Once Upon a Time in Cokeworth by Kyralian
Summary: Harry is thrilled that he is allowed to go on a holiday with his relatives, but quickly discovers it to be a trick. Instead of a trip to the seaside he expected, the boy is left on the doorstep of a scary stranger who claims to be his father.

A horrible father-story [at least, at the beginning], told mostly but not solely from Harry's perspective.
Categories: Parental Snape > Biological Father Snape Main Characters: .Snape and Harry (required)
Snape Flavour: Angry Snape, Cruel Snape, Stern Snape
Genres: Family
Tags: Child fic
Takes Place: 0 - Pre Hogwarts (before Harry is 11)
Warnings: Neglect, Physical Punishment Spanking, Physical Punishment Non-Spanking
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 27 Completed: No Word count: 80612 Read: 66695 Published: 27 Mar 2021 Updated: 31 Mar 2022
Chapter 11 Sabbatical by Kyralian
Severus sprawled on the couch in the most undignified position, taking relaxed sips of amber liquid from a glass in his hand. He had to admit that his first child-free day in almost three weeks did wonders to his mood. Even his withdrawal migraine was finally letting up, and he swore he would never swallow another dose of Wit-Sharpening Solution in his lifetime. The exhaustion accumulated from twelve sleepless nights had been debilitating, but the inability to take the mildest headache draft was the most infuriating.

He genuinely hoped that Harry would become great friends with the Parker brat, as the respite could preserve his sanity until the headmaster found a solution to his unexpected and inconvenient fatherhood. Severus could already detect the symptoms of creeping madness, he spent hours obsessing over the child’s origins, counting backwards to the days of his possible conception and coming up empty. And if he managed to drag his thoughts from the murky past, the man was tormented by memories of the boy bleeding out in his helpless arms.

Even now, instead of relaxing with his nightcup, his mind was preoccupied recounting the protective wards he had cast, and thinking of new ones he should add to make his house more secure for his son. Not an hour prior, Severus added a Floatation Charm on the bathtub, after Harry spent twice the usual time doing his ablutions tonight. All these protective measures didn’t seem to assuage the gnawing worry that he was going to miss something, and the child would be harmed again.

He knocked back his drink and poured another, wondering if the incessant worrying was a natural state of being a parent. He didn’t remember his own parents tearing out their hair in worry every time he scraped a knee, but they had certainly made him accountable for his many misdeeds.

Severus recalled his young self picking up the strap that hung by the kitchen door, and bringing it to his father as soon as he had gotten back from his shift. He had been required to confess his own transgressions, and woe be on him if his mother managed it first. The sight of that piece of worn leather hanging innocently by the door was one of his most chilling childhood memories, but he couldn’t deny that his father’s discipline was both deserved and fair, even though he often thought it overly harsh. The worst part had been having to present that strap himself, even when it wasn’t deemed necessary in the end. It had certainly made an impression on his child self, but he couldn’t bring himself to repeat the same practice with Harry, even if it had taught him to argue his case most efficiently.

Tobias Snape would have said that punishing a child twice for the same misdeed proved that you egregiously failed in your duty to him the first time. Severus never used to reflect on his father’s work class, Presbyterian philosophy before now, but ever since his son was dumped on his doorstep like some worthless parcel, he kept asking the ghost of the man what to do with the child.

Of his two parents, his father was the more hands-on and present influence in his young years, Eileen Prince Snape was an obsessive bookworm, who squandered most of their little income on rare books of magic she rarely looked up from to see to the needs of her son. As a child, he idolized his witch mother, but lately he had only contempt for the woman for her abandonment of her responsibilities.

Severus shook his head to rid himself of the pointless contemplation, he had no idea how to be anyone’s parent, and the easiest for him would be to return the child to the muggles, but he found himself rejecting that idea more and more as days went by. He didn’t think he could give the boy up to that horse-faced cow, who so carelessly abandoned the child to her sister’s would be rapist. What assurances could there be that she wouldn’t abandon the boy to the Dark Lord’s followers as easily?

A whoosh of the Floo in the other room made him sigh and summon another tumbler from the kitchen, here came the man with the answers.

“Severus?” the old man called.

“In the living room, Albus,” he answered, filling both glasses with alcohol.

“I see you are quite recovered, my boy,” Dumbledore commented genially, accepting the offered glass.

