Chapter Three: Inheritance
Harry looked around the room he had been given, the walls and floor completely bare of any decorations, there being a single twin bed with a dresser against the wall opposite the bed. There was a desk and chair against the wall with a bookcase on one side of it on the wall opposite the door and a wardrobe tucked into the corner He couldn't believe that he was being made to live with Snape of all people and couldn't talk to Ron and Hermione. Where was he meant to eat meals at, the Slytherin house table? There was no way he could be stopped from hanging out with his friends surely and as for, in Harry's mind, unjust detentions...well he just wouldn't go to those as he had not gone to the first one.
With a sigh, he made his way to the foot of the bed and opened his trunk, beginning to remove his clothes and put them into the dresser provided. His mind was in turmoil from his punishment, but he certainly didn't want to ask Snape for something to make the pain go away. The greasy git would probably say he deserved it. He wasn't going to suffer that humiliation or Snape mocking him. Once his clothes were put away, he began putting his textbooks on the bookcase and then placed his parchment in a drawer of the desk and the inkpot and quills in the drawer as well though the inkpot went into the built place in the top right corner of the desk. At least it's large enough to spread my textbooks out on. Finishing up the room was a small sofa and a chair against the wall opposite his bed. There were no rugs for warmth from the cold stone floor and Harry knew it would be chilly on his bare feet once winter came around.
There was nothing else he could do once his things were put away, but Harry had been told to find something to do in his room, so he went to the bookshelf and pulled out his copy of Quidditch Through the Ages that he took to the couch, sitting down and beginning to read. Yet he found he couldn't concentrate on the words on the pages and thus threw the book across the room before folding his arms across his chest as he drew his knees up to himself and huddled there against the couch back, staring blankly at the wall as tears ran from his eyes. He didn't understand how the headmaster could be so cruel as to spank him with a switch, nor how he could be banned from seeing Ron and Hermione, much less have his cloak taken away from him. On top of that, Professor Lupin had apparently known about the map which had been destroyed the day he got it from the twins'.
He couldn't imagine the twins' faces as they realized they were no longer able to attend Hogsmeade vacations, let alone the fact that they had lost points from Gryffindor. Worse, what would it be like for him when they found out that Harry was the reason for them losing points and their Hogsmeade trips? A few hours later, there was a knock on the door and Harry turned to see Professor Snape standing there. "I see you seem somewhat able to follow directions. Pity you can't manage such a thing normally without being in trouble," said Snape with a sneer on his face. "It's dinner time and we will be eating here so you don't have an excuse to try sneaking off and sitting at the Gryffindor table with your friends."
"Where am I expected to eat at if not my house?"
"The headmaster and I decided you would be eating at Slytherin for all meals if you are under my watch. Minerva has already been informed of the punishment and was horrified to learn that you willingly risked your life for a bit of candy when we're here to be protecting you and the other students Mr. Potter. She agreed that perhaps you would do better under a firmer hand. Your parents didn't die so you could throw your life away," he said. "I believe she is speaking to Misters Weasley at this current time, now that students are back from Hogsmeade," he said. "Now get up Potter, lest you want to go to bed without dinner." With that, the professor turned and swept back into the hallway like a shadow, his cloak barely making any noise as it fluttered about him, Harry's face burning in anger as he heard that his head of house agreed with this punishment.
But then when has McGonagall ever been on my side or listened to me at all? Harry knew she had never been on his side and for all McGonagall's speech at the beginning of first year of one's house being like their family, it didn't feel like that, especially last year during the whole Chamber of Secrets incident. Harry thought about refusing the offer of dinner and then just trying to sneak out later, but he didn't want to get spanked again by Dumbledore with that switch. Plus, he was hungry, so he reluctantly got off the couch and made his way down the short hallway and to the main living area where he saw a table and couple chairs at either end. Snape was already seated at the table, a copy of the Daily Prophet in front of him. Experience with Uncle Vernon had taught Harry not to disturb his uncle when reading the news and figured it was the same with Professor Snape. He very much doubted that Snape would engage in pleasant conversation anyway, much less being capable of it.
"Midget," called Severus and a house elf with yellow eyes appeared in the room, bowing low to Harry and Severus.
"What cans Midget be doing for Master?"
"Bring a loaf of bread and two plates of Sunday roast with two fruit smoothies and milk for Potter. I'll take a tea as well with sugar and milk."
"Yes Master," said Midget, popping away. Minutes later, the required food appeared on their table along with the necessary silverware and napkins. Harry stared at the food that appeared in front of him in disbelief, having not believed that Severus would feed him. He was sure the man would withhold food which was fine since Harry was used to going without at the Dursleys. Two steaming plates of Sunday roast, complete with Yorkshire pudding, chicken stuffing and sausage appeared in front of them with the steaming hot loaf of bread and butter in the middle of the table. Two gravy boats filled with steaming hot gravy finished off the meal's fixings along with two small bowls of red currant sauce. Severus picked up his knife and cut himself a loaf of bread before telling Potter to hold out his own plate if he wanted a slice of bread.
"Potter...I haven't got all night waiting for you to decide if you want bread or not," said Severus.
