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Another World by Ratwoman
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Character(s): None
Warning(s): AU
Summary: How would a world look like, where James and Lily didn’t die? A world where Snape knew that Pettigrew was a traitor and told Dumbledore, that the Potters must leave Godric’s Hollow?


Author's Notes:
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, JK does

Categories: AU
How would a world look like, where James and Lily didn’t die? A world where Snape knew that Pettigrew was a traitor and told Dumbledore, that the Potters must leave Godric’s Hollow?
Since I’m a big Snape fan, it will be a mostly Snape-centered story

Pairing: Severus/Lily UST, Severus/Sirius

Ratings: R

Summary: After Snape managed to save the Potters, what changes?

Thanks to Hainuwele for beta reading


Another world I
By Ratwoman
Ratwoman02@yahoo.de

Halloween 1981

James felt strangely guilty. He knew it was not his fault that the Longbottoms were dead. Or was it? As Dumbledore’s informer had told them, Voldemort was after him, Lily and their son. Only when he had found their house in Godric’s Hollow empty, Voldemort had killed the Longbottoms instead.

Dumbledore’s mysterious informer had also told them that their secret keeper had betrayed them to He Who Must Not Be Named. Peter a traitor – that had been a great shock to James. So they had left hastily on Dumbledore’s command. Only hours later Voldemort had obviously first been at Godric’s Hollow, then, when he had found that the Potters had left, gone for the Longbottoms instead. He had killed Frank and his wife, but then he had vanished mysteriously when he had tried to kill their son Neville. Neville, now known as “the Boy Who Lived”, was
only a few days older than James’s and Lily’s son Harry.

The party was delirious. Everywhere wizards were celebrating Voldemorts downfall. The Order of the Phoenix was celebrating as well, in Aberforth’s pub The Hog’s Head. Moony and Padfoot were already drunk, singing some old folksongs. Lily was holding Harry in her arms, but now she sat him aside, rose and rushed towards Albus, who just entered the pub. James followed her.

“Albus!” she called. “Who was it? Who warned you that he was going to kill us?”

“Now that you-know-who is dead, you can tell us!” James added encouragingly.

Albus looked from James to Lily, an amused sparkle in his eyes. “We don’t know yet if Voldemort is really dead. He might come back one day. Can I trust you not to tell anyone, except Sirius and Remus?”

“Yes, of course,” James swore.

“Come,” Albus lead them into a private room behind the bar. “This might come as a shock to you,” he said, “Especially to you, James.”

James frowned. What could be so shocking about it?

“Severus Snape warned me.”

“Snape?” James spat out in disbelief. “I mean, I’m not surprised that that dark arts obsessed piece of shit was a Death Eater, but that he was your informer?”

“James!” Lily called disapprovingly.

“Honestly, he even called YOU a mudblood.”

“Yes, he did,” Lily admitted coldy, “but obviously he’s changed.” Then she smiled “I thought back then, I had lost him to the dark side, but obviously Sev has found his way back.”

James bit back further remarks. It dawned on him that his wife might renew her friendship with Snape. And that he might better accept it.

7 weeks later

Severus let his gaze travel over the assemblage of wizards. His trial was to begin now. He swallowed hard. There were the Marauders in the audience and Lily. How could her presence still make his heart flutter like that? After all those years. What would she think, seeing him like that? Was she hoping to see him sent to Azkaban in chains?

Albus had said it wouldn’t come to that. He hoped the old wizard was right. The trial was short indeed. He was accused of being a Death Eater, but then Albus Dumbledore gave his testimony, that Severus Snape had been working as a spy for the Order of the Phoenix, under great risks for his safety. Albus made it sound as if he was a hero. Snape almost sneered at that. He had virtually done everything for Lily, not for heroic reasons like saving the Wizarding World.

“Who votes guilty?” an older witch asked. None of the jurors raised their hands.

“Acquitted!” the judge called.

Severus almost couldn’t believe it. He did not feel innocent. Numbly he rose and left the courtroom. He was a free man.

“Severus!” he knew that voice. She had not called his name in years. Slowly he turned around and saw Lily running towards him. Like a dream come true, she flung her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He did not dare to react, afraid she might dissolve into mist.

