyly, and twisting his fingers behind his back nervously.

"What question would that be, child?" Amelia asked kindly.

"Can I gives you just the teensiest of tiniests of hugs?"

Although caught off guard, she agreed and soon the boy clasped his arms—which she noted to be too thin—around her neck, while she very carefully hugged him back.

"Thank you for the hug, Mr. Harry," she whispered in his ear just as he was releasing her neck.

"I think I likes you," he confided to her very softly and then pulled away to stand by McGonagall's side.

She was smiling broadly by the time she stood up again.

"Well Mr. Harry," she said, changing her voice to a more businesslike tone. "May I see you transfigure something?"

Minerva provided them with a few different objects ranging from the typical matchsticks and bolts, to a few more unusual items like a muggle toothbrush and a duck carved out of wood.

"Mr. Potter has shown a talent in transfiguration, but it has a tendency to be somewhat mercurial and finicky about what objects will change for him. Thus, at least for these early days, I have decided to provide him with less common items than what I give the rest of his class," Minerva explained as Harry went through the objects carefully.

"And why is that, do you think?" Amelia asked curiously.

"I believe," Minerva stated slowly, "that it is because he does not make the same connections between items as the rest of us tend to do. He is quite powerful though, as I'm sure he'll demonstrate shortly enough."

"Kays, I ready," Harry announced, holding up the small wooden duck that he had chosen.

"Professor McGonagall informs me that she has been working with your class to transfigure various parts of the traditional tea set. Do you think you could transfigure that duck into something like a teacup or even a teapot?" Amelia asked.

"Uh huhs, I cans do thats," Harry nodded, putting the duck down carefully and pulling out his wand.

Ten minutes later, the duck figurine had taken on the rudimentary appearance of a teapot, and at twenty minutes, it had taken on a yellow sheen and no longer resembled the duck at all. After Harry declared himself finished, Amelia looked inside the teapot, and discovered it to be hollow inside just as it was supposed to be.

"P'fessor McGonagall," Harry said, touching his hand to her sleeve in a way that she seemed to be used to. "I gotsta go eat lunch now. My 'fessor says I gotsta eat every day, more'n twice, and I'll gets in troubles if he don't see me theres. Kays?"

"Madame Bones, is it acceptable if he leaves?" Minerva replied, turning to Amelia with a questioning look.

"Certainly Mr. Harry. It was a pleasure to meet you," Amelia called out as the boy ran out the door.

. . .

Date: 14 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Are you quite all right, Mr. Weasley?

Ron: [Shifting in his chair with a barely concealed wince]. Granger is teaching me, ma'am.

McGonagall: [A smile flits briefly across her lips]. Ah. And is she working you as hard as she can?

Ron: [He hesitates].

McGonagall: What is it, Mr. Weasley?

Ron: [He rubs a hand through his hair]. This is gonna sound odd, I think, but I'm not real sure that Granger is a she.

McGonagall: I assure you that she is, Mr. Weasley.

Ron: Well, I know she—Granger sleeps in the girls' dorms and all, 'cause she mentioned that Bulstrode was her roommate, but like, I don't think she really is a girl. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?

McGonagall: Not really. [She frowns]. Could you try explaining what you mean about Ms. Granger not really being a girl?

Ron: Like, she's almost more like a boy in a girl's body. [He frowns, slumping in his seat for a moment as he thinks]. Is that possible?

McGonagall: [Sighing]. There are various curses that can cause such an effect, but I doubt that Ms. Granger has been exposed to any of them, especially considering her background. No, likely what is happening here is that for whatever reason, she wishes she could be male.

Ron: I've never . . . [he shakes his head in the negative]. I've never heard of that happening before.

McGonagall: [She gives him a small grim smile]. You are young, Mr. Weasley. And it isn't very common, particularly in the wizarding world. On the other hand, considering the ambiguity between male and female wizarding clothing styles, sometimes it is not as obvious as in the muggle world. If I thought you would do it, I would suggest doing some research into this topic.

Ron: [He frowns]. I guess I could ask my mum, but I think I'd have to make sure she understands that I'm not talking about myself.

McGonagall: [She gives a small snort of laughter]. Oh Mr. Weasley, I doubt your mother will be concerned over that.

End notes: 'Unlike Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley is most certainly a male. And honestly, the idea of him trying to learn about being a girl is quite laughable.'

. . .

Date: 14 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: I hope that whatever inappropriate mood you were in last week has now passed on. [She says, levelling a stern look at him].

Neville: You should try being around Finnigan more often, ma'am. He's like that all the time. I suppose I just, I dunno. I suppose just being around him some rubbed off on me.

McGonagall: I might suggest that in the future, you keep your conversations limited to topics that you would discuss with your Gran.

Neville: [He shudders]. I don't think that's a good idea, ma'am.

McGonagall: [She raises an eyebrow]. Why is that?

Neville: Well, then I'd never talk to you about anything. [He says with a glum expression].

McGonagall: Surely you are exaggerating?

Neville: [He gives a bitter snort].

McGonagall: Mr. Longbottom? [Her face softens out of concern for him].

Neville: She . . . doesn't like me.

McGonagall: Are you certain you're not misinterpreting her stern behaviour?

Neville: You're stern, ma'am. I've seen her . . . you know, with p-people she likes. And then I see her with me. It's . . . [he shakes his head in the negative]. It's not the same.

Side note: 'Oh child.'

McGonagall: She was very proud of your father.

Neville: Who I am not. [He scowls].

McGonagall: [She raises her eyebrows in surprise]. I'm sorry that I didn't understand, Mr. Longbottom. It's difficult to grow up and constantly be compared to someone else, is it not?

Neville: [He swallows hard, but manages to quickly nod in agreement].

McGonagall: Perhaps we can find ways for you to shine out to your Grandmother in your own way.

Neville: I'd—I'd like that. [He manages very softly].

End notes: 'Damn the Death Eaters and their leader to hell and back.'

. . .

Date: 14 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

Parvati: Is it normal to have aurors wandering around the school?

McGonagall: [With a sigh]. No, it is not.

Parvati: Why are they here then? Are we in trouble? I haven't read anything in the paper about it.

Side note: 'You mean, your sister hasn't read anything about it.'

McGonagall: They are merely here as representatives of the Ministry. It could be anyone, but I suspect they were chosen because their schedules are looser than some of the other Ministry employees.

Parvati: Oh. But you never said why they're here.

Side note: 'Damn, I was hoping she'd forget.'

McGonagall: They are here to provide an external, independent opinion for one of the students.

Parvati: [Frowning in thought]. Like a 7th year? Or someone taking their O.W.L.s this year?

McGonagall: Younger, but that's the right sort of idea.

Parvati: Huh. I guess I'll learn more about it later then.

McGonagall: It is likely.

End notes: 'Especially if you pull your head out of the sand trap it's been wedged in for the past few months.'

. . .

November 15th – Early morning – Potions Classroom
Those present include: Professor Snape, Harry Potter, Arthur Weasley

"Last I checked, you are not an auror," Snape stated with a sneer that was somehow less biting than usual.

"Fudge thought I owed him a favour," Arthur said with a low chuckle. "I think it also had something to do with whom he thought would be able to survive a morning with you."

Raising an eyebrow, Severus remarked, "Indeed. And what are you going to require Harry to brew this morning?"

If Arthur Weasley was surprised to hear Snape refer to the Boy-Who-Lived by his given name, he hid it very well.

"Hello, Mr. Potter. May I call you Harry?" He asked, noticing the less than hospitable snarl that came from Severus' mouth at his question.

Harry was hidden slightly beside Severus, his hand holding onto the potion master's own with a white knuckled grip of fear.

"Cans you calls me Mr. Harry like Miss Amelia dids?" Was his barely audible response.

"Mr. Harry then, if that's acceptable Severus?" Arthur asked lightly.

"Just get on with it, Arthur. Some of us have work to do this morning," was Severus' testy answer.

"As you wish," Arthur smiled down at Harry and tried to ignore Severus' looming presence. It was easier to remain calm if he kept his thoughts on how protective the man seemed towards the young boy at his side.

"Mr. Harry, I would like to see you make the basic version of the burn healing paste. Do you think you can do that?"

Harry nodded beside Severus and then abruptly released the man's hand and darted over to the ingredients' cabinet. "I cans do that, yup yup yup," Arthur heard him muttering softly as he began setting up his potions' station.

"I'm glad you've managed to put aside your enmity for his father so easily, Severus," Arthur said quietly after Harry was fully submerged in the motions of the task before him.

"Harry is one of my snakes and deserves to be treated as such," was Severus' clipped answer.

Arthur was about to say something else, but a hostile glare from Severus shut his mouth. "Let the boy work in peace, Arthur."

Considering what he knew about the man's teaching style, he found Severus' request to be more than a bit amusing, but wisely managed to keep his humour to himself.

Despite his understanding of potion making, Arthur had always found the process to be more boring than intriguing. He expected this experience to be nothing more than the usual, but Harry surprised him.

The boy was calm and methodical; his actions a severe contrast to his speech, and it made Arthur wonder even more about him. Of course, Ron had written to him about having classes with Harry Potter, but he was finding that the actual experience was truly stranger than his son's descriptions had been.

Surely Severus must know the truth behind this situation, he thought to himself, glancing back and forth between Harry and his professor more than a few times. He resolved to ask him at a later date.

Less than forty minutes had passed when suddenly Harry turned to them—Severus more than him, Arthur noted with some interest—and announced that he was "all dones."

He spoke with Severus as Harry was cleaning up his station, still trying to keep an eye on them both. It was more difficult than it should have been; Severus tended to blend into the shadows without truly trying, and Harry's motions were quick and darting, yet almost completely silent.

"I'll inform the minister of Harry's outstanding work here today," Arthur told him, as much for Severus' hearing as Harry's.

"The minister," Severus spat back distastefully, "informed me initially that he wished to speak with Harry himself, as well. Do you know anything of his plans regarding this?" Severus' expression very plainly told Arthur that he wasn't expecting the man to know of anything, let alone know what he was talking about.

Therefore, Arthur was somewhat relieved that Fudge had already spoken to him about it, and he quickly passed on the man's message. "You'll likely receive an owl later today, but Fudge has decided to postpone the meeting until next week, after he has had a chance to review our reports."

"Hmph," was all that Severus said; his foul expression making it clear exactly what he thought about Fudge's machinations.

"Yes well, I didn't say I believed him," Arthur added with a small smile.

. . .

Date: 17 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 14 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'Vince is not his father. He is not Draco Malfoy. He is not Harry Potter. Somewhere in the myriad of shifting values that he is required to have for each of the people around him, Vince can be found, but it bothers me that I have not managed to that enough yet.'

Snape: Thank you for returning this week.

Vince: [With a blush]. I apologize for running out last week. Thank you for having me back this week.

Snape: You are welcome. I would not have refused you entrance here, Vince. [He smiles gently].

Vince: Yeah. [He ducks his head in an unusually shy way].

Snape: May I ask you a personal question, Vince? [His voice is soft].

Vince: [He squirms uncomfortably]. I suppose . . .

Side note: 'I hope that I can manage to ask the right question.'

Snape: Why do you not like your father?

Vince: [He gasps softly at the question].

Snape: I might remind you that this will not get back to your father, understand.

Side note: 'And it will not, lest you (Minerva, Filius, Pomona and Albus) feel like finding out what I'm like when PROVOKED.'

Vince: [He slowly wraps his arms around himself]. My da . . . he's not like you. [Vince said in a near whisper as he stared at the floor just in front of Snape's shoes].

Snape: How is that Vince? [He asked softly, trying to keep his voice relaxed].

Vince: [He shrugs].

Snape: Vince? How is he different than me?

Vince: Got bigger hands. [He mumbled].

Snape: Is that all?

Vince: [Shaking his head "no"]. He doesn't listen, sir. Not to me or my mum. My sister, she graduated Hogwarts and never came back.

Snape: [He is very calm]. I remember your sister. She was a kind person.

Vince: [He nods hurriedly and sucks in a lungful of air]. My da doesn't like me, I don't think. [He manages in a whisper]. Can I go now? [He looks as though he's about to bolt from the room, permission or not].

Snape: You may. [He says softly].

End notes: 'Well, that was something at least.'

. . .

Date: 17 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 16 November, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'I am trying to endeavour not to be surprised by the child.'

Snape: And how has your week progressed?

Granger: [S/He narrows hir eyes]. I can't see why I would have mattered to you at all this week.

Snape: What do you mean? [He raises an eyebrow].

Granger: [Giving an exasperated sigh]. Harry. Why should the Ministry of Magic give a damn—well, I understand why, but how can they get away with it, politically speaking, if they aren't going to give a damn about any of the other students with similar problems?

Side note: 'Very shrewd reasoning, especially for someone so young, but as I mentioned, I'm trying to keep an open mind.'

Snape: I don't believe that Minister Fudge is very adept at thinking long term.

Granger: [S/He gives a derisive snort]. Clearly. Would you like to know what I think? [Asked slyly].

Side note: 'Comments like this put me on edge.'

Snape: [He purses his lips]. What do you think, Mr. Granger?

Granger: [S/He blushes with a small smile]. I think that adults are really no more than children. I think that adults just bigger and older, but not really any wiser than teenagers.

Snape: [He smirks]. I can see why you might think this. However, I for one can attest that my older self is more mature than my younger self ever considered.

Granger: [S/He appears thoughtful]. Maybe it's just certain people who get mature as they grow older?

Snape: What sorts of people?

Granger: [Hir brow furrows]. People who know what the world is like, maybe.

Snape: Ones who are aware of its dangers, perhaps?

Granger: [S/He nods seriously]. Ones with experience. [S/He adds softly a moment later].

Snape: And would you say that you are one of those experienced in the ways of the world?

Granger: [S/He closes hir eyes briefly]. What do you think?

Snape: I think you are. [He says quietly].

Granger: [S/He gives a bitter snort]. And as always, you must be right . . . if only because you are, I suppose.

End notes: 'And she left shortly after that. This is confirmation that I am right to worry, but nothing has yet been confirmed as to what it is I should be definitely worrying about.'

. . .

Date: 17 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: 15 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'I ended the hexes that he was submitted to last week in the vain hope that he might think to thank me . . . now I wonder what it would be like if he were to be shunned. Or maybe it would be helpful if I could convince someone to be his mentor. Unfortunately, the only ones who might agree easily enough are the students whom he'd be better off staying away from. It is a quandary, to be sure.'

Snape: Have you learned anything of consequence this week?

Draco: [He is sullen]. In what way?

Snape: Academically, socially . . . what have you.

Draco: [He sneers]. Oh I assure you, I have learned many things.

Side note: 'If he were older or more powerful, I might be frightened of this statement. As it is, I'm afraid I see it as no more than a sign of his continuing petulance.'

Snape: And they would be?

Draco: Hm, let's see. The supposed loyalty which you have given my father over the years does not apparently extend to me, for one.

Snape: I have tried to help you repeatedly this school year, but you have ignored me each and every time.

Draco: [He continues talking as though Snape did not speak]. Two, the supposed family unity of which my father mentioned to me in regards to the house of Slytherin does not extend to those whom its head of house does not like.

Snape: Another falsehood. [He scowls].

Side note: 'There are plenty whom I dislike. You are special only in that you are not special.'

Draco: Oh and let us not forget! Your ridiculous devotion to the imbecilic Potter. [He sucks in a deep breath]. I am sure the loyal elite would be interested in learning of your denial to their staunchly held principles.

Side note: 'If I am to become Harry's father, I do not see myself trying to continue relationships with the so-called loyal elite anyway.'

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. Let me see here, Draco. [He says in a deep purring voice]. You would think to betray your head of house to the parents of most of your housemates? Is that what you are saying?

Draco: You are the betrayer. [He tries to sneer, but it comes off as more of a pout].

Side note: 'Just because you are too stupid to see the machinations of those around you . . .'

Snape: [He smiles abruptly]. I grow weary of your unending words, Draco. If you have something new to say, then by all means, please say it.

Draco: [Scowling]. You'll be sorry for this, Severus.

End notes: 'No, I rather think I won't.'

. . .

Date: 17 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws. His Aunt's family is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'Unlike MISTER Granger, I enjoy being surprised by this child. As for Mr. Higgs, although he has not recovered yet, he has also not worsened either. And as a result, I have convinced Harry that he doesn't have to spend every waking moment next to his housemate's bed.'

Snape: [Back in his quarters]. Hello Harry. [He smiles and pats the cushion next to him].

Harry: [He bounces in and clambers up onto the sofa beside Snape]. I didn't say nothin' to nobody about what you asked on Monday! I kept it to myselfs just like you asked! Did I do goods?

Snape: You did very well. [He puts an arm around Harry's shoulders]. And Professors Sprout, McGonagall and Flitwick informed me that you made them very proud this week as well.

Harry: [Abruptly wide eyed]. Me? Prouds? Of me?

Snape: You showed the Ministry that you are quite capable of learning magic.

Harry: [He leans into Snape's side comfortably]. 'Cause I'm not stupids, right?

Snape: Right. [He squeezed Harry's shoulder gently]. I wouldn't ask just anyone to be my son.

Harry: [He suddenly blushes and ducks his head].

Snape: What's wrong? [There is a faint smile on his face].

Harry: Cans—Cans you say that again? That thing thats I might gets to be? P'ease?

Snape: My son? [He asks in a near whisper].

Harry: [He suddenly bursts into giggles]. Say again, please! [He nearly squeals, flapping his fingers back and forth].

Snape: Harry Harry, my son, my son. My boy. [His smile has broadened in reaction to Harry's pure glee].

Harry: [He buries his head in Snape's side, still half-giggling, half-crying]. And I'd be belonging to yous, right right right? [Green eyes peer up at Snape].

Snape: I'd take care of you Harry, until the end of time if necessary.

Harry: [He wiggles up into Snape's lap and patting his own chest, he starts chanting]. Son son son! [Placing his hands on Snape's chest, he whispers]. 'Fessor, 'fessor, 'fessor.

Snape: [He shakes his head]. Father. [He corrects softly].

Harry: [He shakes his head]. Dad? [He whispers, looking wide eyed].

Snape: Papa? [Abruptly he laughs].

Side note: 'I'm feeling rather strange and there's a strange glow emanating between our bodies.'

Harry: I like papa. [He puts his hands over his mouth to try to suppress his giggles].

Side note: 'The glow increased in intensity until Harry said that he liked papa, and then suddenly it disappeared, leaving me with a very contented and sated sensation. Judging from Harry's next reaction, he felt much the same.'

Harry: [Suddenly yawning, he drapes his arms around Snape's neck and snuggles against him]. Papa, papa, papapapapapa . . . [He continues murmuring until he is asleep, breathing softly and utterly relaxed].

End notes: 'I believe something just happened, and if I were to take a wild stab of a guess, I would say that our magic accepted one another. I must do some research on this, but first I may need to take a small nap.'

Chapter Text

18 November, 1991 – Late in the afternoon
Healer: Hadwyn Long
Student: Harry Potter
Accompanying Guardian: Severus Snape

Hadwyn: Well, you two are certainly well rested. What time did you finally wake up?

Snape: If Albus had not accidentally flooed me just after breakfast this morning, I fear that we both would have missed our classes for the day. [He smiles down at Harry who is currently curled up next to him].

Hadwyn: [Turning to Harry]. How are you feeling, Harry?

Harry: [Smiling happily]. I'm goods. [He claps a few times as though to prove it].

Hadwyn: I'm very glad to hear it, Harry. If you think you're up to it, I'd like to continue exploring your mind today. Will that be acceptable? [His eyes slide from Harry and then to Severus].

Severus: As long as Harry doesn't mind.

Harry: My papa pa still stays with me's? [He glances up at Severus].

Severus: [He smiles gently]. Of course I will. Can you lie down and put your head in my lap again?

Harry: [He does as instructed].

Side note: 'Slipping inside Harry's mind is noticeably easier this time. The most conspicuous thing upon arriving is that the volume of the ambient noise level is lower. The activity within his mind is also definitely calmer in appearance. If this is the result of Severus' claiming of him, then I would wholeheartedly say that it has caused a positive effect within the organization of Harry's thoughts.'

'I soon find myself standing upon the train station platform that seems to house the majority of Harry's brain activity. There are more differences here; in particular, the lumbering monstrosity that bore so much likeness to an angry whale is no longer as loud. In addition, the screeching banshee of a woman that seemed to belittle Harry at every turn is mysteriously silent now as well. I can only hope that in time, neither will be present at all.'

'"Harry?" I call once more, hoping that something will answer me this time. A few moments pass, and then I blink in surprise at the tiny figure that pushes to the forefront of the crowd. It is a little boy, possibly no more than a year or two old. The small boy bears a remarkable likeness to Harry, with one noted difference: There is no lightning bolt scar on his forehead.'

'"Hi," I say, crouching down to his level. Bright green eyes stare innocently back at me and instinctively I give him my hand. Small fingers reach out and brush against my own, and I feel a sharp spark of magic as we come in contact with one another.'

'"Hi," the young Harry whispers before suddenly tugging on me as though he wants me to follow him.'

'I take no more than a few steps forward, when suddenly I am awake, pulled back into my conscious body with a sharp splash of cold water.'

Hadwyn: [Dripping wet and obviously annoyed]. Severus! Why did you do that?

Severus: You were in his mind for nearly three hours, Hadwyn!

Hadwyn: [Blinking furiously]. Are you quite sure, old friend?

Severus: [Onyx eyes flashing dangerously]. Quite. [He leans over and pulls Harry upright]. Are you well, child?

Harry: [Frowning]. Hungry, papa pa. Hungries. [He nods repeatedly, pulling on Severus' black robed arm insistently].

Severus: As well you might be, Harry. [He stands up with Harry beside him]. Until next time, Hadwyn?

Hadwyn: Until next time.

End notes: 'I have never experienced such a time discrepancy between a mind and the real world as I do with Harry's. It must have something to do with the injury he suffered as the result of his relatives' abuse. After all, each mind is different. I have some theories as to what part of the brain might be at fault for causing these inconsistencies in time, but I need to research it a bit more fully before making any kind of conclusive theories.'

. . .

Early on the 19th of November, 1991

Harry was nervous as he and Severus rode the staircase up to Dumbledore's office for their meeting with the Minister. He knew he needed to make a good impression on the man. His Papa Pa had told him not to worry, and just to be himself, but he knew that it was unlikely that the minister would understand about how he was. In his experience, politicians and other public figures were rarely understanding to people who were markedly different from them. Beside, as a kid, there wasn't any reason for the Minister to be interested in his vote, so that automatically meant he was less important the man.

He raised his head and smiled at his papa Pa just as the man raised a hand to knock on the headmaster's door. He liked thinking of 'Fessor Snape as his papa Pa. The number of syllables stayed the same as 'Fessor Snape, but it meant more to him—or them, he supposed.

He heard an unfamiliar voice call out, "Come in!" and they opened the door and entered. There was a short man with a bowler's hat standing in front of them, and impulsively, Harry reached out and grabbed a hold of his papa pa's hand.

"Well then, you must be Harry Potter," the minister said; his eyes shining in a way that Harry found to be quite unnerving. He hadn't liked being looked at that when he had been in Diagon Alley with Hagrid, and he certainly didn't like it now.

"Yessir," he whispered, before bravely darting forward and offering his hand (after remembering to release Severus' first, of course).

"Have a seat," Fudge said after the short handshake. His eyes drifted up to Severus as well, and though he didn't verbally greet the other man, Harry was relieved to see him nod his head at his guardian.

Fudge, Harry thought with a smile, seemed like a name you'd give a candy man, not a politician.

Then, as was common with the way his brain tended to work—or not work, dependent upon how one looked at it—his mouth suddenly took off on its own, ignoring his mind's attempt to squash it.

"Do yous like chocolate, Minister Fudge?" Harry blurted out, causing an uncomfortable hush to fall between them.

"Harry—," his papa pa said softly, gesturing for him to sit down beside him.

"As a matter of fact, Mr. Potter, I do enjoy a bit of chocolate from time to time," Fudge answered finally, his eyes glittering in clear challenge back at them.

"Me toos!" Harry said happily, his hands trying to flap of their own accord behind his back. "Minister Fudge?" He added, abruptly serious.

"Yes, Mr. Potter?" Fudge's smile was strained, but Harry didn't notice.

"How comes yous wanted to talk with me, but nones of the other first years?" He asked, peering back up at the minister with wide green eyes.

"If you'll take a seat next to professor Snape, I will explain," Fudge answered, beginning to look annoyed.

Harry knew that a lot of people thought he was stupid. He also knew that there were plenty of people who didn't think he should be in Slytherin. He and the Sorting Hat had discussed it quite thoroughly actually. He might not be able to be very subtle in conversations, but unlike some of the houses, he was capable of planning ahead. The final deciding point for the Hat had been Harry's undeniable ambition for others to see him as something more than just a four-eyed little freak retard.

Instead of sitting down like a good little student, Harry instead said, "You thinks I shouldn't go to school heres."

"Mr. Potter, you are quite out of line—," Fudge tried to say, his pudgy face starting to redden.

"Let him speak, Minister," Severus said, interrupting with a threat in his dark eyes.

With a frown, Harry tried to gather himself together. He didn't like talking about himself, and he especially didn't like doing it in front of mean looking strangers.

"I reads that article in da paper, Minister Fudge. The one wheres it saids that I was feeble minded?" Harry's face was very serious, and truth be told, he was a little angry, but he knew better than to let go of his control over himself.

"You're not s'posed to be ables ta print false stuffs about peoples," he said, shaking his head in the negative. "I'm onlys a kid, but I knows that. I do, really."

"If you have a problem with the Daily Prophet, I suggest you take it up with them," Fudge managed to say through gritted teeth.

"But that's why you's here, isn't its?" Harry asked, gripping his hands behind his back as he continued to stand facing the minister. "You b'lieved it and nows you thinks I'm stupid, that I'ms a squib, that I needs to be locked up or something." He scowled at the Minister. "I'm not."

"Tell him what you are not, Harry," he heard his 'fessor's soft voice say from behind him.

"I'm not . . . I'm not one, not . . . not a retard, not retarded," Harry said angrily, his eyes glinting dangerously as a magically induced wind began to ripple over them.

"I think we're done now, Minister," Severus said, dropping a warm hand on Harry's shoulder. The breeze around them died down almost immediately at the grounding touch of his guardian.

"You dare presume to order me around?" Fudge shouted back, his face red in his anger.

"No, but I will," a new voice said, and they all turned in surprise to look at Dumbledore as he stepped from the shadows.

"Albus," Fudge said in warning.

"Cornelius, you came here to talk to Harry. You have done that. I think you've heard enough to answer your original question," Dumbledore was calm, but there was danger in his eyes.

"Come on Harry," Severus said, using the hand on his shoulder to direct him to the door.

Once they were outside the headmaster's office, Harry's hand found his 'fessor's once more.

"Dids I do good?" He asked, shyly staring up at his papa pa.

Severus kneeled down before him and put his free hand on his shoulder. "I am very proud of what you said to Fudge. I know how nervous you were, and I am most proud of you."

Harry grinned hugely and blushed fiercely at his papa pa's words. Then, without warning, he threw himself forward and hugged Severus tightly around his neck. He was very happy when the man decided to hug him back.

. . .

Date: 19 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: Wow, Malfoy sure was in a foul mood this morning!

Sprout: I must admit that I was surprised. The Malfoy family usually does not prefer to embarrass one another in public.

Morag: What was that talking letter thing he had to open? It was pretty clear he knew that it wasn't good.

Sprout: It's called a Howler, and having been raised in the wizarding world, Mr. Malfoy would have known it was bad at first sight.

Morag: I'm glad my mother can't use them. I don't think I'd like to have all of my housemates hear her yelling at me for something. Though . . . [she trails off and idly scratches one arm].

Sprout: What is it dear?

Morag: Malfoy's dad—that's who it was, wasn't it? He didn't really yell, but his voice was still plenty scary!

Sprout: Yes, that was his father's voice. Lucius Malfoy is the man's name, if you're interested.

Morag: What was all that stuff about embarrassing the family name with his unSlytherin-like behaviour? [Her eyes are wide].

Sprout: It is Mr. Malfoy's business, not your own.

Morag: But doesn't that Howler thingy sort of make it everyone's business? That's why it was loud enough for everyone to hear, right?

Sprout: [With a sigh]. Howlers are a means to publicly shame someone. I don't believe that they should be used by Hogwarts parents upon their children, unless someone has purposely endangered his or her life or someone else's. And even in that case, I think that howlers should be used sparingly.

Morag: [She shakes her head]. It still seems strange that Malfoy would be accused of not behaving like a Slytherin. I mean, he's one of the more unpleasant out of the bunch!

Sprout: [She has a slight smile on her face now]. Just because someone is unpleasant, it doesn't mean that they should be in Slytherin, and vice versa. Did you write your letter to your mother about Mr. Potter?

Morag: [A smile creeps across her face]. Mum has already written a letter complaining to the editor!

Sprout: Did she receive any response?

Morag: [Nodding]. She got a note back saying that they had received numerous complaints and were now investigating the matter more thoroughly. [She shrugs]. I don't know if that means anything will happen, but at least we tried.

Sprout: Quite! That's a very good attitude, Morag. It is much better to try than to be apathetic to it all.

End notes: 'I'm glad my badger stood up for her classmate. And Severus, you will tell us about Mr. Malfoy's fate, won't you?'

. . .

Date: 19 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: I was wondering . . . [she trails off and looks at the floor].

Sprout: Yes dear?

Hannah: If, and I really do mean if . . . if I were to try out for the Quidditch team next year, would you have to tell my mum about it?

Sprout: [A sad smile appears on her face]. I would not. Of course, if you made the team, it's unlikely that you could get away without your mother knowing about it, considering she is part of the wizarding world. From time to time, the Daily Prophet also publishes lists of the current teams and their players here at Hogwarts.

Hannah: [With a shrug]. I thought, well I think that I should be able to try out no matter what, but if I didn't make the team, then I wouldn't have to tell my mum.

Sprout: That's a reasonable idea.

Hannah: And like you said, girls can be just as tough as boys, maybe even tougher sometimes, right?

Sprout: Absolutely. [She says firmly with a nod]. Are there any positions you are particularly interested in?

Hannah: Well . . . [she blushes]. I think it'd be pretty neat to be a beater and show everyone just how much people shouldn't underestimate girls.

Sprout: [Smiling broadly]. A commendable aspiration.

End notes: 'If Hannah's mother were a Slytherin, I would have thought that she was employing reverse psychology in order to get her to try out for the team. However, since she very much is not, I suppose it is only fitting that this is the result. I do feel for my badger though. I hope she is happy, whatever she chooses.'

. . .

Date: 19 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin: If it weren't for the fact that my parents are muggles, I'd bet Malfoy's father would get along with them swimmingly.

Sprout: Why is that?

Justin: [He gives a bitter smile]. They both have a penchant for publicly humiliating their spawn.

Sprout: [She sighs]. I take it that you witnessed the Howler this morning?

Justin: Hard to ignore it, really.

Sprout: Do you wish you could change the way your parents treat you?

Justin: [He frowns]. I think I'd rather simply change out the people who conceived me with some other couple.

Sprout: Do you not get along with your parents at all?

Justin: Oh we're just the perfect family. [He scowls suddenly].

Sprout: Justin?

Justin: My mother brags to all of her dear friends about what a perfectly wonderful family we are. Don't you know, I'm just so smart; a right little budding genius, I am. And my father . . . [he trails off and suddenly looks up at the ceiling].

Sprout: You don't have to tell me if you don't feel comfortable. [She says softly].

Justin: Oh, but I want to. [He looks at her finally, eyes are brimming with tears]. Father. [He takes a deep breath and looks away for a moment. When he finally turns back towards Sprout, the tears in his eyes are no longer as obvious]. Father tries to be civil towards me, but it is more than obvious that he is ashamed of having such a fat slob of a son. [He snorts angrily]. Finding out that I was a wizard was just the icing on the cake, so to speak.

You ask me how would I change them? I'd give them a truth serum and force them to tell me how they truly feel about me.

End notes: 'Justin walked out at this point, muttering about his homework. I suppose he is embarrassed to have been so emotional in front of his head of house, but I wish I could make him understand how unhealthy it is to hold it all in.'

. . .

Date: 20 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: Isn't Lucius Malfoy handsome?

Flitwick: [His eyes widen in surprise].

Lisa: I hope that Draco looks half that good in twenty years time. Is it true that their ancestors are Veela?

Flitwick: I believe it is mostly rumour. Why the sudden interest in Malfoy Sr.?

Lisa: Oh, I saw him today.

Side note: 'That's news to me.'

Flitwick: Where? [He raises an eyebrow].

Lisa: He was walking with Professor Dumbledore.

Flitwick: And they were talking?

Lisa: Hmm, well, it was more like Mr. Malfoy was talking to the headmaster. He glared at me when I walked past, but I think he would have glared at anyone. He seemed to be in a bit of a mood.

Flitwick: Perhaps it is related to the Howler he sent young Malfoy yesterday. [He muses].

Lisa: I dunno. I just liked looking at him. He's really pretty.

Flitwick: Forgive me if I don't share your interest.

Lisa: [She smiles a bit]. Hm, I suppose you wouldn't, would you?

Flitwick: Not really. [He gives a small smile back].

End notes: 'At least she is talking with me again, but I wonder how long that will last?'

. . .

Date: 20 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Sabrina: [Breathing very fast, her eyes keep darting back and forth between Flitwick and the door].

Flitwick: [Obviously alarmed]. Child, whatever is the matter?

Sabrina: Is it true th-that Lucius Malfoy was here today?

Flitwick: I have only heard reports from various students. I did not see him with my own eyes.

Sabrina: [She begins trembling].

Flitwick: [Standing up and going over to her]. Child! Ms. Fawcett—Sabrina. Please, tell me what's wrong. [His voice is very calm].

Sabrina: [Gulping loudly]. I think—I think he was one of the ones [she whispers].

Side note: 'Oh dear Merlin, I hope she doesn't mean what I think she means.'

Flitwick: One of the ones? [Tentatively he reaches out and grasps one of her hands].

Sabrina: [Squeezing back tightly against his hand and nodding]. I-I-I think he was one of the ones . . . [she trembles harder] . . . who killed my parents . . . [abruptly she bursts into tears].

Side note: 'Damn it.'

Flitwick: [Patting her shoulder and holding her as tightly as he can]. Shush child. He isn't here. He cannot get in here. You are safe.

Sabrina: [Still crying]. M-M-M-My Grandmother, she had just . . . [she tries to wipe her eyes] . . . moved in with us, and—and when they attacked . . . [her shoulders shake and she gulps loudly] . . . she grabbed me and h-h-hid in the w-walls where there had once b-been p-p-passages for house elves. She said sh-she saw a man w-with wh-wh-white blonde hair . . . [her remaining control suddenly disappears and she is wracked with sobs once more].

Flitwick: Child!

Sabrina: [She begins to hyperventilate].

End notes: 'At this point I flooed Madame Pomfrey and she came through and administered a calming draught. Poppy has decided to take her back with her to the infirmary for the afternoon for observation.'

. . .

Date: 20 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Michael: [With a serious face]. I think that the Ministry of Magic needs fewer hot headed Gryffindors in charge of it, and more Ravenclaws.

Flitwick: [Smiling]. Not that I disagree, but what prompted you to say this?

Michael: I've been researching vampires and the Ministry laws in place for them, you know since we talked last?

Flitwick: [Nodding].

Michael: [He shakes his head]. The laws in place are absolutely ridiculous. Vampires have to register themselves, which sounds okay, until you hear the next part. Did you know that they can be dragged in for questioning anytime a human is attacked in their area?

Flitwick: [He nods his head sadly]. I did know that. They're not the only ones who have that requirement on them.

Michael: Well, if the Ministry would provide suitable alternatives to feeding from humans, they might not have to attack anyone, but it's almost like—it's almost like the Ministry made these rules and didn't think about how the vampires were supposed to survive. In fact—[his eyes suddenly widen]—I bet they don't care at all! Vampires don't get a vote, right? That's just stupid!

Flitwick: So, I take it that you do not agree with the alternatives that the Ministry has provided?

Michael: [He snorts]. You mean, how vampires are allowed to hunt rats as much as they like! I researched that too, Professor. If vampires were given the rats, it might make a difference, but there's so little blood in a rat compared with a human, that they practically burn off everything they eat just looking for their next meal. If I were a vampire . . . [his eyes suddenly narrow in thought].

Flitwick: Mr. Corner?

Michael: If I were a vampire, I'd go after Ministry workers only. [He grimaces]. I hope you won't repeat that to anyone.

Flitwick: As long as you aren't planning anything foolish.

Michael: Don't worry. [He grins suddenly]. I'm no Gryffindor.

End notes: 'That's not what worries me.'

. . .

Date: 21 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

Ron: Did you know that Quirrell is teaching us cleaning charms now?

McGonagall: Actually, Mr. Weasley, they are spells to combat against infestations of magical creatures. And I do believe you meant to say Professor Quirrell.

Ron: [He looks away and rolls his eyes].

McGonagall: I saw that.

Ron: Oh come on, Professor. The man is utterly worthless. Have you ever had to sit through a class with him? He jumps at every noise and shadow, and then his stuttering is horrible.

McGonagall: Be that as it may, Mr. Weasley, Professor Dumbledore hired him and therefore saw some worth in him. You will give him the respect he deserves, or I will assign you detention with Professor Snape.

Ron: [He scowls]. Hermes teaches better than he does, and he's only a first year!

McGonagall: You still believe that Ms. Granger should have been a boy?

Ron: Is a boy, I believe you meant. [He smiles self-righteously].

McGonagall: [Her eyes narrow]. Do not presume to think you are above detention with your little comments, Mr. Weasley.

Ron: [Scowling]. This is supposed to be some sort of counselling session. I don't think any of the other students get threatened with detention for saying their thoughts. Maybe I should just . . . keep my mouth shut! [He crosses his arms defensively].

McGonagall: Oh, would you cease behaving like a juvenile ingrate!

Ron: [He snickers]. I'll have to tell Hermes that one. He thinks that I'm exaggerating about the way you are in these meetings.

McGonagall: [Raising an eyebrow]. The way I am?

Ron: You're just so . . . so stiff.

McGonagall: If I had wanted to be a counsellor, I would have gone to school for it.

Side note: 'It's possible that I should have kept that one to myself.'

Ron: [His eyes widen]. But I thought that teachers counselled their students?

McGonagall: Academically, yes we do.

Ron: But, Hermes said that since we're at a boarding school, teachers—'specially heads of houses—have to be more like parents and stuff, since there aren't any here.

McGonagall: To a certain degree, yes I agree with Ms. Granger, but there are limitations to what we do. I for one believe that Hogwarts gives students an opportunity to learn to be independent. It does not help anyone if I am there for every crisis, every accident. Wouldn't you agree?

Would you prefer that I interfere more? Perhaps we should start with bedtimes for everyone, fourth year and younger? Or I could create diet plans for you all? Homework sessions? Would you like me to tuck you in at night, Mr. Weasley?

Ron: [His eyes are wide in horror]. Um, no ma'am. Please don't.

McGonagall: Would you rather me be more of a teacher or more of a parent?

Ron: Teacher.

McGonagall: And there you have your answer.

End notes: 'Merlin's pants. It's a very good thing that he does not have you for a head of house, Severus. Of course, I chose to keep it to myself that you do most of those things with your students. I don't think you've starting tucking them in yet, though.'