"Oh...yes," said Harry, getting the smaller plate and holding it out for Severus to put down two slices of bread. Once he had his bread, Severus even giving him a couple slices of butter, Harry set it aside but didn't move to eat until he saw his potions professor cut into the roast on his own plate and take a bite. Snape, for his part, just saw this as Potter being stubborn and thinking he was too good for the food offered in the Potion Master's private quarters.
The boy has probably never eaten a healthy meal in his life. Merlin knows Gryffindors choose unhealthy options and sweets unlike Hufflepuff and my house. His lip curled in a sneer as he stared at the boy. "What's the matter Potter? Think this food is beneath you? Or are you so used to being given anything you want that you reject good healthy food when it's in front of you?" Harry frowned at his professor as he questioned Harry's not eating.
Git, he thought to himself. You don't know anything Snape! Yet Harry wasn't surprised to hear Snape bashing Gryffindors, given his animosity towards anyone not in Slytherin. Living at the Dursleys and not being allowed to eat until he had served his relatives their dinner first as well as the lack of meals at home had him reverting to that upbringing when being around Snape reminded him too much of Uncle Vernon. Even Harry wasn't sure if the man would hit him but wouldn't put it past the man, especially as he hadn't thought that Dumbledore would ever spank him either. It was hunger that ended up winning him over, the teen pouring some gravy over his Sunday roast and then dipping a piece of bread into the gravy before taking a bite, seeing Snape settle back into his chair. He might be able to hide it at the Weasleys but that was because there were so many people crowded around him, if Harry had had his way, he would have eaten alone or waited until everyone else was finished but that would bring unwanted questions and Mrs. Weasley would never allow such a thing in her home for she treated him like a son, her and Mr. Weasley both. Plus, Ron and Hermione would end up asking questions and he didn't want to speak to them anymore about his homelife than Ron already knew thanks to the Mrs. Weasley sending him food throughout the summer and Ron rescuing him with the twins last summer as well.
They ate their meal in silence, Harry wondering if Ron and Hermione knew that he was being punished and had been told that he had sneaked into Hogsmeade. He couldn't imagine Hermione being in favor of Dumbledore hitting him but then she might think he deserved it for leaving the safety of the castle. Ron would likely get jealous if he knew that the map had been given to Harry and not Ron himself due to being related by blood. Perhaps he had already realized this, and his mind was just not working due to being angry and humiliated at being spanked by the headmaster. He was sure the Dursleys would be thrilled...even if they didn't agree with magic. Then again, they'd probably be disappointed I didn't die to this mass murder Black, he thought sourly. Eventually a question burned Harry's mind, and he spoke to his professor. If there was one thing he could count on with Snape, the man was brutally honest, even if Harry didn't want to hear it...and truthfully, he did not.
"Professor Snape," said Severus, narrowing his eyes at the teen. "Don't try my patience Mr. Potter. Don't forget, the headmaster gave me the right to discipline you as I see fit if you step out of line."
Harry struggled to keep the glare out of his eyes, even as Snape appeared pleased that he had been given such power over the boy-who-lived, the son of his arch nemesis and a reminder of the woman who had been his friend. This was all unknown to young Harry for if he asked anyone about his parents, it was always ‘James this' and ‘James that' and rarely a thing about Lily Potter, wife of James Fleamont Potter. He knew he looked like his father, a carbon copy according to his professors, barring his eyes of course but he sometimes wished he could hear about his mother in equal measure. "Professor? Are there any...rules I must follow? What about Ron and Hermione?"
"It is not your friends' business to know about your punishment," said Severus, the sneer on his face back as he thought of the little know-it-all Granger and Weasley. He ignored the frown on Potter's face. "As the headmaster said, I oversee you while you are here, and Professor McGonagall approves it. As I explained, you will eat at the Slytherin table and I expect you to be eating something healthy while you are at my house table," said Severus. "You are not allowed to bring your friends to my quarters nor hang out with them...in fact ignore them and any attempts they make to speak to you," he said. "It is likely, Minerva will have explained to them that you are not going to be living in Gryffindor Tower for the time being though I have no doubt it won't stop them from coming down here to speak to you and Weasley speaking about how it is ‘unfair' and I am a ‘greasy bat,' like some students call me." As Harry's mouth dropped open in shock, it would have been almost funny if it didn't hurt the professor so much, though he didn't show it to his students and he certainly wouldn't show it to Potter. He was sure Potter would use such a thing against him, just like his father would have done.
"Furthermore," said Severus, "you must obey the headmaster's rules of your punishment. No flying or going to Quidditch practice or games. Now that I know how you and Potter got away with so many things, I can assure you that this sneaking out of the castle and wandering around the school at night with your little friends is going to stop here and now under my watch," said Severus. "You will take time on your homework and learn to write legibly so it can be read, none of this chicken scratch of a toddler Potter and you won't be getting help from me or having Granger do it for you like undoubtedly happens in the Gryffindor common room."
"Hermione doesn't do my homework for me! I have her check it after I'm done."