“Albus told us you saved us!” she said. Then she stepped back and looked him in the eyes. “How could I ever thank you?”

Well, Severus thought, you could dump your dunderhead of a husband and marry me instead. He was wise enough not to say it aloud.

“Hey, Snape,” Snape glowered at James Potter, who was approaching now. “Thanks for the warning you gave to Dumbledore.”

Snape just nodded in acknowledgement.

Lily smiled ironically and said: “I think you know my
husband.”

“I had the displeasure to meet him,” Snape answered.
Potter grimaced. “Well, I guess my wife likes you, so feel free to pay us a visit whenever you like.”

Snape raised an eyebrow at him.

“As long as you keep your hands off her,” Potter added.

“Don’t be ridiculous, James!” Lily said disapprovingly.

Snape smirked. This time, he had to agree with Potter – it would be hard to keep his hands off Lily.


New Year’s Eve 1981/82

Severus critically considered his reflection in the mirror. He was wearing velvet dress robes, had tried a new anti-grease shampoo. Still, he wasn’t happy with his appearance: too thin, his skin too sallow, his nose too hooked. Maybe he shouldn’t go to Lily’s New Year’s Eve party at all. What should he do there? There weren’t to be any people he liked. Except Lily. But she would be offended, if he didn’t show up. And risking their renewed friendship like that was the last thing he wanted to do.

Severus sighed. Alright. He would go.

**

“What’s Snivellus doing here?” Padfoot asked James, gazing at Snape like a dog taking scent.

“Can’t you guess?” James said, “Lily has invited him.”

“Hm,” Sirius’ eyes narrowed. “This might become an
interesting New Year’s Eve…”

“Nope,” James said, “Lily will kill me if I insult Snivellus.”

“Yeah, but she will not kill me,” Sirius replied grinning.

“He Snape!” he called walking over to him. Snape looked at him guardedly.

“How are you?”

“Fine,” Snape snarled.

James had to bite back a smirk as he watched Sirius talk to Snape. Then he was distracted by his son Harry, who was playing with his toy broom and toppled over a vase. Harry was a very lively child, incredibly sweet but also exhausting.

“Wait, I take care of the vase,” James said to Lily and picked it up. It was the one with flowers Moony had brought Lily. With a spell he cleaned off the water on the floor. Then he went to the kitchen to fetch new water.
BANG! A loud noise came from the living room. James left the vase and ran back. What he saw made him grin.
Snape and Sirius had their wands drawn and were circling each other, faces contorted in hatred. The other guests had stopped their conversation, watching them in confusion.

Now Sirius gracefully jumped forward, firing a curse at Snape, which he easily fended off.

“Sev! Sirius!” Lily called. “Are you out of your mind?”

This distracted Snape for a moment. Sirius took the opportunity and shot another curse at him. It hit Snape on the chest and his robes started smoldering. That obviously made Snape really angry, because now he shot curse after curse at Sirius at incredible speed. Some of them hit and finally Sirius stumbled and fell.

“Dammit!” James thought and ran together with Moony to Sirius, to help him stand up. Some kind of rash was forming on his skin, but he quickly came to his feet.

Snape’s robes were dissolving on his chest, the skin beneath it was reddish. Probably a rather painful jinx, but he simply looked angry.

Lily stepped between them, looking furious. “What do you think you’re doing, spoiling my party like that!”

“Oh, come on Lily,” Moony said, “there’s no party without a good wizarding duel.”

Severus straightened up and said stiffly. “Well, I think I better leave now.” With that he turned and walked towards the door.

“Wait,” Lily said, following him.

James felt a sting of jealousy. But maybe it was best simply to trust Lily.

**

He shouldn’t have come here. It had been so clear that he would get into trouble with Potter or Black. Maybe if he had made up some excuse for not coming…

“Sev, wait!” Lily called. Severus had already left the house and stepped on the sidewalk. Now he turned around and looked at the love of his life.

“I’m sorry,” Lily said, “I don’t know what Sirius said to you at the beginning of the fight… but you know how he is…”

Now, that was a surprise! She was actually blaming Sirius, not him. More confidently, he took a step to her.

