L&F 2: Harry Potter and Adrian Snape
Five year old Adrian Snape was sitting at the dining room table with his father. He’d been trying to figure out for the last few days how to ask Snape about seeing his relatives one last time… just to make sure they were still alright. But he wasn’t sure how to ask without hurting this man’s feelings or making him angry.
After a year of living in this wonderful home, he’d come to know two things. One, Severus Snape didn’t hit him when it came to punishments. Oh, no, he had much better ways of doling out punishment that got his point across way better than physical punishment. And two, here he was loved and well cared for, and - most important of all – wanted.
That last one was what gave him the courage to ask his question.
“Father?” he asked finally.
“Would it be alright if we went to see the Dursleys?” he asked, holding his breath while he waited to see if fireworks would begin now.
He began to worry when Snape simply stared at him with an expressionless face. “Why would you want to visit the family that made your life so miserable?” he asked finally.
Adrian shrugged uneasily. “I just want to see how they’re doing,” he mumbled slightly, not knowing how to put into words what he was feeling. He knew his relatives hadn’t cared about him or loved him but they were the only real family he had. Despite the fact that they’d treated him badly when he’d lived with them, it didn’t change the fact that they were still his family.
“Don’t mumble, Adrian,” Snape admonished gently and Adrian wondered if his father knew the dilemma he was having with asking this. ”You know I don’t like it when you speak like that. Say what you want clearly so that people don’t have to guess what it is you’re saying.”
Taking a deep breath, he said it again, clearer this time. “I just want to see how they’re doing.” Then he risked looking at the man who was legally his father. “Please, Father, even if it’s just for a few minutes,” he pleaded.
“Are you sure about this?” Snape asked with a slight frown. “This won’t be like last year.”
Snape looked at his son, thinking back on everything that had been accomplished in the year Adrian had been living at Snape Manor. There was no question that the boy had benefited from the positive attention both from having a family to call his own, and by having a friend. Before coming to live with Snape, he wouldn’t have even asked for anything for fear of retaliation.
He was still trying to get his son accustomed to buying things for himself... it wasn’t exactly working.
Finally, against his better judgement, Snape nodded his answer. He found that he couldn’t deny this child such a simple request, especially since he didn’t ask for things often. He only hoped he didn’t regret it.
That evening found the two of them standing outside a dingy home in a shady part of muggle London.
The Dursleys weren’t that hard to find. After all, Snape had kept tabs on them in case they came after Adrian for any kind of retaliation.
“Why are we here, Father?” Adrian asked in confusion.
“This is where your relatives are now living. Your uncle was fired from his job a month after you were abandoned and the family couldn’t afford to live at Privet Drive anymore.” He purposely left out the fact that the muggle authorities had arrested Vernon Dursley for his attempt at child trafficking. Or that Petunia Dursley had been shunned by all her friends and neighbors for her part in the abuse doled out on a small defenseless child. “Do you still want to do this?”
Adrian suddenly looked scared and horrified as he took in the run down homes, the closed and spray painted businesses and the people who lived on the street. “I don’t like it here,” he whispered, clinging to Snape’s robes as two scantily dressed women walked past them, making lurid propositions. Snape sneered and glared at them until they walked on, laughing as if it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen.
Laying a gentle hand on Adrian’s head, Snape walked them across the street and towards the house that his relatives lived in. Before they could go up to the door, though, Adrian froze in place, breathing heavily as if he’d been running for a while, and his whole body shook with fear.
“Adrian?” Snape asked, peering down at the small child in concern.
The boy simply shook his head slowly before taking a step back, gaze glued on the graffitied door. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, but no sound came out. Snape sighed as he took in the terrified look in Adrian’s eyes and picked him up. “Let’s go home,” he murmured as Adrian wrapped his arms around Snape’s neck and buried his face in his shoulder, shaking like a leaf.
He’d wondered what kind of reaction he would get from Adrian, had been slightly worried it might throw him back to how it had been when he’d resided with these people. The only reason he’d given in to the request had been because he knew Adrian needed to close this chapter in his life… hopefully it didn’t destroy all the boy had gained in the process.
When they were safe once more at home, Snape began to question the wisdom of having taken him there as Adrian’s shaking increased and he realized the little boy was crying. Just what was going through the child’s head?
“It’s all m-my f-f-fault,” Adrian sobbed brokenly.
Snape bit back a curse, sighing in resignation as he walked into the living room, wondering how to understand Adrian’s reasoning for thinking this. “Adrian, I want you to listen to me carefully,” he said softly as he rubbed the boy’s back comfortingly. “This isn’t your fault. Your relatives did something bad and they got caught. It’s not you that did this to them.” He ran his fingers through Adrian’s thick locks, trying to soothe his son. “They did it to themselves.”
“But-” Adrian began before cutting himself off, turning to look up at Snape with tear-filled eyes. Snape could see that he was thinking about what he’d said. “Okay,” he finally whispered but hesitated slightly over whatever he wanted to ask this time. Snape dreaded what he would come out with this time. “Can I sleep with you tonight?”
Snape thought of refusing, having had a hard time to get the boy to sleep in his own bed. Feeling Adrian still shuddering from the fright he’d had, he thought twice about it and reluctantly nodded his agreement. “Just for tonight.”
Snape was awakened suddenly and he frowned as he tried to figure out what it was that had dragged him out of the dream he’d been having. It took him a few more seconds to realize that Adrian was whimpering and jerking in his sleep next to him.
This was something he’d become quite familiar with in the last year. It meant the beginnings of a nightmare.
Adrian had known this would happen, he realized, and was now glad he’d allowed the boy to sleep with him. He pulled the small bundle to him, ignoring the slight tensing of Adrian’s body and began to whisper reassurance in his ear, carding his fingers through Adrian’s hair. It always seemed to sooth him out of whatever nightmare he was having.
It took a few minutes for Adrian to settle again, but he never woke up. Snape had often wondered if that was a good thing or not, but he’d never questioned it. With a yawn, Snape settled the boy snuggly against him and allowed himself to slowly drift back into sleep. If Adrian held to form, Snape would be awakened several more times tonight. Experience had also taught him that they’d both be exhausted by the time morning came.
He found it odd that even though Adrian wouldn’t wake up at all, he still didn’t seem to get the rest he needed, almost like his consciousness wouldn’t completely shut down, even in sleep. He’d have to look into a solution if it ever became a bigger problem, though it only seemed to happen when Adrian was under a lot of stress like he’d been today.
Snape hoped it went away as the boy grew older.
Five days later found them at Malfoy Manor.
He needed to do some research – and get a decent night’s sleep – if he was going to find a solution to Adrian’s sleeping problem. He really didn’t want to go back to the Mind Healer they’d been seeing last year but he wasn’t seeing any other alternatives right now.
Snape had thought the first night had been slightly rough on Adrian, with all the nightmares the visit had caused but the three nights after had found Adrian up… all night! He’d managed to get Adrian to take a couple of naps during the day, but it hadn’t been enough to counter the lack of sleep. Then last night the nightmares had begun again. Snape had woken up to Adrian sleeping on the floor beside his bed between Jax and Inana, who were keeping him warm. The soft sounds of his crying and mumbling pulling him out of his sleep.
Something had to be done.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Snape asked Narcissa an hour after they’d arrived, blinking tiredly.
“Of course not, Severus,” Narcissa murmured, a worried look in her eyes. She’d seen the listless way Adrian had greeted Draco, which was unusual. He should’ve been running off with the blonde boy to play in the potions lab or even outside in the gardens. “You know he’s welcome over any time.”
“You’ll have to keep an eye on him,” Snape murmured, having explained to her about the nightmares starting again and the reason why while they had tea. He knew she was as worried as he was. They’d gone through this together in the first six months of Adrian’s adoption. He didn’t think he’d have kept his sanity if it wasn’t for the Malfoys’ help.
“Don’t worry about Adrian,” she told him with a gentle smile as she led him back to the Foyer. “Go home and rest. I’m sure Adrian will be fine.”
Suddenly a little body attached itself to Snape’s leg before he even made it more than two feet into the room. “Please don’t leave,” Adrian begged tearfully.
Snape clenched his teeth on the scathing remark that tried to escape. This, too, was expected. It was almost like they were back to square one. All they’d gained in the last year had been ruined by one visit… and they hadn’t even laid eyes on the Dursley!
Snape untangled Adrian’s arms from his leg so he could bend down to look into the green eyes of his child. “I’ll be back tomorrow, Adrian,” he told him gently, grabbing at his patience for all it was worth. Losing his temper now would only make things worse. He’d learned that the hard way. “There’s just a few things I need to take care of and I don’t know what time I’ll be done. Do you think you can be good for Narcissa and Lucius for me?”
He could see the fear in Adrian’s eye and the lip biting. These were the first signs Snape had come to recognize in this boy. It meant he thought he was being abandoned. He cursed himself for having given in to Adrian’s request now. He’d known he’d get a reaction from Adrian, he just hadn’t thought it would get this bad. He saw the conflict in the boy’s face but he nodded anyway, trusting that Snape wouldn’t forget about him.
Snape pulled him into a hug and felt Adrian’s hands tangle in his robes before he let go. “I love you,” he whispered softly before taking a step back. Snape kissed his forehead and quickly left in a flurry of green flames before he changed his mind and brought Adrian home with him.
Adrian watched as Snape left, his chest feeling tight and he was panting slightly.
He knew this fear wasn’t rational, but he couldn’t seem to stop it. He felt abandoned… again. He felt Narcissa’s hand come up to rest on his shoulder and felt an overwhelming feeling of hatred he couldn’t control. He wrenched himself away from her before he realized what he’d done. He stared at her, seeing the hurt flash briefly in her eyes and felt the hatred melt away to be replaced by shame so strong that it nearly choked him. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, feeling tears fill his eyes and spill over. “I-“
“It’s alright, Adrian,” she murmured gently, though she didn’t try to touch him again.
