A boy of maybe seven or eight was walking the dark streets of London, wearing oversized clothing that hung off him in great folds. It was raining and he was drenched. He had jet black hair that was plastered to his head in the rain - usually it stuck up and had a windswept look - piercing green eyes, broken glasses and a jagged lightening bolt scar above his right eye on his forehead.
As he walked through the heavy downpour he saw flashes of his past sweep through his mind, the crack of a belt being swung again and again, the sound of ribs snapping on the contact of booted feet, the flash of a fist knocking a black eye into existence, large fat hands choking his neck leaving bruises on his skin. The boy shook his head to rid himself of the images he had hoped to leave behind him, as he continued his journey home.
Home. He didn't really have one of those. He had thought he'd had one for ten years, with his aunt, uncle and cousin but no, he hadn't had a home there with them. A prison yes. But not a home. There had been no love at Privet Drive. Harry Potter stopped at the crossroad junction, looked both ways and crossed the road, before turning down a side street. It was at the far end of the old world street that he lived now. He walked passed an old pub that seemed to fade into view.
A sign over the door showed a large medieval looking cooking pot, that appeared to be leaking. An odd choice of logo for a pub, he had thought when he'd first seen it three days ago. Harry sighed and winced. His cracked ribs were still unhealed and tender. He stepped into the doorway of the empty shop next door to the leaking cooking pot and carefully sat down on a flat cardboard box he had found not long ago. With the few measly clothes he had in a tatty shopping bag, he rummaged through and finally pulled out a threadbare sheet. Harry carefully began to dry himself off with it, then his hair, before he leant up against the door on his side and went off to sleep as best he could.
- PPM -
It was a beautiful day today and Severus Snape, Hogwarts Potions Master was enjoying the summer with no blasted dunderheaded children around. He woke up later than he usually would, had breakfast and then decided to go to Diagon Alley and get some shopping done, before heading into Muggle London to buy the things you couldn't get in Magical shops.
Once he had been to Florish and Blotts, bought and shrunk a few books, he went to Slug and Jigger's Apothecary, where he filled up on his private potion stocks, he shrunk them and placed the miniature vials carefully inside a small solid box and placed it in the pocket of his muggle jacket. Then he made his way to and through the Leaky Cauldron and out into Muggle London.
Severus snapped his head round at the sound of a sneeze and looked down at the small bundle of breathing rags in the doorway of the shop to his left. The bundle was shivering fiercely and gave a cough and then another sneeze. Severus could see that it was a young person by the size of the body outline. He shook his head, he didn't like seeing children on the streets. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few coins and placed them into the ratty looking cup that was beside the bundle, before he sighed, turned and made his way down the deserted street.
- PPM -
Hearing the chink of coins falling into his cup, Harry then heard a soft sad sounding sigh and the sound of shoes walking off along the road. He raised his head and let his gaze fall on to the back of the retreating tall figure. After a moment or two he looked back down into his cup and gasped. In it were not just a few golden coloured small coins, but a large reddish note. A Fifty! Harry couldn't take that! He'd have to give it back. Harry stood up carefully and after making sure he had everything (even the old flat cardboard) which he somehow managed to fold up small enough to fit into his tatty plastic bag, he set off down the street after the man in black.
Severus made his way down the cobbled street and once he reached the end, he turned left and down the next street towards greater London. He could easily apperate of course, but rarely did he come into London these days and it was a glorious day weather wise, so he decided to walk. He continued on down several streets, crossing the road every so often towards his goal.
All the way to his destination Severus never noticed that he was being followed. Unusual really considering that he was known for sneaking up on unsuspecting students out of bed and breaking curfew at Hogwarts. His mind was too busy looking around the long past familiar sights, to notice a small boy in rags, grimacing in pain as he tried to keep up with him. Eventually his twenty or so minute walk brought Severus into Oxford Street.
Here he spent most of the morning going into several shops and sometimes buying items that took his fancy, or merely looking at a few things that he didn't need but liked the look of, all the while unaware of the street youth standing outside each shop keeping watch. Severus glanced at his watch as he paid for the few items he was currently purchasing and noted that it was lunchtime. He thanked the girl behind the counter, turned and left, making his way along to a cafe two shops down. He went inside and placed an order, before he returned outside carrying a steaming cup and saucer and sat down at one of the many small round tables.
He put down the bags containing his purchases, then withdrew from the inside breast pocket of his jacket a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. He opened and removed one, placed the tip between his thin lips, closed the packet and placed it on the table, took the lighter and sparked it. He drew in deeply, set the lighter down on top of the packet and removed the cigarette from his lips and inhaled. It had been a long time since he last smoked. He didn't smoke often, only when really stressed. Or when there were no children/students about.
Severus then took out a book from one of his bags and began reading it, while he waited for his food to arrive, occasionally taking up his cup of coffee and sipping it. Soon his sandwich arrived and he put it to one side, while he continued reading. It was while he was reading that a shadow slowly came upon him or rather the table, and raspy, stilted and soft, rattily breathing could be heard. Severus slowly looked up, with one eyebrow raised as his eyes rested upon a ragged looking young boy, with wild black hair and familiar looking green eyes, looking out at him from behind broken and cracked glasses.
- PPM -
Harry had followed the man in black all the way from his doorway in that deserted street next to the leaking cooking pot, all the way into the shopping district of London, his breathing was getting worse, but he had managed to keep up. He even kept an eye on the man whilst he visited several shops, wondering if he would ever stop for something to eat. Eventually Harry saw with relief that the man did make his way to a cafe. Even better he took a table outside.
Harry waited until he had finished lighting up and had taken out a book and the waiter had brought the man's food, before he made his way forward. Harry stopped in front of the little circular table and looked down at the man, his breathing had become more rattily and raspy, but that couldn't be helped. He had to give the man back his money. After a few moments the man raised his head and looked up at him, an eyebrow raised in annoyance? Question? Puzzlement? Harry wasn't sure. He licked his cracked lips, before he opened his tatty plastic bag and began rummaging around in it. He found the note and looked back up at the man.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, sir," Harry said, his voice raspy and cracked, "but I had to follow you quite a way from that pub with the leaking cooking pot sign hanging above it. You dropped too much money into my cup this morning and I followed you in the hope that you would take it back. Fifty pounds is all very well and good, but a homeless person and low life such as myself, wouldn't be able to use it in a shop without raising suspicion."
Severus frowned as the boy held out the crisp fifty pound note to him, but didn't take it back. He simply closed his book and sat back, eyeing the boy who looked very familiar to him, as he puffed on his cigarette.
"Sir, you are kind to give me such a gift in the money, but the two pounds you gave me as well as the Fifty was more than enough. Please, take the Fifty back. A freak such as myself cannot take such an amount."
Severus' eye began to twitch at the word 'freak', as he continued to look silently at the boy in front of him. Why would this ragged looking child be labelled a freak? He thought. Yet the boy could see the Leaky Cauldron? He's magical then. But why is he living on the streets?
Finally Severus spoke, his voice was deep, yet soft.
"How long have you been living on the streets, child?" He asked, thinking that the boy needed warmer clothes and a visit to a doctor with that chest problem he so clearly had.
"A few months, sir. My family didn't want me. Well, unless counting me as a punching bag simply because I do freakish things when I'm either angry or scared..." Harry knew he'd said too much. Even Severus could see that the boy flinched and looked as though he wanted to turn and run.
"Child, please sit." Severus said, as he stubbed out his cigarette into the glass ashtray and ran his obsidian eyes up and down the boy as he pulled the chair out and sat down carefully. "What did your family class as 'freakish' may I ask?" Severus asked after casting a wandless and non-verbal muffliato charm around them, not wanting to spook the boy in front of him.
Harry shrugged and looked away from the man as he replied with, somehow turning his teacher's hair blue, or somehow appearing on the school roof whilst running from school bullies. Severus raised both his eyebrows impressed that the boy managed to apperate at such a young age.
"How old are you?"
"I'm ten, sir."
Now that did surprise Severus. The boy didn't look ten. Maybe seven or eight.
"And what is your name, child?"
"Well, from the time I could walk and talk I thought my name was Freak." Harry replied softly, and Severus scowled. "It was only when I started primary school that I realised that I actually had a name."
"And what's that?"
"Harry, sir. Harry Potter."
Severus couldn't believe it! Harry Potter the spoilt brat and son of James Potter was a... a... vagrant! He looked back over the boy and finally picked out the slight jagged outline of the scar the boy received as a lasting memento from the night his parents were killed, on that fateful Halloween night.
Petunia Evans Lily's sister, why Dumbledore thought it safe to place Potter with her he didn't know. Potter might have been safe from the Wizarding World, the fame and the remaining Death Eaters still about after the Dark Lord's downfall, but he obviously wasn't even safe from his own family, if the boy was now living on the streets of London.
Petunia always was a shrew of a woman. Horse-faced, nosey, bitchy, jealous of her sister, Magic-envy in a big way, hatred of all things magical. Yes. Severus could see it all as he stared hard into the boy's eyes. Severus was angry, though he didn't let it show upon his face, as he saw flashes of beatings, verbal abuse, withholding of food for days on end, endless chores being done by the boy from a very early age, always ending in a beating or kicking. And what's this... A cupboard! That vile whale of a man and his bike of wife had kept the boy in a cupboard!!
Severus didn't go too deep into the boy's mind, he was rather surprised that all these thoughts were on the surface. It seemed that the boy couldn't think much beyond his past. Severus felt sorry and he was surprised by that fact. Of course he himself knew what it was like to grow up in an abusive home, but he had never gone so far as to leave home to get away from the life he had. Like Potter had done. He'd thought about it yes, but Severus had had one hope. He had had a friend in Lily Evans, later Lily Potter. Harry's mother.
Severus wanted to do many things as he sat there and looked at the poor pale boy in front of him - with whom still held out the crisp Fifty pound note. Harry Potter was small and malnourished and plainly suffering from his last kicking. Severus wanted to apperate to Potter's aunt and curse her and her bastard whale of a husband, then he wanted to take hold of that fat blob of a son of theirs and give the boy a much needed spanking for his part in making not just Potter's life miserable, but that of the other young children in the area.
He shook his head and blinked before he focused back on the thin waif of a boy in front of him, there was no way the boy was going back to live with them. But he also couldn't stay living on the streets. Severus sighed and knew that he would have to do something. He would put his past with James Potter aside, for the sake of the boy in front of him. James was long dead and couldn't hurt him anymore. And he owed it to Lily.
"Harry," he said after what felt like years, "I will take back the note, only if you agree to let me buy you some decent and proper clothes with it. You can't continue living on the streets in those rags."
Harry was suddenly wary of the man and he looked it too. He knew of men out here in the world that preyed on children. He didn't think the man was like that, not really, but he couldn't be entirely sure.
Severus noticed the change in the boy and from the surface thought that sprang up in the boy's mind, he knew why.
"Harry. I'm not like those men. I would never do that to a child. I think your mother would want me to help you in getting some clothes that actually fit you, as I knew her when I was a child myself. In fact we were best friends. Even went to school together."
Harry looked up at the man with shock and surprise, he knew his mum?
"You, knew my mum, sir?" He asked softly.
"Yes, indeed." Severus replied with a soft smile. "I even had the misfortune to know your aunt, Harry, Petunia. She was an annoying shrew of a girl even back then. She didn't like me very much, nor your mother. She was, and if I'm honest still is as far as I know a very jealous woman."
"She... she's never liked me, sir." Harry replied miserably, looking down at the table.
Severus brought his hands forward and clasped both his larger ones around Harry's small one, still holding the note. Harry sniffed and slowly looked back up at their clasped hands, then further up at the dark haired, severe-looking man.
"When did you last eat something, child?" Severus asked softly, as he eyed his sandwich and the boy.
Harry shrugged and looked away.
Severus let go of Harry's hand, sat up and picked up the plate with his sandwich on it and placed it in between them. He watched Harry eyeing it with a slightly glazed look.
"Help yourself to a sandwich, child."
"But it's yours, sir." Harry replied shocked.
"I insist. There are two rounds here. You take the top two, and I'll take the bottom. Alright?"
Nodding, Harry gave a small smile at the man and picked up the top two slices and placed them on the napkin that the man handed to him.
Harry took a small bite of the sandwich and hummed. It tasted wonderful. Severus smiled and nodded, then he silently removed the charm he had placed up around them, raised his hand and summoned a nearby waiter.