. . .

Date: 21 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: I've been thinking over what we talked about last week.

Neville: Oh?

McGonagall: Does your grandmother discount your skill with plants?

Neville: Discount, ma'am?

McGonagall: Let me rephrase that. Does she ignore your talent with plants? Does she not care?

Neville: [He shrugs]. It's just a hobby, ma'am.

McGonagall: I disagree. I think you could easily turn it into a career.

Neville: [He blushes]. I don't think so, but thank you for saying so.

McGonagall: Now Mr. Longbottom, none of that. I'll not have one of my students trying to dissuade me from taking an interest in seeing him reach his full potential.

Neville: [His blush deepens]. Full p-potential?

McGonagall: You know, Professor Sprout will likely ask you on as an apprentice sometime before you graduate?

Neville: [His eyes are wide]. Me? [He squeaks]. You're not serious.

McGonagall: [With a straight face]. I rarely joke, Mr. Longbottom.

Side note: 'Well, at least not in front of students.'

Neville: But an apprentice?

McGonagall: If she does, I would encourage you not to ignore the offer.

Neville: [He nods slowly].

McGonagall: Perhaps you should speak with Professor Sprout more fully about what a career in Herbology would entail.

End notes: 'I hope that he would do that of his own accord and not just because I frightened him into it.'

. . .

Date: 21 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

Parvati: Is it true that Lucius Malfoy's marriage is just a cover?

McGonagall: [Her eyes narrow]. A cover for what?

Parvati: You know, to produce an heir despite the fact that he's a poof.

McGonagall: [She blinks silently in mortification].

Parvati: [Blushing slightly]. Well come on! He's too pretty to be a regular bloke, don't you think?

McGonagall: [She massages her temples, but doesn't say anything].

Parvati: If I were a guy, I'd date him.

McGonagall: Ms. Patil . . .

Parvati: But I wouldn't be interested as a lady. He probably has to spend an hour in front of the mirror every day to make his hair perfect.

McGonagall: Ms. Patil!

Parvati: Yes Professor?

McGonagall: What does this have to do with anything?

Parvati: Well . . . just that I'd never marry anyone that obsessed with their looks.

McGonagall: Ms. Patil, I have just developed the most horrendous headache.

Parvati: Should I leave?

McGonagall: If you wouldn't mind.

Parvati: I don't mind! [She says brightly].

End notes: 'And that's the sad part; I'm sure you don't mind.'

. . .

Date: 24 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 21 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'He goes to great lengths to make us think he is something he is not.'

Vince: Malfoy's been unusually quiet this week.

Snape: I've noticed that as well.

Vince: Is it true that his father was here earlier this week?

Snape: That is what Dumbledore told us. Unfortunately, he didn't fit to give us anymore details. He is being frustratingly close lipped about it. I hope I can pry it out of him soon though. I do not enjoy being kept in the dark about any of my students.

Vince: [He nods]. Will the headmaster side with you if Mr. Malfoy tries to make trouble for you?

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. At much as he can.

Vince: Do you think that Malfoy Sr. has talked with Malfoy about what has happened so far this year to him?

Snape: That is what the howler certainly sounded like. Vince, I'd like to derail this conversation now and refocus it on you.

Vince: [He grimaces]. Was it obvious?

Snape: [He smirks]. Somewhat. Though you are quite skilled at deflecting.

Vince: [He snorts]. It's how I stay outta trouble at home.

Snape: With your father?

Vince: Yeah.

Snape: Do you get away with it?

Vince: Most of the time. Actually—[he barks out a short laugh]—most of the time I change the subject onto Malfoy. Da is always real pleased to hear of anything that Draco does wrong.

Snape: Hm, I imagine he would be. Probably the same for Lucius.

Vince: Da and Lucius are business partners. He doesn't say anything against either of 'em, but he has this smile he makes whenever he hears of them in trouble.

Snape: And how do you feel? Are you happy to hear of their misfortune as well?

Vince: Well sure! It's not like it happens very often. I mean . . . [he suddenly grits his teeth and clenches his fists]. They've got so much. Draco gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants. His dad has never been caught for anything. He sends my—he sends other people to do the dirty work and then he just sits back and laughs when they get caught. I'm not going to grovel at his feet when I'm older.

Snape: I would hope not [he says softly], but it's likely that your father once thought the same thing too.

Vince: Yeah but [he suddenly grins a very toothy smile], I'm smarter than my da. And 'sides, I have you to help me. Don't I?

Snape: [He smiles]. That you do. And I will do what I can to keep you out of their control.

End notes: 'I will do what I can. I can only hope that I will not be the only one trying to help him and others like him.'

. . .

Date: 24 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 23 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'S/he is one of the sneakier of my younger snakes. On the other hand, it would seem that s/he has more to hide than some of the others.'

Granger: Harry has seemed a lot happier this week.

Snape: [He smirks]. Yes well, if I could have told off the Minister of Magic in the same way he did Monday, I likely would have smiled more too this week.

Granger: [S/he raises hir eyebrows in surprise]. I've never seen Harry tell anyone off. I didn't think that was something he did.

Snape: Harry doesn't like to be threatened.

Granger: [S/he snorts]. Maybe you should let it slip to some of the snakes what he did so he'll have more of a reputation.

Snape: I just did. [He smiles].

Granger: I'm now "some?"

Snape: Would you like to be?

Granger: [S/he laughs in surprise]. Sure, why not?

Snape: Good. I'll provide you with an exact transcript of what happened, if you like.

Granger: [Suddenly serious]. It would help.

Snape: Expect my owl.

Granger: And what do I get in return?

Snape: Besides the transcript? [He raises an inquisitive eyebrow].

Granger: We made the deal before agreeing to that.

Snape: Hm, one could argue that since we already agreed, then I shouldn't have to give you anything.

Granger: [S/he raises her eyebrow at him]. And here I thought you were trying to get in on my good side.

Snape: I wasn't entirely aware you even had one. [He gives a small smile to indicate he is not serious].

Granger: I want a pass to the Restricted Section—in case you don't have any ideas.

Snape: How about I loan you one of my personal copies of Arthur Tussen's "Guide to the Grey Arts"?

Granger: [S/he thinks for a moment]. Deal. How long of a loan?

Snape: [He smiles]. Now you're catching on. How about until the beginning of the next term?

Granger: Deal. Should we shake?

Snape: [He holds out his hand and after a moment s/he reaches out and grasps his].

End notes: 'It is this sort of training that helps keep the majority of my students out of trouble later. I always try to make sure that they understand the terms, regardless of whether they have been mentioned or not.'

. . .

Date: 24 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Draco Malfoy
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott 
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Above average
Last owl received from family: A howler on the 19th November, 1991; and he has received three letters via his father's owl since that time

Ongoing impressions: 'Either he is planning something or his father is. I've known Lucius for far too long to think he doesn't have some inkling of what's going on.'

Side note: 'I have just been summoned to Dumbledore's office. I was unsurprised to find Lucius Malfoy and Draco Malfoy there. Albus greeted me with that damned twinkle in his eyes, and I mentally swore to verbally express my displeasure with him later. He knows better than to spring surprises on me.'

Dumbledore: Ah my boy, please come in.

Snape: [He glares at Albus]. Albus, what's going on here?

Lucius: Ah good. I'm glad to hear that you kept your word, headmaster. [He smirks at Snape].

Dumbledore: Lucius has brought it to my attention that Draco is not . . . thriving in Slytherin the way he might ought to be.

Side note: 'Yes, well he did try to get one of his classmates killed . . . that does tend to put a damper on one's popularity—unless you're a Marauder. Then you just give them sweets, right Albus?'

Snape: And I suppose you have an idea for how we might fix this? [He raises an eyebrow].

Dumbledore: [With a damning smile]. As a matter of fact, I do. I suggested—and Lucius agreed—that we try resorting young Draco.

Side note: 'Are you mad old man!'

Snape: Is that really a good idea? As I remember, the Sorting Hat decided on Slytherin almost immediately, did it not?

Dumbledore: It did, it did. [He nods genially]. And I think that it may have chosen a bit too quickly.

Snape: And should we resort all of the others for whom it decided quickly on as well?

Lucius: Don't be so foolish, Severus! [He says with a laugh]. My son is the only one who is having this level of difficulty.

Side note: 'And what of Mr. Finnigan and Mr. Thomas?'

Severus: And if he is sorted into Gryffindor? Shall we resort again? [He asks with a sneer].

Draco: [He visibly gulps].

Lucius: Nonsense. If my son is indeed a . . . Gryffindor—[he grimaces]—then I'm sure he'll do splendidly there.

Dumbledore: I believe we have wasted enough time on talk. It has already been decided. I just thought you would like to know why Draco would not be there for his session today.

Severus: [He scowls]. Since I am here, I might as well stay for the sorting itself. Unless you would prefer otherwise, Lucius? [He raises an eyebrow].

Lucius: By all means. [He waves a hand and takes a seat.]

Severus and Draco: [They sit].

Dumbledore: [He picks up the Sorting Hat and then drops it down on Draco's white-blonde hair].

. . .

Sorting Hat: Back again?

Draco: Things aren't going well. My father isn't happy with my house's behaviour towards me.

Sorting Hat: Ah, I understand. It would seem that your house has banded rather tightly around young Mr. Potter.

Draco: The traitor! He's got them all fooled!

Sorting Hat: Well child, he is a Slytherin. If you cannot find a way around this, then it is possible that you should be in another house. Now where to put you?

Draco: My father will kill me if I go back to Slytherin.

Sorting Hat: And what of Gryffindor? You certainly are very brave to go against the wishes of both your housemates and your head of house.

Draco: He might not kill me, but he might disinherit me. There has never been a Malfoy in Gryffindor.

Sorting Hat: But there has been a Black.

Draco: [Squirming]. Don't remind me.

Sorting Hat: I certainly cannot put you in Hufflepuff. You would be far too bored there. At least you are doing well academically. Although it is not a perfect fit, I suppose the only option left is RAVENCLAW. [The last word was shouted].

. . .

Date: 24 November, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws.

-His Uncle was kissed earlier this week, on the 20th of November, 1991. His aunt is still on trial as they work to determine the best fate for Harry's cousin, Dudley
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: The Ministry of Magic, auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, informing of his uncle's fate (the owl arrived on the morning of the 21st)

Ongoing impressions: 'It is becoming clearer that his ability to process incoming information is far above his ability to use expressive language.'

Harry: [He bounds in and very nearly launches himself at Severus]. Papa pa! [He throws his arms around Severus' neck and hugs him in silence for a few moments].

Severus: Hello child. [He says after Harry has released him].

Harry: Guess whats! [He flaps his hands excitedly].

Severus: What? [He smiles].

Harry: My uncle's not ever gonna get me ever again. [He nods seriously]. He's gone and Mr. Shacklebolt said so, and you said so, and Hermes said so. [He nods and wraps his arms around himself].

Severus: [He hugs Harry]. I'm glad that he was found guilty.

Side note: 'If he hadn't been, I would have made sure that justice still had its chance to find him.'

Harry: What's gonna happen to Dudleys?

Severus: I do not know. The courts have not yet decided his fate. The worst that could happen would that he be obliviated and sent to live with another muggle family.

Harry: [He giggles]. Muggle's a silly word.

Severus: [Still smiling]. I think so too.

Harry: Aren't we just peoples? [He asks with wide eyes].

Severus: Actually, not entirely. Most magical families have creature blood in their history somewhere.

Harry: Creature! [He claps his hands]. Do you's thinks I could have some?

Severus: [He tries not to laugh]. You have some somewhere, but it's unlikely that you will see any physical side effects.

Harry: My Hagrids gave my cousin a tails, he did he did. [Harry nods]. I likes tails! I wouldn't mind one of my very owns.

Severus: It is possible that you may be able to transform into an animal.

Harry: Animagus! I reads that in my transfiguration's book. P'fessor McGon'gall can turns into a cat. She can. But what woulds happen if she got different glasses? [His face scrunches up in thought].

Severus: It is likely that her animagus form might change as well.

Harry: But she has ta register it. Would it change itself auto-auto-automatically? [He finally manages to the say the word].

Severus: You know, I don't actually know. Most animagi markings are based on physical traits. It's possible that her form would only allow her to have square glasses. I'm not sure.

Harry: [He nods thoughtfully]. When I gets bigger, I'm gonna turn into a bat. I has decided. [He grins up at Severus].

Severus: Don't be surprised if your form is something else.

Harry: But I don't want to be anything else!

Severus: What about a dragon?

Harry: It's s'posed ta be imposs'ble.

Severus: Since when has such a thing stopped you before? [He grins down at his son].

Harry: Uhh . . . [He visibly thinks]. Well, maybes you're rights. [He giggles]. My papa pa is almost always rights!

End notes: 'I suppose I can let you think so for a while longer.'

Chapter Text

Chapter 13 – Week 13

25 November, 1991 – Early morning
Healer: Hadwyn Long
Student: Harry Potter
Accompanying Guardian: Severus Snape

Hadwyn: How did you sleep last night, Harry?

Harry: Okays. [He shrugs and then leans comfortably against Severus].

Hadwyn: Good. [He smiles]. Would you lie down and put your head in Severus' lap like usual?

Harry: [He grins and then complies].

Side note: 'This week I slip almost directly into his mind at the first attempt. I'm back on the train station platform, and there are changes in the scenery once more. All of the images of the large whale like man are now still, although the man still glares. The screeching woman is also silenced, although she can still move freely about. She seems to be searching for something, as her eyes continuously roam and dart from person to person. They are still unpleasant figures, but it is clear that their presence is becoming less influential within the structure of Harry's thoughts. Likewise, there are now many more images of Severus around. Interestingly enough, in direct contrast with the others present, he almost glows with life and colour, causing each of his representations to easily stand out from the other two adults.'

'"Harry?" I call out and am once again met by the small child whose forehead is still noticeably clear of the infamous scar. He takes my hand and pulls me forward, and like before, I can feel a small zing of magic when our fingers touch.'

'A few steps later, another small figure approaches us. This one is also a much younger Harry, but given the presence of the scar upon his forehead, it is logical that he is slightly older than the previous. Frighteningly, he is thinner than the former one, and his clothes are ill fitting. The youngest Harry lets go of me and waves goodbye, disappearing into the crowd. I look down at the Harry that's now in front of me and instinctively reach out my hand.'

'The fingers that touch my hand send a shock of pain through my body. I can feel that this Harry is hurting, and so I kneel down and pick him up. His cheek is bruised and he holds his arm close to his body as though it pains him. I have no doubt that it does.'

'He rests the uninjured side of his face against my chest in a weary way and sniffles a few times. It is easy to hold him, and I'm nearly positive that he's lighter than his younger self was.'

'"I wish I could have helped you sooner," I murmur to him.'

'He shakes his head and points with a small finger towards his chest and adds, "Is bad," in a soft voice.'

Hadwyn: [He blinks hard and shakes his head.] I don't know what happened; one minute I was there and the next I was back in the present.

Severus: Peculiar. [He frowns]. I was about to try and rouse you from your trance, but you came back into yourself before I had the chance.

Side note: 'I abruptly remember the last thing that little Harry said to me before I awoke.'

Hadwyn: [He turns towards Harry]. I don't know how much you remember of my time within your head, but I want to make sure you understand something. You are not bad, Harry.

Harry: [His eyes go wide at Hadwyn's words].

Severus: Harry? [He helps Harry sit up and leans him against his side]. You do know that, correct?

Harry: [He looks down at his lap and fiddles with his fingers].

Hadwyn: Harry?

Harry: Mostly. [He seems very reluctant to speak at all].

Hadwyn: Mostly what, Harry?

Harry: Know. Mostly know.

Severus: Can you tell us what you mean by that, child? [He reaches out and enfolds Harry's smaller hand within his].

Harry: [Looks up toward Severus]. Dursleys no want me. Nevers. [He shakes his head sadly]. Couldn't do nothings right, evers. Always bad. Stupid. Dummy. [His eyes narrow and his voice lowers a bit]. You freak! You shouldsa died wit' your worthless parents!

Severus: [He swallows and his jaw flexes]. Your uncle and your aunt told you that?

Harry: [He nods and leans farther into Severus' side]. I bads 'cause I lived. No one wants me.

Hadwyn: We want you, Harry. [His voice is firm].

Severus: I want you, Harry, and I'm very glad you lived. Your uncle and aunt should have never said such vile things to you. They were wrong to have done so. They lied.

Harry: They bads? [Green eyes search over Severus' face].

Severus: Yes. [He answers, not breaking eye contact with Harry]. They were very bad. That's why they are in such trouble now. That's why your Uncle Vernon will never bother you again, I promise.

Harry: [He gives a sigh of what seems like relief and hugs Severus' arm close to his chest]. Harry good?

Severus: [He smiles sombrely]. Harry is very good. I'm very proud of you.

Harry: [He smiles].

End notes: 'Although this seems to be resolved, I have enough experience to know that it isn't as easy as that. This will come up again, and it will keep coming up until Harry knows he's a good person and doesn't have to ask for confirmation from other people.'

. . .

25 November, 1991 – First year classes (Monday)

DADA – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor, Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
Transfiguration – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw
Charms – Slytherin, Hufflepuff

. . .

25 November, 1991 – Evening in the Slytherin common room

"Papa Pa tuck me ins?" Harry asked, looking up at Severus with an extremely hopeful expression on his face.

It was Monday night; an evening that Severus traditionally spent in his house's common room, answering questions and the like.

Severus looked down at the little boy standing next to him and smiled. At least Harry had waited for a lull in the incoming group of students before asking his request.

"Now?" Severus asked in a soft voice.

Harry bobbed his head up and down excitedly and held out a small hand. Severus took it and stood up, ignoring the murmurings regarding how "sweet" they were. Harry led him to the room he shared with Vince and Blaise Zabini.

He wasn't altogether surprised to find Vince in there already, but he had not expected to find Blaise as well. Bedtime for the first years wasn't for another half hour, and he had thought the other boy would be still in the common room with the others of his year.

"Hello sir," Blaise bobbed his head towards him as they came in.

"Ready for bed so soon?" Severus asked, looking over at Blaise and Vince questioningly.

Blaise shrugged. He was propped up against his pillows reading a textbook, which he had laid down as soon as Severus had come in. "Harry feels better if we don't change our routine."

Severus glanced at Vince, but the other boy did not bother to explain. He supposed he would find out soon enough.

Beside him, Harry started pointing things out. "Dat's my bed, and my covers, and this is my Vince and my Blaise's beds and dey's sleeps on either sides of me. Blaise-y said that they is the bread and I'm the turkey in the middles. Idn't that funny, Papa Pa?"

Judging from both Blaise's and Vince's nonchalant expressions, he assumed that Harry had already told them the magical adoption and his new title. Still, he kept his eyes open, ready to reprimand them should the other two boys try to make it hard on Harry.

He walked Harry over to his bed and watched the small boy clamber awkwardly into it. Mentally he made a note to get a step stool for the child, at least until he had a growth spurt.

"Have you brushed your teeth?" Severus asked after taking a seat on the side of the bed near Harry's head.

"Uh huhs!" Harry said, grinning widely. "You cans smell my breath if you likes."

Severus snorted and shook his head. "I believe you. Show me what you usually do after you get into bed."

Harry wiggled under the covers and with Severus' help he got them pulled up to just under his chin. Then with a happy smile, he started talking. "Good nights Vince! Good nights Blaise! Heres I am, wit' my own Papa Pas, in my own beds, wit' my name underneaths it, just so no ones forgets. It says H-A-R-R-Y and that means it's mines, 'cause that's me," he said with a nod.

Harry turned to look toward Vince. "Right Vince?" His eyes were bright.

With an exasperated smile, Vince smiled back at him and said, "Go to sleep, Harry."

"Kays!" Harry chirped, relaxing. "I can falls asleeps now. My Papa Pas gonnas kiss me night and then I gonnas close my eyes and go to sleeps. Yup yup yup."

Severus snorted again, but leaned over and kissed the boy on his forehead nonetheless. "Goodnight Harry," he added in a whisper.

"Goodnight daddy Sev," Harry whispered back with a sly wiggle of his eyebrows that caught Severus completely off guard.

"Brat," Severus responded fondly, carding a hand through Harry's black hair.

. . .

26 November, 1991 – First year classes (Tuesday)

HOM (History of Magic) – Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Slytherin/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff
Charms – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw
Herbology – Slytherin/Ravenclaw

. . .

Date: 26 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: I don't understand.

Sprout: What don't you understand? [She smiles kindly].

Morag: Can just anyone change houses? Or is it some kind of pureblooded thing?

Sprout: [She chuckles]. There have to be mitigating circumstances involved, and the resorting has to be approved of by the headmaster.

Morag: So, Malfoy had issues with being in Slytherin? That still doesn't make any sense. I mean, Malfoy's like the prince of Slytherin. He's so . . . [she frowns] . . . well, smooth isn't the right word, but do you understand what I'm trying to say?

Sprout: Yes, I think so. Mr. Malfoy seemed to fit well into the ideals of Slytherin, as well as the mannerisms that many of its students exhibit.

Morag: Yes. That's it. Malfoy's like the perfect Slytherin. Why would he change houses?

Sprout: I do know that Professor Snape tries to keep his house from showing any internal struggles outside of the common room. It's possible that Mr. Malfoy did not fit as well into Slytherin as we were led to believe.

Morag: Slytherin just seems strange to me in general. They're like . . . like politicians or something. They're all so careful about how they are in public, except maybe Harry, I guess. I wonder why he got sorted there? I think he should have been sorted into Hufflepuff.

Sprout: Many students who come from less than ideal home situations are placed in Slytherin.

Morag: [Her eyes widen]. Really? Do you think there are a lot of perfectionists in Slytherin?

Sprout: Why? [She cocks her head to the side].

Morag: Well, I think that if I had parents who never were happy with me, I think I'd try to always be better than I was.

Side note: 'An astute observation.'

Sprout: In some cases, yes, but there are perfectionists in every house. A perfectionist is that way because of many different reasons. Sometimes it is related to abuse, but in other situations, it is not. Did you know that Slytherins and Hufflepuffs are somewhat similar?

Morag: [She looks at Professor Sprout in open disbelief].

Sprout: [She gives a small smile]. They are both loyal to their houses.

Morag: But for different reasons?

Sprout: [Her smile broadens]. It's possible.

Morag: Hmm.

End notes: 'There are some upper years that know less about Slytherin than you now do, child. Please use your knowledge for good.'

. . .

Date: 26 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: Malfoy is in my Potions class now. [She frowns].

Sprout: Is that a problem?

Hannah: Well, Ron Weasley told us at lunch that Malfoy always tried to sabotage other students' cauldrons when he was a Slytherin.

Sprout: Did you see him do anything like that in your class yesterday?

Hannah: Well no, but that doesn't mean he won't. Besides, every time Professor Snape gave a compliment to someone else, Malfoy made a face and started muttering stuff that didn't sound very nice.

Sprout: Why did you have time to listen to what Mr. Malfoy was saying?

Hannah: [She shrugs]. He sat down right next to me and Susan Bones—she's my lab partner—and it was my turn to prepare the ingredients. And Susan stays on top of stuff in Potions and I don't have to think a lot when I'm doing the ingredients, so I had time to look around a bit.

Sprout: I hope that Mr. Malfoy didn't notice you staring at him. That sounds a bit rude, dear.

Hannah: [She pinks a bit]. Well, I wasn't actually looking at him so much, just sort of aware of him rather. Besides, it was pretty hard to ignore him. He didn't seem to care about keeping his comments to himself. I think he wanted everyone to know that he thought they were idiots.

Sprout: [Her eyes widen]. Oh my. That will not go over well in Ravenclaw.

Hannah: [She smiles]. Ooh, I hope I'm around when someone goes off on him!

Sprout: Hannah! That's not very nice at all.

Hannah: [She frowns]. Well, it's true. Why should he get to change houses when everyone else is stuck with theirs? I mean, I like Hufflepuff! But I know some people that probably would be happier in a different house, and they don't get to change.

Sprout: Who do you think would be happier in a different house?

Hannah: [She hesitates for a moment].

Sprout: Hannah?

Hannah: I think Justin might have done better in Ravenclaw or Slytherin, actually.

Sprout: [She frowns]. Hmm. Does he seem unhappy still?

Hannah: [She shrugs]. He just doesn't seem very happy, I guess. He's not very open about things, you know.

Sprout: Yes, yes I do know. Thank you for telling me about him, dear.

End notes: 'While I do not think Mr. Finch-Fletchley should be a candidate for resorting, I do think that he is still having difficulties adjusting to life here at Hogwarts. I hope it is merely a question of him finding his place within the house, and nothing more serious.'

. . .

Date: 26 November, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: How has your week gone?

Justin: Well enough, I suppose.

Sprout: Anything interesting happen?

Justin: [He raises his eyebrows once]. Only that my DADA class is much duller without Malfoy.

Sprout: Oh? And what sort of entertainment did he provide?

Justin: [He snorts]. Just the stuff he said about Quirrell; stuff to help a guy stay awake, that sort of thing.

Sprout: Disrespectful things? [She frowns].

Justin: [With a smirk]. Indubitably. [He laughs softly]. He is the worst professor I've seen at this school thus far. I just hope that there won't be too many more like him, or I may really consider going back and attending Eton.

Sprout: You would give up your chance at a magical life just because of a bad teacher?

Justin: [He looks thoughtful]. Well, what's the point of being magical if no one can teach you anything worthwhile? Like I said though, so far it's just the one teacher that's utterly hopeless, but there's bound to be more. I mean, Binns is horrid too, but at least he can speak in full sentences and actually seems to know his material.

Sprout: It is believed that there is a curse on the position of Dark Arts professor.

Justin: Hmm? [He cocks an eyebrow].

Sprout: No teacher has managed to stay in the position for longer than a year for the last few decades.

Justin: [His eyes widen]. Well, that should keep things more interesting at least. It is a comfort to know that I won't have to put up with six more years of Quirrell's idiotic babblings.

Sprout: I know that you don't think much of him, but I would appreciate you not being openly disrespectful to him in class. [She says with a frown].

Justin: Openly disrespectful? [He gives a mock gasp]. Professor, you wound me! I am ever so much more subtle than that. [He grins].

Sprout: Hmm.

End notes: 'I for one am glad that Mr. Malfoy transferred to Ravenclaw, especially as it means my Badger will not have any extra opportunities to demean Professor Quirrell while in class.'

. . .

27 November, 1991 – First year classes (Wednesday)

HOM – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
DADA – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff, Slytherin
Charms – Slytherin
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff

. . .

Date: 27 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: I don't understand why everyone thinks Draco is a prat!

Flitwick: Does that mean that you're getting on with him well?

Lisa: [She nods energetically].

Flitwick: How are the others in Ravenclaw treating him?

Side note: 'I know some of what goes on, but not all—in case you're wondering, Severus.'

Lisa: They're watching him a lot, but there have been a few who've talked to him.

Flitwick: Might I ask who?

Lisa: [She holds out a hand and counts off on her fingers]. Marcus Belby, Roger Davies, Wendy Tower, Duncan Inglebee, Arlen Grasmuck and that's about it so far.

Side note: 'Belby, Davies, Inglebee and Grasmuck are all purebloods. Wendy Tower is the younger sister of Mary Tower—your Slytherin prefect, Severus. I wonder if the older Miss Tower told her to be welcoming, or whether she merely did that on her own initiative?'

Flitwick: And why do you like Mr. Malfoy?

Lisa: He's smart and he's really funny.

Side note: 'I almost don't want to know what they laugh about together.'

Lisa: He's also very polite and he's a perfect gentleman! I can have civilized mealtimes with him, unlike some of the other ruffians in our house.

Side note: 'Ruffians?'

Flitwick: So, do you see yourself being friends with him?

Lisa: I do.

Flitwick: He could use a friend, Miss Turpin.

End notes: 'This year just became a great deal more interesting—and worrisome.'

. . .

Date: 27 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Sabrina: I don't understand how Lisa Turpin can have such bad taste.

Flitwick: [Hiding a smile behind his hand]. In what way?

Sabrina: Draco Malfoy is the most stuck up, miserable little prat I have ever had to deal with!

Flitwick: How so?

Sabrina: He's condescending to almost everyone. Did you know that he scourgified the seat that Eddie Carmichael was sitting on after he left, just because he's muggleborn!

Flitwick: [His eyebrows go up]. It does not surprise me that he is prejudiced, but I would have thought he would have hidden it better. Perhaps it was his lack of subtlety that kept him from fitting into Slytherin.

Sabrina: Perhaps it's his lack of humanity. [She says with a dark scowl].

Flitwick: I know that his presence around the house is stressful for you, but I think you should not ignore him. Perhaps you can show him that purebloods are not the only people worth interacting with?

Sabrina: Maybe I'll just learn a few really nasty hexes. I heard a rumour that Hermione Granger is teaching Ron Weasley how to defend himself.

Flitwick: I heard that rumour as well. I would hope though, that if you do choose that route, you do so in secret. In other words, I don't want to know! [He laughs]. That is, of course, as long as you are safe. I simply do not wish to be required to take points from my own house, you see.

Sabrina: [She smiles]. Maybe I'll show him how subtle a real Ravenclaw can be.

Flitwick: Be careful.

End notes: 'I should not have made it seem as though I was encouraging her to hex Mr. Malfoy. I hope she is smart enough to refrain from doing idiotic.'

. . .

Date: 27 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: How has your week been this time around?

Michael: You mean with Malfoy in the house now?

Flitwick: Or your research. Whichever. [He smiles].

Michael: Just because I can't trace my family back to the days of the Founders [he sneers], it doesn't mean that I am any less pureblooded than Malfoy. That also doesn't mean that I'm going to put up with the drivel that he seems incapable of containing in his mouth.

Flitwick: So you don't care for him?

Michael: My family has informed me that I am not to say a word with him; that I am to be polite and courteous at all times, but if he tries something against me or mine, then I can do as I feel fit to retaliate.

Flitwick: Who do you consider part of yours?

Michael: My house, my year mates. [He shrugs]. I mean, most of them can take care of themselves, but some, like Sabrina, just can't think straight with him around. And I think Sabrina is my friend now. [He says with some uncertainty].

Flitwick: What makes you think that?

Michael: Well . . . [he scratches his neck]. We study together a lot. She helped me figure out some of the legislature about vampires, and she's helping me look up information about other magical creatures. She's a really good researcher.

Side note: 'A high compliment from a Ravenclaw.'

Flitwick: Perhaps you should share some of your research with Mr. Malfoy.

Michael: If I thought he could follow it, I might.

Flitwick: Mr. Malfoy is actually a rather intelligent young man.

Side note: 'At least, in some ways.'

Michael: [He snorts]. As much as he sticks his foot in his mouth, the hat should have just sorted him into Gryffindor and been done with it.

Flitwick: [He frowns]. I doubt that Mr. Malfoy would have been very safe in Gryffindor.

Michael: If he keeps up with his current attitude, he's not going to be safe in Ravenclaw either! I already heard Stretton and Burns talking about pranking him something awful, just to teach him a lesson.

Side note: 'Why must the 3rd year students be full of troublemakers? Jeremy Stretton and Lexi Burns are no Weasley twins, but they are worrisome in their own right. Likewise, Cedric Diggory is hardly a golden child, despite what his father may think. Miles Bletchley, Adrian Pucey . . . all of these boys spend more time in detention than they do in class, nearly.'

Flitwick: They best not cause him any serious harm. [He frowns]. Despite popular opinion, he is a Ravenclaw now, and I sleep better at night knowing that my children are safe.

Michael: [He smiles, but his cheeks are pink with embarrassment]. Your children?

Flitwick: My students, I meant. [He says, clearing his throat loudly].

Michael: Ah. [His grin increases].

Flitwick: Oh be quiet.

End notes: 'An embarrassing slip of the tongue, to be sure.'

. . .

Date: 27 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Draco Malfoy

Flitwick: Ah, Mr. Malfoy. I imagine that you've had a rather interesting week thus far.

Draco: [He snorts]. Interesting is certainly one way to put it.

Flitwick: How else would you describe it?

Draco: [He looks pensive]. Harrowing, terrifying, miserable, lonely, infuriating . . . the usual.

Flitwick: I admit, Mr. Malfoy, I did not expect you to be so open with me.

Draco: [He frowns]. My father has told me that you don't have any legal ties to Slytherin or to the Malfoy family, and therefore I should try to be as honest with you as possible.

Flitwick: I do appreciate that, Mr. Malfoy. In turn, I will keep your confidences as best I can, unless you are in imminent danger from yourself or another.

Draco: [He looks down at the floor]. Thank you.

Flitwick: Tell me, have you made any friends yet within Ravenclaw?

Draco: Maybe.

Flitwick: Maybe?

Draco: Lisa Turpin seems rather nice. Marcus Belby offered to introduce me around a bit, and he said that he wouldn't let anyone demean me or my family—at least while he's present.

Flitwick: That was courteous of him. [He nods approvingly].

Draco: Yes well, you know his uncle created the Wolfsbane potion, right?

Flitwick: [He nods]. I do.

Draco: Well, as it turns out, Marcus is a rather good brewer too. I think we might be able to work together some in that regards. Too bad we won't be able to work in one of Professor Snape's spare laboratories.

Flitwick: Why not? I thought they were open to students.

Draco: [He gives a mirthless ghost of a smile]. Professor Snape despises me.

Flitwick: Surely not!

Draco: He finds me an embarrassment and hardly worth more than a handful of lacewing flies.

Flitwick: Are you certain that his regard is so low for you?

Draco: Of course it is. Why else would he have allowed me to be resorted? [He looks away suddenly, blinking hard].

Flitwick: [Speaking softly]. I don't think he had much choice in the matter, lad.

Draco: Professor Snape knows everything that goes on within his dungeons. There's no way he could have not known. He's been friends with my father since before I was born!

Flitwick: That doesn't mean that he had any say in the matter.

Draco: If I had been one of his favourites, he would have fought for me.

Flitwick: You do not know for sure that he is not.

Draco: [He shakes his head]. He would have said something to me. Instead, he is ignoring me. My potion was a perfectly good one on Monday, but he only had words for those around me.

Flitwick: Professor Snape is human too, Mr. Malfoy. It is possible that he did not know how to act around you. Perhaps he was worried that you would not talk to him.

Draco: [He frowns]. I didn't think he ever got worried about what other people think.

Flitwick: [He smiles gently]. He does, Mr. Malfoy. He is still a rather young man himself, you know.

Draco: [He snorts]. I don't have much to say to that. I think I'm going to need a while to figure this out.

Flitwick: You are hardly the only one who is confused.

End notes: 'Mr. Malfoy is a troubled young man, but that doesn't mean that he is hopeless.'

. . .

28 November, 1991 – First year classes (Thursday)

DADA – Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
Transfiguration – Gryffindor
Charms – Gryffindor
Herbology – Slytherin/Ravenclaw

. . .

Date: 28 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: [With a frown]. Why are you limping, Mr. Weasley?

Ron: Hmm? Am I still limping?

McGonagall: [She narrows her eyes]. What do you mean "still limping?"

Ron: [He shrinks back in his chair a bit]. It's not a big deal.

McGonagall: Has someone hurt you? Or did you do this yourself?

Ron: Both? [His voice squeaks].

McGonagall: [She puts her face in her hand]. Let me guess. It's Granger again, isn't it.

Ron: He just hexed me a little too strong.

McGonagall: Strongly, Mr. Weasley. And Ms. Granger is a "she." I would appreciate it if you would not encourage her in this . . . this obsession of hers.

Ron: [He frowns]. It's not an obsession. Hermes really is a boy. He just wasn't born with the right stuff.

McGonagall: The "right stuff," Mr. Weasley? [She smirks at his obvious discomfort].

Ron: You know what I mean! Why are you making this such a big deal?

McGonagall: It is not her decision to question the laws of nature!

Ron: That is the most . . . [He growls in frustration]. That's just completely bonkers. Hermes doesn't act anything like a girl. He's just not.

McGonagall: It may not be evident now, but in a few years when you and your classmates reach puberty, this . . . illusion Ms. Granger is suffering from will become a much larger concern. It will be easier on her in the long run if we nip this in the bud now.

Ron: [He shakes his head]. You don't understand at all.

Side note: 'Funny, I was about to say the same thing to you, Mr. Weasley.'

McGonagall: I think I understand far more than you do.

End notes: 'This was a rather unsatisfactory session.'

. . .

Date: 28 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: Tell me, Mr. Longbottom. Does Ron Weasley have any friends in Gryffindor?

Neville: Sure he does.

McGonagall: Who does he spend the most time with?

Neville: Well, he spends a lot of time around his brothers, Fred and George, but I think he spends most of his time with Hermes.

McGonagall: [Her lips purse in distaste]. Hermes?

Neville: Yeah, you know Granger? That's Hermes.

McGonagall: And what do you think of . . . Hermes?

Neville: [Licking his lips, he visibly thinks for a moment before answering]. Really smart. Hermes doesn't just answer a question; he figures out all of the alternatives and then tells you what you should have asked about to begin with. [He smiles].

McGonagall: You don't ever worry about him? [She frowns as she says "him"].

Neville: Who? [He raises an eyebrow]. Hermes or Ron?

McGonagall: [With a smirk]. Either.

Neville: [He shrugs nonchalantly, but he is beginning to fidget]. Hermes is really careful about the people he's around. He's not around me much, but at least he says hi. He doesn't even acknowledge some of the other Gryffindors.

McGonagall: [With a curious expression]. Anyone that Hermes avoids in particular?

Neville: Parvati and Lavender. [He shrugs again]. But that's not a big deal.

McGonagall: Why not?

Neville: Well, they're really girly and giggly and it's sort of hard to talk to them.

McGonagall: Ah. Thank you for letting me know.

End notes: 'Next week I hope to get back to Mr. Longbottom himself.'

. . .

Date: 28 November, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: What do you think of Ms. Granger?

Parvati: [She scowls]. She's a freak.

McGonagall: [Her eyebrows raise]. I hope you don't say that to her face.

Parvati: Believe me . . . [she laughs], if she ever came close enough for me to say something, I wouldn't insult her.

McGonagall: Why not?

Parvati: Because she'd probably shove her knife into my back and then hide my dead body in the castle somewhere!

McGonagall: Surely you jest.

Parvati: [She huffs in annoyance]. Fine! Then you insult her and see if you're still around next week!

McGonagall: Is she truly that dangerous?

Parvati: She's like some kind of Death Eater in disguise. She's the scariest of all of the Slytherins. She's creepy and she never smiles and she stares at everyone all the time. I hate her! I wish she weren't at Hogwarts. I hate having her in my classes, just staring at everyone. If she's not a vampire, then she should be. She's the weirdest person in the school.

Side note: 'I had not expected such a vehement response.'

McGonagall: Is it possible she's not just shy?

Parvati: [She snorts in distaste]. No, she can talk. She talks to Ron anyway, though I don't know why. I used to think he was pretty normal, but I'm not so sure anymore.

McGonagall: Does she talk to any girls at all?

Parvati: [Thinking]. Bulstrode. She talks to Bulstrode, but I don't know why, since Bulstrode never talks back. I don't know why the Slytherins think they're so great with their pureblooded BS; it's obvious that those giant boulders like Bulstrode and Goyle are the results of too much inbreeding. [She scowls].