“Yeah, and shouldn’t we all have known that something like that would happen, if I’m in a room with Black?”

Lily smirked slightly. “Yeah, maybe next year we should make a duelling competition, so that the two of you can act out your enmity in a more controlled environment.”

“Maybe that’s a good idea,” Severus said.

“And…” Lily was hesitating a moment, “and I’m sorry that I broke up with you in year five. Maybe you wouldn’t have gone over to the Dark Side if I’d stuck with you…”

Snape looked at her in surprise. He had never expected her to apologize. “Maybe,” he said, “but then I couldn’t have warned you.” After a second thought, he added:
“And maybe you wouldn’t have married Potter but me instead.”

Lily’s eyes widened. “I never guessed…” she whispered.

“See you next New Year’s Eve,” Severus said and Disapparated.

**

New Year’s Eve 1986/87

“I want to duel, too” Harry said.

“Nah,” Sirius told him, “you’ve got to grow first. But you
can watch how this year I’ll hex Snape into the wall.”

Moony laughed. “Be careful, Padfoot, last year HE won the dueling competition.”

“And the year before I won,” Sirius answered. “And so I will this year.”

Since that first New Year’s Eve after You-Know-Who’s downfall, Lily had arranged a dueling competition at her New Year’s Eve party each year. It was quite famous now. Usually Snape, Sirius, James and Moony took part, and some other wizards. During the last six years, Snape and Sirius both had been the winner twice, Moony and James once each.

Mundugus Fletcher was taking bets; Sirius and Snape were the favourites, of course.

Sirius glanced over to Snape. Some blond witch Lily had introduced to him was standing at his side, obviously admiring him. Sirius couldn’t imagine what for. Snape however did not seem interested in her; he never seemed to be interested in any of the women Lily tried to pair him off with.

Sirius wondered whether Snape was gay. Not that Sirius would think that a bad thing, after all he was bisexual. Unfortunately he hadn’t found a woman yet who was willing to share him with a man from time to time.

“Want to make a bet?” Mundugus asked Harry.

The boy nodded. “I set 5 knuts on Sirius.”

Sirius smiled proudly. His godson was such a fine boy.

“Duelling time!” Lily called.

Sirius, Moony, James and Snape rose. So did four other wizards who would take part in this year’s competition. A random generator decided who would duel whom in round one. Sirius got a wizard named Knightley. Sirius bowed then had a rather short fight against him. Knightley was not bad, but no match for Sirius.

Sirius watched with interest as Snape beat his opponent, a witch called Violet. James and Moony, too, won against their opponents. So next round Sirius would fight James.
Sirius grinned as he faced his best mate. He was sure he’d win. They bowed then raised their wands. “Petrificus Totalus!” Sirius called.

James quickly fended off the curse and threw another one at Sirius. In that fashion a few minutes passed, then Sirius got hit by a curse. Sirius was blown off his feet and thrown a few feet through the room. Dammit, James had won! Now he wouldn’t even come to duel Snape this year.

Glowering Sirius scrambled to his feet. James was already being congratulated by his wife and his son. With a forced smile Sirius went over to James and shook his hand. “Now it’s up to you to show Snape his place, mate,” he said.

James smiled. “First it’s Moony against Snape.”

Of course, Snape wasn’t in the finale yet. Sirius had totally forgotten about that. So he sat down and watched with interest as Moony and Snape bowed, then started duelling. It was a long and hard fight, both were very good at what they were doing. But then, for a flicker of a second, Snape seemed distracted. Was it because of Lily calling his name to cheer him on?

Moony’s next curse hit, Snape was blasted into the wall.

“YAY!” Sirius called, jumping to his feet. Harry was applauding loudly; the boy wasn’t especially fond of Snape.

“Well done, Moony,” Sirius said, clapping Moony on the shoulder. At the other side of the room he saw Snape slowly rising to his feet, helped by that blond witch.

“So it’s you and me left, Remy!” James reminded him.

Sirius leaned back relaxedly and watched the last duel. Moony obviously had a winning streak – after a few minutes James fell.

“Congrats mate!” Sirius shouted.

