Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of J K Rowling. Juliana and her story are, however, mine.
Professor Severus Snape stood in front of the glass doors of the London Wizarding Adoption Centre, immobile, an expression of purest disgust on his face. From the moment he had received the letter from the Ministry of Magic two weeks ago, he had been dreading this day, every moment, every second of it. Because of the large amount of orphaned children in the wizarding world due to the war against the Dark Lord and his minions, every person or couple over twenty and younger than eighty had been forced to take in a child. No one was exempt, not even the foul-tempered Hogwarts Potions master.
Severus grimaced and marched forwards, through the sliding doors and into an airy atrium. Doors with brass plaques lead into adjoining rooms, separating the children into groups. He could hear laughter and screaming from one of the doorways, which made him scowl more fiercely than usual.
“Your name, please?” a young witch asked him as he approached the reception desk.
“Professor Severus Snape,” he replied curtly.
“Come this way, please, and I’ll take you to the children to choose one. Do you have a preference of boy or girl?”
Severus thought about this for a moment. He couldn’t bear to have a little Potter or Weasley running around him, however, he didn’t want a miniature Lavender Brown or Pansy Parkinson either.
“Girl,” he said with hesitation. “And not too young. At least eight or nine.”
“Follow me then.” The witch opened a door which read Girls, 8-17.
He followed her into a room with a multitude of bunk beds lining the walls, a large window at the end and a few playthings lying around on the floor. On two bunks at the end of the room, two younger girls were having a pillow-fight, screaming and giggling. Severus wished this was over. He definitely wasn’t going to adopt one of those brats.
“Now, have a look around, talk to some of the girls and let me know when you’ve come to a decision. I’ll be at the reception desk.” She bustled out and left an increasingly bad-tempered Severus alone.
He started walking along the middle of the long room, deliberately making every footstep ring out through the cacophony of giggling. The effect was immediate. The room fell quiet, and girls sat on their beds, whispering, no doubt about his greasy hair and hooked nose. Several times he paced the room, the girls becoming increasingly edgy and annoyed that their realm had been invaded. So far there was no one who had seemed acceptable to him; they were all far too noisy and rambunctious. No, they wouldn’t do, he told himself. I need someone who can shut up and not get in my way while I’m brewing. Someone who understands that I am a Potions master first and foremost, not a – he grimaced at the word – father.
His eyes wandered from occupant to occupant, flicking over them with his hard stare and then dismissing them. He heard a loud whisper from one of the pillow-fighters: “I wouldn’t want to be the girl who gets him as a father.” He scowled in the whisperer’s direction and she shut up. He wouldn’t want to have himself as a father either, he decided. He had had too many experiences as a Death Eater which had turned him off parenthood for good.
He reached the end of the rows of beds and frowned. In a whole roomful of girls, he had not been able to find one he wasn’t repulsed by. He turned around and swept one last glance across the rows of bunks, hoping there had been someone he had missed.
She was sitting on a bottom bunk near the door with her knees drawn up to her chest, reading. She had long blonde hair, and when she looked up, he noticed she had eyes the colour of faded Jacaranda blossoms. She wasn’t very pretty, but to Severus this didn’t matter in the least. A phrase flicked through his mind – like father, like daughter. He grimaced. Well, at least she wasn’t noisy and she did like to read, he figured from the pages she was hiding behind, and she was older than the others. He guessed she was about thirteen. He strode up to the bed and stood in front of it. The girl scrambled to her feet in front of him. Severus almost chuckled to himself. Someone had obviously taught her manners.
“What’s your name and how old are you?” He asked brusquely, crossing his arms and looking down at her. She didn’t seem intimidated by him, and he liked that. But she respected him, so much was obvious.
“Juliana, sir, and I am fourteen,” she replied quietly. Severus stared at her long and hard. It crossed his mind to ask why she wasn’t at Hogwarts, but he decided to ask her later.
Ask her later, he scoffed at himself. That means there’s going to be a later, Severus. Are you sure you want her and not something a bit prettier? After a moments thought, he decided that, yes, he did want her. She was old enough not to bother him, quiet and liked books. And she had enough manners to call him sir and stand when he spoke to her. She would have to do. It was the best he would get. For the fact that they were orphans, the other girls all had decidedly too much energy.
“Come with me,” he said curtly to her, walking out of the room and up to the desk. The young witch smiled at him, but her expression faded as she saw who he had chosen.
“Ah, we’ve chosen someone? Juliana, I see.” Her voice was flat, and she added in a quieter tone: “You might want to be warned, Professor, that she has been adopted once before and her family couldn’t... well... They didn’t know what to do with her. She’s never learnt magic. Never been to school. No discipline at all. Doesn’t even know one end of a wand from the other. But she has power. A lot of it."
Severus frowned and looked back at Juliana. Her expression remained void, as cool and composed as one could manage. He managed a small smile.
“I will take her in regardless. I teach at Hogwarts, I have no doubt that I will be able to... control her.” He scowled at the witch. She smiled warily, mistrusting, and handed him a sheaf of papers.
“Well then, take these, you can fill them out on the table over there, and give them back to me when you’re done.” She pointed to a table in the corner with two chairs. He beckoned Juliana over and began to fill out his section of the form. When it came to Juliana’s information, he passed the quill to her and watched as she filled in her name, age, that she had no magical education (which Severus found quite confusing), and that she agreed to the adoption. For witches and wizards over the age of eleven, this was necessary. When she came to the section on name changing, she paused and looked up at him.
“Do you want me to be Juliana Snape?” she asked with slight hesitation. He thought about it for a moment.
“Only if you want to,” he said at last. He enjoyed bullying people, so much was true, but he felt he could not bully Juliana into using his name.
She thought for a moment and then wrote down Juliana Aliena Snape. She lay down the quill and looked at what she had written, her expression critical. She looked at Severus. When he managed a grim smile, she smiled back, picked up the forms and placed them on the desk.
“That seems to be all in order then, Professor. Juliana, go and collect your things.” Juliana walked off, returning a moment later with a cardboard box which looked to be very heavy. Severus walked up to her and took it from her and nearly swore. It was heavy! What on earth did she have in there, bricks? He peeked inside and saw that it was filled with books and a few items of clothing that looked quite bedraggled. He decided he would go with her to Diagon Alley as soon as they had finalized the adoption.
They left the adoption agency walking side by side, keeping a respectable silence which was only broken when she looked up at him.
“Thank you,” she said quietly. Severus almost smiled to himself, though careful not to show it. Although he didn’t want to admit it, this girl didn’t drive him insane.
“You’re welcome. And please, call me Severus. I don’t think I’d like being called Daddy and frankly you’re too old for that. Professor sounds too formal.”
They continued to walk in silence. There would be time to get to know one another later, and Severus was tired. He had booked them rooms at the Leaky Cauldron for that night so they could go shopping for anything she needed in the morning before going to Hogwarts. He was exhausted when he arrived, and both of them went straight to bed after having tea brought up to them by Tom the barman, who was curious to find out why Professor Snape was accompanied by a young girl. Juliana had noticed and sent the barman a smile so like that of the dark figure next to him that the glass he had been holding had shattered on the floor. He wasn’t curious after all.