The waiter came over to them and eyed the dirty and scruffy looking street dweller seated at the table with the severe looking man and waited. The dark haired man asked for a glass of milk. The waiter nodded before retreating to get the order.
Harry looked up at the glass that had just been placed in front of him. He eyed it then turned his eyes on the dark man.
"Drink the milk, child. I ordered it for you."
"Thank you, sir." Harry mumbled and took hold of the highball glass.
Harry blinked nonplussed as he lowered the glass back on to the table.
"Severus is my name. Severus Snape."
"Harry Potter." Harry replied.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr Harry Potter."
- PPM -
Once the sandwiches had been eaten and their drinks had been drunk, Severus and Harry stood up and together they left the cafe and walked down Oxford Street until they came to a shop that catered to children's clothing. Together they went in and spent some time browsing the range of different clothes. Harry looked around in awe at all the designs and blushed as Severus held up shirts and trousers in front of him to see what they could look like on the boy.
He then placed all the clothes in the basket he had picked up and they went over to look at socks and underpants. Severus picked up several pairs of white, black, grey and coloured socks, before moving on to where the boys underpants were held. Harry meanwhile blushed heavily as the man began rifling through the many different designs of the underwear.
"Which do you prefer Harry, boxers or briefs?"
"Child, there's no need to be embarrassed. Every child needs clothes and underpants Harry." Severus replied, as he knelt down and looked at the boy. "Would you like designer or plain?"
"Um... a-a f-few designer and some plain briefs, please." Harry stuttered.
Smiling, Severus patted Harry's left shoulder gently and got back on to his feet, turned and picked up several pairs of plain black, white and grey briefs, along with a few designer pairs - including a few with male Disney characters on them.
When he had filled the basket Severus guided Harry over to the back of the shop and together they walked into a changing room. Behind the closed curtain Severus began removing the shirts and trousers from their hangers and handed them to Harry who had now divested himself of his overly large rags. Severus turned and stilled, holding on to the shirt he was about to hand to the boy. His dark eyes went wide as they roamed over Harry's battered body. How the child was able to still be standing was shocking. He would have to help heal the boy later, once they had returned home. Yes Harry would be returning with him.
Severus shook himself and carefully helped Harry get into his new clothes. They fit the boy really well. As soon as Harry had tried on everything barring the socks and the underpants, Severus folded and placed all the new clothes back into the basket, then he told Harry to stay here in the room, while he took the basket of new clothes to a till. He would come back, so that Harry could wear some new clothes out of the shop. Harry nodded and waited while Severus left, casting a barrier charm around the room, to stop muggles from entering and to keep Harry there.
- PPT -
After several minutes Severus returned, took down the barrier charm and entered the room. He closed the curtain and helped Harry change into a new pair of nice warm white socks, then he helped in removing the oversized worn and tatty briefs, the embarrassed and blushing Harry had on and replaced them with a new pair of Buzz Lightyear briefs, before helping him step into a new pair of soft black tracksuit trousers and a green t-shirt, and finally into a soft and thick hooded blue jumper. Harry sniffled and slowly eased his thin arms around Severus' neck and gave the dark man a soft, yet unsure hug.
Surprised, Severus returned it, being careful of the boy's bruised body.
"There's no need to cry child."
"I'm sorry, sir-- Severus."
"Sir Severus?" Severus asked with a smile, making Harry chuckle softly.
"Come on, let's get going." Severus said, taking the broken glasses off, brought out a handkerchief and wiped Harry's eyes, before replacing the broken glasses. He would have to do something about them later. A few minutes later Severus and Harry were back out in Oxford Street.
"Come on child, you are going to return home with me. If you would like to that is. Would you like to live with me, Harry?"
Harry thought it was all a bit too soon and rather quick, but he wanted a family. That's all he's ever wanted. And Severus hadn't hurt him in any way.
Harry knew there would come a time when the man would hurt him, for doing something freakish, but for some unknown reason he felt safe with this man. With Severus Snape.
"I'd... I'd like that, Severus."
"Good." Severus finished, as he took hold of Harry's hand in his own. "Come on, child."
Together Severus Snape and Harry Potter made their way back to the leaking cooking pot pub, this time taking a taxi to the street. Severus then held the door to the Leaky Cauldron open for Harry to pass on through first.
Stepping into the Leaky Cauldron, Harry was surprised at how dark it was inside. It seemed, from what he could see through his cracked lenses that the pub was lit only by candlelight. At the moment it seemed to be pretty empty and void of customers. Only the barman seemed to be there, standing behind the bar, cleaning silver or pewter tankards. Severus stepped up beside Harry after closing the door behind him and placed his right arm gently around the boy's shoulders. He looked down and told Harry to come along with him. Together they made their way round the tables and up to the bar.
"Good afternoon, Tom." Severus said. "I'd like to use one of your rooms please for an hour or so."
"Certainly, Professor Snape." Tom replied, with smile. "Room One at the top of the stairs, first on the right is free."
"Thank you, Tom." Severus replied, then whispered to Harry. "Come along, Harry."
They turned away from the bar and made their way toward the stairs. Once on the landing, Severus and Harry stepped up to the first door on the right, turned the handle and stepped into the bedroom.
Severus closed the door and guided Harry over to the bed where he sat down and Severus sat down also, next to the boy.
"Harry, I need to tell you something, which may be rather unbelievable but it should help with understanding why you do odd things when you're either angry or scared." Severus spoke softly.
Harry looked up at the man and began to have that wary feeling once again.
"First of all Harry, what do you know of your parents? What did you relatives tell you?"
"Aunt Petunia said that they died in a car crash. That my dad was a drunk and didn't work."
Severus was angry, but thankfully didn't let it show on his face. He took a deep breath before he continued on.
"Harry, your aunt lied to you. Your dad wasn't a drunk, in fact he rarely ever went near alcohol. He also had a full time job. He worked for the Ministry as an Auror - a type of Policeman. Lily, your mother she was a Mistress of the Arts in her field, but stopped working and became a stay at home mum, when she was pregnant with you. They died on Halloween night, 1981. It's complicated for me to tell you what happened without telling you who you truly are."
"Who am I, Severus?" Harry asked softly, not entirely sure he wanted to know.
"You're a wizard, Harry." Severus replied. He thought it was best to just come out and say it.
"A wizard, Harry. You were born with magic. So was your mum and dad and so was I. That's why your aunt doesn't like you, nor did she like me or your mum. She was born without magic, whereas your mum was."
It couldn't be true, Harry thought, but then he began to think of those days when he had turned the teacher's hair blue and the incident with the roof.
"How do you use magic?" Harry asked.
"With a wand." Severus went on, as he put his hand into his jacket and pulled out a long thin piece of dark wood. "Here, take it and wave it. Not much will happen, except a few sparks will appear out of the end. You will get your own wand next year, when you're eleven."
Harry gingerly took the wand, Severus held out and held it in his smaller hand. He felt a ripple of something run through him, along his arm and into his hand. A second later the wand shot out green sparks.
"Well done, child." Severus said, as he was handed back his wand.
"The Aurors work for the Wizarding World's Ministry of Magic, your mum was a Charms Mistress and I'm a Potions Master. I teach Potions at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, the same school you'll be attending next year. Also, this pub the Leaky Cauldron is the gateway into Diagon Alley, a Wizarding shopping district."
"Severus, would magic be able to heal wounds? Or my glasses?"
Severus held up his wand and pointed it at Harry's face. Harry himself went cross eyed as he focused on to the wand's tip.
"Occulus Repero." Severus muttered.
There was a soft crackle and snap and Harry's glasses were fixed and brand new looking.
Harry took them off and held them close to his face to see them clearly.
"Wow! Thank you!"
"No problem, Harry." Severus replied with a smile. "Now, before I tell you what happened to your parents, would you like me to heal your body? I'm not a Mediwizard mind, but I do have some medical training."
"Please." Harry said.
"Alright. Would you please undress - leaving only your underpants and socks on - and lie down on the bed." Severus said, as he stood up and took his jacket off.
Harry blushed but did as he was told and carefully removed his new clothes, leaving his socks and Buzz Lightyear briefs on. Harry sat back down, then lay down flat on his back on the large four poster bed.
Severus came over and sat down on the edge of the bed next to Harry and first of all he simply ran his long thin fingers lightly and as gently as he could over Harry's ribs, prodding softly. Harry winced and gasped. Severus apologised and continued further down past the rib cage. He poked and prodded lightly down the sides of Harry's stomach and over and down his navel, stopping at the waistband of Harry's underpants. Nothing seemed to be wrong there, so Severus went back and concentrated on Harry's ribs. He stood up and withdrew his wand again, as he stood over the boy, he raised his ebony wand and slowly began a diagnostic scan on Harry.
From the parchment that had popped out of the air, Severus read that Harry had a slight chest infection and his ribs were bruised and two or three had cracked. Nothing seriously major, no punctured lungs or anything which was good. Although, the boy's back left something to be desired. The parchment stated that there were several welts, wheels and ridges. That would explain the belt and, Severus wasn't sure, but he was pretty certain from what the parchment was hinting at, that the wheels and ridges were made by a cane. Severus so wanted to go and give that bastard Dursley a dose of his own discipline!
But no. He closed his eyes and took a couple of deep breaths before he looked back down at Harry and went about fixing the cracked ribs. A few minutes later and Harry was breathing better thanks to Severus giving him a potion that would clear the infection within the blink of an eye, whilst his ribs had been fix in seconds.
"Would you please roll over Harry, then I can begin healing your back." Severus said, as he put his wand away, sat back down on the edge of the bed and unscrewed the lid of a small glass jar, containing a pale pink paste.
Harry did as he was told and rolled over onto his front. Severus then dipped his right hand into the paste and scooped out some of it and carefully brought it down on to Harry's shoulders. He paused just above contact and forewarned Harry that the paste will be slightly cold. Harry acknowledged what Severus had said with a small nod, and Severus turned his hand and began to spread and rub the paste in. Once the paste had turned clear and began to seep into the boy's skin, Severus scooped up some more paste and began on Harry's lower back.
- PPM -
Harry moaned at Severus' gentle hand as he worked the paste into his lower back. Severus himself smiled at Harry, he then pulled the waistband of Harry's new underpants down a bit, and rubbed the remainder of the paste in until it became clear.
Once finished, Severus pulled up Harry's pants and sat back. He spelled his hands clean and watched as the paste began to work, soon all the welts, wheels and ridges healed and disappeared altogether, leaving smooth pale skin in its wake.
Severus then patted Harry's bum gently with his left hand as he spoke.
"You can sit up and get dressed now, child. You're all healed."
Severus stood up and walked across the room and into the toilet, leaving Harry to get dressed. A few minutes passed until Severus stepped out and found Harry sitting on the bed now fully clothed. Severus smiled and together he and Harry walked over to a table by the window and they sat down. There Severus told Harry all that was known on what happened the night that Lily and James died. Afterwards, Severus picked Harry up and drew him on to his lap and wrapped him in a firm hug while the boy cried softly on to his shoulder.
As soon as Harry had calmed down and Severus had once again dried Harry's tears, the two of them got their things together. Severus showed Harry some more magic and shrunk all the bags with Harry's new clothes in and placed them in his jacket pocket. Severus then put his jacket back on and took hold of Harry's hand and they left the room and made their way back downstairs into the pub, but instead of heading for the door they had entered through earlier, Severus guided Harry out the back into a small walled courtyard where a few old beer crates stood in one corner.
Severus then took out his wand once again, raised it and tapped four bricks in the wall. He turned and looked down at Harry who gasped as he watched the bricks begin to move and sort of fold in on themselves, to form an archway, behind which was a hidden bustling street packed with people, men, women and children dressed in robes.
"Welcome, Harry, to Diagon Alley."
Harry gaped, his green eyes wide as he stared around him at the busy bustling narrow street, the shops lining both sides. Severus chuckled lightly as he looked down at Harry. He blinked and looked up at Severus with awe on his face.
"Startling isn't it?"
"It's beautiful." Harry replied. "It also has an 'old world charm' about it."
"Yes, it does." Severus went on. "Come on, child, let's explore."
And with that, Harry took hold of Severus' right hand in his left and together they set off into the Alley. Each shop they passed, Severus reeled off the name and what they sold.
