Chapter 2: The Confession
Summary: Snape has to deal with Potter AND deal with the Dursleys. (Let’s
hope he has a headache potion in his pocket.)
“I haven’t!” Harry protested, trying to pull away. “I haven’t! Don’t get me
expelled, please, Professor. I haven’t done any magic outside of term. I can’t!
My uncle’s got all my Hogwarts things locked away. Even my wand. Honestly! I
haven’t!” For all of the protests, Harry didn’t raise a hand to strike back,
and Snape’s logical mind went into high gear.
“Hold still,” he commanded, releasing Harry’s chin to step back and get a
better look in the light. The boy had started a growth spurt last term, finally
beginning to catch up to the others his age, and he’d put on another inch since
terms end, but it was clear he’d done so on short rations. Snape could make
out every rib, and the underwear had been knotted at the waist to keep them
from falling down. His glasses were broken, and no longer quite fit his face,
and he had a bruise on his forehead and a cut on one cheek that was almost healed.
Both arms had fading bruises. Snape stalked around to take a look, but the boy’s
back was unblemished except for two or three small, insignificant scars and
a fading bruise or two. The arm bruises were the right shape to be the grip
of adult hands, though. “What happened here?” he asked, pointing to the cut
on Harry’s face.
“Dudley hit me back,” Harry had swallowed his panic,
but there was still fear and confusion in his eyes.
“Was he punished?”
“No.” The confusion began to overcome the fear, but Harry didn’t volunteer
any more information.
“And here?” Snape pointed to the arm.
Harry had to look at it and think for a moment to identify the cause. “I wasn’t
cooperating. Uncle Vernon had to bring me to my room.”
“You didn’t lock the door then?” It wasn’t as if he had to ask, but
he felt that the confirmation was important.
“No,” Harry was very confused now, and the green eyes were giving Snape the
look of someone who’d been hit by a bludger. “Uncle Vernon has the key.” Harry’s
head tipped a little to one side, as if he were trying to work something out.
“He lets me out twice a day to use the bathroom.”
“And do they feed you bread and water, as well?” Snape asked drily, beginning
to be very angry.
“He gets exactly what our Dudley gets!” came a shrill
voice from the hall.
Snape turned. The Dursleys hadn’t been able to resist their curiosity and
had made their way up into the hallway to peek into the room. Lily’s sister
– Mrs. Dursley – had been the one to speak, defiant in the shelter of her husband’s
shoulder and shotgun.
“Is that true?” Snape checked quietly with Harry.
“I think so, sir,” Harry said, going still and wary in the presence of his
relations in much the same way that he did when Snape was questioning his performance
in Potions class. But the tiny flicker of Gryffindor boldness wasn’t entirely
quenched. “Mind you, Dudley’s on a diet. He’s meant to
lose at least one stone this summer.”
The hall lights flickered back on, giving Snape rather a better view of Dudley
Dursley than he actually wanted as the three Dursleys panicked and fled. He
was a great pudding of a boy, and if he’d been deprived of food he certainly
wasn’t suffering for it. The overhead light in the room failed to come on, but
Snape could see the glow of the table lamp under the blanket which was draped
over the owl’s cage. Harry flinched a little from the brightness of the artificial
light and wrapped his arms around his chest again. Snape could see the gooseflesh
on him. “Get into bed, Potter,” he ordered brusquely. Best to get the boy warmed
But when Harry retreated to the bed, he had only a sheet to pull up to his
chin. Snape opened his mouth to ask where the blankets were, and the realized
they were all on the owl’s cage. Damn self-sacrificing Gryffindors! He
pulled off his cloak, dried it with a word, and spread it out over Harry. It
would do for the moment, and he didn’t want the boy getting agitated and aggravating
the damage. He laid his hand on Harry’s forehead and cast a simple sleep spell.
To his surprise, Harry fought the spell. “But, sir… What about Hedwig?” he
asked around a yawn.
“Your bird is recovering nicely, Potter. She’ll be fine. You, on the other
hand, need rest.”
“Yes, sir.” At last the green eyes drifted closed and Harry’s breathing slowed
into the evenness of sleep.
Now to deal with the Dursleys.
They’d retreated in a clump to the end of the hall; Dudley
and Petunia at the back, and Vernon
trying to bring up the shotgun and shrink back protectively at the same time.
Snape flipped out his wand and transformed the firearm into an umbrella to prevent
accidents. Dursley didn’t seem to notice, though. “I demand you leave at once,
sir!” he ordered, with only a mild stammer as he flourished the bumbershoot.
The flat refusal made Dursley’s chins quiver, but after a moment he persisted.
“If you don’t leave, I shall summon the police, and have you arrested for trespassing,”
“Do so, and I shall have you brought up on charges of attempted murder.”