“About bloody time,” Severus grumbled, pushing his hair from his eyes.

“I did offer to replace you at the hospital, so you could sleep,” Albus chided. “That was reckless of you.”

He narrowed his eyes at the old man in suspicion. Yes, he offered, repeatedly, but Severus hadn’t been in the right frame of mind at the time to let the child out of his sight. He drew his wand and summoned the Daily Prophet of three days prior from his office, thrusting it at the old man in annoyance.

“You did that on purpose!”

Dumbledore scanned the sensationalist article with a mirthful smile: A Deranged Father Kidnaps Dying Child From Hospital.

“I expected more subtlety from you, to be honest,” the man admitted, his eyes were twinkling madly. “But yes, it was time to go.”

“You should have brought more Polyjuice!” Severus growled angrily. “The healer said…”

“The healer was looking for an illness that wasn’t there, and you know it!” Albus cut him off sharply. “You had two days to discharge the boy properly, and yet you waited until the very last dose! I expected better from my spy!”

The younger man glared heatedly at the wall, refusing to answer the accusations. He wasn’t going to admit that he was wary of bringing the boy back, lest he bullocked something up again.

“I know you worry about him, Severus,” the old man said kindly. “You are his father, and that comes with the job, I’m afraid.”

“I suppose,” he muttered darkly.

“And how is little Harry doing?”

“Sleeping, if he knows what’s good for him,” Severus grumbled, waving a dismissive hand at the ceiling. “He spent the day playing with the Parker boy today.”

“How exciting!” the headmaster enthused with a grin. “He’s settling in well, then?”

“As well as can be expected, given the circumstances,” he admitted with a shrug. “He eats, sleeps and gets into trouble with regularity. I’d say, that’s normal.”

“Good, good,” Dumbledore mused with a calculating gleam in his eyes.

“Is there a point to all these questions,” Severus drawled, taking a sip. “Or are you merely engaging in idle gossip?”

“Indeed, I thought we should end the uncertainty for the poor boy,” Albus stated heavily.

“You located the Dursleys, then,” the young man hissed, the very mention of the name enough to shatter his previous equanimity.

“I was successful in that endeavour, yes,” the headmaster admitted sadly, the customary twinkle in his eyes was ominously absent. “It appears that Mr. Vernon Dursley received a promotion to a branch overseas, and he and his family are currently engaged in choosing a new home for themselves in Massachusetts.”

“No, absolutely not!” Severus immediately objected, standing and glaring at the interfering old coot in challenge. “I won’t allow my son to be taken-,” he cocked his head.

What was that noise? Suddenly, his eyes snapped to the bookshelf that hid the stairs, and they filled with fury.

“That boy!” he roared, already across the room and sending the bookcase door open with a bang.

How dared the brat spy on him?! He caught up to the fleeing child on the landing, grabbing his shoulder and applying a mighty slap to his posterior.

“How many times must I tell you not to eavesdrop?!” he shouted, ignoring the boy’s exaggerated howl of agony. He pulled his hand back, and brought it down even harder. “And don’t bloody run on the fucking stairs!”

He dragged the snivelling child to his room and pushed him on the bed, folding his arms to stop himself from hitting the boy again. He took a deep breath to bring his temper back under control.

“Harry, you cannot keep doing that,” Severus growled, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. The second issue was the more immediate to address. “Those stairs are very steep and dangerous, you could break a leg or worse falling. Why can’t you understand that, child?”

If he thought the boy would explain himself, as he would have done before his father, he was an utter fool. His son sat on the bed, hunched over and shaking with gasping sobs, refusing to provide any defence for his foolish behaviour. Sighing, Severus pulled a chair around and sat down, feeling like an impostor in this role.

“What am I going to do with you?” he asked quietly, resting his elbows on his knees and staring at the boy. “I can’t possibly put any more wards on the stairs. Could you try to not be so reckless, Harry?”

Was he begging, now? That last question succeeded in getting his son’s attention in any case, sad green eyes rose to meet his black ones, and they were hurting.

“I’m sorry that I fell,” he whispered fearfully.

“On the stairs?!” Severus demanded, paling as he remembered tumbling down those murder stairs as a child. He raked the boy with his eyes, looking for signs of injury. The child was cradling his hand to his chest as if it pained him, the man had his wand out in a diagnostic pattern before his mind even registered that this was the hand he had grabbed on the landing. “Fuck, fuck, fuck…”

Severus strode quickly out of the room, and down the stairs, raising a hand to halt the headmaster’s anxious inquiries as he passed through to his office, to collect the medical supplies.

