Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling, etc.. I own nothing, make no money from anything, and am writing this purely for personal enjoyment.

Chapter 1: Where to from here?

Harry woke up in the now-instantly recognisable hospital wing of Hogwarts. Recent events came back to him slowly. After all the preparations and the prophecies and the fear, Voldemort was finally dead. Killed calmly and without fuss by none other than Severus Snape, while he had lain there, near to death, on the ground.

“Harry! You’re awake! Oh we’ve been so worried about you.” A young mediwitch he vaguely remembered from school bustled over.

“How long has it been since…”

“Since the battle? A week.”

“Dumbledore?”

“Didn’t make it. I’m dreadfully sorry, Harry.”

“Snape?”

“He’s fine. He’s working off his feet trying to get things organised.”

“Get things organised?”

“Well, the ministry has been disbanded for too long now for that to be effective, and with Dumbledore dead, Snape’s agreed to take charge of things until some sort of order has been restored. He’s been a godsend. You’d barely recognise our grumpy Potions Master! ”

“Oh?”

“Yes, he’s been doing some amazing things. He believes that with all the misinformation and imperious curses that were flung around, that it’s pointless trying to assign blame, so he’s given everyone a blanket amnesty. He’s being really strict with new offences though. It’s amazing. It’s safe to walk down Diagon Alley again. Hell, it’s even safe to walk down Knockturn Alley. Oh, and he wants to see you as soon as you’re up to it.”

Dumbledore was dead. Voldemort was dead. He was a child who had been unconscious for a very sensitive period of time. There was no-one else in the wizarding world with anything approaching power, except for Severus Snape. Severus Snape, the new leader, ‘for the time being’. Who wanted to see him.

--

As he walked into the room, Harry was aware that he had never been so close to death as he was at this moment. For all its terror, Voldemort’s expression of power had always been on the childish side, impulsive and obvious. Snape would never be that clumsy. He shuddered as the guard closed the door, leaving him alone with Snape.

Well, no point in pretending he didn’t know what was going on – that would make him more dangerous in Snape’s eyes. Harry crossed his fists in front of his chest and slipped into a full wizarding bow.

“My lord.”

A moment of dead silence, and then Snape started laughing.

“So, Potter. You finally choose to display some of that intelligence everyone kept telling me about. Do let me know what the occasion is?”

“I wanted to reassure you that I will pose no challenge to your power.”

“Oh? Why ever not?”

“These divisions in the wizarding society will just lead to another war, probably sooner rather than later. I don’t have the ability to reunite them. You do.”

“How very noble of you, Mr. Potter. But somehow I find your altruism less than convincing. I suggest you try harder. I don’t want to kill you, Potter, it would be politically inconvenient. But I will if I have to.”

Harry’s mouth went dry. But if Snape was going to kill him regardless, he would have sent him away with a pat on the head and a slow acting poison in his body. That he was willing to talk about it meant that there was something he wanted. It was Harry’s job now to find out what that was.

“Should I start looking for a position in Antartica?”

“I don’t think so, Potter. Ever heard the term, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? It’s a philosophy I subscribe to.”

Damn Snape as his fondness for a verbal challenge. Why didn’t he just come out and say what he meant?

“Then, My Lord, do you have any positions open in your household that I might be considered for?”

Snape pretended disinterest, drawing the moment out.

“Well, I could always do with a pet.”

Harry felt his insides clench. He was no innocent; he had studied the habits of Death Eaters too thoroughly to not know what Snape was suggesting.

“I see. Because that would reassure Dumbledore’s faction just so very much.”

Harry waited for Snape’s typical anger at being questioned, but instead, Snape laughed again.

“Always were fast on your feet when it served your best interest. Well, now, Potter. Are you sincere in wanting to, how did you put it, ‘reunite the divisions in wizarding society’?”

“Yes, My Lord.”

“Very simple, then. When the Order is around, you are my apprentice, studying to master that final control over your powerful but erratic talent. When Death Eaters are around, you are my loyal, obedient pet. There’s enough of an overlap for you to compromise in mixed company.”

“And when we’re alone?”

Snape tilted his head to one side, considering him.

“If I said you were to be solely my pet?”

“I’d say that I’m hardly in a position to negotiate.”

“But it would be dangerous to push you too far?”

Harry shrugged. He could hardly deny the truth of that.

“And if I said both, would you be as sincere in performing your duties as one as you are with the other?”

“If you were as sincere in your … training for one as you are for the other.”

“Then I think I may have a position available in my household. For someone who asks for it…sincerely.”

Harry knew this wasn’t just an opportunity to humiliate him. This was a test to see if he was willing to be humiliated. No, that wasn’t it. This was a test to see if he was willing to be humble. He pulled on all the knowledge he had and what was left of his imagination.

Harry felt disconnected from his body, riding a high not only of fear, but also, frighteningly, of anticipation. As Snape’s pet the only guilt he could possibly feel was in his failure to perform his duties, not in letting yet another person die because he wasn’t strong enough, not in killing yet another person because he was.

Harry quickly stripped off his clothing, taking the leap and trusting to Snape to deal with anyone walking in. He then dropped to his knees and shuffled the remaining distance to where Snape was sitting. Rejecting the comparison with Voldemort, Harry didn’t kiss the hem of his robe, settling instead for resting his forehead on Snape’s feet.

“I beg the honour of serving you, My Lord. I swear I will serve faithfully and joyfully as your pet and as your apprentice, obeying you in all things and striving always to please you.”

Snape leant forward and pulled his chin up.

“Very good, pet. I think you may have found your calling in life.”

To Harry’s surprise, he didn’t have to try very hard to suppress his anger at Snape’s words.

“Thank you, My Lord.”

“You may call me Master. I accept your service.”

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