"You will be expected to go to bed at a reasonable hour," Snape continued, as if Harry had not spoken, "and that is at eight in the evening. Furthermore, you will spend your freetime studying and during study hall you will sit with the Slytherins at their house table and study there or study within your room within my private quarters quietly. You may have an hour of freetime before bed to relax and do something quietly. I don't want you shouting and running through my quarters like a banshee. You will also not be allowed into my private lab at all nor allowed to practice potions without supervision of myself or a seventh year Prefect of Slytherin house," said Severus.
"Who would want to practice potions, anyway, let alone with a snake?" Harry muttered to himself, causing Snape's frown to appear on his face at the lack of disrespect.
"Believe it or not Mister Potter, that is for your own safety," he said to which Harry scoffed.
"Please...you don't care a thing about anyone's safety," Harry said.
"On the contrary Potter, I care a lot about my students' safety and not just the Slytherins," said Severus. "Furthermore, you are forbidden from cursing or hitting my students..."
"Only if they don't hit or curse me first," muttered Harry.
"My students will be informed in a house meeting about you being under my care due to the headmaster's orders, so they know not to attack you," he said.
"Mr. Malfoy will learn the same as everyone else or face the consequences by having his father brought here," said Severus. "I don't know what your issue is with Malfoy Potter, but you are a teenager. It's time you both got over your childhood petty rivalry and treat each other with respect. This is part of the reason you are separated from Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger for they, or at least Mr. Weasley, is a clear bad influence upon your study habits and your interactions with other houses. Besides," he said, his tone becoming thoughtful, "it would do you well to make friends outside of your house and outside of Granger and Weasley. I expect you to clean your room and pick up after yourself. House elves will not do it for you, nor will you be allowed to get away with the undoubtedly spoiled upbringing you have experienced," he said.
"You are not allowed in my room at all and if you have questions regarding Potions or Herbology, I expect you to ask. Furthermore, you will spend half an hour in the library every day during your free time every day looking at resources for your homework. You may ask Madam Pince for help, that is what she is the librarian for after all. I realize that playing games is probably common among Gryffindors but while you are here, you will be under my rules, and I expect all my charges to work hard and do homework before any play. Nor are you to enter my room at all and if you need something, knock again if I am in there and wait for permission to enter. Am I clear Mr. Potter? A verbal answer Potter," he said when Harry mutely nodded.
"Yes Professor," said Harry.
Snape nodded, appearing pleased and that evening had a meeting with the entirety of Slytherin, informing them of what had transpired with Lupin's being fired and Potter being under his control and charge until the winter break when students would return home. Snape also warned the students that they were not to bother or harass Potter and he had been instructed to do the same, Severus's eyes staring at some students that were bound to give him trouble as Malfoy and Avery, two children of known Death Eaters. There was also Parkinson, Knott, Crabbe and Goyle who were also the children of Death Eaters and Severus felt a stab of pity that these students would have been expected to take the dark mark upon their fifteenth birthday were the Dark Lord still alive. There was nothing he could do to prevent them from making the same mistakes as he had done, not with their parents being alive still and especially not with having Potter under his care. Still, despite warning his students to leave Potter alone, he knew he'd have to keep an eye on Draco who often used his father to push other students in the house around.
While Harry was eating dinner in the Potions classroom, students were coming back from Hogsmeade and congregating in the Great Hall for their own dinner, the younger years already there. "Misters Weasley and Weasley," said Professor McGonagall as the twins were coming up the path, her lips pressed into a thin line. "You are coming with me to my office."
"What for Professor?"
"Yeah, we haven't..."
Their beaming smiles fell as the woman continued to glare silently at them before turning and leading the way to her office, the twins looking at each other and reluctantly followed their professor. Finally, reaching the woman's office they were invited inside. "Take a seat Misters Weasley," said Minerva as she went to the mantle and took down a small pot before throwing the floo powder into the crackling fire. "The Burrow," she called and knelt on the ground before sticking her head within. "Molly? Arthur?"
Behind her the twins looked at each other nervously. What was their head of house doing, calling their parents? Neither suspected that it was due to Harry getting in trouble by the Headmaster for being out in Hogsmeade. However, they tensed as Arthur came to the fireplace. "Professor McGonagall? Is something wrong with our children?"
"Please Arthur, I haven't been your professor in years," said Minerva. "Your children are all safe but I would like you and Molly to come through. I'm afraid the twins are in trouble and I've been asked to contact you by Albus."
Arthur frowned but nodded. "Alright. I'll fetch Molly and we'll step through," he said. Minerva nodded and got up from the floor, her body protesting the movement before going back to her chair and conjuring two more chairs in the office for Arthur and Molly. A moment later the floo once more whooshed to life and Arthur stepped through, followed by Molly.
"Take a seat Arthur, Molly," said Minerva as she gestured to the chairs, the Weasleys brushing off the soot from their clothing in the hearth and then took their seats. "It seems we have finally discovered how the twins have been causing mischief throughout their years at Hogwarts. They apparently were in possession a map."
"A map?" Arthur questioned.
"Yes...apparently it was a map of Hogwarts and passages leading in and out of Hogwarts."
"I don't understand," said Molly. "How is this important enough to call us to Hogwarts?"
"It's important because this map could have been dangerous if in the wrong hands," said Minerva. "It should have been brought to our attention years ago," she said, looking sternly at the twins.
