"You will be spending your summer studying to catch up," he'd told him when he was done commenting on Harry's abysmal performance. "I will bring you the books tomorrow as well as the assignments. I expect you to work hard. The other children in the school in Hogsmead work hard and they will not admit you if you are not prepared to work for your education as well."
Harry had nodded and then gone to his room to go to bed (with his new trainers on). Sir walked down the hallway just as he was falling asleep half an hour later though and said, "Potter, take those shoes off. You'll get the sheets dirty." Reluctantly, Harry did as he was told, and couldn't help but feeling like he'd been a disappointment to his new guardian for a third time that day.
* * *
Severus was a little irritated by the fact that he was having to put together an entire school year's worth of lessons and homework for the boy in such a short time. The child had to have been lazy to be this far behind. Obtaining the books wasn't a problem. He simply sent an owl to the teacher at the small school in Hogsmead who sent the books back later that evening before Severus went to bed. Unfortunately that teacher didn't tutor during the summer because he and his family traveled, but he had agreed to come in four weeks to test Harry to see his progress, and then to test him again at the end of the summer to see if he was caught up enough to enroll in his proper year. The school was small and Severus thought there were only five or six students that attended each year. It was a one room schoolhouse on the far side of Hogsmead meant to educate the children that lived in the wizarding village, and on rare occasion the children who had parents that worked at Hogwarts. There were several other primary schools for wizards across the country, but for the most part, parents educated their children at home before they sent them to Hogwarts or else hired private tutors.
Sitting at his desk Severus spent four hours going over the books and writing down assignments and deadlines by which he wanted them completed. Harry would have to work at a fast pace to get in an entire year's worth of school work in one summer. At least the boy would be busy and out of his hair. He still had lesson plans to make for Potions classes for the upcoming school year, ingredients to order, and on top of all that, his Potions Mastery to work on. He'd already fulfilled the requirement of a three year Potions apprenticeship before he came to Hogwarts to teach, and had taken the test to prove he could brew the most complex of potions, including Amortentia, Polyjuice, and Draught Of Living Death. He still had two of his three peer review articles to write however, and had to invent his own potion. Just inventing any old potion wasn't good enough. It had to be a potion involving magic and transfiguration, and had to serve an important purpose. By the requirements for the Potion's Mastery, there could be no other potion available that served the same purpose, and he had to document all of his research and failed attempts at making the potion including any interesting side effects and unintended potions created during the failed attempts.
He sighed thinking about all that he had left to do for his Potions Mastery. It seemed like a daunting task considering that he now had a 9 year old boy in his charge. A boy who was apparently lazy and who had his own school work to be doing. Severus had planned on having his peer review articles finished by the end of the summer so he could devote his free time during the upcoming school year towards his Potion (of which he still had no idea what he would be inventing). Writing peer review articles was easier said than done though. The first one had taken him two months of research, writing, and editing before it had been ready to submit, and it had been stressful. He looked away from Harry's books and to the neat stacks of notes and research on the edge of the desk. Maybe the Headmaster was who Lily should have told to keep his nose out of her business. Severus had tried, but when the Headmaster intervened who was he to say no? Just buckle down and get it done Severus. Two peer review articles, six months with the boy, and then you could be the Head of Slytherin house and on your way to finishing your potion for your Mastery. Hah. If only it were that easy.
* * *
Harry looked at the stack of books and the folder full of assignments on the kitchen table the next morning. There weren't that many books, not really. Maths and science, history and English. The assignment pages said he was supposed to read four novels as well, but there were none of those on the table. Maybe the library had novels.
"There are seven weeks left of summer. Each week has its own assignment sheet. Readings are marked down as well as their assignments. It does not matter when you get them done so long as they are all turned in by Friday of that week. I suggest you check off each assignment and reading as it is completed and use that folder to keep all of your completed work in until you turn it in to me. The teacher from the school in Hogsmead will come in a few weeks to test you on your progress and again a few days before the new school year starts. Do you have any questions?"
Harry looked around the kitchen for supplies to complete his assignments with, but there weren't any. "Is there paper and pencils?"
