“Why is it my Slytherins currently have an obsession with consuming potatoes?” Severus asked, a bemused expression on his face, as he pulled off his teaching robes and hung them on their appointed hook on the wall. “And why do I have the sneaking suspicion you are behind it?”
Elias sighed and put down the book he was reading. That hadn’t been the point of the experiment, but Draco hadn’t really been paying that much attention when he had been trying to explain it. That, and Draco was raised wizard, there was no way he would have any base knowledge on how to begin theorizing how electricity worked. Yet somehow he had managed to convince the entirety of Slytherin house to feast on potatoes at almost every meal.
“D-draco m-m-misund-derstood my exp-p-periment.”
Severus snorted in amusement as he removed his boots and belt and put on a pair of houseshoes. “Why would you be experimenting with potatoes? Have you changed your theory project?”
Elias shook his head as he slid the piece of parchment he had been using as a bookmark in between the pages of his book and put it down gently. “N-no, da. D-d-didn’t y-you ever m-make a p-p-potato c-clock in p-p-p-primary school?”
“I most certainly did not,” Severus said with an exasperated sigh. “My mother homeschooled me for the latter part of my primary education. She wanted to make sure I was properly prepared for Hogwarts and had a decent amount of control over my magic before I came. It was around this time that I met … the Evans sisters.”
“B-but no p-p-potato clock?” Elias asked disbelievingly, rubbing the back of his neck which had become rather stiff due to holding it in one spot for so long as he read.
“No ‘potato clock,’” Severus said with a wry smirk before summoning the evening paper, summoning a cup of tea from the kitchen, and sitting himself down in his chair by the fire. “Have you eaten?”
“Mm,” Elias grunted with a nod. “D-d-didn’t want t-to walk up the st-t-tairs.”
Severus peered over the newspaper with a raised eyebrow and a fiery stare. Elias had been in the habit of not telling him when he was in pain or struggling with a task until it became obvious it was outside of his control. No matter how many times Severus had told him to speak up about any struggles, particularly pains he had, the boy would stubbornly avoid talking about it until pressured.
“Just t-tired,” Elias quickly clarified, not wanting to attract his father’s ire again. “‘M just t-tired.”
“And your potions?” Severus asked, eyebrow still raised.
Elias nodded, stretching his arms in front of him and yawning. It was getting rather late and he didn’t feel like trying to push himself to stay up much later than necessary. Even with a nap in the afternoon, he was annoyingly exhausted every night long before he ever would have gone to bed before.
He did want to stay up and speak with Severus though. As he had gotten more used to being in the man’s company, he found it increasingly enjoyable to be around the man. Severus was also good to bounce ideas off of and would routinely ask questions which would point him in a new direction as to where to go to try and discover more information for his project. It had been a discussion with him which had led to the idea to try building a potato clock to test low level electricity within Hogwarts.
“Good,” Severus said with a nod and folded the newspaper so he could have access to the crossword. “Now, care to explain what exactly a ‘potato clock’ is?”
Elias nodded and rolled his shoulders before answering. “‘S a b-basic b-battery. K-kinda. I d-don’t really know how it w-works, I just r-r-rememb-ber m-making one in p-p-p-primary. If y-you hook up-p t-two p-p-potatoes with t-two different wires, a nail, a c-coin, and a c-clock face. It m-makes a very l-low p-p-power b-battery.”
Severus frowned and sat back in his chair, momentarily ignoring his crossword puzzle. “And why did you decide to make one?”
“I w-wanted to see if i-it w-would w-w-work in Hogwarts or if it w-would sh-short out,” Elias said with a yawn. “It d-d-didn’t b-break, so I g-grabbed the wires t-to see if I would g-get shocked. Th-that d-didn’t happen either, so I had D-draco g-grab them and try c-casting a spell. It w-wasn’t much, but it g-gave him a sm-mall b-b-boost.”
Severus frowned suspiciously. “What do you mean a ‘small boost?’”
“The f-feather w-went a b-bit higher. I d-don’t know h-how the c-clock works though, so I d-dunno why it w-worked for D-draco.”
Severus sat in rather stunned silence for a moment as he mulled over the implications of what this finding could mean, however he hit a wall rather quickly. If electricity was capable of increasing magical abilities, then why didn’t electrical devices work around magic? Was it a two way street? There were more questions he had now than ever before. But for Elias to have stumbled across this on his own accord… This was a problem which ought to have interested some of the greatest minds in the magical community, and yet the ministry was sending an official to one of the most prestigious schools in the wizarding world telling them that progress would not be tolerated in favor of tradition.