The funny thing was, he actually liked the way she fawned over him, just like she did with Draco. This was something aunt Petunia had never done for him and he loved Draco’s mum all the more for giving as much attention to him as she gave Draco. He regretted causing Narcissa pain, for doing something she always did. Would she stop now? Would she hate him for rejecting her attention? He was, after all, happy to call her aunt and Lucius uncle… at least until now. Would that change because of this?
“I’m sorry,” he said again, a sob escaping him before he bolted from the room, looking for somewhere – anywhere – to hide. He heard her call out his name, but he couldn’t seem to stop. Blinded by tears, he didn’t pay attention to where he was going. When he finally stopped, he was in front of a bed.
Not wanting to be found just yet, he crawled underneath, remembering the other times he’d hidden under a bed, just like this. That had been the first time he’d met his father… and then Draco’s room the first time he’d slept over.
Sobbing even harder at the memory, he curled into a tight ball in the darkest shadow and wondered how things could go so wrong when they’d been going so right…
He jerked awake to find Draco sitting on the floor beside the bed he was hiding under, a book in his hands. How long had he slept? Was Narcissa still mad at him for pulling away? He sighed softly at the thought, watching Draco read.
“So,” the blonde boy asked, startling Adrian. “Have you decided if you’re coming out from under my bed yet?”
Adrian blinked in surprise. Draco’s bed? Again? Really? How strange. “Do I have to?” he croaked, his voice hoarse from crying.
“No,” Draco said in a matter of fact tone as he flipped the page and Adrian realized the book his friend was reading one of the books given as a birthday gift: Basic Potion Making. Funny enough, it just so happened Adrian had been the one to give it to him. “You can stay there, but it might be easier to eat lunch sitting down instead of from under there.”
He gave a slight laugh, grinning as he remembered the first time he’d hidden under Draco’s bed. He’d told Adrian the same thing then, too. “It might be safer to stay under here,” he said and his grin grew wider as Draco huffed before leaning down to look at him.
“Will you get out here? I’m starving!” Draco said, glaring at him. “Besides, we’ve done this before. How ‘bout we don’t repeat it?”
Adrian’s grin faded as he looked at his friend uncertainly. “Are you mad at me?”
Draco lay down on his stomach, looking at him as he thought about the question. “No,” he said with a sigh. “I just thought we were over this. What happened?”
“It’s my fault,” Adrian whispered softly. He didn’t think Draco heard him, but the blonde proved just how good his hearing was when he frowned at him.
“What’s your fault?”
Draco rolled his eyes. “That explains a lot,” he drawled sarcastically. “Can you be a little more vague?”
Adrian pulled himself closer to Draco so he wouldn’t have to talk too loud. “We went to see how my relatives were doing,” he said softly, his eyes filling up with tears as he thought back to the area they’d had to move to. “But they don’t live in a good area any more. It was really scary and dirty.” He looked up at Draco and saw the surprise in his eyes, but there was also a look of satisfaction. “If it wasn’t for me running away, they wouldn’t be there,” he finished in a whisper, trying to get his friend to understand what he was trying to tell him.
Draco frowned as he thought of what Adrian was saying before the look in his silver eyes told him that his friend wasn’t too happy with what he was coming up with. “Then you’d be the one living in a prison you can’t escape… or dead,” Draco snapped angrily. “Adrian, you have to remember, if you hadn’t run away, your uncle would’ve sold you. To a man who would’ve hurt you worse than your uncle had! Do you really think that creep would’ve just stopped at beating you?”
Adrian thought about that for a few seconds before he shook his head. “But-”
“No. I overheard Father talking to Mother not long after your first visit. They didn’t think I was around but I was and I was surprised and horrified at what that man you called an uncle wanted to do with you or to you. I know Uncle Sev’s strict and all, but I know for a fact that he would never do to me even half of what your uncle did to you.”
Adrian flinched slightly at the words but knew Draco was right. Severus Snape was strict, but he never struck him or did anything else his own uncle had done to him. “Father said they brought all of it on themselves, but I have to wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I hadn’t left,” Adrian said, his fingers unconsciously twisting in his shirt, his whole body shaking with tension.
He jerked in surprise when Draco’s hands stopped him, his fingers white where they had tangled in the material. “Adrian,” the blonde boy said with a sigh and shook his head, looking at their linked hands. “You have to stop thinking everything’s your fault. You’re going to drive yourself mental if you don’t. I understand what Uncle Sev means. It’s like that muggle saying: what comes around, goes around…” he frowned as he thought about that line and shrugged. “Or however it goes. It’s that… um… curma..? No, Karma thing. Your relatives did a bad thing and now it’s coming back to bite them in the ass.”
Adrian’s eyebrows rose incredulously at the bad word before he started to snicker. “Don’t let your mum hear you say that word or she might just wash your mouth out with soap.”
He laughed as Draco wrinkled his nose at the very thought. “Where do you get these disgusting notions?”
“From the telly when I was living with my relatives. It was in a movie once.”
“Can we eat now?” Draco asked plaintively with a huff.
“Thanks, Draco,” he said softly after they’d been sitting at Draco’s coffee table eating… well, Draco was eating, Adrian mostly pushed his food around his plate. Adrian still wasn’t completely convinced, but he wasn’t feeling as twisted up inside as he had since the visit to muggle London.
Draco shrugged indifferently. “It’s what friends are for.”
That night, Adrian was tucked in his usual bedroom, the one next to Draco’s, by Narcissa. He knew she meant to be comforting, but it didn’t work. He wished his father hadn’t made him stay but he knew better than to disobey the man. By now, though, he didn’t do it because of fear of punishment, he did it because he loved and respected the man.
He stayed perfectly still when she kissed his forehead. This was something else Draco’s mum did. Draco told him it was the type of things all mums did, and Adrian had to agree. Aunt Petunia used to do this with Dudley all the time... but, again, not with him.
Never with him.
At first, Narcissa’s attention towards him had made him uncomfortable, but he’d slowly gotten used to it. Right now, though, he just wished she wouldn’t do that until he could sort himself out, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings again, so he endured what attention she wanted to give him.
He was glad when she left … but he was also sorry that she did. He wanted to be left alone but at the same time, he didn’t and that confused him and made him want to scream in frustration.
He lay there for a while, staring at the far wall, letting his mind drift. It didn’t settle on anything long enough for him to actually make any sense of what was going through it. It was starting to give him a headache again.
Then, when he finally managed to fall asleep, his dreams did the same, flitting from one scene to another in a nauseating way that was scary.
Finally giving up on sleep, he sat up with a tired sigh, knowing it just wasn’t going to happen. Maybe Draco was still awake, he thought wistfully. Getting out of bed, he padded silently out of his room and into Draco’s. He felt a stab of disappointment when he saw the blonde boy’s sleeping form.
Walking closer, he sighed sadly as he saw his friend sleeping peacefully. He wished he was more like Draco, sure of himself and everyone around him. He also wished he’d never lost his family to a man who’d been bent on killing them… even though he liked having Snape as a father.
In that respect, Draco was lucky. He was sure in his knowledge that his parents loved him and would keep on loving him no matter what he did wrong. Maybe that was what he was missing. Sure, he had his father… now, but no one else. Did it really matter? Especially when Narcissa insisting on treating him like he was her son, too?
Not wanting to wake Draco up, but not wanting to be by himself, Adrian sighed again as he lay down on the floor beside Draco’s bed – after all, he didn’t want to wake him up by laying down on the bed beside him – and watched the moon rise outside the balcony windows…
Draco frowned sleepily.
It was silent for a few seconds then he heard the soft whimper again and knew who it was. Adrian was having nightmares again. Getting up quickly, he nearly tripped over his friend in his haste to go find him.
“Adrian,” he called out gently as he knelt down beside the dark haired boy, shaking him gently. Draco was glad when his friend jerked awake quickly. “Come on,” he told Adrian once the boy was aware of where he was. “It’ll be more comfortable on the bed.”
“I’m sorry I woke you,” his friend mumbled as they settled under the blanket.
Draco shrugged before he yawned tiredly. “It’s alright. Just remember, dream of what we’ll do tomorrow instead of everything else. You know you think too much and it just makes the nightmares worse.”
Adrian sighed but nodded. Draco smiled slightly, remembering this was how he’d helped Adrian get over his nightmares the last time… at least while at Malfoy Manor. Reaching out, he took the other boy’s hands in his and squeezed comfortingly. “Close your eyes and think of all the fun we’ll have tomorrow or what you want to do and in the morning, if you feel like it, we’ll do some of it together.”
He saw Adrian nod hesitantly and close his eyes and, through their clasped hands, he felt the tension slowly leave the other boy. After a few minutes of silence, Draco thought Adrian might have fallen asleep again until he heard him mumble sleepily. “Thanks, Draco.”
Smiling over at his friend, Draco allowed his eyes to drift closed, knowing Adrian would finally sleep tonight.
Snape sighed as he stepped through the Floo to Malfoy Manor the next morning. He felt rested, though he’d worried about how Adrian had slept. Knowing his son’s patterns by heart by now, he knew that he might have slept a little. And also knowing the routine of this house, the Malfoy family and Adrian would be at breakfast, so he made his way to the dining room.
He stood in the doorway to the dining room, observing his child as he pushed his food around his plate. Snape was pleasantly surprised to see Adrian somewhat rested, which meant he’d been right and his night hadn’t been as bad as Snape had feared it might be.
Yesterday, after a short nap, Snape had paid a visit to Mind Healer McKay. He was the one who’d help them get through the nightmares the first time when they’d been really bad.
‘Obliviate the memory of the visit from Adrian’s mind’ had actually been the suggestion.
Snape had argued against it from the moment the Mind Healer had said the words, but it was like McKay had pointed out: the nightmares hadn’t started again until after that visit. If they didn’t want to go through another year of nightmares and problems, Snape or someone he trusted was going to have to do it.
“Good morning,” he murmured as he walked in, not really surprised when Adrian attached himself to his leg before he’d gone more than three paces.
“You’re back,” he whispered apprehensively, burying his face in Snape’s robes.
