Severus Snape was a rather stressed out potions master. It had been over 7 years since Harry Potter had disappeared from his relative's home. The small boy had only been four when he had gone missing. Albus had sent many old order members to investigate and found out that the boy had been horribly abused. The uncle had beaten him often and the aunt was emotionally abusive. There was no telling what things they said to the boy or why he had left.
The assumption made by everyone was that the boy had run away. The problem was that no one knew where. They had scoured the neighborhoods, the school, the nearby adoption centers and the boy never showed up. They knew the boy was alive since the alarm Albus had set up to monitor his magical core was still active but the boy was nowhere to be found.
Albus had kept them searching for these seven years but everyone agreed they would just have to wait for the boy to turn eleven. That summer before his eleventh birthday they would be able to send an owl to invite him to Hogwarts. The boy would hopefully reply and they would be able to find him. Snape had been there when the owl had returned without an answer.
The letter had been delivered and accepted but no answer was given. This was the cause of stress for Severus Snape. He had sworn to protect the boy and he had failed spectacularly. So he decided he would go someplace to relax. He needed to go into the forbidden forest and gather potion ingredients. Things like snake eggs and venom. It would take a week to gather everything he wanted so Severus Snape decided to head out.
"Albus." Snape said. "I need to gather potion ingredients. I am almost out of ashwinder venom. I should return in a week. If you require me to return send a patronous and I will return as soon as I receive it."
"Alright my dear boy." Albus said distractedly. "Have fun."
So Snape had left with nothing but an expandable bag and his wand. The expandable bag contained enough food for the journey and all the vials and containers he would need for the potions ingredients. The first day had been calm, he had gathered wild herbs and plants easily. He was met with little difficulty.
The second day was just as safe except that he had not been able to find any ashwinder habitats. They had become more and more scarce the past 6 years and the last year Snape had had to lower himself to buying the venom. That was both a hassle and expensive this year he was determined to find one of the snakes.
That second night was when things changed drastically. He was setting up camp for the night when he heard the cry of a predator he feared the most. Wyverns were nasty magical creatures. They were dragons that loved to hunt people. Most dragon species desired to be left alone but Wyverns would seek out people to eat them. A wyvern had found him.
If you were watching from a distance you would have said that Snape acquitted himself well against the beast. He injured it in a few spots and might have won if it had been day time. It was night however and his lack of good night vision made the battle a win for the Wyvern. Just as Snape was preparing to have his last moments though someone intervened. Snape from his vantage point could see the form of a small child, maybe 9 or 10 running towards him.
Snape was pinned down by the claws of the Wyvern so he was amazed when the boy jumped right up and climbed up the dragon's arm. The boy began yelling in a language he did not recognize and glowing with magic power. The Wyvern in fear stepped off of Snape and cowered. The giant beast cowered! The boy jumped of the Wyvern and with a wave of his hand sent the creature flying.
Snape sat up but before he could speak to his rescuer the boy had fled. Snape did not sleep well that night. What was a small child like that doing this deep in the forbidden forest? How had he helped him and an even better question why? Who was he? Snape healed himself of the bruises from the wyvern attack. He tried to sleep but his mind had latched onto a puzzle and would not let go.
That morning Snape continued his search for snake parts. He couldn't help but hope that he would see that boy again. The day was quiet he even managed to find a unicorn willing to donate some tail hairs. The only thing he could not find was anything snake related. Not even a nonmagical garden snake was to be seen.
The fourth day was when he hit a breakthrough. He met a group of centaurs.
"Severus Snape." Roan said. "What brings you so deep into the forest?"
"I am in search of snake parts for potion ingredients. I have been unable to find any snakes at all."
"They have congregated together near the center of the forest. Their new leader is situated there and they wish to be close." He answered with an annoyed tone of voice.
It was one of the few times in the world that a centaur gave anyone a straight answer. That was however the only straight answer he got. Snape decided he would travel to the center of the forest in hopes of finding any snake at all. It was the fifth day when he began to have luck. He saw them, snakes, dozens of snakes but they all ran from him.
He was frustrated it was as if the snakes were trying to get him to play some demented form of chase. It was the middle of the fifth day when he saw it. It being the strangest house he had ever seen. It was a series of treehouses connected by rope bridges. The houses were formed from the tree themselves, which meant they were clearly magical. Along the ground were numerous flat stones that were in the direct path of the sun. Snakes were sunning themselves everywhere but Snape did not notice that. He was too distracted by the housing complex high in the air.