Sir left the kitchen and came back a few minutes later with a box full of pencils, quills, bottles of ink, and a tall stack of parchment. "I don't care where you complete your work, but as I said before you are not to use my desk. There are novels in the library and I would suggest you not wait until the last minute to start that part of your homework. Madam Pince will help you find suitable reading material. If I find that you are incapable of managing your time and turning in the weeks worth of assignments on time, I will force you to complete all of the work at the kitchen table on a daily schedule, which you will not enjoy."
Sir left and went promptly to sit at his own desk in front of his own stack of papers. Harry wondered what he was working on, and if it was more assignments for him to complete. He sat down at the table and thought that the kitchen wasn't such a bad place to work. It was better lit than his cupboard under the stairs and he didn't have to squint to read or write. He looked over the assignments for the week and hoped he could finish them all. He had 14 maths assignments, 25 pages to read from the history book as well as answering about 15 questions from the history text, he had to write and edit a one page creative story for English with proper grammar and spelling, and he had to read over 15 pages of a science book and answer questions. It was a lot of work and he had to go find a novel on top of that. He opened up the maths book and tried to make sense of what the textbook was telling him to do, and then pulled out a pencil and parchment to start the homework, which he didn't finish until lunch. It didn't help that his mind kept wandering and he had a hard time staying focused on the task at hand.
Sir was engrossed in his own work, so Harry went up to the Great Hall alone for lunch. The Great Hall was so bright and cheery compared to the Dungeons though, and Harry felt like he was in a better mood up here. Sir had said he could work wherever he wanted hadn't he? There were tables up here and it was quiet. So after lunch Harry went back to the kitchen table in the Dungeons, tucked some papers and the assignment sheet into his maths book, and grabbed a handful of pencils and went back up to the Great Hall. This was so much better, he thought, opening the maths book to start his second assignment. Maybe if he got all his math done today the list wouldn't seem so daunting tomorrow. It was a good goal, to get it all done, but even working as fast as he could he was only on his fourth assignment by dinner and was starting to get frustrated and burned out. This castle was such an interesting place and he felt like he'd like to explore the parts of it he'd been told he could visit. The grounds seemed interesting too and he wished he'd been told he could go farther from the front steps. Maybe if he got all of his work done, Sir would agree to let him go further.
Harry took his book and papers back to the Dungeons and into his room. Sir was still at his desk bent over several papers and had three books open to the middle and stacked haphazardly on top of each other. Maybe he was trying to get a lot of work done too so he could go explore.
Tired of sitting on a wooden bench all day, Harry took his work to his bed and sat cross legged and started his fifth maths assignment out of 14. He got stuck and couldn't figure out what the book was telling him, and every time he double checked his work he got a different answer. It was well past midnight when Harry finally finished the assignment and crawled under the covers to go to sleep.
* * *
Sir had woken him to go to breakfast, and not wanting to waste any time, Harry got dressed in his sage polo shirt and black slacks and new shoes and then stuffed his maths book and supplies into his ratty backpack and made his way up to the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall was there this morning at the table and he thought it would be rude to sit somewhere else, so he sat down across from her.
"Good morning Harry." She smiled warmly at him before taking a sip of her coffee.
"Good morning," he said quietly.
"How are you? I heard Professor Snape has decided to take care of you."
"I'm good." He decided not to mention missing meals and passing out. Adults didn't like to hear about that stuff, and besides, Sir had been telling him when it was time to eat and he hadn't missed any meals since. "I got new clothes."
"I see that. They're very nice. Did he pick them out?"
Harry shook his head. "He only picked out my coat. I got to pick everything else."
"Where did you go? Hogsmead doesn't have a clothing store."
Harry quickly ate his breakfast and tried not to notice that she was watching him as he ate. When he was finished he pulled out his maths book and a pencil and started trying to decipher the lesson so he could do the 50 problems sir had assigned him.
"What are you working on Harry?"
"I'm behind. If I'm to go to school at the end of the summer I have to catch up. I have a lot of assignments to finish by Friday. This is maths."
"I see. Where are you going to go to school?"
"There's a school in Hogsmead."
"Did you know I went to that school for two years when I was young?"
Harry looked up, interested. He was curious what this school would be like. He didn't like to be bullied, but going to school it was an inevitability. "You did?"