Yes, he was going to have to do it if he was going to preserve whatever sanity his son still had. Sleep had helped a bit but it hadn’t done anything to restore his confidence that he wasn’t going to be abandoned again, because that was the crux of the problem. He’d realized that after he’d left yesterday. Adrian was afraid he was going to be left to the side again.
It was an irrational and irritating fear, but for some odd reason known only to the boy, he seemed to associate whatever happened to his worthless family as still being unworthy of having a family of his own… or being happy as well as it being his fault. Snape still hadn’t figured out how that could be true but then it didn’t have to make sense to him.
It was Adrian it was affecting, not him.
A couple of months after Snape’s adoption of Adrian became legal and seen what the boy had been put through, he would’ve gladly gone back and tortured that bastard of an uncle instead of letting the muggle law deal with him and his family… if he thought he could have gotten away with it, anyway.
As it was, he needed to concentrate on his son’s needs and he was going to need Draco’s and Lucius’ help to do it.
“Did I not say I would?” Snape said gently, resting a hand on Adrian’s dark locks. He felt Adrian nod against him as he carded his fingers through the soft unruly locks. “Go finish your breakfast.”
Snape had come to recognize that tone. Adrian wasn’t going to finish eating. His appetite was gone and from the look of the plate, he hadn’t eaten much as it was. This was also typical of his son. When he was like this, he barely ate.
His gaze flicked over to Narcissa in silent question to his food intake and she simply shook her head minutely in answer. His gaze flicked over to Lucius in silent question, gesturing discretely out of the room and felt relief fill him as the blonde man nodded and got up.
“We’ll be back,” Lucius murmured coolly as he gestured for Snape to follow him.
Snape noticed the slight look of panic in Adrian’s eyes and looked at him sternly. “Eat. I want at least half of your plate gone by the time I come back.” With that, he followed Lucius out of the room.
An hour later found Draco and Adrian sitting on the floor in the living room trying to play a game of checkers – a game Adrian had introduced to Draco, in fact – but it became clear early in the game that Adrian’s thoughts were definitely not on the game.
Snape was glad he’d had a chance to speak to Draco after breakfast to tell him of his part in this. It made it so much simpler to execute this than it would have normally.
“Come on, Adrian,” Draco said in exasperation. “You’re not even trying!”
“I’m sorry,” Adrian mumbled as he rested his head on the side of the couch looking slightly wilted and Snape guessed that he had a headache starting. This was the perfect opening for his plan. Getting up, he handed a potion phial to the child, who looked up at him in surprise before he took it.
Within seconds of taking the potion, he was blinking down at the board game, trying to keep his eyes open. Draco took his cue and helped Adrian lay down on the couch, running his fingers through the thick hair. It was strange how it helped to sooth Adrian, but Snape wasn’t about to complain if it helped.
When they were sure Adrian was asleep, Lucius took out his wand and concentrated on what they wanted Obliviated. Snape didn’t want to completely get rid of the memory, after all. He didn’t want Adrian asking to go see his worthless family again. So Lucius was to blur them slightly. Adrian would remember visiting the Dursleys but he wouldn’t remember the conditions they lived in and he wouldn’t remember the week of nightmares either.
Once Lucius was done, Snape administered the counter to the Sleeping Draught. It would take almost a half hour for it to work, but that was fine… as long as Adrian woke up more like his normal self again.
They held their breaths when Adrian stirred, waking up a little crabby but closer to his regular, normal self. Snape sighed in relief as the Mind Healer’s idea worked… this time. Hopefully this would be the end of it.
Nine year old Adrian laughed softly as the bird sitting on his shoulder twittering in his ear. “That’s funny,” he whispered so the new manager didn’t hear him. His experience with the previous one had taught him to be wary around people he should be able to trust but couldn’t. Or shown him that not everyone liked the fact that he could do something they couldn’t. In fact the old man had made his life miserable when he was there for the six hours a week that his father allowed him to work. This meant he was at the pet shop three days.
Adrian enjoyed himself immensely, seeing as he got to interact with all kinds of animals. So far, there wasn’t any that he couldn’t understand and there had been a lot of them to come through these doors.
He wasn’t quite sure why his father insisted he work here or who owned it but he loved it and often told his father about his time at the pet shop… at least until the last manager had started picking at everything he did.
Adrian had had to keep himself from laughing when he’d found out about one of the spiders biting the old manager after getting out of his tank thanks to the owl next to him. He couldn’t believe that it had bitten the man for treating Adrian the way he was. The poor man had swelled up quite nicely for a week…
…and of course, Adrian had been blamed for it.
This went on for the next three months, with various animals taking their displeasure out on the old manager. And every week, Adrian would drag his feet whenever it came time to go to the pet shop because he didn’t want to deal with the bad temper.
Towards the end, he knew his father had begun to suspect something was wrong but Adrian hadn’t wanted to say anything in case it just made things worse. If he was being blamed for the animals attacking the manager, he didn’t know what would happen if his father got involved.
Three days ago, Draco had come in to talk to him about the sleepover they were supposed to have this weekend. Adrian had known he was going to get it by the dirty looks the old manager was shooting him while he’d been talking quickly to Draco, trying to get his friend out of the store as fast as he dared without arousing suspicions.
After he’d left, Snape came in to pick him up and had, in fact, caught the old manager yelling about having friends over when he was supposed to be working.
Hello, he was only nine. Technically he shouldn’t even be working at all!
Snape, of course, had been livid with the previous manager once he did find out exactly what was going on.
Needless to say, that had been the end of the old manager.
That was also the day Adrian found out that his father owned the pet shop. Well, that was good to know, at least, and it explained quite a lot, like why he was allowed to work there. He couldn’t in all honesty say that he missed the poisonous atmosphere that had been in the shop before, either.
“Adrian,” the new manager called out from the front of the shop.
He nodded to the bird and it flew off to its perch. “See you Saturday,” he told them all as he ran towards the front, grabbing his warm cloak as he passed it, knowing his father was there to pick him up. He actually enjoyed coming here again, but he was careful not to show the new manager his ability until he was sure the man wouldn’t freak out on him.
“Time to go,” Snape murmured as he waited patiently for Adrian.
He grinned up at his father as he followed him towards the door. “See you Saturday!” he called out before the door closed behind them. Taking Snape’s hand, they Apparated to the Hogwarts gates. “Can I sleep over at Draco’s tonight?”
“You’ll see Draco in the morning for your lessons. Tonight you will spend it at the castle with me.”
Adrian recognized the tone. It meant it was the final word on the matter but that didn’t stop him from trying to change his father’s mind every once in a while… tonight wasn’t one of those times, though. “But I don’t like the old man. He’s always staring at me.”
“I know,” Snape murmured with a perceptive nod. “He suspects who you really are but has yet to ask any questions. All you need to do is ignore the stares.”
“Easy for you to say,” he grumbled sulkily, glaring at the snow covered ground, their feet crunching through the fresh dusting as they walked. Suddenly Adrian brightened as a thought occurred to him. “Can I spend a few hours with the Slytherins in the common room tonight then? The twins promised to teach me something new the next time I came around.”
Snape sighed in resignation as he thought of just who in Slytherin that he was wanting to visit with. Adrian knew his father didn’t like the fact that he had formed an attachment towards the Weasley twins. He also knew that, when they’d been sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor like the rest of their family, it had caused quite the commotion but Adrian didn’t understand the problem.
“Fine. You may spent the evening in the Slytherin common room after supper, but don’t forget you still have homework that needs taking care of before you go to bed tonight.”
“Thank you, Father,” Adrian said with a grin as he threw his arms around the man’s waist.
“Adrian!” Fred called out with a sly grin.
“Glad you could make it!” George added as Adrian grinned at the twins.
“Of course I came,” he said with a dismissive shrug. “Did you really think I wouldn’t?”
“Nope,” Fred quipped with a gleam in his eyes. “We knew you’d manage to talk Professor Snape into letting you come.”
Adrian grinned as he looked up at the older boys.
“After all, who else could make that man do anything,” George joked and Adrian knew the twins didn’t mean anything bad by it, they just wanted to joke around and play pranks.
“So,” he asked eagerly. “What are we doing this time?”
“Just how late did you stay up?” Draco demanded in a hushed tone so he wouldn’t disrupt the six other students in the classroom, frowning as he watched Adrian yawn for the fourth time in ten minutes.
“Later than I intended,” his friend answered as he rubbed at his eyes. “The twins wanted to play a trick on some of the other houses and somehow I got roped into helping them. It took longer than I thought it would. By the time I went to bed, I remembered the project we had to hand in today so I stayed up to finish it.”
“And Uncle Sev didn’t notice?” the blonde boy asked in surprise. After all, the Potions master didn’t miss much.
“I usually grumble when he wakes me up and by the time we had breakfast, I was more alert than right now,” Adrian said before he yawned again. “I like playing tricks with the twins, but they seem to forget that I have other things to do and I tend to forget because I have so much fun. Do you think I can sneak out and take a nap?”
Draco snorted and shook his head. “Do you really think the tutor would let you?”
He watched as Adrian thought of that before he sighed dejectedly. “No.”
“If you hold on ‘til lunch, you can take a nap then.”
Draco figured noon wasn’t coming soon enough as he realized, an hour later, that Adrian was sleeping beside him on his desk, his text book propped up to hide the evidence. It was a good thing that they were to read the book before they were questioned about it. It was also a good thing that Tutor Albright was off on his usual ‘outing’ instead of in the classroom with them.
Reaching over, he shook Adrian’s arm. His friend jerked awake quickly without a word. “You have to read a bit of the assignment or you’ll get in trouble,” Draco whispered warningly.
Adrian nodded, rubbing his eyes as he tried to concentrate on the words on the page.
When Draco glanced over again, he realized that his friend had fallen asleep again. Rolling his eyes, he reached out again… just as the tutor entered the room.
“Just what is going on in here?” he asked in a deceptively soft voice and eyes narrowed.
