The Phantom of Hogwarts
October 31st 1986
Severus Snape scowled as he appeared on the disgustingly clean street of Privet Drive. He greatly resented Albus Dumbledore for forcing him to leave on the night of the Halloween feast to simply 'check up' on James Potter's little brat of a son. But, Severus had sworn to protect the boy, and therefore had no choice but to obey the aged Headmaster in this request, so here he was, walking dutifully, yet resentfully, toward the door of the fourth home on the street.
The house in question was currently the center of activity this Halloween night, with many of the residents of the street filtering in and out with what appeared, to Severus, to be festivities of some sort.
Desiring to make an unobtrusive entrance and exit without dealing with muggles, Severus disillusioned himself before sneaking into the house between several party-goers who were crowding the entryway. If Severus had disliked the street, he was utterly disgusted with the inside of number four. The house was the picture perfect concept of clean, everything in exactly the perfect place, neatly decorated for the holiday. 'Just the perfect place for the future prince of Gryffindor to reside,' Severus thought nastily.
But… as Severus looked about, he felt something was greatly amiss. There were no pictures of the Potter brat anywhere, nor any sign of the ragged mop of black hair that any child of James would be doomed to possess. Trying to rationalize this, Severus noticed a huge whale of a man, chuckling and talking with several of his guests, motion for them to follow and walked away, towards the back of the house.
Senses alert, Severus followed the small crowd of men as they entered a back room and descended to the basement level of the house. Flicking on the single flickering bulb, the walrus of a man addressed his friends. "Well, me and Petunia decided that it would be more appropriate if it was contained down here for the party, as it would be far too much in the way in it normal place." The rest of the men chuckled, and Severus sidled off to the side of the room, finally seeing around the group of men to the far side of the basement.
A large iron cage stood there, with straw strew haphazardly through the interior. And within knelt a small figure, a small burlap sack covering the child's face. 'Some sort of Halloween trickery?' Severus thought, confused. The child seemed to be idly playing with some sort of stuffed monkey, dressed in, what Severus realized, miniature wizarding robes, complete with hat and wand.
The beefy man strode up to the cage, and turning a heavy iron key in the lock, waddled inside. The child took no notice, enthralled by the toy until the man knocked it from the child's hands. Laughing wickedly, the fat man started ruthlessly beating the small figure, who tried to curl into a protective sphere and crawl away, but the larger man held him fast, striking him repeatedly with fists and feet. Finally, with a crashing blow, the child was sent hurling into the iron bars of the cage, and the portly man grabbed the small child by the oversized dirty clothing, wrenching the child into a standing position, and thrusting the figure into the bars toward Severus and the laughing crowd.
Ripping off the burlap sack, the vile man chortled "Look at the Devil's child!"
The group of men's laughter increased, some bold enough to spit or throw their drinks at the small boy. Severus internally cringed. It was Potter alright, but Severus didn't expect the boy's face to be half burned, leaving only a hideous scar across the entire right side of his head. Potter clutched desperately at the sack when his abusive uncle threw him away, drawing it back over his face the second he could.
Vernon Dursley, Severus recognized him now, bent over to pick up the cups and other objects that had been thrown at his nephew as the crowd dispersed, leaving Potter, his uncle and Severus in the room. Severus was planning on waiting until the boy was alone, but didn't get the chance as Potter suddenly leapt; catching his uncle around the throat with a old piece of rope that presumable had been used to tie the boy.
Vernon turned purple, trying to thrash and twist, struggling to pry the boy from him, but his bulk prevented him from reaching, and his position on the floor stopped him from moving too far. Potter pulled, not releasing when his uncle turned a deathly shade of magenta, and collapsed to the floor, strangled to death.
Severus waited not a moment longer. If Petunia, or any of the other guests came to check on Vernon, they would kill the boy immediately for murder, not caring that it was self defense. Severus revealed himself, startling Potter, and opened the door of the cage with his wand. "Come with me if you want to live," Severus said urgently.
The boy was quick, seizing the toy monkey with one hand, and obediently taking Severus' with his other. Severus could hear voices approaching, and thought of the only place he could hide the boy, apparating them away just a Petunia rounded the corner and screamed at the sight of her dead husband. As the darkness of apparition took the pair of them, Severus' mind reeled. Where or how could he keep the boy hidden at Hogwarts, especially from the eyes of the hundreds of students and teachers?
It was obvious; the deepest parts of the dungeons lay far below the rest of the school, and were virtually deserted, as no rooms down there were used. He would secret the boy down in the depths of the school, and pray to whatever deity would listen that the boy could grow up safely.
When they landed, Severus took the boy in his arms, as the child was still very weak, and sprinted to the castle, almost flying with the way his cloak billowed. Down into the darkness of the dungeons, formerly his own domain, he set the boy down in a deserted classroom, transfiguring and conjuring anything the boy could need for comfort. Finally he turned to the boy himself, who was shivering with the cold and fear of what had just happened.
"Shh, it's alright," Severus reassured, "You're going to be alright." The beating had not been too terrible on the boy's body, Severus observed. He had clearly seen worse at the hand of his relatives. Pointing his wand, he changed the rags on the child into decent clothing, and held a hand out for the sack. Potter stared at him through the holes cut in the burlap, confused. "Give me the sack please; I will change it to something easier to wear if you desire to conceal yourself…"
Slowly, far too slowly for Severus' liking, the boy removed the cloth, covering his face with a hand as he handed the bag off to Severus. Waving his wand once, Severus transfigured the sake into a white mask, just large enough to cover the right portion of the face, while leaving the rest open to the world. Taking it back, Potter placed it on his burned face, and the covering morphed to fit his features perfectly, imitating the skin that should have been present.
"I must go, but I will return to bring you some food, and things to occupy yourself." Severus said softly, before standing to return to the feast.
"Thank you," the voice was so small that Severus barely heard it. His heart melted at the lack of trust that burned in the small words, "Your welcome child."