"That make sense, especially with the Black situation," said Arthur. "I'm disappointed in both o you," said Arthur to the twins. "Was this map self aware?"
"No, but then I understand it was made by James Potter and his friends when they were in school," said Minerva. "From my understanding, it was made by James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew when they were in school but showed everyone in the castle and what they were doing at any given moment. It has since been destroyed by the Headmaster and Professor Lupin has been fired from his position as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor due to knowing of the map and not bringing it to the Headmaster's attention."
Arthur breathed a sigh of relief that they had avoided another incident like with Ginerva in her first year, however this didn't mean the twins were off the hook. "So that's how you both were getting all those detentions. Sneaking around school using a map instead of doing your classwork."
"You did what?!" shouted Fred.
"Boys," said Molly. "Be quiet. You're in trouble enough with us."
"Arthur," said Minerva causing Arthur's face to flush pink in embarrassment.
"Sorry professor," said Arthur.
"As I was saying, the map has been destroyed but apparently Misters Weasley and Weasley thought it would be amusing to give such a dangerous artifact to Mr. Potter..."
"WHAT?! Is Harry alright?" Molly questioned.
"Mr. Potter is fine," said Minerva. "Severus found him in wandering Hogsmeade underneath his invisibility cloak, apparently a heirloom of the Potter family that Albus foolishly gave the boy when he was eleven."
"Ron spoke of that," said Fred. "He mentioned it in first year, about Harry getting an invisibility cloak."
"Are you saying your brother knew of Mr. Potter's cloak?"
"Both Ron and Hermione knew," said George. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley looked at each other before Molly questioned Minerva.
"Minerva...this map and Harry..."
"Mr. Potter was found by Severus in Hogsmeade and brought to the Headmaster's office to be punished," said Minerva. "Mr. Lupin was called as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and when it was revealed that he knew of the map and didn't inform anyone about it, the headmaster decided that he was unfit to be a professor of this institute and was fired. The map was destroyed, and Mr. Potter is now under Severus's charge for the rest of the term and lost house points. But Misters Weasley and Weasley, for their reprehensible actions and endangering the life of a student as well as not alerting their professors to this map, are being stripped of their Hogsmeade privileges for the rest of the school year and a loss of fifty points each. I was going to write a letter to you but thought that it might be better to speak to you face to face. However, Albus may still send you a letter."
"Where is Ron? We'd like to take him home with us along with the twins. It seems we have a lot to talk about," said Molly.
"I'll send a house elf to fetch Mr. Weasley, but I can see no reason why the Headmaster wouldn't approve of it," said Minerva.
"Thank you, professor," said Arthur. "Would it be possible to..."
"I'll have house elves fetch your sons' belongings," said Minerva, summoning a couple of house elves. "But I'm afraid regarding Ronald, his grades are lacking. From my understanding, the boy tends to use Miss Granger to do his notes and homework for him and spends much of his time playing chess. The headmaster has said that if his grades do not straighten up, he may need to be held back this year." Minerva flicked her wand and a piece of parchment flew from the filing cabinet behind her and towards the desk which she then handed to the Weasleys, the parents finding a list of detentions as well as Ron's grades for the past two years. One was sent to fetch Mr. Weasley and apparate him to her office, the other was sent to pack up the twins' belongings and Ron's belongings and bring them to her office. It didn't take long, the house elf that was sent for Ron to find the teen in Great Hall and grabbing his elbow, popped away, leaving many students at Gryffindor staring at the spot where Ron Weasley had been. "Ah Mr. Weasley," spoke Minerva as she stared over her glasses at the third-year Gryffindor. Ron was surprised to see Fred and George there but swallowed nervously as he saw his parents sitting there.
"Mum? Dad? What are you doing here?"
"We are going home Ronald," said Molly, "and you will be accompanying us along with the twins. It seems that it's time we discussed your actions here at Hogwarts these past couple of years," she said. "Most notably about your getting into trouble these past two years with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger."
They used Minerva's floo to get back to the burrow, Ron being thrown haphazardly in by Arthur when Ron refused to leave and began protesting, the twins quelling underneath their mother's stern gaze and following Ron before Arthur and Molly followed. Once they were gone, the Deputy Headmistress shook her head, finding it hard to believe that the Weasley twins could be so irresponsible as to not only had the school which wasn't turned in, but to give it to young Harry. Thank goodness that Severus had found the boy before Black had. And Remus, knowingly running around with animagi on school grounds, and knowing of this map as well as that Black was animagus and not informing the Ministry or Albus. Remus had disappointed her when Albus told her about this, and she knew it would be brought up at the emergency staff meeting. She would have to thank Severus for finding Harry, perhaps bring him a bottle of Ogden's fire whiskey. Soon the winter break would be here and students would be going home for the holidays, Albus letting her know that Potter was being sent home to the Dursleys until the start of the new term.
Snow fell gently over the grounds, and it was expected to be a snowy Christmas in Scotland though for Harry, he had just found out that he wasn't going to be able to remain at Hogwarts for the winter holidays. "What do you mean I have to go back to the Dursleys?! I always stay here for the holidays!"