The children had heard that tone before and weren’t fooled by it. They knew they were in trouble… well, Adrian was, anyway. “Sorry, Tutor Albright. I stayed up late trying to finish my assignment. I apologize,” Adrian said softly.
“You know that’s not an acceptable excuse, Adrian. You had two days to finish it. Why did you wait until the last minute to do what needed to be done?”
“I realize it’s not an excuse, sir, but I forgot about it. It won’t happen again.”
Tutor Albright looked at Adrian and Draco knew he was angry. What he didn’t understand was why. After all, this was the first time Adrian had slept in class. It wasn’t as if he’d done anything really bad. “That’s beside the point. I expect you to come to class with at least some kind of respect for those who are here to learn and those who deign to teach you the things you need to know. I understand that you may think that, being adopted into a high born family means you’ll be living the privileged life, but it’s no reason to become conceited towards those who chose to educate you.”
Draco felt his anger rise at the unjustified words, which heightened as Adrian looked at the man with a stricken look in his eyes. “You will take that back, Tutor Albright, or I’ll be sure to explain to my father just how much we’ve learned in your care,” he growled out, eyes flashing dangerously.
The stupid man actually had the gall to smile condescendingly at him. “And just who do you think he’ll believe, young Draco? I am the one who has the teaching degree, not you.”
Without another word, Draco stood up, ignoring the chair that fell back and strode towards the door. He barely got past the tutor before he was shoved hard against the blackboard, the edge digging painfully into his back. He was surprised that the man had dared to touch him, even as he ignored the gasps of surprise from the other students.
“You will take your place,” Tutor Albright growled dangerously, his hand closing around Draco’s throat.
“No,” he gasped out, clawing at the hand as it tightened.
“You’ll obey or I’ll wait until you pass out and put you back in your chair,” the tutor said with a dangerous tone.
“Let him go,” he heard Adrian yell as if from a slight distance as spots began to dance at the edge of his vision. He felt Tutor Albright jerk back slightly but the pressure on his windpipe didn’t ease for a few more seconds.
He began to cough harshly, dragging deep gulps of air as he was suddenly released and he collapsed on his knees when they refused to keep him up. He could hear someone else gurgling desperately and looked up to see the tutor clawing at his throat desperately.
Looking over, he realized that Adrian’s wild magic had taken it upon itself to teach the man a lesson, but if Adrian didn’t get a hold of it, he was going to kill the bastard. Draco couldn’t allow that to happen.
“Adrian,” he croaked out, but the word was whipped away from him by the whirlwind of magic.
Draco looked towards the other students, hoping someone would try to calm Adrian, but they were all plastered to the far wall, eyes wide with fear.
“Tutor Albright,” Draco heard his mother say as she swept into the room only to freeze for a few seconds. “Adrian,” she said sharply.
It seemed to be enough to snap Adrian out of whatever trance he’d fallen into and the tutor dropped like a stone, gasping for air. “I’m sorry,” the dark haired boy whispered, shock and horror dominating his face as he realized what had happened. It took Draco a few more seconds to realize that Adrian was bleeding from a cut on his forehead where a bruise was beginning to form.
“Just what in Merlin’s name is going on here?” she demanded, glaring at the three of them. Her eyes narrowed dangerously as she looked over first at Adrian then at Draco and he wondered just what it was she was seeing. “You dare, Tutor Albright, touch my child?” Draco was impressed that she could convey so much fury and hatred in those simple words. He wondered dimly if he’d ever be able to do that.
“He wasn’t listening to me,” the man gasped, a hand resting on his throat. “And that… heathen,” he said, pointing towards Adrian. “Attacked me for no reason!”
The temperature in the room seemed to drop a few degrees as if it was afraid of the look in Narcissa’s eyes. “Tutor Albright, I think it might be better if you left.”
Draco watched as the tutor looked at her calculatingly. “Yes, I suppose I should,” he murmured charmingly and stood up, brushing dust off his robes. “I’ll be back tomorrow to continue-”
“I think not. I’ll be writing a letter to your Dean explaining why it is that you have been dismissed and see if he can send someone else who’ll be more… delicate with a child’s care. Dobby! Escort Mr. Albright out,” she said when the weird house-elf appeared beside her. “Good day, sir.”
Draco felt like cheering, but his throat and his lower back hurt too much right now and from the look on Adrian’s face, it seemed he was going to have to reassure his friend that the idiot had been too stupid to realize that one just didn’t raise their hand to a Malfoy – or a Snape, either – no matter their age.
His mother waited until the tutor had been escorted out of the room by the house-elf before turning towards them. “Just what happened here?”
“It was my fault, Aunt Cissy,” Adrian said, not looking at her, but at his fingers as they twisted together in his lap.
“Actually, he’s half right,” Draco said as he rubbed at his sore throat, watching as his mother walked further into the room, helping Adrian up before moving over to him. “Adrian fell asleep because he stayed up late last night. I tried to keep him awake, but Tutor Albright came in and began to rudely tell him that he was useless and a snob. I told him I was going to tell Father how he was teaching us our lessons and he tried to choke me into submission. Adrian tried to stop him, though I’m not quite sure what happened, but Adrian’s magic stopped him from choking me ‘til I passed out.”
“I couldn’t let him hurt you,” Adrian mumbled, flushing slightly.
“Thank you, Adrian,” Narcissa murmured as she reached over to run her fingers through his hair, careful of his injury. “If you hadn’t stopped him, he could’ve done Draco real harm.”
Adrian flushed in pleasure as he leaned into Draco’s mother without conscious thought. “Draco would’ve done the same for me.”
“Actually, I tried,” Draco said with a wry smile and a shrug. “The execution wasn’t what it was supposed to be.”
“Come,” she murmured as she turned to look at the other students, addressing them as well this time. “It’s time for lunch.” She allowed the others to move ahead of them so that they would be behind everyone and not overhear the rest of their conversation. “And your father will want to hear what happened. He’s going to be furious when he sees those bruises.”
Draco blinked in surprise. So that was what she’d seen to make her livid…
Ten year old Adrian stood at the small table in his room, trying to tie a bow to Draco’s birthday present. He hoped his best friend liked it. Snape had assured him it was an appropriate gift for an eleventh birthday.
Frowning and sighing in irritation when the bow just wouldn’t work for him, he moved away from it, figuring he could come back to it in a bit. He sighed again, but in contentment this time, as he looked at everything he had on his shelves.
Compared to Draco’s room, Adrian’s was severely sparse. Sure he had a lot of things, but he always had that niggling feeling that he didn’t deserve what he had…
Where there had once been bare walls and empty shelves though, there now were a few toys and figurines on one side of his room while the shelves on the other side were dedicated to various books on all kinds of subject. But despite all he had, he couldn’t bring himself to pick out more things to fill his room. After all, he’d gone from having nothing – not even a family of his own – to having someone who actually loved and cared for him.
Thanks to the Dursleys, Adrian knew he would never forget his time with them and all they’d put him through. After all, everything they’d done to him still echoed throughout his life, even now. It was thanks to Snape that he knew his real name had been Harry Potter before his adoption and his name changed to Adrian Snape to protect him from others, but quite frankly he didn’t care.
Severus Snape may not have sired him, but he was Adrian’s father in every sense of the word.
No matter what anyone said. He was known as Adrian Snape to everyone who knew him and he agreed with his father: that was all anyone needed to know about him.
And Draco was his very first friend and the only other person who knew about Adrian’s past, of how he’d been raised and who he really was. He’d needed someone who could understand him and still be his friend. And for all that Draco was spoiled rotten, he was Adrian’s truest friend, the one who took his side when others picked on him because he seemed to be the easiest target, though he allowed Adrian to stand up for himself.
He’d taught Adrian about what clothes to put on for which occasion.
He also was someone besides his father who didn’t care that he was born Harry Potter or that he’d defeated a really bad wizard before he was two.
“Master Adrian, sir,” Timzy’s high voice said, interrupting his thoughts. “Master Severus waits.”
“I’ll be right down, Timzy,” Adrian said with a lopsided smile.
Today they were going to Hogwarts… something about talking to the Headmaster. Three days ago, he’d received a letter from the old man, but it had been addressed to ‘Mr. Harry Potter’. He’d seen the slight tightening of disapproval around his father’s mouth when he’d shown it to him.
“It’s up to you if you answer it or not,” he’d been told.
He hadn’t even had to think about it, but given it to the house-elf again, unopened. “Please tell the Headmaster that this person doesn’t live here.”
He’d seen the look of approval and the slight relief in his father’s eyes and had felt warmth fill him. Severus Snape had given him everything and he wasn’t about to throw it back into the man’s face by acknowledging the manipulations of one old man.
The letter that had been sent to him the next time had been addressed to ‘Mr. Adrian Snape’. Once he’d read it, he’d given it to his father to read.
It had been polite and everything, but it had been an order to appear before the Headmaster.
Adrian didn’t want to go.
Since the first time he’d met the Headmaster at the age of four, he’d felt uneasy around the man. He’d been relieved when he’d started school and had been able to leave Hogwarts during the day. That meant he hadn’t had to spend as much time in the old man’s presence except for breakfast and suppertime since they stayed at Hogwarts during the school year.
Adrian didn’t like the old man.
He’d seen the looks shot his way whenever the old man hadn’t thought he was paying attention, but he always noticed. It was a habit he hadn’t lost since leaving the Dursleys’ home and it still came in handy now. Besides, he made Adrian’s skin crawl. Then there was that annoying twinkle, like he knew more than he should and was hiding it from everyone.
And so… Adrian made his way downstairs to where his father waited for him. He figured the Headmaster wanted to question him about his parentage along with his real name.
Snape hadn’t had to tell him to be careful. No, his uncle had beaten it into him a long time ago. He was just glad his parents had put the adoption clause in their will otherwise the old man might have tried something sooner.
Oh, yes. Adrian knew all about that as well and he would use to his advantage today.
“Welcome, Severus, Adrian. Would either of you care for a licorice snaps? Some tea, perhaps?”