McGonagall: [Shocked]. Ms. Patil! I won't have you saying such prejudiced things!

Parvati: [She huffs]. Well you asked.

McGonagall: [She sniffs in disdain]. I believe that I only asked about Ms. Granger.

Parvati: [She looks away and rolls her eyes].

End notes: 'Oh, very mature, Ms. Patil.'

. . .

29 November, 1991 – First year classes (Friday)

HOM – Hufflepuff/Slytherin, Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Potions – Slytherin/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Ravenclaw, Slytherin
Charms – Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff

. . .

Date: 1 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 30 November, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'Braver than a Gryffindor, more loyal than a Hufflepuff, and in some ways, smarter than a Ravenclaw. Now I know why the Hat felt it best to place him in Slytherin.'

Snape: I noticed that you are no longer spending all of your spare time in the company of Mr. Malfoy.

Vince: [Looking more relaxed than he has in past weeks]. Notice that, did you? Hard to stick by his side constantly when you only see him a few times a week. We only have one class together, and that's with Sprout, so there isn't really much time to say anything.

Snape: I do hope that this means you are allowed to perform better in your classes now.

Vince: Oh yeah! Maybe I'll answer a question or two, just to see everyone's faces! Oh, I bet McGonagall's would be great! You know she just thinks I'm an idiot.

Snape: Actually, I doubt very much that she feels that way.

Vince: [He looks doubtful]. No offense sir, but you don't have to go to class with her.

Snape: [He gives a small bark of surprised laughter]. Very true, Vince. Very true. However, given that I used to be a student here, I do know what it's like to be a Slytherin in her class. Believe me when I tell you this: It's not you.

Vince: [He smiles]. It's kind of hard to think about; you know, your being a student.

Snape: I am only thirty-one, Vince. [His smile is suddenly slightly sombre].

Vince: [He looks surprised].

Snape: I have aged prematurely, I fear. [His right hand lightly traces over his left forearm, almost without realising it].

Vince: [He reaches out and grasps Snape's hand]. I'm not. I won't.

Snape: [He looks vaguely surprised]. Won't what, Vince?

Vince: [In a firm voice]. I won't become a Death Eater.

Snape: [He smiles and squeezes Vince's hand lightly before releasing it]. I'm glad to hear it.

Side note: 'If only we knew for sure.'

Snape: How does Slytherin feel with Mr. Malfoy no longer there?

Vince: [He smiles]. More relaxed. It's like he just stopped existing. I heard a bunch of upper years talking about how they were just going to pretend he didn't exist and not even try to bother him in the hallways.

Snape: Probably the best solution for them all.

Vince: I don't think so.

Snape: No? [He raises an eyebrow].

Side note: 'A thinking Snake; this could be either very bad, or very good.'

Vince: His father wouldn't have made him change houses unless he had something planned for him. He doesn't much care about Draco's "happiness," you know.

Snape: Unfortunately, yes I do know.

Vince: I'm going to keep my eyes open and try to remain on his good side for a while, best I can. It shouldn't be too hard; like I said before, it's not as though I see him much.

Snape: I shouldn't have to worry about telling you to be careful.

Vince: [With a slight blush]. You shouldn't, but I don't mind. [He shyly smiles at Snape].

Snape: [Leaning forward, he reaches out and grasps both of Vince's hands]. Please be careful, Vince. I would be very dismayed if something happened to you.

Vince: [His blush deepens]. Thank you. [He says in a whisper].

End notes: 'He finds it pleasant to be worried over and cared about. I wish I could see firsthand what his family is like from the inside-out.'

. . .

Date: 1 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 30 November, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'Remarkably adept at staying out of the way, yet knows about everything that is going on. S/he could potentially make a good spy.'

Snape: Tell me, if you would, what would happen if someone were to find you when you didn't want to be found?

Hermes: [Raising an eyebrow and crossing hir arms defensively]. I would figure out what I did wrong and then never do it again in the future.

Snape: [He nods]. What would you say if they asked you what you were doing?

Hermes: [S/he sneers]. I would tell them the truth. There is no better lie than the truth, especially if it sounds unlikely.

Snape: [He gives a small smile]. Very true, Mr. Granger.

Hermes: [S/he relaxes slightly].

Side note: 'It's amazing how much one little word can completely change a person's demeanour.'

Snape: Is it easy to hide when you are in the muggle world?

Hermes: [S/he scowls for a moment]. It depends.

Snape: On location? [He raises a questioning eyebrow].

Hermes: [S/he nods quickly]. It's very easy to hide in a crowd. When people think you're an outcast or a freak of some sort, they do their best to keep from really looking at you. They see what they want to see.

Snape: [He nods]. I'm curious Mr. Granger. If it is not too embarrassing or personal a question, might I inquire as to what toilet you use?

Hermes: [S/he snarls a smile]. In the muggle world, when I go back, I think I'll try getting away with the boy's. Unfortunately . . . [Hir smile becomes more like a grimace], here everyone thinks I'm a girl, and I have to use the girl's facilities.

Snape: I imagine . . . [He says in a delicate way], that it must be very embarrassing for you.

Hermes: [S/he looks relieved and nods].

Snape: If you like, you may use the toilet that is located just past the Potions' classroom. It is a single toilet and the door locks. The password is 'Veritas.'

Hermes: [Hir eyebrows raise in surprise]. I haven't seen anyone go in there.

Snape: You must not be watching me closely enough then. [He gives a small smile].

Hermes: Thank you so much, sir. [Hir voice is very quiet, but hir eyes are bright].

Snape: It is no trouble.

Side note: 'I did not tell him that this was our secret, or anything of that nature. I do not wish to spook him by making him think that he owes me something of the perverse form. Plus, I think I know Mr. Granger well enough to see that he will value this secret and keep it to himself.'

Snape: Might I ask one more question of you today?

Hermes: Just a question? No favours? [Hir smile is slightly uncomfortable].

Snape: Just a question. [He affirms with a nod].

Hermes: Go ahead then, but I reserve the right to be silent.

Snape: [He smirks]. How are you getting along with Millicent Bulstrode?

Hermes: Oh. It's fine, sir.

Snape: Are you certain?

Hermes: She's very shy about her body, and more reserved than an eighteenth century old maid.

Snape: [He snorts].

Hermes: I think that it will continue to work out for now. [S/he says slowly].

Snape: [He nods]. If you're certain.

Hermes: [With a small smile]. I enjoy having someone to talk to in the evenings.

Snape: And Ms. Bulstrode agrees?

Hermes: [S/he nods]. Yes. We get along very well. It was . . . surprising to me though. To be able to talk to a girl, that is. I don't really understand them, but Millie is different. She isn't like other girls.

Snape: [He smiles]. I'm glad that you can talk to her comfortably.

Hermes: Me too.

End notes: 'It is a comfort to know that he can talk to someone when I'm not as accessible. Of course, I don't delude myself into thinking I would be the first person he would come to should he be in trouble, but at least I think our relationship is improving.'

. . .

Date: 1 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws (and by choice). His Aunt is currently on wizarding trial for child abuse.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'Much smarter than anyone gives him credit for.'

Harry: Daddy Sev! [He shouts, running into Severus' quarters and clambering into his lap. Once there, he wraps his arms around Severus' neck and sticks his face against his shoulder].

Snape: Hello Harry. [He says while wrapping his arms around Harry's back and shoulders].

Harry: [Sniffing Severus].

Snape: What are you doing, Harry?

Harry: Sniffings you.

Snape: Yes, I was aware of that. But why?

Harry: 'Cause you smells good. Safes. Nice. [He sniffs again]. My papa pa smells like you's and you smells like my papa pa! [He giggles].

Snape: [He snorts]. Are you only able to smell me in my quarters?

Harry: [Shaking his head against Severus' shoulder and then looking up at him]. Noes. I cans smells you here, but I cans also smells you when we first gets to Potions. And I can tells if you've been in da Infirmary that day whens I goes to have my Poppy fix me some more. Ands . . . [he leans back a bit as he thinks]. I can tells when you've beens in the lib'ary and what spotses you spented yours times in the mostest. You really likes the potions' section, and you knows what I thinks? [He peers up at Severus with bright eyes].

Snape: [He shakes his head in the negative]. What do you think, Harry?

Harry: I think some of them books were yours befores they went to lives in the lib'ary. The pages smell just likes you. [He nods].

Side note: 'I had no idea he was this adept at smelling me. I wonder if it is because I'm some sort of obsession for him?'

Snape: I am impressed, Harry. [He smiles and then takes Harry's face in his hands and kisses his forehead].

Harry: [He flaps his hands happily and leans back in to kiss Severus several times on each cheek]. You kisses me!

Snape: [Still smiling]. I did indeed, Harry.

Harry: He claps his hands together softly. You kisses me and I kisses you and that's 'cause we loves each others! [His smile is broad and happy]. And I is your pup, and you is my daddy Sev and my Papa Pa and my 'Fessor Snapes, all together likes. And I gets you to hug and you gets to tuck me ins and I gets to tell you I loves you and you don't evers hit me for it or lock me in my cupboard. Nope nope nope.

Snape: [His expression is slightly shocked]. Your cupboard?

A later side note: 'After reviewing the notes for the previous sessions, I noticed that he did refer to his cupboard once before, but I was too caught up in what else he was saying to really be aware of the implications of it.'

Harry: [He nods and twists his fingers around one another]. My cupboard. My room wit' the Dursleys. They saids that freaks don't need rooms. You justs shoves them away in da corner and hopes they runs away before they make a mess and yous have to rub they faces in it.

Snape: [Briefly scowling]. Did your aunt think you were a puppy?

Harry: [He frowns]. I thinks she thoughts I was a monster.

Side note: 'The sad thing is, he's probably correct.'

Snape: You are not.

Harry: [Smiling shyly at Severus]. 'Cause I'm a pup?

Snape: [He smiles and looks Harry in the eye]. Because you are a Harry.

Harry: [His smile broadens once more and he claps his hands]. A Harry! I likes that! And Harry's are magic, they are they are. They cans makes stuff fly and they cans fly and they cans smells their friends and their Papa Pas and they can hugs their Daddy Sevs and make him smiles. [He flaps his fingers a bit].

Snape: Are you enjoying your classes still, Harry child?

Harry: [He looks up from where he is comparing his hand to Severus']. I do! I changed a snails into a tea cup ands P'fessor McGon'gall smiled at me and saids that I dids the bestest in our class for the day!

Snape: Very good, Harry. Even better than Mr. Granger?

Harry: Hermes did a goods ones too, but P'fessor McGon'gall saids that mine was prettiers. [He nods]. It had swirls kinda likes the snail's dids, but they wasn't bumpy or anything. McGon'gall said that presentations is just as importants as functions, she did.

Snape: It is. [He nods].

Harry: [With a yawn]. And my P'fessor Flitwick saids that I'm at the tops of the class in Charms. You know whats?

Snape: What, Harry? [He cards a hand through Harry's hair].

Harry: [He drops his head on Severus' shoulder and sighs happily]. I glads that Draco's not in Charms no more. He used ta hit me da stuff we was charming. He saids it was on accident, but I thinks he mighta been lying. That's bads, right?

Snape: [He frowns even as he wraps an arm around Harry]. That's very bad. Mr. Malfoy should have had enough control over his magic to avoid doing something like that on accident. Which means . . .

Harry: . . . He dids it on purpose. [Harry yawns again and closes his eyes]. Yeahs. My Vince-y saids so too. And Caddy hit him backs with a book da last times we levitated stuff and he acc'dently hit me. [He grins at the memory].

Snape: Good for Caddy.

Harry: [In a sing-song voice with his eyes still closed]. Harry's Caddy . . . Harry's Daddy . . . [He smiles and relaxes further. Moments later, he is fast asleep].

End notes: 'Filius, I would pay money to see your memories from that day in your class.'

. . .

Later that night – Just before midnight (1 December, 1991)

Severus awoke with a start when his wards went off. Quickly rising from his bed, he donned his slippers and robe and immediately went to check on Harry. The small boy was asleep in the middle of his bed, his body barely big enough to make a lump under the numerous covers surrounding him. Severus closed the door to his room with a smile and then quickly left his quarters to head for the Slytherin dorms.

As he got closer and became more awake, he realised that the blaring internal sounding ward was one that he had recently placed to alert him to his Snakes' particularly violent nightmares. He traversed the space between his quarters and the Slytherin dorms much faster than a student would have been able to do. In fact, he had an entire secret corridor to himself.

There were bad nightmares and then there were extremely violent ones; nightmares that had the potential to hurt the dreamer or that person's roommates. This was the latter.

He made his way into the dorm and instinctively headed for the girls' rooms. The sensation in his mind was becoming stronger with each step he took, and when he finally stopped in front of one door in particular, he knew that he had the correct destination.

Opening the door slowly and carefully, he made his way into Millicent Bulstrode's and Hermes Granger's dorm room.

Chapter Text

He knew he was different. He had always known, but it hadn't been so obvious until the last few years.

In a way, he almost felt sorry for his mother—almost. She had wanted a little girl to dress up and play dolls with, and instead of that, she had gotten completely the opposite. If he had actually been born a boy, it would have made things far easier on her, but she, like the rest of everyone else, thought he was a girl.

Hell, even he had thought he was a girl at first, but it was just so hard.

He had been rather verbose from a young age, as most Grangers were, and had an opinion about most things before he could even walk. His mother had quickly gotten the message that he didn't want to wear pink or purple, or any of those other disgusting pastel shades that made him feel like a bloody Easter egg out on display.

His mother had compromised with him, in a way. She still got to dress him up, but he got to pick the colours, and those tended toward the dark and demure, with the occasional sprig of something primary added to keep him from "looking like Death's flower girl" (his mother's words).

All, repeat, all he wanted to do as a kid was read books and sit in the floor playing with Legos, Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs. All his mother wanted him to do was play with dolls, dress up in little outfits and be shown off at tea parties. It would have helped if he'd been athletically inclined, but he wasn't—not really anyway. He liked watching as much as the next person, but he had better things to do with his time than run around and get his head bashed in for fun.

As perhaps an unsurprising side effect; he wasn't particularly comfortable around girls. He didn't know how to relate, how to talk to them, how to make it seem like he was one of them. And when he did try to "mingle" (another mother phrase), he felt like a spy trying to infiltrate enemy lands, more than aware than any wrong move could get him in deep.

It wasn't just that he was a tomboy, because it was more than that. When he was around his male cousins, or even the boys at school, he felt a sense of camaraderie that didn't exist around the so-called "weaker sex" (mother's words). He wasn't afraid to roughhouse or get his clothes dirty; in fact, he almost thought of it as a bonus to get his pretty school dresses messed up. His sense of humour was much cruder than what most girls would admit to, even from a young age.

He couldn't seem to get it into his head why exactly girls were the way the way were, while boys were another, because to him, the lines were much more blurred, much less definite. He had always enjoyed taking things apart to figure out how they worked, but social norms, social understandings didn't work the same way. You couldn't pull apart an idea nearly as readily, especially one that was seemingly held together with hundreds of years of finicky and, at times, idiotic tradition.

Perhaps he could have done all right with how he had been going; a girl in physicality only, a boy in everything else, if not for the negative reactions of those around him. His mother, although somewhat lenient in his younger years, became somewhat tyrannical as he neared the end of his eighth year of life. She had somehow gotten it stuck in her mind that his little exploits were all part of childish fun, but now that he was "growing up," it was time to move on.

His schoolmates, upon learning that they were in fact different from the girls whom they sometimes played with, began to snub him from their games, leaving him stuck somewhere in the middle of the two genders. The girls were worse though. They actively sought him out for ridicule; trying very hard to prove his worthlessness to him through cruel words and crueller actions.

"Freak!" Was an often heard accusation on his way across the playground; one that he heard almost enough to get used to—but not quite, not when he so desperately wanted to believe he was more than the words and opinions of his peers.

There wasn't a day that he didn't spend verbally maligned; that someone did not ask him a derogatory question. Every day he was ostracized, treated like the worst of the worst and frequently threatened with more than just creative insults.

Even his cousins, in the last couple of years before he became a Hogwarts student, even they eventually failed him.

. . .

Severus opened the door and walked into Granger and Bulstrode's room. Bulstrode was awake and standing at the side of Granger's bed, but she quickly backed off when she saw who it was.

"Does this sort of thing happen very often?" Severus asked, quickly settling himself on the side of Hermes' bed and grabbing the boy's hands before they could claw much more damage onto the already deeply scratched flesh.

Wordlessly, Millicent shook her head. Then, in a soft voice, "He doesn't—I've never seen him hurt like this before."

Severus nodded sharply, and then began murmuring encouragements to Hermes to wake up. The boy was still crying, but no longer screaming, and it seemed that the nightmare was beginning to wane.

"Did he say anything?" Severus asked, watching how Bulstrode twitched in surprise at his choice of pronoun.

"Only that he wanted it off, over and over again," Millicent answered softly as she watched her head of house slowly gather Hermes closer to his chest.

. . .

He awoke slowly from the nightmare, strangely content in the sensation of safety, even as the pain continued to ebb at the edges of his consciousness. It was a familiar dream unfortunately. In the beginning, it had simply caused him stress, but as of late, that stress had taken on a physical level of pain.

The dream always began the same way; he was in his mother's room, dressed in some kind of idiotic frilly display that she insisted on him wearing. She would part and tease his hair until it felt like some kind of horrible hat that refused to come off. The dress would be even worse, full of lace and uncomfortable itchy spots and see-through elements that always made his stomach turn.

Then suddenly, he would snap and start screaming that he didn't want to go to the ball in a costume, and his mother would explain oh-so-calmly that he wasn't in costume.

"Go on, try and take it off," she'd suggest, that knowing gleam in her eye, and he'd shudder at its sight, knowing that things were going to get worse before they got better.

But he'd try, he always try, and that's when the nightmare would start. He'd get off a layer, and find another one underneath; he'd rip the pins out of his hair, only to find that his hair still wouldn't move. He'd try to take a shower, but the water wouldn't work, and people would keep getting in his way, and he'd slide back and forth on the floor in those far too slick shoes and itchy hose until falling apart in the corner of a backroom somewhere.

. . .

"Child?" Severus asked softly when Hermes' breathing changed.

"I'm in Hogwarts?" Was his first question. Hermes' voice shook, and Severus could feel the trembling spreading into other parts of his body as well.

"In the Slytherin dorms in fact," Severus answered calmly, giving a nod to Millicent when she hesitantly began moving forward.

"Hermes?" Millicent's soft voice broke the uncertain silence.

Hermes turned his head from where it was unknowingly buried in Severus' chest, and launched himself forward far enough to grab her arm. He pulled it to where he was enmeshed next to Severus and then proceeded to hold onto the both of them in an unusual demonstration of neediness.

"I'll—I'll be okay in a mo'," Hermes whispered over and over, pressing his forehead back against Severus' chest while desperately holding onto Millicent's arm as though it were his only lifeline.

"You do not have to be, Hermes," Severus soothed, idly checking over the young boy's wounds and deciding that they were superficial enough to delay being healed while they gave him what else he needed.

"I'm not going anywhere," Millicent bravely added, causing Hermes to lift a tear stained face toward her and smile.

"Thanks," Hermes whispered, knowing he'd feel guilty for this later on, but not really able to care yet. There were so many times that he had wanted to be held just like this and hadn't; he simply couldn't bring himself to make them let go yet.

It wasn't just the tormenting that he had endured at the hands of his peers and family. It wasn't just knowing that he could never fit in no matter where or what he did. It was more, there was so much more that he still couldn't put a voice to; past situations that he still could not bring himself to envision, let alone speak about.

Ones that he would almost rather forget about, and get his revenge later on for, if he really thought he could.

. . .

Somehow, it didn't surprise Severus in the least to discover that Harry's cousin was morbidly obese. It fit the equation of everything else he knew about the family thus far. Everything that was denied to Harry was given to the cousin, and everything that the large boy needed in regard to discipline was given to Harry.

It made his head hurt—and his heart, although that was something he preferred not examine in too much length while not in his quarters.

He strode quickly down the children's hospital section of St. Mungo's, heading toward one room in particular. Most of the children on the corridor were muggle, and a good many of them would have to undergo partial if not total obliviates before being allowed to leave.

Perhaps, with any luck, Dudley Dursley would not have to be one of those; although it was unlikely that anyone on the outside would consider it lucky to get out via Severus' plans.

He found a nurse to let him into the boy's room—as a child of criminals, young Dursley's room was locked up tighter than some of the cells in Azkaban.

Inside, he found a charmed window that showed a large field of grass, waving fields and the like.

Probably someone higher up considers the view to be idyllic or peaceful, he snorted silently to himself.

As a boy who was much more familiar with the sights of a city or its surrounding area, that sort of empty view would likely inspire depression and isolation if he were not watched carefully. At least, that's how Severus thought a younger version of himself would have felt, if he had found himself in similar circumstances.

The boy that raised his head from the bed in the centre of the room wasn't nearly as overweight as he had been. Severus knew that most of the healers had not seen such a bad case of purposeful overfeeding in many of the years working in the hospital, muggle and wizarding alike. Certainly, there were any number of accidental magic situations that caused such bloating, but to do it to one's own child in the name of love . . . it was easy to understand why the healers found Dudley's case to be so very worrisome.

"Mr. Dursley?" Snape asked as he swept into the room.

The boy on the bed only grunted and turned away from him.

"Dudley, I believe your name is?" Snape tried again, feeling unusually charitable to this boy locked in a pretty box.

"Got it in one," the boy growled, still not deigning to look at him.

"I'm here to talk to you about your cousin," Snape stated, pulling up a chair and dropping lightly into it.

Merlin, it was hard to believe that this giant lump of a boy was the same age as Harry.

"Great," the lump—er, Dudley answered dully.

"Tell me, Mr. Dursley—Dudley," Snape said, putting a tad more menace into his voice.

He could tell that it worked when Dudley turned in his bed to glare back at him.

"Do you hate your cousin?"

Dudley snorted and crossed large arms over his chest. "Hate? Why should I hate the little shit?"

Licking his lips carefully, lest he do something he would regret, Snape leaned back in his seat and levelled a dark look of his own on the boy in front of him.

"Do you think that your father's treatment of Harry was fair?"

"He deserved it," was Dudley's vehement response.

Snape smiled coldly and watched Dudley recoil slightly.

"And if you had been at the receiving end of your father's . . . discipline, would you have deserved it as well?"

Silence. Then, "I didn't do anything wrong!"

"Of course not," Snape continued to smile that cold almost snarl of a grin. "Likely enough, if you had stood up for your cousin, your father's insane treatment would have been passed to you as well. It was only for your survival that you treated Harry the way you did."

"My parents love me! They didn't want that . . . that freak!"

"And how did you feel about him?" Snape cocked his head to the side, outwardly at ease, even though his insides hurt from the tension of keeping himself in check.

Dudley finally looked away again and shrugged. "It's not like he was really a person," the large boy mumbled.

"Mr. Dursley," Snape sighed, "I strongly encourage you never to own a pet."

"I always wanted a dog," was Dudley's softly voiced answer.

"So instead you chose to treat Harry as your pet? Kicking him around whenever he didn't do exactly what you wished?"

"No!" Dudley's eyes were wide. "I didn't want him at all! I just wanted him to be gone! I wanted them to forget about him altogether!"

"Ah, so you do admit that your father had a bit of an unhealthy interest in Harry," Snape pointed out. It was a truth he was already aware of, but not one that he was necessarily comfortable with.

"Always the freak this, always the freak that!" Dudley huffed angrily. "I just wanted him gone! I didn't want him like that."

"Like what?" Snape's eyes were glittering dangerously.

Dudley's shoulders sagged. "Like that . . . hurt like that."

"So your father's treatment began to have negative consequences on him?"

At Dudley's blank look, Snape rolled his eyes and rephrased, "Did the way your father treat Harry cause him to have problems? Not just physical, but mental as well? Did your father's treatment cause Harry to change?"

The plump boy opposite him looked decidedly unwell as he chewed his lower lip and refused to answer.

"I see," Snape's answer was icy as he stood up and walked away from the miserable lump of a boy.

"I just wanted him miserable," Dudley's plaintive voice called out as he opened the door. "I didn't want him messed up."

"Took the fun out of it for you, did it?" Were Snape's parting words over his shoulder.

Dudley didn't answer and Snape closed the door firmly behind him.

. . .

"Hello Tuney," Snape said in greeting down there in the bowels of the holding cells under the Ministry. As a muggle prisoner awaiting the results of trial, Petunia Dursley didn't deserve Azkaban . . . at least not yet.

"Simpering, sneaky Snape," Petunia snarled back; as she pushed her body against the iron bars of her prison cell.

"At least your mind hasn't gone yet," Snape answered, looking in cold disdain over the woman who had lived to make his son's life hell. Her hair was limp and dirty where it lay around her long face, and her clothes were almost as ragged and ill fitting as Harry's had been at one time. It was clear that she had lost weight, but unlike her son, she could ill afford to lose it.

"Just me and my memories, Slimy Snapey," she hissed. "All those people I hate—oh, like you!"

"Funny that we should be in agreement for once," Snape answered coldly, looking at the woman with barely concealed distaste.

"Not that I care, Snake," she spat. "But why are you here? Don't you have someone else's family to steal away from them? First Lily and now my husband and son! You don't have much left to take now!"

Snape stepped right up to the bars and grabbed the miserable whelp of a woman by the neck. "Just one bitch," he growled back, taking no pleasure in the thought that he could kill her without punishment. Anything could be permissible for the Boy-Who-Lived, especially against a known child abuser.

He released her and took a step backward, and reached into an inner robe pocket to pull out a handkerchief before visibly cleaning his hand of her filth.

Coughing now, Petunia dropped to one knee and glared balefully back up at him. "Always one to flaunt yourself in front of the rest of us, eh Snape? Why don't you force me to suc—."

"Silencio!" Snape growled out, casting wandlessly at her. He did not want to hear that phrase out of her mouth.

Turning to the darkness down the hallway, he motioned at the men waiting there to bring him forward.

"I actually am here on business, Tuney," he told the furious, but now wary woman. With a twitch of his wand, he ended the spell on her voice and nodded once again to the darkness.

Out of nowhere, the two aurors and their prisoner stepped into the weak light next to Petunia's cell.

"Dudders!" Petunia screamed, reaching thin arms out the bars to try and reach her son.

"Mummy!" Dudley was visibly shocked by the state of his mother, although he did not stop from going up to her and letting himself be hugged.

Severus gave them a moment or two of sentimental gushiness, and then he spoke again.

"The Ministry," he began, getting both Dursleys' attentions easily with his coolly spoken words. "In all of their great wisdom, have decided that in the face of such obvious and clear evidence of neglect in regard to their great boy saviour—that would be Mr. Potter to you, Dudley—that the business of punishment shall be chosen by the boy's new guardian."

"What do you m-mean, punishment?" Dudley asked in a stutter, his eyes wide again.

Snape was somewhat surprised that the boy had been able to follow his statement well enough to get something out of it. If not for the utter cruelty of young Dursley's actions, he would have almost thought the boy would have made a good Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. Brains were clearly not part of the package, or so it seemed.

"Why, punishment for what the harm your mother and father committed against your cousin," Snape answered coldly, his dark eyes shining with barely restrained malice.

"The freak! All of this is because of him!" Dudley screamed, throwing himself forward to try and strike Snape.

Easily sidestepping the boy, Snape let him plummet to the ground and then turned around to speak while looming over him. "You hadn't gotten that through your thick head yet?"

"He's just a freak!" Dudley's voice cracked with emotions, and behind Snape, he could hear Petunia's own miserable weeping. "He didn't count for anything, not like real people!"

"Not like you, Mr. Dursley?" Snape asked in a low voice, before crouching down and hauling up the great monstrosity onto his feet. He shoved the boy back toward his mother and stalked toward them both.

"As it happens," Snape stated more calmly than he would have thought himself capable of, "I am Harry's new guardian." Petunia gasped. "And I get to decide what happens to the both of you."

"Did you know," he started in a conversational tone, while glancing at the aurors to see that they were still with him. "Did you know that potions can be used to do many great things that muggle medicine cannot even begin to conceive of?"

No answer, but then again, he hadn't really expected one. Not from these.

"Indeed, back five hundred years or so ago, a potion was developed to ensure that Wizards could not favour one child too harshly over another? Hm, yes. It caused quite a scandal, if I remember my history correctly. You see, in those days, if one child were to be discovered a squib—that is non-magical—then they would often be taken off and killed secretly. Or worse yet, treated no better than a house elf, or slave, Mr. Dursley." His black eyes took in the frightened countenance of the boy in front of him, but refused to show him pity.

"Family equality, equality among siblings," Snape waved a negligent hand. "A quaint idea perhaps, but nothing really worth getting into a tizzy about, correct 'Tuney?" His smile was utterly without mirth.

"That—That boy is no child of mine," Petunia spat angrily, her eyes shining with bitterness.

"And that's the interesting part about magic," Snape retorted, clapping his hands together and inwardly delighting in the flinch that it caused in the two in front of him. "Raised in the same household with only you and Dudley as relatives, Harry's magic recognizes you two as family. Perhaps equality in blood would perhaps be a better description of this potion," he added thoughtfully as he put his hands behind his back and began to stroll up and down the small space in front of the cell.

"Sins of the father transfer to the other," Snape spat out, twiddling with his wand as he moved. "Pain sought is pain wrought," he smiled again and Petunia flinched at the sight. "You don't have to worry about him dying, 'Tuney."

Petunia's hands clamped down tighter around Dudley's arm and the boy squeaked at the sudden pressure.

"Ultionem mater," Snape whispered, directing his wand at Dudley's massive stomach. His words were the last piece of the spell that activated the potion that the boy had unknowingly ingested earlier that day.

"What did you do!" Petunia screamed at him, grabbing her boy and trying to turn him around.

Snape flicked his wand again and opened the gate to her cell. Instantly she rushed out and took Dudley's head in her hands.

A somewhat bewildered expression stared back out of the boy's once sullen eyes.

"Dudders?" Petunia was patting his face, smoothing his hair back. "What happened? What's wrong? Talk to your mummy!" She very nearly screamed again.

"Where are we mummy? I wanna go home," Dudley whispered, squeezing his arms around Petunia desperately.

Snape wanted to simply leave, but he knew that Petunia would round back on him eventually.

"What's wrong with him!" Petunia finally asked, stalking over to him with Dudley trailing meekly behind her.

"Wrong?" Snape's eyebrow quirked of its own volition.

"What did—what was that thing you said! What did it do!" Petunia screeched breathily.

"Ultionem mater?" He asked in a mild voice, his expression calm but his eyes turbulent with barely suppressed emotion.

"THAT!" Petunia flinched as she heard the words again, almost as if she thought he would curse her as well.

Snape stepped backward from her spitting range before answering. "Nothing more than what you deserve, dearest 'Tuney. Loosely translated, it means revenge of the mother," he suddenly hissed, leaning over her like a frighteningly large creature of the night. "Your Dudley has no more wrong with him than my Harry!"

And with that, he motioned for the aurors to stay with the distraught mother and her son as he strode out of those dark recesses and back into the sunlit world.

. . .

Date: 8 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws (and by choice).
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: The ministry on 7 December, 1991, informing him that his aunt's trial had concluded in his favour

Ongoing impressions: 'My peace after the end of a very long week.'

Severus: Do you feel different than you did at the beginning of the school year?

Harry: [He is curled up next to Severus after another jubilant entrance]. Feels . . . feels like . . . [his forehead scrunches up in thought] . . . like I can says what I means more than I could befores. You know, earlier like, when I was theres and not heres.

Side note: 'Strangely enough, that made a great deal of sense.'

Severus: [He nods and takes Harry's nearest hand]. Do you like your life here?

Harry: [With a wide grin, he nods enthusiastically]. Safe, safest heres.

Severus: [In a rougher voice]. Are you happy here? With me?

Harry: [With a strangely serious expression, as though he is trying to make a great effort to be completely present]. My . . . my uncle's families—both of thems, Auntie and Dudley, but also Auntie Marge . . . they, they hated me. [He frowns]. My Severus, my Papa Pa, my 'Fessor Snape . . . [He rubs his face down the side of Severus' arm]. They likes me. [He smiles]. Don't have to try so much. Don't have to hate me so much. Not so angry. Not so sad. I likes it here.

Severus: [With a relaxed expression, he pulls the boy up into his lap]. I like having you here. [His voice is very soft].

Harry: Miss Mary says that Father Christmas won't forgets me again this year!

Severus: I should think not! And did she say why he forgot you before?

Harry: Saids that Santa can't finds me without a fireplace. [He nods happily as he jerks his head toward the fireplace in the middle of the room]. Dursleys didn't have one, that's why he forgots me.

Side note: 'Oh Miss Mary. I shall have to find you a worthwhile Christmas present.'

Severus: I hope we can make this Christmas very memorable for you.

Harry: [Nodding again as he looks trustingly up at Severus]. Does my Papa Pa want anythings 'specially?"

Side note: 'There was a time in my past when I would have desperately wished to have been asked this very question.'

Severus: [With a sly smile]. Perhaps my very own Harry?

Harry: [With a laugh]. But you has that! Tell your Harry, please?

Severus: Hm. What do I want?

Harry: [He nods].

Severus: Perhaps my very own Harry would be willing to draw me a picture?

Harry: In a card maybes! [His expression is hopeful as he looks back up at Severus from his position on his lap].

Severus: In a Christmas card, then! [He laughs suddenly].

Harry: [He giggles in reaction to the unusual sound]. You sounds like Father Christmas. You dids.

Severus: [With a faux frown]. But where is my belly?

Harry: [He claps his hands together in delight]. Oh! You gives it out to all the Slytherins during the year, and thens you gets real fat during the summers!

Severus: [He rolls his eyes as he kisses the top of Harry's head]. Is that what you think little brat?

Harry: [With a happy smile]. I cans think that! 'Cause don't have to worry if you get mad, 'cause you wouldn't hurt me if you dids, so you won't, so I can think that!

Severus: [Hugging Harry and resting his chin against his head as he does]. Little pup, your reasoning hurts my head sometimes, but I love you anyway.

Harry: [Relaxing into Severus' chest]. I loves you most of everyones.

End note: 'I suspect that you do.'

Chapter Text

"Yeh did it, didn't yeh," Hadwyn said in lieu of a greeting, the next morning.

"Did it?" Severus sidestepped Hadwyn's larger form and continued into his sitting room. "I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific."

He was brought up short by the strong hand that grabbed his bicep and pulled him back around.

"Yeh cursed that Dursley boy," Hadwyn accused, his Scottish accent becoming thicker with every angry word.

"Nothing they did not deserve!" Severus spat back, having decided that the time for assuming innocence to be past. "Let go of me," he added in warning, twisting in Hadwyn's hard grip.

He wasn't at all prepared for his old friend to suddenly shove him into a nearby bookcase. Hadwyn's large forearm pressed itself into his throat and he stilled, knowing just how easily a healer could hurt someone when they wanted to.

"Yeh cursed that Dursley boy with Harry's mental state, and all in the name of family. You make me sick, old man," Hadwyn's eyes were blazing, but Severus still refused to back down and apologize. What was done was done.

"Only. Way. For Petunia. To understand," Severus gasped out, his vision beginning to gray out at the edges.

"Papa Pa?" A small voice came from the doorway and Hadwyn instantly released him.

The tiny first year walked directly in-between them and looked up with a fearful expression toward Hadwyn, followed by a worried one for Severus.

"You hurted my Papa Pa!" Harry's green eyes were shining brightly with betrayal as he glared back at Hadwyn.

"Harry, he cursed Dudley," Hadwyn tried to gently explain. "He hurt him in revenge for you."

"You don't hurt my Sev'rus!" Harry yelled back, small arms latching around one of Severus' larger ones and pulling the man in the direction of his room.

"Harry—," Hadwyn said, suddenly regretting his rash behaviour as he tried to reach toward Harry.

"No!" Harry screamed in a rare show of anger. "MINE!" He jumped up and down a few times to emphasize his point, and if it hadn't been such a serious situation, both adults would have been tempted to laugh. "MINE MINE MINE!" Harry howled, angry tears sliding down his cheeks as he used his wild magic to practically drag Severus to his bedroom.

Once inside, a strong gust of wind slammed his door shut and with a snap it locked.

. . .

Severus soon found himself planted firmly on Harry's bed with a very distressed child in his lap. Thin arms circled his neck and hot tears wetted the back of his robes, while he petted the boy's head and murmured soothing words in his ear.

Harry was too upset to put his distress into words. Hadwyn—his Hadwyn—had hurt HIS Severus, HIS protector, HIS Papa Pa; the one who kept him safe, the one who stood up for him, had been hurt by his Hadwyn. Now how on earth was he supposed to be able to trust the man, the dragon worker and mind healer whom he had become so fond of over the past few weeks?

And what had Hadwyn meant when he said his Severus had cursed Dudley? Why would his Severus have been involved anyway? His Severus belonged at Hogwarts! His Severus was in charge of the Slytherins and wouldn't be off doing other things when one of them might need him, right?

Revenge, Hadwyn said, his mind whispered. But revenge over what and how?

'He hurt him in revenge for you,' Hadwyn had said.

It didn't make sense. Not at all.

Frustrated, Harry suddenly slapped his hands down against his thighs. Severus stilled underneath him, but he didn't notice as he started to do it again. Seemingly out of nowhere, strong hands suddenly caught his arms and brought them together in between them.

"Dudley?" Harry whispered in open confusion, staring up at his Severus as he began trembling from the deluge of strong emotions flooding through him.

Under him, Severus sighed and leant forward to kiss his forehead.

"Petunia hurt you very badly," he began, speaking in a deep voice that rumbled through Harry's chest.

Harry nodded. They had discussed his aunt's actions at length and he understood that what she had done had been wrong.

"Not only in what she did, but also in what she didn't do. She didn't keep you safe. She didn't intervene when your uncle's cruelty became extreme," Severus' voice had dropped into a dangerous sounding growl and with a final shiver of apprehension, Harry went still as he waited to see what his 'fessor would do to him.

Aware that Harry had gone too quiet, too still compared with his usual twitches and continuously moving body, Severus leaned over and pulled his chin up toward his own face.

"Are you afraid of me?" His Severus' eyes were intense as they stared searchingly back at him.

"Sounded scary," Harry whispered.

"I'm not angry at you, Harry child," Severus' voice cracked as he wrapped his arms around Harry's back and pulled him against his chest firmly. "Petunia did so much to hurt you, so much to break you . . ."

Harry was amazed at how his Papa Pa's voice was shaking, how utterly sad and miserable his Severus sounded, that he couldn't help but try to say something.

"It be okay, daddy, really. Honest," he said, nodding up at his protector and patting the older man's cheek softly with one hand.

"It's not right to treat a child like she treated you," Severus continued unabated, his body beginning to rock back and forth, pulling Harry along too. "Not right, and she did so much, and I couldn't do anything to make it better, to make it right, I had to do this, can't you see, little one? I—Lily, your mummy," Severus' voice dropped into a strangled whisper. "She would be so heartbroken. You were her treasure, her darling, her love . . ."

Harry listened on, enthralled over what his Severus was saying about his mummy. Nobody ever talked about his mummy.

Her treasure, he thought wistfully, remembering how often he had wished to be someone special to anyone.

But Severus was still talking. "So I took what Petunia loved and tried to make her understand what she had done to Lily . . . and to you."