**

Severus was sitting in an armchair, wondering whether it was time to leave the party. Susan, the witch Lily had introduced him to, had already left. Not without asking him to write her. Like hell he would.

Maybe he should leave, too, but at the moment he felt so comfortable watching Lily talking to Lupin at the other end of the room. He hardly saw her more often than once a year, on New Year’s Eve.

“Hey, Snape!” to his displeasure, Black sat down on the chair beside him. “Whiskey?” Black offered.

“Thank you,” Snape answered and took the offered glass. Carefully he took a sip. It burned like fire.

“How is your date? Has she already left?” Black asked.

“Fortunately,” Severus replied.

Sirius laughed. “What did you not like about her, she was quite pretty?”

“I don’t fuck everything I can get as some others here do,” Severus answered.

To his dissapointment, Black only smirked. “Your problem,” he said. “Here, take another firewhiskey…”

**

Sirius woke up the next morning with a terrible headache… perhaps he had drunk too much firewhiskey. Groaning he sat up… he was lying in Lily’s and James’s small office room, on the floor. How had he gotten here? He darkly remembered Snape, getting drunk on a bottle of whiskey with him, going to a “quiet room”…

WHAT?!?

Sirius sat up and looked around. There, Snape was lying next to him on the floor, stark naked.

That couldn’t be true, he couldn’t have been THAT drunk?

“Snape!” he called, shaking him awake.

Groaning Snape sat up, looking around in confusion. When he saw Sirius, he got green in the face, retched and threw up. Sirius felt slightly offended –he was the one who ought to feel sick at having slept with Snape, after all.

Some memories of last night came back to Sirius. It had been quite… wild. As if they had been trying to make up for not duelling this New Year’s Eve.

Snape wiped his mouth, then stared at Sirius. “Don’t you dare telling anyone!” he whispered.

“Certainly not,” Sirius replied, “I have a reputation to protect.”

Snape gathered up his clothes and his wand, then disapparated. Sirius started giggling. Life was so absurd sometimes.

**

Summer 1991

“Come in,” Severus called when someone knocked on his door.

“Hello Severus,” Sirius Black said grinning broadly, rushing in as if he owned the house. And looking forbiddenly handsome.

“I wonder what got into my head when I gave you my private address.” Severus said, putting aside the book he just had wanted to read.

“Maybe you just hoped to get fucked on a regular basis,” Sirius Black replied. Since that unwholesome New Year’s Eve 1987 they had from time to time met secretely and, well, had sex. Severus often wondered what had gotten into him, to sleep with Black of all people. But then in some Freudian way it made sense – when he was sleeping with a woman, he felt as if he was betraying his one true love. With men, it was different. And then Black, maybe he was the closest he could get to Lily.

“Bedroom?” Snape asked. Sirius nodded.

**

Severus thoughtfully gazed at Black, who was still sitting at the side of the bed, chattering about. Why was he still here? He had gotten what he’d come for, and now after it, why did he stay? Was he actually trying to make conversations with him? To build up a … relationship? The thought was so ridiculous that Snape almost laughed out loud.

“….and Harry is going to go to Hogwarts this autumn…”

“Don’t remind me,” Snape interupted, “I will have to teach that spoilt brat how to brew potions.” Snape drew a face.

“My godson is no brat,” Black replied.

“He’s just as bad as his father was at that age,” Snape said.

Black grinned. “Not quite as bad.” Then he grew serious. “You’ll keep your grudges forever, won’t you?”

“Yes,” Severus replied, “and now get out of here.”

Black smirked, shrugged and reached for his clothes. “If you wish.” Gracefully he put them on and raised. At the door he stopped, turned around and said in a slightly threatening voice: “Don’t make Harry pay for how we treated you.”

**

September 1991

This was the most exciting day in Harry’s life. Today he would enter Hogwarts. He looked around with excitement on platform 9 and three quarters. Hundreds of wizards and wizarding children were filing in.

Not even the wizarding duel competition on New Year’s Eve was as exciting.

His mum and dad looked excited, too. Especially his mum. “And you can write us anytime, if you need anything… Just send Hedwig with a letter.”