Adrian followed his father’s lead and declined both offers. And as predicted, the old man had to beat around the bush instead of getting to the reason for the meeting. Adrian grew bored. He wanted to go home and play with his toys or go visit Draco before the party.
I though he wanted to talk to me? he thought to himself as he tried not to slouch in his chair or sigh in exasperation and boredom.
“Severus, would it be alright if Adrian and I spoke together?” Dumbledore asked finally, making Adrian’s attention veer to the adults again. Snape looked over at Adrian, hesitating slightly. “Alone?”
The damn twinkle was back!
Which meant the old man was up to something.
Adrian wanted to plead with him to stay, but they’d talked about this beforehand. They’d known this would more than likely happen and Snape had been diligent about teaching him Occlumency to keep the old man out of his head. So, with great reluctance, Adrian nodded imperceptibly.
“Very well, Headmaster. Ten minutes. We have another engagement to go to,” Snape murmured and left the office with a swirl of his robes.
Adrian felt a slight panic fill him as the door closed behind his father, but he squashed it because he knew the man would be waiting for him on the other side of the door and would be inside in exactly ten minutes if he didn’t come out. It made him feel better.
“Adrian, would you tell me about your parents?” Dumbledore began. When Adrian’s eyebrow rose at the question but didn’t answer, the old man smile serenely at him. “You’re real parents. The Potters.”
“I don’t see how that’s relevant, Headmaster,” Adrian said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. It was exactly what he’d figured the Headmaster wanted to talk about. “They’re both dead.”
“Yes, I understand that,” the Headmaster murmured and Adrian could tell by the slight glint that flashed briefly through the blue eyes that it hadn’t been what he’d wanted as an answer. “Has Severus told you about them?”
“Yes,” Adrian told him and bit back a smile as the glint came again: a glint of frustration this time. Apparently the answers Adrian was giving him wasn’t what the old man had wanted. “Headmaster,” he began, deciding it would be better to be blunt. “Instead of playing twenty questions, why don’t you just say what you want to say?”
The Headmaster looked at him with slightly narrowed and calculating eyes now. “Why aren’t you going by your real name?”
“Adrian Snape is my real name, sir. It’s the only one I answer to.”
“And the Dursleys?” Dumbledore asked his face almost unreadable but Adrian had been watching him carefully and knew differently. He was up to something… “Why aren’t you with them?”
“Because they didn’t want me. Father does,” he said with an indifferent shrug.
Talking about the Dursleys reminded him of the one visit – slightly fuzzy as it was – Snape had taken him on when he was five. Gone was the house on Privet Drive. It had been sold to pay for the lawyers to get the Dursleys out of jail. Gone was the cushy job Vernon had once had. Gone were all the toys that Dudley had once bragged he had.
They now lived in a run down two bedroom house in a shady part of muggle London. Dudley had lost all his friends when his parents had been brought up on charges of child endangerment and abuse. No one wanted their children to associate with someone like that. Vernon was working at a shitty job and he’d lost a lot of weight. Even Petunia had had to get a job so they could make ends meet. At least that was what Snape had told him. He didn’t remember much of the week after they’d almost visited the Dursleys.
Adrian had felt responsible and guilty at first, but then Snape had explained to him that it wasn’t his fault. They had brought this on themselves by mistreating a child in their care when they should’ve loved it instead.
Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully and was silent for a few minutes. “You realize that when you start school you’ll be going by the name of Harry Potter.”
Ah, so we finally get to the root of the Headmaster’s plot, now.
“No, Headmaster. Adrian Snape is the name I was given by my father and that will be the name I’ll be using from now on.” When Dumbledore opened his mouth to argue, Adrian shook his head. “Enough, sir. Harry Potter died at the age of four from an extremely high fever thanks to being abandoned by his family. If you can’t respect that, I’ll tell Father to send me to a different school.”
“Severus wouldn’t let you do that,” Dumbledore scoffed dismissively.
Adrian smile thinly. “You’d be surprised what Father would do if I tell him what you want. Now,” he murmured as he slid off his chair. “If you’ll excuse me…” He bowed respectfully, as he’d been taught.
The Headmaster surged to his feet, anger flitting across his face. “You’ll obey me on this, Harry,” he began, only to stop when Adrian turned to pin him with hard green eyes.
“My name is Adrian and I don’t have to do anything, sir. You are not my father or my guardian. The Adoption papers ensure that no one will take me from Severus Snape’s care thanks to my mother’s wishes. Father!”
The door opened and Snape stood there, an eyebrow rising when he took in the slightly raised wand in the Headmaster’s hand. “Is there a problem, Headmaster?”
“None at all, Father,” Adrian said before the Headmaster could answer, hiding his surprise and fear. He hadn’t even seen the wand come out and he’d been watching the Headmaster very closely. “I think we’re done here. Good day, sir.” He walked over to Snape and waited for the door to close before he clung to Snape’s robes, shaking uncontrollably.
Despite the fact that he was ten and should be protesting being carried, Adrian buried his face in Snape’s shoulder as a sob tore through his thin frame even as the man carried him down the steps and to their rooms... which was probably a good thing because Adrian didn’t think he’d be able to walk.
“What happened, Adrian?” Snape asked when they were in the safety of their rooms, rubbing his back comfortingly.
Snape waited patiently for Adrian to regain control of himself, rubbing the small back comfortingly. He couldn’t believe that the Headmaster would dare raise a wand to attack a child. Just what the hell had happened in that room after he’d left?
Knowing it took a lot to reduce this boy to the state he was now in, it had to be extreme.
“I’m sorry,” Adrian whispered finally and Snape smiled in amusement. He’d never been able to break the habit Adrian had of apologizing for something he hadn’t done and he’d finally given up trying.
He moved Adrian until he was cradled by an arm so he could run his fingers through the mess of hair and look into those beautiful green eyes. It didn’t seem to matter what they did to his hair, it never seemed to want to behave. “There’s nothing to apologize for. What happened, Adrian?”
“He wants me to change my name back to Harry Potter. I told him I won’t. Adrian is who I am. I can’t be what he wants me to be, Father,” Adrian said in a small voice.
“Do you still want to come here for school knowing the Headmaster might make your life difficult?” he asked after a few minutes of silence, feeling something tighten inside him. Yes, he wanted to have Adrian with him here, but was it worth his child’s happiness?
“I want to. I have friends here already and I was looking forward to starting Hogwarts with Draco and the others. How can I do that if the Headmaster tries to manipulate everything that happens?”
Snape knew from experience that Albus Dumbledore didn’t take well to being thwarted. There was no way he was going to let a child get away with denying what he wanted. He sighed as he looked down at his son. He wanted to protect his child from all that was bad, but knew realistically that was impossible.
“What if we play it by ear? If you still feel you want to go somewhere else for your schooling, I’ll see what I can do to help you go to Durmstrang. Good enough for now?”
He watched the green eyes blink up at him in that trusting way he had and Snape was glad he’d taken this child into his home. He couldn’t imagine his life without him anymore. Adrian smiled hesitantly before he nodded once. “I love you, Father.”
“I love you, too.” Snape smiled slightly, a mischievous gleam entering his eyes as he reached out and slapped Adrian’s bum playfully. “Now get up,” he mock-growled, making the child giggle in reaction. “Or we’ll be late for the birthday party.”
Adrian scrambled off the couch with wide eyes. “I still have to put the finishing touches on Draco’s present!”
In the backyard of Malfoy Manor, Adrian wasn’t surprised to see Crabbe and Goyle playing a game of exploding snaps while Theodore and two other boys he’d met a time or two but couldn’t remember the names of watched on.
Draco stood by himself to one side, examining the growing pile of presents everyone had brought him with a calculating glint. Adrian smirked, knowing he was trying to guess just what he’d gotten by the size and shape of the boxes. Most of the time he was right, too.
With a roll of his eyes, Adrian walked over to the blonde boy. “Trying to figure out which ones are toys and which ones aren’t?” he drawled playfully, laughing at the strangled squeak that emerged from the startled boy.
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you that it’s rude to sneak up on people?” Draco asked with a scowl.
“Ah,” Adrian said, smiling unrepentantly. “But I didn’t sneak up on you. It’s not my fault that you weren’t paying attention. What are you gonna do when we start school? You’ll be easy prey for the other Houses.”
“Then I guess you’ll have to keep an eye on my back,” Draco drawled sarcastically. “Speaking of school, what did the old man want?”
Adrian looked around and realized that there were too many people present to chance not being overheard. “I’ll tell you later.” With an understanding look, Draco simply nodded.
“Thanks for the knife,” Draco murmured sleepily as they lay on Draco’s bed.
“You’re welcome,” Adrian said with a huge yawn. “I’m glad you like it.”
“So, what did the old man want with you?” Just when the blonde boy thought Adrian might have fallen asleep, he blinked in surprise when the other boy sat up suddenly, looking like an Inferi come to life. “Adrian?” he asked worriedly.
“He wants me to become Harry Potter again,” Adrian said before Draco could say anything more.
Now it was Draco’s turn to sit up, a look of incredulity on his face. “Are you going to do it?”
Adrian tilted his head slightly as he thought about it before he sighed, shaking his head. “It would be like a slap in the face for Father and all he’s done for me. I can’t do that to him,” he said, looking over at Draco with troubled eyes. “Do you think I should?”
“Which name are you most likely going to answer to?” Draco shrugged after a few thoughtful minutes. “If you answer to Adrian Snape instead of Harry Potter, then there’s nothing the Headmaster can do about it.”
Adrian wrapped his arms around his knees as he sighed tiredly. “The funny thing is I’ve never gone by the name of Harry Potter so I don’t have to pretend that I’m Adrian Snape. I was also looking forward to learning more in potions from Father.”
“There’s your answer, then. All you have to do is not let anyone bully you into doing what you don’t want to do. Even if it is the Headmaster of Hogwarts.”
Adrian smiled lopsidedly at his friend. “I’m glad we’ll be starting at the same time.”
“Yeah, think of all the fun we’re going to have,” Draco said with a gleam of mischief in his eyes.
They laughed as they lay down again, talking some more of all they wanted to do when they began school before they drifted off to sleep.