Harry still didn't really understand. Oh he knew that it involved Dudley somehow, and that Petunia wasn't likely to be very happy about what had transpired, but he still didn't know what had happened precisely. As for why though, his Severus had done it for his mummy, the last person who had really loved him.

He wasn't sure if that made it right or not. It wasn't right to hurt other people just because you were angry. Ms. Engelbrecht had said that once when Harry had responded to some particularly nasty bullying by becoming very violent and breaking several people's noses. Ms. Engelbrecht was really smart, but his Severus . . . well, his Severus hugged him lots, and made him feel safe, and his Severus said he loved him, and even Ms. Engelbrecht hadn't ever said that, even if she had liked him a whole lot.

So could Severus hurt other people just because he loved Harry?

Harry pursed his lips and looked up at his Severus with a stern expression. In response, Severus raised an eyebrow and stared back down at him in silence.

"You's not s'posed to hurt peoples, not even when theys need to get hurt," Harry said at last.

"Petunia needed to have something done to make her understand," Severus disagreed, his dark eyes challenging as they continued to look at him unblinkingly.

"I don't want you's to get in troubles, to go aways," Harry answered, sniffling as his heart seemed to suddenly increase the speed of its beats. "I don't want you's to be angry, 'cause Uncle Vernon was always angries and he also scared me and hurted me, and I want you to be my safe Sev'rus. Please," Harry added, wrapping his arms back around Severus' neck, and idly wondering why he had ever taken them away to begin with.

"Harry . . ." his Severus sounded as though he hurt and Harry watched as his eyes turned down at the corners. "I'd never hurt you. Never."

"You stays here and take care of me's and the other snakes and don't get no more angries and do bad stuffs," Harry begged, squeezing his arms tighter as he turned his face to the side against his Severus' chest. "Please don't leave us—please don't leave me's," he whispered, gripping his Papa Pa's robes tightly in his hands and feeling the muscles of his daddy's back tense up.

"I'll always be with you," Severus promised softly, resting his head on the top of Harry's.

"And love me's and da snakes and don't keep hatin', 'cause she doesn't care about you, daddy. Please."

He felt Severus nod his head and he thought he felt something wet and hot drop on his ear, but he wasn't sure and it didn't matter. Not at all.

. . .

Date: 10 December, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Sprout: Before we get started today, I need to know whether or not you plan on staying for the Christmas holidays here. [She smiles].

Morag: [She snorts]. I'm definitely going home!

Sprout: Do you know what you're getting your family for Christmas?

Morag: [Smiling shyly]. I'm going to give my diary to my sister and let her read what's been going on.

Sprout: Wonderful! [She smiles broadly]. Tell me, what does Christmas look like at your home?

Morag: Well, Christmas is the best holiday, because my daddy always takes the day off and spends it with us. He says it's tradition and that his father did the same with him.

Side note: 'Did his father also work every possible second of the year?'

Sprout: How does your morning begin?

Morag: I usually wake up first, and so it's my job to wake up Megan, and then we go and wake up mummy and daddy. Mummy makes us have breakfast first, because she doesn't like us just to eat sweets first thing, but Megan and I always try to talk her out of it.

Sprout: And has that ever worked? [She smiles].

Morag: [She blushes]. No. But it's almost part of the tradition, so we can't just not. So then we go get our stockings.

Sprout: Are you and Megan the only two with stockings?

Morag: [She looks surprised]. Of course we are! Mummy's and Daddy's don't get presents from Father Christmas after all.

Side note: 'I believe it depends on the family. My family all had stockings.'

Sprout: And then?

Morag: We get our presents and after opening one each, we get dressed and drive to my Grandmother's house.

Sprout: Is that very far?

Morag: [Shaking her head in the negative]. No, she lives the next town over. My cousins usually come too, and then we open the rest of our presents with them.

Sprout: Is there anyone in your family, aside from your sister, whom you feel particularly close to?

Morag: [She appears thoughtful]. My aunt Melinda—my mother's sister that is—she's always really fun to be around.

Sprout: And have your parents told your other family members about your being a witch?

Morag: [She fidgets]. No, and I'm not allowed to talk about it either.

Sprout: [Raising an eyebrow]. And for how long are you supposed to remain silent about such a thing?

Morag: [With a frown]. Mummy says that she would prefer that I never mention it to my Grandmother. She said that there's no reason for her to know, and that she doesn't want to have her upset, in case something were to happen.

Sprout: Because she is older?

Morag: [Quickly nodding].

End notes: 'It is an unfortunate situation, but I do understand how dangerous shock can be to older people, especially to the less sturdy muggles.'

. . .

Date: 10 December, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Sprout: Hello dear!

Hannah: [With a shy smile]. Hello Professor Sprout.

Sprout: I need to know before we start whether or not you plan on staying at Hogwarts for the holidays or not.

Hannah: I think I'm going to go home.

Sprout: What will your holiday be like then, deary?

Hannah: We always go to my great-gran's house. She's my mum's father's mother.

Sprout: [Shaking her head with a smile]. I'm glad you understand that.

Hannah: [She grins widely]. It's pretty easy to remember. My family's pretty long lived, but Gran is the oldest by far. She's pushing 200, I think, but no one knows for sure. Well, 'cept her, I think. Anyway, my brother always comes for a bit, and usually he and mum get in an argument, but if that didn't happen, it wouldn't be the holidays. [She shrugs nonchalantly].

Sprout: I think I know what you mean. My great uncle Milton and his wife quarrelled with the best of them during my childhood.

Hannah: [Tentatively]. Are they still alive?

Sprout: Oh no, they've been dead for quite some time.

Hannah: I'm sorry.

Sprout: Thank you child, but you needn't concern yourself about them. They died my first year of Hogwarts.

Hannah: [With a rarely seen sly grin]. Well, that couldn't have been too long ago then, right? I mean, you only graduated Hogwarts a few years ago, right?

Sprout: [She burst out laughing]. Oh bless you child. I am glad you're in my house.

Hannah: [Straightens up proudly].

End notes: 'A few years ago or thirty, what does it matter?'

. . .

Date: 10 December, 1991
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: Tell me dear, do you plan on going home for the holiday?

Justin: [With a serious face]. Actually, no. I'm going to stay here at Hogwarts.

Sprout: Oh, are your parents going to be away on business?

Justin: [He snorts, but does not smile]. No, they're going to be at home.

Sprout: I believe I don't understand then. Why aren't you planning to be with them?

Justin: Because this way, at least I can continue to study and practise my magic.

Sprout: Surely spending time with your family is more important?

Justin: [He shakes his head and briefly grits his teeth]. But I wouldn't be spending time with my family [he rolls his eyes] if I went home. They don't have time to spend with me.

Sprout: But child, you are their son. Surely you exaggerate?

Side note: 'I hope he is exaggerating.'

Justin: [He stares back at her unblinkingly]. Surely I don't.

Sprout: Mr. Finch-Fletchley [Her tone is reprimanding].

Justin: I apologize. [He looks away].

Sprout: Don't you want to go home?

Justin: Home. [He snorts again]. What's a home? A place to sleep? A place that no one ever asks how I am? A place that people visit but don't really live at? No thank you, Professor. I think I'll stay here.

Sprout: I'm sorry you feel that way, dear. I'll inform the headmaster that you are staying here.

Justin: Thank you. May I be excused? I have a test tomorrow.

Sprout: Certainly.

End notes: 'I almost wonder if he shouldn't talk to you, Severus.'

. . .

Date: 11 December, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: Will you be staying at the castle for the holiday?

Lisa: No.

Flitwick: Do you have any plans for your time off?

Lisa: My extended family always comes together for Christmas at my Grandfather's house.

Flitwick: Ah yes. That would be Chester Turpin, would it not be?

Side note: 'Only one of the richest families outside of the Malfoys and the Blacks. Of course, they're new money in relationship to those others, but in my mind, money is money.'

Lisa: [She sniffs]. Yes, it would be. Do you know him? [She looks at Flitwick doubtfully].

Flitwick: [He gives a small smile]. I taught him when he attended Hogwarts.

Lisa: [She looks triumphant]. My Grandfather didn't attend Hogwarts. You're mistaken.

Flitwick: [His smile broadens]. No, you're misinformed, child. He attended Hogwarts for his first two years before transferring to Beauxbatons*.

Lisa: [She suddenly looks murderous]. I'll have to ask him if he remembers you then, sir.

Flitwick: Do, and when you do, feel free to inquire after his reasons for transferring.

Lisa: I could have attended Beauxbatons. I'm fluent in French and German.

Side note: 'But would they have let you attend? I'm sure one Turpin was more than enough for them.'

Flitwick: And what made you decide on Hogwarts?

Lisa: My mother didn't want me to be so far away.

Flitwick: [He smiles gently]. Mothers can be like that.

Lisa: Did you know my mother when she attended here? Her name was Linda Arrow.

Flitwick: Yes, she was a very good student. Sorted into Gryffindor, I believe.

Lisa: [She smiles]. Yes, mummy was in Gryffindor, but the Hat nearly put her into Ravenclaw.

Flitwick: The Hat nearly put me into Gryffindor, actually. It said that I was well suited for either.

Lisa: Tell me Professor, how does It decide in those cases?

Flitwick: I believe that personal preference comes into play. For me, I thought that Ravenclaw would better suit my plans in the future, so ultimately the Hat opted to place me accordingly. I suspect that your mother had a similar situation, although I clearly don't know for certain.

Lisa: Perhaps I'll ask her.

Flitwick: I'm sure it would be an enlightening conversation.

Lisa: Hm.

End notes: 'Oh Linda Arrow, I quite remember her. Remember when she hexed Evan Rosier into singing the Hogwarts song every time he laid eyes on her? It got so that the poor lad couldn't even look anyone in the face until he learned how to take the spell off.'

*In the Goblet of Fire BOOK, Beauxbatons was co-ed.

. . .

Date: 11 December, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: Are you planning to go home for the holiday?

Sabrina: I was really thinking about staying here, but I've decided to go home after all. I might stay next year though.

Flitwick: Do you celebrate any particular traditions at this time of year?

Sabrina: [She shrugs]. Gran and I usually put something together for Christmas.

Flitwick: What does "something" entail, child? [His expression is full of open curiosity].

Sabrina: [She gives a small smile]. Putting up a tree, decorating it, making dinner together and then opening a few presents on Christmas morning.

Flitwick: [He smiles]. That sounds pleasant.

Sabrina: [Hesitating]. When I was little, I used to address presents to my parents. I guess it was stupid, but . . . [she shrugs] . . . I guess I thought that since it was Christmas, they might show up. You know, as spirits or something.

Flitwick: [Sombre]. It's not completely unheard of.

Sabrina: But not likely. [Her smile is full of pain]. Just a kid's wish.

Flitwick: A wish that meant a great deal to you. What did your "Gran" say about it?

Sabrina: She never really liked it, but she didn't say anything 'til I was seven. Then she told me to "Just let it be."

Flitwick: [After a short moment of silence]. And if you spent the holiday at Hogwarts, would you "just let it be"?

Sabrina: [Blinking hard, she looks away for a few seconds]. I don't know.

Flitwick: [He nods]. Don't think about your housemates when you make the decision.

Sabrina: [She turns back to him and gives a shy smile]. Yes sir.

End notes: 'While I can understand her Grandmother's sentiments, I also think that seven is rather young to be given limits on one's dreams.'

. . .

Date: 11 December, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: Do you plan to stay here for the holiday or go home?

Michael: Neither. [He grins]. Sort of.

Flitwick: [Raising an eyebrow].

Michael: [He gives a half-shrug]. I'm going to visit some cousins in America for the holiday.

Flitwick: How exciting!

Michael: Yeah, they live in North Carolina, I think. We're going to be staying somewhere in the mountains.

Flitwick: [His eyebrows flutter with interest]. If you have a chance, tell your family to visit Asheville. There is a very strong wizarding population there. Some of my former students live there, and they find it an enchanting place.

Michael: [Nodding seriously]. That's sounds really cool. Is it all wizarding or mixed?

Flitwick: It is very much mixed.

Michael: Don't they have to obliviate people a lot then? [He looks confused].

Flitwick: I'm sure they do from time to time, but as I understand it, Asheville is a very unique place. I doubt any of the locals suspect much. Apparently, the area is home to a number of very unusual people, wizarding and magical alike.

Michael: [He whistles in appreciation]. Is there anything like that here?

Flitwick: Other than Godric's Hollow, no.

Michael: [He nods]. Where the Potters lived.

Flitwick: Yes. [His voice is soft, contemplative].

Michael: [He straightens in his chair abruptly]. Well, I'll try to get my relatives to take me to Asheville then and see it for myself.

Flitwick: Yes, please do!

End notes: 'Oh Lily, how I miss you. You were one of my very best.'

. . .

Date: 11 December, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Draco Malfoy

Flitwick: Tell me, Mr. Malfoy, are you planning on going home for the holiday?

Draco: [With a cold expression]. Of course I am. I wouldn't stay here even if Dumbledore himself got down on bended knee and paid me. Mind you though [he suddenly smirks], it'd have to be a mighty large sum for me to even look at it.

Flitwick: [Raising an eyebrow]. Will you spend your time at home or elsewhere?

Draco: Well, home is only the beginning. I'm sure my parents will take me several different places for holiday. Why, last Christmas we went skiing in the Alps . . .

Flitwick: [Interrupting]. And what of your father? How will he react to your being home?

Draco: [Abruptly scowling]. Must you change the topic?

Flitwick: [With a small smile]. I wasn't aware that I was.

Draco: Father will enjoy playing hosts to his parties, and then he will go to his study and if I'm lucky, he will ignore me.

Flitwick: Because of what happened in Slytherin?

Draco: Mother always said that Ravenclaw was a suitable alternative to Slytherin.

Flitwick: I didn't ask about your mother. I asked about Lucius.

Draco: And what of him? [His cold exterior changes into something more vulnerable]. He's never been proud of me. I suppose that my resorting is his way of doing damage control, as the muggles would put it. They say something like that, don't they?

Flitwick: They do.

Draco: [He shrugs]. So it doesn't matter. I had a chance at making Father proud of his son, and I've blown it completely. What's new? [He looks away].

Flitwick: I know that it's hard to contemplate now, but I doubt that he will always hold this against you.

Draco: [Turning back toward Flitwick, he gives a mirthless smile]. Yes, because no doubt I will discover new and more interesting ways to shame him as I get older.

End notes: 'It IS a teenager's right.'

. . .

Date: 12 December, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: I hope you have your holiday plans finalized enough to tell me whether or not you will be staying here for the break.

Ron: Um, well, Mum and Dad are visiting Charlie in Romania, so we're going to be staying here.

McGonagall: I assume that "we" entails you and your three brothers?

Ron: Uh, yes ma'am.

McGonagall: Good. I will inform the headmaster of your decision. I hope that you will use this as an opportunity to get ahead on your studies and not get into mischief.

Ron: Actually . . .

McGonagall: Yes Mr. Weasley?

Ron: I'm already ahead on my studies. [He blushes faintly].

McGonagall: [Surprised]. And what has brought this on?

Ron: Herm—er, Granger and I study together a lot.

Side note: 'Does he think he can appease me by avoiding the use of that ridiculous nickname?'

McGonagall: Hm, I don't recall seeing either of you in the library.

Ron: Well, sometimes we go there! But we don't study in the main area. A lot of people make Granger nervous.

McGonagall: [Raising an eyebrow]. Are you certain it's not the other way around?

Ron: [He crosses his arms and looks away with a frown]. I don't know why I bother to tell you anything about him—er, Granger. [He pointedly rolls his eyes].

McGonagall: Mr. Weasley, I would prefer it if you not be so disrespectful to my face.

Ron: Yes, ma'am.

McGonagall: Tell me, are you and Ms. Granger dating?

Ron: [His jaw drops open]. NO!

McGonagall: I suppose you are a bit young . . . although, that certainly hasn't stopped your peers.

Ron: [His face is bright red]. I couldn't date him. I'm not interested in bo—Granger like that. May I go? It's nearly time for lunch.

McGonagall: If you insist.

Ron: [Scrambles out the door].

End notes: 'It is strange to see a girl and boy together as much as they are, but perhaps they really are too young still. Only time will tell.'

. . .

Date: 12 December, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: Will you spending the holiday here or elsewhere?

Neville: [He fidgets in his seat]. Er, at my Gran's house. Some of the plants in my—er, the greenhouse, need to taken in hand, as it were.

McGonagall: Very good, Mr. Longbottom. I hope you will use the time off to further your studies.

Neville: Yes ma'am.

McGonagall: According to Professor Snape, your potions' work has improved, although he still feels that you could do better. It seems that your study group may be helping.

Neville: Oh, right. [He smiles nervously]. A few more people have joined, and we've started doing group practicals to help work on potions prior to class.

McGonagall: Excellent. I'm sure your grandmother will be very pleased.

Neville: Um, well probably not.

McGonagall: What do you mean? [Her voice is softer].

Neville: [He shrugs]. According to gran, my father did everything perfect the first time around so . . . me having to study is just further proof of how undeserving I am of the family name.

McGonagall: Poppycock!

Neville: [His eyebrows go up]. Ma'am?

McGonagall: I know for a fact that your father was not perfect at everything he attempted. Your grandmother is simply remembering things the way she wants to remember them.

Neville: Really?

McGonagall: And truly, Mr. Longbottom. I can also say for a fact that neither of your parents had your talent in Herbology either.

Neville: [A small smile appears on his face]. Did you like my parents, Professor?

McGonagall: On the whole, yes, but your father did have his more infuriating moments. He was overly fond of procrastination, and some of the stunts he pulled in order to get out of class were rather memorable . . . in an idiotic sort of way.

Neville: [His smile increases]. Sounds a bit like the twins.

McGonagall: In some ways, yes.

End notes: 'I think I may have to dig out a few of Frank Longbottom's detention records.'

. . .

Date: 12 December, 1991
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: Will you be staying at the castle for the holiday?

Parvati: No, we're going home. [She says with a smile].

McGonagall: Your home or your grandmother's?

Side note: 'Their grandmother lives in India.'

Parvati: [Her smile broadens]. I wasn't sure if you remembered that!

McGonagall: I try to keep track of where my students' families are. [She smiles back].

Side note: 'Especially if something should happen to said students while in the care of their relatives.'

Parvati: We're going to go first and then take a long distance portkey to my Nana's.

McGonagall: Will you celebrate any form of Christmas while you're there?

Parvati: [She nods]. We exchange gifts on Christmas day, but my family doesn't celebrate any of the religious parts of it. My mum and dad aren't very religious anyway. I think they just try to give respect to magic, because it's in everything and everyone, at least at some level. [She shrugs].

Side note: 'That's the most intelligent statement I think I have heard from her all year.'

McGonagall: That's a worthy belief. And what of your Grandmother?

Parvati: [Shrugging again]. She'll celebrate anything that involves a feast, but otherwise she doesn't much care.

End notes: 'I must admit, I was hard pressed not to laugh at the end of this session.'

. . .

Date: 15 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 13 December, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'He is visiting home for the holiday break, but I can tell that he is anxious to leave Harry alone. I must strive to show him that he has nothing to fear.'

Vince: Hullo sir.

Snape: Hello Vince. What have you decided about your break?

Vince: [Chewing his lip]. I'm going home. My sister is going to be there, and my father will be visiting his brother in Norway, so it's a good time to be there.

Snape: I sincerely hope that you enjoy your time with your family.

Vince: I wish I could bring Harry with me.

Snape: I believe we'll be able to make do without you. After all, Caddy will still be here. He's a very competent elf.

Vince: [He nods]. It's just that, well you see, Harry and I have our schedule, and he doesn't really like to change his routine.

Snape: [Cocking his head to the side in a questioning way]. What happens when he changes his schedule?

Vince: Well . . . [He scratches the side of his neck] . . . he doesn't really do well. He gets nervous and has problems eating and sleeping . . . and everything, really. I don't, I mean that is to say—

Snape: [Interrupting]. What is it, Vince? [His voice is soft and calm].

Vince: I don't really want you to think I'm telling you what to do.

Snape: [Hiding a smile]. If I minded, I would you tell you. Surely you know that?

Vince: [He gives a sigh of relief]. Yeah. I do. I just don't want you to think I'm not respecting you. I know you're really smart and know lots of stuff, especially about Harry, but there're still those times of the day that we don't see you and it's just me and him.

Snape: I'm interested in whatever you can tell me that will make our time together as restful as possible. Perhaps you could draw up a schedule and explain it to me next week?

Vince: Yeah. [He smiles a bit]. That's a good idea.

Snape: Now, tell me why your family is celebrating this Christmas in two parts.

Vince: [Visibly slumping]. Penny—my sister, you remember? She said she wasn't ever going to come home if Dad was there. So Mum decided that it was time for Dad to visit Uncle Byron.

Snape: And your mother is not going because?

Vince: [Wide-eyed]. Oh, Uncle Byron hates mum.

Snape: Surely hate is an exaggeration? [He raises an eyebrow].

Vince: [Shaking his head in disagreement]. Uncle Byron told my dad not to marry mum, even though she was pregnant with my sister. Dad didn't listen and did it anyway, so Uncle Byron started trying to convince him that he was under the influence of a lust potion. Mum got three N.E.W.T's, one of which—.

Snape: —Was in Potions. [He nods]. I remember your mother now that I think of it. She was older than me, and a very good student for the most part, if I am remembering correctly.

Vince: [He smiles shyly]. Yeah. Mum's a lot smarter than dad.

Snape: So why did she marry your father?

Side note: 'I have some idea of why, but I am interested in Vince's viewpoint.'

Vince: [Shrugging]. You know how those fussy pureblood families get. You can't be a single mum unless you're a widow like Blaise's mum. [He grins suddenly]. 'Course, that's not exactly the same thing.

Snape: No, it is not. Perhaps your Uncle Byron chose to hate your mother because she was smarter than them?

Vince: Well, that, but also because on Penny's first birthday, Uncle Byron visited and tried to duel Mum. [He shrugs again]. I think mum kinda shoved his head down a toilet for hexing in the house.

Snape: [His lips twist in amusement]. Good one for her. 10 points to Slytherin.

Vince: But mum was in Ravenclaw.

Snape: Yes, but she produced you.

Vince: [He blushes].

End notes: 'Perhaps, if I am very lucky indeed, I will get to meet his mother sometime.'

. . .

Date: 15 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione "Hermes" Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 11 December, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'I doubt very much that he will be going home for the break. In general, Mr. Granger's behaviour is very difficult to pin down. In that regard, this week will likely be no different.'

Snape: Please have a seat Mr. Granger.

Hermes: [Visibly relaxing at Snape's use of "Mr."].

Snape: Should I assume that you will be staying here at Hogwarts for the holiday break?

Hermes: [Giving a small bitter smile]. Yes. I don't suppose there's any way to block my parents' presents for me? Provided I get any . . . [s/he mutters the last four words softly].

Snape: Not expecting much?

Hermes: [S/he snorts]. Dresses. They always get me dresses for Christmas.

Snape: [He frowns]. Perhaps you could modify them into dress robes.

Hermes: [Laughs in surprise]. Now there's an idea. [S/he suddenly sighs]. I don't understand why it has to be like this; why I have to live in the body of a girl when I know it's wrong.

Snape: What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mr. Granger?

Hermes: I see . . . I see me. And—[s/he suddenly blushes].

Snape: You don't have to tell me if you truly feel uncomfortable.

Hermes: It's not just the haircut and the clothes that make me who I am. It's my body itself. My, well my you know what [s/he blushes more] . . . it's like it's just really really small and I can't see it, but I know it's there. [S/he fidgets]. Or it should be. If I were made right. It's like it's missing because something or someone didn't put me together correctly.

Snape: [Thoughtful]. I assume that you are referring to your penis?

Hermes: [S/he gives an embarrassed squawk and ducks hir head].

Snape: From your reaction, I gather that I am correct. [His voice is soft]. I know that Harry calls you Hermes, but what would you choose to go by if you could change your name?

Hermes: [S/he is still red faced, but manages to lift hir head again]. I like Hermes. [S/he says softly].

Snape: [He nods].

End notes: 'I feel that I have put Mr. Granger through enough stress for one evening. On the whole however, this was a very enlightening session.'

. . .

Date: 15 December, 1991
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.

Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from:

Ongoing impressions: 'My conscience and dare I say it, my friend.'

Snape: Come in and sit down.

Harry: Is my Papa Pa okays? [He trots inside and crawls into Severus' lap].

Snape: [With a small smile]. I'm much better. Do you see? [He bares his throat for inspection].

Harry: [He looks at Severus' throat carefully, patting the skin softly with his hands]. Goods. [He gives a decisive nod and drops his hands back to his lap]. Vince-y saids that my Hadwyn shouldn'ts hurt my Papa Pa. [He shakes his head in the negative].

Snape: He shouldn't have, but he has tried to apologize to you since then.

Harry: Don't hear him. [He pouts].

Snape: I think you mean that you won't hear him. [He smiles slightly].

Harry: [He wraps his arms around Severus' arm]. My Hagrids saids he'd keep you safe if my Hadwyn hurted you again. I tolds him that was okays. Right, Papa Pa?

Snape: I appreciate the offer, but I don't think we need to worry about Hadwyn. He feels very bad for reacting so strongly.

Harry: Hmph.

Snape: What do you want for Christmas? [He wraps his free arm around Harry].

Harry: I gets to say? [He looks up at Severus with bright eyes].

Snape: Of course. You might not get everything you want, but you can always ask.

Harry: [Grinning widely]. Dudley always asked for a pony, but I don't wants no pony.

Snape: [Apprehensive]. I don't think we have room for a puppy, let alone a pony.

Harry: [Shaking his head]. I wants a book. [He nods].

Snape: [Raising an eyebrow]. Only one?

Harry: One 'specially! And you gots to read it to's me. 'Kays?

Snape: What it is?

Harry: "The Velveteen Rabbit." Dudley hads it one time but he didn'ts like it and didn't lets my auntie finish readin' it, and I always wanted it. [He shrugs and curls up further into Severus' embrace].

Snape: Is that all you want?

Side note: 'I believe that Harry still believes he will not receive anything, despite several peoples' efforts to prove otherwise.'

Harry: Mostly. [He rubs his face against Severus' robe]. Maybes . . . coulds I have a stocking just this one time? It don't have ta be bigs.

Snape: [Blinking hard]. You certainly may have a stocking. And it shall be the same size as mine.

Harry: [Suddenly happy again]. Oh! Cans we get Hermes one too?

Snape: Would you like Hermes to spend Christmas Eve here?

Harry: [Clapping his hands excitedly]. That'd be the bestest!

Snape: [Smiling gently].

End notes: 'I think I would enjoy such a Christmas.'

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you don't mind all of this, sir?" Vincent asked Professor Snape as they walked through the hallways toward the awaiting carriages. "I mean the schedule I wrote out. It's sort of complex and—."

"—And since I now think of Harry as my son, I assure you that it is not too much for me to keep up with," Severus interjected, placing a calming hand on the boy's shoulder.

Vince sighed and looked back at Professor with a serious expression. "It's not that I don't think you're capable, it's just that—," he paused and scratched his head thoughtfully. "I guess this is just the first time I've been away from him, and it's sort of hard, you know?"

"I do know," Severus answered with a slow nod. "You have been doing a very commendable job with him; more so than anyone has realised, I think, but now it's time to take a break."

"Yes sir," Vince answered after a moment of contemplative silence.

"You'd best get to the carriages now, Mr. Crabbe," Severus said, eyeing the growing crowd of students that had begun surging around them.

"Right," Vince answered with a small grin. "See you in January."

. . .

"My Daddy Sev said he's wants me ta make him a Christmas card, so that's what I'm gonna do, Caddy," Harry explained to the patiently listening older elf.

"Have you not drawn it yet, Master Harry?" Caddy responded, cocking his grizzled head to the side in question.

Harry shook his head in the negative. "You know whats, Caddy?"

Caddy smiled back at his young charge, and answered, "What's that, Master Harry?"

"It's not enough," Harry said with a frown. "Daddy Sev is the most bestest thing ever to happen, ever," he said seriously.

"To you?" Caddy prompted.

Harry nodded. "If I coulds," he flapped his hands in frustration. "Words. Don't like. Want to do big, be better, make my Sev happies," he panted and threw himself backward on the sofa with an impatient growl.

"You shall do your best, Master Harry, and that will be the most important thing that you give him for Christmas," was Caddy's admonishment.

Harry flexed his fingers several times as he tried to find the right words to counter Caddy's overly logical response.

"Can't do," he managed.

"What can you not do?"

"Best," Harry sniffled angrily, drawing a hand under his glasses to rid himself of the impatient tears. "Can see it my head, can see how ta say stuff, to do it, but can't. All wrong. Like 3D to flat. Like colour to grey. Feels like a four legged dog inside, but three legs outside," he said, sniffling again. "This works," he said, tapping his head. "But not dis," he added, pointing at his mouth.

"Master Harry," Caddy spoke gently, more so than was his usual. "Neither the Professor nor I think you are incompetent. In fact, he has spoken to me more than once about how very intelligent you are."

Harry had to turn his head away to hide his now very insistent tears.

"Christmas isn't about presents or necessarily about being worthy of the holiday, but instead a time for you to be with Master Severus as yourself, as his son. Do you understand me, little master?"

Harry sniffled into his sleeve, but still managed to nod back at Caddy. A moment later, they were both treated to the sound of a door opening and closing, and then the sound of footsteps heading toward Harry's room.

"Harry child?" Severus called out just before cracking the door open.

"Daddy?" Harry answered in a soft voice, before jumping up and running to hug the older man.

"What's wrong, little boy?" Severus asked, kneeling down to wrap his long arms around Harry.

"He was worried about being inadequate for your first Christmas together," Caddy answered, stepping forward into Severus' vision.

Severus' eyebrows lowered in concern over this statement, but Caddy did not elaborate. Instead, the house elf took a step backward and with a pop, he left them alone.

"I thought we agreed that you were going to make me a card?" Severus asked the boy still hugging him.

"Other peoples get presents—buy presents," Harry whispered into his shoulder.

"When have we ever been other people?" Severus chided.

Aware of his knees slowly being pulverized against the hard stone floor underneath them, he stood up with a wince and motioned for Harry to follow him into the main room of their quarters. Once seated, Harry automatically crawled into his lap and curled up into a little ball.

"Sometimes," Harry whispered after a moment of silence, "sometimes I wants that, 'cause bein' normals seems real easy."

Severus thought over that as he pulled the boy in closer to his chest. "I, for one, have never been normal, but I think I can understand what you mean." He leaned his back against the cushion behind him and closed his eyes. A thousand images assaulted his eyeballs and he sighed.

"Whatcha thinkin' abouts Daddy Sev?" Harry's little voice broke thru the parade of memories and he opened his eyes to look down at the boy.

"People I knew from my past who were your so-called 'normal.'"

"Were they happies?"

Severus felt the corner of his lips curl up sourly. "Rarely. Perhaps things were too easy for them, as you said." How many of his so-called envied friends had gone on to become Death Eaters or simply become apathetic to it all? Too many.

Those friends of mine with families and money who sold their souls to the darkness simply because it was easier than the alternative; the thought made him queasy.

"Daddy Sev?" Green eyes were staring unblinkingly up at his and he blinked several times to clear his mind of the dusty cobwebs of the past.

"Yes?"

"We're tough, right?" Harry asked, lifting his arms and flexing much like a muggle bodybuilder might.

Severus fought the laugh that was threatening to break him from his melancholy. "You could say that."

"We're big and we don't gives up, right Papa Pa?"

The chuckles died off and instead a simple smile came to his lips as Harry's sudden about-face in mood.

"We do not."

A more comfortable silence fell between them as Harry finally uncurled and relaxed against Severus' chest.

"Papa Pa?"

"Yes?"

"You really don't minds just getting' a card for Christmas?" Harry's voice held just a touch of nervousness and Severus wrapped his hands around the boy's much smaller ones.

"I will simply enjoy the time we have together. You needn't get me anything at all."

"And I can stills invite Hermes heres to spend the night on Christmas Eve?"

"Ah yes, Mr. Granger. I had not forgotten about your request. I think our holiday will benefit from his presence."

More silence, but Severus was used to such things from their many conversations together.

"Can we be Hermes' family?" Harry was very pointedly not looking at him.

"For this holiday season or longer?" Severus asked softly, releasing one of the boy's hands to reach up and pet his soft hair.

"For always," Harry whispered, pressing his face into Severus' bicep.

Severus sighed; it was far more complex than simply wanting to do right by the child—both children really.

"I wish that we could," he admitted at last.

. . .

Christmas Eve

They found Hermes in the Slytherin common room, precisely where Harry had said he'd be. The room itself was quite deserted, Hermes being the only Slytherin present amidst the many empty couches surrounding the first year boy.

As soon as they entered through the portrait, Hermes' eyes flicked toward them and then back down at the reading material in his lap.

Harry didn't wait for them to walk to where his friend was, but instead began running toward Hermes at first sight.

"Hermes, Hermes, Hermes!" He chanted, clapping his hands excitedly as he came upon the other boy.

Hermes looked up at him and allowed a small smile to grace his face in the privacy between them.

"Hi Harry," he said. "Miss me?" Hermes lips quirked upwards in a wry fashion.

"Me and my Papa Pa worked on homeworks for all my classes like we usually goes to on Tuesdays!" Harry nodded energetically at Hermes before glancing back at the calmly waiting Severus. The man was standing a few feet back from them, waiting for Harry to finish before getting to the purpose of their visit.

"Well, I hope Professor Snape is a better History teacher than ol' Binns," Hermes said with a sour grimace."

"Considering that anyone would be a better teacher than that decrepit excuse for a professor, that isn't a very difficult task to achieve. I do hope that you did not mean to imply that I was in any way incompetent in the subject matter," Severus interjected, walking up beside them and raising an imperious eyebrow.

"Of course not," Hermes was openly grinning back at Severus; something that caused Harry to flap happily at. "Only an idiot Gryffindor would do something so foolish."

"Quite," Severus responded with a slight nod.

"And thens we worked on our Potions and 'Fessor Snape let me chop ingredients for his potions and I learned whole big lots about his 'periment with werewolves," Harry babbled happily, his hand now grasping Severus' own tightly. He gave it a little swing every so often, and Hermes desperately tried not to giggle at the sight.

"It wasn't the sames as working with my Vince-y, but I still hads fun and learned lots, and my Daddy Sev said that's what's 'portant," he finally finished with, leaning into his Papa Pa's side with a contented look on his face.

"Yes well," Severus said, trying to appear stern, but failing rather spectacularly with the gentle hold he had on the little boy currently using him as a large teddy bear. "We did not come here merely to detail our day's exploits."

"Yeah?" Hermes' eyebrow raised; making Harry think of his Papa Pa using the same expression and how similar they were.

Hermes must be practising in his spare time! Was Harry's fervent thought.

Then, with a nod from his Papa Pa, Harry launched into his invitation.

"Hermes, please please please come spend the night tonight at my house, please please please!"

With a smirk, Hermes said, "I always spend the night in your House, Harry."

"No no no! That's not what I meants," Harry corrected, shaking his head back and forth as he failed to get the joke. "I wants you to spend the night with me and my Daddy Sev for Christmas Eves!"

The wary mask that seemed to exist over a majority of Slytherin faces was one that Hermes had unusual control over—especially for a first year. But at Harry's request, it slipped very briefly, allowing Harry and Severus to see a look of pure longing and wistfulness for all of about three seconds.

Then it was back up and Harry squeezed his Daddy Sev's hand meaningfully, feeling somehow that his observation didn't warrant words. In response, Severus gave him a slight nod and he felt his insides flutter at the implications.

"Will you comes?" Harry prompted, trying to look imploring and only managing to look slightly pitiful instead.

"You want me to?" Hermes asked, lifting his chin challengingly, visible doubt still showing in his eyes.

"We both would like for you to," Severus answered gently.

Hermes shrugged and gathered his books up carefully before answering, "Well, why not? Sure."

. . .

They had gone to retrieve Hermes just before dinner and now having arrived back in his quarters, Severus motioned both Slytherin first years to the dining table before summoning Caddy.

"Would you bring us a sampling of what they are serving in the Great Hall tonight?"

"Yes Master Snape," Caddy answered simply, giving a nod to Harry and Hermes before popping out of sight. A moment later he returned, and then dinner was on.

After dinner, Harry entertained Hermes by showing the other boy where his room was and also the presence of a transfigured bed that Severus had put in there.

"It's okay that I sleep in the same place with you, Harry?" Severus overheard Hermes ask at one point.

"Sure, why wouldn't it be's?" Was Harry's innocent response.

"Well . . . I don't sleep in the same room as you in the dorm," was Hermes' careful answer.

"Neither does Teddy or Gregs," Harry answered. "Why's it matter? We're both boys."

A pause and Severus leaned in closer to the partially open door.

"Yeah," Hermes said slowly. "We're both boys."

Severus heard the sound of happy clapping and he smiled briefly before going back to his own business.

. . .

"Daddy Sev?" Severus looked up and saw Harry and Hermes both hovering in the doorway to his lab. They were already in their pyjamas, and somehow managed to both look much younger for it.

"Yes?" Severus asked after casting a stasis charm on the potion in front of him.

"My Hermes says dat Father Christmas won't forgets me this year."

Severus glanced at Hermes to see a tight lipped expression gracing the other boy's face, and gave a nod of understanding.

"No, he will not. But what did I tell you about that?" Severus asked, walking over to his Slytherins and kneeling down in front of them.

Harry's face scrunched up as he visibly thought. "Dat Father Christmas needs a fireplace and dat the Dursleys didn't haves one?"

"And?" Severus prompted.

"Dat you—that we haves one now and so Father Christmas can finds me and Hermes and you and we can have the bestest Christmas evers?"

"Something like that," Severus answered, standing up and extending a hand to each boy.

Harry grasped his hand immediately and though Hermes was slower to it, he eventually did as well. He led them back to Harry's room, depositing each of them in their beds before summoning a chair. Putting it in the narrow space separating them, he sat down and lowered the lights of the room with his wand.

"Harry, would you like to say goodnight?" He calmly asked, knowing both from Vince's descriptions and from his own experiences that this was an important part of the Harry's usual night time routine.

In response, Harry reached out a small hand and grabbed Severus' own tightly.

"Goodnights Daddy Sev! Goodnights Hermes! It's times for sleeps and times for dreams and times for all good little boys to close their eyes and curl up and be kissed by their Papa Pa's and their 'Fessor Snapes. Right Papa Pa?"

"Correct, little one," Severus responded, leaning down and pressing a kiss to Harry's forehead. Harry giggled at being called 'little one,' but managed to calm down enough to give Severus a kiss back.

"Now my Hermes!" Harry instructed, pointing at the other bed.

Severus turned and reached out his hand to touch Hermes' head. "Sleep well, little snake."

His words were met by a very real, albeit brief, smile. "Goodnight sir."

"Times to go to sleep?" Harry interjected.

"Yes," Severus and Hermes answered together, causing them both to raise an eyebrow at each other.

In turn, Harry clapped happily at the sight before settling down under his covers.

. . .

2.07 AM . . .

"Daddy Sev?"

There was a small hand prodding him in the back and he grunted.

"Papa Pa? I needs to talks to you, please."

He managed to roll over.

"Daddy Sev, it's 'portant!"

Cracking one eye open, Severus waited for his vision to adjust and then asked, "Harry, what's wrong?"