Harry smiled. His parents had given him this beautiful owl for his birthday. “Don’t worry, Mum, I’ll be fine,” he said confidently.

His father smiled nostalgically. “Ah, good old Hogwarts… we really had a great time there, Sirius, Remus and I…” his face darkened… “and Peter.”

“Who is Peter?” Harry asked.

“A rat,” his father replied. “He changed sides and betrayed us to You-Know-Who… but we were saved and he vanished after the war.”

Harry remembered something. “The Boy Who Lived… do you think I will meet Neville Longbottom?”

“Certainly,” his mum answered, “he is about as old as you.”

“Now, you’ve got to get on the train, or it will leave without you!” his father said. Harry hurried to get his trunk on the train, then waved out of an open window until his parents were out of sight. Time to find a department…

Harry searched for a while for a free place then found a department with enough space left. A redhaired boy was sitting in the department. “Hi!” Harry called. “I’m Harry Potter, and you?”

“Ron Weasley,” the boy replied, slightly shy looking. “I'm so excited about going to Hogwarts! What do you think, which house will you be sorted in?”  

“My parents were both Gryffindor,” Harry said, “so I suppose it will be in Gryffindor, too.”

Ron nodded: “My parents and all my family were in Gryffindor, I hope I’ll be, too. I’d kill myself if I’d get into Hufflepuff or Slytherin.”

Harry nodded earnestly. He understood Ron’s worries.

Ron told him about his family; about his five older brothers and his younger sister. Exciting tales of tricks and pranks they played. Harry, being an only child, could only listen in awe to his stories.

Then the compartment door opened and a girl with bushy hair and rather big teeth came in, followed by a frightened looking, roundfaced boy. “Excuse me,” she said, ”Neville here is looking for his toad…”

Neville? Harry’s gaze travelled at the boy’s forehead. Indeed, there was the lightning formed scar!

“The Boy Who Lived?” Harry called out.

Neville blushed deeply. “Um… yes… but I don’t really remember anything…”

But already Harry and Ron were throwing questions at him, until the girl shouted: “STOP! Don’t you see that it’s too much for him!”

Indeed, Neville looked as if he was close to tears.

“Oh, sorry,” Harry said, “why don’t you sit with us for a while? Here, take a chocolate frog…”

“Trevor… my toad…” the boy stammered.

“Ah yes, we could help you looking for it!” Ron offered.

And so they left their department to help Neville looking for the toad. Not just out of altruistic motives, of course… They just were so excited to meet the Boy Who Lived.
Though Harry was also a bit dissapointed. Neville was not the shining hero he had imagined, but a shy, rather helpless boy. But, well, except for that he was ok.

**
Harry was relieved when he was sorted into Gryffindor. To his amazement the Sorting Hat had pondered on sorting him in Slytherin, but agreed when Harry had begged him to be put in Gryffindor instead.

Ron was there, too, and Neville Longbottom, and that insufferable girl Hermione Granger.

“Who is that?” Neville asked rubbing his scar, “the man talking to Professor Quirrel?"

“That’s Professor Snape,” Ron’s older brother Percy explained, “No wonder Quirrell's looking so nervous. Professor Snape teaches Potions, but he doesn't want to - everyone knows he's after Quirrell's job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape.”

“He’s also a good dueller,” Harry threw in. “He’s a friend of my mum.” Percy looked at him as if he couldn’t imagine that anyone could be friends with Severus Snape. “She invites him to her New Year’s Eve party each year… there’s always a duelling competition, and most of the time either Snape or my godfather Sirius Black wins.”

“Too bad,” George Weasley said, “I really would like good old Snape to lose at those competitions.”

A lot of other Gryffindors nodded in agreement.

“Is he such a bad teacher?” Harry asked.

“I think bad is not exactly the right word,” George said.

“More like ‘sprung from the depths of hell’,” Fred added.

**
Severus let his gaze travel over the first year students, while he was giving his traditional speech. “You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses ... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”

There was Harry Potter of course, that spoilt brat of James and Lily. The boy had already made friends with a redhead called Ron Weasley. Then there was Neville Longbottom, the new celebrity. Severus thought, if Voldemort would indeed come back as Dumbledore expected, the Longbottom boy would be a bad figurehead – shy and scared as he looked.