"Eyelop's Owl Emporium," he said, "they have every type of owl you can imagine there. Owls are a Wizard's or Witch's Post Carrier, and also make highly faithful pets or familiars. Opposite we have Scrivenshaft's Stationary Supplies. There you can buy quills, inks, parchment etc. Next there's Slug and Jigger's Apothecary, for all your Potions supplies, empty vials, bat wings, frog livers, eyes of newt, Amarillo bile etc. Across from them is Olivander's Wands. You'll go there to get your wand next year. Then there's Quality Quidditch Supplies, that's our sport played on broomsticks--"
Severus was cut off when Harry interrupted.
"I don't like playing sports." He said softly, though loud enough for Severus to hear him.
"Why is that, child?" Severus asked as they stood there outside the Quidditch shop.
"There's always too much violence," Harry replied, "and a game played above the ground, in the air would be more so."
"Yes, there is some. Accidents and with the bludgers roaring round... But you've also, I can tell, Harry by your demeanour that you've experienced something when playing a sport before." He could see Harry didn't want to tell him, so he added. "You don't have to tell me if your not ready, child."
Harry smiled and together they continued on down the street. Next was Gladrags Wizard Wear, and opposite them was Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. Severus told Harry that it was there where he would go to buy his robes for Hogwarts. Severus and Harry passed a few more shops including Occule's Opticians and The Magical Menagerie, which sold all manner of animals, mostly magical, though they did sell non-magical animals as well.
Eventually the two came to a stop at the foot of steps leading up to a vast high, white and crooked building, with a portico of pillars as its grand entrance way.
"This Harry, is Gringotts Bank. It's where all us Magical folk keep our money. Let's go up."
Harry went with Severus up the steps and paused before entering the building, where a plaque in the wall caught Harry's eye. Enter, stranger, but take heed of what awaits the sin of greed. For those who take, but do not earn, must pay most dearly in their turn. So if you seek beneath our floors a treasure that was never yours, Thief, you have been warned, beware of finding more than treasure there.
"I like how it rhymes," Harry stated, "but the last line doesn't rhyme with the rest of the verse."
"I never thought of that," Severus replied as he re-read the plaque. "Looking at it again I see what you mean, but maybe the last line isn't meant to. I can't say."
"It doesn't matter, Severus. But why would I or anyone really want to rob a bank?"
"Who knows, Harry. I know the goblins can take care of themselves and keep our monies safe."
"Goblins?" Harry asked puzzled.
"Goblins run Gringotts, child. There are some Wizards and Witches out in the world that don't take kindly to our magical creature brethren. I've never really understood why. Goblins, Werewolves, Vampires, Centaurs and House Elves, to name a few are who they are. It's about time the people of this world put aside their prejudices and instead welcomed and begin working in harmony with our fellow brethren but they can't."
- PPM -
All the while they had been standing by the door the armed goblin guard on the door to their right had been listening, and the more Severus spoke, the more ever so slightly the helmeted head of the guard turned towards them.
"Severus, human beings are odd creatures," Harry replied, "they expect others to do low life things but don't offer any help themselves. Just because there are different races in the world, doesn't mean we shouldn't count them as friends. I don't know if I said that right. I have never had any friends in my life, the Dursleys saw to that. If a goblin came up to me and offered friendship I'd take it. I'm magical, so are they, I may be of a race full of prigs, but goblins I'm sure are like humans in a way. They must have some who are against interacting with us. But if there are those who wish to willingly work together with us... I think I'm loosing my trail of thought..."
The guard on the door snapped his head round at the boy's words. He would accept friendship from the goblins if it was offered?! The guard then heard the boy speak again.
"..if the goblins offered me friendship I would take it. If I ever came across a goblin or other creature in need of help, I would do all I could to help... though I may not be of much use."
"I'm sure the goblins or any other creature would accept help from you, Harry Potter." Severus finished, out of the corner of his dark eyes Severus had noted the goblin guard looking at them. Severus got the slight impression that a message would be winging its way to the Goblin King pretty soon.
"Come on, Harry, let's enter and get some money out."
Harry smiled and together they entered into goblin territory.
The lobby was magnificent in its grandeur, with its marble floor and crystal chandeliers. Severus and Harry walked down the aisled hall together, passing high counters on both sides, with goblins sat stamping parchments and weighing out jewels, as well as exchanging large gold coins. All the goblins Harry noticed were different, some young, some old. Some with long white hair, others bald.
A few had long pointed noses, whereas others had squashed noses. All their eyes were the same though, sharp and black, glittering in the candlelight. Severus and Harry made their way to the end of the hall and stopped in front of tall single ledger desk, behind which sat a goblin with long slightly curling blonde-grey hair, wearing half-moon glasses on his long pointed nose. He was busy writing out something on some parchment. Together Severus and Harry waited until he had finished. A few moments passed before the goblin stopped and looked up.
It surveyed the tall black haired man with shrewd black glittering eyes.
Severus bowed his head in a mark of respect before his spoke.
"Severus Snape and Harry Potter, wish to make a withdrawal." Severus said softly.
"Ah." The goblin replied, as he stood up and leaned over his desk to look down over it at Harry, his long thin and bony fingers with pointed nails clutching the front edge of the desk. "And does, Mr Harry Potter have his key?" The goblin asked in a calm, deep and rich, yet smooth tone.
Severus raised a brow and tilted his head slightly in thought, but it was Harry who answered.
"I'm sorry, Mr Goblin, sir," Harry went on, "I'm sorry I don't mean to be rude, but I don't know your name. I don't own a key, sir."
The goblin looked from Harry to Severus with a frown on his face, while Severus looked even more puzzled.
"Hm," the goblin looked thoughtful, "it's odd that you do not possess your key, Mr Potter, for the Potters are quite a wealthy family. You own a couple of vaults here at Gringotts. Your trust vault, set up by your parents for you to use throughout your years at Hogwarts and for general shopping use, you have a few others as well as the main family vault, for when you reach your maturity upon your sixteenth birthday and take on the title of Lord Potter."
"I'm a Lord?!"
"Yes indeed, Mr Potter. Now, I need to have a chat with Professor Snape here, would you be alright Mr Potter if I had a goblin take you down to your trust vault while we talk?" The goblin asked.
Harry looked up at Severus, who nodded.
"It will be alright, child." He said. "I will be here when you get back, alright?"
Harry nodded and squeezed Severus' hand before letting go.
"Griphook!" The teller goblin they were speaking to called, and a young goblin came forward. "Please take Mr Harry Potter down to his trust vault."
"Yes, sir." Griphook replied in a slightly squeaky tone.
"He will need help in understanding which coins are which, Master Griphook." Severus replied.
"Understood, good sir." Griphook went on, as he turned to Harry and smiled a rather creepy looking smile that showed all his pointed teeth. "Follow me, Mr Potter."
Harry followed Griphook through a pair of large wooden doors and found himself on a railway platform. He looked at Griphook puzzled. Griphook smirked and sounded a shrill whistle, a moment later Harry looked up as a large iron cart on four train wheels rolled into the tunnel. Griphook climbed on first and Harry followed.
"Buckle yourself in, sir, and we'll be on our way."
Harry then found the seatbelt and buckled it in place. Thank god he did too, as at first the cart trundled along at a steady if slightly bumpy pace, before coming to a stop on the precipice of a vertical drop.
Harry gripped the handrail of the cart very tightly as the cart tipped forward and fell, zooming off at top speed down the vertical track. At the bottom, the cart twisted and turned, then banked sharply to the right, then left and in one area, they span three hundred and sixty degrees on the track as they made their way down into the tunnels deep below the bank. When they came to a stop at their destination deep under the bank, Griphook noted that Harry was shaking violently and looked very green. The young goblin stepped forward and crouched down next to the young human and placed his thin bony hand on Harry's left shoulder in a comforting manner.
Harry himself took a few deep breaths and blinked a lot, as he tried to keep from throwing up.
Seeing that the boy was about to be sick, Griphook took out from his jacket pocket a vial of some amber liquid and pulled the stopper out with his teeth, keeping his right hand on Harry's shoulder. Griphook spat the cork out on to the floor of the cart and held up the vial to Harry's lips.
"Here," he said softly, in a caring tone, "drink this. It'll help with the nausea."
Harry opened his mouth and tilted his head back, as Griphook removed his right hand from Harry's shoulder and cupped the back of his head with it, while he tipped the contents of the vial into Harry's mouth.
Harry swallowed the potion and after a minute or two he felt much better, even the green pallor faded away. Harry turned to the goblin.
"Thank you, Mr Griphook." He said.
"There's no 'Mr' needed, Mr Potter."
"Everyone, no matter their race or rank should be treated with respect, Mr Griphook." Harry replied calmly.
Griphook looked at the boy for a moment, sizing him up. Harry Potter was an oddity to him, but a decidedly intriguing and good oddity. For a human.
Griphook nodded to Harry, unable to say anything. The smile on the boy's face told Griphook that he understood the silent meaning.
Together they stood up and climbed out of the cart on to the platform and over to a very large vaulted iron door.
"Mr Griphook, I don't have a key." Harry said.
"No matter, Mr Potter," Griphook replied, "simply placed your hand upon the door and if you are who you say you are, it'll open for you."
Harry nodded and placed his hand upon the door. He gasped as he felt something stab into his palm. Harry turned to Griphook who replied to the wide-eyed look.
"As you don't have a key, Mr Potter, the only other way to gain access to you vault is to have a sample of your blood taken. The stab you just felt was the sample needed. Your hand will heal if kept on the door."
A moment later the door clicked several times and Griphook told Harry to stand back. Harry did and glanced at his healed palm, before looking up and watched as the door to his trust vault slid open to reveal vast amounts of gold, silver and bronze coins piled high, sparkling in front of him.
His jaw dropped and his eyes went wide as he gaped at the shear amount that was his trust vault alone. Heaven and the Goblins only knew how much Harry Potter owned in total, including this vault, the family vault and the few others Harry now owned.
Harry shook himself and blinked when he heard the clearing of a throat behind him. He turned and found Griphook smiling at him.
"It is rather a shock at first view, is it not?"
"Would you like some help in bagging up some money?" Griphook asked as he stepped forward to Harry's side.
"Please, Mr Griphook. I'd like that very much."
"Here's a money pouch, Mr Potter." He handed Harry the soft leather drawstring bag. "Now, the large gold coins are Galleons, the silver ones are Sickles and the little bronze ones are Knuts. There are ten Sickles to a Galleon and twenty Knuts to a Sickle. What will you be purchasing in the Alley today?"
"I'm not entirely sure, Mr Griphook."
"Ah, well, in that case you'll want a hundred Galleons, fifty Sickles and about... forty Knuts. That should see you through today and a bit more."
Once they had filled the bag which was surprisingly light to Harry, Griphook shut the vault door and together the two made their way back over to the cart.
"Is it possible, Mr Griphook, to go slower on the way back?"
"Indeed it is. One speed only then."
"Thank you, Mr Griphook. You've been very kind to me." And Harry held out his hand.
Griphook was shocked, and looked it. A human had never raised their hand in respect to their race before. Mr Harry Potter was the first. Griphook decided there and then that he liked this young wizard. He took the proffered hand and shook it, before he let go and started the cart's journey back up to the main lobby.
- PPM -
Meanwhile back up in the main hall of the bank, Severus and the teller goblin, who's name was Wicklow had moved to a side room for privacy and were talking with regards to Harry's money.
"This is a very serious business." Wicklow stated.
"Can it be stopped?" Severus asked.
"Oh yes." The glittering black eyes of the goblin told Severus everything. He smirked.
"Ragnok will have to be informed. The Potters are an old family. One of The first eleven oldest. Mr Potter will have a seat on the High Council in the Wizengamot Chambers, as part of the Elite Eleven along with the Longbottom Lord, the Bones Heiress and yourself Professor Snape, under your title of Lord Prince... to name but a few."
"I'm sure the Goblin King will be delighted to put an end to Molly Prewett's account." Severus went on. "I take it it's just Molly Weasley and not any of the others? I know Arthur will be devastated at the news."
"Yes, it's only Molly Weasley. She has been putting money into her account and that of her youngest children's Ronald and Ginerva Weasley's trust vaults."
"Hm." Severus replied. "I look forward to seeing her face when she finds out."
Wicklow laughed a harsh cackle, it sent a shiver down Severus' back. Never piss off a Goblin the old saying goes, and Molly Weasley had been doing so for a decade. Yes he was looking forward to seeing her get her dues.