It made him feel ill at the loss of potential. Elias had complained of the sheer lack of information multiple times, but it was becoming more and more obvious to him as time went on as to how truly problematic this was and how much was truly unknown. It wasn’t as simple as electrical devices malfunctioning around magic. One of the books had equated electricity to magic and it seemed this wasn’t far from the truth.
“And you are sure the potatoes themselves weren’t the cause of this increase?” Severus asked quietly.
Elias snorted loudly as he placed his book on the side table and stood to go get ready for bed.
Tonks let out a rather frustrated sigh as she opened the large manilla envelope which had been delivered to her desk earlier that day. She had really hoped to get to it sooner, but her actual caseload was such that she couldn’t get to it until late in the evening. She wished that she had a job where she could just put things down when something more pressing came up, but that was not the case. She loved her job, make no mistake, but there were days where she wished she could jump onto something more interesting rather than continuing to follow up on the more boring, mundane cases she routinely got.
But here it was, the long awaited file from the muggle Department for Education and the NSPCC. And it wasn’t a thin file by any stretch of the imagination.
Did she really want to do this? Did she really want to see what was in Harry Potter’s past? Did she really want to know what had happened to him?
Blissful ignorance seemed like the better option, but one she refused to allow herself to take. Something had happened to him, something that made him disappear off the face of the planet, and she would be damned if she let any stone go unturned. Other members of the Order were still trying to physically track the boy down, but were still having no luck. He was still missing and they all needed to know why. If his past could tell them anything, anything at all, it would provide them with more direction than what they currently had.
Holding her breath, she reverently slid the papers out of the folder and sat them on her desk before folding her hands and resting her elbows on the table. Here in front of her was the dark side of the history of Harry Potter. The paperwork evidence that his life wasn’t the pampered and worshipped one everyone believed he had. Here was the evidence that her… hero… wasn’t perfect in every way. That his ‘tragic backstory’ didn’t end with the death of his parents.
Resting her forehead on her hands, she sighed and began to read.
Not more than a half hour in and she was beginning to feel ill. Every year the school sent police to the Dursley’s house for wellness checks, and every year they failed to arrive. Social workers were able to make appearances at the Dursley house, but not a single one of them followed up on their findings. Their findings were documented, but never followed up on.
Even during her brief stint in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office as a trainee she had never seen something which screamed ‘magical intervention’ as much as this file did. Someone or something was preventing further investigations into the Dursleys and their treatment of Harry Potter. Someone was preventing him from being removed from their house and no one seemed to be the wiser. One social worker was sent to check on him four times over the course of one year and didn’t seem to have any memory of having ever gone the previous times.
It wasn’t until she got to the reports regarding him at ten years of age that a new person was mentioned as a potential new guardian: his grandfather.
‘Odd,’ Tonks thought as she stared at the paper in front of her. ‘Aren’t all of the Potters and the Evanses dead?’
Apparently the social worker had spoken to the boy’s grandfather, though the side of the family was not listed and he had agreed to take the boy in as his ward for the following year. The year that Harry was to go to Hogwarts. The social worker’s documentation was suspiciously lacking in any contact information for this ‘grandfather’ though it was listed that he was the headmaster of a boarding school and would be taking Harry to live there.
Tonks’s stomach sank as realization set in as to who this ‘grandfather’ was. Who was pulling the strings on the situation. Who was preventing Harry from being removed from their care. Who was stating he would be the guardian. The next page in the bundle, and indeed the final page, confirmed her suspicion. There was no mistaking that signature.
Albus P. W. B. Dumbledore.
Tonks collapsed back in her chair, her mind whirling. Why would Dumbledore do such a thing? Why would he leave a child in such a situation for years and then force him to return to it after each school year? Dumbledore was the leader of the light! This was so inherently dark it made her skin crawl.
Quickly springing into action, she copied all pages of the document in front of her and slid the originals back into the manilla envelope they came in before filing the copies in a locked cabinet with other casefiles. The manilla envelope she filed in a different cabinet where she stored unsolvable cases. She then quickly pulled out two vials from her desk drawer and extracted the memory of Dumbledore’s name on the file and placed it into one vial before copying it and filling the other vial with the memory.