"Two years before I was going to start Hogwarts my family moved from the North of Scotland to Hogsmead to open a shop and I started to attend the school. It's a little building. When I went there were 12 children, but I don't know how many there are now. I heard there's one from far away who comes in by floo each day."
"Do they teach magic?"
"They start to teach basic magic principles the year before you go to Hogwarts, but nothing with a wand, and there's a little of magical history. My favorite part of the day was always the stories. They have a wonderful library upstairs in the school full of children's storybooks and novels written by people in the magical community."
"I like to read," Harry said. "Do they have any of those books in the library here?"
"I'm afraid the ones here are all geared towards older children."
"I have to read four books by the end of the summer. I don't have any though."
She smiled at him again. "I'll tell you what. I have to go to Hogsmead tomorrow morning to pick up a package. I'll stop by the school and pick out some of my favorites and bring them to you."
"You will?" Harry was starting to feel excited. He hadn't had anything good to read in a while now and maths was so boring.
"I'll bring them to you at lunch tomorrow."
"Thank you!" Harry wanted to run around the table and hug her, but adults didn't like to be hugged, at least not by him. She walked away, still smiling, and Harry tried hard to focus on his maths work, but couldn't because he was too busy thinking about the wonderful stories he would soon be reading.
He worked until lunch and then decided he needed a change of scenery and moved out to the front steps of the castle where the sun was warm and bright and the mountain air was so fresh he felt like it gave him energy. This is where sir found him at dinner time and told him it was time to come in and eat.
"How many assignments have you completed?" he asked.
Harry rifled through his papers until he found the assignment sheet. "Nine," he said.
"You will have to work more diligently. You have only three days left until it's time to turn them in, and by my count seventeen more assignments and readings to complete."
Harry was surprised that Sir was going to eat with him in the Great Hall, but didn't say anything about it. Tonight there were a handful of other staff members scattered around the tables in small groups talking, and Harry thought it was odd because he usually didn't see many of the staff at all, and had only met a few of them.
"There is a staff meeting," Sir told him when he was done eating. "You cannot stay in the Great Hall but I do not wish you to return to the Dungeons. I will show you to the study room used by Hufflepuffs and will collect you when we are done."
Harry stood up but just as he had done so, a slice of pie appeared next to his plate. He looked up at Sir, who sighed and waved towards the pie. "Take it with you." Harry grinned and picked up the plate and fork and threw his backpack over his shoulder.
Off of the Entrance Hall there was a hallway on the opposite side of the Dungeon entrance. Sir said it lead to the Kitchens under the Great Hall and to Hufflepuff. Not far down the hall was a door on the left. Sir pushed it open and Harry went inside. There were three tables, several bookshelves with textbooks, and a faded black couch that looked comfortable.
"I will return in one hour. Do not leave without me."
Harry nodded and Sir left, leaving the door open. Harry wished he had a novel to read or some of his other books because he was thoroughly tired of maths, but resigned himself to sit and get at least one assignment done in the hour he had. He decided on the couch and was pleased to find that he sank into it's comfortable cushions. He wondered if Slytherin had a study room like this he could use in the Dungeons, though he thought he would probably prefer this one since the Dungeons were always cold and dark.
As Harry did his maths, he didn't know that the staff meeting above his head in the Great Hall had turned to questions from the staff about him. "Why is he here? Where is his family?" "Who is looking after him?" "Where is he allowed to go in the castle?" "If he does something wrong, do we assign him detention like the other students?" And he had no idea that Severus Snape was doing all he could not to grit his teeth as other staff assumed he was not up to the job of taking care of one nine year old.
After a little over an hour had passed, Sir returned to the open door and said, "It is time to go."
Harry packed his book and homework into the bag and followed him out. In the Entrance Hall there were still staff lingering, and they were all looking curiously at Harry as he passed. "Pay them no mind," Sir told him, so Harry looked away.
When they were halfway down the stairs into the Dungeons, he said, "I assume you have spoken to Minerva in the last few days?"
"To Professor McGonagall. You have been talking to her."
"She said she would bring me some kids books to read from the school in Hogsmeade."