The weeks leading to Adrian’s birthday seemed to fly by so quickly but four days before the big day, he was having a hard time calming down enough to sleep. This hadn’t happened to him for a long time. His sleeping habits had finally settled into a regular pattern by the time he was seven and only cropped up when he was under an extreme amount of pressure… which he didn’t let happen often anymore.
Oh, there was the odd time when it struck, but he’d learned to hide it better. After all, not everyone was under great amounts of pressure often. Adrian had simply learned how to deal with it better than he had when he’d been younger. The Mind Healer had taught him how and so had his father with Occlumency.
Now there was a man that Adrian didn’t regret not seeing anymore: Mind Healer McKay. They’d both been relieved when they’d been able to stop seeing the specialist a few years ago. They’d been told that there wasn’t much more he could do for Adrian now that he was sure of himself and his life was finally stable enough for the nightmares to go away.
But tonight, he was so wired that sleep seemed impossible.
His father had been in bed for a good two hours so he felt safer about getting up and not worrying him. He padded silently over to his favorite chair with a book and a throw blanket. With his feet hanging off one arm of the chair and his head resting on the other, he turned on the lamp, settling down to read.
He didn’t know how long he was there, but he nearly jumped out of his skin when a voice intruded into the peace and quiet around him. “Can’t sleep?” Snape drawled from the doorway.
“I didn’t think you were up, Father,” Adrian said, looking towards Snape with a guilty look on his face. At least this time it wasn’t the same as the other times.
“I was wondering if you were going to be able to sleep with the way you seemed to be bouncing around,” Snape murmured as he moved to sit on the couch. “Care to talk about it?”
“Actually, I’m just too wired to sleep.” Adrian frowned as he turned to look at his father. “Why are you up?”
Snape’s eyebrow rose as he looked over at him. “Don’t forget who the adult is here,” he chastised gently but firmly.
“Sorry, Father,” Adrian said with a sheepish look. “It’s hard to describe what it is I’m feeling,” he said finally after a few minutes of silence, frowning as he tried to pin down what was so different tonight.
“Perhaps it’s just a bout of nerves. Have you responded to the Hogwarts letter you received two days ago?”
“Yeah, I send my response yesterday. At least this time he sent it under the correct name.”
Snape watched his son as he reclined with his book and was glad that his insomnia tonight wasn’t something to worry about. He hoped it was just the anticipation of his birthday that made him too hyper to sleep. He’d get tired enough in a couple of hours to sleep. That was usually the pattern when it wasn’t nerves that kept him up.
“Indeed. Don’t stay up too late,” Snape said as he rose to his feet. “We’ll need to go shopping for your school supplies soon. If nothing comes up, we might go tomorrow with Draco.”
“Draco’ll be with us?” he asked excitedly, as Snape had known he’d respond. When it came to Draco and Adrian, these two were inseparable.
“Yes, Lucius asked if I could take him when we go. Sleep well,” he murmured, kissing Adrian’s forehead, frowning slightly as he realized the boy was warmer than usual. “Are you coming down with something?”
Adrian looked up at him in surprise. “No.”
“Hmm.” This was reminding him of something... but he couldn’t put his finger on what that was. “Come find me if you don’t feel well,” Snape told him as he swept from the room.
The sound reverberated through his head in the most painful way and he buried himself deeper under his blankets, hoping Draco would be quiet until he could get his throbbing body to stop aching. He groaned when he felt a weight settle on the bed beside him, making pain flare throughout his body, feeling like fire was still licking at his nerve endings.
It wasn’t as bad as it had been before, which was a huge improvement.
He’d lost track of everything as his body began to burn more and more. He remembered talking with his father. Remembered his father saying to find him if he began to feel sick, but he couldn’t remember much after that besides the pain.
All he knew was that the more time had passed, the more he’d hurt. It had started with his skin feeling too tight and itchy. Then his muscles had begun to ache, which then moved on to his bones. It had been like his whole body had been intent on catching fire. At one point, it was all he was: a burning fire.
Sound hadn’t been a part of it, either.
He didn’t even know how much time had passed since that night. All he knew was that he was slowly becoming aware of his surroundings once again. The blanket covering his thin frame, – the weight of which hurt if he so much as moved – the pillow and the mattress beneath him…
He thought he remembered voices at some point. Now, though, he couldn’t make his mind work enough to remember who it had been or what had been said.
“Adrian?” he heard again, and though it was softer, it was no less painful. “Are you all right?”
“No,” he whimpered, trying to slow his breathing in order to control the fire again. It was a slow progress but it worked as long as he could concentrate.
“Uncle Sev thinks it’ll be over in a few more hours,” Draco whispered gently as he peeled the blankets off Adrian’s head.
He was dimly surprised that the light – slight though it was – that filtered through his curtains didn’t send daggers ripping through his head anymore. When Draco’s fingers began to thread their way through his hair, he also realized that it wasn’t as painful as before. Where it would’ve sent pain shooting through his tender skin, it was now sending soothing sensations.
Groaning again, he pulled himself closer to his friend until his head was lying in Draco’s lap. He sighed in relief when he realized that the pain did indeed seem to be slowly easing. He felt another weight settle on the other side of him but couldn’t be bothered enough to turn to see who it was.
“Here, Draco,” he heard Pansy whisper softly, which grated on his nerves right now. He bit his tongue, though. Pansy had taken to hanging around with them when they’d started school and Adrian had eventually begun to get used to her and the others hanging around them.
Not enough to tell them who he really was, of course, but enough that both boys tolerated their presences… especially Pansy’s. He felt Draco shift slightly and he gasped at first in discomfort at the sudden move then in surprise as he felt a cool, wet cloth press against the back of his neck, making him shiver slightly.
“That feel good?”
“Mmm.”Adrian could hear the smile in Draco’s voice but he didn’t have the energy to peel his eyes open enough to glare at him so he just sighed as the cooling water did wonders on his too hot skin. The last time he’d had the sensation of skin stretched too tightly was the time when he’d run away from the Dursleys. He’d been running a high fever, but he remembered what the sunburn had felt like and this was the same feeling.
How could the blonde boy know just what he needed when he himself didn’t know it?
He pushed the thought away as he enjoyed the sensation of the soothing water trickling around his neck. He knew his bed was getting wet, but couldn’t bring himself to care right now. Besides, it was just a matter of the house-elf snapping his fingers and the bed would be dry again.
“How did Professor Snape know Adrian would be better by now?” Pansy asked with a sigh as she shifted on the bed.
Adrian growled in irritation as her voice grated on his raw nerves.
“Shut up,” Draco growled, and Adrian knew the blonde boy had to be glaring his own irritation at the girl. The disadvantage of feeling like Adrian did meant that he couldn’t see Pansy’s reaction. Most of the time Pansy wasn’t that bad to have around, but then at times like this, she could be very annoying.
“Sorry,” she huffed softly, an edge of injury in her tone.
Adrian felt Draco take the cloth away and heard the cloth dipped it into what he assumed was a bowl of water, only to return with it soaking again. “Maybe we should get Uncle Sev to put you in the tub,” he heard his friend murmur, his fingers carding through his hair again.
“Should I go tell him?” Pansy asked, her voice hopeful.
“Yeah,” Draco murmured when Adrian made no sound or move to acknowledge the suggestion except for melting against him.
Adrian heard his bedroom door open and close and knew Pansy had left. “Why is she even here?” he mumbled tiredly.
“She was at the Manor when Uncle Sev came to get me yesterday. She said she wanted to help so it was decided to let her stay. She’s actually been helpful… more than I’d have thought she would be.”
Adrian felt a shudder go through him, but it wasn’t because he was thinking of Pansy. No, this seemed to be coming from inside.
He also felt Draco lean forward and wondered what his friend was seeing, especially when he heard him gasp in surprise just as his skin rippled painfully. He whimpered as he felt Draco slide out from under him as another wave hit him.
“Draco, what’s-” he heard Snape drawl from the doorway before he stopped. “Dear gods.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard that tone from Father before, he thought dimly before another surge rippled through him, one which left him panting.
“Miss Parkinson, Draco. Get out.”
“No,” Draco said in a tone that said he wasn’t going to budge on this. “Adrian needs me.”
“Very well, then,” Snape said briskly as he moved closer to Adrian’s bed. He didn’t know if Pansy had left or not, and he didn’t really care. He just wanted the pain to stop. “Adrian,” Snape said gently as he knelt beside his head. “I want you to listen carefully to what I tell you. I need you to look at me.”
Still panting in between the surges, Adrian somehow forced himself to pry open his eyes and blink hazily at his father, who was smiling in encouragement. “Good, now turn lengthways on your bed and remain like that.”
“Why?” he asked as another ripple ran across his body, causing him to cry out at the intensity.
“Just trust me. I’ve seen this before and this is what you need to do. Do you understand?”
Panting in exhaustion, Adrian nodded, knowing this man wouldn’t tell him to do something if it wasn’t needed. He forced his body to obey his command and turn lengthways. He’d never had so much trouble just moving his body a few inches before and by the time he’d complied, he was sweating heavily. He gratefully closed his eyes to stop the room from swaying nauseatingly.
“Draco, I want you to hold on to his hand and don’t let it go.”
Adrian felt someone take his hand but couldn’t muster energy strength to see if it was Draco or not.
Draco watched as Snape walked over to the fireplace and threw in some Floo powder. “Venger’s Mount Villa, Verika, Spain,” his godfather said harshly before the flames flared to life.
“Severus?” he heard a man say in a heavily accented voice.
“Madreca, I need your help.”
He didn’t hear what was said as a particularly vicious surge swept through Adrian, making him scream at the force and Draco swore he could see a play of lights and shadows rippling under Adrian’s skin. He gasped in pain himself as Adrian squeezed his hand, almost like he wasn’t realizing he was doing it, but he didn’t let go. His friend needed him and he was damned if he was going to abandon him now.
It took him a few seconds, but he became aware of a stranger standing in Adrian’s room.
