I DO NOT OWN ANY CHARACTERS. ALL BELONG TO J. K. ROWLING
It seemed to be a typical summer afternoon at the Leaky Cauldron. People were rushing in and out to eat for lunch breaks and the roar of chatter within the building could be heard from several shops away. Hidden and secluded in one of the rooms were two wizards that very much hated each other.
Harry looked at Snape as he paced the wooden floors, walking from the only door to the small window on the opposite wall and back again. His dark hair fell over his face with every step, and there were faint lines under his eyes that showed obvious signs of stress. Though the dark prince kept his sentiments to himself, anxiety was evident in his furrowed brows as the sounds of shuffling feet against wood echoed throughout the room.
Harry sat in the corner, off to the side and out of the way where his hands were folded in his lap. The young wizard felt the tension coil around his body and awkwardness settle in the bottom of his stomach at the unwelcome situation he found himself in.
"Professor Snape, do I really have to live with you this summer?" Harry asked somewhat hesitantly.
Snape stopped pacing, rotated on the spot with his usual grace and fixed Harry with his trademark stony glare. This whole situation had Harry feeling as though he was being punished, severely. It was like the beginning of a never-ending nightmare.
"Unfortunately Potter, you do. Although we both loathe the idea of residing anywhere near one another," the man sneered, "you'll be pleased to know that you will not be returning to the Dursleys' for the rest of this summer. It is the Headmaster's wish that I teach you Occlumency and tutor you in Potions. Talents in which you most certainly lack, however excellent you may think you are," Snape drawled in a low rumble, sarcasm laced in his voice.
"The Headmaster, in his infinite and inexplicable wisdom, has expressed a desire for you to reside with me. Furthermore, we are to address each other with our respectful titles," Snape said clearly uncomfortable with this idea. He glanced at Potter, and immediately wished he hadn't. He saw Lily Evans' beautiful emerald green eyes staring straight back at him.
'Damn those eyes, and damn that old coot, forcing me to look after the brat for the holidays! If he thinks that this will change anything, he will be sorely mistaken.' He quickly turned away. No better than his father: arrogant and spoiled,' the man reminded himself silently.
Snape continued with difficulty that even Harry could see. "In other words, I shall address you by your first name and you shall address me as Professor or Sir. Understood?"
Harry immediately nodded as Snape's voice left no room for argument. "Yes, Professor Snape."
"Po-Harry..." he stuttered slightly over the unused name, "we shall be traveling by portkey to my house. Get up and follow me."
When Harry didn't immediately stand up, Snape turned and took a giant step towards Harry, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him from the seat. Snape, who loathed having to make any body contact with the boy who reminded him so much of the raven-haired boy's father, quickly released him. With swift movements, the professor was in front of the door before the boy even knew what was happening.
"Well?" Snape snapped, turning to see the motionless boy, "Are you just going to stand there? Do try and keep up."
Without waiting for a response, Snape swirled around, robes billowing like storm clouds behind him as they left their private room. Harry scrambled over his feet to keep up.
Snape walked in a brisk pace, practically gliding down the stairs into the main room of the Leaky Cauldron. The only person there was the wizened, slightly hunchbacked bartender, Tom, who eyed the pair suspiciously as they descended down the stairs. Snape returned the key to their room to the silent bartender without uttering a single word. Without even checking to see if Harry was following, Snape walked towards the Muggle entrance and disappeared into the grey London streets.
Harry followed at a slightly slower pace and kept his eyes on the tall professor, now guardian for the rest of the summer, while navigating through the crowds. Finally the man picked a less crowded side road to exit and Harry quickly followed. It wasn't a side road as Harry had originally thought, but a dimly lit alley. The narrow sided alley was a dumping ground for litter that stank of rotting meat, prompting Harry to scrunch his nose in disgust.
Snape stood a good ten feet from the main road, waiting impatiently for Harry to catch up. His arms were tightly folded across his chest, and were it deemed appropriate, Harry was sure his foot would be agitatedly tapping the tarmac. When Harry was beside him, he held out a little potion-book-made-portkey for the boy to touch. Even then, he was still sneering at the boy down his nose. Once both had a hold, the older wizard activated the charm and the two were pulled away with an angry, gut-wrenching jolt.
Harry landed with a thud on a hard concrete floor, his knees buckling below him and sending him to the hard ground.
"I really do hate portkeys," he muttered, just loud enough for Snape to hear.
"Graceful as always, Potter," The Potions Master quipped, his lip curling.
He took his time to sneer at Harry in disdain when the boy climbed unsteadily to his feet. Snape took off down the road they had landed on; Harry kept trying to do his best to keep up.
Suddenly, Snape stopped, causing Harry to almost run into him. The boy looked around in curiosity to see that they stood in front of a rundown house with boarded up windows. He could not believe that this was where Snape lived.
The house looked like it could collapse at any moment. Half the roof had caved in; rubble, dust and broken bricks lay scattered over the weed-strewn lawn. The walls that were still standing had a sooty black coating and flaking cement, only just holding them together. However, before Harry could ask him anything, Snape had got his wand out and muttered an inaudible incantation.
"What are we
" Harry's voice trailed off as the shack shimmered and began to morph behind what looked like a heat haze. He could only gasp as the hovel of a building transformed into a beautiful white manor. The front of the garden was no longer filled with junk and weeds but instead, a series of different plants blossomed, almost covering the door.
Taken by their beauty, Harry could not divert his eyes from the awe-inspiring manor and the majestic lilies that were blooming up the sides. It was beautiful to behold, yet it felt so strange to the young Gryffindor that this place could be associated with someone as morbid and intimidating as Snape. The juxtaposition of the dark wizard against the spectacular backdrop almost induced a chuckle from the boy, as he found the stark visual contrast amusing.
'Snape was in Slytherin. Surely he shouldn't have flowers growing in his garden. Shouldn't it be skulls and crossbones?' Harry thought couldn't believe that he was going to be living here; the difference between Dudley's old room and the grandeur of the building in front of him was, to say the least, drastic. He could only imagine what luxuries lay waiting inside.
"This is my house, Potter," Snape scowled down at the boy, already forgetting to use his first name. "I realise that it's most likely not as grand as what you're used to, but you better learn to live with it. You will be staying here the rest of the summer and I won't tolerate any foolish behaviour." His voice was harsh and left no room for disobedience. "You're now keyed into the wards" he drawled in his typical insulting manner. Harry felt a stab of annoyance at his teacher's assumption that he had lived anywhere grand.
Snape clearly had not met the Dursleys', an experience he would never wish on anyone, although Harry felt that he could make an exception for Snape. The older man had already made his way to the front door and beckoned for Harry to follow with one sharp flick of the wrist. "Get in," he punctuated sharply while observing Harry like a hawk. Harry hesitantly scrambled over and stepped into the thresholds of Severus Snape's home, trying to forgo the feeling of stepping into a snake pit, the same feeling he had felt in his second year when he had acted as one of Malfoy's lackeys to get some information about the Chamber of Secrets out of him.
Snape was a Slytherin after all.