Forlorn Hope

Horatius Ferox Snape

15 Horatius Ferox Snape

He stirred from what he could tell was not a peaceful eight-hour sleep, moaning slightly as the pain caught up with him. All his muscles ached as if he'd done a week's worth of chores at the Dursleys last minute- even his bones hurt!

"How long?" He asked mechanically, before he even realized he wasn't in the bright white hospital wing.

"Ten days." The voice scared him worse than if Voldemort himself had answered. With its sound flooded back all the events leading to his long sleep. Shit! This can't be good… "How are you feeling?"

"Um, fine, sir?" He answered uneasily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"Drink," The professor said, thrusting a vial into his hand, "and tell me how you really feel… that is a numbing solution, and do not think I would fail to know the side effects of taking a potion under the wrong conditions. Tell me, exactly what part of 'take right before bed' did you mistake for 'take before supper'?"

"Sorry, sir."

"No use now, though I do hope you shall think of checking if a potion must be taken with food next time… this particular serum renders one comatose up to a month." The man stood from the chair beside the bed, stretching. "I suggest you dress while I momentarily excuse my self."

"Yes, sir." He nodded instantly, watching the man close the door.

Ten days... wasn't he supposed to be in school by now? Why the hell did he have to take the potion early? Now Snape was mad at him… wasn't that why he took it, so that he wouldn't forget later and have Snape mad at him? Why can't anything ever go right? Snape probably thinks me a moron who can't even be left alone while unconscious now! He huffed mentally, noting the chair by his bed. Oh how he hoped this would not turn into yet another subject with which Snape could critique him in class. Well, not in class perhaps, but he doubted Snape would change what had given him so much pleasure for over four years in one go…

Not wanting to bug Snape, he dressed quickly, stopping dead in his tracks as he passed a mirror. He wasn't Harry anymore. Even after seeing his face in the Headmaster's office two weeks ago, he wasn't ready for this. He was taller with a fuller build, the muscles he could not see this summer appearing toned and powerful. His skin had a light tan, though still appearing pale compared to his old complexion. His hair looked rugged, not messy, falling below his ears and lower the farther back it got. He had inherited just enough of his mother's curl to keep it from falling flat like Snape's, though it still felt soft and silky when he brushed his bangs aside. It would look great pulled back like Charlie's, if he could grow it out a bit. He threw on a shirt, covering his six-pack as he tore himself away from the mirror and stopped before the black velvet box once more. If Snape hadn't taken it back in ten days he wanted Harry to wear it- right? He wasn't Harry anymore, was he? He was Horatius Snape now… Horris. He wondered if the name would always feel so strange and foreign… so wrong.

"You do not need to wear it." A voice cut through his musings, making him drop the box he had been fingering. "You cannot wear the Potter crest anymore, but if you would prefer I will ask the Headmaster for a Hogwarts one like your friends Weasley and Granger wear…"

"I didn't hear you come in, sir, sorry."

"I would be amazed if you did." Snape stated bluntly, "I will try to remember to knock next time."

"Thank you, sir." He looked at the crest again, "Have you… have you seen the Potter crest, sir?"

"Yes, why?"

"I haven't." Well, Snape was being blunt, right? The man raised a brow, "What, um, what did it … I mean-"

"What does it look like?" Snape asked. Horris nodded. "The prominent figure is a big bird, eagle or hawk… bluish-gray plumage with a white head. Behind it are a bow and red rose crossing much like the dagger and wand do on the Snape emblem. Do not ask what the symbols mean for I frankly neither know nor care." The last was stated with audible distaste, a sour expression on the professor's face. "They never showed it to you?"

"No, sir." The man's face turned neutral again.

"Either way, if you do not feel comfortable wearing the family clasp know that I will not hold it against you… the transition is hard enough on you without having to worry about political correctness. If you are curious about anything, or unsure of what to do, ask." Horris nodded, bewildered enough by Snape's calm and acid-free tone. "Now, do you feel up to coming down or shall we eat breakfast here?"

"If it's not too much trouble…" He said uneasily, "could we have it here, sir?"

"None at all."

He, Horris, watched the man order breakfast from the elf he understood to be Mertitch, amazed at how differently Snape acted now. Was it that he no longer looked like James? Every time he thought he had Snape figured the proverbial snitch dove with a sideways swirl. He really ought to stop calling him that, 'Snape' also meant him now, after all. 'That Man' would not do either and 'Professor' was too, well, formal. He'd have to call him that in class, and probably 'Father' in front of everyone, addressing him as 'Sir' was safe enough… but in his head?

