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A Little Light Reading

Author: dullastacks

Chapter 1 to 22

Storyid: 6417704

Chapter: 1

Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling; I have just borrowed her words. Bolded passages come from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

So, those of you who have me on alert and have checked my profile, probably know by now that my whole story archive got nuked. (There was much need for Calming Draughts around here that day to say the least.) I had no intention of reposting, as I'd gotten a bit lazy and only backed up a few of my stories.

Then, I got the idea to Google my Ffn Name and see if the stories had cached. (No, they didn't - Drat you ffn and your non-caching pages!) However, one of the things that I did find via Google was that someone on a Yahoo group had saved several, up to date, pages from my postings, which means I don't have to rewrite them.
So, I'm going to put up what was salvaged (minus my reviews - my beautiful, beautiful reviews!) To that end, there will be updates.
As to She Who Shall Not Be Named... Kreacher has been deployed and there was much Splinching to be seen. (The little bugger really is good at getting blood out of the drapes, you know ;-P ) and the Giant Squid won't need to be fed for a few days.

Severus Snape was many things.

He was a teacher, a Potions Master, a spy, a loyal friend to the few who made it through his defenses, a git... he'd never admit it, but he'd always liked that particular insult. He was meticulous and selfish, and at times demanding and even cruel, though it was rarely for enjoyment, as so many of his students seemed to believe.
If they made mistakes and cracked wise in Flitwick's class, the worst that might happen would be dropping a feather on someone's head. With Minerva, there could be a mass exodus of half formed pincushion mice. But in his class...

In his class, even the tiniest of error, intentional or not, could result in serious injury and irreparable damage to one or more students, not to mention him or the school itself. Scowling at the smallest infraction and demanding nothing short of perfection was practical, and ensured that, at worst, a few cauldrons got melted rather than a few students. He had no choice but to play the roll of "dungeon bat" to keep the lot of dunderheaded innocents he was assigned each year in line.

But, once class was over, and there was no one around to see the veneer crack, it was a different story all together. He could relax in his room, drink his tea, and (the horror) even smile if he felt so inclined. His rooms were secure, and no one other than an elf could get into them without his permission, so it was quite a shock to find a package in green paper laying neatly on his coffee table, bearing a card with "Severus Snape" in large letters. On the reverse, it said simply : "Read Me"
Most people would have reached for it, out of curiosity if nothing else, but not Snape. Thankfully, another adjective that made up his core being was "paranoid", which meant it wasn't easy to sneak up on him. He passed his wand over the package to see if there was anything unsavory attached to it, but found it devoid of magic all together. So, he risked untying the string that bound it to see what was inside.
Most likely, one of his colleagues had remembered his birthday a week past and instructed a kitchen elf to deliver the gift anonymously. One of those rare smiles tugged his mouth - Snape loved books, and the prospect of a new one was always worthwhile.
It was a good thing he was alone because the shouted string of curses he used when he saw the whimsical cover was anything but appropriate for a man in his station.
There, in full color, and something like a child's drawing, was a representation of a scarheaded boy and the Hogwarts Express.
"Potter," Snape sneered with disgust, for in fact, the title on the book's jacket read "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone".
A second emotion came after the first - dread.
No one was supposed to know the Stone was hidden within the castle, but obviously, someone did. Who that was, or what it had to do with that detestable child, Snape had no idea, but he would have to find out.

He just couldn't get past the picture on the book to make himself open it. This whole affair reeked of the kind of mischief a certain pair of ginger miscreants loved to pull. Charming a book cover would be exactly the sort of thing they'd think was a great trick to pull on their hated Professor, and everyone was painfully aware of the fact that the twin Weasleys routinely found ways into parts of the castle to which they shouldn't have had access. (Snape never mentioned it, but he suspected they'd somehow brokered a deal with the dreaded poltergeist in the name of common chaos to get them into places they weren't supposed to be. It was a downright Slytherin tactic, especially for a couple of lions.)