Just then the door to the room opened and Harry along with Griphook came in.
"Well, I think that our business will have to be terminated for now, Wicklow." Severus stated, as he turned and nodded to the teller goblin. "We'll return at a later date to see dues paid. For now, Harry and I must do a bit of shopping, before heading home."
"Understood, Professor Snape." Wicklow replied.
"Sir, Mr Wicklow, sir," Harry said, stepping over to Severus' side.
"Mr Potter?" Wicklow asked, with a smile as he looked at the boy over his half-moon glasses, reminding Severus of someone else who was known for looking at you like that.
"Will I be getting a key, sir?"
"Ah, yes, your key." Wicklow went on, then he snapped his fingers and a small gold key faded into existence on the table between them. "Here it is, Mr Potter. Your new key, keyed to your blood. If someone else were to use it, without your consent well, the consequences would be... severe."
Harry smiled, picked up the key and gave it to Severus.
"Will you please look after this for me, Severus?"
"Certainly, child." And with that Severus pocketed the little key.
Harry turned back to Wicklow, and did to him what he did to Griphook down in the tunnels, he held out his hand.
Wicklow raised his brow and looked from Harry, to his outstretched hand, to Severus, to Griphook. Griphook smiled and nodded, communicating silently with Wicklow. The elder goblin nodded and turned back to Harry Potter and clasped his hand in the boy's.
"Thank you, Mr Wicklow for your time." Harry replied.
"No problem, Mr Potter."
They let go of the other and Harry went to stand next to Griphook.
Severus smiled at the respect Harry held and showed to Wicklow Ironheart and did the same, shocking the goblin even more.
"It seems that times could be changing, don't you think, Wicklow?" Severus asked as he nodded with his head in Harry's direction. Together the wizard and elder goblin turned and watched.
Harry Potter shook hands with Griphook again and was overheard saying.
"Thank you again, for helping me down in my vault, Mr Griphook. You've treated me with kind, much like Mr Wicklow over there. Would you like to be my friend?"
Griphook went completely still at the word and stared at the young boy in front of him. This could be very good for the nation. And he decidedly liked this human already. Griphook smiled.
"I would be delighted to be friends with you, Mr Harry Potter."
At hearing that Harry did something very shocking, he let go of Griphook's hand and instead wrapped his thin arms around his new goblin friend and hugged him.
Wicklow smiled as he stood there in the office with a bemused Griphook standing rooted to the spot where Harry had left him, as the two wizards left the bank. He was looking forward to telling Ragnok (and showing the King the memory) all that had happened today, including Harry Potter becoming friends with a goblin. And in so doing becoming friend of the Goblin Nation. Yes. Times were definitely changing.
- PPM -
Once they were standing on the steps leading down back into the Alley, Severus took Harry's hand in his again and together the two made their way down them and towards Occule's Opticians. Severus wanted to see if Harry's eyesight could be fixed at all, so that he didn't have to wear glasses.
Severus opened the door and they entered. As soon as the door shut, a young witch of about twenty-five maybe thirty even stepped up to them and inquired about what they were after.
Once given the rough idea, she looked from Severus to Harry and guided him over to a chair. Sasha Occule was her name and after helping Harry into the chair, she raised her wand and cast a diagnostic charm at his eyes. The results weren't that bad and summoning a potion, Sasha, as gently as she could poured the potion into Harry's eyes and asked him not to blink. Harry sat there with his head tilted back, his hand held all the while by Severus, as Sasha stood over him and pointed her wand first into Harry's left eye, and then, once the thin beam of red light had stopped moved on to his right.
After washing Harry's eyes with another potion, Sasha said he could sit up and was told to tell her what he could see. Harry blinked and was shocked at how sharp everything around him was. Even Severus was as clear as day to him now. Harry smiled.
"20/20." Was all he said.
Sasha nodded and Severus paid the fifty Galleons, as well as another forty on top of that for a pair of sunglasses for Harry. For an hour or so after laser surgery he would have to wear them in sunlight.
Sasha smiled and bid them farewell as they left her shop. Severus asked Harry if he wanted to get some ice cream? Harry nodded. Together they stepped across the street and walked into Florian Fortescue's Ice Cream parlour, where they each bought a sundae. Harry's was chocolate and nuts, while Severus' was vanilla with chocolate swirl wafers. Once consumed Harry and Severus made their way back up the Alley, stopping in the Magical Menagerie were Severus allowed Harry to pick out a pet/familiar.
Harry found two animals. Well, he found one. The second one found him. The one Harry found was a non magical short haired black Labrador puppy. Severus chuckled lightly as he watched the puppy come over and licked Harry's face, making the boy laugh. The other animal that found Harry was a small diamond patterned python. Harry was just as surprised as Severus was, but Harry seemed to be able to understand what the python was saying.
"I have bonded to you sssmall one," the snake seemed to hiss.
Harry looked up at Severus and told him what the snake said. Severus looked startled that Harry could understand serpent tongue but dismissed it. You didn't have to be a Parcelmouth to understand the snake language, when a snake bonded to you. With the bond made, the bonded could communicate.
Harry turned back to the snake and asked if he bought the puppy as well, would it (the snake) not bite or eat the dog? The baby python promised that it wouldn't bite or eat the puppy. Only would it bite or eat those who wanted to do harm to Harry.
Harry then asked if the snake was male or female? Male was the answer. Harry smiled, he already had the perfect name for the snake. He held out his arm and watched as the snake slithered and coiled up and round his arm. Harry then picked up the puppy and walked over to the counter. After spending a bit of his money on the snake and puppy, as well as a glass tank and a basket, collar and lead, Severus shrunk everything, whilst Harry put the collar around Seal's neck. Yes, he had named the puppy Seal, before attaching the lead. Monty had decided to stay coiled lightly round Harry's arm. Yes, Monty. Monty Python.
As soon as they left the Menagerie Severus and Harry, along with Seal and Monty made their was towards the Leaky Cauldron, but didn't go inside. Severus turned and they stopped at a checkpoint, in a corner between the back of the Cauldron and the entrance way into Knockturn Alley. Here Severus made sure they had everything, then he picked up Seal and held her tight with his right hand, whilst he told Harry to hold his left hand tightly and not to let go. Harry did as he was told and suddenly felt as though he was being yanked by his navel into a tight constricting place. Thankfully it didn't last very long and Harry soon found himself standing outside the front door of a very large and grand looking Manor House.
"Welcome Harry, to my home. Prince Hall."
Severus stepped up to the front door and turned to Harry.
"Place your hand flat upon the door, Harry. I want to key you into the wards."
"What are wards, Severus?" Harry asked puzzled, his head tilted to one side.
"They are protection and privacy spells and charms, to help keep unwanted people out. My home is also unplottable, i.e., you'll never find it on a map."
Harry nodded and placed his right hand flat upon the door. Nothing painful happened, like on his bank vault at Gringotts, all that happened was he felt a ripple run up and down his palm and fingers.
Then a soft crackle was sounded and Severus told him he could remove it now. As soon as his hand fell away the door opened of its own accord and together man and boy stepped inside.
As soon as the door snicked softly shut behind them candle sconces came to life on the surrounding walls, and Harry found himself standing in a large brightly lit entrance hall. The floor was a dark wood, the walls were a soft beige colour, with a few portraits hanging on either side. Harry was surprised to see that they moved and spoke. At the opposite end of the hall facing them was a grand staircase. It went up, then split off of a short landing against the back wall, running up both left and right to two landings running the length of the second floor and joining in a large square U-shape. On either side of the base staircase were hallways that led off to obviously different parts of the house. Severus, seeing the inevitable curiosity appear on Harry's face, placed his hand upon the boy's shoulder and waited until Harry looked at him.
Severus smiled and told Harry to follow him. Harry did so. They walked across the hall and turned left, just before the base of the stairs and in through a wooden door in the wall. Harry found himself in a large comfy looking library, with wall to wall and floor to ceiling bookcases completely crammed with books. Severus lead Harry over to one of the sofas and sat down on it, beckoning Harry to do the same.
"Harry, before you go off exploring the Hall, I have a few rules I'd like you to follow while you're here. Understand?" Severus asked.
"Yes, sir." Harry nodded.
"There are only three. Rule 1. You must never lie to me. Rule 2. Always keep your bedroom tidy and don't wonder off before telling me where you're going. And Rule 3. Never put yourself in danger or harms way." Harry nodded. Those were fair rules to live by. He hadn't had many when living with his aunt and uncle, if any really. Just consequences.
"Now to the consequences should you break those rules." Severus went on, noting that the boy's understanding smile faltered slightly. "If you lie to me, you will be given lines or essays to write on why it's important not to lie. Or you could be grounded to your room. The same will happen if your room isn't tidy. However, of you ever break the third rule, Harry, you will find yourself over my knee getting your bare bottom spanked with ten swats with my hand."
Severus looked down at the boy, who looked up at him with a light blush staining his cheeks, his green eyes wide.
Harry knew there was a difference between a spanking and a beating. Although they were classed as the same thing. The intent was the factoring difference. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had both spanked Dudley once or twice over the years and it never did him any harm, even Harry had noticed that it had helped in keeping his fat blob of a cousin from really bad life choices, Dudley had thought were good choices. Of course they had never spanked their son for his bullying tendencies, but that was because they could never see their son as a bully.
That was the only thing Petunia and Vernon Dursley ever overlooked.
"Do you have any problem with my rules or consequences, child?" Severus asked, breaking the ever growing silence between them.
"No, Severus. I will abide by those rules and your consequences."
"Off you go then. Go and explore to your heart's content."
Harry smiled brightly and quickly hugged Severus, before he stood up and ran from the room, leaving the man laughing softly behind him.
- PPM -
Whilst Harry went off to explore, Severus, after having summoned his house elf Pickles and asked her to simply keep a watchful eye on Harry as he went about the place. Once she popped away he made his way upstairs and along the righthand landing, passed the bathroom, his study and bedroom to the fourth door along, followed by Seal and Monty. Here they stopped and entered into a spare bedroom. It was large, just like his own, with a big four poster bed situated against the middle of the righthand wall. There was a small desk against the left wall opposite to the bed, as well as a large wardrobe and next to that a chest of drawers.
Severus walked across the wooded floor and opened the wardrobe. Then he removed from his person all the bags containing Harry's new clothes and enlarged them back to their original state, before he began to put everything away. All the t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, jumpers and coats went into the wardrobe, then Severus closed the doors and moved to the chest of drawers and began putting away Harry's new socks, vests, pyjamas and underpants into their own drawer. After closing the last drawer, he turned around and faced the bare room.
Severus took out his wand, closed his eyes and began to create a room he hoped Harry would like. He cast a rich blue paint on to the walls, white on the ceiling, the wardrobe and chest of drawers were also painted a paler blue to accent the wall behind them, the desk was varnished and spruced up, complete with quills, ink pots, parchment and an assortment of colouring pencils and pens.
The floor was covered in a soft thick grey carpet and finally the bed was giving new sheets, complete with blue and sliver pillows and cushions and a blue bedspread. Severus then conjured a set of two bedside tables each complete with a decorative dragon lamp. He placed Harry's new slippers on the floor beside the bed and the boy's new fluffy forest green dressing gown on the back of the door. Then he pulled from his jacket the miniature glass tank and Seal's basket and resized them, before placing the basket in the corner beside the desk and Monty's tank complete with interior on top of the chest of drawers. He smiled. He liked this room and he hoped that Harry would like it too. Monty and Seal gave their approval with a yap and a loud hiss.
- PPM -
Meanwhile, Harry was having a ball as he ran about the Hall, looking into each and every room. He'd already found the sitting room, dining room, conservatory, about six spare bedrooms, a few toilets and bathrooms and the linen cupboard. Severus even had a games room on the third floor, in what would've been the attic once upon a time. Although one room still was an attic, and Harry found it stored all the Christmas decorations. His eyes bugged out when he saw them. He'd never got to have a Christmas with the Dursleys. He hoped he could have one with Severus.
Next Harry ran back down to the second floor and found one door locked. Okay. But the other three next to it opened to his touch. One was a bedroom. The walls were painted in dark purples and dark greys verging more to black, there was also a large four poster bed, covered with black silky sheets and purple and grey pillows and cushions. There was also a small clock on one of the bedside tables. This must be Severus' room. Harry thought and backed out, remembering to shut the door.
