As he walked through the empty halls, Harry had longed for his invisibility cloak. It was early in the morning, so it was unlikely that he would run into other students, however, it wasn’t impossible. He knew certain students, particularly Ravenclaws, liked to study early in the morning. Merlin, he missed Ron and Hermione. Normally seeing them was what he looked forward to most at the start of the school year. Well, that and leaving the Dursleys. Ron and Hermione were more than just friends; they were his family. Yet, it was three days into term and he had hardly seen them. And right now, he couldn’t bear the thought of seeing them. He couldn’t stand the thought of seeing anyone, which is why he kept to the shadows in the dimly lit corridors.
He heard a sound and quickly ducked behind a pillar. Luckily, the Slytherin was too busy with his nose stuck in a book to notice anyone else. That was a close call, Harry needed to find somewhere to hide where he wouldn’t run into anyone. He couldn’t risk anyone finding out that he was - no he couldn’t even think those words. Fred and George were pulling a prank on him and they managed to get all the professors in on it. There was no way he was actually - he gulped and ducked into the nearest classroom he could find.
Slamming the door shut, he released a long sigh and let his head fall back against the door. “Leave,” a voice behind Harry said, causing him to jump. “This room is occupied.” Wide green eyes stared at the platinum-blonde sitting on one of the desks. Harry turned around and tried to open the door with shaking hands, but found the door knob was jammed.
“Are you really that daft that you can’t open a bloody door?” Malfoy’s voice was suddenly much closer to him. Harry turned around and saw that his nemesis was standing right over his shoulder.
“Who are you? Are you related to Severus?” the Slytherin cursed. Gray eyes then darted to Harry’s forehead, “Fuck, Potter?” Harry felt all of the breath leave his lungs as he scrambled away as fast as he could from the blonde. He felt a sharp stab of pain in his side before realizing that he’d fallen to the floor. He felt his breath come in short gasps as the world spun around him and a deep sense of dread settled in the pit of his stomach. This can’t be happening, he thought to himself, heart racing and palms sweating. Out of everyone to find him it couldn’t be Malfoy, the one person absolutely guaranteed to spread this news all over the school.
He then heard a muffled voice talking to him as if talking to him underwater. “Potter, breathe,” the voice said. “List five things that you can see.” This last statement was spoken with such authority that Harry felt he had to obey.
“A-a desk,” he stuttered, his voice raspy from hyperventilating. “A stack of books, shoes, my hands, some chairs.”
“Good, now tell me four things you can touch?”
“My robes,” Harry replied, burrowing deeper into the warmth of his Hogwarts cloak. “the floor, a desk against my back, my glasses.”
“What are three things you can hear?”
“You, som-some students, myself.”
“Two things you can smell?”
“Sweat and your cologne,” Harry replied, blushing slightly as he mentioned Malfoy’s cologne.
“And one thing you can taste?”
“Blood,” Harry only just realized that he’d bitten the inside of his cheek. He told the blonde as much when he saw Malfoy’s brow furrow. Oddly enough, he felt calmer now. The panic he had felt at Malfoy knowing his secret faded and while it still felt like a problem, it didn’t feel like the world was crashing around him.
“Thanks,” Harry said, eyes askance. He couldn’t believe he was thanking Malfoy. Actually, he couldn’t believe that Malfoy had bothered to help him instead of running and telling all of the Slytherins his secret. “Where’d you learn to do that?”
Malfoy paused for a few seconds as if debating whether to answer. “My mom did it for me,” he finally said. “I used to have panic attacks when I was younger and that would help. Something about grounding you.” Harry’s eyes darted up in surprise. Not only was he shocked that Malfoy had panic attacks, but he couldn’t believe that his school bully told him that. The two sat in awkward silence for a few moments, each processing the information they’d both learned that morning.
Malfoy was the first to break it, “So why do you look like Snape?”
Harry scowled deeply, which only increased his resemblance to a certain potions professor. He heard Malfoy chuckling lightly and he sent a glare in the blonde's direction, “Fred and George are playing a joke.” Malfoy's eyes narrowed at his statement, and he could tell that he didn’t believe Harry’s fib, but he couldn’t bring himself to care at the moment, he had bigger things to deal with. Luckily, the blonde let it drop and they slipped into a more comfortable silence. Harry was the one to break it this time, “What are you doing here anyway? It’s dead early, would’ve thought the prince of Slytherin is used to sleeping in till the last minute.”