Was this where that strange little boy lived? No humans lived in the forbidden forest according to Snape's knowledge but this was clearly a human type residence. Snape was stunned when he saw a large ashwinder slither right past him with a rabbit in one of its mouths.
Ashwinders were strange snakes. They had three heads and only one contained their venom. You could never tell which one it was which made getting their venom rather annoying. Snape watched as the snake went over to a basket and dropped the rabbit inside. Then the snake hissed and as if by magic (it probably was) the basket zoomed up towards the treehouse. The basket lowered itself back down again.
Except this time inside the basket was the boy who had saved his life just two days ago. The boy was looking at him in curiosity as if he had never truly seen another person before. The boy had a large yellow snake that was certainly not native to the British Isles around his neck. The snake kissed at the boy and the boy hissed back.
Snape's breath hitched he had not heard that noise in over a decade and hearing it come out of a little child's mouth scared him. The boy got out of the basket and walked up to Snape. The boy now that Snape could look at him was rather interesting.
Scraggily long black messy hair that was more like a birds nest than anything else surrounded a dirty face and wide green eyes. They looked familiar but Snape could not place it. The boy was wearing animal hides for clothing and was either very well tanned or completely covered in dirt. The boy opened his mouth but closed it again. It seemed like he wanted to say something but was unsure as to how.
"Hello." Snape said deciding to start.
"Hi." The boy said. "Who are you?"
The boy spoke as if he was unsure how to. It seemed as if the boy lived alone with just snakes. That might mean he spoke English rarely and might not even be sure how to communicate.
"My name is Severus Snape. Who are you?" Snape answered with more patience than he thought he was capable of
The boy scrunched up his face and seemed to be thinking hard.
"Freak, my name is freak."
"That can't possibly be your name!" Snape exclaimed.
"That's what they used to call me before I popped away. The snakes call me Lightning."
"I will also call you Lightning then." Snape said he refused to call anyone freak.
"Okay Sev-rus." Lightning said. "Why are you here?"
Snape ignored the mispronunciation of his name and decided to move onto something more interesting.
"I will tell you why I am here if you tell me why you are here."
The boy stared at him for a moment before hissing to the large yellow snake. The snake hissed back after a moment.
"You go first. Glade says if I go first you might not tell me."
Snape raised his eyebrow at the yellow snake who was gazing at him curiously. He cleared his throat and decided it hardly mattered.
"I am here searching for snakes to get their venom, skin and egg shells to use as potion ingredients."
"What are potions?" The boy asked warily.
"Potions are magical drinks that can help people." Snape defined as best as he could.
"Magic? You can do magic?!" The boy said jumping up and down. "Show me! I've never met anyone else who can do bad freakish things like me."
So the boy is a muggleborn then. Interesting.
"I will show you some magic if you tell me why you are here."
"I live here. One day when I was hiding from my family I wished really really hard to be someplace safe and I popped here."
"How long ago was that Lightning?"
"A long time ago. I've been here for forever, I hardly remember where I was before I lived here." Lightning answered after thinking for a bit. "Now show me magic!"
Normally petulant and demanding children made Snape's skin crawl but this boy was different. Not only had he saved his life but the boy was most likely abused and did not need to see Snape angry. For these reasons he kept his face calm and removed his wand. Deciding on something simple his used the levitation charm to lift up a rock. The boy squealed in delight.
"Glade said there were others like me but I didn't believe her."
"There are thousands like us." Snape informed him. "How old are you?"
"I'm not sure. Sir and Ma'am never told me when my birthday was."
"Sir and Ma'am?" Snape asked although he already knew.
"My family I had to call them sir and ma'am." Lightning said suddenly the boy stiffened and looked to the sky.
"Drake is coming."
"The big dragon that I fought for you. He is coming."
Snape instantly got into a fighting position. The boy looked at him funny.
"You do not fight you go up into home. I will defend it is my job."
"You are merely a boy." Snape said.
"I defend my snakes."
Later Snape would realize that he had said things very similar as that to different teachers. At that time though all he knew was that he was being pushed into the basket. The basket was charmed to grow to fit whatever it was supposed to hold. It grew in size just as Snape was pushed inside. He was then handed the yellow snake and the basket was flown into the air.