Next he opened a door and walked into a study, painted in a deep rich red, with black trim. There were more shelves in here lining two of the four walls floor to ceiling with books, a large fireplace sat against the third wall, whilst the large mahogany desk was littered in quills, parchment, ink pots and other little odds and ends. Harry walked over to the books and perused them. He saw one he liked the look of and went to pick it out, only he recieved quite a sharp shock. The books seemed to be protected by a charm of some kind. Just then the door opened and Severus came in. He stopped when he saw Harry standing there facing his books containing dark magic. Harry had his right hand held up and facing him. Severus narrowed his eyes.
"What are you doing in here, child?"
"I was exploring," Harry replied. "Then I came over and found a book that looked interesting and--"
"Tell me you didn't reach out and touch it?" Severus asked bluntly, as he stepped over and took the boy's raised hand carefully in his own.
"I'm sorry, Sev'rus."
"Foolish boy." Severus muttered. "Well, the charm won't kill you, just shock you. I suggest you stay out of my study, understood?"
Harry nodded, looking down.
"There's no harm done." Severus went on after checking Harry's hand. "Off you go and continue your explorations. I'll see you later."
"Yes sir." Harry turned and walked out of the room. He stopped on the threshold of the fourth door, but found it was another bathroom. He quickly shut the door and made his way back down the grand stairway.
At the bottom he turned left and walked down the side passage, then down a couple of steps and found himself in a rather large kitchen. It was lovely and warm down here. Harry also met with Pickles, Severus' House Elf, who was wearing a pale pink dress-like-robe with the Prince family crest embroidered on her chest. She had bat-like ears and large tennis ball shaped brown eyes.
Harry found her nice and gentle and became her friend immediately. After being given something to eat and a nice cold glass of milk to drink, Harry thanked Pickles and went on his way once again. Harry next explored under the Hall, in the basement. One area held a large wine collection, another area held a dungeon and the last quarter was a large laboratory. There were vials and vials of nasty looking Potions ingredients, cauldrons of every size and colour, a blackboard, books holding recipes, stirring rods, knives, burners, you name it it was in the room.
- PPM -
After having explored the Hall from top to bottom, bottom to top, Harry made his way back up to the entrance hall, across it and down the left hand hallway of the stairs, he came to a stop and opened one of the two doors he came to. Stepping into the sitting room, he found Severus now dressed entirely in black robes. Severus smiled on seeing Harry enter the room and stood up, Harry smirked. Severus' robes made him look like a large overgrown bat. Severus raised a questioning brow at the boy's smirk. Harry sniggered softly and Severus' other brow rose to join its counterpart.
"What is it that amuses you so, child?" He asked.
"Did you know that you look like a bat in those robes?" Harry asked and broke out into a fresh bout of giggles.
"Hm," Severus replied, his eyes narrowing as he looked down at the laughing boy. "Yes, I have been told that - mind you not in so many words."
Severus shook his head and smiled as he sat back down and waited patiently for Harry's giggles to subside.
A few minutes later and Harry had finally giggled himself out, he stood there in front of Severus with a goofy smile on his face. Severus shook his head again and stood back up.
"Come along, child." He said, as he stepped up to Harry, placed his arm around the boy's shoulders and turned him round toward the door. "I have something to show you."
Together they walked out of the sitting room into the entrance hall and back up the stairs. They turned right and walked along the landing until stopping at the fourth door along, the one Harry had tried earlier and couldn't open.
Severus waved his hand and the door clicked. He turned the handle and opened it. Harry walked in and gasped at the room. It was big. He turned to Severus.
"Is that all you've got to say about your new bedroom?" Severus asked, a small smile on his lips.
"M-My room?" Harry stuttered.
"Of course. All little boys need a bedroom, Harry. I've already packed your new clothes, they're in your wardrobe and chest of drawers."
"T-Thank y-you!" Harry replied, as he ran to Severus and hugged him tightly, burying his head in the man's robes.
Severus heard soft sniffles and after releasing Harry's hold on him, he knelt down in front of the boy and held on to Harry's arms gently.
"What's all this? Tears?" Severus asked softly. "Are they happy tears, child?"
Severus chuckled and wrapped the boy up in his arms.
"No thanks are need, Harry. As I said a few moments ago, every child deserves a room of their own. A room to sleep, study and play in."
A minute passed and Harry wiggled in Severus' arms. Getting the message, Severus released his hold on the boy and finally stood back on his feet. Just as Harry finished drying his eyes with the back of his hand, Pickles popped into the room and stated that dinner was ready.
Severus and Harry left the room and went back downstairs and headed for the dining room, where Harry found the long banqueting table had been shrunk down from its usual seating twelve down to big enough for two. It was lavishly decked out with silver cutlery, and goblets. Severus and Harry enjoyed the roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli and gravy. Harry surprised himself in helping himself to seconds, after asking Severus if it was alright. Then everything vanished and was replaced with dessert.
Treacle Tart and ice cream was the best. By the end Harry was feeling sleepy and even Severus could see that the boy was trying his best to fight it and stay awake.
He stood up, stepped round the table and lifted Harry out of his chair and into his arms. Severus felt the boy rest his head on his shoulder, he smiled as he made his way out of the room carrying his precious cargo, back up the stairs again. On the landing Severus opened the first door and stepped into the bathroom.
He set Harry down upon the toilet and ran the bath. As soon as the nice warm water was stopped and some bubble bath had been added, Severus rolled up his sleeves and after banishing Harry's clothes, he lifted the sleepy naked boy into the bath. He then knelt down beside the bath and quickly bathed the boy clean. Once Harry was clean and Severus had washed his hair, he emptied the bath of water and wrapped Harry in a large fluffy towel. Severus then lifted the sleeping Harry up back into his arms and left the bathroom and turned left along the landing, and into Harry's bedroom. Severus smiled on seeing Seal was curled up in her basket asleep and then spied out Monty wrapped round the right bedpost, just above the pillows of Harry's bed.
Severus stepped up to the bed, stopped towelled Harry dry and then, after removing the towel from the boy, he carefully laid Harry on it. Severus then went over to the chest of drawers and pulled out a set of pyjamas and another pair of underpants, before closing them, turning and walked back over to the boy. Severus then began to help Harry into the fresh pair of briefs depicting race cars, and then dressed him in his new forest green pyjama top and sleep trousers.
Severus of course could've simply used magic, but he knew that Harry hadn't really had a parental figure ever to help with bath times and changing his clothes growing up, so decided to give Harry the feeling of a loving parent. Once finished, he picked Harry up again, pulled back the blue duvet and laid the now sleeping child into the bed. Gently he pulled up the covers, leant forward, kissed Harry's forehead and retreated from the room, dimming the candles in their scones and leaving the door ajar a little before heading to his study.
The morning came and at dawn the sun broke over the horizon. As the sun rose and shone through the windows of Prince Hall, shining thin golden rays of light through the gap in the curtains. Severus rolled over, took a deep breath in and opened his eyes. He blinked a few times before sitting up, threw aside the duvet and sat on the edge of his bed. He sat up, scratched his head and stretched, hearing his back crack before he stood up, put on his slippers and dressing gown, then opened his bedroom door turned right and right again into the bathroom.
Once back in his bedroom Severus got dressed for the day, this time though he dressed himself in Muggle casual clothes, socks, black jeans, deep green t-shirt and a black cardigan. He then brushed his hair and slipped his feet into his heeled boots. On his way down the stairs Severus smelt a great waft of the delicious smells of cooking. Pickles was obviously up and about and already started on breakfast. He made his way down the hall and walked into the dining room, what he found surprised him.
The table was back to its seating twelve size and was laden with more than enough food to feed a small army, nevermind himself and Harry. Pickles seemed to have gone slightly overboard, probably because Harry was now in the Hall. He shook his head, turned around and made his way down to the kitchen.
Stepping into the kitchen, Severus spotted Pickles standing off to one side, switching between wringing her hands together and pulling on her right ear, as she kept a large brown careful eye on the boy standing on a stool, at the stove. Severus' eyes widened at the sight.
- PPM -
Harry had been up since dawn. He had gotten up, dressed and then made his way downstairs to the kitchen, where he set about making breakfast. The little elf he had become friends with the day before came in at the sound of dishes being moved and cutlery clinking and found Harry doing her job. She immediately came over to take over, but even she could see that the boy knew his way around a kitchen and so kept an eye on him.
She wanted to intervene, but Harry seemed okay. An hour went by and pickles' eyes were at there largest as she watched the boy continue to dish up more and more food. It was as she began wringing her hands that the door to the kitchen opened and her Master Severus came in. Harry was working at finishing off frying the eggs in the frying pan, before hopping down from the stool and turned around. He stopped mid-step, his eyes wide as he went stiff as a board.
They stared at each other. Severus looked nonplussed whilst Harry looked fearful. Severus shook his head and blinked.
"The food smells lovely, child. But you don't need to cook for me. That's Pickles' job..." Severus tailed off, as he put two and two together. "Was this something you had to do at your relatives?"
Harry nodded, his eyes still wide.
Severus came forward and knelt down in front of the boy, and in the same soft and gentle tone, he said.
"You no-longer have to live by their rules, Harry. Not now you're not living with them. Do you understand?"
Harry, still stiff in posture, nodded once before lowering his head and sniffed.
"Relax, Harry." Severus went on. "I'm not angry. Neither is Pickles."
Harry raised his head slightly and looked up at the man through his fringe, his body relaxing ever so slightly. Severus smiled encouragingly, as he felt the boy loosen up under his gentle grip.
"Now, just what are we going to do about all that food you cooked? There's enough on the dining room table to feed a small army. Or even a quarter of the students at Hogwarts."
Harry raised his head completely, smiling sheepishly. Severus chuckled lightly at Harry's look, as he got back on to his feet.
"Come on." He said, as he put his arm around the boy's shoulders, giving him a gentle hug. "Let's go and see what we can scavenge, before Pickles puts it all under a preservation charm and stores it away."
- PPM -
After breakfast - well, what they successfully managed to keep away from Pickles' clutches - Severus and Harry left the dining room and headed off together for the stairs. They parted at different doors, Severus his study and Harry his bedroom. On entering his new room, Harry found Seal finishing off lapping at her water bowl and over in his tank on top of the chest of drawers, Monty was snoozing looking very puffed up halfway down his body. He had just devoured a nice juicy mouse.
Harry smiled at his two friends before his climbed up on to his bed and simply sat there, occasionally glancing around the room, at other times smiling and thinking about how fortunate it was to have met Severus Snape. All because he had simply wanted to give the man back a large sum of money. A fifty pound note wasn't really that large a figure, but to Harry, it had been. After a while Harry and his friends left his bedroom and made their way down to the library.
Meanwhile Severus was holed up in his study of where he spent most of the day, paperwork was the most tedious task of the day. Going over accounts for the Hall and writing up forms he had had owled to him from the Ministry. Afterwards, he got up and threw a pinch of floo powder into the empty grate.
"Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster's tower, Hogwarts!" He stated loudly.
A few moments late and Albus Dumbledore's head was floating in the fireplace.
"Good afternoon, Severus. What can I do for you this day?"
"I need to talk you, Albus." Severus went on. "Do you mind flooing over to the Hall?"
"I'll be there shortly, my boy."
With that, Albus pulled his head out of the grate and a moment later the fireplace flared in the library, jerking Harry out of the quiet peacefulness of the room, making him loose his place in the book he'd been reading, and gaped as the empty fireplace flared large green flames and an aged man, dressed in rich robes of burgundy and deep purples, wearing half-moon spectacles on his crooked nose, complete with long waist-length white hair and beard stepped out.
"Oh, hello, child?" The man said as he stepped forward, in a calm jovial tone. "I didn't know Severus had a guest staying with--"
The old man's eyes went wide as he took in the green eyes, the wild messy hair and the lightning bolt scar on the boy's forehead.
"Harry?" He asked surprised. "What are you doing here, child? Shouldn't you be with your relatives?"
Harry blinked at the man then turned back to looking at his book, sighed, closed it and put it down upon the side table and stood up. Seal and Monty whom were with him yapped and hissed softly as Harry turned and picked them both up. He then turned back and eyed the man wearily, before simply exiting the room. Leaving a frowning old man behind.
Stepping out of the library, Harry, clutching Seal gently to his chest with Monty coiled around his arm, made their way upstairs and came to a stop outside Severus' study. He let go of Seal with one hand and knocked upon the door.
