Ch. 1: Discussions
Notice: Harry's behavior in this chapter may seem off character, but his actions are the basis for the plot.
Snape was on patrol duty and as he looked out a window he saw that blasted Ford Anglia crashing out of the forest and spitting two miscreants and a dog onto the ground. The dog hightailed it for Hagrid's hut while one of the miscreants proceeded to regurgitate all over the ground. Snape stormed out of the castle and made his way to the two wayward students.
He had a deep desire to immediately begin yelling at the both of them, but knew that a vomiting child took in little to any of their surroundings. Snape conjured a glass of water and thrust it into Weasley's hand. The child gulped it down and when he was through Snape replaced the glass with a vial of calming draught which the child also drank. Upon finishing it Weasley finally looked up, then screeched, "Aaahhh!" as he tumbled backwards on to his arse, presumably shocked at seeing his most hated professor standing there before him.
Snape ignored the fumbling child as he removed a notepad and quill from his robes. He scratched down a note and handed it to the red head, "Take this to Madame Pomfrey. She will give you a dreamless sleep potion. You will report to my office for detention at 7:00 PM Friday evening." Hopefully by then the child would have gotten over whatever had terrified him so Snape wouldn't have to deal with a traumatized child. Weasley stumbled to his feet. In a daze he made his way to the castle, completely unaware in his shocked state that his best friend hadn't been given the same instructions and wasn't following him.
Snape turned to the other child in the clearing. "As for you Mr. Potter, as you don't seem as affected by your little jaunt into the woods as your friend was, we will be dealing with your punishment tonight." With that Snape turned and pointed his wand at a log and began slicing a plank from it.
Harry hadn't yet figured out why Snape was cutting a log, but he felt it time to defend himself regardless. "But sir, Hagrid told us to go into the forest. He told us to follow the spiders!" Harry gulped as he started to see the shape of a paddle being carved from the plank of wood.
Snape turned and glared at Harry, "Do not use that as an excuse Potter. Hagrid is a nice enough bloke, but you knew as a first year not to trust his judgment when it comes to safety. Otherwise you would never have assisted him in removing the dragon from his hut or knew you could so easily obtain information from him about that monstrosity of a dog." Snape turned back to his carving, finished the last cut and then cast a sanding charm on the wood. Picking up the paddle and placing his hand on the base of Potter's neck, he directed the child into the castle.
"You said you were following the spiders. I presume that to mean you came upon the acromantula nest and that that is why Mr. Weasley is ill?"
"Yes sir. They threatened to eat us, but the car rescued us."
"Why precisely were you following the spiders?"
"People keep getting petrified and no one was doing anything about it! We were trying to find out what the monster was so we could deal with it."
"You imbecilic child. Of course we're doing something about it. You are a child. This is an adult issue for adults to solve. Just because you are not privy to the actions we have taken does not mean actions have not been taken," Snape stated as he opened the castle doors and led the child towards a set of stairs leading up.
"But we did find out important information. The acromantula told us that a girl died in a bathroom the last time the chamber was opened."
Snape rolled his eyes heavenwards. "Professor Dumbledore worked here at the time that happened, as did other staff members. Not to mention the dozens of ghost swooping around and the hundreds of portraits that were all here at that time and spent many a year gossiping about the events. Myrtle's death isn't exactly a secret Potter."
Harry huffed and crossed his arms, then his brow furrowed. There really had been no reason to enter the forest. There were many, many others he could obtain information from. He would have to remember to make use of the ghost and portraits the next time he went on a quest. They had already progressed up two flights of stairs when they stopped on a landing, waiting for a staircase to swing their way.
"Here, you carry this." Snape thrust the paddle into Potter's hand. The child fumbled with the instrument, then looked up at Snape with large, scared eyes. Snape smirked inwardly as he glared outward. For the next two flights they walked in complete silence. Snape knew how to terrify children. Making them hold and silently contemplate the implement that would soon be used on them seemed to be quite an effective way of deterring future misbehavior.
It was working. Harry was shaking on the inside. Years of practice with the Dursley's had taught him how to appear stoic on the outside while his emotions went haywire inside. That was why he didn't appear as affected by the acromantula, although the thought of being eating by a giant spider made his guts twist. He swallowed and looked down at the heavy implement in his hand.