"That is what the headmaster ordered Potter. If you have a problem with it, I suggest you take it up with the headmaster," said Snape as the boy immediately ranted at him upon being told he wouldn't be allowed to remain at the school. "The Headmaster also said you are not allowed to write your friends for risk of interception by Black or other Death Eaters, let alone bring your owl with you."
"Dumbledore can't stop me from writing my friends!"
"On the contrary Potter, the Headmaster has the right to decide what goes on in his school. However, the Headmaster believes that it is for your safety that you are not allowed to write your friends during the holidays and that you would be safer under the protection of your relatives than within the school, especially as dementors did not stop Black from entering the school beforehand. I don't know why you insist on being stubborn Potter about not getting your way. You are a child, not an adult and therefore are susceptible to obeying authority figures which I realize is impossible for you to comprehend, proving you are still as arrogant as your father was."
"Why can't I bring Hedwig with me?"
Snape stared in disdain at Potter. "Think Potter! Your owl is recognizable, and not native to Britain. She would stick out like a sore thumb at school, let alone at your home."
"The Dursleys aren't my family, nor is their residence my home! They never have been!"
"Regardless of what you think Potter, they are your only living relatives, therefore they are your family. Now the headmaster believes..."
"I HATE YOU!"
"And I detest you Potter as I did your father so we're even. But you will listen to the Headmaster and you will listen to those who knows what is best for you. Now, I will be escorting you home on the train...loathe as I am to spend any more time in your company than normal, however the Headmaster has requested it."
Harry glared at his Potions professor, muttering ‘git' under his breath. Harry didn't think the Dursleys would be pleased about him returning for the holidays, nor could he be sure they would be waiting at the train station to get him. "How am I supposed to get home?"
"You will take the train Potter and I will escort you whereupon I will take you through the barrier and escort you to your home myself," said Snape. "Now get dressed Potter. The headmaster is unfortunately requesting our presence in the Great Hall with the rest of the faculty and students," he said, his lip curling in disdain at the thought of being around the cheerful dunderheads.
After Harry had gotten dressed in a pair of old jeans and of his cousin's old sweatshirts, pulling on his tattered converse, Harry followed the professor into the main living area where he saw a small stack of presents near him. From Mrs. Weasley he got another homemade Weasley sweater with a lion on it that was scarlet as well as a dozen home-baked mince pieces, Christmas cake and a box of nut brittle. He found he had nothing from Hermione or Ron this year and frowned in disappointment, but he did appreciate the yearly Weasley sweater. There was an extra gift though in a familiar shape. A broom? He could sure use one, after his Nimbus 2000 had been destroyed in that match against Hufflepuff as he missed flying. Maybe Professor McGonagall had sent it to him?
As he unwrapped the present, he was surprised to see his name inscribed on the handle in golden letters and the word Firebolt stamped on the handle as well. "A Firebolt?" he breathed, looking for any sign of a note to say who it was from. There was none he realized, however before he could marvel at it, he found Professor Snape swooping down on him and plucking the broom from where it lay before him on the floor. "That's mine!"
"I will be confiscating this, Potter. What part of you aren't allowed to fly do you not understand?"
"It's my Christmas gift! You don't have any..."
"Do not finish that sentence Mister Potter, lest you want to be in detention at the start of term next year! Expecto Patronum!" Immediately a silvery doe appeared before him. "Filius, Minerva and Rolanda, I request your assistance. Potter has received a broom and I believe it might be from Sirius Black. Can I have your presence in the staff room?"
The doe bowed her head and then vanished, leaving Harry staring angrily at his professor. "Black didn't send that to me!"
"You don't know that, Potter! As I said, you are under my care while you are at Hogwarts and thus, I decide what is best for you until you get home where you will remain with no contact from your friends and no sneaking gallivanting around the neighborhood either. This broom could have very well been sent by Black to kill you! Now shut up and remain here. It's going to be stripped down...checked for jinxes and if it there is nothing wrong with it, then maybe you will get it back next year."
As it turned out, Harry found out that his broom had been destroyed, a curse on the broom causing it to catch on fire and despite using Aguamenti on the broom, it hadn't cured the cursed fire which was in combination with a security ward on the broom that hadn't reacted to the protective charms being stripped from the broom and given no warning at all. Whatever the curse had been, it had destroyed half the classroom, but they had no replacement for DADA due to the position being rumored to be cursed and nobody wanting the job, so Dumbledore had taken over classes, the man having taught both Transfiguration and DADA in his youth. Thankfully the classroom had been an unused classroom so it wouldn't affect students learning at all. Harry was upset that his broom had been destroyed and his ire towards Snape only grew. Yet that hatred also fell towards his other professors who had probably stood back and allowed his broom to be destroyed by Snape. He bet there wasn't even a curse and Snape had just said that because both men loathed each other.
Harry pulled his cloak tighter about him as students stood to board the Hogwarts Express which would take them back to King's Cross and from there their parents or guardians would pick them up to take home for the two weeks of winter holidays. Harry couldn't imagine the Dursleys being happy to have him home for two weeks, let alone the arrival of another wizard on their doorstep. Students huddled underneath the awning and in the station itself with their trunks, but it was an hour before the train emerged from the tunnel and pulled into the station, steam emitting from its engine.