“Yes,” the stranger murmured as he watched the boy on the bed with narrowed eyes. “You were right to call on me, Severus. He is indeed another one.”
“Are you sure?”
Draco was confused. He’d never seen his godfather so worried before. What the hell was going on?
“Yes. And if we don’t help him, we will lose him like the other. What symptoms has he displayed thus far?”
“Extreme hallucinations, high fever and now this.”
“Already? How old is he?” the stranger asked in surprise. That couldn’t be good.
“He turns eleven in two days.” Snape nodded at the look of shock the stranger threw him. “It’s too quick, I know, but I wondered if it might not be triggered by what his relatives did to him when they had him.”
“Explain,” the stranger murmured as he sat on the edge of Adrian’s bed, quickly taking Adrian’s pyjamas off him. Draco was surprised that Snape wasn’t even stopping him. Once the pyjamas were off, he began massaging Adrian’s body, starting with the soles of his feet. “This is to keep his muscles from seizing from the strain they are being put through, child,” the man explained to him with a knowing smirk.
Draco blinked at Madreca in surprise. He hadn’t thought the stranger even realized he was there. He watched as Madreca worked his way from one foot to the other, working his way up Adrian’s legs. When he looked down at his friend, Draco realized that Adrian was unconscious, though his body still shuddered through the surges and his grip on Draco’s hand hadn’t lessened, his breathing slightly laboured.
Snape looked over at Draco, debate clear in his eyes before he sighed and shook his head in resignation. “When I discovered Adrian at the age of four, I ran some tests and found out that his aunt and uncle had been feeding him cleaning chemicals, lethal ones. Instead of killing him, it began to change him slightly. At first I thought it was his magic that did it, now I wonder if it wasn’t something else.”
This was the first time Draco had heard of this and he was horrified that anyone could do that to a child. It didn’t matter how unwanted he was, but he bit his tongue ‘less Snape ordered him out of the room again for disrupting his description of what Adrian had suffered at the hands of his so-called family.
“Yes,” the stranger murmured as he began massaging Adrian’s upper legs. “That might indeed be why this is beginning now.” The stranger looked up at him suddenly, silvery green eyes piercing through his as if Madreca were looking for something inside his soul. “Give me your other hand, child.”
Draco found himself complying before he even realized he was doing so.
“And this would also be another,” the stranger said after a few minutes, Draco’s hand lying lightly in his, palm to palm.
“Madreca, you cannot be serious,” Snape ground out as he and the other man stood a few feet from the bed. They’d left Draco to continue messaging Adrian so they could speak in private, a Silencing spell ensuring that they wouldn’t be overheard.
“I’m afraid, Severus, my friend, that the signs are all there. How many animals can he speak to so far?” Madreca asked with a sigh.
“So far?” When Madreca nodded, Snape looked slightly uncomfortable and shot a look at his child lying on the bed, his body still being ravaged by whatever changes affecting him, before looking back at his old friend. “All of them.”
Madreca looked at him in shock. “There are none he has come across that he has not understood?”
“Not that I’ve seen. Some of the animals even took it upon themselves to exact revenge on his behalf and apparently without his knowledge, according to what I was able to find out.”
“That is… unprecedented,” Madreca murmured in a slightly dazed tone. “None of the Oscuro Endriagos have ever been this powerful. The chemicals he was given might have aggravated the problem we are about to be faced with.”
A Dark Dragon – or Shadow Dragon as they were known in the Wizarding world – was one of the rarest of creatures to ever inhabit their world. Since no one knew what the signs were to find them, not many were ever found. And that was because they rarely managed to live past maturity…
It was just as he’d feared.
The last Shadow Dragon Snape had come upon, quite by accident, had died three months after it had inherited its creature blood, and all because they hadn’t known how to help the teenager and they’d been unable to find his mate. Either one might have saved the student…
What would he do if he lost Adrian?
“Don’t despair, my friend. We have an advantage over Timothy,” Madreca told him as he looked over at the two boys. “This boy has already found his intended.”
Snape’s gaze whipped to Draco in shock. “Are you sure?”
Madreca looked at him in amusement. “Do you think I have been living so long that I would forget the feelings one mate has for another? Already this child’s magic calls to his mate… did he not begin to feel better once he was closer to the blonde child?”
Snape frowned as he realized Madreca was right. Adrian had taken a turn for the better once he’d brought Draco over to help him keep an eye on the dark haired boy while he ran his tests. “I thought it was just a coincidence.”
“With an inheritance as this child will get upon his sixteenth birthday, there are no coincidences. Though, if he’s already demonstrating traits before he is even eleven, his inheritance might happen sooner than is normal. It’ll remain to be seen.”
Snape frowned thoughtfully before he turned to look at his old friend. “If I talk to the headmaster, would you consent to teaching at Hogwarts again? I don’t think I’ll be able to teach them both everything they’ll need to know.”
Madreca hesitated, eyes troubled. He looked over at the two boys on the bed and sighed in resignation. “I think I must. I don’t think either one will survive otherwise.”
“What do you mean?” Snape asked sharply. He thought it was a good thing that Adrian had already found his intended mate.
“The problem I think we’ll have, my friend,” Madreca said as he looked back at him. “Is that now that they’ve found each other, we will have a bigger problem. If he had not found his intended, we would’ve been able to deal with one child’s death. If we cannot keep them both from perishing from unforeseen reasons, we will lose them both. Neither one will survive the loss of the other anymore.”
“Then it might be a good idea to talk to Dumbledore about you taking on the position of Defense since Professor Quirrell has taken a leave of absence for a while with no specific date for when he will be back. We’ll need to inform the boys of what’s going on, too.”
Madreca shook his head. “We cannot tell them they are mates, Severus. If we do, it might do more harm than good. Let them discover this on their own.” Snape opened his mouth to protest, but then looked back at the bed where Draco was now massaging Adrian’s back. The tremors seemed to be dying down to an occasional ripple. Slits were forming on the unconscious boy’s back, unnoticed by anyone who looked at all the scars already there. No wings were forthcoming yet... those would come after night fell.
That was how they’d found out what Timothy was, by the wings. He hoped they had better results with Adrian than with the boy who’d died fifteen years ago. Madreca was right, he realized. They couldn’t tell the boys that they were meant for each other. They had to work through this by themselves, but he could tell Lucius and Narcissa not to accept any contracts for Draco. This way it would help without putting any added pressure on either boy.
“Alright,” he said finally. “I’ll contact Dumbledore and get him to hire you for the year. Keep an eye on Adrian?”
“Of course, my friend,” Madreca murmured with a slight bow of his head. “I could do no less.”
Adrian was finally floating peacefully.
There was no more pain, no more burning…
He could, however, feel someone sitting beside him. He frowned in confusion. What had happened? That was when he remembered feeling ill, Draco pressing a cool cloth against the back of his neck, his father talking to him… and pain.
“Open your eyes, child,” he heard a heavily accented and highly amused voice say.
With an effort, he managed to open heavy-lidded eyes and blinked in confusion at the stranger leaning over him. “Who are you?” he croaked out and jumped as a glass of water was held out to him.
“My name is Madreca. I’m a friend of your father’s. How are you feeling?” the stranger asked as Adrian slowly drank down the water, feeling it sooth the parched tissue.
“Sore, but better.” Adrian wanted to see who else was in the room but found he didn’t really want to move. This was the first time in a while that he wasn’t in any kind of pain. He worried that if he moved in the slightest, he’d end up in pain again. “What was wrong with me?”
“Nothing was wrong with you, child,” Madreca murmured with a pleased smile. “It was part of your inheritance showing up. It should be gone for now.”
Adrian frowned as he thought that over. “I thought Inheritances didn’t come out until you were sixteen?”
“For most witches and wizards, that’s true,” Snape murmured as he came to stand behind Madreca. “Unfortunately, not everyone escapes nearly dying. It would seem that what your relatives did to you is still having repercussions. All we need to do is monitor your progress and begin training you in controlling whatever is happening.”
Adrian sighed in disgust. It figured that he wasn’t done with whatever his relatives had done to him. Would he ever? “Did Pansy and Draco go home?”
“Pansy did,” Draco murmured softly from somewhere above his head, startling Adrian. When Adrian looked over at his friend, he realized Draco was sitting in his favourite chair that had been moved beside his bed. “But I wanted to stay and make sure you were going to be alright.”
He smiled shyly, pleased his best friend hadn’t abandoned him. “I’m glad you did,” he whispered softly. “How long was I ill for?” he asked suddenly. Had he missed his birthday party?
Snape smirked as he looked down at him. “You haven’t missed your birthday yet, Adrian. Right now, though, I think it’s time for you to get up, take a bath and get ready to face the day. Breakfast will be in an hour.”
“Yes, father,” he grumbled before groaning in protest at the movement of his sore muscles as he slowly sat up, even with Draco’s helping hand. “Thanks, Draco.”
“Any time,” Draco murmured with a wry smile. “I’ll let you take your bath. I’m going to go home for a while.”
“Alright,” Adrian murmured with a wry smile of his own. “I’ll see you later?”
When he finally emerged from the bathroom, he felt more like himself. The stiffness was thankfully gone, and it was with a relieved sigh that he pulled on the clothes that the house-elf had set out for him. He didn’t know if his father would be offended that he talked to the little creature, he knew Draco would be horrified, but he got lonely when he couldn’t visit with his friend and the house-elves helped relieve some of the boredom.
Once he was dressed, he made his way down to the dining room feeling more like his regular self. He wondered if the stranger – Madreca he’d said his name was – was still here and if so, how long he was staying. He didn’t know who he was, but he felt kind of strange around him.
It was weird.
He shrugged mentally as he entered the dining room where his father and Madreca were waiting for him. It seemed that the stranger had stayed after all.
“Are you feeling better?” Snape asked him with a raised eyebrow when Adrian didn’t immediately dig into his food.
“The bath helped,” he murmured and smiled reassuringly before he began to eat. He wasn’t really hungry, but he knew his father would worry that there was something wrong. He didn’t want to worry the man unnecessarily. “When do you think we should get the school supplies?”