Snape angrily crawled out of the basket trying to find a way down when he saw that all the snakes were fleeing. He saw the Wyvern land in front of Harry and snap at him. If there was any conversation between the two Snape did not hear it. Instead he watched as the boy used magic expertly without a wand. The boy's hand simmered with unused power and the boy pounced on the Wyvern. The boy used physical attacks instead of spells but each hit was backed up with his magic. The Wyvern used his claws to scratch at Lightning's but the boy didn't seem to notice. Finally the boy hit the Wyvern straight in the eye causing him to rear back. The Wyvern flew away and the boy sat down on the ground.
Snakes came out of hiding and surrounded the boy in what seemed to be like congratulations. The snakes seemed happy but Snape really had no clue. He waited for the boy to come up to the house. Suddenly the basket rushed down and carried the boy up with him.
"That was quite a battle Lightning."
"Thank you Sevrus." Lightning said as he wobbled out of the basket.
That was when Severus said the wounds. They were three long deep scratches along the boy's chest.
"You are hurt! Let me help you." Snape said kneeling down to be eye level with the boy.
"Help me?" The boy said as the concept itself was foreign. "Why would you want to help me? No one helps me if they are human."
"How many humans do you even know?" Snape asked.
"Not many. There's you and then my family. They wouldn't let me talk to other people."
"Do you not think that I might be different from them?"
"Maybe. I can't really tell."
"Let me use magic to heal your cuts so they don't bleed too much."
"Magic can do that?" Lightning said amazed. "Show me."
So Snape used a spell to clean the cuts and then close them. The boy gaped at him and then gave him the first smile he had seen on the boy. Suddenly an ashwinder came up to the boy and began hissing seriously. The boy hissed back easily and confidently. Extremely differently from the way he spoke in English where he was slow and uncertain. The snake left and returned momentarily with three eggs in each mouth. The boy took each carefully and held them carefully.
He took the first egg and let his hands begin to glow with magic. Snape watched in extreme interest as the boy took each egg and surrounded it with his magic. Snape had never seen an ashwinder egg close up before. The snakes were extremely protective of their eggs and would not let anything near them. The fact that the boy was holding them and using magic on them made Snape curious. Finally each egg was done and the ashwinder bowed and left.
"What just happened?"
"I blessed their offspring. I blessed them with protection from egg breakers and strength in battle and venom."
"You can do that?"
"Yes. I can bless any snake still in the egg with whatever his parents desire if they ask it of me."
"You do this for free?"
"No I want something. That one is going to get me human writing equipment. He lives near the glowing castle and says he knows where to find some."
"The glowing castle?"
"There's a huge castle that glows with magic that way." Lightning said pointing in the direction of Hogwarts. "I've seen it from afar a couple of times but I'm too scared to go there. Too many people. Anyway he said if I blessed his hatchlings he would retrieve something from the school."
"I live in that castle." Snape offered as he tried to digest that information.
"What is it, the castle? I thought people didn't live in castles anymore."
"The castle is called the Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry. It's a school for young magic users to come and learn how to control their gift. I teach there."
"My family said I was too stupid for school." Lightning offered after a moment of staring at him.
"Nonsense you are obviously strong enough magically to attend when you are old enough."
"Do you have to know how to read and write?"
"Yes." Snape said.
"Well then I can't go. I don't know anything. I can barely speak the human tongue." The conversation was interrupted when the boy's stomach began to growl.
Snape smirked at the boy who had the sense to blush.
"It is time for feasting. Do you have food or do you need some?"
"I have enough food. Do you?"
"Would you like to see the den of food?"
Snape nodded and followed the boy across a couple of rope bridges until they were in a decidedly cool room. It had game meat that was prepared for human consumption. There was some fruit things like apples that would grow in the forest as well as bags of grain.
"I learned to grow food with magic. The den of growing holds all the plants. The snakes will often bring me gifts to show their loyalty and I like to search the trees in the summer for food." Lightning explained.
"May I see the den of growing?" Snape asked not even trying to give it a proper name.
The boy nodded and took him across another bridge to a room that was decidedly hot. It was clearly charmed to stay warm like the greenhouses at the school. The room had many things growing in it, things like corn and wheat. It also had things like tomato and potato plants. The boy had clear skills when it came to herbology.