Harry immediately clambered into the bed with him, so he moved back and opened up his covers to cover them both.

"Daddy Sev," Harry whispered just next to his neck. "The Dark Thing is back and it's in da forest."

Severus was abruptly much more awake.

"The Dark Thing? Did you have a bad dream?"

"The Dark Thing," Harry confirmed with a nod that he felt more than saw. "It's in da forest and it's bein' scary and—and," Harry broke off with a hitch of his breath. "It tore open somethin' white and nice and good and it tore it open and sucked on it and now the white thing is dead!"

Severus blinked hard as he tried to process the rambling line of information that Harry had just spouted at him. One particular detail stuck out at him.

"The white thing, did it have a horn on its head?"

"Uh huhs!"

Severus sucked in a breath. Harry had dreamed about something killing a unicorn and sucking its blood.

"Have you had this dream before?"

"It wasn't a dream!" Harry argued.

"But you saw it while you were asleep?"

"Yes!" Harry sounded out of breath and Severus wondered just how much of it was leftover from the terror of his nightmare.

"Do you think that this 'Dark Thing' is really out there doing things like this?"

"And we have to go help!" Harry added after nodding repeatedly against his shoulder.

"The unicorn? Harry, if this really happened, then the unicorn is dead and we can't do anything about that," Severus said gently.

The killing of a unicorn was just about as heinous a crime as someone could commit, but once it was dead, there was nothing to be done except catch the creature—or person—who had done it. And he didn't want a small eleven year old boy with him while in the forest looking for evil.

"But we have to helps it!" Harry argued back stubbornly.

"There is nothing we can do, child."

How many times had he wished otherwise in his past?

"But—," Harry tried in a softer voice.

"It is the middle of the night. The outside world is covered in deep snow and the temperatures are frigid. However, in the morning if you still feel as strongly, I'll contact Hagrid and he can go look in the forest for it."

Harry sniffled against his chest before pulling away and sliding out of bed.

"Goodnights, Daddy Sev," Harry whispered.

"Goodnight child. I am sorry."

. . .

Harry walked dejectedly back into his room.

"Harry?" Hermes' soft voice called out.

He sniffled in response.

"Did you have a bad dream?"

"Something bads is happenin' in the forest, Hermes," Harry said softly.

"Lumos," Hermes whispered, lighting up the space between them. "Is someone in trouble?"

"There's a baby and it's all alones," Harry answered, stepping close enough to Hermes that he could sit next to the other boy.

"Why is it all alone?" Hermes' voice was suddenly very intense.

"'Cause the scary bad Dark Thing just killed its mama."

He heard Hermes suck in a breath at his words.

"Is it still alive? Did you tell Professor Snape?"

"He said ta wait 'til the morning 'cause it's cold and dark and stuff, but it's just a little baby!"

"Did you tell him about the baby?"

Harry shook his head in the negative. "He didn't asks. I thought—I thought that he'd help 'cause he's the best and knows e'erything, but he didn't ask, so he said go backs to bed, but I can't because it's a baby and it needs me!"

Hermes' face took on a calculating look that was visible even in the dim light between them.

"If I don't help you, you're going to do this on your own, aren't you."

Harry just stared back at him with wide eyes and a trembling mouth.

"Well, come on then," Hermes answered, standing up. "But we're dressing first, because Professor Snape was right about it being super cold outside!"

. . .

Severus had fallen back into a restless doze after Harry had gone back to bed. Not quite twenty minutes later, the image of Harry leading the troll down the corridors abruptly entered his mind and he sat up wide awake.

If I had been awake to begin with, I would have never let him go back to his room, he thought as he rushed out of his bedroom to Harry's.

Flinging open the door, he lit his wand and looked around in dismay.

The boys' beds were empty.

Chapter Text

Outside the castle, everything was absolutely still, absolutely quiet; the landscape sparkling with white light from the nearly full moon that stood overhead. Hermes' and Harry's feet crunched loudly over the large expanse of fresh snow that had fallen since they had gone to bed; their breaths steaming out huge and bold in front of them, the cold biting painfully in their lungs.

It was simultaneously breathtaking and frightening. Neither boy had ever been surrounded by so much silence, nor had either ever felt so alone. Impulsively, Hermes reached out and grabbed Harry's mittened hand and was relieved when the other boy squeezed back tightly.

They looked ahead to the Forbidden Forest; the only spot of darkness on the entire landscape, and Hermes shivered at the metaphorical implications facing them.

. . .

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Blearily, Hadwyn stumbled to his door and pulled it open, only to be greeted with the irate face of one Severus Snape.

"Severus?" Hadwyn grunted, nonplussed when Severus strode past him and headed for his bedroom.

"Please do come in," he muttered, closing the door behind them and following after his longtime friend.

He found Severus grabbing clothes from his closet and growled, "You plannin' on letting me in on what's going on?"

Severus flinched and whirled around briefly to tersely remark, "Harry is missing."

Hadwyn felt as though someone had just spelled ice water into his stomach. Stepping forward, his eyes suddenly much more open, he asked, "Missing? What do you mean missing?"

Severus chose that moment to fling a pair of wool trousers at him. "Get dressed. I'll explain on the way."

. . .

Hermes was glad that Harry seemed to know where he was going, because he sure as hell didn't. The forest was darker than he'd thought it be; the moonlight just barely trickling through the thick branches in some places, while completely absent in others. Those spots were like dark pits to his imagination; places where even the light of their wands didn't penetrate, leaving his eyes to make assumptions about the shadowy shapes found within.

It was the perfect setting for a nightmare, and Hermes prayed that they wouldn't be too overwhelmed by similar dreams afterward.

Provided there is an afterward, he thought, none too optimistically.

As Hermes' mind was filled with these rather uncomfortable thoughts, Harry's mind was also centered on a number of unpleasant images as well. Too many memories of angry Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were at the forefront of these sights, and though he had never seen Severus truly angry, he wondered just how much it would resemble those past relatives' outbursts.

He didn't think that Severus would go so far as to end his guardianship of Harry, but there were several things the older man could do to make him wish for such a thing instead. He shivered and stepped closer to Hermes for comfort. He hoped that his Papa Pa wouldn't be like his other relatives at the end of this ordeal, but he also knew that they couldn't leave a baby unicorn to die at the hands of a monster. It was a terrible choice, one he wished he could have avoided making at all, but a choice nonetheless.

Some things were more important than punishments. Some things needed to happen, even if he had to do them alone—or, as he glanced sideways at Hermes—nearly alone.

They kept walking until they reached the small clearing that Harry remembered seeing in his dream. There, highlighted by the moonlight streaming in through a break in the trees was the dead unicorn; still splendid and glorious even in her death.

"Oh God, Harry," Hermes murmured beside him, his voice tight with the anguish that Harry felt in his chest.

Harry stepped forward, releasing Hermes' hand as he did, and laid a gentle finger on the flank of the dead unicorn.

"I'm sorries, so so so sorries," he whispered, trying to find a way to convey his anger and mystification and sorrow and horror at the monumental waste of life before him. "I dreamed see, I dreamed—had dreams, thoughts, ideas, and saw bad things, bad man, the dark monster . . ." he cut himself off and bit his lip to stymie the incessant flow of words from his mouth. Sometimes it seemed as though his tongue would wag forever, maybe even after he died; almost as though it were completely independent from his brain.

A soft sound from the bushes beside him drew his attention and he turned his head toward the darkness at the edge of the clearing.

He took a step forward and felt Hermes move into step just behind him. They would face whatever was in the darkness together, and Harry smiled grimly at the thought of having yet another someone at his side. It was his year for finding people, apparently.

With a deep fortifying breath, he stepped forward once more and reached a hand out to pull the low hanging branches out of the way.

. . .

Hadwyn studied Severus' face closely as the man explained what was going on as they raced outside. His friend was worried out of his mind, but only someone like Hadwyn would have been able to tell. Severus was a blank wall of mind numbing anxiety over his boys; a sight that was only noticeable in the occasional clenching of his jaw and the tightness of his fists as they swung stiffly at his sides.

They found the path leading away from one of the castle's many side entrances; a door that Hadwyn was somewhat surprised that either boy would have known about, but knew better than to ask Severus about it. There was no room for suppositions inside his friend's mind, at least not now.

They ran across the field of otherwise pristine snow, following the double trail of small footsteps as they made a beeline for the Forbidden Forest. The night was far too still for Hadwyn's preferences; each sharp intake of breath colliding loudly against the sound of his wildly beating heart. It made him far too aware of how afraid he was for Harry and Hermes and from the way Severus was acting, he felt sure it was getting to him as well.

They neared the edge of the Forbidden Forest just as distant scream rent the air. Hadwyn nearly plowed into Severus' back as he stopped to listen and cast a Point-Me spell with his wand.

"Was that Harry?" Hadwyn gasped out as they began moving again.

A stiff nod was the only answer he got.

. . .

Harry pulled back the branches hanging in front of him and came eye to eye with a long golden haired face. Big brown eyes stared back solemnly back at him, and Harry's breath caught painfully in his throat as the two orphans eyed one another.

Reaching out an open palm toward the foal, he found himself blinking hard against the sudden urge to sob at the object of pure lonely innocence standing before him.

The foal turned her head toward his palm and exhaled on it through her nose.

"I dreamed about you, I dreamed, I did, I saw—I came. Please," his eyes filled up again and a few tears leaked out and dripped down his cheeks. "Please," he whispered, stepping forward and wrapping a gentle hand around the side of her head.

The foal exhaled again over the top of his head and he stopped trying to talk; instead choosing to reach out his senses, and feel with his magic and his mind and his thoughts. He tried to show her what he'd seen and she snorted loudly at the all too horrific sight of seeing the Dark Thing kill her mother.

Then something peculiar happened; something that had not happened with either the trees he had "talked" with, or the troll. The foal pushed back against his mind, and suddenly he saw a red haired woman standing in front of a crib screaming. He could hear her screaming his name and together they watched her body fall down to the feet of his own Dark Thing.

The foal nosed his wet and cold cheek and he felt warmth spread out from her touch. Impulsively, he reached out both arms and wrapped them around her golden neck and she obliged by moving to rest her head on his shoulder.

"You're just a baby, you are you are," he whispered against her coat. "Can't be out here all by yourself, can you, nope you can't. My Severus will take care of us, honest, I swears," he added, trying to mentally recreate and share with her the feeling of safety and love he had received thus far from his Papa Pa.

"Harry," Hermes hissed suddenly.

He lifted his face from the foal's neck and turned to look at his friend with wide eyes.

"Something is moving over there," Hermes whispered urgently, pointing in the opposite direction from where they were standing.

Blinking, he tried to stare into the darkness at the other side of the clearing, but there was nothing to see. Tentatively, he stretched out his magical awareness and then nearly wretched at the malevolent waves of energy his senses met up with.

Turning to look back at his new friend, he whispered, "We gotta goes right now."

The foal didn't seem inclined to disagree and they followed quickly after Hermes, skirting the edge of the clearing until they were back in the thick of the trees. Harry could hear the sound that Hermes had mentioned mere moments ago. It was a slithering sound that set his teeth on edge and made him feel as though someone was running a frigid cheese grater down his spine.

"It's following us," Hermes astutely pointed out and Harry nodded his agreement.

"We gotta run," He answered, moving in front of Hermes with the foal trailing closely behind.

They ran, but no matter how hard they pushed themselves, Harry could still hear the Dark Thing—for that's what he was sure it was—gaining on them. It was getting lighter now as the trees thinned, and he could tell they were nearly free of the Forbidden Forest when suddenly the malevolent presence exploded inside his head and he screamed out with pain, his knees buckling under him.

Teeth gripped one of his sleeves and a hand grabbed his opposite arm, pulling him forward another few feet before the pain surged up in his chest and he vomited up his supper onto the floor of the forest.

"Little boy," the Dark Thing hissed at him. "There's nowhere to go and no one to rescue you but Death."

Twisting away from the mess in front of him, Harry put a hand up to his forehead only to realize it was bleeding. His hand felt warm and tacky and he desperately tried to make it to his feet, even as the world swam and screamed past his ears and eyes.

Beside him, he realised that Hermes had his wand out, and was casting some kind of fire curse at the Dark Thing. His head shrieked with pain once again just as the world around them lit up with a blue-orange glow and dimly he heard the Dark Thing scream. He couldn't move against the pain as it surrounded him. He felt as though he was drowning in it, and the only thing he could think about was his Papa Pa and pray that the man got there soon.

. . .

As it happened, Severus very nearly tripped over his boy as they finally got to where they were going. Casting curses automatically toward the screaming darkness opposite him, he jumped over Harry's prone body—don't think, just do!—and put himself in between the two.

Now faced with two full grown wizards and in pain, the dark creature flung back a few burning hexes of its own before quickly withdrawing, leaving them with the children.

"Harry?" Severus knelt over his boy's still body as Hadwyn stood poised on the defensive above them.

A golden mouth nickered softly against his head and he glanced briefly up at the pure golden foal standing beside them in shock.

"Is Harry going to be okay?" Hermes asked, drawing his attention to the other boy. While white faced and trembling, Hermes appeared to be physically okay, and he reached down to draw Harry into his arms securely.

"He will be, Mr. Granger," He growled out, standing up with his boy in his arms.

Harry moaned softly and turned his head into the dark warmth beside him, breathing deeply of the familiar scent as he did.

"Papa Pa?" Harry asked weakly.

"Shush child," Severus answered softly as they began making their way back to the castle, the foal moving steadily beside them.

"Do you hate me?" Harry's voice was barely audible, but it still managed to cut a slice through Severus' heart.

"No, little one," He answered resolutely. "Worried? Terrified? Furious? Possibly," He added, drawing his thumb gently down the soft cheek of his son.

"Goldie needed us," Harry whispered, his eyes rolling back in his head as soon he finished speaking and his body relaxing fully into Severus' arms.

"Goldie?" Severus paused just outside the door to Hogwarts and glanced at the foal following loyally after them.

The foal nickered softly as though to say, "Yes, that's me."

"And Mr. Granger, would you agree with that statement?" Severus asked, turning to the boy standing on his other side.

Hermes only nodded, his eyes wide with more honest sincerity than Severus had seen from him all year.

Severus sighed and nodded to Hadwyn as they moved inside the castle. Hadwyn didn't shut the door until the foal was inside and then they all headed for Severus' quarters.

Chapter Text

The foal refused to leave Harry's side. Unfortunately, with two beds in his room, there simply wasn't room for the foal to follow, despite her earnest attempts at doing so. Finally, with an exasperated groan, Severus changed paths and set Harry up on the sofa in the main room.

Pulling out his wand, he spelled the expanse of floor next to the sofa with a cushioning and heating charm, before summoning several old blankets from the nearby linen closet.

Beside him, Hadwyn pulled out his wand and whispered an additional spell at the floor. At Severus' questioning eyebrow, the other man explained with a half-smile, "Something to keep the floor free of scat."

Severus nodded, mentally kicking himself for forgetting such a vital issue.

He glanced down to see that the foal was looking up at him with bright golden eyes.

"Well, go on," he answered, waving his hand at the veritable nest that was set up on the floor next to where Harry had been laid.

The foal whinnied at him softly and then stepped gracefully over to Harry's side, nosing him once before laying down as well.

Moving away from the sofa, he turned to the armchair next to it and waved his wand over it, transfiguring it into a recliner. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that Hadwyn was doing the same for two other chairs.

"Are we ready for our sleepover now?" Was his snidely spoken question.

No one answered, but Severus did see a slight smile cross both Harry's and Hermes' faces.

"Brats," Severus retorted.

"Yup!" Harry whispered softly, still not opening his eyes.

Encouraged, Severus walked to the end of the sofa where Harry's head was and crouched down. Carding a hand through his boy's unusually wild hair, he smiled slightly as Harry leaned into his touch.

"Are you awake again, little one?" He whispered.

"Real real sleepy, Papa Pa," Was Harry's soft answer.

"Then go to sleep. We will all be here when you wake up."

"'Kay," Harry murmured, relaxing back down into oblivion.

Slowly getting to his feet, Severus turned around and glanced at Hermes.

"Ready for our conversation, Mr. Granger?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

With a pale face, Hermes nodded back at him and he ushered his Slytherin into the small kitchenette that was off of the main room.

"Explain to me why it is you went with Harry as opposed to coming directly to me?" He asked, crossing his arms as he looked intimidatingly down at his small Snake.

"Because he needed me to," Was Hermes' quiet answer.

Severus looked at his student appraisingly, noticing the stubborn tilt of his chin alongside the faint tremble of his shoulders.

"And he didn't need to be kept safe?" Severus pressed.

Hermes took a breath and then launched into an explanation.

"Harry's my friend," Hermes said, his fists clenched tightly at his sides. "He's my first friend," his Snake admitted softly, eyes shifting to a point somewhere around Severus' right shoulder.

Then abruptly, those dark eyes were focused back upon Severus' own.

"I don't know if you understand what it's like to always be hated by your peers, but I do," Hermes' jaw clenched tightly and then he continued. "Before Harry, everyone looked at me and saw a freak. You know, because that's what I am, right?" The child let out a bitter bark of laughter.

"Now, I know that there is at least one person who sees Hermes, who sees me." Hermes jutted his chin out stubbornly against the tears that were threatening in his eyes. It was clear that the boy was emotionally worn out, and really, it wasn't a surprise.

"That's why I didn't tell you. Harry needed me to believe him, and I need him to believe in me."

Severus nodded; his face solemn at the boy's admissions. In his mind was the little red haired girl who had been his first friend. He understood what it was like to be loyal to the first ray of sunshine in an otherwise drab and grey world.

"He does, Mr. Granger," Severus said softly, his voice cracking with what he hoped was only weariness. He preferred not to appear overly emotional to anyone. It only served to remind him of his own childhood and failed foray into the Death Eaters; not to mention the consequences gained from those actions.

. . .

"Little boy," the Dark Thing hissed at him. "There's nowhere to go and no one to rescue you but Death."

Harry shot upright with a jerk. The Dark Thing had been back in his head and he shook at the memory of it. Beside him, Goldie opened her eyes and looked at him in concern.

"He was back in my head, Goldie," Harry whispered, his body still trembling.

Silently, Goldie jerked her head toward where Severus was asleep in the transfigured recliner.

Harry's eyes went wide and he scrambled off of the sofa, careful not to tread on his new friend as he did so.

At Severus' side, Harry leaned in close and whispered, "Papa Pa?"

When he didn't get an answer, he turned back to Goldie and whispered, "He's real asleep."

She jerked her head toward Severus once more and Harry nodded.

Slowly, Harry climbed up into his Papa Pa's lap and curled up against his chest. His daddy was very warm and the sound of his rhythmic heartbeat against his ear was very soothing. Slowly he relaxed again, and his eyes shut of their own accord.

. . .

Across the room, Hadwyn opened his eyes and smiled at the sight. His smile brightened as Severus reached out in his sleep for the child and wrapped his arms around him.

Eyeing the just vacated sofa, Hadwyn eased out of his recliner slowly, freezing when it creaked. He waited for one of the room's other occupants to wake up, but when no one moved, he stood the rest of the way up and softly padded to the sofa. He smiled down at the little unicorn before easily stepping over her. He stretched out on the cushions with a contented sigh and closed his eyes again.

. . .

Being a light sleeper, Hermes often was privy to the night time wanderings of others. His eyes had widened in surprise when Harry had climbed up into the sleeping Professor Snape's lap. He doubted he could even be tempted to go near a sleeping Snape—er, Severus—let alone climb up in his lap. Despite his growing comfort with the man, there were still limits to what he would and would not do around him.

He was glad that the professor seemed to understand that. It made him feel safer with the experience that Severus would never abuse that trust—at least, he didn't think he would. There was always some doubt, but he could easily say he trusted Severus more than he trusted any other human being.

He looked away from Harry and his professor. It made him sad that there was no one around to hug or love him like that.

"Ugly, awful, horrible," Hermes repeated softly to himself. Something flashed out of the corner of his eye and he looked up to see the foal staring at him. The flickering light from the fireplace was reflected in her warm eyes and the sight momentarily mesmerized him.

"You had someone like that, but you don't anymore," Hermes whispered, standing up silently and moving over to the foal.

He crouched down and hesitantly put his hand on her head. Angrily, he swiped at his face.

"I guess we're all orphans, huh?"

Goldie leaned her head back to nose his hand and then looked questioningly at him.

"Do you think I could lie down right here and we could be alone together?" Hermes whispered.

Goldie nodded; her big brown eyes speaking volumes as she moved over to make room.

. . .

Severus awoke slowly. The warm weight on his chest moved and he managed to pry one eye open.

"Harry?" He asked hoarsely. The night had been far too stressful and there was an ache in his bones that had not been there before.

"Oh hi, Papa Pa!" Harry said brightly, leaning upward and kissing him on the cheek.

For a moment, Severus envied the boy of his ease of movement, but then he pushed it out of his mind. What Harry had in physical youth, he largely lacked in social and emotional expression. The trade-off wasn't worth it.

"You're alls rough, Papa Pa," Harry added, rubbing a smaller hand across Severus' stubbled cheek.

"And that's surprising?" Severus asked, managing—with some effort—to sound more human.

"It feels funny," Harry admitted, his bright green eyes shining up at him. "But I likes it, I think," He added. "Will I get rough sometime too?"

Severus briefly thought back to the male members of Harry's past. Lily's father was at the forefront of his memories. The older man had worn a beard as long as Severus could remember, with one minor exception of when wild magic had removed it, thanks to a much younger Lily. Likewise, his few memories of an adult James Potter featured more than a few images of a rough and unshaved man.

"Likely enough," Severus admitted after his moment of thought. "Your genes have the necessary components for beard growth, should you wish to utilize them."

Harry nodded up at him, intelligence shining out of green eyes. Severus realised that his explanation had been a bit too wordy, but the boy hadn't seemed to have any difficulty in deciphering his meaning.

"Guess whats, Papa Pa," Harry said, sneaking a look at the room around them.

"What's that, child?" Severus asked, noting that Hadwyn was sitting upright on the sofa next to Hermes. The damnable man even had a cup of coffee in one hand, and Severus' eyes narrowed threateningly.

"It's Christmas!" Harry exploded, bouncing a bit on Severus' lap with his exuberance.

"So it is," Severus answered easily as he transfigured the recliner back into a regular armchair. Their angle changed, moving the bouncing Harry off of his lungs and back onto his lap proper. Beside them, a cup of coffee floated at Hadwyn's direction and he took it with a satisfied nod.

From the floor, Goldie whinnied.

"What do Goldies eat, Papa Pa?" Harry asked suddenly, tucking his feet under him as Severus summoned a spare blanket to wrap around them.

"Milk, laddie," Hadwyn answered. "Unicorn foals eat milk for their first two or three years before switching to grass and other things."

A concerned expression flashed on Harry's face at this and he looked to Severus for guidance. "Do we haves milk?"

"I'm sure we can find some," Severus soothed.

"Can we opens presents now, Goldie? Or should we finds some milk?" Harry asked, turning back to the golden foal.

Said foal jerked her head to the side as if to say, 'Presents.'

"'Kay," Harry said, clapping his hands and looking back up at Severus hopefully.

Severus looked around and realised that there was a significant pile of brightly wrapped packages on the floor next to their chair. Looking up, he saw that there were similar piles next to Hermes and Hadwyn, and even a couple for Goldie.

Shaking his head at the improbability of the unicorn foal having presents, he turned back to his and Harry's pile and picked up the topmost item. It was parchment thin and just as light, and he rightfully wondered what it was.

"Dat's from me, Papa Pa," Harry whispered in his ear. "You said a card was okays, but I wanted to write a letter. Was that okays?"

"A letter is wonderful, Harry," Severus replied softly, tearing the end of the letter open and pulling out a few pages filled with the boy's messy script. "Why don't you open a few of your gifts while I read?"

"'Kay," Harry answered easily, flapping his hands a little.

While the child hunted through the pile looking for ones marked with his name, Severus began reading:

Dear Papa Pa/Daddy Sev/'Fessor Snape,

I guess that you know from my essays that my writing is really different from how I talk, right? I was telling Caddy that it sometimes feels like there's something wrong between my head and my mouth. Like something isn't configured right or something.

I'm not stupid. I'm not stupid. I know that now. I know it, because you know it, because you let me know that you know it. You won't let me just be stupid ol' Harry. Dummy. Retard. You don't let me get away with thinking that way anymore, and I think it's because for whatever reason, you see me. You can see the me that's in my head—the one that thinks. The one that is, the one that is trying to be.

For all I'm say about being better at writing, I don't think I'm doing a very good job of saying what I mean. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. That's why I love you. You see what I'm trying to be. Well, at least as much as I've got figured out. I'm still trying to get a handle on what's me and what's left of the person that the Dursleys wanted.

It was really hard, Daddy. To be me, I mean. They hated me. I knew they did. Vernon—well, he still hates me, even if he's gone now. And I think I hate him too, because . . . he never even gave me a chance, Daddy. He just hated.

And I think Hermes knows what it's like to be hated too. I think he's trying to find himself just like me. Daddy, I think we have to love him, because he doesn't love himself and he doesn't think anyone ever will love him. I try to love him, but sometimes my meaning and my actions get a little mixed up. I hope he knows I love him, but you gotta try and show him that you love him too, Daddy. He doesn't have anyone but us and Ron and Millie and Vince.

We gotta love him, because I'm scared what'll happen if we don't.

And can you tell Hadwyn I'm not mad anymore? I was mad—I was super mad, but I thought about it for a long time and I can kinda see why he was so mad at you for hurting Dudley, but he still shouldn't have tried to hurt you. I don't like it when people yell. It scares me and makes me want to go find somewhere to hide.

Uncle Vernon would always yell before coming after me, and so when other people yell around me, I guess I just sorta freak out. I know you wouldn't hurt me, but I don't know Hadwyn as well, especially when I'm scared, and I guess that I thought if he could hurt you, then he could hurt me. And I don't want anyone to ever hurt you, because what if you went away and left me alone again? Where would I go? Where would Hermes and Vince and all of the other Snakes go if something happened to you?

I get worried when I don't see you all day. Sometimes I just need to see you so I know you're still alive and then I feel better. The worst is at night when I can't see you (unless I'm here), and I just have to wait until it's day again. That's the worst. Being around Vince makes that easier to put up with, but sometimes, I guess . . . I just need to be a kid and know you're gonna take care of me and that I'm safe. Is that okay?

I'd try to keep from getting so attached, but it's hard, because I do love you and I know you love me. I don't know what I'd do if something happened to you. I think something would explode. I think I'd scream and scream and not know how to stop if I couldn't have you as my daddy anymore.

I don't know how you'll react to this letter, but I hope I didn't say anything to scare you. I hope you won't get mad at me for any of it. I hope it's okay.

Happy Christmas, Daddy.

Love, Harry (your boy)

Severus put the letter down with trembling fingers. Several parts of it had disturbed him, but not for the reasons that Harry might have thought. The child was right that they didn't yet have a back-up plan for where he would go should something happen to Severus. He'd been thinking of asking Hadwyn, but now he knew he would be doing something sooner as opposed to later. Harry didn't need to be so worried about something that Severus could help with.

As for the other points concerning Harry, there was one thing he could do immediately, and so he did. He reached out and pulled Harry in for a hug.

"I love you so much, Harry," he whispered into the boy's ear.

He felt more than saw the blinding smile that graced Harry's face at his words.

"I love you, Daddy Sev," Harry whispered back, kissing his cheek again and holding onto his shoulders tightly.

"Why don't you go and give Mr. Granger a hug too?" Severus suggested softly when he realised they were being watched.

"That's a real good idea, Daddy Sev!" Harry chirped back. He jumped off of Severus' lap and trotted over to Hermes, and enveloped him in a huge hug before the other boy knew quite what was happening.

"I love you, Hermes Granger!" Harry announced loudly with a wide grin after releasing his friend.

One corner of Hermes' mouth quirked upward at his actions, but then the other side went up as well, showing the room a real smile.

"I love you too, Harry," Hermes answered shyly. "But you still haven't opened your best present."

"My bestest present!?" Harry squealed, jumping to his feet and grabbing Hermes' hand. "Come ons! We gotta opens it!" He demanded, pulling Hermes with him to the floor beside Severus' chair.

Severus reached for the present that he had collaborated on with Mr. Granger and handed it to his son.

"Well, go on," Severus prompted when Harry only stared at it.

"It says it's from my Papa Pa and my Hermes, Daddy Sev," Harry said, his green eyes wide in surprise.

"That just means that you're the only one who doesn't know what it is!" Hermes countered, poking him in his shoulder lightly. "Now open it."

With a trembling hand, Harry undid one side slowly and carefully pulled out the object that was inside. Instantly, it uncurled and stretched out to its full length of four feet. It was a soft green plushie snake and it was obvious to the room that Harry was instantly enthralled with it.

"For Harry?" Harry whispered, stroking it gently.

"Just for you," Hermes answered, resting an arm on Harry's shoulder.

"Nobody else's?" Harry whispered, glancing briefly at Hermes before turning his full attention on Severus.

"You said that you'd never had a stuffed animal before, so Mr. Granger and I thought you should have one," Severus said slowly, reaching out a hand to cup Harry's face. "Try wrapping it around yourself."

"Harry's own?" Harry whispered, still stuck on the concept of his present, even as he dutifully wrapped it around his midsection.

"Harry's own, laddie," Hadwyn said, crouching down beside him with a handkerchief to wipe his silent tears with.

"Tell it to 'Stay,' Harry," Severus added, sliding off his seat to sit on the floor with the others.

"Stay?" Harry asked and then looked down in surprise as his stuffed snake tightened around him just enough to keep from falling off.

"You can make it be tighter or looser, depending on what you want," Hermes explained, taking one of Harry's hands in his.

Harry wrapped his free arm around the head of his snake and looked up at Severus again.

"All mine?"

"All yours. No one can take it off except at your command. No one can take it from you. It's all yours, son," Severus said gently, reaching out and pulling Harry into his lap.

"All mine, Daddy," Harry whispered, squeezing his snake tightly.

"And if you want," Hermes said slowly. "I have an idea for a name."

"Idea?" Harry asked, turning toward Hermes.

"Yeah," Hermes grinned. "Why don't you call it 'Fessor Snake?"

Severus snorted and Hadwyn barked with surprised laughter, but Harry just thought and thought before finally grinning back.

"'Fessor Snape! I'm gonna call my snake, 'Fessor Snake just like my Hermes said!"

Chapter Text

January 5th. -12th - term starts the 6th – weather turns wet, rainy and cold.

Evening of January 5th

Vincent was somewhat anxious to get back to school after being away for so long. He knew that Professor Snape had likely had everything in hand while he'd been gone, but he'd really rather see Harry for himself to verify that fact.

He paused briefly in the common room to say hello to a few people and then, with Blaise beside him, went onto their room. Opening the door, he took a few steps into room before stopping suddenly, causing Blaise to run into his back.

"Vince, what's—," Blaise started to say as Vincent stepped to the side to show his roommate why he stopped. "Holy Merlin," Blaise breathed, his brown eyes going wide.

Carefully walking back to the door, Vincent closed it to the cacophony of loud voices from the hallway.

"Hi guys!" Harry cheerfully greeted them from where he was feeding the unicorn a bottle of milk.

"Harry, that's a unicorn," Blaise pointed out, his voice still hushed.

"Is it a girl?" Vincent asked, eyeing the unicorn carefully.

"Yups!" Harry answered with a grin. A moment later, he sat the empty bottle down and patted her head. "Goldie, these are my friends, Blaise-y and Vince-y. This is my Goldie," He added after turning back to them.

Vincent was more than a little flabbergasted. "Does Professor Snape know that she's in here?"

"Yups! Me and my Hermes found her real early Christmas morning. He saids I can keeps her, but only if I take real good care of her. She's my friend," Harry said, puffing his small chest out proudly. "See looks," He added, pointing to the wall behind him.

Vincent looked and his eyes widened at the door that had not been there prior to the holiday break.

"My Hogwarts added it for me and my Goldie so we coulds go to my Papa Pa's whenever we needed to."

"How's she s'posed to go—uh, go to the loo?" Blaise countered.

"My Hadwyn put this spell on da floor that keeps it from gettin' yucky," Harry answered with a decisive nod.

"So you got a pony for Christmas, then?" Vincent said when it seemed they would just stare at one another indefinitely.

Harry clapped happily at his question before trotting over to hug him tightly. "I missed my Vince-y," the smaller boy whispered into his ear.

Vincent grinned. "I missed you too, little bat."

. . .

7 January, 1992 – First year classes (Tuesday)

HOM (History of Magic) – Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Slytherin/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff
Charms – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw
Herbology – Slytherin/Ravenclaw

. . .

Date: 7 January, 1992
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Morag MacDougal

Morag: How was your holiday?

Sprout: [With a broad grin]. I thought that was supposed to be my question!

Morag: [She smiles slyly]. Now don't be shy. I asked first; so you have to answer.

Sprout: Oh. Is that how it works, then? [Her tone is teasing].

Morag: Yes. Now quit stalling. Tell me about your mysterious mister.

Sprout: [Her eyebrows raise in surprise]. I'm sure I don't know what you are referring to.

Morag: Hannah saw a man in a dark cloak escorting you to the train the day we left for the hol's.

Sprout: How do you know that wasn't just Professor Snape? [The corner of her mouth is raised in amusement].

Morag: Please. [She answers with a flip of her hair]. Professor Snape could never be so gentlemanly. Besides, Hannah saw him kiss your cheek! [She sits back in her cheek with a pleased expression].

Sprout: [She laughs]. I hate to disappoint, but that was my nephew, Braoin.

Morag: [Looking much put out]. Are you certain you aren't just trying to throw me off?

Sprout: [With a smile]. Quite. He was here to pick me up. After we left the train, we flooed to my sister's place, his mother's home.

Morag: That's simply a shame.

Sprout: Not for me. She's a lovely cook.

Morag: Fine, then I guess we'll have to go back to our original plan.

Sprout: Which is?

Morag: [She smiles smugly]. Setting you up with a nice wizard.

End notes: Oh for the love of Merlin's dirty socks. And she completely managed to derail the entire conversation. I shall have to be extra vigilant next week when I ask her about her holiday at home. I hope nothing unpleasant happened.

. . .

Date: 7 January, 1992
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Hannah Abbott

Hannah: It really is a shame, you know.

Sprout: I assume that you and Morag are in on this fiasco together, then? [She raises an eyebrow].

Hannah: Well, we're only looking out for our head of house. [She says with a wide eyed look of innocence].

Sprout: You needn't bother, I assure you. Rather, I'd like to know what happened while you were at home.

Hannah: [She huffs, but tempers it with a smile]. I'd rather talk about you . . . but if you insist.

Sprout: I do [She smiles].

Hannah: Mum showed me her scrapbook of her Quidditch days. She was so thin! It's funny really . . .

Sprout: What's that, dear?

Hannah: Well, before I came to Hogwarts, my mum never seemed to be interested in Quidditch or anything to do with flying. You remember, I told you how she didn't like to have me or my brother in the air even? Well, now it's almost the opposite! I mean, she still doesn't want me to try out, but over Christmas we got into a really long conversation over which were the best brooms. I didn't even know that she knew anything about brooms, but it turns out she's always been interested in them! Why would she have lied?

Sprout: [She hesitates briefly]. Perhaps she was worried about you getting hurt.

Hannah: That's just . . . silly. [She crosses her arms with a frown].

Sprout: [She smiles gently]. But now you are starting to grow up, and maybe she is recognizing that.

Hannah: Well, I'd hope so.

Sprout: Enjoy these years, child. I have often times missed my years at home.

Hannah: All the time?

Sprout: [She laughs]. No, no. I enjoy being an adult, but there are times when I've been sick or tired and have found myself missing my mother and father.

Hannah: That seems strange to hear you say that.

Sprout: Even if it's true!

End notes: I know I didn't properly appreciate my Ma and Da when I was in school.

. . .

Date: 7 January, 1992
House: Hufflepuff
Student Name: Justin Finch-Fletchley

Sprout: Tell me, how was your time spent here at the castle?

Justin: Recently or in general? [He snorts in amusement].

Sprout: [She smiles]. Recently.

Justin: [He folds his hands in his lap]. I had an acceptable holiday.

Sprout: Would you care to elaborate?

Justin: I spent a great deal of time sleeping, eating and studying. [He smiles suddenly]. Did you know . . . [he leans in closer].

Sprout: What, child?

Justin: Despite my opinion of him, Potter seemed inclined to start several conversations with me. I rebuffed most of his attempts—not because I was trying to avoid him, mind. I simply had other places to be most of the time. However, one time he caught me outside and you'll never believe what came with him!

Sprout: Professor Snape?

Justin: [He waves a dismissive hand]. That is entirely beside the point, Professor. He had a bloody unicorn with him.

Sprout: [Her eyebrows are raised]. Are you quite certain?

Side note: I considered telling him off for his language, but under the circumstances, I believe it may be warranted.

Justin: A muggle I may be, but a fool I am not. [He sniffs imperiously].

Sprout: You are hardly a muggle anymore, child. [She smiles gently]. Wherever did it come from, I wonder?

Justin: It came with him somehow. We were nowhere near the forest, and I swear that the creature just followed right after him like some sort of magical puppy.

Sprout: [She laughs]. You make me want to go and confront Professor Snape about it.

Justin: [He smiles]. You should!

End notes: And for a moment, I caught a glimpse of Justin the child, as opposed to the "young gentleman."

. . .

8 January, 1992 – First year classes (Wednesday)

HOM – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
DADA – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff, Slytherin
Charms – Slytherin
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Flitwick: How was your break?

Lisa: Very relaxing.

Flitwick: And did you speak with your grandfather about where he attended school?

Side note: I confess a personal interest in what she has to say on the matter.

Lisa: [She frowns very briefly]. Grandfather did admit to knowing you, but he said that the first two years of anyone's schooling are hardly something to be remembered. He did say that you were one of the more intelligent ones.

Flitwick: Ah, well I do thank him for his rather astute observation!

Lisa: My grandmother also mentioned you. She asked if you were that small fellow with the high-pitched voice!

Flitwick: [He clears his throat]. There are infinitely worse ways to be remembered.

Lisa: Grandfather didn't have very nice things to say about Professor McGonagall.

Flitwick: Oh?

Side note: As I recall, you were one of the deciding factors in his transferring, Minerva. I doubt that ol' Grandfather Turpin is willing to recollect that you caught him cheating.

Lisa: I don't think I should repeat what he said about her.

Flitwick: [He purses his lips]. Hm, perhaps not. Let him remember her as he will, and hopefully you will make your own observations.

Lisa: I don't think I like her very much either.

Flitwick: Did you feel that way before you went on break?

Lisa: She isn't very nice.

Flitwick: Neither is Professor Snape.

Lisa: [She scowls]. Grandfather had a great deal to say about . . . about him.

Flitwick: He is very competent though, you must admit. Youngest Potions Master in a century, or so I heard!

Lisa: Hmph. I can't believe that Dumbledore was willing to hire him after all that he did in the war.

Flitwick: Headmaster Dumbledore. And I believe those circumstances are between them. Unless you'd care to ask Professor Snape about his terms of employment? [He raises an eyebrow].

Lisa: I'd rather kiss a hippogriff!

End notes: I'm sure one could be found, but would it rather kiss you?

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Flitwick: How was your time with your Gran?