With any luck, all of these precautions would be for naught, but if Dumbledore was meddling with people’s memories to keep this quiet, she needed to be extra careful.
Throwing on her travelling cloak and pocketing one of the memory vials, she quickly strode to Kingsley’s office. She needed to tell someone and only hoped the man was still in. This was far deeper than anything she had ever dealt with before. A magical child had been systematically neglected for years and the people who were supposed to care for him and prevent this from happening had been tampered with by one of the most powerful wizards in the world.
It was honestly no wonder he ran away. If she had been in his shoes, she probably would have done so as well once she found out. Especially after what happened the previous year.
Tonks pulled up short just outside of Kingsley’s office, hand hovering over his door in preparation for knocking as realization washed over her. Dumbledore had done nothing the previous year. He knew You-Know-Who was out there and regaining strength and hadn’t restarted the Order until after his return was confirmed. He was the headmaster of the bloody school, he could very well have sorted out the issue with the Triwizard Tournament. Harry should never have competed. Dumbledore should have easily known a Death Eater was masquerading as a professor, but he did nothing to confirm nor deny who it was he had hired.
Breaking out of her thoughts, she quickly pounded on her partner’s door. It only took two knocks before the door flew open, Kingsley standing there stonefaced as he stared at her.
“I was wondering how long it would take you to knock,” he said, ushering her in.
Tonks flushed bright red for a moment before going pale once more. “Do you have a pensive?”
“Yes?” Kingsley asked, eyebrow raised. “Why do you need it?”
“I need to show you something,” she said, pulling out the memory vial and setting it on his desk.
“What is it now?” Kingsley quipped, making no move to get out his pensive.
“I found something,” Tonks said, quickly warding the walls and portraits so they would be unable to listen in. “And I don’t like where it’s going.”
“It’s about Harry Potter.”
“Were we wrong?” Hermione asked as she flopped into one of the hard backed desk chairs in the common room and began unloading all of her books. “Were we really that wrong?”
“You, Hermione. You were wrong,” Ron said with a sigh. “Did you not see him? He looked horrible! Do you honestly think that You-Know-Who would want someone that sickly on his side?”
“That doesn’t explain why he was calling him the Dark Lord!” Hermione argued back. “Or why he asked me about my blood status!”
Ron angrily threw his quill into the inkwell, narrowly making it in but splashing a small amount of ink over the rim. “Oh come off it, Hermione. If what he says is true, he was raised in the wizarding world with tutors, knowing someone’s blood status is like knowing what Quidditch team you root for. He probably asked so he knew if your families were feuding or what your social status was. There is a lot more to knowing someone’s blood status than just persecution. There’s a lot more to the wizarding world than you know, Hermione.”
“What about calling him the Dark Lord then?!” Hermione said as she exasperatedly slammed the last of her books onto the table. “You don’t just call …”
“Yes, you do!” Ron hissed back. “You do if that’s what you’re raised to call him. I call him ‘You-Know-Who’ because that’s what my parents called him. If they called him the Dark Lord, I would too! I have to admit, it’s a sight easier to say than ‘You-Know-Who’ all the time! I think there’s something more going on with him though!”
“Are you two already fighting?” Neville asked, having heard the angry hisses coming from their corner of the room. Every year it seemed they got into some sort of argument over one thing or another, didn’t speak to one another for a while, then managed to get over it. This was a bit early for them, though. Typically they made it at least a few months in before they blew up at one another.
“We aren’t fighting,” Hermione said venomously. “We’re having a discussion.”
“What do you think of him?” Ron asked, turning his attention to Neville.
“Think of who?” Neville asked, pulling a chair over to his two friends, inadvertently taking the spot which was usually filled by Harry.
“Elias Snape,” Hermione said with a huff. “I’m still not convinced that he isn’t dark or bigoted.”
Neville frowned for a minute as he carefully chose his words. While he didn’t want to anger Hermione, Elias was different. True, he was still terrified of the boy’s father, but ever since he realized what potions the boy was taking, he couldn’t help but look at him through a different lens. And how could he not? He had seen those same potions be given to his parents every time he was forced to visit them.
