Potions and Snitches
Snape and Harry Gen Fanfiction Archive

Unknown Ways - Part 1

The cauldron-shaped sign swung lazily in the evening breeze. Even through the thick traffic the soft creak trickled over to where Harry leaned in a deserted house entrance and watched the occasional witch and wizard enter the pub. The cap pulled as far as possible down his forehead it did a great job shielding him from the sun and passers-by.

He had debated for all the time he had been here, more than four hours now, if he should go in. But he couldn’t bring himself to it. All the hours walking into London for nothing. He couldn’t set foot into the magical world. Harry couldn’t fully explain it himself but something held him back. Something that had nothing to do with the danger of the newly returned Dark Lord.

Around noon, his stomach made itself known again and he had scavenged through some rubbish bins. The cold leftovers from some restaurant had felt great in his empty stomach but a few hours later found Harry regretting the doubtful contents of the bins now sitting inside his belly. He had to admit that it was completely different to steal food from Aunt Petunia’s kitchen where everything down to the rubbish bin was in pristine condition. He wrapped his arms around his mid-section to alleviate the pain. But to no avail.

He looked out to the street again to distract himself. Nothing except cars passing in the evening rush hour, their drivers intent on getting home to their loved ones. Home, what a funny little word. It was so small, not even five letters, yet meant so much, Harry pondered. Especially to him, even if he hadn’t had one for ten long years of his life. Even if he hadn’t really got one now. He felt nauseous.

When he spied a shock of absurdly coloured hair and a tall man walking purposefully down Charing Cross Road he threw on his Invisibility Cloak and disappeared down one of the many entrances to the London Tube. He hopped the banister and got on the first train pulling into the station.

Ben watched as the row houses turn into fields and low hedges. He watched as sidewalks gave way to green grass moving with the current of air from the passing cars. He watched when nature was replaced by stone buildings. He watched Greg as he threw him satisfied sneering looks through the rear mirror. Ben just glanced away and leaned back in his seat clutching the deep blue strap of his bag. It gave him something to anchor his fears to. He forced himself to take deep breaths through his nose and calmed down somewhat.

He scrubbed at his face with the sleeve of his jumper. His school jumper. He got it when he joined the soccer team last year and it had always filled him with pride wearing it even if his team mates where the biggest and most self-important bullies out there. But he had liked playing keeper. He had the right build for it too since last summer he shot up like the plants in the professor’s garden. His mum had complained on more than one occasion to have to buy him new school trousers again.

Tall enough to guard the goal perfectly and lean enough to still be agile to fish even the trickiest shots out of the air he was a good addition to the team. Well, “had been” would be right. He strongly doubted the Military School had a soccer team. More like a bombing commando or something like that. He shuddered.

Ben’s thoughts were far away. He did that sometimes when he wanted to forget the real world. When he wanted to forget himself for a while. Which actually wasn’t so much sometimes as very often. He would just stare at some point at a wall or this stupid pattern of the car seats and could dive completely into himself. He thought about everything and nothing.

And then, suddenly, his head cleared. Cleared like a lake reflecting the sun at noon. It was as if some haze fell away from his mind and he was seeing clearly for the first time. He didn’t have to go there. He was 16, not quite an adult but old enough to make his own decisions and look out for himself. He had done that anyway since well, since he could remember really.

Ben tensed and sneaked his hand along the door to the handle. The right moment, he had to wait for the right moment. Much in life came down to it, he thought. Ahead of them, the traffic light changed and yellow light sparkled through the hot summer air.

Ben pulled the handle and the door sprung open so suddenly, that he was momentarily frozen to the seat. But then the right moment was there. He gripped the bag firmly and rolled out of the car that had just now picked up pace when the lights had changed to green. The door shut nearly of its own accord but Ben could nevertheless hear Greg’s angry shouting.

He quickly stumbled to the sidewalk and once there shouldered the sea bag properly. He recognized the main traffic road of Durham from early childhood visits to his grandparents. He stretched and stood tall, his head held high and his shoulders down. His mind was made up.

Sleep eluded Severus ever since Dumbledore’s call. He tossed and turned, dreamed but these were restless dreams. When the first pale light of the morning trickled through the window he got up, groaning with the type of fuzzy feeling inside his head one got from too many hours spend awake. He got down the stairs one arm grasping the banister like a lifeline and stopped abruptly as his gaze settled on the couch sitting empty in his living room.