Then there was Draco Malfoy of course, his best friend Lucius’s son.

Severus turned his attention on Harry Potter. “Your mother was quite good at Potions, I remember. Let us see whether you inherited some of her talents. What is a bezoar?”

Harry shrugged his shoulders. Hermione Granger was raising her hand excitedly.

“I see,” Severus said. "What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching towards the dungeon ceiling.

"I don't know," said Harry quietly. "I think Hermione does, though, why don't you try asking her before she explodes?"

Just as Severus had expected, Harry Potter was just as arrogant as his father.

"Sit down," he snapped at Hermione. "For your information, Potter, a bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite. Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?"

There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape said, "And a point will be taken from Gryffindor house for your cheek, Potter."

**

“…and he is just as arrogant as his father…” Snape said.
Albus looked amused at his Potions professor. “The other staff members see Harry Potter as a fine boy… A bit cheeky, maybe, a bit too adventurous… But intelligent and friendly.”

Snape glowered at him.

“And Neville Longbottom?” Albus said to change the subject.

“If you’re right and the Dark Lord indeed returns and Neville Longbottom will be our last best hope – then we’re in deep trouble.”

Albus had to agree that the Longbottom boy was overly insecure about himself, but he hoped that time would change him. “Keep an eye on Neville, Severus. Oh, and on Quirrel, too, he seems.. changed.”

**

Halloween 1991

Something was definitively wrong. A troll breaking into the castle? What if that was just Quirrel’s attempt to distract them? Snape headed for the third floor instead.
He ran along the corridors and slipped into the forbidden room.

GROWL! The big, three-headed dog was snatching for him. Severus jumped back, but it got him by the leg.
“Immobilus!” Now the monster couldn’t move any longer, but his leg was still trapped. Snape bit his teeth and pulled open the dog’s mouth. Carefully he pulled out his leg. It was bloody and torn.

Cursing under his breath, he looked around. The room looked untouched, but that didn’t necessarily mean, Quirrel was not coming here. With a painfully aching leg he limped towards the door, lifted the spell binding the three-headed dog and slipped out of the room. He would wait here until he was sure that no one would come near.

Leaning on the wall he waited, carefully scanning the floor. There, wasn’t a shadow moving over there, around the corner? Snape followed it. He just saw someone vanishing behind the next corner. “Quirrel, is that you?” Severus asked in his most friendly voice. He was told that he was quite scary when he was friendly.

A moment later, he met Mc Gonagall. “I heard some noises from the girl’s dormitory!” she called and rushed past him. Quickly Severus followed her. Quirrel came around a corner. Severus shot him a suspicious glance, but Quirrel acted as if nothing was wrong.

A moment later, Professor McGonagall had come bursting into the room, closely followed by Snape, with Quirrell bringing up the rear. Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a faint whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.

At the other side of the room, there were – of course – Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and a very scared looking Neville Longbottom. Snape had noticed earlier that Harry obviously had become friends with the Boy Who Lived, possibly to bathe in his glory.

Severus bent over the troll. If it had killed the Longbottom boy…

Professor McGonagall was looking at Ron and Harry. "What on earth were you thinking of?" Minerva said furiously. "You're lucky you weren't killed. Why aren't you in your dormitory?”

Hermione Granger stepped forward and explained something that she had tried to fight the troll on her own and the boys went after her to rescue her. She was lying. Severus couldn’t read her without piercing into her mind, but it was quite clear that she was not telling the truth. He suspected her to back Harry Potter. Probably, it had been his idea to fight the troll on their own. And so he had endangered not only himself, but three other children, including the Boy Who Lived.

**

Harry and his friends Ron, Hermione and Neville were standing outside, when Snape crossed the yard. Harry noticed at once that Snape was limping.   

"What's that you've got there, Potter?" Snape asked.

It was Quidditch Through the Ages. Harry showed him.

"Library books are not to be taken outside the school," said Snape. "Give it to me. Five points from Gryffindor."

"He's just made that rule up," Harry muttered angrily as Snape limped away. "Wonder what's wrong with his leg?"