After Harry had gone to his room for the evening, Severus sat at his desk unable to concentrate on his research. Flitwick, Grubbly-Plank, and Sprout had practically come out and said that he wasn't capable of taking care of a child because he'd never had one of his own. Well he was taking care of Harry wasn't he? The child hadn't died in the week he'd been under his care. He hadn't gotten seriously injured. He was clothed and being educated and had a roof over his head. And through it all Dumbledore had just sat there listening. He hadn't admitted to anyone that it had been his idea for Severus to take him. The only one that had stuck up for him at all was Minerva. "I saw him this morning. He seemed happy. He had the nicest new clothes and he was studying maths. You're sending him to school in Hogsmead soon aren't you Severus?"
He felt like growling. What would the rest of the staff say when he proved he was capable and took over Slytherin? Carcroft was only staying on until a replacement could be found for him. Dumbledore had to have told him by now that Severus was angling for the position.
* * *
It was Friday morning and Harry was nervous. He hadn't gotten all of his school work done. He still had four maths assignments, three history assignments, and most of his science reading left to do. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to turn things in that morning, or before bed that night.
He walked into the living room and found Sir sitting on the couch drinking a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper.
"Your assignments are due today," he reminded him unnecessarily.
Harry stood there and fidgeted, playing with his hands. "Right now sir?"
"Turn them in after dinner."
Harry's stomach rumbled, but he felt like he didn't have time to eat breakfast. He didn't even think he had time to gather his work and go up to the Great Hall or the study room he'd gone back to several times. Instead of going up for breakfast he went back to his room and sat on his bed. He pulled out one sheet of parchment for each assignment and wrote the assignment on top of each and then set the assignments next to their respective textbooks. It was a lot to do and he knew he couldn't get it all done. Instead he decided to do the ones he thought he could get done the fastest. If he could get all of his science reading done and the questions that went with it, and a couple of the history assignments, then maybe it would be enough to show Sir that he had tried and hadn't been lazy.
He worked all morning and skipped lunch as well, trying very hard to ignore the unhappy pangs of his stomach. Finally it was dinner time and he knew he wouldn't be able to finish another assignment before the end of dinner, so he put his finished work in the folder and went up to the Great Hall. There were still five unfinished assignments. Maybe if he would have written faster he could have gotten them done. Feeling anxious and sullen he sat down in the Great Hall, not noticing that there were a couple of professors at another table. He didn't look up as he scarfed down his food and then hurried back to the Dungeons.
Sir was there waiting for him, doing his own work at his desk. Harry didn't wait to be asked and went to his room to retrieve the folder, now full of parchment. He walked straight to the desk and handed it to his guardian.
"It is all here?" he asked.
Harry looked down at the ground, playing with his hands again. "No sir."
"How much is unfinished?"
"Four maths and one History."
"I will give you a brief extension. You have until tomorrow after breakfast to turn them in. That gives you several hours this evening to finish them."
"Thank you sir."
Harry was surprised that he didn't sound angry as he returned to his room. He was glad he wasn't getting punished, but disappointed at the same time. He had half hoped he'd be sent straight to bed so he could have a break. Professor McGonagall had brought him 6 books the other day and he'd been wishing for even half an hour to look through them to see which one he wanted to read first. With a sigh he pulled over the maths book and set to work again. Why did his stupid cousin and aunt and uncle have to keep him from doing his work before? If only he'd been given the chance the first time around, he wouldn't be stuck here doing it all now.
* * *
There was a knock on the door and Severus rose from the hard wooden chair he'd been occupying since before dinner to answer it. It was Colm Carcroft and Severus invited him in with a wave of his hand. Colm was one of the Professors there at the school that Severus liked and respected. He always seemed to take good care of the Slytherins, even if he took a more laid back approach then Severus would have been comfortable with.
"Severus, how are you this evening?"
"Is all that work on the desk Harry's?"
"Peer review articles and research."
"Ah, that's right. You're working on your Potions Mastery. Good for you. There's only two other Professors here who have a mastery in something. I'm sure Albus and Minerva will be happy to have you join the ranks."
Severus nodded. He was looking forward to having the accolades that went along with having a mastery. The Ministry would have to pay him more for teaching once he obtained it, and he would be allowed to brew Potions for the Hospital Wing and take on apprentices amongst other privileges.
"Albus said you're doing some on the job training to take over for me."