Harry put Seal down on the floor, before standing again and opening the door and stepping inside.
"Harry?" Severus asked calmly, looking up from his papers, wondering where on earth Albus was. "I thought you were in the library reading?"
"I was sitting down there reading, Sev'rus." Severus' right eye twitched when he heard Harry slice his name like that, but Severus worked out that Harry only did that when he was upset or tired. "But then the fireplace flared up and this really old guy dressed in a curtain stepped out. He had really long hair too, and beard. He was surprised that I was here, the man thought that I was at my relatives."
Severus understood now, Albus had floo'd into the library.
"Child," Severus stood up and walked around his desk and came to a stop in front of the boy, where he knelt down and gently placed his hands on to Harry's arms just below his shoulders. "Don't fret, you won't ever be going back to those... people."
Harry looked away from Severus' warm obsidian eyes and down at Monty, who was hissing softly.
"Now," Severus went on, making Harry look up at him again. "Why don't you go and explore the grounds, child. Take Monty and Seal with you." Harry's face lit up and a smile spread across his face, making Severus smile also. His black eyes sparkled. "Go and explore, it's a nice day outside. Just keep out of the herb garden and the woods, alright? That's where I grow all my potions ingredients. Most of what I grow there are deadly, so please do as I ask and stay out of there. The same goes for the woods. Bodkin my gardener elf will show you around I'm sure. He's usually located in the vegetable garden, alright?"
Harry nodded and Severus stood up, letting go of Harry as he did so. Stepping over to the door, Harry looked back.
"Remember, child. Keep. Out. Of. The. Herb. Garden. And. The. Woods. If you don't, you will find yourself baring your bum and over my knee, if you so much as set foot in either of them." Severus warned, his voice growing colder slightly.
Harry nodded, his green eyes wide as he felt a shiver run up and down his spine at hearing Severus' cold tone. It was the first time Harry had heard the man talking to him like that. He swore he'd never go near the herb garden, but the woods were woods. How could woodland be deadly? With that Harry opened the study door and made for the stairs. Down them he went and at the bottom turned left and down along the hall toward the kitchen. Once in the kitchen he opened the back door and stepped out into the grounds.
- PPM -
Meanwhile, Severus had sent off some sheets of parchments with his owl, Archimedes, before he followed in Harry's wake down the stairs. He turned right at the bottom and stepped over to the library door, opened it and stepped inside. He found Albus sitting on one of the sofas with his crooked nose buried in a large old tome about Wizarding Sweets of the Last Century. Severus rolled his eyes and cleared his throat.
Albus looked up and closed the book, with a jovial smile on his lips, his eyes twinkling behind his half-moon lenses.
"Ah, Severus." Albus said. "Now tell me, my boy. Why is young Harry with you?"
Severus sighed and sat down opposite his friend and mentor.
"Albus, that child is not going to be returning to Petunia's! He can't now, anyway."
"At the beginning, my boy." Albus replied.
"The beginning..." Severus went on with a nod. "I left the Leaky Cauldron and entered Muggle London. On the London side entrance to the Cauldron, I heard a sneeze to my left behind me, I turned and found a small, shivering bundle of rags in an empty shop doorway next the pub. I dropped a couple of pound coins into the pot the person had, along with a note and headed on my way.
"I decided to walk into the shopping district of London, as it had been a while since I had last been into the city, plus I enjoyed the sights. I did some shopping, then I went and sat down at a little cafe and had a coffee as well as a sandwich. It was while I was sitting there outside, reading, that a shadow came on me. I looked up and found a boy standing there. He wore rags and his breathing wasn't healthy. He held out the note I had given him and told me that it was too much for such a lowlife such as him to take without gaining suspicion.
"I invited him to join me and he told me why he was living on the streets, and how long he had been living on them. I then introduced myself and so did he. I was very shocked, Albus. Harry Potter was meant to be living in comfort with his relatives, not living life on the streets! I then took a look into his mind - just surface thoughts! He was beaten, and lived like a house elf while in the tender care of his aunt Petunia Dursley! That husband of hers is a bastard, the son isn't much better! I let Harry eat half of my sandwich, then I took him to get some proper clothes with the note I gave him, plus a bit more than that. Then I took him to Diagon Alley, where he made a friend in Griphook Cricklow, second cousin of Ragnok, King of the Goblin Nation. We found out that Molly Weasley has been stealing money out of Harry's vault ever since Lily and James died! What I want to know is, just how in the hell did Molly Weasley get hold of Harry's key?!"
Albus sat there shocked that Molly Weasley was stealing from Harry Potter. So that was why she had asked to look after Harry's vault until he returned to the Wizarding World. He sighed and told Severus. Severus was thankful that Harry was outside, as as soon as Albus told him he hit the roof.
"YOU HANDED OVER HARRY'S VAULT KEY TO THAT HARPY OF A WOMAN!!!"
"I'm sorry, Severus. I didn't know that all she was after was money." Albus said.
"WELL, WHY THE HELL DIDN'T YOU USE LEGILIMENCY, YOU DAFT OLD FOOL?!" Severus shouted. He calmed back down and continued. "I will want an explanation afterwards, Albus, but first I will continue with relaying how Harry came to he here." He took a few deep breaths.
"After Gringotts, we made our way to Occule's Opticians and I had Harry's eyes fixed. He no longer needs to wear glasses. Then we visited Fortescue's and lastly the Magical Menagerie, where Harry found a Labrador puppy he named Seal and a baby Python who actually found and bonded to him, he called Monty. Afterwards, I brought him home, here to Prince Hall. I then healed him of all his visible wounds, and his breathing, the scan I will show you later. So here Harry has been. And here he shall stay, with me, Severus Snape Hogwarts cantankerous and snarky Potions Master and now..." Just then Pickles popped in and handed her Master a scroll of parchment complete with the Ministry seal. "..newly appointed father to Harry Potter."
"Y-You've adopted Harry?" Albus gaped at Severus, completely and utterly stunned.
The Potions Master gave a sharp nod and his trademark smirk, before steamrollering on with why Albus would be foolish enough to hand over Harry's Gringotts key to that redheaded harpy.
Meanwhile, whilst Severus and Albus were getting deeper into the merky waters that was Molly Weasley and Harry's original vault key, Harry Potter was currently skipping through the long grass that hadn't been cut yet, with Monty slithering through the grass himself and Seal was gambling and barking about, round Harry's feet. As soon as Harry had stepped into the gardens, he met Bodkin, Severus' gardener elf and had a nice chat with him about all things flora and forna. Afterwards, Harry and his two friends gambled off further into the garden.
Down a few terraces, through the rose garden, where Harry stopped and smelt a few of the roses. Next they found the pond, which flowed out into a great lake. In the pond, Harry spotted a few water lilies.
A few minutes later as they wondered around the pond and lake, Harry and his two friends found a large line of trees. Severus had said to keep out of the herb garden which he had done, and he had said to keep out of the woods, but he hadn't given much of a reason as to why Harry should stay away from it. How could woodland be deadly like the herb garden? Looking back, Harry saw the Hall way up in the distance on the upper terrace. A grand Tudor Hall. Harry smiled as he turned back and made his way through the trees into the woods.
The woods were void of much life, the ground was earthy and mossy, with occasional tufts of grass in places, dead trees, felled trees, uprooted trunks, dips and bumps and little mounds of clay and earth. There were holes in the ground where rabbits dwelled, the odd nest up in the trees, where a bird or two lived, and even a few holes in the thick tree trunks, where squirrels and woodpeckers most probably resided. As Harry went further in he spotted the fungi: mushrooms and toadstools. Then the wild Nightshade and other berries and even a few clumps of wild flowers: evening primroses, woodland poppies, wood enemies and wild orchids to name but a few.
As Harry wondered on a bit more, he stumbled upon a rather odd looking species of plant. Harry came to a stop and tilted his head to the left, as he looked at it in wonderment. It was alive. It looked slightly like an octopus, Harry thought, as it seemed to have tentacles that were flaying about, whipping at nothing, or the passing fly, gnat or bee that flew into its path. Intrigued, Harry made his way closer. That was a mistake.
As he stepped closer for a better look, the tentacles stilled, before they suddenly lunged forward and smacked right into Harry's chest, knocking him flat. Harry blinked a few times as he sat up. He looked up and found that he was surrounded by tentacles all around him, whilst Seal barked madly and Monty tried to bite the tentacle, but couldn't. Harry called out to Seal to get her to get help. Understanding her master, Seal yapped once before hurrying off as fast as her little legs could take her.
- PPM -
Severus had just seen a dejected Albus floo back to his office at Hogwarts, when he heard a mad yapping and barking coming towards him. He turned and went to open the library door, when he heard scratching, mewling and sniffling. As Severus yanked the door open, Seal came bursting through and continued her inane jabbering about his feet. He stared down at the puppy surprised. She should be out in the gardens with Harry, exploring the grounds. The barking became madder and if possible louder, from such a small being. Severus tilted his head in puzzlement now, as his mind began to work.
After a few more minutes of wonderment Severus suddenly realised that Seal was trying to get him to follow her, by the way the excited puppy keep running to and from him and back out of the library door, barking incessantly.
"Harry!" He said, finally putting the meagre pieces together. Harry was in trouble! Fu--! he thought, as he made his way out of the library and followed the bouncing puppy. Once they were outside the Hall and in the gardens, Severus broke into a run after Seal, as she took off down the terraces barking.
- PPM -
As soon as Seal was out of sight, Harry turned back to face the wild angry plant and found that its thick truncated body had now opened up, Harry gasped, his green eyes fearful as he started at what looked like a deadly mouth complete with razor sharp thorny teeth. Harry then heard Monty hiss at him in his mind.
The tentaclesss are deadly venomousss, child. I would keep asss ssstill asss posssible.
Harry whimpered at hearing that he had stepped into the path of a deadly plant. Severus was going to be angry. Harry sniffled, he had broken Sev'rus' third and most important rule. Not only that, he had disobeyed the man. He knew what would be coming to him, once Sev'rus was here.
Once the tentacles had finished wrapping themselves around Harry, who had struggled against the vines with all his might, he found himself being dragged forwards towards the gaping mouth and its razor sharp thorny teeth. No amount of trying to dig his heels into the ground helped, as the plant was stronger. With his eyes wide and scared, tears leaking down his face, Harry suddenly heard frantic barking coming nearer. He tried to scream out but he was gagged by more vines. Soon out of the corner of his eye to his left, as he got ever closer to the plant's maw, Seal came into view and stopped just off to the side where Monty was sitting helpless. Right behind the heavily panting and thoroughly exhausted puppy was Severus.
He skidded to a halt and glared angrily at the plant, as it tried to inflict its deadly venom into its bound prey. Severus raised his wand and sent a fire spell at the plant. It hit the thick truncated body making it writhe and wail a high screechy sound of pain, before it lost all its energy and all its tentacles became slack, limp and still. Severus then rushed forwards and severed the tentacles. They would grow back soon. In a day or two.
He was going to tell Bodkin to make sure he removed this deadly plant, meanwhile Severus quickly knelt down and unbound the panic stricken child and once clear of the plant, he made sure that Harry wasn't hurt before wrapping his own arms around the boy and lifted him up. Severus then turned sharply around and began to make his way back out of the woods, Seal and Monty following on behind at a more sedate pace. He was angry. Angry at Harry. He had told the boy not to enter the woods. And he did! Harry had disobeyed him! The boy had placed himself in danger and harms way! Severus shook his head, as he continued on up to the Hall with Harry in his arms.
- PPM -
As soon as he walked through the back door, Severus continued on through the Hall and up the stairs, not stopping until he reached Harry's bedroom. Once inside, he gently lowered the sleeping child on to the bed, then conjured for himself Harry's desk chair that he transfigured into a large and comfortable wing-backed leather armchair. He sat down in it and watched the boy, his boy, his newly adopted son sleep, all the while calming himself down. As Severus sat there he contemplated what he should do, when Harry woke up.
He had specifically told the boy not to enter the woods, yet Harry completely disregarded his words and disobeyed by doing so anyway! I hope that he didn't enter into the herb garden also! Severus' thought, had him scowling. He sat back in the chair and went back to counting down, to calm back down.