"Dunno, but I hope it's really hurting him," said Ron bitterly.

Later in the Gryffindor Common Room, Harry was angry with himself. Why should he be afraid of Snape? He’d known him for years, never liked him, but why should he be afraid of one of his mum’s friends? Getting up, he said he would go to the staff room and ask Snape to give back the book.

"Better you than me," Ron and Hermione said together, but Harry had an idea that Snape wouldn't refuse if there were other teachers listening. And if he did, he would mention telling his mum.

He made his way down to the staffroom and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. Nothing.
Perhaps Snape had left the book in there? It was worth a try. He pushed the door ajar and peered inside… Snape and Filch were inside, alone. Snape was holding his robes above his knees. One of his legs was bloody and mangled. Filch was handing Snape bandages.

"Blasted thing," Snape said. "How are you supposed to keep your eyes on all three heads at once?"

Harry tried to shut the door quietly, but "POTTER!"

Snape's face was twisted with fury as he dropped his robes quickly to hide his leg. Harry gulped.

"I just wondered if I could have my book back."

"GET OUT! OUT!"

Harry left, before Snape could take any more points from Gryffindor. He sprinted back upstairs.

"Did you get it?" Ron asked as Harry joined them.

"What's the matter?"

In a low whisper, Harry told Ron, Hermione and Neville what he'd seen.

"You know what this means?" he finished breathlessly.
"He tried to get past that three-headed dog at Halloween! That's where he was going to when we saw him - he's after whatever it's guarding! And I'd bet my broomstick he let that troll in, to make a diversion!"

Hermione's eyes were wide. "No, he wouldn't," she said. "I know he's not very nice, but he wouldn't try and steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe."

"Honestly, Hermione you think all teachers are saints or something," snapped Ron.

Neville nodded his head. “I w…wouldn’t put anything past Snape.”

But what was Snape after? What was that dog guarding? Harry wondered. He’d talk to his dad about it on Christmas.

**
Christmas 1991

James was excited to have Harry back home for Christmas. Of course Harry had told them a lot of things in letters, but he wanted to hear him telling everything, too.

“So, you’re friends with Neville Longbottom?” he asked as soon as they had settled down in the living room.

“Yes,” Harry answered. “He’s actually quite shy, and he forgets EVERYTHING. But he’s ok. My best mate is Ron Weasley. And Hermione, she’s about the cleverst girl in the world.”

“McGonagall is still teaching Transfiguration?” Lily asked.

“Yeah, and then there is Snape, but of course he was no teacher when you were students…”

James and Lily looked at each other and smiled. They listened with interest to Harry’s story – blimey, they had even fought a troll – until Lily went into the kitchen to prepare dinner.

“Dad…” Harry said hesitatingly.

“Yes, Harry?” James asked.

“Could it be that Snape is really… evil?”

James hid a smile behind a hand. “I bet,” he murmured. Aloud he said. “Why do you think so? Was he nasty to you in class?”

“Yes,” Harry said, “but actually he is most nasty to Neville… and I think he is after something important Dumbledore is hiding…”

“What makes you think that?” James asked slightly alarmed. Then he listened to Harry’s story. There was a forbidden room on the third floor, and Harry and his friends had found out that in it a trap door was guarded by a gigantic three headed dog. And that because of a wound in Snape’s leg they suspected him to have tried to get past the dog.

To be honest… James wouldn’t put it past Snape. Though of course it would be interesting to know what exactly was hidden there. Probably some incredibly powerful artefact. The dark-arts-possessed Snape he knew would be very interested in power.

But maybe he was just wanting to believe Snape to be evil because he had always disliked him. “Don’t worry about that,” he said to Harry, “whatever Dumbledore is hiding, I think it is safe down there.”

“But…” Harry said.

“No but, Harry,” James said. “Leave Snape alone.”

But Harry wouldn’t have been James’s son if he just left it at that. He was determined to find out whether Snape was trying to steal whatever was hidden beneath the trapdoor. And maybe James expected the same from him, because the day after Christmas he came to Harry’s room.

Harry’s room was prettily furnished, but the usual mess of a boy of his year, with Quidditch books all over the floor.