Malfoy was about to reply when suddenly the door burst open to reveal Snape standing in the doorway, breathless as if he’d run all over the classroom. If Harry wasn’t mistaken, he would’ve said that he saw concern in Snape’s features for a moment before it was replaced by fury. The professor started to stalk towards him, robes billowing. Harry quickly scrambled backward trying to get out of the path of ire when he let out a harsh gasp, his hand moving to his previously healed ribs. They must’ve become injured again when he fell, and in his panicked state, he didn’t realize it. All of a sudden, Snape was kneeling before him, and Harry realized how awful he looked. His hair was greasier than usual, his eyes were bloodshot, and he looked as if he only got an hour of sleep. However, now that he was closer, Harry was sure that was concern he saw in the man's eyes.
“What’s wrong?” the man asked and Harry was unable to deny the worry he heard in his voice.
“He fell against the table and hit his side,” Draco replied when Harry made no answer.
Anger marred Snape’s face, “And why exactly are you falling against tables, Mr.” His voice trailed off, before he finally concluded, “Harry? I never took you for being clumsy. Were you two dueling?” Harry was shocked to see him shoot an accusatory glare towards Malfoy.
Although Harry hated the git, he had to admit he did help him, and he couldn’t let Snape punish him for something he didn’t do. “No,” he spoke up. “I fell and he helped me.” Snape lifted one eyebrow, clearly, he knew Harry was leaving out an important detail.
Malfoy then spoke up, “He had a panic attack and fell against the table, I used the senses technique to get him out of it.” Harry scowled, of course, Malfoy couldn’t wait to tell someone about his panic attack, even after Harry saved him from Snape's wrath.
The feared professor pursed his lips, his gaze darting back and forth between the two boys as if he could sense the truth just by looking at them. Finally, it seemed he decided that they were being honest. “Very well,” he said. “Five points to Slytherin for helping a fellow classmate. And twenty from Gryffindor for being out of bed after you nearly died.” Harry felt the rage bubble up within him like one of Neville’s potions about to explode. He couldn’t believe it, Malfoy gets points for doing basically nothing and he loses points when it’s not even curfew.
Snape somehow knew his exact thoughts, “You know you’re not supposed to leave the Hospital Wing. Madame Pomfrey woke up to you gone. Now your idiot godfathers and half the professors are out searching for you. Do you have any idea of the trouble you’ve caused all of us?”
Of course, Harry thought, Snape wasn’t concerned, he was merely peeved about having to look for him so early in the morning. After all, that’s all Harry was to anyone, an inconvenience. “Not to mention,” Snape continued, his expression softening. “We were all extremely concerned about your welfare. For all we know, Death Eaters could’ve broken in and kidnapped you. The important thing is that you’re safe, although reinjured.” That’s it, Harry was now entirely convinced that Snape could read minds. How else was the man able to know exactly what he was thinking? After years of practice covering for the Dursleys, Harry knew that he could control his expressions so he didn’t give away much. Snape definitely had to be able to read minds, that was the only logical conclusion.
While Harry was mulling this over, not sure how to make sense of Snape’s concern, he didn’t notice the man cast a diagnostic charm over him. He did notice, however, when Snape let out an exasperated sigh. “It looks like you’ve broken your rib again,” he said. “Come. We must get you back to Pomfrey. Draco I trust you’ll be able to stay out of trouble until your first class?” Malfoy nodded in response as Harry sullenly stood up and followed Snape out the door.
Harry was extremely grateful to be safely ensconced within the walls of the hospital wing, away from prying eyes. There were far more students out for his walk back and walking with Snape didn’t exactly make him inconspicuous, so he kept his head down and prayed no one would realize that he, Harry Potter, now resembled their abhorred professor, Severus Snape, more than the beloved war hero, James Potter. He did notice several inquisitive stares, but no shocks of exclamation, so he assumed that his secret was safe for the meantime.
“Sit,” Snape ordered, pointing at the bed he had vacated early this morning. Harry gulped, knowing from his tone that he was in big trouble. “I’m going to go get Madam Pomfrey and send word to the others that you are here. If I find that you have moved one centimeter by the time I return, you will regret it. Do. You. Understand?” Harry merely nodded in response, knowing better than to cross Snape when he was this angry.