"After the meal, properly showing you the property seems in order, then perhaps you could meet with Alexander and enjoy yourselves… he and his mother are staying in the guest cottage you Flooed in through. He seems agreeable enough and the next week and a half shall prove rather boring for you. I will need to have a few discussions with you concerning proper etiquette, but afterwards you are free to do whatever you wish… I trust I need not stress the importance of not exposing your other identity?"

"No, sir."

The 'quick tour' lasted several hours, making Horris glad that his sleep had ended at six in the morning. The manor had four stories and three wings, one of which being entirely devoted to guests. There were two different ballrooms and at least seven sitting rooms located all over the house. Added to that were at least three libraries, one of which Horatius had to swear never to enter without Snape, each of the others was at least the size of the one at Hogwarts. The basement held four potions labs and an array of dungeons and catacombs that not even Snape seemed willing to explore in detail. An observatory was located atop the central wing, filled with equipment that would certainly make Hogwarts jealous. The halls were filled with paintings and portraits, though lacking the many suits of armor that graced the halls at Hogwarts.

It was after lunch that Horris ventured towards the cottage to fetch Alexander, hoping the young Muggleborn wizard would become the bane of his boredom for the remainder of his stay. The boy turned out to be about his height with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes and a complexion similar to Ron's.

"So you're Horatius…"

"Horris." He corrected, "And you're Alexander."

"Alex'll do, play Quidditch?" He had to try hard to keep the glee from showing in his eyes.

"Sort of, I forgot my broom though."

"I'll be damned if a house this bloody big ain't got its own shed or two if not a pitch… and I've seen the latter." Nope, all attempts to try and hide his suddenly joyous mood were forgotten, this place has a Quidditch pitch?

"You serious?"

"Rich society one-oh-one… didn't your dad show ya around? Kid… you okay?" No, he was definitely not okay. "Shit! Sorry kid… you not ready to call him that, are ya? I'm such an ass! Want me to scram?"

"No…" Horris said firmly, "I just… I need to fly."

"Born in the air, ay? I'm just like that too, only part of this back-to-Muggle deal that bugs me… You know? Got a Nimbus oh-three, Headmaster said I could keep it, long as I never use it outside… gave me a trunk that's got enough room to fly though, one of the multi-key thingies Aurors usually lug around… said I could fly in there, you ever seen one?" Horris nodded, walking alongside Alex as they neared the house.

"What's wrong?" He asked, seeing Alex stop dead in his tracks and tug Horris' robe sharply.

"Mr. Snape told ya 'bout them right? The cats?"

"Oh, yeah… they won't bite me," noted Horris.

"He said they are magicked to kill intruders so Mom n' I aren't supposed to go near 'em without him with us."

"Oh."

"Rather not risk it if ya know what I mean…"

"I wouldn't either." Horris admitted, "You sure the broom shed's in there?"

"I said a member of the family, Alexander; they will not attack anyone Horatius accompanies of his own free will." Both boys jumped; Horris glad at not being the only one.

"Mr. Snape!"

"We didn't hear you come, sir."

"I had forgotten to mention several things, Horatius, one of which is the presence of anti-tracking wards around the property. These will allow all magic done here to be untraceable by the Ministry, and I see no need to alter them if you do not abuse the privilege. This extends to you as well, Alexander." It was as if Christmas had come early, at least when one considered where Horris had thought he was going. He was allowed to do magic and no one would bug him about it! He only hoped his expression was not as dreamy as it felt, as he attempted to compose himself and thank Snape. "You may use your old wand for now, though a new one will be necessary before you return to school. The rest of your supplies have already been bought."

"Thank you, sir," replied Horris.

"Come on Horris, let's 'accio' our brooms and go!"

"Already found the Quidditch pitch, Alexander? I thought you were to wait with your mother until Horatius came?" said Snape.

"Yes, sir." Alexander said solemnly, Snape's voice having returned to the icy tone he often used in class.

"The broom shed only has Comet 360's, Horatius," Snape turned to him, the icy air depleting, "though I expect a lesser broom will allow you an ample challenge?" Horris nodded, watching the man disappear into the manor.