He was certain the dosages they were given were different, but knowing there was someone out there on the same potions and actually living filled him with an emotion he dared not speak into existence. For too long he had held out hope that one day his parents would wake up and his life would suddenly be normal. That he wouldn’t have to live with his grandmother. That his great-uncle wouldn’t threaten him with bodily harm in order to force him to use accidental magic. Every time there was a change of any kind in their condition, he felt the hope rise in his chest once more only for it to be dashed.
It was almost easier to see them as dead than to continue having hope that they would get better.
Then there was Elias. Walking, talking, and laughing like anyone else despite his obvious struggles. While there were obvious difficulties in everything he did, Neville couldn’t help but watch in awe as he navigated the world. He was nearly constantly seen studying in the library, frequently with Professor Lupin at his side, though occasionally Professor Snape would join him. When not studying, he and Professor Lupin could be seen taking short walks around the grounds.
It was almost painful to watch. Even if his parents had half the functionality Elias had… But they didn’t and he would have to deal with that.
The question was how had it happened? How had Elias ended up in a similar position to his parents? He knew what had happened to his own mum and dad; they had been war heroes who were tortured to insanity at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange. They had put themselves in harm’s way to save others during the fight against You-Know-Who and paid the ultimate price.
Elias was only sixteen, however, so there was no way he fought in the last war. There was no way he was tortured by the likes of Lestrange. Perhaps if they tortured him as a baby, but why would someone do that? The sheer thought of someone torturing a baby with the Cruciatus made his stomach roil.
“I … I don’t really know. He just seems… kind of shy,” Neville stuttered. “I wish we knew more about him, like where he’s from and what happened to him.”
“What do you mean ‘what happened to him?’” Ron asked, frowning.
Neville took a deep breath and sighed, steeling himself for trying to explain to Ron what he meant. There was no way Ron could know what it felt like to have parents who couldn’t … anything… on their own and trying to explain anything he saw with Snape’s son would inevitably involve speaking about his parents.
“Obviously Snape cares for his son, right?” Neville started calmly. “But how did his son end up the way that he is? And why did he just now show up? He’s on certain potions that are really specific for Cruciatus damage, as well as a few that I don’t really recognize but he’s our same age. So what happened to him?”
“Are you saying he was tortured?” Hermione asked rather skeptically.
“Had to have been,” Neville nodded. “But that leads to my next question: where is he from?”
“Could he have been at St. Mungo’s?” Ron asked, rolling his essay up and sliding it into his bag. There was no way he would be finishing it tonight, more interesting things were afoot.
“If it is Cruciatus damage, which I’m pretty sure it is,” Neville started, then paused for a moment with a pensive look on his face. “If it is, he would have ended up on the same ward as… he would have ended up on the Janus Thickey Ward and … I would have seen him.”
“So not St. Mungo’s then,” Ron said, rubbing his forehead. “If he was tortured with the Cruciatus, how did he end up in a muggle hospital?”
“Wait, wait,” Hermione said, holding up a hand with a frown on her face. “What’s the Janus Thickey Ward?”
“Long term spell damage,” Neville said quickly. “Anyone who can’t be cured from whatever spell they did or got hit with goes there.”
“That’s where your parents are, aren’t they?” Ron asked, eyes softening slightly as Neville’s shoulders collapsed.
Neville nodded sadly and bit his lip momentarily before saying, “people are typically there for several months to years before getting to go home. Lockhart is there too. He’s been there since second year.”
Ron couldn’t help but snort at this before trying to hide his laughter with a cough. If the man hadn’t grabbed his wand, it could very well have been him and Harry in that ward instead and Ginny most certainly would have been dead. Harry always did have a bit of a selfless streak and would put himself in danger if it meant saving someone else. He truly was a Gryffindor through and through.
“There’s something about him that has been bothering me though,” Ron said, frowning slightly as he concentrated on remembering the odd behavior the older boy had shown. “And I don’t know how to say this without sounding utterly nutters myself.”
Hermione and Neville both looked at him curiously as he gathered his thoughts. Ron was known for his strategy abilities and for noticing things that others missed. If he thought he noticed something odd, they had learned over the years to listen so long as he was not acting in the heat of the moment.
“I think he’s Harry.”
“Oh bollocks!” Neville said loudly, drawing some attention from the other members of the house who were lounging around in the common room.
“Where did you get that idea?” Hermione said at the same time, equally unimpressed with his statement. “It doesn’t make any sense!”