Sabrina: [She gives a small smile]. It was fun. We made cookies. She let me pick the music and help her with cutting the shapes. You know what? [She leans in with a bigger grin].

Flitwick: What's that, child? [He leans forward].

Sabrina: I made some cookies for mum and dad, but didn't tell Gran.

Flitwick: [He claps his hands together]. Oh what fun! Did you keep them or eat them?

Sabrina: [She shrugs]. I ate a few, but I kept some too.

Flitwick: Good! Let me show you a spell that is good for turning food into permanent presentations. The spell is permanere. It's a bit of a mouthful, but given that it's not a basic charm, that makes sense. [He smiles]. If you're interested in learning, then I'd like you practice its pronunciation for a day or two and then I'll show you the wand movements.

Sabrina: [She smiles]. That would be amazing, professor!

Flitwick: Then see me after class on Friday, and we'll see what we can do. Do try and bring those cookies too.

Sabrina: I really appreciate this sir.

End notes: Honouring one's parents is not only a religious sentiment.

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Flitwick: Tell me, how was your time during the holidays?

Michael: It was brilliant, Professor!

Flitwick: How so, child?

Michael: We went to the states, remember?

Flitwick: I do. You mentioned that you were going to visit North Carolina. Did you?

Michael: My parents took me to Asheville and it was just like you said! I saw muggles and wizards all walking down the streets together. And the muggles didn't even notice! Some of our relatives met us there, and they said that sometimes they even get mixed up about who is who. [He grins widely].

Flitwick: Utterly intriguing. I haven't been there in some time, but it appears that the place hasn't particularly changed. Or rather, the people haven't. Tell me, did you sample any of the cuisine?

Michael: Some. There were a few places my parents wouldn't let me go into, but they said maybe on a later trip that I could. I'm going to hold them to it. Oh! And guess what?

Flitwick: What?

Michael: I think I saw some vampires!

Flitwick: [His eyes widen in concern]. I hope you were with your family when you saw them.

Michael: [He nods]. Don't worry; I was. I think I felt the allure though, because my dad grabbed me by the shoulder and started pulling me in the other direction.

Flitwick: [His eyebrows are raised].

Michael: But I'm all right. [He shrugs and grins widely at Flitwick's silence].

End notes: Ah youth. Ever convinced of their own superiority.

. . .

Date: 8 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Draco Malfoy

Flitwick: How did your father behave toward you during the break?

Draco: [He fidgets briefly]. My father spent most of the holiday in his office inside our manor.

Flitwick: Oh my. Did he come out for Christmas?

Draco: [He grimaces]. He gave me a book on the ancestral history of the Malfoy family. I think he was trying to make a point.

Flitwick: Have other Malfoys been sorted into Ravenclaw?

Draco: Of course. Have any ever been resorted? No. [He scowls and crosses his arms].

Flitwick: You are certainly not the first Slytherin ever to be resorted, did you know that?

Draco: [He shrugs].

Flitwick: Gifford Ollerton, the famous giant slayer of the 15th century was originally sorted into Slytherin.

Draco: And he was resorted? Where?

Flitwick: [He smiles]. Gryffindor.

Draco: [He scowls]. I'm not surprised. Any moron stupid enough to go chasing after giants should be in Gryffindor. [He huffs]. Who else?

Side note: For all of your non-interest, you certainly are curious.

Flitwick: Let's see here . . . Daisy Dodderidge was another—.

Draco: You can't be serious!? That muggle lover—er, I mean. [His cheeks pink under Flitwick's gaze].

Flitwick: As a successful innkeeper, Dodderidge had to have more than just an average person's amount of cunning and ambition. However, from what I've read, her personality did not fit in with the other members of the Slytherin house of her time.

Draco: Not a surprise. Where was she resorted? Wait—let me guess. [He rolls his eyes]. Hufflepuff.

Flitwick: Ravenclaw. [He smiles proudly].

Draco: Hm.

Flitwick: Also, Archibald Alderton was originally sorted into Slytherin—.

Draco: That idiot!?

Flitwick: Well, I didn't say that all of my examples were necessarily stand up versions of society, now did I? He was eventually resorted into Gryffindor as well. Although—[he holds up a hand]—according to his memoirs, the hat wanted to sort him into Ravenclaw, but he threatened to find a way to dismantle Its protection charms and destroy It if that happened.

Draco: He couldn't even magically charm a cake! How was he going to destroy the Sorting Hat? Beside, only a dunderhead would want to be sorted into Gryffindor.

Flitwick: His intelligence was not in question; it was his use thereof. [He leans forward with a raised eyebrow]. I should hope that you would remember that.

Draco: [He frowns]. Yes sir.

[Silence].

Draco: Sir? Was there anyone from my father's time who was resorted? Not just out of Slytherin I mean.

Flitwick: Hm. [He leans back and looks thoughtful]. There are only two that come to mind, though I suspect that there may be more. I'm also not entirely certain that your father would have crossed paths with either of these.

Draco: Well, who are you thinking of?

Flitwick: Gwenog Jones.

Draco: [His eyes widen]. Of the Holyhead Harpies? She has a wicked arm.

Flitwick: [He smiles]. Correct. She was resorted out of Ravenclaw into Slytherin. I believe that Slytherin began a winning streak in Quidditch shortly thereafter. She was one of the few females to ever play Quidditch within Slytherin, but she certainly wasn't the last.

Side note: I must admit a certain fondness for strong women with large bats.

Flitwick: As for the other, Devlin Whitehorn . . . [he pauses for Draco's gasp] . . . was originally sorted into Hufflepuff.

Draco: The founder of the Nimbus broom was sorted into Hufflepuff!? Why? [His eyes are wide and his mouth is slightly open].

Flitwick: He was a very hard worker. [He smiles]. However, he found a new home within Ravenclaw during the middle of his third year.

Draco: Why was he resorted?

Flitwick: It's a long story. Ask me next time and I'll elaborate, if you like. [His smile becomes broader]. Or you might ask Professor Sprout.

Draco: Or I might marry the Giant Squid!

Flitwick: Well, don't think he hasn't had offers!

End notes: And of course, that's an entirely different story altogether.

. . .

First year classes (Thursday)

DADA – Hufflepuff/Slytherin
Potions – Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
Transfiguration – Gryffindor
Charms – Gryffindor
Herbology – Slytherin/Ravenclaw

. . .

Date: 9 January, 1992
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Ronald Weasley

McGonagall: Well Mr Weasley, how was your stay here during the holiday?

Ron: It was pretty cool. I mean, I missed my mum and dad, but we had a BRILLIANT snow fight on Christmas, and I'm glad I was here for that.

McGonagall: You got along well with your brothers, I presume? I did notice that you had no infirmary visits and Gryffindor does seem to be largely intact still.

Ron: [He scowls]. We're not completely horrible.

McGonagall: Hm, perhaps you and Percy are not.

Ron: [He grins]. The twins did a nice bit of charm work with some snowballs though.

McGonagall: [She clears her throat]. Yes, on Professor Quirrell? No, don't confirm it. I'd rather be able to deny all knowledge of the event in case someone questions me.

Ron: [He puts a hand over his mouth to cover his smile].

McGonagall: Did you receive anything good for Christmas?

Ron: Mum sent me my usual MAROON sweater. [He sighs gustily]. I hate maroon. Hey um, but I got a couple of pretty cool gifts from er, Granger and Harry.

McGonagall: And what did they send you? If I may ask?

Ron: Well uh, Granger sent me a book on some really cool defensive spells that are easy to pronounce, and uh kind of easy to learn how to do silently. And Harry sent me some muggle fiction books. He said they were his favourites.

McGonagall: What books?

Ron: Um, one was called, oh hel-heck I mean. [He pulls his bag forward and begins digging through it]. Oh. Here it is. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," is one of them.

McGonagall: [With a pleased smile]. I am familiar with that book. It's a good story.

Ron: It's pretty interesting so far. Another one he sent me was called, "Maniac Magee." I haven't started that one yet, but it looks interesting. And the last one he sent me is called, "Night of the Twisters." They're all set in America, but I kind of like that. [He grins].

McGonagall: Perhaps you would be willing to share your thoughts on those books once you finish them?

Ron: Sure. I guess. I probably won't have time to finish them all at once.

McGonagall: I wouldn't expect you to. Good books are meant to be savoured, after all.

Ron: [He grins again]. Yeah.

End notes: Perhaps the upcoming discussions on these books will provide a welcome distraction from the problematic subject of MS Granger.

. . .

Date: 9 January, 1992
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Neville Longbottom

McGonagall: Well Mr Longbottom, how was your time during the holiday?

Neville: It was pretty good. Gran and I had some quiet time together and that was rather nice. I had forgotten how relaxing it is to sit down to a cuppa tea with her after spending all day in a greenhouse.

McGonagall: That does sound pleasant.

Neville: Yeah. It was. I am glad to be back though. I missed my friends here.

McGonagall: Did you receive anything particularly nice for Christmas?

Neville: My Gran got me a few really rare wizarding plants from Africa. One of them only eats blood.

McGonagall: I hope you aren't going to tell me that you've been feeding it your own blood? [She grimaces].

Neville: [With a wide grin]. No, ma'am. We're feeding it blood from a few of the animals my Gran keeps around the estate. This plant isn't too particular. We could feed it doxie blood if we had any!

McGonagall: That, at least, would be a good use for those obnoxious pests. I remember that my mother found a horrible infestation in our attic once. It was months before she would voluntarily set foot in there again.

Neville: I don't blame her. Gran hates them too. She always sends me to take care of them.

McGonagall: My condolences.

Neville: Thanks. [He smiles]. Did you have a nice Christmas?

McGonagall: [Her eyebrows raise slightly]. It was pleasant. Primarily, it was quiet and I took the time off to get caught up on some of my paperwork.

Neville: You didn't visit anyone?

McGonagall: Most of my family is either passed on or lives very far away.

Neville: [He frowns]. That's my family too. We always go and visit my parents on Christmas, did I tell you that?

McGonagall: [With a gentle expression]. You did not.

Neville: Yeah. I don't think they really notice much, but—[he shrugs]—it still makes me feel better to try.

McGonagall: Perhaps someday someone will develop a cure for them. Perhaps you will help raise the plant that helps in that discovery.

Neville: Maybe.

End notes: The poor lad.

. . .

Date: 9 January, 1992
House: Gryffindor
Student Name: Parvati Patil

McGonagall: How was India?

Parvati: Overcrowded—as always! My cousins and I all slept in one room on floor pallets, even though my father offered to transfigure them into bunk beds. My Nana doesn't like anything to change though! She said that family gatherings were supposed to be crammed and slightly uncomfortable. [She huffs].

McGonagall: [She smiles]. I'm assuming that you enjoyed yourself despite the sleeping arrangements?

Parvati: [She grins]. Yeah. My family is big enough that we were able to get into three different Quidditch teams.

McGonagall: Arranged how?

Parvati: Oh by age of course.

McGonagall: And who ultimately triumphed?

Parvati: My father's team. Nana dropped her false teeth on the field halfway through their game and since she was playing Keeper, it sort of ended the game.

McGonagall: [She laughs]. Oh, I imagine that would have been a sight to see!

Parvati: That's not even the worst of it though. My littlest cousin—she's 2—was the one who found them and she got them stuck in her mouth!

McGonagall: [She turns green]. That is more than a little disturbing to hear.

Side note: In fact, I'm glad that I couldn't make dinner today.

Parvati: It was pretty hilarious once Nana found out who it was. Amala—my littlest cousin—saw Nana's face and started running away. That's how they got stuck in her mouth actually. She fell down and they got wedged in there.

McGonagall: That is still rather disgusting.

Parvati: Of course it was, but it's not often that something happens that Nana doesn't know about immediately! She's a bit like the Headmaster that way, I think, but she's a little sneakier. And she gets people back too.

McGonagall: [She purses her lips]. I hope that you are not so vindictive?

Parvati: Not yet. [She grins].

End notes: Not yet indeed. A Slytherin you are not.

. . .

After classes on Thursday, Slytherin Common Room

"Miss Mary! Miss Mary!"

Slytherins of all ages looked up from their studies as Harry's cheery voice hailed their 7th year prefect.

"Mr Harry! What kinds of trouble have you been up to!?" Mary asked, looking at his sopping hair and clothes in dismay.

"I hads class with Pr'fessor Sprout todays, I did I did!" Harry said, flinging his wet hair up and down with the force of his nod.

"Harry . . ." Mary groaned, pulling out her wand and casting a series of drying spells on the wet boy. "Don't you have a waterproof cloak?" She looked around the room. "Where's Vince? Surely you didn't walk here all by yourself?" She asked in a reproving tone.

"My Caddy walked me here, honest!" A now dry Harry said earnestly. "Can I sits with you?"

"Get up here," Mary told him with a smile.

Harry scrambled up on the sofa next to her and then pulled his backpack off. "I got something ta show you, Miss Mary!"

"Oh?" Mary answered before turning to glare at someone who was giggling about 'cute little Harry.'

"My 'fessor got it for me," Harry said, opening his bag and rifling through its innards. "It's called 'The Velveteen Rabbit,' and it's what I really really wanted!" He pulled out the book and presented it to Mary proudly.

"It's about a Rabbit and he's made outtas Velveteen, which my Hermes saids is like real soft cotton," Harry explained in a rush, opening the book to the first page. "His boy gets him for Christmas, see?"

"I do see, Mr Harry," Mary remarked, looking over the page carefully.

"He was in a stocking, and my Hermes and I got stockings for Christmas! Did you knows that?"

"I'm not surprised," Mary answered.

"And Father Christmas brought us candy and chocolate frogs and I gots a spinning top! And my Hermes got one too, but his is green and mine is silver and they're real shiny!"

"Do they go fast?"

"Uh-huh!" Harry nodded. "And look here," He turned the page. "He gets put in the nursery and all them other toys are real mean-like to him," He said with a sad pout. "They thinks that 'cause they got more bits inside, then that means they're better. But my 'fessor Snape says that some of the bestest potions are da ones that look real simple."

Mary glanced up at him with a strangely assessing gaze as he turned to the next page.

"And then look heres, Miss Mary! The Velveteen Bunny is talkin' to the horse—the one in the nursery. He's real wise, like my Papa Pa, only older, I thinks."

Some of the other girls and a few of the boys who were listening in from around the room giggled at his description. Miss Mary gave them another widespread glare and they quieted.

"He tells the Bunny that bein' real is somethin' that happens when someone loves you a whole lot. Bein' loved is how somethin' gets to be real. Then! One night the boy can't find his toy doggie and his nana gives him the Bunny!"

Mary smiled at his bright eyed excitement.

"I never had no bunnies or doggies to sleep with," Harry announced matter-of-factly. "Dudley dids, but my Aun—my Petunia saids that bad boys don't need no toys, 'cause they just break 'em."

"You're not bad, Harry!" Graham Montague called out from the other side of the room. He looked fit to burst; his face bright red with indignation that anyone would ever be so mean to their littlest snake.

Harry smiled shyly back at him as Mary wrapped her arm around his shoulders. "Of course he's not, Graham. Harry's one of our best."

Harry's smile morphed into a wide grin, even as his cheeks pinked.

"Go on Harry. Tell us what happens next," prompted a second year by the name of Arlene Unger.

"The Velveteen Bunny doesn't much like bein' in the bed with the boy at first, 'cause it's hot and sometimes he gets squished!" Harry said with a nod. "But then, his boy started talkin' to him and takin' him places and playin' games with him! And the Bunny has lots of fun and doesn't even notice when his fur starts gettin' thin and stuff. And then, you know what happened?" Harry looked at Miss Mary before glancing at the common room around him.

"What?" Mary asked.

"His nana saids that the Bunny was just a toy and his boy said no he wasn't! He said that he was REAL. He said it big and louds just like that!"

Mary smiled at Harry and he smiled back, hugging his ever-present snake plushy as he did.

"So then, after a bit, the Bunny stops lookin' like a bunny, and his whiskers fall out, and his fur turns kinda grey, but it doesn't matter! Not one bit! 'Cause his boy still knows him and still loves him and still sees him as a Bunny, so that's all that matters! Right, Miss Mary?" Harry's bright green eyes turned expectantly onto her face.

"Quite right, Mr Harry."

"Bunny stays with him real careful like when he gets sick, and he tells him stories at night when no one but his boy is listening. And then his boy gets better! But," Harry turned the page with a sad face. "But then, 'cause he was so sick, they can't keep his toys 'cause they're full of nasty germies."

"Is this a muggle book?" Someone whispered across the room.

"So mean ol' nana and the doctor—that's like Madame Pomfrey," Harry adds with a look in the direction of the whisperer. "They take all his toys when he's not noticin' and make a big pile to be burnt. Even Bunny!"

There were a couple of gasps across the room, but Harry didn't have eyes for them. His lower lip was trembling.

"Bunny gets put in da fowl house—my Hermes says that a place for chickens—with all da other old toys and stuff. And he gets cold and lonely." Harry sniffled. "And he misses his boy so much that he starts cryin'."

There were a few quiet sniffles among the other Slytherins and Harry nodded up at them.

"You know what he did? He cried real tears, real bunny tears," He added with a nod. "And the tears hit the ground and guess what?" He asked as he turned the page.

"What?"

"When his tears hit the ground, a flower came up. And outta the flower, there was a fairy. And she said, 'Little Rabbit. Don't you know who I am?'"

"Who was she, Harry?" An older fourth year boy asked from a nearby table.

"She was the nursery magic Fairy. She told Bunny dat she was gonna make him Real. Like really real! But he thought he already was. So she told him that he was real to his boy, but now she was gonna make him real to everyone. Then she took him to the forest to some other real bunnies, and she told 'em to be nice to him and teach him and stuff. And you know what, Miss Mary!?"

"What, Mr Harry?"

"He was real! He could jump and dance and wiggle and everything! And best of all, everyone knew it and could see it!"

The room gave a collective sigh of contentment, but Mary wasn't done yet.

"Why do you like this story, little one?" Mary asked him.

A pleased light shone in his eyes at her question, and he straightened before responding.

"I don't think I was Real 'fore I came here. I think my 'Fessor Snape and my Vincey and my Hermes and my Slytherins made me Real. I think I'm a real boy now," He said with a shy grin.

"Oh Harry, you are a real boy. You're our real boy!" Miss Mary exclaimed, pulling him into her lap to hug him tightly.

. . .

First year classes (Friday)

HOM – Hufflepuff/Slytherin, Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Potions – Slytherin/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Ravenclaw, Slytherin
Charms – Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff

. . .

Date: 12 January, 1992
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Vincent Crabbe
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: One older sister, graduated from Hogwarts in 1989.
Blood status: Pureblood
Magic levels: Average, potential for growth
Last owl received from family: 7 January, 1991

Ongoing impressions: 'Smarter than he appears. Vincent is standing at the cusp of maturity for all that he is only yet a boy.'

Vince: I can't believe that Harry has a unicorn. Or that you let him keep it!

Snape: [He raises an eyebrow]. I don't think that the decision was entirely up to me. The foal was orphaned and attached herself to Harry. To separate them would have been unnecessarily cruel.

Vince: Well, I know that they seem to get along well, but why isn't she staying outside?

Snape: Is her presence in your dorm bothering you or Blaise?

Vince: Not really, but it was a rather large shock to walk in and see her standing there with Harry.

Snape: I believe that she is providing him with a measure of mental peace. As you know, he often sleeps badly, and the few times he had nightmares after Christmas, she always managed to calm him down. Speaking of peace, will you tell me how your holiday went? Or should we continue to discuss my littlest snake ad nauseam?

Vince: [He blushes]. Sorry.

Snape: Sorry does not explain how your break from school was. Speak before I make you write an essay on it. [He crosses his arms imposingly].

Vince: Eh, it was all right. My sister is a bit older than me, so I don't really know her very well. And I didn't think I could tell mum about being friends with Harry, given that my da doesn't like to hear his name ever. It didn't even matter that he wasn't there. The rules still stand.

Snape: [He nods]. My father's rules were similar. One did not go against them lightly.

Vince: Yeah. So mum and Penny spent most of the time talking and I spent most of the time in my room reading. Greg came over a few times and we went out horseback riding, but other than that it was pretty dull.

Snape: Did you say you were reading?

Vince: Hey, I can read! You know I'm not stupid.

Snape: I'd have more proof of it if you would start turning in your homework to your other classes.

Vince: [He gives a gusty sigh]. I hate writing stuff.

Snape: Then buy a dicto-quill. But I want to see your grades improve this term, understand me?

Vince: Yes, sir. [He grumbles and rolls his eyes].

End notes: 'I know he's not stupid, but I fear that I am one of the few.'

. . .

Date: 12 January, 1992
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Hermione Granger
Lives with: Mother and Father
Siblings: None
Roommates: Millicent Bulstrode
Blood status: Muggle born.
Magic levels: Semi-powerful
Last owl received from family: 24 December, 1991.

Ongoing impressions: 'Somewhere between a guardian angel and sly conniving devil of a child.'

Snape: May I ask what it was you received from your family?

Hermes: [He rolls his eyes]. Just another plea for me to reconsider my plans to stay at the school over the break. They said, 'But Hermione, your uncle Edward will be there! Don't you want to see him?'

Snape: I take it that you did not?

Hermes: [With a sneer]. No.

Snape: Were you pleased with how Christmas eventually went?

Hermes: [He grins]. You mean, after we were no longer in mortal danger?

Snape: [He scowls]. The next time you consider putting yourself in harm's way, I should hope you would notify me first.

Hermes: [He frowns]. Sometimes there isn't time for adults to help. Sometimes they don't want to help.

Snape: [Leaning forward]. I want to help you, regardless of what or who is involved. You are mine. You are my snake. You are one of my children. You will not put yourself in such danger again without bearing the consequences.

Side note: Provided you are still alive to experience them.

Hermes: [Slouching]. I'm not used to asking for anything.

Snape: I know that, child. [He leans back and crosses his legs at the knee]. I want you to be safe and happy if at all possible.

Hermes: Seems strange to hear you say things like that. [He fidgets].

Snape: I know that I have the reputation of being a dungeon bat. I know what they say about me in the halls. [He smiles slightly]. Why do you think they made me head of Slytherin and not Aurora Sinistra?

Hermes: Because you're scarier?

Snape: That and I know what the darker path in life can lead to. I have experience in that regard. [He grimaces].

Hermes: I just want to survive the year.

Snape: I'm glad to hear that. Hopefully you will do so by not taking unnecessary risks. [He sneers].

Hermes: I'll try, all right?

Snape: Slytherins don't try. If it didn't happen, then we rewrite the books. You will make it. I will make certain of it.

End notes: Or we'll die trying.

. . .

Date: 12 January, 1992
House: Slytherin
Student Name: Harry Potter
Lives with: As head of his house, I am now his official guardian, per Slytherin bylaws.
Siblings: None
Ongoing infirmary report: He is taking a variety of nutritional potions with each and every meal, and he will continue taking a full body soak in essence of murtlap every week in the infirmary bathroom until the holiday break. At that time, we shall re-evaluate.
Roommates: Vincent Crabbe and Blaise Zabini.
Blood status: 1st generation pureblood (as per the new rules; half-blood via the old rules)
Magic levels: Powerful
Last owl received from: Neville Longbottom on the 28th of December

Ongoing impressions: 'He is more subtle than I had realised. Mary Tower told me about an incident of interest that took place in the common room earlier this week and I was much impressed. I can only hope that I never begin to underestimate his abilities.'

Harry: Papa Pa! [He comes running into the room and clambers into Severus' lap. There is a unicorn foal settled on the floor at their feet].

Snape: Hello little one.

Harry: [He kisses Severus on the cheek]. I missed you this week.

Snape: You saw me in Potions barely two days ago. And might I remind you that we had tea yesterday?

Harry: But I like seein' you every day!

Snape: [The corner of his mouth lifts up slightly]. I enjoy our time spent together as well. Lest I forget, I have good news.

Harry: [He claps happily]. That's the bestest kind!

Snape: You no longer have to do full body soaks in the infirmary for your scars.

Harry: Yay! No more smelly stuffs. [He nods].

Snape: Instead, you will soak individual limbs with me two evenings per week.

Harry: [Peering up at Severus]. I gets to spend time with you, Daddy Sev?

Snape: Yes. [He gives a small smile].

Harry: And you'll still give me hugs and loves?

Snape: I will always do that.

Harry: Kay! [He hugs Severus around the middle tightly]. You know what, Papa Pa?

Snape: What's that, little bat?

Harry: [He grins wider]. Miss Mary saids that I'm one of the best little Slytherins ever!

Snape: [He gently begins running his hand over Harry's head]. And this comes as some surprise to you?

Harry: Well, kinda. Not been the bestest of much ever. It's kinda nice. I like her a whole lot, Papa Pa. Do y'think my mummy wouldas liked her?

Snape: I think your mum would have been pleased to see you two as friends.

Harry: [His head is now on Severus' chest]. I wish I'd known her, Papa Pa. [He frowns and wraps his arms around Severus' back]. I think she hugged me some, don't you think, Papa Pa? I think she hugged me and loved me, but I don't 'member and I wished I did. You know what, Papa Pa?

Snape: What's that, little one? [His voice is very soft].

Harry: Sometimes I pretend. Sometimes I pretend that my Miss Mary is my mummy. Is that okay?

Snape: It's quite all right, child. Miss Mary loves you; it is only right that you love her in return.

Harry: [He smiles against Severus' chest and relaxes]. I think she loves real Harry. I think she loves the me that's me inside, like I told you about Papa Pa. I think she does truly.

Snape: I think that you are correct little one.

Harry: Can I just sits here and be quiet and listen to your thump thump and you breathin' and bein'?

Snape: [He smiles]. If that is what you want, little bat, then please do so.

Harry: [His eyes drift shut after a few moments and about ten minutes later, his breathing evens out].

End notes: 'Oh little one. Yes, I can see Lily's spirit approving of Mary Tower as a surrogate mother. If only you didn't have need of one, but we do what we must do.'

Chapter Text

Monday - 12:03 am, January 13, 1992.

Severus' floo flared late that evening, just as he was beginning to consider going to bed.

"Severus?" Minerva's anxious voice called out.

Kneeling down in front of the fireplace, he took in the sight of his colleague's haggard face. Her hair was falling from its tight bun, and her eyes were suspiciously watery. Despite their disagreements, she was still his friend; it worried him to see the woman in such a state.

"Minerva? What's happened?" He pressed when she did immediately respond.

"Poppy needs you in the Infirmary," She whispered, her eyes distant.

Taking only the time to glance in the direction of Harry's door, he stood up and warned, "Step back then!" He waited until her face was gone from the green flames and then said, "Infirmary," before striding into the fire.

"Severus!" Poppy shouted at him from across the room. "I need you over here now!"

He ran across the room, barely noticing as Minerva collapsed into a chair near the fireplace. Poppy had thrown her body over the convulsing form of a girl, and Severus used his long arms to help hold her.

"What is it?" He shouted across the bed.

"Poisoning, I believe!" Was Poppy's answer.

It felt as though a block of ice dropped into his stomach at her words.

"Can you hold her by yourself?" Poppy asked.

He nodded and stretched himself out further across the girl.

Poppy picked up her wand and did a series of complicated diagnostic spells. Between the shaking of the girl under him and the angle of her results, he was only able to follow about half of what she was doing. The girl's body was hot under him, and he didn't need a spell to know she was running a fever—a high one.

"Her pulse is 187," Poppy informed him tensely. "Dilated pupils and swelling in her throat as well. When Minerva found her, she was staggering around looking for a dragon named Hubert."

Abruptly, the convulsions stopped and Severus was able to straighten up, not quite groaning at the stiffness in his back.

"Any rash?" He grunted out, quickly running through the possibilities in his mind.

Poppy leaned down over the girl and undid her blouse with a swipe of her wand. He leaned in with a scowl at the sight of a bright red discoloration covering her neck and majority of her chest.

"Atropa Belladonna poisoning," He guessed.

"Suicide, Severus?" Minerva's shaky voice questioned, and he turned to find her standing behind him. Her face was white, almost grey, and it was clear that she was in no state to be up and walking around.

As Poppy quickly gathered potions, Severus took Minerva by the elbow and led her to a nearby bed. He was bothered by her acquiescence, and mildly surprised that Poppy hadn't already spelled her to sleep. He guessed that the situation with the girl—the Gryffindor girl, his mind finally corrected him—had taken all of her attention.

Letting Minerva sit upright, though insisting that her feet be elevated, Severus quickly called out for Caddy.

"Yes, Master Severus?" Even the lateness of the hour didn't interfere with Cadillac's pristine appearance.

"I need tea for two, and a plate of biscuits. Chocolate ones," He added, feeling the need for sugar. "And then, I would like you to stay in my quarters and keep watch over my project."

Caddy's left ear twitched at Severus' code word for Harry, but otherwise did not react to the extra request. "Certainly, Master Severus."

The proper little house elf popped out of existence for a moment, and then reappeared with a simply done tea tray. As he did, Severus quickly summoned a nearby chair and took a seat in it next to Minerva's bed.

He waited until he had served Minerva her tea—with lots of sugar—before broaching the subject of the girl behind him. He had kept a peripheral watch on Poppy while with Minerva, but it seemed that the woman had everything in hand. Whether it would do any good was still left to be seen.

"Tell me about the girl, Minnie," Severus asked in a soft voice. "And eat a cookie," He added, pressing one into her almost lax hand.

Minerva gave him a watery smile in response to his seemingly out-of-character mollycoddling, but did as he said. By the time she began to speak, some of the colour had begun returning to her lips and her cheeks had lost their sick looking pallor.

"You should recognize her, Severus. She held what, the worst record for number of exploded cauldrons? Well, before Longbottom, isn't that right?"

"That's Elizabeth Murphy?" Severus took another glance at the pallid girl several beds over from them.

"Aye," Minerva answered softly.

"She's grown about a foot since I last had her in class. She didn't make it into 5th year Potions, you know," Severus pointed out. And thank Merlin for that.

"I'm not certain who was more relieved about that," Minerva answered quietly.

"An utterly abysmal Potions' student, as well as Herbology, if I remember correctly from Pomona," He responded, his mind already wandering over what little he recalled about her.

"But an absolute gem in my class," Minerva answered, her lips twisted upward fondly for a moment as her mind became lost in memory. "She achieved animagi status last year. As a fourth year, Severus. Do you have any idea how rare that is?"

He grunted. Suicide was a tricky thing when it came to magic. If that was what this was.

"Let's hope that she hasn't lost that talent then when she awakes," He answered.

Minerva's eyes narrowed at his words. "Why would she lose the talent? Animagi isn't simply something to be turned on and off. Once you have it, you can't lose it."

"As you and I both know, suicide in Latin means 'self-kill.' In wizards and witches, to purposely kill yourself often kills your magic as well." He crossed his legs and leaned back in his seat in an effort to ignore the horrified expression that had come over Minerva's face at his words.

"Did you know that Filch wasn't born a squib?" He asked in a conversational tone.

"I know that he didn't attend here," Minerva responded with a frown.

"He started working here about halfway through my fifth year."

"I'm surprised you remember that," Minerva interrupted.

Severus fought the urge to shrug like the schoolboy he once had been. Minerva sometimes had that effect on him. He remembered Filch, because the man had made an effort to get in-between him and Potter's gang on more than one occasion. The man didn't take points, but he would often shoot simple hexes at Potter and Black when they weren't looking, and Severus had appreciated it. It was certainly more than anyone else had done.

"He was married too," Severus answered instead.

"Argus?" Minerva goggled.

Frowning at her surprise, he continued the story. "She was a muggle and lived on the very far end of Hogsmeade, just past where the wards stop. He told me about her occasionally." Severus fell silent, not wishing to share those private details with his colleague. He suspected that Filch didn't even remember telling him to begin with.

"What happened?" Minerva pressed in a soft voice. She put down her empty teacup and reached out a cold hand to Severus' own warm one.

"Death Eaters killed her in one of their raids upon the village about a year after I graduated from Hogwarts," Severus answered with a grim expression. "I doubt they even knew who she was married to. She was just 'another filthy muggle' to them."

"How did you learn of her death?"

"Albus . . . He contacted me and asked if I would talk to Filch. I couldn't come. Later that week, Filch tried to take his own life by jumping from the Astronomy tower."

Minerva gasped but did not take her hand away from Severus' grip. "I remember that Argus was absent for a long time one term, but I didn't really feel capable of inquiring. So many people were involved in the war, and so many other people went missing . . ." She trailed off. "It became difficult to keep track of them all after a bit."

Severus jerked his head down in a nod. This was more difficult to speak of than he had originally thought it would be.

"Obviously he survived," Minerva supplied when he didn't immediately continue.

"As a squib," Severus added. "He wasn't ever a great wizard, but he was a fairly competent one in some areas." He cleared his throat and then continued. "You know his cat, Mrs Norris?"

Minerva frowned. "The most spiteful creature I have ever seen."

Severus snorted with little humour. "Norris was his wife's family name before she was married."

Her eyes widened and the little colour she had regained seemed to drain from her face. "That poor poor man."

They both looked up as the door to the Infirmary opened. It was Dumbledore.

"Sorry for my lateness," Dumbledore said contritely. "Minister Fudge had some sort of emergency he couldn't handle and insisted on working it out with me. Can someone bring me up to speed on Miss Murphy?"

. . .

3:31 am, January 13, 1992

Sometimes Harry couldn't tell if the nightmares he was having were his own or his unicorn's. Sometimes he could hear her thoughts and he was pretty certain that she could hear his.

There was a dark creature leaning over Mother's still form, sucking her blood . . . laughing his cold cruel laughter . . . a wand in his face . . . a stick of magical wood had killed her . . . fear, terrible horrible icy feeling in the pit of his/her stomach . . . hiding in the bushes, hiding in his cupboard, hiding away from sight from the man—the monster—that still stalked them.

Harry awoke with a gasp and sat up with a jerk. His body hurt; it felt as though he had been tensing all of his muscles in his sleep as he tried to escape the dark. A soft damp nose pushed itself against his chest and he wrapped his arms around Goldie's head as best he could and held on through the worst of his shivers and shakes.

"Want Papa Pa!" He whimpered into Goldies' head.

He waited a moment in hopes that his Daddy Sev would hear his cry, but he didn't come. Sniffling to himself, Harry got up and after a moment of hunting for his slippers and glasses, he shuffled out into the main room of his Papa Pa's quarters.

The bright light surprised him. His Papa Pa should be in bed! They had classes tomorrow! Why wasn't his Papa Pa in bed?

He blinked hard and then nearly lost his balance when Caddy's calm measured voice broke his concentration.

"Little Master Harry," Caddy's voice was gently chiding. "You should be in bed."

"Want Papa Pa," He answered. His leftover shivers from his dream hadn't subsided yet and he trembled by his doorway. Goldie nosed his backside and he took another step forward. He wanted his Daddy Sev.

"Master Severus was called away to help Madame Poppy in the Infirmary," Caddy explained gently.

"Want Papa Pa," Harry answered stubbornly. "Papa Pa's supposed ta be in bed. Papa Pa's supposed to be asleep! I want Papa Pa!" He cried out, stomping his foot ineffectually against the stone floor.

"Little Master," Caddy's voice became slightly sterner. "Your father cannot be here right now. Would it make you feel better to write him a letter and let him know why you need him?"

Harry scowled and was about to answer that, no, that wouldn't make him feel better!, when he felt Goldie's calm presence in his mind.

'I have an idea,' She said in his mind.

Harry blinked in surprise. His Goldie usually sent him ideas and pictures and feelings. She didn't say words! Interestingly enough, her voice sounded a bit like the wind chimes that hung at #5 Privet Drive.

"Would you like me to bring you some hot chocolate, Little Master Harry?" Caddy asked when he saw Harry turn to go back into his room.

Harry shook his head in the negative. His Goldie had told him to go back to his room, so he was, but that didn't mean he wanted his Papa Pa any less. He couldn't spare brain power to form words though, so he didn't speak again to Caddy as he closed the door behind him.

'Ask Hogwarts for Father,' Goldie suggested in his mind when she had his full attention.

Harry perked up. That was a great idea!

'Miss Hogwarts?' He asked in his head.

A feeling of a much larger something settled around him and he knew that Hogwarts was listening.

'I want to see Papa Pa!' He thought, before adding, 'Please?'

Hogwarts' feelings overflowed into him and he giggled. They tickled.

'Go through the door, little Snake,' Hogwarts suggested.

Harry frowned. 'What door?'

Hogwarts didn't answer. Goldie chose that moment to nose him forward.

He blinked and then blinked again. There was a door in front of him in a wall that didn't have anything behind it. Without thinking, his hand stroked the plushie snake that was almost always wrapped around him. His Papa Pa had shown him that he could keep his wand inside it, and after seeing a door appear out of nowhere, he was somewhat inclined to pull it out.

Goldie nosed him again. It was almost as though she was asking, 'Well? What are you going to do?'

"Gonna go through," He whispered aloud. He didn't move immediately and Goldie nickered at him.

"Really," He added with a decisive nod.

He took a deep breath and then stepped forward to the door. He didn't have time to think about the lack of a doorknob, because the door swung open at his presence.

"Like muggle magic!" He whispered with a giggle.

The corridor in front of him was lit with wall sconces, but there were no other adornments of any kind. If he had been tall enough to look more closely them, he would have seen that they were each engraved with a small snake barely the length of his pinkie finger.

But he couldn't, so he didn't.

He and Goldie walked forward and the door shut behind them.

. . .

3:47 am, January 13, 1992

Hermes' bed, like all of those within the Slytherin dorms, was enclosed by heavy green curtains that blocked—or at least decreased—the sounds coming from one's roommates. He had gone one step further and charmed his curtains with a one way silencing spell. He could hear Millie, but she couldn't hear him unless he opened them or had a truly horrific nightmare.

Books were spread in front of him as he feverishly searched for a way to fix himself. He knew that he didn't have a lot of time left before his body started going through female puberty. He also knew that it would be far easier to correct his body before he started growing other . . . things.

"Mammary glands," He whispered with a shudder.

The books in front of him were focused on a variety of things; some covered curse reversal, while others were about more mundane things like, "Aging for the Modern Wizard." Additionally, he had several books on human anatomy, both muggle and magical. Oddly enough, it seemed that appendectomies were rarely needed in magical people, but amputations were far too common.

He had certainly learned plenty of information; he simply wished that it could have all been useful.

Slumping back on his pillows, he rubbed a hand across his eyes tiredly. He needed to sleep. Monday morning was already here, and classes were fewer than seven hours away. He supposed he could close his eyes for a bit.

Sliding down farther onto his bed and ignoring the multitude of books and parchment that poked him as he tried to find a more comfortable position, he began to feel himself drift. What he needed was access to the Restricted Section in the library. As far as the library itself was concerned, all he was getting through these books was overview. The in-depth stuff was the information that was more closely guarded, and therefore more difficult to gain access to.

Maybe Snape can write me a pass. But would it be worth it? Letting him into my plans, even a little?

Despite his better judgment, Hermes liked Snape. His head of house was scary, but that was also part of his appeal. Hermes knew that the majority of his classmates didn't like him. He didn't have to try very hard to know that. It wasn't something he minded either. They didn't see him as weak.

They see me as scary and unpredictable. They won't cross me if they can avoid it.

He'd rather be scary than accessible. Snape was scary. His mother was scary. Even the mention of Lord Voldemort was enough to give some of his classmates the shakes. He'd rather be scary than friendly any day of the week.