“In a couple of days we’ll be sure there are no lingering effects. That’ll be when I’ll take you and Draco.” Adrian looked at him in surprise. He’d have thought Draco had gone with his father since he hadn’t been able to go on the day they were supposed to. Snape seemed to guess what he was thinking because he smirked at him. “He wanted to wait for you.”
Adrian smiled happily and turned back to his breakfast with more appetite than before.
Adrian tugged at his clothes for the fourth time in as many minutes.
“If you don’t stop doing that,” Snape drawled, “you’ll alert people to the fact that something is different with you.”
“I can’t help it,” Adrian growled in irritation. They hadn’t figured out how to get the wings to retract back into his body yet and he was reduced to hiding them under his clothes. Unfortunately, it made the clothes uncomfortable and placed an added pressure on his new wings. And that was another thing that was the cause of his irritation, the outfit he was wearing wasn’t exactly the outfit he’d wanted to put on in the first place.
The wings had sprung out two nights ago after supper. Somehow his father and Madreca had seemed to know they were coming because they’d had him take his outer robes off along with his shirt. They’d been standing in the training room having a practice session when his back had felt like someone had taken a hot knife to it. It hadn’t taken long for the wings to come out, but now they wouldn’t retract like the two men had thought they would.
He was brought back to the present when his father lightly slapped his hand away from his clothes. Adrian hadn’t even realized he’d been tugging at them again.
People hadn’t started arriving yet, but Draco was supposed to come over early. Adrian knew that was unlikely to happen… this was Draco, after all. He’d never known anyone – boy or girl – who took dressing to the extreme, but Draco refused to go anywhere in public unless he was impeccably dressed. Adrian liked to tease him about it, too.
Of course, Draco liked to tease him about not being as much as a perfectionist as him.
It was a good thing they didn’t take it personally otherwise they’d constantly be mad at each other.
“Have you been practicing your meditation and visualizations like I showed you?” Madreca asked as he came up behind them.
“Every time I try to meditate, I have trouble getting my mind to settle,” Adrian said with an uncomfortable shrug. “I can’t explain what’s going on. It’s like almost like I’m fighting someone else. It’s very annoying.”
“Have you tried to… speak to this other part of you?”
“I tried it once, but it just fought harder. I don’t know what else to do.” With an irritated sigh, he turned to look at Snape. “Father, I can’t go through with this. The clothes irritate the wings. What am I supposed to do?”
“Perhaps we should try one more time before the guests arrive,” Madreca murmured as he turned to lead the way towards the garden instead of inside the house. Adrian was surprised. Every other time had been inside.
“Make yourself comfortable, Adrian,” Madreca said when he stopped in a part of the garden Adrian had always liked coming to. How did this man know about this place?
Looking around, Adrian sighed peacefully as he took in the bushes and flowers forming a circle in the middle of what – to him, anyway – looked like a maze. He’d always liked being outside, but even more so in this spot. In here, there was silence, the only thing intruding on the solitude being the wind and animals.
Taking his outer robes off, he sighed again, this time in relief as the pressure eased off his wings. Next, he took his shirt off and stretched out the appendages, feeling the cramped back muscles creaking at the reprieve.
This was what he needed.
“Now, kneel down and try to meditate. I think you’ll have more success out here.”
Stopping the retort that wanted to escape, Adrian did as Madreca told him and began his breathing exercises. He could feel himself sink slowly into the trance that he was supposed to aim for, but this was usually when the creature inside his head fought him…
And as expected, it made its presence known by growling. I’m not trying to hurt you, he told the presence in a reasonable tone.
The growl became louder, telling Adrian that it was pacing closer.
Can’t we just get along? I’m only trying to retract the wings, not destroy them. Adrian hesitated for a few seconds as he debated with whether he should admit what he thought about the wings to this creature then screwed up his courage. I… I actually like them.
He felt the change immediately as the growling stopped, the feeling more like one of quiet listening.
Please, help me.
Madreca was watching Adrian closely as he sat beside Snape on one of the benches. He had a hunch that whatever was blocking the child was probably related to this, especially since Shadow Dragons were nature-based creatures. They didn’t like being cooped up inside buildings.
He also hadn’t told Snape that he was surprised at how well Adrian was handling the strange creature inheritance. Timothy had had more trouble with it than he’d had with finding his chosen. That was something the teenager had confessed to him one night after Snape had gone to bed. Madreca had suspected that Timothy had sabotaged the search because he didn’t want to be different from everyone else.
But Adrian had always been different. To him, this was normal.
This, he guessed, was what was going to save both Adrian and Draco… at least he hoped it did.
He was brought out of his thoughts by the gasp of surprise that escaped Adrian as he arched up, the wings beginning to glow. He was pleased to see them melting against the child’s back and shoulders until they resembled tattoos. So, being outside had made a difference after all… either that or Adrian had found the key to taming whatever creature existed inside him now.
Madreca knew that they would become one when Adrian reached his seventeenth birthday. He just had to teach him how to deal with it until then. Once the bond was done – and the fact that he had his chosen – it would settle down and he would survive for a long time.
Adrian was now ready for his birthday party.
“Do you think I sit can here with you?” a red headed boy asked from the doorway. Adrian looked up in surprise. “Everywhere else is full.”
He shrugged indifferently. “Sure.” He was waiting for Draco, but he couldn’t see a reason not to let him come in.
“I’m Ron, Ron Weasley,” the boy said with a smug smile, like Adrian was supposed to know who he was. The last name told him that he was one of Fred and George’s brothers and unless he missed his guess, it would be the last of the Weasley boys. After this boy would be the girl. Adrian had seen her from a distance, but he’d never actually met her.
“There you are,” Draco said from the door, Crabbe and Goyle on each side of him.
“I didn’t know where you were so I just chose somewhere to wait for you,” Adrian said with a happy gleam in his eyes. “Have you met Ron?”
He was surprised by the sneer that came to Draco’s face when he looked over at the other boy. “Yes,” he drawled out. “I’d heard there would be a Weasley starting in our year. Come on, Adrian. You don’t want to be associated with the… wrong sort.”
Adrian was confused, but no less so than when the red-head tried to launch himself at Draco, his face red with anger, though Goyle stepped easily between them, intercepting Ron. He quickly got to his feet in case Ron tried to do the same thing to him, though he doubted the red headed boy would’ve touched him since Crabbe stepped in front of him, blocking him from any kind of access to Ron.
“What was that all about?” he asked as he followed Draco down the hall, Crabbe walking ahead of them and Goyle behind.
“Weasleys and Malfoys have never gotten along for as far back as anyone can remember,” Draco told him with a shrug. “They seem to think nothing of breeding as many children as possible instead of being sensible.”
Adrian stopped, frowning worriedly.
“I’m friends with two Weasleys,” he told his friend, wondering if Draco would be angry with him now.
“Yes, I know,” Draco said dismissively as he pulled him back into motion. “At least some of them aren’t a total waste of space.”
He felt relief flood through him as he realized he wouldn’t have to choose between the twins and Draco. He didn’t know what he’d have done if he’d had to.
“There you are,” Fred drawled from an open compartment.
“Thought you might have gotten lost,” George added from behind him.
Adrian grinned at them. “Nah, just getting acquainted with your younger brother.”
“How is Ronnikins?” Fred sneered, his eyes hard.
“Probably still fuming,” Draco drawled in amusement as the twins moved back, allowing them to enter.
“Hi, Pansy,” Adrian murmured as he sat down beside her.
“Adrian.” She murmured back with a sly grin as Draco sat down on Adrian’s right. He didn’t understand the look, but shrugged it off. Soon they would be at Hogwarts where they’d be sorted into their houses like he’d seen countless times in the last seven years.
He couldn’t wait!
They were walking through the Great Hall towards the front, following Professor McGonagall to where the hat waited to sort the first years.
“Hermione Granger,” the stern Professor said, hat in hand.
Adrian smiled over at his father who sat at the head table, ignoring everything else until he heard ‘Draco Malfoy’. He watched as the hat barely touched Draco’s head before it screamed out its answer.
The far table erupted in cheer as Draco hopped off the chair and walked calmly over.
“There’s not a witch or wizard who didn’t turn bad that wasn’t in Slytherin,” Ron whispered in his ear before Goyle shoved him away. Adrian frowned in disapproval of the red head. He was beginning to annoy, especially since Adrian knew that statement to be false. His father and uncle Lucius weren’t evil and they’d been in Slytherin. Neither were the twins.
Everyone seemed to hold their breath as they waited for a boy by that name to come forward. Adrian simply blinked calmly and waited, looking around with everyone else. It seemed that the Headmaster wasn’t going to give up, but he wasn’t going to win this fight.
When no one came forward, McGonagall looked over at the Headmaster with a disapproving frown before continuing to call names out.
The hat sat on the red head for about thirty seconds before it called out, “Gryffindor!”
“Adrian Snape,” she said after four more names.
Adrian decided to follow Draco’s example and calmly walked over to the chair.
So, the hat said inside his head. You didn’t come forward when your name was called the first time, Mr. Potter.
That’s because my name isn’t Harry Potter. It’s Adrian Snape, he told the hat in a tone that said he meant business.
I see that, the hat said with a hum of confusion. Are you sure about this? Once it’s registered in the books, there won’t be any way to change it.
Quite sure. I don’t answer to the name of Harry Potter. I told the Headmaster this already. I’m not going to let him bully me into doing what he wants.
You realize that I’m supposed to put you in Gryffindor? the hat asked conversationally. The Headmaster insists.
Like I said, I don’t care what the old man wants. I’m not doing what he expects me to do. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the Headmaster lean forward with a look of anticipation on his face.
Well, then, the hat said in amusement this time. Do you object if I put you in Slytherin? It’s where I see you truly becoming what you need to be.
Not at all. I’m not afraid of being put there. In fact, that’s where I’d like to go anyway.
Very well, the hat said before calling out its answer as to where to put him. “Better be… Slytherin!”
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