Thirty minutes or so passed before Harry woke up. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, then wondered how he had gotten on to his bed when he should be out in the woods, trapped by the plant about to be made into compost mulch. It was then that he saw Severus. The man was sitting in a chair watching him - though Harry noted the man's usually kind black eyes no longer held any warmth, they were cold and hard. As Severus raised a brow, Harry felt a shiver of cold dread run down his spine. He was in trouble.
"I thought I told you to stay out of both the herb garden and the woods," Severus said, his voice cold, much like his eyes. "Yet you disobeyed me. It makes me wonder if you entered the herb garden also."
"I-I d-didn't, sir." Harry replied back with a stutter, looking away from Severus to his fidgeting hands on his bedspread. "I-I d-didn't go anywhere near the herb garden. I promise."
Severus looked hard at the boy who cringed under his scrutiny.
"Alright. I believe you, child." Severus replied after a moment or two.
He noticed Harry sag in relief.
"But you still disobeyed me about the woods!" Severus went on sharply. "What I want to know is why you did it?"
Harry looked up at Severus then away and back down at his hands as he thought why he had entered the woods.
"I--" Harry faltered.
"I'm waiting." Severus said, frowning.
"I didn't believe you in what you said about the woods being a dangerous place, sir." Harry went on softly. "What could be dangerous about being in the woods? And I was also curious to see what was in there."
"Well, you found what was in there, Harry. And what was in there found and attacked you, you foolish boy."
"Stand up, child." Severus went on after a moments silence.
Harry turned and sat on the edge of his bed, before he stood up.
"You know what is about to happen, Harry, so if you'd kindly lower your trousers and underpants, please." Severus didn't elaborate any further, both knew what would happen next.
But it didn't happen. Harry stood there yes, but he didn't lower his clothing. His nerves took hold and he couldn't move. He knew in his mind that Severus wasn't his uncle, but he was still strong. Strong enough to leave marks. He wanted to run and hide, but he knew that the punishment would be worse if he did. He began shaking. Harry heard Severus move as the chair creaked.
- PPM -
Severus himself had begun sitting in his armchair calmly, as he watched Harry stand up, but when he asked the boy to lower his trousers and underpants Harry didn't. He waited as patiently as possible and still nothing. Patients finally snapping, Severus sighed and lunged forward. He took hold of the waistband of the boy's tracksuit trousers and yanked them down to his ankles, then he sat up and repeated the same process with Harry's underpants before taking a hold of Harry's left wrist in his right hand and hauled the tort boy over his knee.
Harry whimpered softly as he felt himself lying over a solid lap, his hands resting on the floor, his bum upturned and bare - waiting for the blows to fall. Tears began to leak from his eyes, but he would not cry. Not for this. His breathing was shallow. He felt Severus rest his right hand upon his upturned bum, whilst the man's left hand hooked around his waist and hip area on his right side. Keeping him from falling.
"You are going to get ten swats, child." Severus said, as he raised his right hand high before bringing it down firmly upon Harry's bare bottom.
Harry jolted and went even more stiff and rigid than he was before, and gasped at the sound of the crack of skin meeting skin. Severus' hand stung.
Feeling the boy stiffen even more, Severus stilled his movements and rested his hand back down upon Harry's bottom, then he leant down a bit and spoke softly.
"Are you alright, child?"
Misunderstanding the silentness of the boy Severus went back to his task and gave Harry the remaining nine firm swats. Once administered, Severus moved his stinging hand from Harry's lightly tanned pink, yet he was sure, stinging bottom and began running soothing circles upon Harry's back.
Meanwhile Harry himself had been streaming tears throughout the spanking, but when no more blows reigned down upon him, and he found that he could move without feeling pain - except the stinging pain in his bum - Harry bawled loudly, startling Severus greatly.
Severus stopped with his soothing circles and leant down over Harry's bottom, where he gently pulled up the boy's underpants and trousers, and after a bit of a struggle he managed to right the clothes, before he sat back and with his hands he scooped Harry up, and had the boy sit down straddling his lap.
Sitting upright now, on Severus' lap, with his arms wrapped around Sev'rus' neck, Harry leant his head down to rest upon the man's shoulder as he continued to cry heartbroken sobs. All Severus could do was keep his own arms firmly wrapped around Harry's back, patting and rubbing soothing circles, whilst speaking softly into Harry's ear as he tried to calm the boy down. After about five minutes or so Harry's cries turned into sobs, then they turned into sniffles and occasional whimpers and hiccups before eventually he fell asleep.
After putting Harry to bed, Severus returned downstairs where he had a light meal before he went into the library, where he stayed until eleven thirty. When the clock on the mantle chimed the half hour, he stood up, stretched and made his way out of the library and back up the stairs. Before heading to bed himself, he checked on Harry who seemed to be sleeping peacefully. He smiled, shut the boy's door softly and with a few paces opened his bedroom door and stepped in.
He got changed into his silk pyjamas and after pulling back the duvet he climbed in and sat back amongst his pillows, his glasses on his nose, as he pulled the covers back over himself and opened a book. Severus read for about twenty minutes before he could feel his eyes start to droop, so he closed his book, marking the page he was at, took off his glasses and placed them on top of the book on his bedside table, turned off his lamp and shuffled further down into his bed. A few minutes passed and he was asleep.
If you were to remove the ceiling above both Severus and Harry's bedrooms and look down upon them, you would see the both of them sleeping peacefully. In Harry's room both Seal and Monty were also sleeping peacefully, one curled up in her basket by the desk and the other curled up tight on top of the wardrobe, hissing softly. And all that could be seen in Severus' room from above would be a breathing mound of covers, with a slight dent in the pillows. The top of Severus' head almost visible in the darkened room.
- POAPM -
Sometime before dawn, probably around half past four in the morning, Severus snapped awake. He blinked sleep out of his eyes, sat up, pushed the covers back and sat up on the side of his bed. He turned on his bedside lamp and sat there hunched over slightly, wondering what had woken him. He sat there and listened to the quiet and stillness of the early morning hours, it was then he heard it. A loud piercing scream. Severus jumped up and ran out of his bedroom and into Harry's. He cast a pale glow into the room and ran up to the boy's bed.
Harry was wrapped up in his covers, knotted up in them screaming. Tears ran down his face. Severus saw that both Seal and Monty were on the bed too, both trying to give some comfort to their master. Severus himself sat down on the edge of the bed and after turning on both bedside lamps, he gently leaned over the boy and place his left hand upon the boy's left shoulder and tried to gently shake him awake. Harry whimpered at the gentle touch on his shoulder, in his nightmare however the touch was painful. He was caught up in one of the many nightmares he always had at his relatives house, of his uncle beating him.
"..arry..." Harry stilled in his sleep, he could hear his name being called from somewhere far off. "..arry..."
As the voice grew a little louder and closer each time it spoke, the image of uncle Vernon shuddered and shifted until it faded altogether and Severus stood in his place.
"..Harry, it's time to wake up, child." Severus replied in his dream.
Harry blinked and blinked again, his sat up slowly and leant against his pillows, as he stared around his lit bedroom, eventually his teary green eyes landed on Severus.
"Sev'rus!" Harry cried and dived into the man's chest, wrapping his thin arms tight around the startled Potions Master.
Severus sat there and wrapped his own arms around the sobbing child, and held him tightly to him. He bent his head and kissed the top of Harry's messy hair and simply sat there, gently rocking the boy, as he tried to soothe him. Seal and Monty sat there on the bed, both watching as their master cried into their master's master. Odd how animals saw things, of course Severus wasn't Harry's master, but to animals he was. It was the only way they could see things.
After a while Harry's sobs ceased and he simply stayed where he was, tightly holding Sev'rus, where he felt safe. A few more minutes passed and Severus gently began to pry the boy off of him. Harry mumbled and whimpered but sat up and wiped his eyes. He wanted to stay attached to his dark haired man.
"Can you tell me what your nightmare was about, child?" Severus asked him softly.
"M-My uncle was b-beating m-me." Harry replied. "A-All the n-nightmares I h-have a-are of m-my u-uncle b-beating m-me."
"I'm sorry, child." Severus returned.
Harry looked up at Severus surprised, what had Severus needing to apologise? He hadn't done anything wrong.
"I obviously gave you the nightmare, child." Severus went on after seeing the look of puzzlement Harry had on his face. "If I hadn't of spanked you, then you wouldn't have had the nightmare."
"Sev'rus," Harry said, and Severus' eye twitched again at the shortening of his name, "you punished me, and rightly so. I disobeyed you about the woods. You spanking me was the right thing to do. As for the nightmare, it would've happened even if you hadn't spanked me. All my nightmares are of my uncle beating me. Don't blame yourself, please."
Severus blinked. Harry's reply to his reasoning behind the nightmare astounded him. He sat there and simply stared at the boy.
After a few more minutes of silence, Severus stood up and helped the boy get back in under the covers.
"Would you like me to stay with you until you fall asleep?" Severus asked.
Harry looked up at him for a moment or two.
"Would you mind staying with me... for the rest of the night?" Harry asked softly, not entirely looking at the man.
Severus nodded, pulled back the covers and got into the bed beside his adopted son. Before lying down and getting comfortable, Severus waved his wand towards his own bedroom and the wall became invisible for a moment and he could see that his bedside lamp turned itself off. The wall became a solid again and Severus put down his wand on to Harry's bedside table, turned off the lamps and got himself comfortable under the blue covers. Harry then shifted to his left and gently wrapped himself up into Severus' arms. Severus himself smiled and wrapped his own arms back around his boy, and together, both man and boy fell asleep. Seal and Monty found a flat space down by Harry's feet, curled up together and fell asleep too not long after.
The rest of the night was fairly uneventful, yes Severus was woken a couple of times throughout the remainder of the night by Harry fidgeting and whimpering, but after a few soft murmurings and reassuring hugs the boy continued to sleep. In the morning Severus' mind woke up before he did, still with his arms wrapped around the boy. As he lay there - his eyes still closed - he thought about Harry's nightmare and what he could try to do to prevent another one. He came to the conclusion, as the fog of morphia began to wane fast that, perhaps they should spend the day bonding.
After a few moments his eyes behind their lids began roving about and finally Severus blinked and woke up, to find his head resting on Harry's pillow, with Harry's head resting on his chest, the top of that messy nest of hair tickling his throat. Severus gently extricated himself from the boy's grip, Harry mewled in protest and tried, in his sleep, to scuttle back - like some kind of weird crab - towards the warm, safe haven of Severus' body. Severus himself smiled and sat up, hauling his body up with his hands pressed against the mattress. As he leant against the pillows, yawning, he surveyed the still sleeping, curled up form of Harry Potter beside him.
Perhaps he shouldn't of spanked the boy, Severus thought as he sat there looking down at Harry. If he hadn't then Harry would've had a nightmare-free sleep, wouldn't he? As he thought about it his mind was of two opinions; one being that, yes if he hadn't spanked the boy he could've had pleasant dreams. On the other side, Harry still could've ended up having nightmares. Severus was leaning more towards the latter - someone who has been abused most of their life will end up having nightmares, whether or not anything was inflicted upon that person in new surroundings. Severus shook his head, unable to decide on the 'what if'.
In the end he pushed back the covers and stood up, he then turned around, bent down and gently shook Harry's shoulder. Mewling, Harry woke up, yawned, stretched and blinked, before sitting up and looking up at Severus.
"It's time to get dressed child." Severus said softly. "No doubt Pickles has already set the table for our imminent arrival. Get up, shower and clean your teeth. I shall go and do the same."
Harry nodded as he stood up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He then followed Severus out of his room and down the hall, Severus went into his bedroom and Harry continued on to the door opposite the stairs, opened the door and stepped into the bathroom.
Twenty to twenty-five minutes later Harry stepped out of the shower and dried himself off, before wrapping the fluffy blue towel around his waist and stepped over to the sink, where he began brushing his teeth. Once done, he left the bathroom and walked back to his room, where he lakes over to his chest of drawers and pulled out the top drawer and took out a fresh pair of socks and blue with red trim briefs, depicting the Superman logo on the front. Harry removed the towel and put both underwear and socks on, before opening a lower drawer and picking out a pair of soft black drawstring tracksuit trousers, and a blue t-shirt.