Not as if I haven't tried the "nice" thing already, he thought ruefully. He'd tried being nice to the kids at his last school, but that hadn't worked out very well. Instead of becoming someone who was approachable and helpful, the other kids had tried to walk all over him.

"Freak!"

He dreamed about the playground; a hand in the middle of his chest pushing him backward.

"Boys only. We don't want you."

He couldn't go to the girls on the playground. He didn't want to, but he wouldn't have been allowed to anyway. They didn't want him either.

"You should try harder to make some friends, Hermione," His mother kept saying over and over.

He twitched in his sleep, involuntarily kicking over a pile of scrolls.

"You're going to have to grow up sometime. You need to learn to be a woman. You'll never find a husband like this."

He had known from an early age that he was different. It wasn't just his brains that set him apart from the others in his age group. It was something else, something more basic. It wasn't just about what he did or didn't like or do. It was self-identification. It had to do with how he saw himself in relationship to his peers and the other people that he grew up around.

Being a girl didn't fit in his head, much like how he didn't seem to fit quite right in his own body.

"Cross your legs, Hermione!" His mother screeched at him.

He cried out.

"You know what girls who don't cross their legs are saying, don't you!?" She grabbed him and pushed him down on the floor. "Little girls who spread their legs are offering themselves!" She slapped him in-between his legs. "I won't have my child acting like a whore!"

The next day, his mother had discovered that the windows in that room had all cracked. Luckily she had assumed it had to do with a neighbourhood kid, but he had known better. He had felt them break.

. . .

3:48 am - January 13, 1992

Harry sped up as he saw the door in front of them. Their walk through the unknown hallway had been largely uneventful, and he was more than ready to find his Papa Pa!

Like before, when he was close to the door, it opened on its own. Carefully, Harry peered through and was pleased to find himself in the Infirmary just like Caddy had said. Sniffing the air a bit and glancing back at Goldie for confirmation, he stepped out into the room and took a turn to the left. A few beds down and he found what he had been looking for.

Severus was asleep on one of the narrow Infirmary beds. Next to him was a very pale girl who looked faintly familiar to Harry. She seemed to be very ill, and something at the base of his spine told him that he ought not to touch her. Keeping on the opposite side of his Papa Pa's bed, Harry carefully pulled off the unused blanket at the foot and spread it on the floor.

'Can you make it real soft, Miss Hogwarts?' Was his silent query.

Not waiting to see if his request worked, Harry gripped 'Fessor Snake tighter and slowly crawled up in his daddy's bed. Severus unconsciously shifted as he worked his way into his arms, and then they both relaxed again. Harry grinned as the heat from his Papa Pa radiated outward into his own chilled extremities. Eyes closing, he put the tip of his snake's tail in his mouth and sucked on it contentedly. He was asleep within seconds.

Beside the bed, Goldie continued to eye the girl speculatively. She could see what Harry had only sensed: A dangerous veil of simmering poison surrounding her body. The child was actually oozing it from her pores as Severus' potions continued to purge her of the deadly poison. Her life force was pulsing very slowly; almost as slowly as Goldie's mother had pulsed before succumbing to death.

It was that similarity that drew her closer to the child, despite her instinct telling her otherwise.

Death smelled sickly sweet there in the partial darkness of the Infirmary. Goldie didn't want to be closer to Death, but there was something else there that drew her in. A tiny pulse all of its own whispered to her, and so, with trepidation, she dipped her head closer in to feel.

A baby. The girl was pregnant, but it seemed that she would not be for very much longer. The tiny pulse of life was flickering—waning. It reached out for its mother, but feeling no support from her, it pushed outward even further.

The baby unicorn felt it and echoed back that it was heard. The tiny flicker pulsed again, and Goldie acknowledged it once more.

'You are not alone,' Goldie said to the small pulse.

Struggling, the life reached out a tendril of consciousness to Goldie and held on as tightly as it could. Goldie accepted it and allowed it to take root within her mind.

When the baby died, its consciousness did not. It had found a home within Goldie and there it stayed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

Monday - 6:39 am, January 13, 1992

Why was there a Harry on his chest?  Severus looked down in confusion at the black hair of the boy laid out partially on top of him.  His Harry should be in bed, blissfully ignorant of the deathly ill girl beside them.  

Unaware that he was projecting the same thoughts that Harry had been worrying over only a few hours earlier, Severus frowned in slight annoyance.  Why hadn’t Cadillac stopped him?

As if sensing his concern, Harry shifted against him before opening sleepy green eyes toward him. 

“Papa Pa!”  Harry enthusiastically proclaimed.  Instantly the boy pushed himself up higher on Severus’ chest and kissed his cheek. 

“All rough again, Papa Pa,” Harry announced with a nod, bringing his small hand up to touch Severus’ face. 

Blinking, Severus pulled them both up into a sitting position against the pillows behind him. 

“Why are you not in your bed, little one?” Severus asked, opting for the direct approach. 

“Had a bad dream, Papa Pa,” Harry said, nodding. 

His eyes narrowing, Severus asked, “Why did you not tell Cadillac?”

Harry, his legs tucked on either side of Severus’ body, leaned back and wrung his hands.  “Did, Papa Pa!  Did!  But you were s’posed to be in your room!  And you weren’t!  And you were s’posed to be!”

Severus caught Harry’s hands and said gently, “Another needed me, little one.  Should I have ignored her plight?”

“No!” Harry very nearly screamed, yanking his hands away in frustration.  “But I needed you and Caddy said I couldn’t go to you!”

“Because I was busy, little pup. You would have only been in the way, and quite possibly would have distracted me enough to make a mistake.”

“But-But, we hads a bad dream, Papa Pa,” Harry whispered, his shoulders slumping. He hastily knuckled away a tear.  “And you were s’posed to be there.  And you weren’t.  And we needed you.”

“Who is ‘we’?”  Severus asked, pulling out his handkerchief to wipe Harry’s face off. 

“Me and Goldie,” Harry said in a small voice.  “We dreamed about our mummies dyin’.”

“You saw her dream as well, little one?” Severus asked, his eyes narrowing in thought.

“No,” Harry said.  “Yes.  Maybe?”  He chewed on his lower lip and wrapped his hands around ‘Fessor Snake’s plush middle. 

“What did you see?” Severus’ voice was hushed as he pulled Harry in closer.  Small hands reached out for the front of his robes, and he tucked the boy’s head under his chin.

Harry relayed the bits of his dream that he remembered as best he could.  It was muddled as most dreams tended to be, but the scariest bits stuck out rather strongly and while it wasn’t very hard to recall them, it was a bit more difficult to relay them to another person. 

There was a dark creature leaning over Mother’s still form, sucking her blood . . . laughing his cold cruel laughter . . . a wand in his face . . . a stick of magical wood had killed her . . . fear, terrible horrible icy feeling in the pit of his/her stomach . . . hiding in the bushes, hiding in his cupboard, hiding away from sight from the man—the monster—that still stalked them.

He was trembling by the end of his recitation and could just barely feel Severus’ warm hand stroking itself up and down his back.  He pressed his face more firmly into his Papa Pa’s chest, thankful that he had not yet had an opportunity to retrieve his glasses from the side table. 

“Do you have dreams like this very often, little one?” Severus’ voice rumbled against his head.

Drawing in a shaky breath through his nose, Harry nodded.  “Most times me and Goldie just hug and sometimes my Vince wakes up and talks ta me too.  But,” His voice cracked and squeezed his eyes shut against the insistent tears. 

“But?” Severus’ voice rumbled.

“You was s’posed to be there this time, and I wasn’t s’posed to be myself this time.  And my Goldie said I could ask my Hogwarts for a way here, and she did and I found you and it was okay, wasn’t it?  Are you mad at me?”

He felt his Papa Pa sigh. 

“I would have liked for you to have obeyed me, but I didn’t know that you’ve been dreaming of the Dark Lord.  Not like this.  What do you think happened to the wards I set up around your bed in the dorms that were supposed to alert me to your nightmares?”

“They tickled,” Harry said in a small voice. 

“So they’re not there anymore?”  Severus asked softly.

“Is that okay?”

Strong hands pulled him up so that his head was resting on his Papa Pa’s shoulder.  Harry took a deep breath of the suddenly cooler air and wrapped his arms around Severus’ neck. 

“I wish I knew how you were doing it,” Severus admitted in a low voice.

He shrugged, uncertain of how to explain it.  He could feel them on his skin and around his bed, and didn’t like them.  So he had scratched at them with his magic and they had left him alone.  Maybe too alone. 

Their moment of contemplative silence was broken by a warm nose prodding his leg. 

Blearily, Harry lifted his head from Severus’ shoulder and looked down at Goldie. 

“What is it, Goldie?”  He asked aloud.

‘I have the baby in my head.’

He blinked several times and caught Severus looking at him strangely in his peripheral. 

“What did she say?” Severus asked.

Harry pursed his lips and reached out to grab his glasses.  His Papa Pa shifted carefully under him as one of Harry’s knees came dangerously close to knocking into his groin.   

His glasses retrieved, he turned back toward Goldie and asked, “Pardon?”

‘The girl in the bed beside you.  She was pregnant, but the poison killed her child.  It is with me in my head now.’

Listening more carefully, Harry realised that there was a strange pulse behind her words that had not been there previously. 

“Harry?”  Severus prompted again with a bit more command in his voice. 

Looking at the wall just beside his Papa Pa’s head, Harry said in a strained voice, “There’s a baby in my Goldie’s head.”

“A what!?”  A woman’s voice exclaimed behind him. 

Both Severus and Harry turned to see gobsmacked Madame Pomfrey standing on the other side of the sick girl’s bed. 

“Auntie Poppy!”  Harry greeted with his arms outstretched. 

After spending at least an hour in the infirmary every week soaking in the essence of murtlap, Harry had found himself very comfortable in Madame Pomfrey’s presence.  He had even renamed her as an auntie; replacing the negative image in his mind with someone more wholesome. 

Poppy made her way over to him carefully, her small feet making nearly no sound on the infirmary floor. 

“Kiss?”  Harry asked, turning his face toward her. 

Dropping a kiss on his cheek, she returned his hug with a tight squeeze around his middle.  Then she pulled up the chair next to the sick girl’s bed and dropped it into with a weary sigh.  She waved her hand questioningly at them and then dropped it back into her lap.  She had been up half the night and was in no mood to decipher the strange situation in front of her. 

“Where would you like us to start, Poppy?”  Severus asked, mildly unnerved by the woman’s continuing silence.

“I take it that you two are more than just teacher and student, hm?”

“Oh!” Harry exclaimed, bouncing slightly until Severus put out a hand on his leg to still him.  “My ‘fessor Snape is my Papa Pa now!”

Despite the trust between them, Harry had never found a way to tell Poppy that his professor meant more to him than anybody else. 

“I thought as much, from the way you talked about him, Harry,” She said, giving him a wink.  “Now start from the beginning and tell me why there is a unicorn foal in my infirmary.”

His Papa Pa told the story of Harry and Hermes venturing out into the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night.  Harry did his best not to cringe under the watchful gaze of his Poppy, but he couldn’t deny that he felt bad for making his Severus so upset.  He hadn’t ever heard the entire story from his point-of-view, but each passing remark had him sinking lower and lower until he was very nearly behind his Papa Pa. 

“Harry James Potter!”  Poppy’s voice had the effect of making him shoot up against his will from his hiding place.  Her tone brooked no argument. 

“Auntie P-P-Poppy?”  He stuttered, clutching his ‘Fessor Snake tightly. 

“You promise me that you will never do such a foolish thing again without one of your trusted adults with you!” 

His tongue now hopelessly tied, Harry nodded his head up and down emphatically.  Seeing no further admonishments from the fearsome infirmary witch, he sunk back down beside Severus and stuck the end of ‘Fessor Snake’s tail in his mouth. 

Seeing that Harry was a little more than undone, Severus asked Poppy, “Was Ms Murphy pregnant?”

“Yes,” Poppy admitted unhappily.  “But the baby wasn’t far enough along to be delivered yet.  There was nothing you or I could have done.”

Severus said nothing to her answer, but swallowed hard at the news.  Silently, he pulled Harry upright and wrapped his arm tightly around his shoulders. 

“And what of Harry’s announcement that his unicorn has a baby in her head?”  Poppy asked him.

Severus shook his head.  “I haven’t the faintest.”

He glanced at Harry and saw that his plushie’s tail was back in his mouth again.  He mentally thanked the designers of the toy for coating the last few centimetres of the tail in some kind of hard rubber.  He didn’t want to imagine the kind of germs that a saliva soaked plushie snake could generate. 

Or the smell, he thought with a mental shudder.

. . .

6:47 am, January 13, 1992

“This is serious, Albus,” Amelia Bones said with a scowl over the edge of her teacup.  They were seated beside one another in his office. 

“I know, my dear,” Dumbledore answered sorrowfully. 

“You should be happy that I managed to talk Fudge out of making an entrance here this morning.  You know how he is; any chance to make the papers and all that,” She said with a roll of her eyes.  “As it is, I am fully in charge of this investigation. Not you. Not your professors.  The DMLE.  Do you understand me, Albus?”

“You shall have my full cooperation.  Whatever you need of me or Hogwarts; we are at your disposal,” Dumbledore replied.  The twinkle in his eye was dimmed considerably. 

Just prior to the meeting, he had been informed that the girl had been pregnant, but was no longer.  He had relayed the information to Amelia, but other than a muttered curse, the woman had yet to say anything of it.

“I want a meeting with all of your faculty and staff this morning.”

“Should I cancel classes, do you think?”

“For the morning, at least.  Perhaps you should tell the students that Elizabeth Murphy is critically ill, and if anyone has any information, they should speak with me.  Or the professor of their choice,” She added in a contemplative tone. 

“It will be done.”

“Albus, I appreciate your helpfulness, but you should know that I would prefer honesty to pure arse kissing.  That said, if I find you going against my words in any way behind my back, I will not hesitate to bring in Fudge.  Do you understand?”  Her eyes were steely. 

. . .

7:12 am

Both Poppy and Severus looked up at the phoenix patronus that abruptly appeared in the middle of the infirmary.

At Severus’ side sat Harry, somewhat oblivious to what had caught the two adults’ attentions.  His mind was still on the worry that Severus had felt when he and Hermes had gone into the Forbidden Forest. It was strange to think that someone had worried so greatly about him being in danger.  Hearing Severus reiterate it to his Poppy had merely increased his guilt. 

He was also feeling some anxiety, but after much introspection, he had determined that the feeling was coming from his Goldie. 

‘Whatcha worried about, Goldie?’ He asked mentally.

‘I’ve never heard of a unicorn having a human baby consciousness in their mind.  And neither has your Papa Pa.’

Harry glanced up at his distracted Papa Pa with interest.

‘Can you see his thoughts too?  Why can’t he hear yours?’

‘I think it’s because he hasn’t yet asked me any questions.  I can hear his thoughts, even with his barrier.’

Harry frowned.  Barrier?

‘What do you mean by that, Goldie?’

‘He has a wall around his thoughts to keep other humans from looking in.’

‘People can do that!?’ Harry didn’t like that idea at all.  Not one bit.  He shoved ‘Fessor’s Snake’s tail further into his mouth and chewed on it distractedly.

“Harry?”  His Papa Pa was looking down at him with worry in his dark eyes.

He blinked up at his Papa Pa and slowly waved.

“Are you all right?” Severus asked him. 

He pulled his snake out his mouth to speak, but no words were willing to come out.  He sighed.  Sometimes talking was too much trouble.  He wished he could talk to his Papa Pa like he talked with his Goldie. 

“Has he been sleeping at night?”  Poppy asked his Papa Pa. 

“Not as much as I would have liked,” Severus admitted, pulling Harry back into his lap proper.

“Harry dear, I’m going to run a few diagnostic scans over you with my wand.  Is that all right?” Auntie Poppy asked him softly.

He shrugged and then nodded when he caught his Papa Pa watching him with a raised eyebrow.

“You know how I feel about shrugging, Harry,” Severus admonished.

He nodded. 

Poppy raised her wand and Harry watched her with some interest.  She wasn’t saying much, but her spells seem to be checking out every part of him.  He sighed again and turned his face into Severus’ shoulder.  He didn’t like the sensation of her magic looking so closely at him.  It wasn’t uncomfortable per se, but it felt strange. 

“He’s exhausted, Severus.  He’s also running a low grade fever, which may or may not be a result of the exhaustion.  Thankfully, the headmaster has cancelled classes for this morning, but I don’t want him out of bed today at all.”

Harry tightened his grip on his Papa Pa’s robes.  He didn’t want to go back to the dorms.  He wanted his Papa Pa. 

“Perhaps some Dreamless sleep should be in order for you, little pup,” Severus suggested lightly. 

Harry sighed again. 

“Would you like to stay in my quarters for the day?”  Severus asked.

Harry perked up and grinned widely at his Papa Pa.  He nodded emphatically and hugged him tightly around the neck.

“With you?”  He mouthed, poking Severus in the chest lightly. 

“Unfortunately, I can’t be there very much, little one.  The headmaster has called a meeting for all faculty and staff at 8 this morning. We have just enough time to get you situated before I need to leave again.”

Harry scowled but hid it against Severus’ shoulder.  Then he wrapped his legs and arms more fully around his Papa Pa and glanced up with a hopeful expression.

“You want me to carry you?”  Severus’ tone was teasing.

Harry nodded happily. 

“Oh I suppose I could manage.  Somehow,” Severus said, standing up and dropping a wink at Poppy. 

Harry giggled and kissed his Papa Pa’s cheek. 

At least he would be at home.

. . .

7:53 am

It had taken some doing, but Harry was finally able to let Severus go to his meeting.  His Papa Pa had put him in his big bed, and spelled cushioning charms on a section of the floor for Goldie.  Then Hadwyn had been invited over so Harry wouldn’t be entirely alone. 

A vial of Dreamless Sleep had been put on the table beside the bed, with a warning that if he didn’t take it, Hadwyn would make him.  Harry had scowled at that, but had nodded anyway.  Then his Papa Pa had ruffled his hair, tucked him in and left for his meeting. 

Harry waited for a moment before clambering back out of bed.

‘Where are you going?’ His Goldie asked him, her amber eyes following him across the room.

‘To get something,’ He answered vaguely.

‘You’d best do what your Severus said,’ She admonished.

‘Am!’

Harry went into his Papa Pa’s bathroom and headed for the laundry bin.  It was emptied out every Tuesday and Thursday—and sometimes Saturdays, depending on the week—but today was Monday, and so he was able to find what he was looking for.  With a grin, he pulled out a set of his Papa Pa’s robes and examined them for any potion residue. 

Deciding that the only thing wrong with the robe was some sweaty scents around the armpits, Harry gathered it in his arms and carried it back to his Papa Pa’s bed.  Awkwardly he climbed in with the robe, tripping over the material at least twice before he got himself situated. 

He draped it around himself and then pulled the covers up to his chin.  Leaning over, he grabbed the vial of Dreamless Sleep and drank it down in one shot. 

“Bleah!” He grimaced aloud, but the potion was too good and very soon he felt himself drifting off.

‘I got . . . my nest now, Goldie,’ He thought with a smile, curling up in a ball. 

‘Sleep well, little friend,’ Goldie answered. 

. . .

9:02 am

Minerva left the room to go inform the students in the Great Hall of the cancelling of classes for that morning just Amelia Bones asked the question they were all wondering.

“How did she get her hands on Atropa belladonna anyway?  Is it grown on the campus?  Is it found in the forest?  Is it used in your potions class, Professor Snape?”

Severus could feel the headache building behind his eyes as the attention of the room suddenly focused itself on him. 

“We only use Atropa belladonna in my fifth year potions class and above.  I don’t trust anyone younger than that with the ingredient,” He said with a sneer. 

“Is she in your class, Professor?” Amelia asked icily. 

“Not this year.”

“How many of her classmates are in your class, Professor?” Kingsley Shacklebolt asked in a low baritone. 

“Her housemates, you mean?” Severus answered, striving to keep a bored expression on his face. 

“All of the above,” Amelia snapped at him before Kingsley could respond.

“It’s a good thing I have my class roster memorized then, isn’t it,” He scowled.  A few others nodded in agreement with him. 

“Terence Higgs,” He said, beginning to tick them off on his fingers.  “Jubilant Gevries, Melvin Shingleton, Penelope Clearwater, Eric Blane, Damien Edgecombe, Oliver Wood, and Percy Weasley.  The final two are both Gryffindors.”

Severus looked up after his recitation to see Albus and Amelia in a fierce discussion on the other side of the room. 

“Ah, excuse me,” Albus said, waving a hand of apology to them.  “I was merely reminding our dear Amelia that none of Hogwarts’ staff is under suspicion for what happened to Miss Murphy.”

“Hear hear!” Squeaked Filius. 

“Of course we aren’t blaming anyone here,” Kingsley soothed. 

Not yet, was left unspoken, but it hung in the air between the occupants of the room.

“My apologies if it seemed that any of you were under undue suspicion,” Amelia said stiffly.  “However, it’s only a matter of time before the Daily Prophet starts weaving its own stories about what happened here, and I for one would very much like to get to the bottom of it before that.”

“If each of you would speak with your respective students,” Albus said, giving a nod to Severus, Filius, Pomona and the newly returned Minerva, “I’m sure Amelia and the other aurors assigned to this case would be much appreciative.”

“As to your other questions, Amelia, I believe that I can answer them myself with the help of Severus.  Everyone else is dismissed.  Severus, if you wouldn’t mind?” Twinkling blue eyes turned in his direction, and it was all he could do to refrain from sighing aloud. 

“Of course not, headmaster.”

Chapter Text

Week 21 continued

"Look here, Auror Bones," Severus said, summoning a large book off of one of Albus' shelves.

He opened it to the contents and scanned down the page before speaking again.

"This book is a physical record of everything that has to do with the magical properties of the castle itself."

Amelia leaned in, interested.

"In the summer prior to the 1983 school year, I suggested to Albus that an additional ward be added onto the existing ones. The purpose of this ward was to limit the source of poisonous plants brought into the castle by students. Following that summer, students were no longer able to gather known poisonous plants in the Forbidden Forest. Of course," He sneered, "They aren't allowed in there anyway, but many students often believe themselves to be above such petty things as rules."

He eyed Dumbledore, who in turn made a helpless motion with his hands.

"Some things we can control; others, we can only warn against," The old man said.

Severus scowled but didn't respond to the headmaster's comments. Instead, he turned back to the book and went forward a few more pages.

"During the winter holidays of the '86 school year, it was decided that all poisonous substances—barring those used exclusively in Potions' classes—would be banned from the possessions of students. The following year saw a decrease in the kinds of pets allowed by students, and by '88 it was narrowed to the now traditional three. The wards do not allow poisonous items to find their way into the castle unless in the trunks of students currently in my classes or apprenticing under me."

"And do you ever have any apprentices?" Kingsley asked with more than a little derision.

"I have in the past, but at present I do not," Severus sneered back, his black eyes flashing angrily in the other man's direction.

"What of the Greenhouses? Owl order? Hogsmeade?" Amelia shot back, seemingly ignoring the enmity between the two men.

"Anything that sets off the wards is redirected to a holding container in Professor McGonagall's office. However, the current Potions' students are put on a temporary access list during the year to allow them access to these ingredients," Albus answered in a placating tone.

"List?" Amelia asked.

"Lists, actually," Severus interjected. "There are seven lists, one for each year. The potions ingredients allowed are different per year, so the permissions can be keyed to those students specifically."

Kingsley made a sound of understanding as Amelia slumped back in her chair with an annoyed expression.

"So you're telling me that most of the students within the school could be responsible?"

"Now, let's not jump to any conclusions," Albus said, summoning Amelia's teacup and heating it with a flick of his hand. "Not all the years use Atropa belladonna in their potions. Correct, Severus?" He floated the teacup back to its owner and looked up at Severus with a benign twinkle in his eye.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the old man's cheeriness, Severus looked away and huffed out an irritated sigh. "Only the third years and up use any form of belladonna in their potions. And I only accept sixth and seventh years who have scored Outstanding on their O.W.L.s. Additionally, the truly horrific Potions students from fourth year are not allowed in my fifth year class. While Ms Murphy was in the minority of those who did not take it this year, she is not the only one. That limits your selection dramatically. Might I make a suggestion?" He looked back at Dumbledore briefly before sliding his eyes over to the head of the DMLE.

"Of course you may," Albus answered with a cheery tone.

"I would suggest looking at her dorm mates still in my class, as well as their friends within Gryffindor."

"That . . . could narrow it down," Kingsley admitted slowly.

"Then if that is all, I am needed at the other end of the castle."

. . .

Hermes listened to Professor McGonagall in quiet horror as she gave a bare bones explanation for why one of their number was now in the infirmary. The words, "critically ill" did much to hush the noise levels around him, but he doubted it would last for long. He wondered if Snape was already in the infirmary and if so, was Harry aware?

Vincent Crabbe chose that moment to turn toward him and ask, "Have you seen Harry today?"

Wordlessly, he shook his head 'no.'

Vincent frowned and then asked in a hushed tone, "You don't think Harry's involved, do you?"

"He better not be," Hermes replied with a scowl. Throwing his napkin onto the table, he clambered up on his bench and grabbed his bag with more force than was needed. Harry better not be involved. He'd make certain of it.

Using several hidden passages to get to the Infirmary undetected, Hermes made record time. More importantly, he didn't run across anyone on the way. For a moment, he found himself wishing that there was more than one way into the Infirmary, but he ruthlessly squashed the thought down.

If wishes were horses, he thought more than a little bitterly.

Taking a steadying breath, he poked his head through the double doors of the Infirmary and looked around carefully. Maybe he could kill two birds with one stone this way. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have a healer's opinion on some of his plans, and if he could glean more information about the Gryffindor girl, more power to him.

Pushing the door open silently, he hesitantly stepped forward into the Infirmary. The smell of disinfectant and bitter potions assaulted his senses, and he wrinkled his nose up at the harsh scents. Peeking around the corner of the first bed, he noted the existence of a closed off section of the room, and slowly crept toward it.

Pulling at the corner of the heavy curtain, he sucked in a breath at the sight of the pale faced girl lying unconscious on the bed in front of him. Her chest moved up and down in a barely perceptible fashion, and suddenly he felt as though he were intruding on something he ought not to. Closing the curtain hastily, he backed away and started jogging back toward the double doors.

Halfway across the room, the magic in the air shifted and he cursed under his breath. Unknowingly, he had apparently set off some sort of alarm or ward, and it wasn't long before he heard the distinctive clicking of Madame Pomfrey's footfalls behind him.

"I'd stop right there if I were you," Her voice pierced the heavy silence around his head.

He felt—more than saw—the wave of her wand, and was unsurprised at the sight of the doors shutting suddenly and locking with a loud click.

His breath abruptly pushed out of his chest in a harsh sounding gasp, and he tried to school his face before turning around to face his captor. Mentally cursing himself for his lack of awareness, jutted out his chin stubbornly and scowled at the diminutive woman across from him.

"I have lost count of the number of students who have tried to sneak past my wards. Don't think for a second that you are anything special, young lady. Sneaking a look just for something to spread to your friends to feed the nasty rumour mill this school has is hardly remarkable in my book."

His scowl deepened at the phrase, 'young lady,' but otherwise his face remained impassive.

"Oh, and don't even try that indignant look. You've been caught by someone more than sixty years your senior. I have socks older than you."

"I don't sneak for anyone," Hermes bit out just above a growl.

"Personal curiosity is hardly admirable either," Was her dismissive retort.

"It's a good thing I'm not a Gryffindor then, isn't it?"

"I suppose we'll have to let Professor Snape decide that, won't we?"

Something about the small feisty woman in front of him was setting his nerves on edge. He had met her once or twice before, but always in passing and never in direct confrontation.

"Not woman enough to mete out a punishment yourself?" He spat out the word, 'woman,' as though it was poisonous.

"You're lucky that Professor Snape has mandated that all punishments to his house be meted out personally."

"Is that supposed to scare me?" Hermes stepped forward, his fingers already wrapped around his wand. Formidable or not, he wasn't going to be scared of anyone—never again.

"And you think your not so subtle attempt to curse me is going to inflict fear into my not so elderly heart?" Madame Pomfrey's laugh tinkled softly through the room. "First year or seventh year," Her laughter cut off with a dark glare, "No one pulls a wand on me without regretting it. Rethink your hostility young lady. The only one to blame here is yourself."

"Stop calling me that!" Hermes hissed aloud, surprising himself.

Sparks spat from his wand in his agitation and he stepped backward in shock. He had never intended to tell anyone out of Snape, especially not a near stranger!

"Calling you what?" Pomfrey's face softened slightly and Hermes hated it.

He would not be pitied. He would not. Unsettled hostility undermined his normal control of himself.

"I'm not a young lady! You see me as a girl, just like the rest of the world!" He shouted, brandishing his wand at last, but not at her. "You can talk about telling Professor Snape all you want, but his words don't scare me. He knows what I am. He knows, and he doesn't scare me and neither do you."

His lips were trembling with the force of his words. He didn't know why his filter didn't seem to be working and he didn't care. He was tired of keeping it inside, keeping his silence, keeping his desperation to himself. Of all the people who could potentially help him, Madame Pomfrey couldn't even see him, couldn't even see who he was. How was anyone supposed to be able to help if they couldn't even see!?

All thoughts of finding Harry, of learning what had happened were pushed out of his mind. Being caught wasn't a surprise either; everyone got caught eventually. The only thing that mattered was making someone—anyone—see him. Not her.

"And how should I see you?" Gone was the softness in her face, and for that he was thankful.

He would take Professor Snape's calculating harshness over sympathy any day.

"I'm Hermes John Granger, first year Slytherin and all around son-of-a-bitch bastard to anyone and everyone. No one takes advantage of me. No one hurts me or mine. I fear nothing and no one here. You can't hurt me. You can't stop me. You can't make me do anything I don't want to do. No one has power over me that I have not allowed them to have. No one gets away with scaring me. I am a boy. I am a man. I will find a way to make that happen, and you of all people won't be stopping me!"

His breathing was harsh when he stopped, but there was a sudden lightness in his heart for all of about thirty seconds before crippling terror took over instead.

Merlin's sweaty bollocks! Why did I say all of that?

"If you're going to punish me, do it," He said with more confidence than he felt. "If not, you're going to have to open the doors, because I want out."

. . .

Monday 10:30 am, January 13, 1992 – Gryffindor Common room

"What do you mean McGonagall wants to see our potions kits?" Justine Gevries hissed furiously to an apparently unconcerned Percy Weasley.

"Don't kill the messenger, Justine," Percy answered back in a snippy tone. "Liz was poisoned, you know."

Justine's eyes grew round and her breath faltered.

"Poisoned?" She whispered. "Where did you hear that?"

"Prefect, remember?" Percy's haughty tone was undercut by the tightness in his jaw and the turmoil in his expression.

"As if you'd let us ever forget!" Justine retorted, flipping her long brown hair back over her shoulder in her agitation.

Justine wasn't impressed by Percy's perfect prefect act. In fact, it was often something she ribbed on him about—sometimes mercilessly so. However, cracks in that façade were obvious this morning, and it was hardly any mystery as to why.

"Come on 'Tine," Oliver Wood piped up from where he had been standing quietly to the side. "Let's just do what the cat wants and get it over with. Maybe you could ask your sister if she's heard any more from her side of things?"

Justine bristled at Oliver's words. It was a poorly kept secret that her twin sister was in Slytherin, but very few students ever bothered to say it to her face.

"I doubt my sister knows anything more than we do. Potions wasn't an option for her any more than it was for Elizabeth!"

"That's not what I—."

"Shut it, Oliver," Justine interrupted in a dangerous whisper.

"Squabble later, you two," Percy said, physically stepping in between the two arguing fifth years. "Answer McGonagall's call first, before she sends the aurors instead."

Percy's words did much to sober them, and they returned to their dorm rooms without another word.

. . .

10:42 am – Ravenclaw's Common Room

"Steve, can you tell Duncan to come down here for a moment?" Penelope Clearwater asked her fellow fifth year sweetly.

"Sure, Pen," Steve answered, turning around and heading back up the way he'd come.

"What's going on, Penelope?" Duncan asked a few minutes later, his dorm mate Steve passing them with a nod.

"I've already talked to Mal' about this, but I couldn't find you after breakfast ended. Flitwick wants to see all of our Potions kits immediately."

Duncan's eyebrows lowered thoughtfully.

"This have to do with Liz?" He asked in a cracking voice.

"Yeah," Penelope answered before dropping her voice a bit. "She's been poisoned."

Duncan's breath pushed from his lungs in a startled whoosh. Grabbing her arm, he pulled Penelope over to a more sheltered alcove away from the common room proper.

"And they think that one of us is responsible!?"

Penelope shrugged helplessly. Duncan was surprised to see her so honest in her emotions. Ever since she had become prefect and started dating that Weasley ponce, her behaviour had become nearly unbearable.

"You know I'd never hurt her, Pen! She's special!" Duncan's voice sounded strangled as he admitted his feelings for the dark haired girl.

"Well, they don't know that! And if I were you, I wouldn't mention it. This seems too much like a Salem witch hunt to me. You don't want to give off the wrong impression, Duncan!"

"Are they just focusing on our year still?" He asked, seemingly changing the subject from the more emotionally fraught one.

"You think they ought to be looking at another one?"

Duncan shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets, not caring if he looked ridiculous.

"That bloke she always hangs around. He's in what, seventh?" His voice was harsh.

"You mean Tarquin McTavish? The Slytherin? I thought you told him off?" Penelope's voice was questioning.

"He's stupider than he looks. And that's saying something," Duncan scowled suddenly, and kicked his heel into the wall. "He hangs out with Flint and Torvi."

Penelope shuddered. Flint was bad news, but Torvi was just creepy.

"Maybe I can drop an anonymous note to Flitwick?" Duncan mused aloud.

"Maybe scribble some notes about it in your potions kit when you hand it in? Forget about them like?" Penelope suggested as she idly cast Tempus. "Listen, whatever you're going to do, you need to do it now. Flitwick said no later than eleven."

Seeing that it was only ten 'til, Duncan rushed off without another word, leaving Penelope to fret in the shadows of the common room.

. . .

10:45 am – Slytherin Common room

"After speaking with Professor Snape, it seems that the aurors currently are pursuing the belief that Elizabeth Murphy was poisoned by someone close to her. Currently, he's asking that all potion kits of students fifth year and up be brought to his office before eleven today," Mary Towers announced in front of the Slytherin common room.

"As is?" Terence Higgs called out from across the room.

His question caused a few of the older years to burst out in laughter. Most of them knew how haphazard he was with his kits, and they were amused to imagine what his looked like now, halfway through the year.

Rolling her eyes, Mary responded sternly, "Yes. As is. And believe you me, he'll know—and I'll know—if you attempt to right them before you turn them in. So that means you turn in the bird's nest you call a potions kit."

"This isn't for a grade, is it?" Another fifth year named Melvin Shingleton asked nervously.

"Honestly, Melvin, why didn't you just let the Hat put you in Ravenclaw?" Mary huffed, far too used to Melvin's constant worries over his academic progress.

"So that's a no?" Melvin asked, still serious.

"Melvin," Mary sent him a strict glare and the other boy slunk down in his seat in a near sulk. "Might I remind you all that failure to turn in your potions kit will result in a personal visit by our esteemed head of house to your living quarters?"

Grumbles broke out across the room.

"Better get with it then," Sixth year Ananda Torvi shouted out, overly cheerful grin belying the cold look in her eyes.

Mary watched in approval as she and the others scurried off to get their tasks done. She was happy that Marcus Flint was no longer in Potions class, as she could avoid talking to him about the issue at hand. Flint was a creep, no two ways about it. She couldn't wait until he was expelled or graduated—whichever happened first.

. . .

10:30 am, An abandoned classroom in the dungeons near the Slytherin dorms

"Tarq?" Flint called out as he stepped across a pile of debris with a sour look on his face.

He headed toward the corner where a cloud of smoke surrounded his mate.

"Tarq?" Flint asked again. "Thought you stopped?" He said, referring to cigarette butts that littered the floor around the older boy.

"Hear about Liz?" Tarq growled, tipping a mostly empty bottle of firewhisky back and taking a long gulp.

"In the infirmary, yeah? Sick, real sick," Flint grunted obediently.

"Yeah," Tarq growled again, closing his eyes and leaning his head back against the old stone wall behind him.

"I heard it was poison," Flint offered.

Tarq only grunted in response.

"You think—you think she did it on purpose?"

Tarquin gave a colourless laugh.

"Told me we was gonna be a family," He whispered.

Flint's normally dull eyes widened in surprise.

"Told her ta get rid of it," Tarq added in a soft voice. "Don't know what happened. Maybe she did like you said. I dunno." He threw back what was left in the bottle and staggered to his feet. "I gotta take a walk. Do some thinkin'. You didn't see me, yeah?" Blearily, he turned cold blue eyes on Flint's deep set dark ones.

Flint shrugged. "Didn't see no one. Took a walk me own self."

Tarq nodded and they parted ways.

. . .

10:49 am, Hufflepuff Common room

"Sprout said our potion kits need to be in her office by eleven," Prefect Damien Edgecombe told his fellow fifth years.

"Will do, boss!" Erik Blane said with a grin, snapping off a sloppy salute and turning on his heel to head back to his dorm room.

"What he said," Jonice Rogers added.

Alberta Anderson ignored the antics of her year mates. She wasn't in Potions this year. And why would she even want to be?

Chapter Text

Chapter 23 – Week 21 continued (January 13th, specifically)

Pomfrey – Hermes (Jan 13, 1992 – 10:14 am)

“I’m Hermes John Granger, first year Slytherin and all around son-of-a-bitch bastard to anyone and everyone.  No one takes advantage of me.  No one hurts me or mine. I fear nothing and no one here.  You can’t hurt me.  You can’t stop me.  You can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do.  No one has power over me that I have not allowed them to have.  No
one gets away with scaring me.  I am a boy.  I am a man.  I will find a way to make that happen, and you of all people won’t be stopping me!”

“If you’re going to punish me, do it,” He said with more confidence than he felt.  “If not, you’re going to have to open the doors, because I want out.”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Pomfrey said in a clear voice.

He watched as her wand disappeared into her sleeve with a flick of a petite wrist. Then the small woman turned to a nearby bed and sat down with a gracefulness that he could only be envious of. 

“Now then, Hermes?”  She asked with a raised eyebrow not dissimilar to one of Snape’s own.

He nodded dumbly at her sudden shift in demeanour. 

“I won’t address why you were in my infirmary at this hour.   Not right now.  Though, I suspect it has something to do with a certain Miss Murphy,” She trailed off and looked at him with an unreadable expression.  “But I see now why Hogwarts herself notified me of your presence here.  Not for disciplinary reasons,” She raised a hand when he opened his mouth to try and speak.  “No, because you’re not just another student, are you?” 

“No,” He whispered. 

His eyes were wide as he tried to process what the woman in front of him was saying. 

Hogwarts told her I was here?  What’s going on?  Why does she care?  The questions shot through his mind at an alarming rate.

“I thank you for letting me into your confidence,” She said, smiling at him. 

Her face was one of sincerity and it made him turn away, tears suddenly coming to his eyes. 

“Does Professor Snape know?”  She had stood up, but was still a respectful distance from him.

. . .