“Hear me out, ok?” Ron whispered, holding his hands up to placate them before they continued telling him off. “What do we actually know about Elias? Not what we think we know, but what we actually know. He was in that muggle children’s hospital over the summer. He has seizures, possibly caused by the Cruciatus but we don’t know that for certain. We just know he’s lived with Snape for at least this summer. Anything else?”
“He has a stutter,” Hermione added. “And a limp.”
“He’s on a lot of potions,” Neville added. “Potions for nerve damage.”
“All of these could be related to the Cruciatus,” Ron added. “But, here’s the thing, his memory is shot.”
“That could also be related to the Cruciatus,” Neville added. “Most of what we’ve listed could be related to that curse.”
“Yeah, but here’s the thing,” Ron said, leaning in conspiratorially. “I’ve never met him. Like really met him. But he knew my name despite being really, really confused.”
“Wait, when was this?” Hermione asked, frowning. She didn’t believe the way this was going but Ron was on a tangent and getting him off of it was going to be difficult.
“Right before McGonagall got you and we got detention for spreading rumors. Remember how confused he was?” Ron asked insistently.
Hermione squinted at him and raised an eyebrow. “He was able to follow a conversation rather well.”
“With some prompting! Look, while Snape was getting McGonagall to get you, I was alone in the room with him and it was weird, really weird,” Ron whispered, leaning his elbows on his knees and pounding a fist into his hand as emphasis. The more they spoke about it, the more sure he was that there was something rather suspicious going on, whether he was Harry or not, there was something more to Elias than just him being Snape’s son.
“How so?” Neville said, leaning in as well, thoroughly invested in Ron’s conspiracy theory.
“He hadn’t bottled his potion because Snape was going to do it for him because his hands were too shaky or something, but almost as soon as Snape left the room he forgot if he had or hadn’t. I thought he was going to sabotage the potions that had been turned in or something, but he just kept reading the same ones over and over again. It was like he had forgot if he had read them or something,” Ron said, becoming more and more animated as he got further into the story. “He got really confused when I confronted him about it and about him not liking purebloods and then said ‘why would you think I hate muggles, Ron? I was literally raised with them. And I’m not a pureblood. You know that!’”
The other two Gryffindors sat back in their chairs as they digested Ron’s tale. If Ron was right, which seemed highly implausible, then why was he with Snape of all people? Snape hated him more than any other student and made sure that was a known fact. Why would he literally allow his most hated student to live with him? What was he getting out of this? And why was he acting so fatherly towards him if that were the case?
“Snape never called you by your first name in front of Elias, right?” Hermione demanded, wanting to verify that wasn’t where he had heard the name.
“I don’t think Snape even knows my first name,” Ron scoffed. “He sees the red hair and just says ‘Weasley.’”
“He didn’t know my name in the hospital, though,” Hermione said suspiciously.
“Yeah, but was he confused at the time?”
“No,” Hermione said, biting her lip as it started to sink in that it was entirely possible that Harry and Elias were one in the same. “He did seem really surprised to see me, but I thought it was just because I snuck up on him!”
“There’s more though that I thought of while in detention,” Ron whispered excitedly. “Where is Harry’s scar? On the right side of his head. Elias has a scar there too, but it’s fresh. He just got it this summer and it’s right over where Harry’s scar would be. Here’s the kicker though: Hermione, do you remember what he said he got that cut from?”
Hermione frowned for a second as Neville leaned in closer, his excitement brewing. This would be the first time he had been in on the Golden Trio (now Duo)’s antics and he had to admit the excitement was contagious. His first year, he had attempted to stop them but now he was in the thick of things and was determined not to back down. He only wished it wasn’t because of his knowledge of the long term effects of the Cruciatus curse. But if they found Harry by doing these investigations, then so be it.
“He said he was working for a muggle gardening company and had a seizure,” Hermione finally answered.
“The only sign reported by the Order of where Harry went was a few drops of blood on a wheelbarrow,” Ron said with a smirk. “And if you look at that picture Colin got of him at the beginning of the year, you can see fragments of another scar under the newer one.”
The trio sat in silence for a moment, each pondering if that was enough to tie the two boys together. The timelines lined up for Harry’s disappearance and Elias’s appearance, but the rationale didn’t. Even Dumbledore seemed to be on the lookout for Harry, so why wasn’t he in the loop on where he had gone? Voldemort was back, whether their fraud of a DADA teacher wanted to believe it or not, so why disappear?
“So how are we going to figure out if he is or not?”