"Ma'am made me work in the garden and she would be upset if things didn't grow right. When I popped here I decided to make my own garden."
"This is impressive. Why do live in the trees?"
"It is safer. Only really big things like the dragon attack me now but when I first showed up things would come out of the woods all the time to try and hurt me. High up here though nobody can get up here unless they can fly or speak the snake tongue."
They went back to the den of food and the boy gathered enough for a decent meal. They went to another room that was the equivalent of the dining room/ kitchen. There were no chairs and Snape watched as the boy prepared his meal on a stone. Apparently complex transfiguration and conjuring is not something the boy had learned.
"Lightning. Would you like me to use magic to create a table and some chairs?"
"You can do that?"
"Yes child I can. Would you like me to show you how?"
The boy nodded and watched in fascination as Snape waved his wand and conjured two comfortable chairs and a table. The boy looked delighted at the modern things he had been unable to make himself. The boy sat down on one of the chairs and sighed.
"Thank you Sevrus. I always thought I would never have my own furniture."
"Not at all Lightning." Snape said taking a seat while removing things from his bag.
"How did you fit so much stuff in there?"
"It's called an expanding charm it expands the space in an object so it can hold a lot more than it normally would."
The boy went over to the fire pit he had in the other end of the room and pulled out a goat stomach. The only reason Snape knew that was because he had opened up a lot of goats looking for bezoars. He saw the boy stuff the goat stomach with water, rabbit meat and potato pieces. Apparently the boy was making a stew. The boy stuck his hand out and focused until a fire burst into life along the logs. Snape was amazed at the control of the magic the boy had despite not having a wand.
The boy returned and sat down on the chair to wait for the stew to cook. Snape removed a sandwich and two bottles containing pumpkin juice. He handed one to the boy who stared at it bewilderment.
"It's a drink called pumpkin juice try it."
Snape opened the bottle for the boy and watched as he took a tentative sip. The boys eyes widened and he took a giant swig.
"That is amazing."
"We drink it all the time at Hogwarts."
Snape had now made it his mission to get the boy to come to Hogwarts with him. The boy had life here but if he could convince him that life at Hogwarts would be better then the boy would come with him.
"What do you teach at Hogwarts?"
"Potions. I teach children how to make potions."
"Is that why you were looking for snake parts right? So you could make potions that help people?"
"Yes, Lightning that was why I was here."
"I could get you some stuff maybe. I know there are some snakes that need to let their venom go soon their fangs are aching."
Snape's mission was forgotten as he watched the boy go outside and return in about five minutes carrying four snakes of various sizes. He was a Slytherin after all.
"Are these okay or do you need a special kind of snake?"
"No those would be fine."
"How do you carry the venom?"
"In these vials. Just fill them up."
The boy took vial after vial and milked the snakes. The ashwinder had so much venom he filled three vials with just that. Once all the snakes had given what they were willing Harry let his glowing hand go over them. They left and slithered out.
"What did you give them?"
"Depends on what they wanted. One of them wanted a blessing of luck in finding a mate. One wanted extra hunting skills." The boy said. "The blessings don't last as long if I don't do it with the egg but simple stuff works well enough."
"I see." Snape said.
With that the boy rushed over to the fire and removed the goat stomach. He summoned a wooden bowl that was clearly carved by hand. The boy poured out the stew and put out the fire with a wave of his hand.
The boy sat down and began to eat his meal. Snape watched as the boy sipped his soup obviously not having utensils. After he was done Snape began a new conversation.
"Lightning." Snape said. "Would you like to come to the castle with me? You would be able to study magic and meet other people like you."
"No!" The boy shouted fearful. "They would just hurt me. You're the only person I've ever met that hasn't hurt me. People at that castle would try and hurt me I know it!"
The boy looked on the verge of panic attack so Snape lifted up his hands.
"No need to worry, Lightning. I won't force you to leave your home. I just thought you would like to meet other wizards."
"No. I like my snakes. They are really very nice and I understand them, People are mean."
Snape, who knew well about the cruelties of man said nothing to argue that point.
"Would you like to stay here for the night? It is safer than the forest floor as long as you don't mind snakes."
"Where do you sleep?"
"The den of rest, follow me."