"On board Potter," said Snape as he shoved the boy towards the first carriage behind the locomotive and Harry dragged his trunk along with him. Snape then escorted him along the carriages until they got to the fifth one and found a compartment, opening the door. "In Potter," said Snape and once Harry had gone inside, his professor followed him and shut the door, casting a nonverbal locking spell and a notice-me-not charm on the door. "Find a book to read Potter or stare out the window but do not bother me," he said, Harry scowling at his professor and sullenly sat down next to the window, his professor levitating his trunk to the luggage rack overhead before sitting down in his own seat across from the boy. As far as Severus was concerned, the sooner the boy learned the world didn't revolve around him and he wasn't special, the better off the other students at Hogwarts would be and the staff as well for that matter. Ever since Potter Jr. had ended up coming into Hogwarts, there had been nothing but trouble. It was like the boy was bad luck to the entire student body and if it had been up to him, he would have expelled the boy on numerous occasions. But Albus insisted on giving the boy numerous chances and he didn't learn at all. Detention obviously had no effect on the adolescent as it had no effect on his father. As Albus had brushed aside Potter's and Black's bullying of him in school.
The train ride itself was a nine-hour journey with lunch being served halfway through the train ride by the trolley lady, simple sandwiches, soup, and meat pies for lunch with milk, juice or water to drink though there was also coffee, tea or hot chocolate with it being winter. The train rolled through Scottish countryside, winding through wild unkempt moors and the highlands, the mountains of Hogwarts receding behind them. Harry took a couple of meat pies, some hot chocolate, a couple sandwiches and a bowl of split pea soup for his lunch while Snape got a bowl of cream of watercress soup. There was a hot loaf of bread to share between them but aside from the trolley lady passing out lunches, there was no communication with other students on the train. After lunch, Harry ended up taking a nap as there wasn't much else to do during the train ride since he couldn't talk to Hermione or Ron, the teen not knowing that Ron and the twins had gone home early.
Nine hours later, the train was pulling into Platform 9 ¾ and Snape looked up from the copy of the Daily Prophet he had been reading. Harry wasn't allowed to leave until most of the students had emptied off the train before levitating Harry's trunk down and shrinking it, slipping it into his pocket and guiding Harry off the train. They then went through the barrier and found themselves on the platform, which was nearly empty, Snape gripping Harry's shoulder and steering him towards a taxi. "Potter, what's your address?"
"Number 4 Privet Drive Surrey. But you should know that because it was on my letter," said Harry.
"I'm not in charge of the letters Potter," said Snape as he opened the back door of the taxi and shoved the boy inside before sliding into it and shutting the door. "Number 4 Privet Drive Surrey," said Snape and the driver nodded, pulling away from the outside of King's Cross. The ride through the city of London was slow due to the snow falling on the ground but they eventually arrived at Number 4. Snape paid the cab driver and after the man drove off, they headed towards the front door and pulled out Harry's trunk before setting it on the ground and tapping it, muttering an Engorgio and causing it to resume its normal size. It took a few knocks before the door opened and he saw Dudley standing there.
"What are you doing here freak?"
"Believe me, I don't want to be here either," said Harry.
"Who's at the door Dudders?"
"The freak's back mom with some overgrown bat."
Snape's lip curled in distaste as he heard Petunia's voice. Albus had really sent the boy here of all places? Tuney hated magic and hated Lily. He was also not surprised by the boy's manners. If he was Petunia's son, then he was bound to be spoiled. "Hello Tuney," he said with a sneer as the woman appeared at the door.
"You! What are you doing here Snape?" She then glared disdainfully down at Potter. "What are you doing back early boy? Got yourself expelled, did you?"
If Severus didn't hate Petunia more than the boy, he would have agreed with the woman's sentiment. "Unfortunately, not," said Severus, his face looking like he'd sucked on a lemon at agreeing with Petunia. Truthfully Severus had hated Petunia ever since he saw here, even before he knew Lily was a witch. She was always stuck up and plain looking, thinking herself better than others despite being born into a middle-class neighborhood, being born in the same factory town as Severus. "The boy is being sent here for the winter break and is to remain in the confines of his home or your garden," he said. "He is not to wander the streets at all nor can he use magic," he said, causing Petunia's eyes to gleam in happiness.
"Forgot to tell us that last year didn't you boy that you couldn't use magic," she said. "Why can't he stay with one of his freaky friends or at that school?"
"Because the Headmaster believes this is the safest place for him and Black is looking for him," said Severus.
"Black...you mean that hooligan that ran around with Potter?"
"Yes, and the boy has shown utter disregard for his safety at the school. He also doesn't have his owl with him since it can be so easily spotted. Now, I shall take my leave. Remember Potter, you are to remain here and not contact your friends."