Finally he stepped over to his wardrobe and took out a soft forest green jumper and put that on too. He shut the door of the wardrobe and made his way over to his bed, sat down on it and put on his trainers. Afterwards he took hold of Monty, who coiled himself around Harry's arm and whistled to Seal, gaining the puppy's attention and together the trio set off, leaving the bedroom and began to make their way downstairs. Breakfast was a quiet affair. Pickles had set out toast, cereals, porridge, pancakes, orange juice, tea and coffee for Severus and Harry and for Seal she had placed a small food and water bowl on the floor by the door, whilst Harry hand fed Monty at the table little pieces of sausage which surprised Harry greatly. He later found out that that particular sausage was made for snakes and out of mice meat - which was why Pickles had placed the single sausage on to a separate plate.
- POAPM -
As soon as breakfast had ended Severus stood up and had Harry following him. During their breakfast Severus had asked Harry if he would like to help him in brewing a few Potions. Intrigued, Harry nodded and smiled. Together they walked down the hall, past the living room and through the door at the end of the hall, instead of heading up the stairs here, the two went down the spiral stairs heading for the cellar. Past the wine racks they went until Severus stopped at the solid door, that Harry had poked his head round the first evening he was here - when he had explored the Hall.
Into the room man and boy walked and over to the main workbench, where a pewter cauldron had already been set up. Severus went over to a shelf and picked up a book on easy-to-brew Potions for fun and other uses. He turned back and came up to the bench, next to Harry, opened the book and began to rifle through the pages. He stopped at wood polish, laid the book down on a leaning rostrum and sat down himself next to Harry.
"What we're going to be brewing today, Harry," Severus said, as he looked at the boy, who's interest he could clearly see was piqued, "is a simple polish for wood. Before you came downstairs this morning, Pickles informed me that she was almost out so I thought you might like to help me brew some more for her. It's very simple to make. Afterwards, you can, if you would like, make a fun potion."
Harry smiled and nodded, just making a wood polish would be fun to Harry. But having permission to also brew up a 'fun' potion too was a bonus, especially to him, as he had never made a potion before.
"Right," Severus went on as he looked at the ingredients, "we will need: 2 Lemons, juice from both and the rinds, 4 tablespoons of natural oil, and 5 sprigs of thyme."
"Sounds very easy, sir." Harry replied.
"Don't tell anyone," Severus went on conspiratorially, "but brewing potions for keeping a clean and tidy home are the easiest potions to make out there. And technically, they could be considered as not potions. Anyway, let's get on. If you hop off your stool Harry and follow me, I'll show you my supply cupboard."
Harry did as he was told, stood up and followed Severus across the room and into a walk-in cupboard filled to the brim with glass jars and vials of many different Potions ingredients, most were dried herbs, flowers and barks. Whilst others were filled with liquid. Others more contained eyes of newt, bat wings, spiders eggs, moon ferns, snake venoms, lizard tongues, frog livers, the list was endless. There was also a shelf containing clean and empty glass jars and vial, as well as a pot filled with cork stoppers. In amongst the eerie looking vials and jars were natural oils of Sesame seed, almond and olive.
Severus picked up the almond one, turned and picked a bunch of dried thyme sprigs. He was just about to turn and exit when Harry asked him a question.
"Why is there a vial with no stopper in its top?"
"That's an experimental potion, Harry. Unfortunately, it went slightly wrong and had to be left like that. It has a spell surrounding the vial so it doesn't contaminate the rest of my stocks in here. If you ever come in here I would advise you to leave it be, I am not sure what it would do if touched."
Understanding, Harry nodded and followed Severus out of the cupboard and back over to the bench.
Severus placed the ingredients on to the worktop as Harry sat back down on the stool next to him and watched as the man laid everything out. Then he left the table again and came back with a set of knives and stirring rods. Severus put them on the table and looked at Harry.
"Do we have everything?" He asked.
"Um..." Harry replied, as he let his green eyes roam over the ingredients and what the book stated. "You don't have the lemons."
"Very good." Severus went on. "You should always make sure you have everything you need on your workbench, Harry. Pickles!"
There was a pop and Pickles appeared.
"Could we have two lemons please?"
"Yes sirs!" Pickles said, then snapped her long thin fingers and two lemons popped into view on the table.
"Thank you, Pickles."
Pickles beamed and popped out.
Severus then poured the required tablespoons of oil into the cauldron and lit the coals underneath, before he sat down next to Harry and showed the boy with one of the two lemons what to do. Harry watched avidly as Severus sliced the rind off and put them in the simmering oil, then picked up the knife again and chopped the lemon n in half, picked out the pips with the knife's tip, before putting the knife down again and taking up the lemon halves one by one, cupping them over the cauldron and squeezing them of all their juice. He then placed the two empty halves back on to the workbench, dried his hands and sat back.
"Your turn, child." He said, and watched as Harry carefully took up the sharp knife in his right hand and the second lemon in his left. Harry then brought the lemon in front of him, held it firmly with his left hand and proceeded to take up the knife, where he sliced off the rind carefully. Harry turned the lemon around and repeated the same. Once all the rind had been sliced off, Harry put the knife to one side and picked up the pieces of lemon peel and popped them into the cauldron. Severus nodded, and Harry proceeded to cut the lemon in half. He then took the tip and carefully picked out the pips, before standing himself and holding one half at a time in both hands squeezed them into the slow bubbling mixture.
"Well done." Severus went on. "Now, dry your hands and we'll start of the thyme."
Harry did as he was told and dried his hands on the small towel hanging on the side of the bench, then he picked up the bunch of dried thyme sprigs and, after making sure in the book that it was five he needed, Harry plucked five sprigs from the bunch. Looking back at the directions, Harry read that the sprigs had to be crushed and sprinkled into the mix, so he took his five sprigs and crushed them all in his palm, before taking his hand and holding it over the cauldron. There he began to sprinkle the thyme over the heated lemon and oil.
"Very good." Severus replied, "now, take up a stirring rod - it doesn't matter which one - and gently stir clockwise for two minutes."
Harry picked up one of the four stirring rods, a long thin rod, with a small flat chizzle-like head on the lower end - the end that would be stirring the brew. Harry put the rod into the mixture and began a gentle stirring motion clockwise, and continued to stir whilst Severus kept an eye on the time.
"Time." Severus said softly, and Harry, forgetting that Severus was there with him jumped slightly, but removed the rod. Severus smiled. "Now we turn off the heat," and he did so with a wave of his wand, "and we now leave it to cool before putting it in a vial."
Nodding, Harry sat back down and watched as Severus stood up and carried the cauldron over to another bench and left it to cool. He returned with another empty cauldron and set it up.
"Now, would you like to brew up a 'fun' potion, Harry?"
"Very well. What type of sweets do you like?"
"Um, well, I've never really been allowed to have them."
"Ah," Severus went on, "well then, how about fruit drops? Would you like to brew up a batch of those?"
"Okay, now lets clear the table and then we'll proceed."
All in all Severus found that he quite enjoyed brewing with Harry, and he certainly felt as though they had begun bonding. He knew that it would take sometime before the bonding would be complete, but Severus felt confident that he and Harry would succeed. He certainly liked the fact that Harry seemed to enjoy brewing potions. The fruit drops were made just as successfully as the previous potion had been and soon Harry was sucking on a strawberry drop, whilst he was putting away the ingredients he hadn't used.
- POAPM -
Harry had liked and enjoyed helping Severus brew Potions. He was just putting the vials of ingredients on their correct shelves when it happened. Harry spotted two un-stoppered vials instead of just the one that was meant to be in the cupboard . He picked it up, looked at it, then found a stopper in one of the trays containing cork stoppers and proceeded to stopper the vial. However, in doing so the vial exploded. Severus jumped and came running. The state of his stock cupboard was a bomb site, with Harry surrounded and covered in a Potion that should not have been stopperd.
Severus had already warned the boy about there being an un-stopperd vial in the cupboard, and yet the boy had put a stopper into it!
Severus waved his wand and cleaned the mess and the boy, and, once he had helped Harry out of the cupboard he made sure that the boy hadn't ingested anything. Luckily Harry hadn't. Severus looked down at the fidgety boy his face blank, his mind however was having a war. Battling it out, to spank the child or not so soon after yesterday's spanking - and look what happened afterwards. Meanwhile Harry knew that he was going to get another spanking but when Severus simply scowled and turned away, leaving the room entirely, Harry became puzzled, confused and hurt. He knew that he probably wouldn't be allowed to help make a potion ever again.
Severus made his way out of the cellar and up the stairs, along the Hall and up the main stairs to his study, he probably should've scolded the boy, but he simply didn't want to be blamed for Harry having another nightmare induced sleep. That's why he didn't spank the boy. However, Severus should've done something to Harry, talked maybe, as at that moment back downstairs, Severus' lack of talk or punishment had sent mixed signals to Harry. Signals which had Harry thinking that maybe Severus was already tired of having the burden of a child.
Thinking this, Harry sniffled and made his own way out of the room, along the hall, up the stairs, past Sev'rus' study and into his bedroom, where he got a plastic bag and began to pack away a few clothes. Once he had done so, Harry looked over at Seal's empty basket and then over at Monty's void of reptile tank, they would have to stay here - there wouldn't be a life for them out on the streets anyway. With that thought, Harry, wiping a stray tear from his eye turned and left, making his soft and quiet way back downstairs and out of the Hall's front door.
- POAPM -
"Master Severus," Pickles said hurriedly as soon as she popped into the study, "young Master Harry is be packing his things and is on his way down the drive!"
Severus stood up and apparated out of the manor, his face worried. Thanks to Pickles, she had had the forethought to take down the shields surrounding the Hall just as he spun. Severus popped into existence in front of the forlorn looking boy, just as Harry turned the curve of the drive.
"And where do you think you are going?"
Harry jumped and snapped his head up from looking at the ground, to looking up at Sev'rus' face. They stared at each other, one looking blank faced and down, whilst the other was doing a marvellous impression of a fish out of water and looking up.
Severus stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the boy's shoulders.
"Where were you off to, child, hmm?"
"I-I was l-leaving." Harry replied, softly. "You obviously don't want me here, as you haven't spoken to me all day! I'm just a burden to you."
Severus apparated them back into the Hall - surprising Harry. Together they appeared in the living room, where Severus sat down on the sofa and, after taking Harry's bag and resting it on the floor against the base of the settee, he picked up the boy and placed him sitting on his black clad lap. Harry sniffled where he sat and wrapped his thin arms around the man's neck, burning his face into Sev'rus' shoulder.
"Silly boy," Severus replied, good naturedly, "why would I not want you here child? When I have already adopted you."
Harry sat up from where he had had his head buried in Severus' shoulder and, looked up with glassy green eyes into onyx coloured ones, holding his breath. Hope building in his chest.
"You can't get rid of me, Harry, and I can't get rid of you - not that I would want too - I have adopted you, you child. In legal terms, you're now my son."
Harry's breath hitched as he choked on the breath he had already been holding, and burst into heart rendering sobs. He buried his head back into the crook of Severus' neck and shoulder.
Severus raised a brow as he wrapped his arms around the thin shaking body and drew the boy in, holding him close.
"Are these those happy tears again, child?"
He felt Harry's head nod fervently on his shoulder, as well as heard the muffled sobs. Severus smiled as he hugged his child closer. The boy had only been in the manor two days and already he felt that Harry had always been here.
- POAPM -
Later that evening Severus explained to Harry why he didn't spank him, Severus had simply wanted the boy to have a nightmare-free sleep, and didn't want to be the inducer of another night of painful memories for Harry. Harry smiled, understanding Severus' reasoning but replied with the fact that the nightmares would still happen, even without getting a spanking. Harry then stunned his new guardian for want of a better word, that his spankings were nothing compared to what he had had to go through at the Dursleys.
"I'm happy with your rules and consequences, sir." Harry went on, and Severus looked surprised. "Well, maybe 'happy' isn't the right word... 'okay' would probably be better. I don't think anyone would be happy getting a spanking - unless they're into that sort of thing."
Severus' eyes went wide, Harry knew that there was such people out there that enjoyed being spanked?! How could Harry possibly know that?! He shook his head and went back to listening to the boy's explanation.
"I overheard a couple talking about how one of them wanted to be spanked by the other, whilst I was on the streets, you hear a lot, when people don't realise you're listening in on them... Anyway, what I'm trying to say, sir, is don't be afraid to spank me when I do something wrong. It's not a pleasant feeling, but with it I know that I've done wrong, and the slight sting gives aid in helping to think about what I did wrong and how I can stop and think."
Severus sat there and simply looked at his boy in wonder. In the end he nodded and hugged Harry. Harry himself smiled and hugged his new 'dad' back.