With Potter’s antics the last few days, he hadn’t had the time to ponder its meaning. Something touched his leg and he flinched so badly that Felix who was staring at him with big luminous cat eyes took a paw back.

“Sorry Felix,” murmured Severus and beckoned the cat to follow him into the kitchen. His thoughts far away Severus opened a can of cat food and poured some milk in the bowl. Why would Ben leave the couch in such a disarray? He was a considerate boy after all. All thoughts of confusion had left him however with the news of Potter and soon everything he knew had been anger. Anger, which had unfortunately taken over.

Now though, the thought of Ben gave him a cold sting. He suddenly realised he hadn’t seen the boy since that evening. Was he right to not stick his nose in his neighbour´s businesses? Yes. Was he right to not make sure Ben was all right before leaving again to search for the Potter brat? No. He would never forgive the offspring of his schoolyard enemy if something was to happen to Ben. Except he knew that blaming Potter was completely irrational. No, this was on him. Making up his mind over a cup of very strong tea, he left the house shutting his front door rather more forcefully than would’ve been necessary.

The door was already open and voices could be heard weaving through the house. A man appeared in the doorway dragging two suitcases which left streaks on the dirty floor. Unlike his hallway, this one seemed even smaller with all the empty beer cans lying around and free newspapers piling against the walls. Suddenly the man spied Severus standing on the front steps. He stiffened and sized Severus up through beady little eyes. Involuntarily, Severus took a step back.


The voice was sharp despite its smell of alcohol. Over the shoulder of the wardrobe-man Severus could see Ben’s mother shuffling through the hallway and clutching some baggage.

“Good morning, Mrs. Anderson.”
“That remains to be seen,” grunted the man who could only be Greg, the infamous one.
Ignoring this answer with all his teacher-expertise, Severus continued.
“I was wondering about your son. He seemed… distressed the last time I saw him and he was-“
“-bullshit, he’s fine,” she interrupted and came to a halt beside her boyfriend.
“Are you quite sure, Mrs. Anderson? He was bleeding and-“
“-She said ‘e was fine, didn’t she?” Greg butted in.
“It didn’t seem like it!” Severus forced through clenched teeth. Merlin, this man could annoy him as fast as any of his students could.

“And what’s it to you?” Mrs. Anderson asked and suddenly her voice adopted a sly edge.
“Well… I’m just- concerned. Where is Ben?”
“You’re concerned? Think I don’t know about all of your secret meetings?”
“What?” Severus stared at her.
“All the evenings Ben spends with you? Didn’t think I would find out?”
“Find out what?” asked Severus with a bad feeling already spreading through his stomach.
“Listen, I don’t care what you do with him there, but if you come here again, I’ll call the police,” she waggled her finger and it looked so ludicrous that Severus would have laughed if the situation wasn’t what it was.
“What? Are you insinuating- we- I…”
“I’m not suggesting anything here, Snape. Just leave us the fuck alone and mind yer own business.”

Severus narrowed his eyes.
“Where is Ben, Mrs. Anderson?”
“None of yer fucking business!” slurred Greg. A grim smile settled on Mrs. Andersons’s haggard features, prematurely aged with many wrinkles streaking them. Few of them were from laughing. Even Severus could see that.
She pushed through the door and slammed it so fast behind her that the gust of air it caused ruffled Severus’ hair. They ignored Severus and passed him on their way to a car parked on the sidewalk. Severus stood frozen to the spot the thoughts in his head tumbling over each other. In his mind he turned over this particular conversation while the others had already loaded the last of their luggage in the boot and then got into the car. Severus slowly came out of his trance and ran out into the street.

“Where are you going? Where is Ben?”
But Mrs. Anderson just banged her door shut and Greg flipped him the bird in the side-mirror before he loudly started the motor.
“Wait! Stop!” he sprinted after the car that was quickly speeding away.

“A lost cause, if ye ask me,” came a voice from behind a clothesline, socks dangling off it in uneven intervals.
“What?” Severus looked around confusedly and with the feeling of having said that particular sentence way too often today.
The tousled head of a women appeared behind the colourful socks and she scrutinized him head to toe taking in his rumbled shirt and dirty shoes, which still had London’s grime on them.
“You’re the one from Number 7, aye?”
“Yes, why?”
“What was it that you do? Teaching?”
“Correct, at a boarding school.”
“Aye, that explains it. Only see you here in summers and at Christmas.”
He stared at her.