The more he thought about it (and the more approval the twins' success purchased from him), the less Snape was inclined to want to read the book at all. It wasn't like the Philosopher's Stone was unheard of, most likely it was a coincidence. He threw it down on the couch, and went to his bookshelf to find something else to pass the time.
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
Snape scowled.
It had been a while since he'd last read A Tale of Two Cities, but he was certain that was NOT how it began.
He reached for another book and opened it to a random page:
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
This time, Snape growled. If the Weasleys were behind this, he'd award them twenty points for ingenuity, then deduct two hundred for vandalism.
He dragged a dusty Potions tome from the top shelf. It was written in Russian, so it couldn't possibly have...
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.

Forget points. He was going to research obscure potions that required ginger headed boys as ingredients. He'd make them scrub the cauldrons first, then toss them in.

His previous feelings of ease fled quickly.
He was not about to be ordered around by some cheeky students' prank run amok. They certainly weren't going to keep him from reading whatever he chose to read. He'd have them kicked off the Quidditch team! He'd have them restricted from desert! He'd have them expelled!
A cruel smile settled on Snape's face.
He'd have them made their brother Percy's assistants. Oh yes, that was the one. Next to a stint in Azkaban, it was the worst punishment he could devise.
For now, Snape would have to settle for marking essays if he wanted reading material, but tomorrow, Fred and George Weasley would serve as an example of why it didn't pay to get on his bad side. The pair would be talked about for years to come, no doubt, but not for the reasons they expected!
Snape swept back into his office to retrieve a stack of essays, then sat as his table with red quill in hand. At least Ravenclaw essays were generally worth his time.
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
He screamed.
Severus Snape screamed like a little girl who'd been frighten by a rat. (Or Ron Weasley with a spider...)
First Year papers.
Second Year.
Even his precious Slytherins (the twins would pay for that insult most of all)
Every single piece or parchment started with the same lines, and he had absolutely no doubt who "The Boy Who Lived" was referring to. For now, it seemed, the ginger menaces had won. If he was to get any peace at all, Snape would have to dig in and abide the life story of his hated enemy's Golden Child.

Resigned, he headed back to his sitting room and plucked the book off the couch. After hitting the cover with a satisfying 'Incindio' and watching it burn, he opened to a page that started with words he now knew by heart.

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.
Ugh. These people weren't normal; they were boring.
Muggle and boring.
And besides a glaring resemblance of Mrs. Dursley to the long buried (intentionally!) memory of Lily Evans' sister, Snape couldn't begin to imagine what any of this had to do with one Harry Potter or the Philosopher's Stone.
The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn't think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters. Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley's sister, but they hadn't met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn't have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be.
A cold chill hit Snape square in the back of his neck. Mrs. Dursley WAS Lily's sister, and that didn't bode well for anyone. It sounded like she hadn't changed a whit since childhood.

And most disturbing was the realization that he actually agreed with her on something. James Potter was, so far as Snape was concerned, good for nothing (unless he counted making Lily happy, which he refused to even think about). But if anyone should have been shoved in the closet as a family secret it was Petunia herself, not Lily.

The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street.
Most likely "Hello" followed by a cordial introduction, unless the neighbors' manners were as atrocious as the Dursleys'
The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.
Well, that made a bit of sense. Potter certainly had a knack for getting other children into trouble.
When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.
High chair?
Snape scowled at the book. Was that what it meant by "small son"? When was this set?
He looked at the chapter title again and blanched.
"Surely it's not THAT day..."
None of them noticed a large, tawny owl flutter past the window.
It WAS that day.
At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls. "Little tyke," chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four's drive.
Even Potter didn't fling his food like a chimp from the ape house at the zoo. In fact, the boy hardly ate at all, though that was likely due to his choice of seat amongst the Weasley boys and their endless appitites. They were liable to mistake his fingers for sausages if he tried to eat while they were grazing.

It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar - a cat reading a map.

"Well, hello Minerva, whatever are you doing in young Potter's history?" Snape asked out loud. Stupid Muggle book; it didn't even have the decency to answer his question.
For a second, Mr. Dursley didn't realize what he had seen - then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight. What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive - no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs.
"Oh yes, Dursley. You go and tell Minerva she's meant to be an illiterate, and I'll be watching to catch the pieces of you left when she's through." Perhaps this book wouldn't be a total waste of time after all.
Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind. As he drove toward town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.