"Bit difficult isn't it, with not having Hedwig," spat Harry. Snape glared at him and shoved him into the house, Petunia shutting the door on Snape's face as the man turned and walked away from Number 4, his job done. Petunia stared out through her curtains at the man walking away from her before turning to Potter. "Boy, go put your trunk in your room and I won't have you disrespecting me or Vernon while you are here. Afterwards you're to get the shovel from the shed and shovel the driveway so Vernon can get through and then go to your room until it's time to make dinner."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," said Harry, scowling at his aunt's back as she headed back into the kitchen, Harry then dragging his trunk over to his cupboard and depositing it inside. Dudley followed him, roughly manhandling his cousin to make sure he didn't have his wand or anything else that was magical on him before locking the cupboard after shoving Harry out of the way. That evening when Vernon came home, the situation was explained to him, and he was not happy about it. However, he didn't want any trouble with the wizards either so reluctantly allowed the boy to stay though was pleased to hear that Harry couldn't use magic outside of school. As the days passed, Harry was given chores to occupy his time and pay back the Dursleys for keeping him for the winter holidays, however threats of wizards didn't stop the Dursleys from planning their own holiday vacation which did not include Harry. He found himself being used as Dudley's punching bag as well, having to run to escape his cousin's fists when Dudley grew bored of watching television. At least chores kept the teen busy, but he found himself otherwise bored without being able to look at his schoolbooks or write to his friends without an owl.
It was a few days before Christmas, on Yuletide, that Harry woke in the middle of the night with pain shooting through his body. Stuffing his hand into his mouth to hold back a scream, Harry bit into his hand, held back a scream so as not to awaken Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia and get punished. Without an owl, he couldn't possibly end up writing to someone what was going on, the boy feeling his spine stretch from his tailbone and his head begin to pound as if he had suddenly developed a terrible migraine. Harry tried to open his eyes but had to shut them as pain laced through them and he ended up whimpering, his eyes unknowingly changing shape. His body shrank in height as well, sharp teeth growing in his mouth, claws growing on the ends of his fingers and toes, changing shape even to become more pointed which he could feel and the child doubled over in pain as his body readapted itself, unknowingly coming into his creature inheritance and unknowingly losing his magic which wasn't his to begin with. Unknowingly passing out from the pain that wracked his body, he did not wake until later that morning, the sun shining in through the curtains and bars that had been put back on the bars last summer after he had gotten home from school.
The next morning, he stumbled to the mirror where he got the shock of his life and he stared hard at himself, unable to believe he was the same person. Harry didn't even realize he wasn't even wearing his glasses until he saw his reflection in the mirror, seeing his entire appearance had changed. Not only had his skin tone, eye color and hair color had changed but he had..."I have canine ears?" Harry didn't recognize himself at all. How was he supposed to explain this to Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon? Not only that, he realized he could see clearly for the first time in years, but he looked nothing like his parents. He made his way to his glasses and put them on, only to find a searing headache immediately split open his head, and his vision became blurry, a headache which went away when he took his glasses off which just left him confused.
"Boy! Get downstairs and get breakfast started," shouted Aunt Petunia at the door as she banged on it and he heard the sound of the locks being undone.
"Coming Aunt Petunia," said Harry, not sure how was he meant to hide his ears. Moving towards his dresser, Harry searched through the few clothes he had and pulled out a sweater and some jeans but found when he pulled them on that they were even bigger than they had been a few months ago, the jeans sliding off his waist to the floor. Not only that, but he also discovered the jeans were uncomfortable when he pulled them up, squashing something against his backside and turned as they fell, trying to see what it was. He reached behind him, only to discover..."A tail?!" he yelped out in shock. He stared at the furry appendage, covered in light beige and red which was otherwise known as fire and ice and a fox morph, this fur color also being on his ears as well. What had happened to him overnight and why did he look totally different from the previous evening? More importantly, how was he supposed to explain this to Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon?
Harry wished he could contact Dumbledore, surely, he would know what had happened, but he'd had to leave Hedwig at the owlery. Would Dumbledore even answer Harry in the first place, or would he think that he was trying to get back to Hogwarts for the winter break? No, he probably wouldn't believe him at all. Even if he had an owl, how could he prove he was Harry Potter when he looked nothing like his former appearance?
Stuffing the new appendage down the back of his jeans which he secured around his waist with a belt, he pulled on his ragged sweater and headed opened the door, stepping out into the hallway and closing his door quietly before heading downstairs to make breakfast for his relatives. Dudley was in the living room, watching the television as usual and he found Aunt Petunia setting a kettle on the stove to make her tea, a steaming mug already having been made. Once the kettle was back on the stove, she pulled down some sugar and stirred a teaspoon into her cup with a bit of milk and put the milk and sugar away before picking up her cup and letting it warm her hands. "Boy, I want you to make a full English breakfast for us. I'm going to the store later to pick up ingredients for Christmas pudding and Braised Red Cabbage as we're going to Marge's for Christmas. Since you aren't allowed out of the house, I'll have to..."
She turned around to look at her nephew, only for the cup to shatter on the kitchen floor as it slipped from her grasp, a scream tearing from her throat. The scream brought Vernon from upstairs, Harry's ears flattening subconsciously at his uncle's thundering footsteps on the stairs and his aunt's scream before him as she backed away into the counter. "Who are you and how did you get in this house?!"
"Aunt Petunia it's me! Harry! I don't know what happened, but I just woke up like this!"
"What's going on Pet?"
Vernon came rushing into the kitchen where he saw the ears and tail of the boy in front of him, noticing the boy was shorter than his nephew. "Get away from my wife," he said as he pulled the boy by his shoulder and flung him across the room, Harry landing with a yelp on his ass. "Who are you and how did you get in here? Where's the boy?! Petunia are you alright?"