“Murder?” Dursley blanched and let the umbrella fall. “What murder?”
“Even a Muggle physician could tell that the Potter boy has been poisoned.
And as you are in charge of him…” Snape had no intention of depriving Potter
of the protection he got from being with his blood relations, but Dursley didn’t
need to know that. And a decent threat would keep Snape from having to cast
memory charms on dozens of Muggle policemen.
“I… I…” Vernon Dursley was plainly appalled at the very notion.
“In fact,” Snape added salt to the wound. “I may call them myself. And the
Vernon and Petunia both made incoherent
noises of terror, but Dudley began to babble. “No, no!
It was just a joke. We didn’t poison Harry. Just the mice! He was going to kill
“We?” Snape pounced on the word.
“Me…and Piers… and Dennis…and Malcolm… uh…uh… Gordon didn’t want to do it.
I don’t know why. It was Piers’ idea. He brought over the poison and everything.
Mum and Dad didn’t know anything about it. Really. Don’t have them arrested.
It was a joke!” It was remarkable, really, the way the boy managed to combine
a defense of his parents with a whine and the utter betrayal of his non-present
friend. It might even be the truth, judging from the look on his mother’s face.
“A joke? Do you have the box which the poison came in, then?” Snape asked.
“It’s in my room,” Dudley admitted quickly. Snape didn’t
miss the frustrated look on Vernon’s
face when the boy confessed it.
“Fortunately,” Snape said, “for you…” he met each of their eyes in turn, gauging
the level of terror and hope, “I have the…ability…to correct your little “joke”
without involving the authorities.” Stick first, then carrot. It was
easy to manipulate the Dursleys after years of getting young Slytherins to behave.
The spark of interest in Vernon’s
eyes was unmistakable.
“What is it you want?” the man squeaked.
“Cooperation,” Snape answered drily. “You,” he pointed at Dudley.
“Fetch the box.” Dudley nodded, but didn’t move out from
behind his parents, so Snape held up his wand. “Now,” he growled.
“Right.” Dudley squeaked and moved quickly and ever
so carefully past his father and Snape to vanish through the door next to Harry’s.
They could hear him bumping about and gabbling, “Oh, where is it? Where did
I put it?”
“You,” Snape went on, turning his gaze onto Vernon.
“Fetch up the boy’s school trunk.”
“Well…er…it’s at my office.”
“You took it out of the house?” Snape’s voice went cold. How stupid was
“It’s locked away. No one knows it’s there. I wouldn’t want them knowing it
was there,” Dursley protested. “No one’s touched it!”
“You’d better hope not. Go and fetch it then,” Snape ordered, and then paused,
considering. Since the man would have to go out anyway, he might as well have
him do more than one errand. “While you’re at it, go to the nearest pet store
and fetch back six healthy mice. In a proper cage, with appropriate food.”
“For the owl. Proper bedding for its cage would be good as well.” Snape had
noticed that Harry had been trying to make dirt from the garden do, but even
healthy owls could begin to add a ‘flavor’ to a room, and the bird would do
better with a cleaned litter tray. “And a proper perch.”
“Are you sure it’s necessary?” Vernon
protested, although he put aside the umbrella and started going through his
pockets for something. “It’s just an owl.”
“Completely sure,” Snape said. “And, by the way,” he added, “if I were you,
I’d be quick about it. No unnecessary conversations along the way.”
“Right.” Vernon was pulling oddments
from his pockets now. “Just as soon as I find my keys.”
He was sufficiently terrified. Snape turned his attention to the woman.
Hard to believe that this scrawny, hatchet-faced harridan was Lily’s sister,
but yes, somehow she bore the traces which marked one who had had the love –
however unrequited – of a powerful witch. She was frightened of him, but secure
enough in herself to remain not entirely cowed.
“You,” Snape said, “will fetch Potter’s clothes, and clean bedding. A hot
water bottle, if you have one, as well. Then you will prepare beef tea, and
toast, rice pudding, and mashed potatoes. If you are unable to find the directions
in your cookbooks, you will consult me. If you lack the ingredients, you will
consult me. You will also prepare a dinner for the rest of us. Am I understood?”
“Perfectly,” she said, her tones rich with distaste. But he could see in her
eyes that she would obey.
Dudley returned with a triangular box and handed it
at arms length to Snape. “Here. Now what?”
Snape gave him the almost smile that he knew frightened students more than
any scowl. “Now, you join me. In there.” He pointed to Harry’s room. Dudley
obeyed quickly and Snape turned the smile on his two suddenly alarmed parents.
“Go on, then,” he said. “The last thing you want to waste is time.”
^^^^^^^^^end of chapter 2