Five minutes later, Snape emerged with Madam Pomfrey who was shaking her head. “Well, Mr. Potter-sorry, Harry- two injuries in two days, it’s a new record even for you. Let’s see that rib of yours shall we,” she gently lifted up his shirt and palpated his side before casting a healing charm. He let out a hiss of pain as he felt his rib mend itself. “I do not want to see you here again with this injury.” She waited for his nod of agreement, before busying herself with the potions on his side table.
“Does that mean I’m allowed out of here?” Harry asked, hopeful.
The nurse shot a glance at Snape, who had taken a seat next to Harry’s bed, from the corner of her eye. “We’ll discuss that once everyone else arrives. Here take these,” She handed Harry several potion bottles and he dutifully took them, feeling relieved when his pain disappeared.
“What on Earth could have possessed you to leave this morning?” Snape demanded after he finished taking his potions. His arms were crossed and he shot a lethal glare at Harry.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Harry mumbled. “It’s not like it was curfew or anything, plenty of other students were out, even your precious Malfoy.”
“None of the other students, Mr. Malfoy included, spent the night in the hospital wing after nearly dying,” Snape jeered his face inches from Harry’s. “Now tell me, what made you leave?”
Harry stared back at him, arms crossed, refusing to reply. In all honesty, Harry didn’t have a good reason why he left, and while he’d never admit it, he knew it was a bad idea. All he knew was that he spent all night tossing and turning before falling into a fitful sleep and when he woke up, he felt as if he couldn’t breathe. The walls of the hospital wing were closing in around him and he was suffocating, so he left. It wasn’t his finest moment, but it certainly wasn’t his worst, and he would probably do it again. He needed space, away from Madam Pomfrey’s watchful gaze and Sirius’s constant hovering. Last night, after he’d practically forced his godfathers to leave, he hoped he would feel better, but it didn’t help. His mind just ran in circles, trying to make sense of the past few days. Luckily, Harry was saved from having to tell Snape all of this, by the arrival of the Headmaster.
“Ah Harry my boy,” Professor Dumbledore greeted him. “Good to see you’ve returned. You had us all quite worried.”
As if to prove his point, Sirius came bounding in through the double doors and rushed to Harry’s side. “Harry! Bloody hell, thank God you’re alright. Never scare us like that again,” Sirius enveloped Harry in a firm hug, which normally Harry would’ve appreciated, but right now was overwhelming.
“Stop smothering my son, Black,” Snape hissed to Harry’s shock. Snape just referred to him as his son.
What. The. Actual. Hell. He was about to scream that he wasn’t his son, but Sirius beat him to it, “How dare you call him that Snivellus? You damn well know he’s not your son. As if Lily could ever stand to talk to you, let alone touch you.”
Snape stood, fury etched over his face. Harry didn’t think he’d ever seen him so mad, not even after he accused Harry of stealing ingredients from his storage cupboard in his second year. Snape didn’t even bother with a reply, simply lifted his wand and nonverbally sent a curse at Sirius, whose only saving grace was Dumbledore’s quick reflexes as he cast a protego. “That is enough,” the elderly wizard said, voice stern and eyes livid. “Sirius, Severus is Harry’s father, you will simply have to accept it. And Severus, Sirius is an important person in Harry’s life. Whether you like it or not, you will have to find a way to get along.”
Harry’s mind was spinning, he couldn’t sit here quietly any longer. He was the son of Lily and James Potter. Potter, not Snape. He was going to tell them all that yet again, or scream, or release uncontrolled magic, or something, he didn’t want to just sit here and let them all talk about him, but he was too tired. Tired from his panic attack that morning, the Dursleys, the events of the past three days, Snape and Sirius’s incessant hovering and bickering, just everything. Harry knew that no amount of screaming or pleading would make anyone listen to him, so he decided to just stop trying. They were all going to do whatever they thought was best for him anyway, because apparently fourteen isn’t old enough to make your own decisions. Just old enough to deal with the consequences of others, like say, Voldemort. But no, in their eyes, he was just a child, so his thoughts didn’t matter.
“Albus is right Sirius,” Remus came up behind Sirius, arms crossed as he glared at the man. Harry suspected that they’d had a long discussion about this last night. “Harry, pup. We’re so relieved to see that you’re ok. Never scare us like that again.” Harry nodded, eyes staring at his lap, not appreciating the return of the attention towards himself.