"Vernon, he says he is the boy," said Petunia. "But he doesn't look like him!"
"Uncle Vernon it's me! I'm not lying to you...please..."
"What did you to yourself boy?"
"I don't know. I just woke up like this. I don't know why I have ears and a tail."
"That isn't the only thing different about you," said Petunia. "Your entire appearance has changed."
"Change yourself back boy," said Vernon.
"I can't. I don't know how I got this way in the first place," said Harry. The teen was so horrified at his appearance that he didn't even realize that he couldn't feel his magic nor that his voice had changed as well as he came into his creature inheritance. Harry found himself being hit by his uncle and locked underneath the cupboard as his trunk was pulled out instead and his uncle loaded it into the boot before leaving. Harry wouldn't know it, but his uncle had gone to dispose of the trunk and Harry's school books and school supplies. Harry had to sit in his old room, the cupboard under the stairs for the next two days, not let out to use the bathroom nor fed at all. He curled up on his old cot in a ball, wishing there was some way that he could speak to Hermione since Dumbledore likely wouldn't listen to him. Instead, he spent those two days sleeping fitfully on the cot, which was hard and lumpy, the cupboard otherwise filled with cleaning supplies. That was until he found the cupboard door opening and being grabbed by Vernon before he was dragged outside and thrown into the trunk of the car, and it slammed down on him. "Uncle Vernon? Uncle Vernon please! What are you doing?!"
Harry was ashamed to find he feared what was going on, for he had never been treated in such a manner by his uncle and aunt, never made to ride in the trunk before. At least, not that he could remember at all. Harry banged on the inside of the trunk, his fists growing weaker, and he tried to reach for his magic but couldn't access it which only frightened him further. It was some hours later when he was hauled out of the car by his sweater and the teen found himself thrown into the snow, his uncle turning to stare at him. "I've had enough of your nonsense boy and damn those other freaks to hell if they try to make us take you back. You've gone too far this time with changing your appearance. I might have tolerated your schoolwork from that school before but no longer! You can make your own way in life and find someone else to take you in."
Uncle Vernon then made his way back into his car and drove off, leaving Harry lost and in the freezing cold the day before Christmas eve. He looked around, shivering before running after his uncle. "Uncle Vernon wait! Wait please! Don't leave!" But there was only the roar of the engine and Harry found himself alone in the darkness, lost in the snowy wilderness. Having rarely been out of Surrey and only so far as Hogwarts every school year, Harry didn't know where he was or even if he could get back to his relatives. "Uncle Vernon?" Harry called into the quiet night, the teen beginning to shiver as snow fell and it was only when he looked up at the cloudy night that he saw the snow had been falling for some time. In desperation he attempted to follow his uncle's car tracks but soon it grew steadily worse and he found himself not only falling behind as his uncle's car was no longer in sight but also losing sight of the tracks.
Shivering and hungry, Harry looked around for somewhere to bed down for the night, wondering how he could contact someone from his world to let them know what had happened. But there was no way to access the floo network and he didn't know if Hogwarts was even connected to the floo nor who was a wizard and who wasn't. He didn't even know where he was, but he knew that he had to get out of the road before he got injured or killed and slowly, carefully, picked his way through the road until he got to the sidewalk. Getting to the sidewalk, Harry began walking down it, huddling in on himself and wrapping his arms around his body, not even having a coat or a cloak to help stave off the cold. Nor a coat or cloak of which to hide his ears. Would he get another letter from the Ministry if a muggle saw his ears? Ears which looked like a canine's, a fox if he had to guess by the busy tip of his tail.
His steps became slower as he trudged on, the cold biting at his exposed face, the boy tucking his hands into his sweater arms for warmth. But the raggedness of his clothing did nothing to keep him warm. His eyes began drifting shut as he began stumbling, nobody out on this night before Christmas eve, probably all gone for the holidays or warm within their beds. But what he nor his relatives knew was that a blizzard was forecast for tonight which was why nobody was out on the streets. It was by chance that Uncle Vernon got rid of him tonight. Just when he was about to go to sleep, having found a tree he figured he could potentially shelter under for the night even if it wasn't the best shelter to stave off the cold, he heard a hooting nearby. His eyes snapped open, and he stared at the owl flying towards him, a letter clutched in its beak. It wasn't Errol, the Weasley family owl who was old and often got lost. Hermione didn't have an owl and he wasn't familiar with the school owls, having Hedwig. "Is...t...that...f...f...me?" he questioned through chattering teeth.
"Hoot," said the owl as it dropped the letter in the snow before him and Harry bent to pick it up. Without thinking of the consequences, maybe Dumbledore was writing to him to let him know he could come back to Hogwarts, Harry grabbed the letter and suddenly felt a tugging on his navel before he was whisked away from the spot, the owl hooting and turning to the tree to shelter within itself. Feeling like he was being squeezed through a tube that pressed in uncomfortably, he closed his eyes and then landed with a thump on hard stone floor. When he came too, he found himself within the lobby of Gringotts.
"Ah Mister Potter...so glad you've received our letter."