"How good are you, exactly?" Alex asked, making Horris stop watching Snape disappear. "If he thinks you need a ten-year broom difference to get a challenge… and I know that guy doesn't exaggerate!" Oh, what the hell…a little boast can't hurt. Horris mused,

"Oh, I could probably give Potter a run for his money… on equal brooms that is."

"That's something he has never had to face before." Alex stated matter-of-factly, reminding him somewhat of a Quidditch Hermione.

"Didn't he have the worse broom second year?" Horris asked, hoping to defend himself without blowing his cover.

"Nah… Qudditch Illustrated made it seem like he did, of course, but even they admitted that there's no difference between he oh's, oh-one's and oh-two's a few issues before their Hogwarts special… the later models are just a bit quicker but lack the control of the oh's. This here is the first one that's actually better than the oh."

"Still, his wasn't better."

"You sound like I've personally insulted ya… besides, the oh was better if he happened to prefer handlin' to speed. That's most important to seekers ya know, ability to turn on a pinhead. Either way he's got a Firebolt now… Nimbus' got nothing on them at all. Anyways, stop talkin' and start flying!"

"Are you alright, Horatius?"

"Not really, sir." Horris admitted, shaking slightly. Right now he wanted to go back to Alex and their do-whatever-you-want while keeping out of Snape's hair antics. Who would have thought this would be so unnerving? Correction, how the hell did this not terrify him his first year?

"I assure you, you will do fine, no matter where the Hat sorts you." Snape responded, "Even Gryffindor." The playful smirk gracing his lips… the one Horris had discovered only after one of the hexes in the mock-duel Alex challenged him to bounced off his shield and hit the man, making him sprout flowers all over. That was the expression he wore after seeing their terrified expressions and hitting them with his own 'little' hex. At least with the two of them Snape opened up a bit… a really tiny bit, but it was something, after all… Horris would have dreaded doing that alone. The memory, coupled with the slight weight on his shoulder did wonders to ease his nerves.

"Thanks." He muttered, knowing his father (as Alex had eventually made him classify Snape) was expected in the Great Hall.

"…a month or so ago and I know many of you have wondered as to our Potions Master's whereabouts." The headmaster confirmed, tidbits of his speech carrying to where Horris waited, "And thus, today, I ask you to welcome a new addition to our student body and the reason for Professor Snape's absence. I hope that you all make him feel welcome and prove the hospitality of our halls."

"Horatius?" He turned at the sound of his name, the constant exposure easing the strangeness of its sound. "I am Professor McGonagall, dear, follow me please." She led him where he could have easily gone himself, not that he was stupid enough to tell her, holding the Hat in one hand and the stool in the other. Judging from the silent stares his name had already been announced. "Now, sit and just put this on… go on."

Ah, the son of Snape is finally himself, is he? He heard in his head, Very good, very good. You have done well in Gryffindor, young man, though I see you do not wish to return there? A new start you want, very wise, very wise. Will you fight again or trust in my judgment this time, hmmm?

Depends where you plan on putting me. Horris answered, not wanting to get mad at the Hat for having known he was Snape's son all this time.

You lack the patience to be in Hufflepuff I fear, Ravenclaw?

Me in Ravenclaw… care to see my scores from last semester? Horris asked in disbelief. How in the world can you justify Ravenclaw?

You have the mind, if you'd try, but alas, I stand by my first year's choice.

Slytherin…Horris stated knowingly,

Gryffindor. The Hat answered, though the need to prove yourself is in you still I see, even if it's not the world's acceptance you seek now.

"You are more stubborn each time I put you on" Horris mumbled his voice too low for anyone to hear.

And you more Slytherin.

Then put me there already! Horris yelled in his mind, annoyed with the Hat to no end. He knew that's were he'd be put, why didn't the Hat?

"Slytherin!" It finally shouted, making Horris smirk as he caught the bewildered expression on his father's face. It was so ironic, the house he had once fought not to be placed in he actually fought for now, though the battle had been far harder than he expected. Whispers of 'I knew it' and 'Where else would it put him?' didn't annoy him, reassuring him of his decision. At least everyone expected this, meaning they didn't suspect… anything. No one besides Ron and Hermione would ever consider Harry Potter in the Slytherin House a possibility, especially not the other Slytherins. He knew them least; after all, not even recalling the names of his green year mates (save Draco and the surnames of his two goons.) Now all he had to worry about was surviving.

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