“I have another present for you,” James said. “But don’t tell your mum, she wouldn’t approve.”

“What is it?” Harry asked excitedly, unwrapping the big green box. Inside was… a silvery grey coat. Harry frowned.

“It’s an Invisibility Cloak,” James explained.

“Really?” Harry said and took it on. With joy and excitement he saw his body vanishing.

“It allowed Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail and me a lot of mischief at school,” James said dreamily.

“Who is Wormtail?” Harry asked.

James’s face darkened. “Someone I’d rather forget. He seemed to be a friend at school, but then he betrayed us to You-Know-Who. He disappeared after his downfall.”
Harry thought it best not to question the matter any further and asked his father to tell him stories about his adventures at school instead.

**
Months later

Harry looked worriedly at the flying keys. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville had spent all year trying to find out what was hidden under the trapdoor. Looked like it was Nicholas Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone (that’s what Hermione found out).

And tonight, when while Dumbledore was gone… well most likely Snape would try to steal it now. That is, not if he and his friends could prevent it.

“Alright,” he said, “we’ll take the brooms and…” Neville looked sick with fear… “Ron and I’ll take the brooms and then we’ll try to get the right key…” Sometimes he wondered why he was dragging Neville along, but it seemed somehow of vital importance.

Harry mounted his broom and started flying. There were all kinds of glittering keys, which one could be the right one? There, one looked rather battered, as if Snape had already used it… Harry dived for it, caught it, and---
Suddenly all the keys started to attack him. Harry threw the key at Neville, who quickly opened the door, and started to fly after his friends. Hard, heavy keys hit his head and he just so realised that he and his friends entered the door… then he lost consciousness.

**

Harry woke up later with a terrible headache. He looked around. Hermione was sitting at his bedside, and in another bed Ron was lying.

“Neville?” Harry asked.

“Neville is fine,” a voice at the door said. Harry turned his head and saw Albus Dumbledore approaching. Ron was also sitting up. “He is in another room. His grandmother is just looking after him.”

“What happened?” Harry asked.

“Well, each of you solved one of the hindrances we build to protect the Philosopher’s Stone, so that finally Neville could enter and face Professor Quirrel.”

“Quirrel?” the children asked unisono.

“Yes,” Professor Dumbledore said merrily, “Professor Quirrel. Neville already told me that you have suspected Professor Snape, but I assure you, he is on our side.”

“But… he’s always so nasty!” Harry called out.

Dumbledore nodded his head, “I was told he can be quite nasty. However, Professor Quirrel was working for Voldemort, partly possessed by him. Neville will want to tell you the details later… Anyway, Neville was the winner in this meeting.”

“Neville won against You-Know-Who all by himself?” Harry called in disbelief.

“Funny that you’re so surprised about that, Professor Snape felt the same when I told him,” Professor Dumbledore said.

Harry blushed. “I didn’t mean to talk badly about Neville, it’s just…”

“He is the Boy Who Lives, Harry,” Professor Dumbledore said earnestly. “He has not yet found his true potential. There is a big lack of self confidence in him. Maybe you as his friends can help him to develop it.”

Harry was looking to Ron and Hermione. They looked very soberly at Dumbledore. “You were a great help for him already,” Dumbledore added. “You can be proud of yourselves.”

**
Summer 1992

“You know what Severus?” Sirius Black said, lying sprawled in bed while Severus put on his clothes. Severus raised an eyebrow: since when was Sirius Black calling him by his first name?

“I’m really proud of my godson,” Black said. “The Boy Who Lived would be lost without Harry.”

“You mean, Neville Longbottom cannot get into trouble all by himself?” Severus asked.

“Sometimes I envy you, Severus,” Black said, “not that I don’t like my Auror job… but being at Hogwarts all the time…”

“Oh yes,” Snape said, “if there weren’t all these students..” he rose, buttoning up his robes.

Sirius Black laughed. “I really don’t understand why you of all people became a teacher, if you hate children that much.”

Gazing at Sirius Black, Snape said: “I must be a masochist.”

Black smirked but ignored the quib. “Do I see you next Wednesday?”

Snape nodded curtly, then left the room.


TBC

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