“Now, if everyone can agree to be civil,” Dumbledore added, with pointed stares at Sirius and Severus. “Let’s take a seat, we have some things to discuss about young Harry here.”
“Harry,” Dumbledore began. “I know the last few days have been rough for you.” Harry snorted, they’d been rough, to say the least. He looked over and saw Snape and Sirius both glaring at Dumbledore as if they were thinking the same thing. He laughed softly at the thought of those two in agreement over something.
Dumbledore continued, seemingly oblivious to the internal thoughts of those around him, “I have no doubt that you wish to leave the hospital wing. Unfortunately, you are not yet cleared to return to class so I have a solution; you can stay with Severus until next week when you return to classes, it will give you two a chance to bond as father and son.”
Harry stared at him in shock, feeling his anger bubble to the surface. This couldn’t be happening, Snape loathed him, he couldn’t live with the most hated professor in all of Hogwarts history. And he doubted that the greasy git wanted him there, “No way,” he started to bellow.
Sirius interjected, “Professor, you can’t be serious. The bastard will kill Harry before tomorrow. Harry can come stay with us.”
“Like hell, he won’t, you’re not fit to take care of a dog, Black,” Snape said, voice raised.
Madam Pomfrey added, “Absolutely not! Severus has medical training unlike the two of you and Harry is far from healthy.”
“Now, now,” Professor Dumbledore hushed the adults around him while Harry glowered at him, willing him to understand just how furious this decision made him. “Harry will stay with Severus, he is the child’s father, and aside from Poppy has the most medical training out of everyone at this school. I can guarantee that he will be safe in his father's care.”
“I’m so glad that you’ve finally come to that conclusion Albus. It would’ve been nice to have your trust thirteen years ago and then maybe Harry wouldn’t have been abused in the first place.” If looks could kill, Albus would’ve been dead twenty times over from the lethal stare Snape was sending him. Harry was shocked that Snape was acting so protective of him, the man had to be up to something.
“If it’s all right with everyone, I’d rather not stay with Snape and I highly doubt he wants me staying with him anyway. So I’ll just stay here until I can return to class.” Even if no one was willing to listen, Harry was determined to make his opinion known.
“You’re welcome to Mr. Potter-sorry Snape,” Madame Pomfrey had a sympathetic expression that did not waver in response to the daggers Harry shot her after being called Snape. “However, I must inform you that I will have students in and out of here for the rest of the week getting their vaccines and checkups, so I cannot guarantee your privacy.” Harry paled, fully understanding what she was implying. Everyone would find out that he looked like Snape.
“But surely you can recast the glamour on me. I mean my mum did it once, someone must be able to do it again. What about Professor Dumbledore?” Harry implored, hoping with every fiber of his being that he could go back to the way things were.
No one said anything for a few moments. Finally, Snape spoke up, “I’m very sorry Harry.” To Harry’s surprise, the man sounded genuinely sorry. Harry supposed he didn’t want a Gryffindor looking anything like him, especially Harry. “Your mother was naturally gifted at charms; however, it was also made easier by the fact that you were a baby at the time. Your own magical signature wasn’t as developed as it is now, making it more malleable and willing to accept a long-term glamour cast by someone else. Even if you were able to recast the charm, it would hardly be permanent and it would be quite draining on your core.”
Harry gulped and stared at his professor, feeling the burn of tears sting his eyes. This couldn’t be happening, there was no way he could be stuck like this. Someone had to be capable of something, “What about Professor Flitwick?” Harry asked desperately.
Remus took his hand, “I’m sorry cub, but there's nothing that can be done. It will be best if you stay with Severus for now. At least until you’re healed and the school can be notified of the change in your appearance.”
Harry glanced towards Sirius, there was no way he agreed with this decision. For a second it looked like he might protest, but Remus squeezed his hand, causing Sirius to nod his head in agreement. “Pup, you know if it were up to me, you’d come home with us in a heartbeat.”
“Thank Circe it’s not,” Snape muttered under his breath, but Harry ignored him, focusing on Sirius.
“We’ll visit you every day though, so it’ll be ok.” Harry highly doubted Snape would be okay with that, but to his surprise, the man nodded his head in confirmation. It was slight, barely visible, but it was an agreement.
“I guess there's no other option,” Harry mumbled petulantly, cursing his luck. It was only three days into the school year and he was being forced to stay with the dungeon bat who despised him. For once, he would just like a quiet year at Hogwarts.