“You’re going to have to drink some potions, Harry,” he announced upon his return, dumping his load on the bed, next to the petrified child. He sat on his heels in front of his son and selected one tiny vial from the pile, holding it up so the green potion could be clearly seen. “You remember this one, for the pain?”

Harry gave a tiny nod, and when the man put the vial to his lips, he drank the icy concoction without a word of complaint.

“Good boy,” Severus breathed, brushing the child’s hair out of his face. “I need to look now, and cast a spell to align the bone properly. I’ll be as careful as I can, may I proceed, Harry?”

His son bit his lip and looked into the man’s eyes for a long moment, and Severus had a fanciful thought that his suitability as a father was being assessed.

“Will it hurt?” the child asked quietly.

“It might, a little,” Severus admitted honestly. “But it must be done. Are you ready?”

Harry took a bracing breath before nodding, and the man proceeded to gently remove his pyjama top, taking care not to jostle his elbow. He sucked in a startled breath upon noticing a large purple bruise covering his left shoulder, this injury couldn’t have occurred recently.

“There is inflammation here,” he mused, tracing the bruised socket with a finger. “I think it has been hurting for a few days, hasn’t it?”

The boy hung his head in admission of Severus’s guess, and he sighed, reaching for another vial.

“You know this one, too,” he commented and smirked, as Harry wrinkled his nose in distaste at the anti-inflammatory potion he had despised so much at hospital. “One dose should clear it up.”

With a face of a martyr about to be sent to a rack, his son slurped the oily concoction, managing not to gag with difficulty. Severus gave him a drink of water, before they tackled the broken collarbone. He arranged the boy’s hand carefully against his stomach, and cast a spell to make it immobile.

“Now, this shouldn’t hurt, but it’ll feel very odd as the bone moves back into place,” he explained, pointing his wand at the child’s shoulder. “Try not to move.”

“Okay,” Harry whimpered, evidently expecting the worst.

“Episky!” Severus cast quickly, not eager to prolong the tension, and when his son only let out a gasp of surprise, he allowed himself a small relieved smile. “We’re almost done.”

He pulled the pyjama top back on, leaving the left sleeve empty, and reached for one of the two vials that were left.

“This is Skele-Gro, it’s used to mend bones,” the man explained, pulling the cork out. “With this, you’ll be back to normal in the morning, but as it aches quite a bit while working, you’ll get a mild sleeping draft as well.”

“It won’t hurt?” Harry checked anxiously.

“No, you should sleep through the night,” Severus assured calmly, holding the vial to the boy’s lips. “However, if you wake and it does hurt, you may call me. Now, drink up.”

With an unhappy grimace, Harry did as he was told, and gulped down both potions in quick succession. He helped settle the boy on the pillow, and tucked him in, when the child’s worried voice made him look up.

“Will you whip me now, father?” he asked, blinking sleepily.

“Perhaps, not this time,” Severus sighed, “But we will talk about this, Harry, as it cannot happen again. If you run on the stairs, and the house isn’t crumbling behind you to excuse it, then yes, I will use the belt, and it will hurt a lot. Is that understood?”

His son answered with a huge yawn, and his eyes fluttered closed.

“Wasn’t… stairs…” he slurred.

“Oh?”

“Was… scoring… goal…” Harry sighed, and then his chest expanded with a deep inhalation as the potion took him under.

Severus stared at the child’s sleeping face as he pondered the words, his eyes roamed over the thin face, examining his features closely for the first time. When Petunia had brought him, the man only saw a James look-alike, but in actual fact he couldn’t have been more wrong. Harry’s face was longer and thinner than Potter’s, his cheekbones were sharply-defined and his chin pointier, Severus’s mouth turned upwards in recognition. The nose, the shape and colour of the eyes, the ears were his mother’s, but the high forehead was also his. The skin tone was somewhere in between his sickly pallor and Lily’s rosiness, the hair was also a joint effort; it was black as pitch like Severus’s, but wavy and frizzy, bringing to mind Lily’s endless struggle to bring her wild curls under control.