"Has he sent you to check up on him?"
"No. He trusts you. So do I. But since you're going to take over my position I thought I'd come to offer a little friendly advice about looking after Slytherins."
Severus invited him to have a seat on the couch with a wave of his hand and Carcroft did. "Minerva says you're going to send him to school. I've seen him doing a lot of schoolwork. I wanted to ask if you'd seen him."
"Less than ten minutes ago." He'd looked into the room on his way down the hall and Harry had been sleeping.
"I mean, have you really looked at him in the last few days? How does he seem to you? Happy? Sad? Stressed?"
Severus opened his mouth and then closed it again. He didn't know. He was a child, and children were usually happy.
"I'll answer the question myself," Carcroft said. "Because I have seen him. He looks tired and stressed out. Every time I see him he's studying and a lot of the time he seems confused or frustrated. When does he have time to go out and be a kid? To play with toys or read just for fun?"
"He is behind in his schoolwork-"
Carcroft held up a hand. "I know he is. But that doesn't change the fact that he's only 9 years old. He's got to have time to explore and romp around and be a 9 year old boy and get into mischief."
"Mischief is the last thing I need."
"You do know you applied to be the Head of a house full of mischief makers don't you?"
Severus grumbled something under his breath and Carcroft laughed.
"Slytherins and Gryffidors. They're a lot alike. Sometimes they don't think of the consequences of their actions, only the fun they'll have before getting into trouble. It's what makes them unique. It's not our job to stop the mischief before it happens, only to reign it in when it gets out of control."
"Let Dumbledore hear you say that."
Carcroft chuckled. "He's the one who said it to me when I started as a teacher fifteen years ago."
Severus raised his brows.
"Ask him if you don't believe me. We're supposed to know what's going on so we can keep them safe, but that doesn't mean we have to stop every little thing before it happens. They need downtime Severus, and a little leeway to make their own mistakes and explore their own interests. If they don't get that then they're just mini-professionals walking around."
"If I did not set boundaries he would be out of control."
"Set limits, but don't be too disappointed when they decide to explore the boundaries of those limits. It's what they do, and when they make mistakes it's how they learn."
Severus thought for long moments, and then said, "What do you suggest I do? If he is not caught up on his schoolwork he will not be able to attend school in the fall."
"Is that what Alastair Blackwood said? Or is that a decision you made?"
He had spoken to Blackwood about enrolling Harry and about him being behind, and the teacher had given Severus a stack of books from the previous year. He hadn't actually said anything about getting through them all, Severus had just assumed.
"You could speak to him. He's a pretty relaxed teacher. Since he's got so few students he's usually willing to meet them where they're at academically. I don't know how much work you've assigned Harry, but consider giving him a little less so he has some time to enjoy himself."
"Enjoying himself is what got him behind in the first place."
Severus sighed and Carcroft stood to leave, but then he turned back to him again and said, "By the way, I'd consider telling him he doesn't have to call you sir."
"I never told him to."
"Maybe not, but he doesn't use your name. Maybe he doesn't know what to call you. When anyone else asks him it's, 'Sir said to do this,' or 'Sir said I'm not allowed to do that'." At the horrified look on Severus' face, Carcroft chuckled again and opened the door and was gone.
Had Harry really been calling him sir to other people? He hadn't exactly spoken to the child about what to call him. He must have come up with that on his own.
Severus walked down the hall and looked into Harry's room. He was asleep on top of the covers with papers strewn around him on the bed and the English book open on his chest. His other school books were stacked on the floor near the head of the bed. Severus looked around the room. It was pretty sparse. He didn't even have a desk to work at or a night stand to set his things on. Students had those things in their dorms, but Severus hadn't thought about providing them for Harry. What else did students have in their dorms that Harry didn't? A lot of them had things from home like posters, books, and sometimes bedding. Most of the students didn't bring toys because they were too old for them, but they did have games. Was Harry too old for toys? If he was to have free time, he'd have to have something to do with it.
He stepped into the room and began gathering the papers into a stack from the bed and took the book and pencil and put them neatly on top of the stack on the floor. With consternation he looked at the shoes Harry was still wearing. Why did he insist on wearing them to bed? He'd have to ask in the morning along with some of the other questions he had in mind for him.