He followed the boy and saw the largest room was filled with random things. Gifts from snakes the boy said. Shiny rocks and human objects. In the center was a pile of animal pelts piled on top of each other to make a large bed. The floor of the room was charmed to be warm to the touch and snakes were lazing all around.
"Don't the snakes fight?"
"No it's against the rules. There is no fighting in the den of rest. If you fight in there you can't come back."
"I would be happy to accept and stay the night here."
"Alright Sevrus. I am going to go into the woods for now. You can go anywhere you want. The baskets won't work for you so if you want to come down call for me and I'll get them to work."
With that the boy left and Snape began his exploration. There was a bedroom hut, kitchen hut, storage room, and a greenhouse that he had already seen. There was a few more rooms he hadn't been to. He took the appropriate rope bridges and found himself in a room that he assumed was the bathroom. It contained what would could be called a rudimentary wooden tub. There was right next to the tub a basket that could move up and down into a stream below. The boy had a way to clean himself then. That was interesting.
The next room was something Snape was unsure of its use. There were burn marks along the walls. Maybe he used it as a training room. Snape went back to the 'den of growing' and studied the garden. It was rather unorganized but it was well taken care of. As the sun began to set the boy returned.
"We must rest when the sun goes down."
So they went to the den of resting. Snape conjured two blankets and handed one to the boy who looked ecstatic at the gift. They laid down and Snape found the bed to be rather comfortable. Finally they both fell asleep. Snape woke up to find the room empty except for the snakes. Snape got up and heard shouting in the final hut. He went over there to find the boy practicing magic.
The boy used his hands to conjure fire and blast it at different angles. He was clearly practiced in control but it was the amount of power in the boy that awed Snape. He really needed to get the boy to Hogwarts. The boy jumped when he saw Snape and the flames instantly disappeared.
"Hello Sevrus. Would you like me to help you out of the forest?"
Snape liked that idea, although he wasn't sure why.
"Yes Lightning that would be nice."
"I just don't want my friend to get hurt. Drake was pretty angry with me."
"The Wyvern? You can talk to him?"
"Yes he speaks a slightly different version of the snake language. He doesn't like me much and I don't like him."
"Very well. I need to start heading back to the school."
"I can take you there safely."
They began the journey and Snape merely followed the boy as he walked through the forest comfortably and calmly. Snape always had to be on guard when traveling through the forest alone but it seemed the boy was well known enough to make dangerous things move out of the way. They met the centaurs and Lightning hid behind him.
"Yes Roan." The boy answered back warily
"It is time to accept." Roan urged. "The planets and stars are clear you must prepare."
"I will not. I can prepare here just as well as anywhere else." Lightning said. "Let's go Sevrus."
After they were gone from the centaurs Snape asked the boy what it was about.
"Roan thinks I need to return to the human world and complete my destiny. I don't want to. Humans have done very little for me. You're the first nice one I've met. I have no reason to return to people when people are just going to be mean and scary. Snakes are nicer."
"Do you know what your destiny is?"
"No Roan says it would interfere too much with the future to tell me. All I know is that it is very important."
Lightning would say no more on the matter. He led him through parts of the forest he had never been. The path was almost nonexistent but it was smooth and safe. At the end of the day Snape knew he was quite close to Hogwarts.
"I will stay with you for the night and then head home." Lightning said making a decision.
"Here let me share some of my food with you."
Lightning loved bread. Snape could tell by the look of delight when he bit into the sandwich. That night he slept peacefully and on the morning of the seventh day he said goodbye to the strange little boy. Before he left the boy said something.
"Next time you need Snake parts come visit me. If you have something I want I will get you whatever you want in the forest. If you want to visit too that's fine." Lightning said. "You can pop with magic right?"
"I can." Snape said.
"Well then just pop to my home if you need anything. If I am not there when you arrive I will show up eventually."
"I will make sure and visit you, Lightning."
"Good bye Sevrus."
Then the boy disappeared. Snape went back to the castle to tell the headmaster about the boy he had found. He could not believe he had that kind of an adventure inside that forest. He walked up to the doors of the castle deep in thought.
Well that's chapter one. This story came to me when i was considering all the ways things would've turned out differently if Harry had just run away. This is going to be a pretty long story, i hope you enjoy reading it as much as i did creating it. Reviews are always appreciated even if it is only to tell me i have a typo!