Mine, the thought resounded in his head, and what he did next wasn’t really a conscious choice, it was almost instinctual to bend forward and touch his lips to his son’s forehead. By the time Severus left the room, closing the door gently on the sleeping child, his mind was swirling with alien thoughts and emotions. Elation. Possessiveness. Fondness. Protectiveness. He was so preoccupied that he was completely unprepared for the furious wizard downstairs.

“How dare you!” Albus Dumbledore thundered, he was shaking with unbottled rage, his fists clenched at his sides. “How dare you beat that child hard enough for him to require healing!”

Severus’s mouth fell open in shock, as the headmaster’s magic crackled in the air, making the furniture shake and books topple to the floor. He stood very still in the doorway, not quite daring to move lest the unrestrained furious magic seized him and bashed his head against the wall.

“Albus, I didn’t-,”

“No, no more!” the unhinged wizard roared, a wand suddenly appeared in his hand and pointed at the younger man. “The child will not go from one cruel and unloving home to another, he has suffered enough!”

Severus’s eyes grew wide, and in an uncharacteristic display of recklessness, he lunged forward, grabbing the old man by the collar of his navy robe and shaking him.

“What do you mean by cruel home?! What has that cow done to my son?! Has she hurt him?!” he demanded angrily. “Answer me, damn it!”

The two men glared at each other for a long moment, but eventually the fury in the older man began to abate.

“What happened upstairs?”

“Little dunderhead broke his collarbone while playing with Eliot, and only now saw fit to tell me,” Severus reported irritably. “Now, tell me, has Petunia harmed my boy?”

“Not physically, but the Dursley family left deep scars in little Harry, from how they spoke of him,” Dumbledore murmured sadly. “They showed little enough concern for his well-being, leaving him with you.”

“True enough,” Severus scoffed, going to reclaim the couch. “As a rapist and death eater, I should never have been considered. Albus, I don’t want Petunia anywhere near the boy, he needs to be protected better!”

The headmaster eyed him shrewdly, before flicking his wand to restore the room to its proper appearance, he picked up a bottle of brandy that somehow survived his loss of control. He poured himself a stiff drink, and sat resplendent in an armchair, like a king about to pronounce justice.

“It seems you and Mrs. Dursley share the sentiment,” he said, taking a deep sip. “She expressed a categorical desire to terminate all contact with her nephew.”

“What?!” Severus seethed, his cheeks darkening with blood. “She left him without a fucking word, without one word, Albus! The bitch! What am I supposed to tell the boy, that she fled to another continent to escape him?!”

“Has Harry asked you about his relatives?”

“No, but he will, eventually. What then?”

“What then, indeed?” Albus mused, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “It is curious to know that not three weeks ago, you demanded I bring Petunia kicking and screaming to retrieve the boy, and I quote ‘I want the brat out of my house’, and now, you seem wholly prepared to keep him with you.”

Severus opened his mouth to retort that he would be pleased to keep his boy with him, when he remembered the reality they lived in. He closed his eyes, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

“He cannot stay under my care,” he groaned. “If I bring him to Hogwarts, all hell will break loose. I won’t get custody of a son sired in a rape, especially not this one! Fuck, Albus, you must take him!”

“You cannot bring him to Hogwarts, no,” Dumbledore answered carefully. “Nor anywhere in the wizarding world, not before you can prove that Harry was conceived in a willing union. Family bonds are sacrosanct, and both the ministry and your darker compatriots would have to accept your claiming custody of a blood relative.”

“And how am I to obtain that proof?” Severus scoffed, folding his arms in ire. “The potions required to even attempt to obliterate the block in my mind take months to prepare, and the result may not be the acquittal we’re expecting.”

“Don’t be such a pessimist, my boy,” the headmaster chided, wagging a disapproving finger. “You wouldn’t hurt Lily of your own volition, and you are resistant to the Imperius. You didn’t do it.”

“Can’t be done before the start of term, though,” Severus mumbled, averting his eyes to hide how deeply the other man’s trust affected him.

“How fortunate that you’ll soon be on extended medical leave,” Dumbledore commented with a twinkle in his eyes.

“What ails me, dare I ask?” Severus drawled, narrowing his eyes in suspicion.

“Dragon Pox, I’m sorry to say,” Albus replied, his expression convincingly tragic.

“I’m on my deathbed, then,” he rolled his eyes. “Have you found a replacement for my classes?”
To be continued...
End Notes:
Some answers, but more questions. Does it read ok? I kept getting interrupted here...


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