Professor Snape’s quarters, 12:08 pm

“Little one?”

Large hands were picking him up, and he clung to the warmth of the robes around him.

“Why are you wearing my robes from last Thursday?”

“Warm,” Came his half-conscious reply.  “Smell good,” He added, grasping the neck in front of him and latching on with surprising strength.

Those hands shifted under his legs, shifting his body weight to rest upon a hip.

Blinking slowly, he yawned and opened his eyes. 

“You look real tired, Papa Pa,” Was his candid remark.

“I’m likely to be more so before the end of the day, little one,” Severus answered roughly with an uncharacteristically gravelly sound in his voice.

His Papa Pa had circles under his eyes and his pale face looked almost jaundiced in the pale candlelight flickering on the nearby side table.

Sensing that now was not the time to demand that the man take a nap, Harry cocked his head to the side and asked, “What we doin’ now, daddy Sev?”

We are having lunch, and then you are going to class.  My classes have been cancelled for the next day or so.  Madame Bones has insisted on my help, and she is likely drafting Hadwyn as well.”

“What kinda help, Daddy Sev?”  Harry asked, perking up and shimmying out of his Papa Pa’s robes. 

They fell to the floor in a heap and Severus gave him an affronted look before putting him down. 

“I assume you know better than to leave my robes on the ground?”

“Yes sir!” Harry chirped, tripping over them in his haste to put them back in the laundry. 

Beside him, Goldie blinked her eyes awake and nibbled on his shirttail when he didn’t immediately respond. 

“You hungry too, Goldie Gold?”

She nickered softly and stood up slowly.  The baby in her head was demanding nutrition as well, and Goldie fought with herself to keep the hunger from taking control of her emotions. 

The last thing she wanted to do was hurt her Harry. 

His daddy handed him his glasses, and they walked to the dining table.  His Papa Pa watched with some interest as Goldie demanded to be fed first, hardly letting him get a bite in-between that and her sudden need for attention. 

Severus watched the byplay between Harry and the foal with some concern.  Privately, he wondered if this abrupt shift in behaviour was a result of the oddity of the day or perhaps the unheard of phenomenon currently residing in her consciousness. 

Or perhaps both.

Really though, he would count his blessings if this was the only negative side effect.  He had a feeling though that this was just the beginning, and in his heart of hearts, he sighed. 

Before checking on Harry, he had swung by the Slytherin common room.  He knew better than to leave them unattended on a day like this one.  As far as Mondays went, it certainly ranked in the top ten as one of the worst ones ever.  It certainly hadn’t improved when one of his prefects had informed him that both Marcus Flint and Tarquin McTavish were missing from morning rollcall.  Add that to the anonymous note that one of the Ravenclaws had slipped in with the potions kits, and his mood was further soured. 

Harry’s observation that he looked tired had been a bit of an understatement.  It was barely noon, and he was bone deep exhausted.  Furthermore, his heart hurt every time his thoughts strayed to the deathly pale girl in the infirmary. 

Would she have tried to kill herself over an unwanted pregnancy?  His gut said no. 

Were Tarquin McTavish and Marcus Flint involved?  Or were they just being difficult on a day already fraught with complications?  He didn’t know. 

They did have a tendency to be involved with badly timed catastrophes, but attempted murder seemed a bit farfetched for them.  Tarquin was a bit of a thug, but other than skipping classes and drinking to excess, he didn’t usually cause too many big problems.  Like a great number of his snakes, Tarquin preferred that his exploits stayed out of the limelight that so many Gryffindors seems to thrive in. 

The thought of Gryffindors brought his mind back to the girl in the infirmary.  Where had she gotten the belladonna from?  She couldn’t have gotten it from outside.  She couldn’t even have gotten inside the wards with it.  Had she taken it off-campus?  There hadn’t been a Hogsmeade weekend yet; the term had just started the previous week. 

He’d have to ask Albus to check the book that recorded movements over the edge of the wards.  It was generally too much of a pain to look at, considering there was a record written every time a bird flew across the ward boundary.  However, in this case, there was good reason to wade through the written detritus. 

If she had taken it off campus, how had she had found her way back on without anyone noticing? 

“Papa Pa?”  Harry’s voice broke through his mental mutterings, and he looked up to realise that it was nearly time for the boy to go to class.

“Child?”

“I don’t think I can help nones, but maybe I can give you a hug?   Would that be okay?”  Harry asked, moving to stand next to him with a hopeful expression. 

His face worked its way into a semblance a smile and he reached out to pull the boy close. 

“I love you, daddy Sev,” Harry’s voice was muffled from where his face was pressed into Severus’ shoulder, but he understood it well enough.

“And I you, little one.  Fret not; we will work this out soon enough.”

. . .

An abandoned classroom near Professor Snape’s office, 4:29 pm

“Merlin’s saggy balls!” Severus muttered to himself. 

In front of him were piles of the most disorganized Potions kits he’d ever had the misfortune of seeing to.  Across the room, Hadwyn and Smythe were muttering darkly over their own kits. 

Smythe was a junior healer from St. Mungo’s who had been dumped on him from Amelia Bones.  Thankfully, the man was a former Ravenclaw, and had not only scored an O on his Potions’ N.E.W.T., but was also in possession of a caustic wit, not too dissimilar to Severus’ own.

“That’s it.”  Severus spat out. 

He stood up and pinched the bridge of his nose. 

“Next lesson for all students is going to be devoted to the care and upkeep of their Potions kits.  I do not care if they are first years or seventh.  Everyone is getting their work up to snuff. Everyone,” He growled, sitting back down with a thump.

They went back to work for a long while until a breathless exclamation from across the room caught Severus’ attention.

“What?  What did you find?”  He asked, pushing his way to Smythe’s side.

“Atropa belladonna.  You said she had been poisoned by Atropa belladonna, right, Professor?”  Smythe’s blue eyes made contact with his own for a brief moment before dropping back down to the kit in front of him. 

“Correct.  What of it?”

“And she was pregnant?  But with no previous signs of depression or anxiety?”

“Madam Pomfrey confirmed this, yes.  As did her friends and dorm mates.  Not that depression is always so obvious, of course,” Severus answered, the last part spoken mostly to himself. 

Hadwyn glanced at him, his eyes telling Severus that he understood.

“What is your theory, Mister Smythe?” Severus asked, putting his hands behind his back in an attempt to seem less intimidating.

“What if she wasn’t trying to kill herself, sir?  What if she was just trying to kill the baby?”

“Abortion,” Hadwyn voiced aloud. 

“She knew she was pregnant, and she tried to take something.  You said yourself that she was a terrible Potions student.  What if she took something and thought it was one thing, but it turned out to be the belladonna?  I have personally seen many cases at St. Mungos where young witches—and older ones too—have made . . .” Smythe trailed off, sucking on his bottom lip as he tried to find the right word.  “Poor decisions.  Some of which didn’t have to be made.  They had access to more safe and sure methods, but because of their fear for those around them knowing of their predicament, they tried to take on the problem by themselves.”

“Perhaps Bones made a wise decision adding you to our team,” Severus admitted with a growing sense of respect for the man beside him.

“Perhaps she was trying to get someone to spy on you for her.  It’s not a secret that we hated each other,” Smythe answered wryly. 

“I’ve never hated any student of mine,” Severus retorted hotly.

“Despised, despaired of, maligned, worried over endlessly—,” Hadwyn started before being cut off with a flash of dark eyes. 

“Do not start something with which you do not intend to finish, Healer Long,” Severus warned in a low voice.

Smythe merely raised his eyebrows and smirked at the antics of the men surrounding him. 

“May I continue?”  Smythe asked after a moment.

“Please,” Hadwyn said, making a shooing motion with his hands.

“The problem then is this.  What did she think she was taking?”

Severus crossed his arms and sat down atop one of the desks scattered throughout the room.   

“Just out of curiosity, Mr Smythe, what other . . . things do young desperate women try?  Do they try the same things?  What are the most common?” 

Smythe leaned back in his chair, his blue eyes staring into the distance as he thought. 

“Powdered Doxy eggs, undiluted Bundimun secretions, unfermented Erumpent fluid—.” 

“Really!?”  Severus interrupted, more than a little shocked that anyone could be so idiotic.

“Yes.  That last one is particularly hard to treat, giving the penchant for inducing internal explosions.”

Severus grasped the bridge of his nose tightly between thumb and forefinger. 

“I doubt that I want to know, but continue, please.  I . . . apologize for my outburst.”

Smythe’s eyebrows rose at his former professor’s apology, but he chose not to draw attention to it.   He felt that Healer Long’s smirk more than said enough for them both. 

“I’ve had more than a dozen cases where the witch in question ingested various magical cleaners in the hopes that something would induce a sudden abortion.  My mentor told me that he once had to treat a woman for tapeworms after she purposely tried to spell them into her uterus.”

Hadwyn’s face showed only horror at Smythe’s last statement, and Snape’s was hardly any better.  His lips were pressed so tightly together that he feared the man might hurt himself. 

“Of course,” Smythe’s quiet voice broke the horrified silence that had fallen between them.  “There’s also a number of old witch’s tales that get bandied about.  They range in variety from throwing one’s self down the stairs to drinking gin in a hot bath.” 

Smythe rolled his head to the side, and Severus flinched at the loud crack it made. 

“Perhaps the worst was from a woman who told me that to induce a miscarriage one only had to walk over the grave of a suicide.  Of course, the potency of this method increases if you happened to actually know the person . . .” Smythe trailed off. 

“Bloody hell,” Hadwyn whispered. 

. . .

Knocturn Alley, outside of Podric Batworthy’s Beard Trimming Shoppe, 4:49pm

A scream rent the air as a badly splinched young wizard suddenly apparated into the alleyway in front of Podric Batworthy’s establishment. 

“Bloody hell, boy!”  Podric cursed, levitating his nephew’s mangled body through his shop and up the stairs to his small apartment.  “Are you trying to cause a scene, or are you just this bleeding stupid!?”

With another flick of his wand, he turned the open sign to the closed side and then locked the door.  If his nephew hadn’t killed himself with that stunt, then he’d do it himself.  He scowled at the trail of blood behind him and whistled for his house elf. 

His sister owed him.  Big. 

. . .

An abandoned classroom near Professor Snape’s office, 5:03 pm

“This is getting us nowhere,” Severus growled at the potion kit he’d been staring at unseeingly for the past fifteen minutes. 

“Thought,” Hadwyn’s soft voice cut through Severus’ frustration.

“Say it.”

Hadwyn crossed the room to a dusty blackboard and scourgified it.  He conjured a piece of chalk from a dust bunny and turned to the board. 

“Give me a list of any known herbal abortifacients and crosscheck with the ingredients in the kits.  We need to get out of this rut before we lose track of what we’re trying to figure out,” Hadwyn pointed out. 

Silence, then Smythe spoke first.

“Bayberries.” 

Hadwyn wrote it on the board and Severus scowled.

“What?” Hadwyn demanded when he saw Severus’ face.

“We don’t use them since the discovery that crushed billywigs work just as well in every potion that previously demanded them.”

“When was that discovered?”  Smythe interjected with some interest.

“1320.”

“Okay then, what else?”

Another ten minutes and they had a long list written across the board in Hadwyn’s choppy handwriting.  It only took an additional minute for Severus to cross off the herbs that weren’t used in Potions. 

“Cotton root bark, Pennyroyal, Juniper, English Yew, Partridge and Goji berries,” Hadwyn read aloud. 

“We could have just started with the kits themselves,” Severus complained.

“We tried that.  It was getting us nowhere fast.  Now we have something to focus on,” Hadwyn countered in a patient voice. 

Severus scowled and started walking toward the door.

“Where are you going?”  Hadwyn called out after him.

“To check on my son!”

The door slammed and Smythe looked at Hadwyn with a startled expression. 

“Son?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 24 - Hermes

Infirmary, Monday (13 January cont.), 10:13 am

"Does Professor Snape know?" She had stood up, but was still a respectful distance from him.

"Yeah, a bit," Hermes said, shuffling and ducking his head. "He's letting me use a private bathroom near the Potions classroom. And ah," Hermes glanced up briefly before looking away again. "He calls me how I like."

"I'm happy to hear that," Madam Pomfrey answered with a bright smile. "What of your friends?"

"Harry doesn't have any problem with it. Me. And Ron Weasley's all right with me too."

"Any others?"

Hermes felt his cheeks flush at the continued attention, and he looked around for a place to sit in order to distract himself from it. Pomfrey summoned a chair after seeing what he was looking for, and it pulled up to next to where he had been standing.

"Thanks," He murmured quietly.

"There's a few others in my housemates that I feel okay with, but that's mostly it. My mum and dad aren't really—well, Professor Snape has been really good with me. I'm a bit prickly sometimes, I guess," Hermes admitted, staring hard at the scuffed toes of his shoes.

"Professor Snape is particularly good with prickly students," Pomfrey remarked with a wink.

"Some of the other students think he's kind of scary, but he's really good to his house. And Harry."

"And you, it seems?"

"Yeah," Hermes looked up again. He was grinning. "And me."

"Do you mind if I ask a personal question, Mr Granger?"

"I can choose not to answer?"

"Always," Pomfrey's face was serious.

After a moment of looking at her in silence, Hermes nodded his acquiescence.

"You were born with female organs?"

"Yessss," Hermes answered slowly, trying not to squirm.

"And you don't see yourself as a girl?"

"No."

"Do you know when exactly you realised you were different?"

"I guess when I was little. But it got a lot easier to figure out when I started school."

"How did your parents react?"

"They thought I was just being troublesome," Hermes' voice had dropped to a whisper.

"Did they ever try to hurt you over how you felt?"

"Hurt?" Hermes asked somewhat faintly.

"Did they ever try to beat it out of you? Or deny you certain basic necessities in punishment?"

Hermes swallowed hard and looked away. After a moment he nodded. Oddly enough, he wished that Snape was there.

"Thank you for answering. I know that this can be very difficult to talk about."

How do you know? Hermes wanted to scream at her, but he kept it to himself. This woman could help him. There was no reason to alienate her when she could do something to make this better. She might even be able to make him be a real him. Not just the 'him' in his own mind.

He hoped. The hope was so strong that his heart ached for it.

"What do you want for yourself, Mr Granger? How do you see yourself in the future? As a man? Or as a person with androgynous features? Tell me, how do you think you could most be yourself?"

Hermes swallowed hard over the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat.

Had Snape known that Pomfrey could help him? He didn't think so. Not like this. He would have told me to talk to her sooner. Probably. Maybe I never asked the right questions.

That was a lot like doing proper research, he knew. Don't ask the right questions and you never get anywhere near the right answers.

"I want to be a man inside and out. I don't want to go through puberty and grow breasts and have a vagina and all that goes with it. The thought terrifies me," Hermes didn't care that his heart was pounding rapidly in his ears. "I know that in the muggle world, there isn't much of an option for people like me. We're mostly just freaks, I guess. Like my mum says."

"You are not. You are absolutely not a freak, Mr Granger. That your own mother would refer to you as such infuriates me," Pomfrey said, her cheeks pink with indignation.

Hermes couldn't help the small smile that was threatening to break out over his face.

"Understanding how your mother, and perhaps your father too?" She looked at him in askance.

He shrugged, preferring not to think of the spineless git that was the male half of his biological origins.

"A marked lack of encouragement then," Pomfrey said, voicing his silent concern.

"Yeah."

"Understanding how your parents have reacted to you, it is little wonder that you have found such a mentor in Professor Snape."

"How can you tell?"

"I have known Professor Snape a great many years. He is very adept at helping those students who have no one else to trust. No adults, anyway."

"Have you ever had a situation like me before?"

"Not that Professor Snape has helped me with on."

Hermes grinned self-consciously. He was glad that his faith in Snape hadn't been misplaced.

"So you have had situations like this before?"

"Oh yes, Mr Granger. You are not the first, and I have no doubt that you will not be the last."

Hermes' smile was brighter than before.

"Is there anything the wizarding world can do to help?" He asked, steadfastly ignoring the waver in his voice.

Pomfrey smiled at him.

"Yes, Mr Granger. There is something we can do for you. It's a bit of an involved process, but if you stick with it to the end, then I believe you'll be happy with the result."

He thought he might cry. He ducked his head and scrubbed quickly at his eyes with his palms.

"What's the process?"

"Counselling from someone you know well is step one. However, you are already receiving this through Professor Snape's sessions with you. The only difference would be that a requirement that you discussed certain gender related topics, and continued talking with him on a semi-regular basis until you finish puberty."

"Second, you need to schedule consultations with a professional healer. Wizarding gender reassignment is largely potion based, and requires a certain number of genetic manipulations that are better not left up to chance."

"Furthermore, the healer in question typically likes to get an idea of how the rest of the male members of your family appear. Sometimes that can change your end result, but not always."

"Third, sometime after all of this has begun, you begin the fascinating process of actually trying out various bodies through a potion called Polyjuice. This helps with the visualization process, and allows your healer a chance to take your personal choices into account."

"Finally, the last portion of this process is your choice to reveal yourself to others. If you wanted to be known only as a girl throughout your years in Hogwarts and then reappear outside her walls as a man, then that would be your choice. However," She held up a hand to stave off his objections. "Since I doubt that this will be your choice, you would likely need to choose who to tell first. Then from there, a change in dorms would likely follow. And your medical file with me would need to updated to represent the changes."

"Do I need my parents' permission for this?" He asked, the thought occurring to him at last.

"It's your body, Mr Granger. It's your choice whether you even tell them about it."

Hermes burst out into hysterical giggles. He couldn't help himself, not really. It was a little overwhelming. More than, really.

"Would you like a calming potion?"

He shook his head, "no." He wanted to hold the hysteria close to his heart and not let it go. After another few minutes, he found his breath evening out naturally.

"How long do you think it will take before I'm in my own body?" He asked breathlessly.

"Possibly before the end of the school year, maybe the end of the summer. It could possibly be longer if your magic and your healer aren't able to agree on your visualizations. But all in all, it shouldn't last longer than two years at the absolute maximum."

"Two years or fewer?" He whispered mostly to himself.

Two years and I could be me. The real me. The me in my head.

He stood up abruptly.

"Do you know where Professor Snape is?"

. . .

Knockturn Alley - Beard Trimming, 2 nd floor apartment, Tuesday, 9:24 am

A hand slapped his face and he startled to consciousness with a low cry.

Merlin. Everything hurt. His body felt like it'd been smashed and then torn apart. Blinking at his blurry surroundings, Tarquin McTavish sat up in the bed with a bewildered expression. Where the hell was he?

"'Bout time you woke up, boy!"

Oh no. He hadn't.

"Uncle Poddy?" His voice squeaked for the first time since fifth year.

"Don't you 'Uncle Poddy' me, boy! You're in a shitload of trouble! And for some dumbfuck reason, you decided to drag me into it as well!" The man opposite him roared.

He flinched backward, covering his ears with a groan. What the hell had he done yesterday!?

"What d'ya mean, 'trouble?'" He retorted, attempting to sound cocky but knowing that he hadn't quite managed it.

His uncle reached toward the table and pulled the paper off it roughly. With a grunt he slapped it down across Tarquin's lap, making him groan in pain.

Splashed across the top of the first page in a large stylized font were the words, "Poisoned Pregnancy?! Mysterious Death at Hogwarts!"

His eyes widened and he pulled the paper closer.

"They're lyin'," He grunted. "She ain't dead. She can't be."

"They didn't say she was dead, boy!" His uncle slapped the back of his head hard. "But her unborn kid sure as hell is. And she's in a bloody coma."

Tarquin closed his eyes tightly.

"I got a flippin' owl from that professor of yours. Seems that you need ta show him your face before you wind up being hauled in by the aurors. Wanted for questioning. What the hell did you do!?"

Tarq's voice broke as he answered.

"She's my girl. I guess, maybe she was. If she lives. I don't figure she'll have a hell lot to do wit' me now."

His solution had seemed easy. Get rid of the kid before they found themselves getting raised in a shithole like the one he had grown up in. There was no way in hell that Tarq was going to let a kid be raised by his Da. Mum woulda killed us both.

And Liz's Ma couldn't—wouldn't—have done any better.

"She was just gonna take something. She said she knew what ta do!" Tarq hollered, slapping the bed beside his mangled leg.

"You're too young to start thinkin' about bein' a dad, Tarq," Poddy said in a soft voice.

Tarq didn't wonder at his uncle's sudden mood switch. His Uncle Poddy had a handle on his anger, unlike his Da.

He closed his eyes and slumped back against the pillows.

"She said she'd take care of it. I—," He tried again, only opening his eyes when his uncle took his chin gently in hand.

"You gotta talk to yer head of house, I figure," Poddy said. "You tell 'im what you tol' me, and then we'll work out the next step."

"What if he has me arrested, Poddy?" Tarq let some of the fear he was feeling creep slowly into his face.

His uncle regarded him silently for a moment, and then stood up with a huff.

"You let your Uncle Poddy deal wit' that."

"How?"

The corners of Poddy's mouth attempted to smile, turning his normal scowl into something more resembling a grimace.

"Well, how 'bout we have 'im come here? And then if he's insistent on dragging you off somewheres, I'll find somethin' to distract him with."

The corner of his mouth creaked upward.

"I love you, Uncle Poddy."

"Bah! Don't be gonna all mushy on me now!" His uncle shouted, his robes swirling around him as he sped from the room.

Tarq grinned to himself for a moment longer, and then schooled his features back into something more appropriate. Now that he knew where he was, he was hardly surprised to be here. Uncle Poddy—despite his gruff ways—was safe. It was little wonder that his addled mind had brought him to the shoppe.

Though he did wish he hadn't splinched himself quite so painfully in the process.

"Guess I shouldn't apparate when I'm pissed," Tarq muttered to himself.

. . .

Infirmary, Tuesday, 10:48 pm

Elizabeth "Liz" Murphy awoke.

Consciousness returned very slowly. Pain seeped through her body, through every pore and every bone. Her lungs ached with every breath, and her abdomen and stomach muscles burned with the effort.

But she was alive.

There was coldness in the back of her mind, the spot where the little burgeoning consciousness had existed. Without realising it, she began to cry, unaware of the reason.

"Ms Murphy?" Pomfrey's voice filtered through her tears slowly. "Do you know where you are?"

"No," She whispered.

Where was Tarq? He'd said he be there for her. They were supposed to be in together. Where was Tarq?

"May I ask what you ate last?"

Her eyes closed. Everything hurt.

"Ms Murphy? Can you hear me?"

A potions' vial was pushed to her lips. She hoped to Merlin it was for pain, so she swallowed it without complaint. It tasted terrible.

The deep ache eased slowly. Her consciousness receded like the ocean tide going out.

"Ms Murphy?"

Tarq, was her final conscious thought. I want Tarq.

Chapter Text

HOM – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
DADA – Ravenclaw/Gryffindor
Transfiguration – Hufflepuff, Slytherin
Charms – Slytherin
Herbology – Gryffindor/Hufflepuff, Slytherin/Ravenclaw

Week 21 continued . . . January 15 (Wednesday), 1992

6:28 am

Severus awoke with a groan.  He felt like he’d been run over by a herd of thestrals.  He was pushing himself too hard, and it didn’t seem likely that things would resolve on their own in any kind of timely fashion.

The situation with Miss Murphy was pulling him in what felt like six different directions, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to continue at the current rate.  He couldn’t afford to get much more behind on his grading, and his Snakes needed have a close eye on them as well, unless he wanted to risk them descending into chaos.

And then there was Harry.  The little boy was currently curled into his side, burrowed under both his arm and a pile of blankets.  He would have never known the boy was there, if not for the little snuffly sounds that kept emerging from within.  

He had collapsed late--or rather early that morning--into bed alone, but had discovered the small presence beside him upon his return to the waking world.  

“Harry,” He murmured, lifting the blankets off his son’s head.

His query was met with a yawn.  Casting around for his wand, he idly lit a few nearby candles.  

“Child, I know you can hear me,” He said.  

A warm little nose pressed itself against his neck and he fought back the urge to laugh.  

“Are you a puppy?”  He asked instead.

“Uh huh, Papa Pa,” Harry confirmed with a nod.  “Woof woof.”

“Well, woof woof,” Severus’ eyes were shining in the candlelight.  “We’d best get out of bed and get some breakfast.  What do you think about that?”

“Woof!  I mean, okay daddy Sev!”  Harry answered with a giggle.

7:14 am - The Great Hall

“Severus, I mean this in the nicest possible way, but you look terrible,” Filius told him as he arrived at the staff table.

He slid into a chair and reached blindly for the coffee.  Beside him, Pomona sighed and pressed a cup of it into his hands.  

“Thank you,” He murmured.  

“Did you get any sleep last night?”  Filius asked, a small measure of concern evident on his face.

“Night?  No.  Morning?  Some,” Severus grunted.  

His son had coaxed a smile out of him, and full sentences, but his coworkers were not quite as lucky.  He resisted the urge to put his head in his hands. Looking at the Slytherin table, he was reminded of his upcoming meeting with Tarquin McTavish and company , his mind helpfully added.

“Poppy informed me that Ms Murphy awoke for a brief time last night,” He told them, eyeing the food dishes around him with varying levels of nausea.

“Oh, thank goodness!” Pomona exclaimed in a near whisper.  

“And did she say anything?”  Filius pressed.

“Not really,” Severus answered with a scowl.  “As she was more than a bit hysterical upon waking, Poppy opted to give her a calming potion in hopes that it would shed more light on the situation.  Instead, Ms Murphy fell back to sleep.  Poppy tells me that her body’s physical and magical resources have been considerably depleted as a result of this ordeal.”

“We still don’t know why she did it?”  Pomona asked in a tentative voice.

“I’m not a hundred percent certain that death was her goal,” Severus admitted, thinking back.  “My team and I have theorized that it is entirely possible that she was merely trying to induce an abortion.  Healer Smythe told us a number of truly frightening methods that young--and old--witches have used to end their pregnancies.”

Pomona and Filius nodded their heads at that.  

“In the meantime, thanks to an anonymous tip from one of your ‘Claws,” He nodded to Filius.  “I think I know who the father is.  Was,” He shook his head.  “Thankfully, my sources in the Alley have provided me with an idea of where he has gone.  I’m going to see him today, and hopefully we will have a better idea of what has happened after I return.”

He stood up from the table, and stood up with more grace than he had upon arrival.  

“I know you don’t need to hear it, Severus, but be careful.  There’s a little boy who would be very distraught should you get hurt,” Filius warned him.  

Severus glanced up to see a little boy waving at him from the Slytherin table, “Oh, I assure you.  I am aware.”

. . .

A former Slytherin had owled Severus yesterday after McTavish arrived in the alley.  The young woman was part of the reason that he had such a concise understanding of everything happening outside the walls of Hogwarts.  She, and a handful of others, was part of a network of eyes and ears that reported to him any time anything untoward occurred.  

And apparently, a boy in Slytherin robes badly splinching himself in the early evening hours of Knockturn Alley was noteworthy.  Especially, since it was McTavish’s uncle who had retrieved him.  

He had sent an owl to McTavish’s uncle warning him not to let the boy out of his sight.  The aurors weren’t yet involved with him, and Severus aimed to keep it that way.  Getting key information out of someone became significantly more difficult after the aurors stuck their noses into the situation.  

. . .

Knockturn Alley, Podric Batworthy’s Beard Trimming Shoppe, 8:03 am

Severus strode up to the front doors of the darkened shoppe and knocked.  A moment passed by, and then the door opened.  A tiny house elf stood in front of him, wringing its apron nervously.

“Taddy be helping yous, Mr Professor?” It squeaked at him.

“I’m here to see Mr. Batworthy.  I am expected,” He said smoothly.

He had better be expected.  He wouldn’t be able to help his snake if the boy stupidly decided to run again.

“Taddy will take you up to master and young master,” The elf said tremulously, large bulbous eyes watering slightly at Snape’s stern visage.

“Thank you, Taddy,” Severus answered.

A darkened shoppe and a flight of stairs later, and Severus was being ushered into Batworthy’s second floor apartment.  

A bed was in the middle of the floor, and in it sat his student, Tarquin McTavish.  Upon seeing the numerous bandages surrounding his snake, Severus felt his stomach clench, and he took a step closer to better see the damage.  Behind him, the door shut and then, the tip of a wand wedged its way into his back.  

“Are ye Professor Snape?”  A hot breath questioned into his right ear.

“I am,” He scowled.  “And you would do well to remove that wand from my spine,” He warned.

“This is my shoppe and I call the shots around here,” Podric Batworthy hissed.  

“If you insist,” Severus answered mildly.

“I do. Now--” His words were cut off as Severus viciously elbowed him in in his not unsubstantial gut.  

“Uncle Poddy!”  McTavish screamed from the bed.

Severus wasn’t done.  He flicked his own wand and Batworthy’s went flying across the room.  Then, he brought his sharp heeled boot down on the other man’s foot, and shoved him down to the ground.  

In less than a minute, the fight was over and Severus was perched atop Batworthy’s chest, his wand shoved none too lightly into his windpipe.  

“You were saying?”  Severus bit out, barely winded.

“Don’t hurt ‘im, Professor Snape,” McTavish whimpered from the bed.

“I won’t need to hurt him if you tell me what Miss Murphy took,” Severus promised.

“I don’t know wha’ Liz took,” McTavish cried.  “She said she’d take care of it!  I swear!”  

“And what did she need to take care of?”  Severus asked, eyes never leaving Batworthy’s sweaty form.

“She tol’ me that we was gonna be a family,” McTavish sobbed softly into his hands.  “I tol’ her to get rid of it.  We don’ need no kids.  She said she woul’ take somethin’.  And then, next thing I know, she’s in infirmary dyin’ and no one knows what’s goin’ on.  That’s all I know, I swear!”

Severus scowled and stood up from slowly.  

“I accept your story, Mr. McTavish.  One would have hoped that you would have brought this to my attention before reaching this level of disaster,” He said, scowling.  

“But she’s a Gryffindor, ‘fessor.  She don’t have your protection,” McTavish argued, reddened eyes shining from between his fingers.

“But you do.   Did.”  

Tarquin cringed at his words.  

“The moment you ran was the moment that I no longer trusted you,” Severus announced.

He watched as Batworthy slowly made it to his feet.  The frightened look on the other man’s face did not please him.  It merely made him more weary.

“Is there no way that the boy can make it right with you?”  Batworthy bravely asked.

Severus looked at McTavish appraisingly.  

“Come back to Hogwarts.  Go to the Infirmary and have Poppy look at you.  Then, station yourself next to Miss Murphy.  She needs you--especially now.”

. . .

Date: 15 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Lisa Turpin

Lisa: [Frowning].

Flitwick:  What is distressing you?

Lisa:  Duncan Inglebee.

Flitwick:  What of him?

Lisa:  He says that one of the Slytherins poisoned Liz Murphy.

Flitwick:  [He frowns].  I believe the truth is a bit more complex than that.  [It usually is.]

Lisa:  Well, the rumour in the loo is that he caught her looking at someone else and then decided to keep her to himself by killing her.

Flitwick:  [Spluttering]. That is the most ridiculous rumour I’ve heard yet!

Lisa:  [Narrowing her eyes].  Then, what’s the truth?

Flitwick:  [Sighing].  The truth is rarely so black and white.  

Lisa:  Meaning?

Flitwick:  There are often multiple truths.

Lisa:  Well, which one’s right then?

Flitwick:  None.  

Lisa:  Pardon?

Flitwick:  There’s what happened and then there’s what happened according to each of the participants.  In such complex situations as this, not only is it difficult to come upon an agreed on history, it is also just as difficult to discover what each person meant to have happen.  Inflection can change a conversation, you know.  And if individuals give suggestions to each other instead of actual instruction , then the chances of things becoming misconstrued are greatly increased.  Since we have only the events themselves to explain what has happened, the chances of knowing what actually happened are decreased.  And they will continue to be so until someone has a chance to ask each party what they actually said, as opposed to what they actually meant.

Lisa:  I think I’m more confused than when I came in here.

Flitwick:  [Smiling].  Maybe you merely need some time to think on it.

Lisa:  [Looking doubtful]. Maybe.  

End notes:   I can only hope this conversation goes toward decreasing the rumours.

. . .

Date: 15 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Sabrina Fawcett

Sabrina:  [Whispering].  I think Duncan Inglebee has a thing for Elizabeth Murphy.

Flitwick:  [Sighing].  Why do you think so?

Sabrina:  He’s been talking about going to see her, but Poppy isn’t allowing anyone into the Infirmary right now.  It’s just as well. [She shrugged].  

Flitwick:  [Looking at her with a slight frown].  Why?

Sabrina:  He’s been getting really worked up with what he’s going to do if . . . well, when and if, I guess.  [She makes a face of discomfort].  

Flitwick:  When and if what?  [He drums his fingers on his leg].

Sabrina:  If he sees Tarquin McTavish.  He says that McTavish is the reason that Elizabeth is dying.

Flitwick:  I would be hesitant to say that she is dying [He speaks his words slowly].  

Sabrina:  Well . . . [She frowns].  She’s in a coma, right?

Flitwick:  More or less.

Sabrina:  [She narrows her eyes].  How can you ‘more or less’ be in a coma?

Flitwick:  [Shifting into a more comfortable position].  She awoke last night.

Sabrina:  Really!?  [She leans forward].  What did she say?

Flitwick:  She wasn’t awake for very long.  I suspect she’ll wake again soon.  

Sabrina:  And then we’ll know what happened?  [Her voice is hopeful].

Flitwick:  I wish it were that simple.  I doubt she will tell her story so easily.  And if she does, I doubt her story will explain much to those outside the involved parties.  We will have to find the correct questions to ask her.  

Sabrina:  And if we don’t ask the right questions?

Flitwick:  Then we’ll never have the entire story.

Sabrina:  And people will make assumptions based on the incomplete story?

Flitwick:  [He claps].  Very much so!  

Sabrina:  Does . . . [Obviously hesitant] . . . that happen often?

Flitwick:  Very frequently.  In fact, I would say that basing one’s opinions on incomplete information is entirely prevalent and something to be expected.  But that’s a concept for another day.  You need to get to class and I need to get papers graded.  But come back next time and we’ll talk about it some more.

End notes:   What is truth?  And, do we ever really want to know the entire story?  Or only the parts that corroborate our own understandings?

. . .

Date: 27 November, 1991
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Michael Corner

Michael:  [Scowling].  

Flitwick:  Let me guess.  I don’t want to know?

Michael:  Only--and I repeat--ONLY Malfoy would care to know so much about Elizabeth Murphy’s origins that he would chart out a bloody flow map and THEN  try to foist his knowledge off on other people.

Flitwick:  [Pinching bridge of nose].  And I suppose they are related?

Michael:  [Scowl deepens].  Distantly.  And through the Blacks.   And through a squib that seems to have been . . . misplaced.  

Flitwick:  So, she’s a misplaced cousin of Narcissa’s?

Michael:  [Rolling his eyes].  Seems like.  

Flitwick:  And his point in showing everyone this?  

Michael:  I think he’s trying to say that anyone descended from squibs isn’t worth caring about.

Flitwick:  Mr Malfoy can be more subtle than previously assumed.  Very interesting.  Is anyone listening?

Michael:  [Shifting nervously].  Maybe.  Some of the purebloods seem to be buying it, but nobody older than 3rd year even gives him the time of day.  So it’s pretty pointless.

Flitwick:  And yet, you listened to a great deal of his speech?

Michael:  I just like learning about the history parts.  [He crossed his arms in front of his chest].

Flitwick:  Did you confirm them with an outside source?

Michael:  My cousin works in the Records Department at the Ministry.  He says Malfoy has got the lines right.

Flitwick:  What do you think of Mr Malfoy’s claim that those descended from squibs are worth less than those not?

Michael:  My family has had a few squibs too.  Keith--my cousin--says that the number of squibs born to pureblooded families has been increasing.  He says that no family has been spared, but some are more secretive about it.  

Flitwick:  Your point?

Michael:  If we ignored all the descendants of squibs, we wouldn’t be acknowledging too many folks at all.

Flitwick:  [Clapping].  An astute observation!  Nicely said!

End notes:   I suspect that Mr Malfoy will soon be dazzling me with his own assumptions about said ideas . . .

. . .

Date: 15 January, 1992
House: Ravenclaw
Student Name: Draco Malfoy

Flitwick:  Do you know the girl in Infirmary?

Draco:  [Waving a hand].  Unofficial official cousin, yeah.  My mum’s said some about her family.  They’re wastrels.  Lazy and always drunk and pretty well worthless.

Flitwick:  [His eyebrows raise].  And why is that?

Draco:  [Shrugging].  Dunno.  I suppose they don’t have very much to prove.  They aren’t Blacks, they aren’t anyone of note.  They don’t have a higher standard to strive toward, so they’ve let themselves go.  

Flitwick:  What higher standard would that be?

Draco:  Purebloods, of course.  That’s why Elizabeth Murphy is a Gryffindor and I’m not.  She might be a Black at some level by blood, but she’s not a Black at a level that counts for anything.  If she were, she wouldn’t have let herself be sorted in Gryffindor.  She wouldn’t be making headlines, because she would have never gotten in such trouble to begin with.  Her parents would have found a way to make it disappear, but they didn’t because they are worthless halfbloods that . . . never mind.  [He purses his lips and runs a hand through his hair].

Flitwick:  I don’t know if you realise this, Mr Malfoy, but I myself am a ‘worthless halfblood,’ as you so elegantly put it.

Draco:  I wouldn’t say that you are on the same level as some of the others though, sir.

Flitwick:  [Leaning back, crossing his legs].  No?

Draco:  Champion of the dueling circuit, longtime professor of Charms at Hogwarts, esteemed friend of Gringotts . . . You’ve risen above your failings and made a name for yourself.  I’m sure even my parents’ friends are polite toward you.  You are someone worth showing respect toward.  In spite of your halfblood status.  

Flitwick:  [Running a hand over his face].  So, I suppose you are already at the level that I have so valiantly worked toward?

Draco:  [Shrugging].  Well, not quite the same level, considering I don’t have the experience, but I know that I won’t have to work nearly as hard as you have to prove that my existence is worthwhile.  

Flitwick:  [Grimacing].  And Miss Murphy?

Draco: Hasn’t tried to do anything about her less than worthwhile standing in the wizarding world.  In fact, she could hardly do more to harm her image among the upper echelons of wizarding society.  There are those who have . . . quietly wondered whether it was right for the Blacks to disinherit various members of their family.  Finding out that Elizabeth Murphy is a descendant of one of those disinherited Blacks has gone lengths and bounds to proving them right.  [He smiles].  I have explained this at some length to the others in our house, and I have received an acceptable amount of understanding.  No one would want to claim Murphy as an outstanding member of their family.  

Flitwick:  No one other than a Slytherin?  [He raises an eyebrow].

Draco:  [Waving a hand in obvious dismissal].  A Slytherin whose name will be forgotten in a year.  

Flitwick:  So the rumours are true?  A Slytherin is the father?

Draco:  Or was, according to what I heard.  

Flitwick:  Another worthless halfblood?

Draco:  But of course.  What else could he be?  Slytherin doesn’t let in Muggleborns.  

Flitwick:  Minus Granger, you mean.  [He smiles].

Draco:  [He scowls].  A fluke.

Flitwick:  If you insist.

End notes:   The amount of pompousness that spews from Mr Malfoy is mostly a result of his upbringing.  Still, that knowledge does not make it any easier to stomach.