“What was the name again?”
“Snape,” he said tonelessly.
“Ah yeah, remember,” she bend down to extract some more socks from the pile of damp clothes.
“Excuse me Mrs.?”
“- call me Iris, dear.”
Severus nodded slightly and tried to get over the shock at being called “dear” and by a stranger as well.

“Excuse me asking, but you wouldn’t know where they are going?”
She stilled in pegging the pair of purple doughnut socks and to Severus’ surprise, her eyebrows knitted together.
“Left for Mallorca just now or was it the Canary Islands? Well, never mind. Said somethin’ about honeymoon. People today, honestly. Not even married the lot. Not that that‘d be a good idea,” she swung the socks around agitatedly. “Just yesterday got rid of Ben.”
Severus brows shot up. “Got rid of him?”
“Aye! Excuse my words, but it’s the only way you can put that. Quite the fight that was yesterday. Tha’ horrible boyfriend drove off with him. God knows where.”
“Yeah, that´s his name. Rotten to the core if ye ask me.”
“Indeed,” mumbled Severus and louder he added, “Thank you, I must be on my way.”

“Quite fond of him are ye?”
“What?” he swallowed. How much did the neighbours knew? What did they think?
“Said, yer quite fond of Ben right?” she smiled already clutching the next pair of grotesquely patterned socks.
“He- he comes over sometimes,” Severus stammered “helps with my garden.”
“He’s a good lad, always offers help,” she smiled again.
“He is,” said Severus quietly.
“Hope that woman,” she spat the word as if she wanted to say something much worse “didn’t do anything stupid.”
“Mmh,” made Severus and scratched a patch of stubble on his chin while his thoughts shot around his head with the speed of light.
“Well, have ter be going. Have a nice day Mr. Snape!” stooping she picked up the empty basket. On her way inside, she turned around. “And give me a shout if yer hear anything, aye?”

Upon entering his home, Severus leaned heavily on the closed front door. He exhaled loudly. Now there were two missing boys and Severus hadn’t the slightest idea where to start searching for them. He should’ve checked up on Ben not just because of the mighty shiner the boy had sported. Had he known that he wouldn’t get another chance he would’ve probed more, would have insisted Ben tell him more about his home-life. Everything had blown up right into his face like a potion gone awry. And oh, what a botched effort this mess was.

Felix came over to him and rubbed his head against Severus’s leg. He crouched down and absentmindedly stroked his soft fur. He didn’t know if it was more to sooth the cat or himself.

As he scratched Felix behind the ears, he thought back to all the occasions Ben had come over to him. The boy had always had that look upon his face but it would lit up the second Severus spoke to him, cracked one of his dry-humour jokes or invited him in for dinner and to whatever sci-fi series would be on that evening. Thus, Severus had ignored his eyes, the gentle brown eyes that seemed too profound for someone so young.

Suddenly he felt deep remorse and shame at his actions. As a young boy, he had never liked adults who asked too many questions. That would only lead to disappointment and more severe punishments at home. Had he been afraid Ben would shy away from him again if he looked too much into his story? Or had Severus been afraid of his own courage? Courage that he clearly hadn’t possessed.

All these years he had justified his actions towards Ben or lack thereof with his absence most of the year. He was home too little to really make an impact, to really change Ben’s life. Wasn’t it better then to not change anything at all so as not to create false hopes? Ben had always looked fairly happy. He might not have been the most well-fed or cared-for child, but he had always met Severus with his distinctive and infectious joy.

For a few hours they had both been able to forget what was going on at Ben’s home and Severus had gladly overlooked it for Ben’s immediate happiness. But what a fickle thing that was.

Chapter End Notes:
I’m sorry for the long wait! I had a serious writing crisis because first I was unsatisfied with how I’ve written the story so far and second I had no idea how to go on. So, I guess I needed the time to figure something out.
I’m not really happy about this chapter (except for making Snape run :D) but now I really want to get to the part where Snape meets Harry so… Well let’s see. I can’t promise regular updates but I’m not abandoning this story either. I’ll update when I can and well, maybe some reviews may give me more motivation ;) Have a nice weekend!

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