But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn't help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks. Mr. Dursley couldn't bear people who dressed in funny clothes - the getups you saw on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdos standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together. Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren't young at all; why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him! But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt - these people were obviously collecting for something... yes, that would be it.

What on Earth?
Snape had been a bit preoccupied when the Dark Lord fell, so he hadn't seen the celebrations, but he wouldn't have expected otherwise intelligent magical folk to completely lose all reason. What good would it do to survive one crisis only to cause another. It was no longer the Middle Ages, didn't they realize someone could have taken notice? Or photographs?
The traffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills.
Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor. If he hadn't, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn't see the owls swoop ing past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did; they pointed and gazed open- mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at nighttime. Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning.
This was... disconcerting. He'd never realized "dunderheadedness" survived past puberty.
He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more. He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he'd stretch his legs and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the bakery.
He'd forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker's. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn't know why, but they made him uneasy. This bunch were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn't see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.
"The Potters, that's right, that's what I heard yes, their son, Harry."

Snape stopped dead and reread the passage. They were talking about Harry Potter out in the middle of the Muggle world without regard for what it could mean. Didn't they realize the danger?

It was an ironic stream of thought considering it was Snape who'd put the boy in danger in the first place...
Mr. Dursley stopped dead. Fear flooded him. He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.
He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone, and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking... no, he was being stupid. Potter wasn't such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry. Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure his nephew was called Harry. He'd never even seen the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold. There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley; she always got so upset at any mention of her sister. He didn't blame her - if he'd had a sister like that... but all the same, those people in cloaks...
Snape snarled. There was nothing wrong with Lily Evans. Not one thing, other than her taste in husbands with dominate traits they then foisted on their children...
He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon and when he left the building at five o'clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.
"Sorry," he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell. It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn't seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passersby stare, "Don't be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!"
And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.

"DAEDELUS DIGGLE!" Snape roared. He was going to hunt him down and do ... he didn't know what, but it would unpleasant and highly satisfying. Nah, forget that, he'd touched Dursley, who'd at some point touched Petunia in such a way as to produce a child. Even after more than a decade he was probably still contaminated.

Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn't approve of imagination.
"No wonder, since you obviously have none."
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw -and it didn't improve his mood - was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning. It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.
"Shoo!" said Mr. Dursley loudly. The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look. Was this normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife.
Shooing Minerva was never a good idea. Snape was surprised Dursley hadn't been transfigured into some sort of walrus.
Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door's problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learned a new word ("Won't!").
"Lovely boy you have there," Snape sneered.
Mr. Dursley tried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:
"And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation's owls have been behaving very unusually today. Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern." The newscaster allowed himself a grin. "Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"

"Well, Ted," said the weatherman, "I don't know about that, but it's not only the owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire, and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they've had a downpour of shooting stars! Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early - it's not until next week, folks! But I can promise a wet night tonight."

The news? It had made the Muggle news? How did no one know this?
Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters...
Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea. It was no good. He'd have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously. "Er - Petunia, dear - you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you?"
As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn't have a sister.
Snape understood. He'd often pretended Lily didn't have one, either.
"No," she said sharply. "Why?"
"Funny stuff on the news," Mr. Dursley mumbled. "Owls... shooting stars... and there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today..."
"So?" snapped Mrs. Dursley.
"Well, I just thought... maybe... it was something to do with... you know... her crowd."
Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dared tell her he'd heard the name "Potter." He decided he didn't dare. Instead he said, as casually as he could, "Their son -he'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't he?"
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.
"What's his name again? Howard, isn't it?"
"Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me."
"Yes, unlike Dudley, which so masculine and superior." Snape rolled his eyes. He was begrudginly starting to enjoy this book. Maybe he'd only punish one twin, and force them to choose which one it would be. That might be good for a laugh.
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. "Yes, I quite agree."

He didn't say another word on the subject as they went upstairs to bed. While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though it were waiting for something.

Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do with the Potters? If it did... if it got out that they were related to a pair of - well, he didn't think he could bear it.
The Dursleys got into bed.
Snape shuddered and made a mental note to grab a vial of Dreamless Sleep before he went to bed so there wouldn't be any nightmares to go along with that image.
Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind... He couldn't see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on - he yawned and turned over - it couldn't affect them...

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