Finally, Snape spoke. "Why did you not come to an adult with the information about following the spiders?"
"Adults can't be trusted." It was such a simple fact of life for Harry that the comment came out without thought.
"Excuse me." Snape turned and sent a death glare at Potter. "Pray tell Potter, why is it adults cannot be trusted?"
"It simply is. Adults don't care what happens to children. We have to look out for ourselves, no one else will."
Snape seethed on the inside. He had worked as a double agent spy to keep this brat alive, had been bitten by a three head dog, and had even cast a counter-curse to keep this child from plummeting to his death and yet the child had the nerve to say no adults cared what happened to children. "Examples Mr. Potter. If you are going to make this claim you need to support it."
"Well, you already gave two yourself. Hagrid thinking it is okay to raise a dragon at a school and giving eleven year olds hints about how to get past a Cerberus. Then there's Professor McGonagall, sending a group of first years out into the Forbidden Forest for detention at midnight without adult supervision. Though, I suppose the without supervision part could be blamed on Hagrid as he is the one that told us to separate."
Snape's blood boiled. One of his Slytherin's had been sent on that detention as well. He and Minerva had had quite the battle over it in the staff lounge when he had found out.
Harry continued, "Then there is Professor Dumbledore. He set a trap for Voldemort in a school! Well, he'll likely say that he was just helping an old friend. But, if you know an item is likely to draw dangerous attention why would a headmaster hide it in a school! Shouldn't the headmaster's first duty be to the students, not his friend?"
The same protestations had been thrown at the Headmaster by the staff of Hogwart's when he had proposed the plan to hide the stone there.
"Now he keeps the school open even though people keep getting petrified and like you said, he even knows that the monster killed someone before. If adults actually cared about students why is the school open?"
Good question, thought Snape, yet another argument made by the staff to Dumbledore.
"Not that I mind the school staying open. If it closed I'd have to go back to living with the Dursley's, which is just another reason I don't trust Professor Dumbledore. He left me at the Dursley's for 10 years and never once checked up on me. Then when I tell him that I hate it there and beg him to let me stay here or live somewhere else he brushes me off, saying, 'Oh, it can't really be all that bad. They're your family!' Doesn't bother to ask me even one question about why I hate it there. "
They had turned down a hallway and were head towards an unused classroom. "I take it you do not trust the Dursley's either?" inquired Snape.
Harry snorted. "Sure I trust them. I trust them to remember to lock the door to my room so I can't get out until they've made such a mess that they need me out to do chores. I can trust that they will spoil Dudley and never buy me so much as a t-shirt. I can trust that they won't speak to me unless it is to give me orders or to tell me what a worthless freak I am. I can trust that when I get in trouble I won't eat for several days, or may be given only small snacks a few times a day for weeks on end. I once spent three weeks in my cupboard."
"Yeah, just another reason I don't trust the adults here. My first Hogwart's letter was addressed to the cupboard under the stairs. How do you write something like that on an envelope and then not investigate as to why a child is sleeping in a closet? I bet it was the gossip of the castle for a few days, but no one bothered to do anything about it because adults don't care about kids."
"Potter, the letters are addressed with a magical quill. It is unlikely anyone ever glanced at the letter. It certainly never came up in the castle's gossip mill." Snape made a silent reminder to himself to convey to Minerva the importance of reading those envelopes before she takes them to the owlery. They were now standing in the former magical crafts classroom. The school board had deemed magical crafts an unnecessary course, much like their muggle counterparts that were eliminating art class from many schools. The class would probably become an immediate required course if the pure bloods found out that banning it made them in any way similar to muggles. "Anything else?" Snape asked Potter.
"Well, it isn't really about safety, but how are we supposed to trust adults to make good decisions when we have teachers like Quivering Quirrellmort and the Pompous Idiot and the Name Fumbling Ghost?"
Harry glanced down at the paddle still in his hand and hesitantly raised it towards Snape. Snape did not take it. Instead he said, "You will continue to hold that until it is needed. Currently, you will spend sometime in the corner contemplating your coming punishment and how your actions have led to the need for you to be punished." Snape pointed at a far corner and Harry scrapped his feet against the floor as he went where indicated, nibbling his lip and looking downcast at the ground as he went.